Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Behar-Bechukosai II

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This week’s Torah portion, Behar-Bechukosai, begins by teaching us the laws of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year[1]. We would count six years, during which one was not permitted to work the land. During the seventh, the Sabbatical, or Shmittah year, one could not work the land; fields could not be planted or harvested. Furthermore, after seven cycles of seven years (forty-nine 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 Hashem not only gave us these Mitzvos at Mount Sinai, but He gave us all of the commandments there. He, therefore, explains that the Torah mentions Har Sinai here to teach us that 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 days of the week.

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 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 our portion begins with the words, “And the Lord spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying.”

The Midrash tells us[4] that when G-d 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 Hashem wanted to give us the Torah on a mountain, why not choose the tallest mountain?

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

I wish 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

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

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

[2]. Ibid, ibid. 25:1.

[3]. Ibid., ibid. 25:2.

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

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