And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai ( Behar Sinai) saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land shall rest a Sabbath to Hashem.'(Leviticus 25:1-2)
Clearly there is a deep connection revealed here between the revelation at Mount Sinai and the Land of Israel.
The Modzitzer Rebbe , Reb Shaul Yedidya Elazar had a deep love for the land of Israel and foresaw its re-establishment . In his reading of the verse in our Torah portion he reveals a powerful and eternal connection He explained that the words in the verse in the following way:
When you come to the land that I am giving you, / Asher Ani Noten Lachem (Leviticus 25:2) This wording is meant to teach us that “when you come into the land .. then G-d will give you your “Ani”, your “personhood”, your “I”. It is only in the land of Israel that you will discover your inner purpose and destiny.
Yet there is more.
In Exodus we read regarding the departure from Mount Sinai the following: Hashem spoke to Moshe: 'Go, ascend from here ( Aleh MiZeh), you and the people you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying: 'I will give it to your descendants'(Exodus 33:1).
The "Here" that Hashem is talking about is Har Sinai ( Mount Sinai) of which we read in Deuteronomy the following;
"But beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw, and lest these things depart from your heart, all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children and to your children's children, the day you stood before Hashem your G-d at Horeb, ....And you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of the heavens, with darkness, a cloud, and opaque darkness. Hashem spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no image, just a voice.( Deuteronomy 4: 9-12)
Is there any place that one can ascend to from such an encounter?
It seems that there is.
Hashem does need a land, or even a House. All of creation is His. Yet He desired a House. He declares about the land of Israel the following;
“'The land must not be sold permanently, because this land is Mine"(Leviticus 25:23).
He does not need a House or a land to be declared as being His.
Yet we need to know that there was and will be such a house and there will always be such a land that will be experienced as being His. So that when we enter that House or when we come into that land we enter into a place of Higher Awareness of Hashem’s existence and Presence.
This then, is the experience of every individual living in this land. It is the experience of every tourist and visitor as well. If you enter or live in this land filled with yourself and your pre-conceived notions and doctrines, you will not be impacted and filled.
On the other hand, if you enter and walk this land with an open heart of wonderment you will be empowered and lifted .As a result you will be changed irrevocably.
That is the power of this “appointed place” that Hashem describes as "a land that Hashem your G-d cares for. The eyes of Hashem your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year".(Deuteronomy 11:12)
About Mount Sinai we read the following;
“You have been shown in order to know that God, He is the Supreme Being. There is none besides Him. From heaven he let you hear His voice in order to teach you, and on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words amid the fire.” (Deut. 4:32-36).
For that moment in time Heaven reached down and touched the earth.
The land of Israel achieves the similar but different purpose.
The survival and flourishing of this people in this land becomes a sanctification of Hashem’s name. As Hashem says in the book of Ezekiel “and the nations shall know that I am Hashem-is the declaration of Hashem G-d-when I will be sanctified through you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land."( Ezekiel 36:23-24).
The connection to the agriculture and therefore to Shmita continues to resound.
The prophet Ezekiel describes the final return of the people from Exile in the following way; “But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.”(Ezekiel 36:8) . Every fruit, every tree, every flower is a testament to the fulfillment of Hashem’s promises.
Just as Mount Sinai was a revelation of Hashem’s involvement in our world so is the land of Israel.
Yet the revelation at Mount Sinai was a time wherein Heaven touched the Earth.
The return of the people to the land of Israel is a time wherein the Earth reaches up to touch the Heavens.
May we all have the wisdom and sensitivity to sense it and feel it.
LeRefuat Kol Hacholim
Lerefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Chaya Esther
Moshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.