Behar: On The Mountain

Why Sinai?

Parsha Behar, means literally, “on the mountain.” The mountain referred to is, of course, Mount Sinai, where God gave the Torah to Moses and the Jewish people. 

Of all the locations God could have chosen, why Mount Sinai? Is it because of the mountain’s majesty, reaching into the clouds like Everest? Actually, as mountains go, Mount Sinai was nothing special. Our Sages teach that God chose the smallest of the mountains to teach us the value of humility and modesty.

But if God wanted to teach us to be humble, why pick a mountain at all? Why not give the Torah in a valley to demonstrate that Jews should be lowly of spirit? The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that the relatively small size of the mountain teaches humility, but the fact that it is a mountain teaches that we shouldn’t be humble about everything. When we follow God’s laws, we should stand tall. As it says in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), “Do not be ashamed in the face of mockers.” A Jew should be proud of living according to the laws of the Torah, and not allow the scorn of unbelievers to make him feel ashamed or humiliated.

An observant Jew is a servant of the Holy One. Like a servant he should be humble, but he should take pride in the One whom he is serving. 

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