Our parshah tells us about Shemittah: "For six years, you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and harvest your crops, but the seventh year is a Shabbos... for the land."
In Eretz Yisrael, this means a lot more than just checking the label on Jaffa oranges in the local fruit store. Shoppers go to special Shemittah stores for fruit and vegetables so that they can be sure to follow the laws of Shemittah. The Rabbis help the farmers take care of their fields according to the halachah. Schoolchildren learn how the Shemittah is carried out today in the same way as our forefathers kept it for centuries, when most of our people were farmers.
Why does HaShem command us to put in all the extra effort just so that the earth can rest for one year? Isn't one day each week, Shabbos, enough rest?
Shabbos and Shemittah do seem similar. They both mean stopping and resting. During Shemittah and on Shabbos, we stop our ordinary schedule of work.
When a Jew stops his work on Shabbos, he spends his time davening, learning, singing, eating and thinking about why HaShem sent his neshamah down into this world. We are very busy all week long. Shabbos gives us extra time to concentrate on holy things.
But when Shabbos passes, we're again busy with our weekday activities. So HaShem gives us a full year to stop work and to spend more time studying Torah and thinking about what He wants us to do. This year strengthens us. Everything which we studied and thought about stays with us when we return to working the land after the Shemittah year is over.
It works both ways. On the one hand, the six days of the week prepare for Shabbos, and the six years of ordinary work prepare for Shemittah. On the other hand, Shabbos and Shemittah also prepare us for the days and years that follow, and show us how we can make this world a dirah bitachtonim, a home for G-d.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, Parshas Behar)