We are taught in the Torah portion 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 connection has many other layers as well.
The first level is the concept of trust and faith.
A society based on agriculture would have thought it to be foolhardy to let the ground grow fallow for a year. Yet the children of Israel are commanded to step into such a seemingly illogical situation simply on faith. A faith that began at the foot of Mount Sinai
Hashem is aware of the difficulty of the request he demands of them;
And if you should say, “What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!” [Know then, that] I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield produce for three years. And you will sow in the eighth year, while [still] eating from the old crops until the ninth year; until the arrival of its crop, you will eat the old [crop].( Leviticus 25:20-22)
Yet again , faith and trust are critical in order to rely completely on that promise.
Our sages describe how the experience of the Shemittah year helps in rejuvenating the land and both the land and the needy that are given access to all the fruit of the time all benefit ( Maimonides). HaRav Kook sees the Shemittah year, similar to the Shabbat experience as a time when society as a whole can experience spiritual rejuvenation.
Yet all this can only happen if the people step into the unknown in faith. That is the deep connection between Mount Sinai. In both experiences they need to remove doubt and fear from their hearts and declare “All that HaShem hath spoken ‘Naaseh VeNishma’ will we do, and we will hear [understand].” (Exodus 24:7).
Just as this was true of their acceptance of Torah , it would be necessary for their acceptance of the challenge to go into the land of Israel and possess it. This possession of the land would be done at great risk and through great hardships. Yet it has to be done with great faith and hope. That would be true whether or not the people stepping into destiny would even be aware of that faith burning inside of them or not.
Yet there is one more deep and critical connection between Mount Sinai. Both were and are a concrete and real revelation of G-d in the world.
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 same 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 Shemittah continues to resound.
As 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
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved