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Parshas Behar - Tea in China

By Reb Eliezer Bulka

Posted on 05/24/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

A Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my niece and nephew, Fraidy and Shmuel Clinton of Lakewood on the birth of a baby boy Wednesday night. Mazal Tov to the extended Bulka, Shonek and Jakobovits families with a special mazal tov to Oma Jakobovits as this was the second of two great great grandchildren born this week.


At the very beginning of the parsha we have the very famous question of Rashi: "Ma inyan shemittah eitzel Har Sinai?" Why is Har Sinai mentioned in connection to the mitzvah of shemittah more so than any other mitzvah? This phrase is so well-known that it has become a Hebrew colloquialism equivalent to, "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?" Rashi's answer is that just as the entire mitzvah of shemittah and all its minutia were all spelled out at Har Sinai, so to all the mitzvos were taught in their entirety at Har Sinai.


But it seems the question still remains unanswered. Why is shemittah chosen as the paradigmatic mitzvah with which to teach us this? I believe a possible answer relates to the immediacy of the application of the mitzvos. Of the 613 mitzvos, there were many that were applicable immediately. Some mitzvos became applicable later. Some that were connected to Eretz Yisroel only became applicable after they crossed over into the land, some later still. The mitzvah of shemittah was not observed until much later. The midrash states that the mitzvah didn't even apply until after the land was conquered and divided and thus, it wasn't until the 21st year that it was observed. There was certainly no rush to deliver the complex details of this special mitzvah. And yet, we are told that it was taught at Har Sinai. Surely, all other mitzvos were as well.


(One might ask, what about yoveil? Yoveil contains an explicit mitzvah for beis din to count the years leading up to it and therefore, it became applicable immediately, or at least at year 15.)