Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Behar means “at the mountain” - Hashem told us the laws of the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee Year at Mt. Sinai. But weren't all the laws given at Mt. Sinai, Rashi wonders? Indeed they were. And Behar is the case in point – just as the general principles and particularities of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years were given at Mt. Sinai, so too the general principles and the specificity of all the laws were given at Sinai.
What Rashi doesn't answer, though, is why this matters. He leaves us to ponder the question for ourselves. After all, not all questions must be answered, right? That is the beauty of Torah: eternal questions that are answered anew as we go, as the need arises. To this end, Rebbe Nachman compares the Oral Torah to a sheep that grows new wool every year. That wool is sheared and used, but next year there is more to take.
So, when Rashi tells us that the “general principles and the particularities” were given at Sinai, it is like we were given the sheep then, and shown how to do its first shearing. We got the eternal Torah and the contemporary Torah at once.
How else do we explain the the surprising story of Moshe visiting the academy of Rebbe Akiva and sitting in the eighth row (the better students sat in the front in those days) and be utterly perplexed by what Rabbi Akiva was saying until Rabbi Akiva said, “we know this because it was given to Moshe at Sinai.”
How could Moshe not understand the Torah he himself learned at Sinai? Because what was given at Sinai was a method more than a content. Moshe was taught how to shear the sheep each year. This method has been conveyed from generation to generation—the how, the “13 ways that the Torah is interpreted.”
Rebbe Nachman continues that the sheep is sheared in order to make clothes. Each year, we ask, “what clothes does my neshama need? What clothes does am Yisrael need?” And we approach the task with those goals in mind.
What clothes do you need this year? What does your neshama need in order to properly manifest its piece of Hashem's encompassing vision? The more we can articulate this, the more direct our relationship with Torah can be, and the farther we can go.
Filed in Torah Archives