And G‑d spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. (Lev. 25:1)

What does the above verse teach us regarding our service to G‑d? The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that in all aspects of Judaism, one is required to stand firm like a mountain that can not be moved from its place, unaffected by all the surrounding difficulties. This is akin to the statement by Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber of Lubavitch: "Never did the soul go into exile".

The servant of a king is himself a king.…

There is a part of us that never was and never will be truly affected by this world. Furthermore, the Talmud says, "The servant of a king is himself a king" (Shavuot 47). Every Jew is a servant of G‑d. It is therefore forbidden to relinquish our own honor - not because we are concerned with our own prestige, but rather because we are responsible for the honor of the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Our weekly Torah portion discusses the laws of shemita, of "release". Just as we keep a weekly day of Shabbat, so too, once in seven years there is a sabbatical year for the Land, called "shemita", when it is released from activity. Rashi asks why is shemita the first commandment discussed after the words "…at Mount Sinai"? He answers that this is to tell us that just as the details of the mitzvah of shemita, which are written here, were given completely at Mt. Sinai, so too the details of all the laws of the Torah, even if not written, were given completely there.

Rabbi Eliezer Lipman, in the book Otzar Maimarim, comments on the 32nd chapter of Tanya, where the concept of loving your neighbor is discussed.

The key to fulfilling the whole Torah is by elevating the soul over the body…

The Tanya explains that the key to fulfilling the whole Torah is by elevating the soul over the body. Loving others and loving G‑d is only possible when we disregard the false divisions created by our worldly consciousness and focus on the true spiritual unity of our souls. Those who make their body primary and their souls secondary are incapable of truly loving. Rabbi Lipman explains that from this lesson we learn that it is impossible to truly fulfill any mitzva unless one has first attained the level of "loving your neighbor". Without loving others, we cannot truly love G‑d, the basic requirement for doing all of the commandments. This is the message of Rashi's first commentary on parashat Behar: As the laws of shemita were given completely at Mt.Sinai, so too all of the laws of the Torah were given completely there. The only way to do any mitzvah is "from Sinai". When the Jews gathered at Sinai, they had attained true unity, real love for each other. So too in our generation, if we begin by loving our fellows, we are then capable of loving G‑d, and then any commandment is easy.

The Torah predicts the Jews' reaction to the shemita year: "What will we eat in the seventh year?" G‑d answers that He blesses the produce of the sixth year to be threefold (one for the sixth year, one for the shemita year, and one for the eighth year when the farmers await the produce to grow and become edible). Yet why would there be a doubt as to G‑d's blessing; didn't it happen just a few years before, too? The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that any farmer knows that with each passing season, a field becomes less fertile. By the sixth year, the land should be "maxed-out"! What are the chances of that same field producing its normal yield, let alone three times as much? Obviously, such a feat is only miraculous, surpassing any natural, logical explanation. When something defies our logic, we are left asking, "What will we eat…?" Shemita laws teach us to let go of our logic and personal expectations, and rely on G‑d and His commandments. We nullify ourselves before Him. Nevertheless, one's sense of self cannot be totally nullified. Therefore, each time shemita approaches, the doubt rises anew. So too, in our lives when we repeatedly hesitate or react in a certain way to a challenge, this does not mean we have not made any progress. It just means that we should persist and keep moving ahead!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.