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Parshas Behar

Rabbi Pesach Siegel

Parshat Behar

May 15, 2011

This week’s parshah begins with: "And Hashem said to Moshe on Har Sinai saying:" The following pesukim then begin to speak about the holy mitzvah of Shmittah.

  Rashi, quoting the Toras Kohanim asks, “Why is the mitzvah of Shmittah singled out here to have been spoken about on Har Sinai; all the mitzvos were given to Moshe equally at Matan Torah?”


  He answers that the Torah is teaching us: just like Shmittah and all its intrinsic details (that are explained here in the further pesukim) were given on Har Sinai, so too, each and every mitzvah was also given with all its details at Har Sinai.

 This response leaves one with a further question. Why is Shmittah the one mitzvah singled out to relay this message? Why wasn’t some other mitzvah chosen, like Shabbos or shechitah?
 
It is clear that there is a unique relationship between the mitzvah of Shmittah and Mount Sinai.
 
Let us examine, therefore, the mitzvah of Shmittah.

The mitzvah of Shmittah, like Shabbos, is a time were one becomes completely dependent on Hashem and the possibility of a stronger bond with the Creator is possible. The seventh year of Shmittah was a year when everyone would close down their livelihood, and have full emuna and bitachon in Hashem to support them. This mitzvah is an emblem that Hashem runs the entire world in every possible way, and that no one truly "owns" anything i.e. land. This emmes was then finalized during the Yovel year were all property was returned to its original owner.
 
But there is a deeper aspect.

  Like everything in the Torah, all aspects of reality revert back to Adam Harishon. Prior to the sin of Adam HaRishon, man was intended to receive his needs without any expended effort. His sustenance grew effortlessly from the trees. He was literally being spoon-fed by his Creator.
 
As a consequence of his sin man would have to work the field. Besides the pain of toil that descended upon him there were other repercussions. Now, mankind can fool themselves that their success comes from themselves, resulting in the connection with Hashem becoming severely altered.

  In the sefer Agra DiKala, it relays that the essence of Shmittah is that of being a parallel to Gan Eden. Man works for six years and Hashem grants him sustenance that sustains him for three years instead of one. Shmittah is a return to Paradise. One is sustained through a direct relationship with the Creator. It is a year-long miraculous existence.
 
  The Gemorah in Shabbos 146a speaks at length how the Bnei Yisroel at the foot of Har Sinai attained a level of purity similar to that of Adam before sinning.
The mere fact of their standing and witnessing the events of Har Sinai purged them of the contamination of the counsel of the nachash, the original sin. The might of Hashem was displayed in intensity. The mountain was crowned in fire; the booming sound of thunder filled the air. They saw, they feared, and they were purified.

  The Kli Yakar explains at length the comparison between Shmittah observance and the events at Sinai. When the Bnei Yisroel emerged from Egypt, they prepared themselves for seven periods of seven days, until the fiftieth day, which would be Shavuos. Shmittah observance requires one to prepare for seven periods of seven years until Yovel. Just as Klal Yisroel couldn't touch Har Sinai during the days of Moshe Rabeinu’s ascent, so too could a person not touch their field in the seventh year or Yovel. The Luchos were charus (inscribed all the way through) symbolising cherus (our inner freedom) and the Yovel year set all slaves free. At the giving of the Torah the sounds of a shofar were heard, and this is paralleled by the shofar that was blown when the Yovel year began.

  Had the Bnei Yisroel not sinned at Sinai through the Eigel HaZahav, they would have continued in their spiritual growth. They would have approached the 50th level of tahara. What, then, would be the purpose of them going into Eretz Yisroel; let the whole world turn spiritual and all will be good?

The answer is that the whole purpose of this world is to connect shamayim and aretz, spiritual with physical. Hashem's desire is that we take our angelic state of existence and bring that to the physical location that He prepared for us; the land of Eretz Yisroel. The desert, a place devoid of physicality, is not the proper place for this.
 
We were created to spread the kedushah of Sinai into Eretz Yisroel. This is why the events surrounding Sinai are so closely patterned after the laws of Shmittah and Yovel which are to be performed in Eretz Yisroel.

  In the Medrash Rabbah it is written that Hashem already had it planned out that the world would be created for the Jewish nation and the Torah way before creation. The piece finishes with a statement saying that the purpose of creation is to fulfill the mitzvos of challah, maaser, and bikurim
 
 The Baal HaTurim reveals this concept at length with the very first posuk in the Torah. The word Breishis is in truth an acronym for "Beis" - Barishona (in the begining), "Reish" – Ra’ah (He saw), "Alef" - Elokim (Hashem), "Shin" - Sheyikablu (that they would receive), "Yud" - Yisroel (the Jewish people), "Tuf" - Torah. It is thus clear that Hashem planned way in advance that the Bnei Yisroel would receive the Torah. However, it doesn't end here. If one were to count the words in the posuk they number 7. This 7 of course refers to the 7 days of the week, the 7 years of Shmittah, and the 7 Shmittos until Yovel. Therefore, it can be seen clearly that Bnei Yisroel, the Torah, and Shmittah in Eretz Yisroel are all one.

 Hashem was telling Moshe that although the nation will be on a holy unimaginable level, the mission isn't nearly over. Now the Jewish people had to take their level, bring it to the physical Eretz Yisroel, and elevate it, to reveal the kedushas ha’aretz by way of the mitzvos ha’aretz. The aretz is not mundane. The aretz is kadosh. Our sages tell us, ein Torah kiToras Eretz Yisroel (there is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisroel. Avirah di’ar’ah machkim (the air of the Land makes one wise). Har Sinai is alive and well in Eretz Yisroel.

  When the Jews keep Shmittah, they are literally taking Har Sinai, which is the exact parallel, and inserting it straight into Eretz Yisroel. Hashem stressed Shmittah because Shmittah is Har Sinai, and within Shmittah, all other mitzvos are encompassed.

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