Due to the eighth day of Pesach falling out on Shabbos, Eretz Yisrael and Chutz La'aretz have been one parsha off for the past few weeks. Since I am in Eretz Yisrael, I have been following the calender here. This week in Chutz La'aretz, they will be laining Parshas Emor, click here for the Dvar Torah. Next week, we will once again be synchronized.
“וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה בְּהַר סִינַי לֵאמֹר” “Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai saying” (Vayikra 25:1). Parshas Behar begins with Hashem giving over to Moshe a detailed explanation of the mitzvah of Shmittah. The Meforshim (Commentators) all ask, why is it necessary for the pasuk to tell me that this conversation happened at Har Sinai? We know that all the mitzvos were given at Har Sinai even if they are not listed in the Torah as being given there, so why by Shmittah does the Torah make an exception and tell me that it was told over at Har Sinai?
Rashi gives two answers. The first answer is from the medrash, Toras Kohanim, which says that I might have thought that while all the mitzvos were mentioned by Har Sinai, not all of its’ details were given over at that time. Therefore, the Torah tells us here, where we are listing all the details of Shmittah, that so too the details of every mitzvah were given at Har Sinai as well. His second answer is his own. Sefer Devarim is known in Chazal as “משנה תורה”, Review of the Torah, because almost all of the mitzvos previously mentioned, as well as some new ones, are said over again in this sefer. Rashi explains that since the mitzvah of Shmittah is one of the few mitzvos that is not repeated in Sefer Devarim, we see that the entire mitzvah, with all of its’ details must have been given over by Har Sinai. Therefore, the pasuk writes “בְּהַר סִינַי” to teach me that really every mitzvah was given at Har Sinai and then repeated in Sefer Devarim.
The answers appear very similar, but the Ramban finds a very big difference between the two. The Ramban does not like Rashi’s own answer (the second answer we brought) for two reasons. First of all, there are many mitzvos besides Shmittah which are not repeated again in Sefer Devarim so we cannot necessarily learn anything from the fact that Shmittah was not repeated either. Secondly, why do we connect the mitzvos said in Sefer Devarim to Shmittah in the fact that all of their details were said over at Har Sinai? Perhaps the general rules of the mitzvos were said over at Har Sinai while the details were said over in Sefer Devarim and the reason why Har Sinai is mentioned by Shmittah is because its’ details were given over there as well. But only the mitzvah of Shmittah is like this, meaning that there is absolutely no connection between Shmittah and any of the other mitzvos! The Ramban has no problem with the medrash, however. Earlier in Parshas Mishpatim, the general rule of Shmittah was given (See Shemos 23:11), while the details are given here. Later on in Parshas Bechukosai, the pasuk says, “אֵלֶּה הַמִּצְוֹת אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶת מֹשֶׁה אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהַר סִינָי” “These are the commandments that Hashem commanded Moshe to the Bnei Yisrael on Har Sinai” (Vayikra 27:34). By writing “בְּהַר סִינָי”, this pasuk connects all other mitzvos to Shmittah and teaches us that the mitzvos were taught in separate general and detail lessons, all at Har Sinai.
The Seforno brings the medrash from Toras Kohanim to answer our question and then asks one of his own. The Seforno learns that the Torah was not written in order of how events happened, so if this mitzvah was actually given at Har Sinai, way back in Sefer Shemos, how come it was told over here at this point? He answers that at this point in time, before the sin of the spies, the Bnei Yisrael were on the verge of entering Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, Moshe told over the mitzvah of Shmittah since their stay in Eretz Yisrael was dependent on the keeping of that mitzvah. (For more on this idea, see [26:34].)
The Kli Yakar has his own idea to answer our question. When Moshe went up on Har Sinai for the first time to receive the Torah, forty-nine days had passed since Bnei Yisrael had left Egypt. Until that day when the Torah was given, Har Sinai was nothing more than a simple mountain. Now it was given a much higher level of spirituality. Therefore, it would make sense to assume that on the day the Torah was given, it became forbidden to do any sort of agricultural work on Har Sinai. At that time, Hashem decided to take this idea of seven sets of seven and the fiftieth day afterwards and give it to Eretz Yisrael and make it forbidden in agriculture as well. Therefore, every seventh year we have Shmittah, and every fiftieth year, Yovel, where it is forbidden to do any labor in your fields. Har Sinai, the place where the Torah was given, and Eretz Yisrael, where, Chazal teach us, the air itself makes you wiser, and where Chazal say “אין תורה כתורת ארץ ישראל”, “There is no Torah like the Torah of the land of Israel”, these two places should share this special kedushah where physical labor is forbidden, allowing you to focus completely on the study of Torah.
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