Pearls of Rashi – Behar

This week’s Torah portion, Behar, begins by teaching us the laws of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year[1]. We would count six years, during which the land would be worked. During the seventh, Sabbatical – Shmittah year the land could not be worked, planted or harvested. Furthermore, after seven cycles of seven years (49 years) comes the Jubilee – Yovel year, when working the land is also prohibited.

The Torah introduces this by telling us that[2] “Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying.” Rashi is bothered by the fact that not only these Mitzvos but rather all commandments were given to us at Mount Sinai. Therefore, he explains that the Torah mentions Har Sinai in this context in order to teach us an important lesson. Just as the laws of Yovel and Shmittah were given at Sinai with all of their details, the same is true of all other commandments which we were taught at Sinai.

One year out of seven we do not focus on our earthly needs. We place our faith totally in Hashem. However, it is not G-d’s intention for the world to work this way in general. For six years we abide by the laws of nature. However, this prepares us for the seventh year. The seventh-year makes it possible for us to serve Hashem throughout the other six. The Torah tells us here that[3] “the land shall rest a Shabbos to the Lord.” Rashi explains that it is “for the sake of the Lord, just as is stated of the Shabbos of Creation.” We spend six days of the week working within the natural order of the world. This prepares us for the seventh day, Shabbos. Likewise, Shabbos prepares us for the six weekdays.

On Shabbos, as during Shmittah, we transcend nature. We rely solely on Hashem. During the week, as well as the six years, we work within the laws of nature. We use the world in order to elevate it.

How is it possible for a human being to straddle between the natural and the Divine? The answer comes from Har Sinai. That is why the portion begins with the words “And the Lord spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying.”

The Midrash tells us[4] that when Hashem was about to give the Torah to the Jewish people, He gathered together all of the mountains. Each mountain claimed that the Torah should be given upon it. Hashem asked them why they were complaining. “Being bigger does not matter. I choose Sinai, for it is the smallest of all mountains.”

If being the lowest is advantageous, why give the Torah on a mountain at all? Why not give it in a valley, or on a plain? If the Torah is to be given on a mountain, why not give it on the tallest mountain?

The answer is, that “the smallest mountain” best expresses the idea of the Torah. The idea is that we are small people who are involved with nature. Simultaneously, we must be mountains, giants, united with G-d Almighty Himself.

Wishing one and all a Good Shabbos! May we all receive the Torah with joy and internalize it within ourselves!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 1, Page 273-281

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Vayikroh, beginning with 25:1.

[2]. Vayikroh 25:1.

[3]. Vayikroh 25:2.

[4]. Midrash Tehillim 68:72. See also Talmud 29, a.

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