At the foot of the mountain

We need to be somebody in order to make room in ourselves to be less.

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Moses on Mount Sinai Jean
Moses on Mount Sinai Jean
צילום: PR

The Torah portion of Behar begins with the words "And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying,"( Leviticus 25:1)

Why do we need to know that these words were spoken at Mount Sinai? We already knew where the Jews were encamped.

Rashi gives the following explanation;

"What special relevance does the subject of Shemittah [the sabbatical seventh year] have with Mount Sinai? Were not all the commandments stated from Sinai? However this is to teach that just as with Shemittah, its general principles and its finer details were all stated from Sinai, likewise, all of them were stated-their general principles together with their finer details-from Sinai."

Yet there is a deeper level to the mention of the Mount. The choice of Mount Sinai was critical. One would have thought that the revelation of G-d's word into the world would be done on a mountain of gigantic stature. On an Everest or some other mighty and impressive mountain.

The Midrash (Midrash Psalms 68:17) states that G-d chose Mt. Sinai for the “Giving of the Torah” because in fact it was “the smallest of all mountains.” This was to ensure that man would know that the key to receiving Divine revelation and inspiration necessitates a sense of humility. This may give deeper insight to the verse in psalms that discusses the mountains that inspire;

" I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where ( Mei-Ayin) does my help come?"(Psalm 121:1).

The words "From where ( Mei-Ayin) " also denotes from Nothingness (Mei-Ayin) . That is to say. From my accepting the smallness of "me" allows for the greatness of Him to enter.

The Sfat Emet then asks that if that is so, then why G-d not give the Torah in a valley.

The Sfat Emet answers that G-d did not want the vessels of His revelation to be so completely self-effacing. We need to be somebody in order to make room in ourselves to be less. We have been privileged to be the language of Hashem as His plan unfolds in this world. As a result we need to break away from the subservient and stooped image we adopted while living under the ravages of exile for two thousand years.

So the experience at Mount Sinai was meant to be a lesson. We need to be humble vessels and yet worthy vessels nevertheless.

Yet there are other levels  as well.

One of those levels revolves around the concept of trust and faith taught in the Sabbatical ( Shemittah ) year.

In truth a society that was based on agriculture would have thought it absurd to let the ground grow fallow for a year. The only reason such a thought was even possible was because the Creator asked it of them. He asked it of them as they stood at the foot of at Har Sinai(Mount Sinai).

In addition, G-d also calms the fears of the nascent Israelite nation with the following words.

“I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will be enough produce for three years.” (Leviticus 25:21)

The “Sefer Hachinuch” suggests that the year of Shemittah reminds the people of the land that in fact they are not the owners . The land belongs to G-d and they are but guests on His land;

 "...for the land belongs to Me, for you are strangers and residents with Me." (Leviticus 25:23)

The underlying truth of the Shemittah ( Sabbatical Year) laws is  the understanding to trust in Hashem and to trust in His promises.

"Trust in Hashem forever, for in Hashem is an eternal rock." (Isaiah 26;4)

So in spite of all the travails of our long trek in history.

Despite the persecution and the exiles.

Despite the confusion that has crept into the hearts of many of our fellow travelers in this voyage.

The ingredients of success are humility, a deep sense of worthiness and purpose and a ultimately a deep trust in the Divine promise.

LeRefuat Yehudit bar Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Esther