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Behar- Kli Yahar- Shemittah on Sinai

The 7th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shlomo Ephraim of Luntchitz, author of Kli Yakar and Ololos Ephraim (1550-1619). Rav Ephraim was born in Lunchitz, Poland. (The name, “Shlomo” was added in 1601 in response to a severe illness.) He was a disciple of Rav Shlomo Luria (Maharshal). After leading the yeshiva in Lvov, Rav Shlomo Ephraim was appointed Rav of Prague in 1604. He sat on the Beis Din of that city with Rav Yeshayah Horowitz(the “Shelah Ha’kadosh”). Among Rav Shlomo Ephraim’s prominent students was Rav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, author of the Mishnah commentary Tosfos Yom Tov. The Kli Yakar died in Prague, Bohemia. Rav Shlomo Ephraim also wrote Amudai Sheish (mussar discourses on the six pillars: Torah, Avodah, gemilus chassadim, din, emes, and shalom), Ir Giborim, Rivevos Ephraim, Sifsei Da’as, and Orach L’chaim, as well as special selichos to be said in memory of the Jews of Prague who suffered horribly during the pogroms of 1611.


“God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath for God (Vayikra 25:1-2).” What is the connection between Shemittah and Sinai? (Rashi) It is simple to understand that when Moshe went up on Sinai after seven weeks counted by Israel from Pesach to Shavuot, the mountain was sanctified. It was prohibited to plow or plant on the mountain on the Fiftieth day; the day on which the Torah was given. It was the time of Yovail, as in, “Upon an extended blast of the Shofar, haYovail, they may ascend the mountain (Exodus 19:13),” just as the blast of the Shofar at the Yovail, the Jubillee Year, when Freedom was proclaimed, the same freedom, “Inscribed, Charut, on the Tablets,” don’t read Charut, inscribed, but Cheirut, freedom.

The Sinai experience itself taught Moshe the laws of Shemittah and Yovail: This same experience will be played out in the Land of Israel with the laws of the Seventh and Fiftieth Years.

Israel, where the air nurtures Wisdom, is the Place of Torah, and whatever was true of the Giving of the Torah, is true of the Land.

Shemittah and Yovail are to be a reenactment of Sinai.

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