The opening pasuk in Parshat Behar relates that Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai and said to him, “Speak to the Children of Israel: When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall observe a Shabbat rest to Hashem” (25:2). This is popularly known as Shemittah — or the Sabbatical year. It is a year of “release” of fields, and debts.

Rashi asks the question, “Mah inyan shemittah eitzel Har Sinai?” Why does the Torah say “on Mount Sinai” specifically in the context of Shemittah as opposed to other laws? Were not all the mitzvot stated at Sinai? Rashi answers that it was written here to teach that, just as in the case of Shemittah, the general rules and its details and all the fine points of the law were stated at Sinai, so too, this is the case with all commandments.

Of course all raise the difficulty. Still, why was Shemittah the mitzvah singled out for this message and not any of the other mitzvot?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe answers that the uniqueness of Shemittah is that it explicitly call upon the Jew to demonstrate his confidence and reliance on Hashem. In this year the Jew is told to let the land lie fallow and waive the debts due him. Immediately, the inevitable question is asked “If so what will we eat during the seventh year — we have not sown and not harvested?”

“I will give My blessing,” says Hashem, “and the land will produce ample in the sixth year” (25: 20, 21). This is an ultimate lesson in the acceptance of the yoke of Hashem and the overcoming of man’s ego in obedience to Hashem. Observance of Shemittah also manifests one’s conviction, that in reality nothing is ours, but we and all we posses are simply a temporary Divine gift.

Faith in Hashem is a basic tenet of our religion and the essence of what should be the Jews relationship with Hashem should be. Thus, this is not just one of the many mitzvot given at Sinai but a fundamental mitzvah of supreme significance and therefore it was singled out. Faith is so basic that the prophet Habakuk established it as the ethical requirement as the basis for the fulfillment of the 613 commandments (see Makkot 24a).

Shemittah conveys a beautiful lesson in the subject of faith relevant for all people, and particularly for a young couple starting out in life hoping to build their future.

We all believe in Hashem and have faith in His omnipotence. We all declare faith as a beautiful concept and wonderful thing. We proclaim that it is important for tranquility and peace of mind. But what is faith without the power to act and live by it? Shemittah gives the Jew that opportunity. And in a smaller sense we have that experience every Shabbat of the year. On Shabbat and Shemittah when we let go of everything and attach ourself to Hashem, we are demonstrating our faith in Hashem in a tangible way. Our observance of Shabbat and Shemittah give credence to what a wise man once said “If our faith ends at our pocketbook, then how valuable is it?”

My message to you dear Chatan and Kallah is this; live with faith not just in theory but also in practice. Stick to Torah law tenaciously even if it may involve a temporary hardship. Ultimately you will merit G‑d’s blessing and promise that He will provide your needs in abundant measure.

Before concluding, permit me to add my own answer to Rashi’s question, “What is the relation with Sinai and Shemittah”? which has become a traditional rhetorical question.

Sinai to the Jewish people represents Torah study and observance of mitzvot. This is a detailed decorum for the Jew to follow twenty four hours of the day, all seven days of the week and throughout a person’s entire lifespan. On the other hand, Shemittah represents the concept of vacation.

Shemittah and Sinai were juxtaposed to emphasize there is never a vacation from Torah and mitzvot. Moreover, even when one affords the body a well-deserved vacation from its mundane laborious activities, Torah and mitzvot are not on vacation.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, at all times and wherever you may be, remember that Torah is the tree of life for those who hold on to it tightly.

"עלמא דאזלינן מיניה לבי הילולא דמי"
“This world from which we must eventually depart is like a wedding celebration.” (Eiruvin 54b)

QUESTION: How is the world analogous to a wedding celebration?

ANSWER: The most important element of a wedding is the Chatan marrying the Kallah according to the laws of Torah. It is essential that he marry her in the presence of two kosher witnesses and declare “Harei at mekudeshet li k’dat Moshe v’Yisrael — “You are betrothed to me in accordance with the laws of Moshe and Israel.” The celebration and festive repast that follows is secondary.

Unfortunately, there are many weddings where huge amounts of money are expended with emphasis on the caterer, music, photographers and general luxurious ambiance, while the most important aspect, the chuppah, is not in accordance with halachah.

Likewise, in this world the soul descends from heaven and clothes itself in the body for the purpose of acquiring Torah, mitzvot and good deeds. While some indeed live such a sublime life, unfortunately, very many make the physical amenities of life a priority, while the true purpose of life takes a distant second place.

(ספר בית שמואל אחרון – פ' בהר)