“When you come into the Land which I give you, then the Land shall keep a Shabbos for Hashem.” (Vayikra 25:2)

The Raavad, in his introduction to the sefer Baalei Nefesh, writes of a foundation that forms the basis for most mitzvos: “That man know that he has a Creator Who rules over him.”

Since Hashem, “Has given the earth to the children of man,” (Tehillim 115: 16), and “You have put all things under his feet,” (Tehillim 8:7), man runs the risk of thinking that he is the sole master of the world. 

Therefore, Hashem set up the world so that all man’s actions are governed by laws. In this way, he is constantly being reminded of Hashem as his source. Hashem gave man a field for planting and commanded him that he not plow nor plant with kilayim. When harvesting, man has to separate terumos and maasros. At the time of kneading his dough, he separates challah… when he eats his bread, he makes a brachah… and even his clothing is subject to laws and his daily schedule conforms to Shabbos and Yom Tov. (Daas Torah, Rav Yerucham Levovitz)

My sister lives in a rented apartment. 

When furnishing her home, she overlooked her natural instinct for art and beauty and instead bought secondhand furniture. She painted the walls and threw some slipcovers over the old living room couches. 

Her kitchen boasts plastic storage drawers and several cabinet doors are crooked. She doesn’t really care about the grime on her shutters and ignores the old-fashioned tiles in the bathroom with their faded pictures of ducks. 

When questioned about the lack of aesthetics she shrugs, “Who wants to invest more in a rented apartment?”

It’s not her house, so it doesn’t bother her…. 

The parshah continues and says: “And the Land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the Land is Mine; for you are strangers and settlers with Me.” (Vayikra, 25:23) 

A story is told of two men who came to Rav Chaim of Volozhin, fighting over a piece of land. Each shouted and claimed that the plot was his. Rav Chaim bent over and inclined his ear toward the ground. When the men asked him what he was doing, he answered, “I want to listen to know what the ground says about this fight… I heard it saying, ‘You both belong to me, so what’s this fight all about?’ ” (ibid.)

Sometimes I think that everyone should have my sister’s attitude. No one has a house that is truly his. Our possessions are not really our own and even our children don’t really belong to us. 

We all live in the same rented lives — owned by Hashem. And He lets us live in this world for as long as He wants. 

We raise the children that Hashem loaned us. We live off money lent to us and use talents and abilities that are daily deposits from Hashem. He grants all this at will and takes it all back when He desires. 

The Gemara in Gittin (68b) relates that when Benayahu ben Yehoyada led Ashmadai on the road, the latter heard a person telling a shoemaker, “Make me strong shoes that will last seven years.” Ashmadai smiled to himself. They asked him why he smiled and he answered them, “This person won’t live more than seven days and he’s asking for shoes that will last for seven years?” 

If we ourselves would take a hard look at all of our affairs in life, our behavior, and speech, we would also roll with laughter at the absurdity of it all. (ibid.) 

So why do we get so pressured for life to be perfect? 

Why can’t we say: It’s not so bad. This house doesn’t even belong to me. It’s temporary — for a number of decades — before eternity. And this child belongs to Hashem more than to me. I don’t need to stress over money or a job that I do or don’t have, and even my talents and abilities are on loan from Hashem. 

When will we realize that we’re chasing after success in lives we don’t own?