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Out of Control

By: Rav Jason Knapel

One of the most quoted phrases in Rashi is stated in this week’s Parsha. Questioning the juxtaposition of the laws of Shmitta with the location of “Har Sinai” Rashi asks – Mah Inyan Shmitta etzel Har Sinai – what is the “connection “of the laws of Shmitta to Har Sinai?  Rashi answers that just as the details of Shmitta were given at Har Sinai so too all the details of all the Mitzvot were given at Har Sinai.

But that still does not answer the question – what is the connection between Shmitta and Har Sinai? After all, there were other Mitzvot that were not relevant in the midbar and only came into play after the Jews entered the land – why specifically Shmitta?

Perhaps the answer can be found in one of the fundamental ideas behind Shmitta – a relinquishing of control. It is not only that during the Shmitta year we do not plant or do any work in the field and that we rely on Hashem for food during the 7th year. There is an actual relinquishing of control of the field – it is hefker – anyone who wants to come and take the fruits can come and take the fruits – we do not own them anymore, we do not control them anymore. The essence of the law is that we do not control everything that we thought we can control. Maybe the same idea applies to the “details” of the Mitzvot (Rashi seems to emphasize just as the details of Shmitta were given at Har Sinai, not just the Mitzvot…) Often we try to create our own religious experience – we try to do what suits us in terms of how we approach Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Often this is a correct approach; since every individual is different and Hashem wants everyone to connect to Him there must be a myriad of paths to connect to Him. But along with our own personalized approach we need to understand that Avodat Hashem is about subjugating myself to G-d, not creating a good feeling for myself – it is worshiping G-d, not myself, and therefore there are things that I must do – detailed things that I must do whether they speak to me or not. In this aspect I relinquish control to Hashem – I let myself be guided by him whether it suits me or not. I follow the details even if I do not understand them and I trust that Hashem “knows what He is doing” just as in Shmitta I relinquish control and I trust that Hashem will take care of me.

Shabbat Shalom

Rav Jason





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