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    Mountain or wilderness – B’har

    The Torah reading commences (Lev. 25) with Moses and the Almighty speaking together on Mount Sinai.

    Biblical geography often features mountains. The height of Moriah inspires our father Abraham. God calls Moses to the summit of Sinai from where the Ten Commandments are proclaimed to mankind.

    Mountains are often a metaphor for aspiration – for example, “I raise my eyes to the mountains from which comes my help” (Psalm 121:1). Judaism constantly urges people to raise their sights, and not be dragged down to the depths.

    However, the commentators are not carried away by the mountain imagery. They agree with Rashi that because Mount Sinai was the locale of the giving of the Decalogue, the other mitzvot are also Sinaitic. But some laws of the Torah were given in the wilderness; it depended on what was necessary at the time.

    True, there is less poetry in the idea of laws given in the wilderness, but mountains were not the only place where people gained instruction. Human problems tended to emerge from the earthly wilderness, and that is where the solution often had to be found.

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