Pearls of Rashi – Behar II

The very first verse of our Parshah, Behar, tells us that[1] “Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying.” This serves as an introduction to the laws of the Sabbatical – Shemittah Year. Upon entering the Land of Israel, we were commanded to work the land for six years. During the seventh year, the land would rest. We would not plough, plant or harvest. Whatever crops did grow on their own were considered ownerless; whoever wanted could eat of them.

Rashi explains why the Torah singles out this particular Mitzvah for specifying that it was given on Mount Sinai. He asks, “What is the connection between Shemittah and Mount Sinai? All of the commandments were given at Sinai? However, this teaches us that just as the general principles and finer details of Shemittah were all stated at Sinai, the same is true of all Mitzvos. All of them were given, both their general principles and their finer details, at Sinai.”

Rashi’s words, that “the general principles and finer details of all Mitzvos were stated at Sinai,” is the opinion of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yishmoel disagrees with him, and says that “the general principles were stated at Sinai, and finer details were stated at the Ohel Moed[2].”

Throughout the 49 years that the Jews traveled in the wilderness, Hashem appeared to Moshe in the Mishkan, at the Ohel Moed – the Tent of Meeting, and continued to teach him Torah. According to Rabbi Akiva, Moshe had already received to complete Torah at Sinai. According to Rabbi Yishmoel, he only received the general principle at Sinai. Throughout the years in the desert, he was taught all of the details.

Their differing positions in this matter may be related to the difference between them in their Divine service. Rabbi Yishmoel was a High Priest; he was sanctified to Hashem from birth. Hence, his service of Hashem was that of a Tzaddik. For a Tzaddik, it is enough to accept upon himself self-sacrifice for Hashem, which is the foundation of his service, at the beginning of the day (Sinai). That enables him to serve Hashem in an orderly manner throughout the rest of the day (the forty years of wandering).

Conversely, Rabbi Akiva was a descendant of converts. His G-dly service paralleled that of a Baal Teshuvah. He needed to exercise self-sacrifice throughout the entire day (the entire forty years).

May we all merit to bring Moshiach now as a result of our service of Hashem!

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 17, Page 283

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]. Our Parshah, Vayikroh 25, 1.

[2]. See the Talmud, Zevochim 115.

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