We are taught in the Torah portion that that there is a deep connection between the revelation at Mount Sinai and the land of Israel.
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 the Lord. (Leviticus 25:1-2)
Rashi asks the classical question;” Ma Inyan Shmitta Eitzel Har Sinai? What has the sabbatical year to do with Mount Sinai? He continues to ask ”Were not all commandments given on Sinai? But the verse wishes to tell us that just as with the sabbatical year both the general principle and its minute details were ordained on Mount Sinai, so, too, was it with all the commandments–their general principles as well as their minute details were ordained on Mount Sinai”.
Yet the link is clearly much deeper.
One of those links revolves around the concept of trust and faith.
In truth a society that was based on agriculture would have thought it to be 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).
There are many layers regarding the purpose and impact of Shemittah ( sabbatical)year. Maimonides suggests; that letting the land lie fallow will result in the land rejuvenating itself. The benefit is both to the land and to the needy who benefit from this “ownerless” land.
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 “Sefer Hachinuch” further suggests that the experience of the Shemittah helps to de-emphasizes materialism, and greedy possessiveness.
HaRav Kook sees the shemittah year , similar to the Shabbat experience as a time when society as a whole can experience spiritual rejuvenation.
Yet underlying it all is the understanding that the Shemittah year teaches us to trust in Hashem and to trust in His promises. Trust ,after all ,is that basis of our spiritual walk.
“Trust in Hashem forever, for in Hashem is an eternal rock.”(Isaiah 26;4)).
That is the deep connection to the Mount Sinai experience;
“And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the hearing of the people; and they said: ‘All that HaShem hath spoken ““Naaseh VeNishma “will we do, and we will hear [understand].( Exodus 24:7)
Human beings when being asked to do something ,usually attempt to understand what and why. Yet the people at the foot of Mt. Sinai turned to G-d and said Naaseh VeNishma. We will do, and only then could we and will we hear and understand. They made a declaration that was solely based on Trust and faith.In the long road that lay ahead through Jewish History that commitment to faith and trust would be sorely tested. Yet a significant part of the people would succeed in that endeavor.
That is also the lesson of the land of Israel. In the midst of all the travails of this people and after all the convoluted history of this land, it is a land that repays its inhabitants in kind. 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. You will also not be able to remain in the land.
On the other hand, if you enter and walk this land with an open heart of wonderment. If you enter and walk its thoroughfares in trust then you will be empowered and lifted.
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)
The experience at Mount Sinai changed us because we dared to trust in Hashem. The land of Israel continues to be a source of blessing because we dare to continue that trust.
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved