“Then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth produce for three years.” (Vayikra 25:21)
The Mechilta tells us that for six years of this seven-year cycle Hashem gave a bumper crop that when you added all the excess crops together, it equaled the shortfall of the seventh year.
Rashi says that there was only a bumper crop on the sixth year, during which time they had a DOUBLE crop.
The Hafla’a, in the Panim Yafos explains the two approaches of Chazal based on a famous argument between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel. Beis Shammai says that every day of the week one should buy something special for Shabbos, and if on the next day he finds better, he buys the better item for Shabbos and uses the already purchased original item for weekday use. Beis Hillel says that one should wait until erev Shabbos and only then buy the best there is for Shabbos. How do we understand the difference of opinion between these two approaches?
Chazal tell us that the manna that fell on the sixth day was a double portion. Seemingly this is like the opinion of Beis Hillel – that everything came just before Shabbos. The Hafla’a further notes that Hashem could have had it rain down a week’s worth of Manna on one day. What was the point of sending the daily ration each day? Chazal answer that it was in order to keep us attached to Hashem, and to keep our prayers strong and with fervor.
There are those who are rich and there are those who are poor. The poor man is not worried about how he is going to finish off the month, rather he is worried about where his next meal is coming from. He therefore feels the need to daven every day with great concentration. This contrasts with the rich man, who is already creating a tax shelter for his son’s college education on the day of his birth. He thinks that he does not have to pray for today because he thinks it is all taken care of. The Hafla’a tells us that both mindsets existed. The rich people, who had a bumper crop over 6 years was to enhance their Avodas Hashem. The poor, who only had the double crop in the sixth year, was to enhance their Avodas Hashem. It depended upon the kind of push the person needed in order to keep him praying with meaning.
Many times we have a tzara, and all of the sudden we find it within our power to pray with an unbelievable amount of concentration. Yet when everything is going well, we find it difficult to be inspired when davening. I once heard a story from Rav Shimshon Pincus. Imagine a wealthy man who paid an exorbitant fee to be hoisted on a crane on top of the World Trade Center and have the crane swing out over the plaza so that he can look out at the surroundings and enjoy the pleasant breeze. He feels empowered and totally secure in his steel harness. He casually glances up and notices that the cable from which his seat is hanging from is starting to fray, and he sees each metal strand snapping one by one. He becomes very tense and starts to pray with an unbelievable amount of urgency. Someone watching him from the observation deck yells out to him “What happened? Everything looks fine from here!”. To which he counters “it may seem that way from your vantage point, but things can unravel rather quickly.” If we can gear ourselves up to understand that there are no guarantees from one minute to the next, we can train ourselves to pray all the time with proper concentration. This way we won’t need problems to come our way in order to be connected to Hashem.