Parshas BeHar 5775

On the possuk in the beginning of our parsha, “And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai saying.” Rashi asks why does the Torah preface  the laws of shemita by saying that they were given on Har Sinai? All the halachos in the Torah were given there!

Rashi answers that it is to teach us that since the Torah does not repeat the laws of shemita in Sefer Devorim therefore it must be that ALL of its halachos, the general principals as well as the smallest details, were taught to us in Sinai. From this we learn that it is the same with all the mitzvos, that all of their details were also given on Sinai, even the ones that were repeated in Sefer Devorim.

Zera Shimshon asks what is unique about the mitzvah of shemita that the Torah chose it to teach us this? Seemingly, we would be able to learn the same idea from any mitzvo that was not repeated in Sefer Devorim!

He answers that the halachos of Shemita are similar to and have a special connection with Har Sinai and gives three gives three examples of this. 

Firstly, what is the reason that Hashem chose the seventh year to be shemitaChaza“l in a Medrash seem to give a reason,  “All “seventh”s are precious to Hashem!” Moshe was the seventh generation from Avraham, Dovid HaMelech was Yishai’s seventh son, the seventh day of the week, the seventh month of the year (Tishrei), the seventh year (shemita) etc.Yaffe Tohar ( a commentator on the Medrash) asks that this answer isn’t really suffice. The fact that all of the examples were the seventh is seemingly only incidental but doesn’t add ANYTHING to their specialness!  Seemingly, Moshe would be loved by Hashem for his righteousness even if he wasn’t the seventh generation from Avraham. Tishrei would be a special month even if it wasn’t the seventh month. What then does the Medrash mean that all “seventh”s are precious to Hashem?

Zera Shimshon answers that we learn from this Medrash that there is some concealed and deep reason that being the seventh adds to make something precious to Hashem. We may not understand why, but the fact that Moshe was the seventh generation from Avraham, that the shemita year is the seventh year (and not the sixth or eighth) etc. adds to their uniqueness. 

The same is with Har Sinai. What is so special about it that Hashem chose it over all the other mountains in the world to give on it the Torah? The well known reason that it is because it is not so tall, doesn’t fully explain it.  There are other mountains even smaller or the same size. And Hashem could have made some other mountain the same size! (Also the reason that another Medrash gives, that it was chosen because no one worshipped idols on it, is also not suffice. The Medrash says that already during the Seven Days of Creation, before there was idolatry in the world,  Har Sinai was already chosen to be the place that the Torah will be given.) 

It must be, reasons Zera Shimshon, that there is some concealed and deep reason that Hashem chose Har Sinai over all the other mountain that we don’t understand just like that there is some concealed and deep reason that shemita is the seventh year and not the sixth or eighth that we also don’t understand. 

Another similarity. The meforshim explain that a reason that Hashem forbids us to plant during shemita is to show us that he is the Master of the world and, that even though that the land has the potential and the ability to grow fruits, and we would like those fruits, Hashem who is the Master of the world, doesn’t let us take advantage of it. We have accepts Hashem’s dictates and restrain ourselves from planting and cultivating the fields.

It was the same with Har Sinai. There was tremendous holiness on the mountain at the time of the giving of the Torah. It was a kedusha (holiness) that  our souls craved to be closed to. However Hashem commanded to surround the mountain with a border so we can’t get too close to and can’t take advantage of that tremendous holiness! 

Zera Shimshon cites one  more similarity between Har Sinai and shemita. Chaza“l teach us that the mitzva of shemita has in it the power to keep us out of exile. The reward we get for keeping the laws of shemita is that we can stay in Eretz Yisroel. And, unfortunately, the punishment when we don’t observe the laws of shemita is that Hashem exiles us from our land. (Rashi in this week’s parsha writes that the seventy years of our exile to Bavel was because of the seventy times we didn’t keep shemita.)

The same thing was with Sinai. At the time we received the Torah we became free from the yoke of other nations. (It came back when we worshipped the golden calf.) Even though we gained some freedom when we left Mitzrayim, it wasn’t complete until we received the Torah at Har Sinai.

Concludes Zera Shimshon, it is for these three similarities between shemita and Har Sinai that Hashem chose the mitzvo of shemita to teach us that just like  the general principals as well as the smallest details of shemita were given at Sinai so too the general principals and smallest details of all of the mitzvos were given on Sinai!
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