Divrei Torah

PARSHAS BEHAR 5776

The Torah introduces this week’s Parsha with the Passuk, “And G-d spoke to Moshe at Mount Sinai saying.” Then, the Torah describes the laws of Shmitta, the Sabbatical year, when one is not permitted to work the Land of Israel . . . no planting . . . no plowing . . . any other work that is done to improve the land.

G-d did not organize the Torah in a random manner. There is a rhyme and reason for the order of the Parshios and the sections that are found within each Parsha. Therefore, Rashi immediately asks a famous question, “What do the laws of Shmitta have to do with Mount Sinai? Afterall, G-d gave us all of the Mitzvos at Mount Sinai, so why does the Torah single out Shmitta?” 

Rashi answers that the Torah is teaching us that all Mitzvos, with all of their detail, were told by G-d to Moshe at Mount Sinai, taught to the Jewish people and repeated to them before they entered the Land of Canaan, at the end of their 40 year sojourn in the desert. In other words, the entire Torah was given by G-d to Moshe at Mount Sinai. This is one of the fundamental beliefs of Judaism.

Perhaps there is also another idea that the Torah is conveying to us, by relating Shmitta to Mount Sinai. One of the laws of Shmitta is that working the Land of Israel is off limits. Eating produce of the Shmitta year carries certain restrictions with it. We can’t have everything we want to have. 

The same is true with the rest of the Torah. The Torah puts restrictions and limits on our behavior. We can’t do everything that we want to do . . . we can’t have everything that we want to have . . . we can’t eat everything that we want to eat. The Torah places limits upon us. The Torah is teaching us that having everything can be dangerous. We must have restrictions. We must have limits. The Torah gives us these for our own good.

If we follow the physical limits that the Torah imposes upon us, then the Torah teaches us that there are no spiritual limits. We can try to attain whatever spiritual growth we desire.