Wednesday, May 27, 2009

תּוֹרָה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָכֶם

Thanks to Chanie and Chabakuk Elisha, I present below the English translation of an article based on a shiur given by Sudilkover Rebbe, shlit"a in the neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem on Erev Shavuos 5763 (2003):

One Torah Shall You Have
(Bamidbar 15:29)

The Jewish calendar is defined and elaborated upon well. Our holy Torah clearly specifies every special time and holiday, from Rosh Hashana through Pesach.

Yet, there are two holidays that differ in this regard, since they do not have a definite date.

The first is Shabbos Hagadol - commemorating the miracle when the Jewish people pulled themselves away from idol worship by publicly taking sheep - which were considered to be gods by the Egyptians - and sacrificed them to Hashem. Although this event occurred on Shabbos, 10 Nissan 2448, we remember this event on the Shabbos before Pesach each year, regardless of whether or not it falls on the 10th of Nissan.

The second holiday is Zman Matan Toraseinu (Shavuos). Not only are we not provided with the date of the giving of Torah until discuss it in the Talmud (Shabbos 86), but even this is not to establish the holiday - rather, Chazal, simply add the mention of it in our Festival prayers.

Shavuos is not bound by a set date. It is set only as the fiftieth day of the counting of the Omer. What this means, in essence, is that during the period when the Jews determined Rosh Chodesh by whether they saw the moon, Shavuos could fall either on the fifth of Sivan (when Nissan and Iyar were 30 days), or the seventh of Sivan (if Nissan and Iyar were 29 days), both of which were acceptable according to what Chazal set, but neither of which were the day that the Torah was given - the sixth of Sivan.

The very fact that the Torah establishes a day of holiness, on which the Torah was given, but does not specify a date, begs us to expounded upon it!

However, one important point is worth clarifying first:

Chazal taught us (Yerushalmi, Berachos 9:1), “Just as faces are not alike, so too opinions are not alike”. It is therefore understood, that there is no occupation in the world which will be fitting for every person. When a person learns any sort of skill, it is dependent on his talents, abilities, tendencies, and preferences. How then is is possible to give one Torah to an entire nation of millions of people and to require them to learn it day and night?

On a very superficial level, this could be comparable to forcing an entire nation of men, women, and children to learn shoe making without taking any of their talents into account. If we consider this matter a little deeper, however, we will understand that this is not how things really are.

King David told us that: “The Torah of Hashem, is perfect and complete, settling of the soul, the testimony of Hashem is true; it makes wise the fool; the laws of Hashem are straight – they make happy the heart." (Tehilim 19:8) And the Tzofer HaNa’amati added, “The Torah’s measurements are longer than the land and wider than the sea.” The Torah of G-d is perfect and complete, wider than the sea, and its greatness is beyond measure.

There is no person who cannot find for himself "his part" of the Torah, through which he can bring completion to his soul and climb higher and higher on the path to Hashem.

Our holy Torah is not comparable to any wisdom or occupation. Special talents or specific abilities were not required before it was accepted or before one may learn it today. Since every Jew was at Har Sinai, everyone can find their place in the Torah.

In Mechilta 19:2, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught, “One should always relate how the Torah was given to the Jewish people in the desert... If the Torah would have been given in Eretz Yisroel, those living in the land would have claimed that it was theirs; if it would be given in another land, the citizens in that place would attempt to lay claim to the Torah. Therefore, Hashem decided to give the Torah in the desert, in order that all those who wanted to could come and claim a part.”

Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz further elucidated upon this in his book “Zera Kodesh”. He explained that the word of Hashem was given in the desert in order to spread out to all the valleys and low places and to uplift the people who were considered to be the lowest of the low.

However, before these lowly people could toil in Torah, Avos d'Rabbi Noson 32 tells us that Hashem set a condition,

"Hashem said to the wicked; good deeds you do not have and you ask to learn Torah? As it says, ‘And to the wicked G-d says, what do you have to tell My law’. My law you do not keep, how do you talk about them, and you hate reproof?!”

It is evident from this that the one precondition to learning Torah is to “pull your hands away from idol worship” – all worship that is strange, unrelated, to the commands of the Creator and the fulfillment of His mitzvos.

An example of this "strange" worship may occur if a person wakes up one day and listens to a lesson in Torah that deals with the greatness of the mitzva of a sukkah for the first time in his life and then runs to fulfill the mitzva in the height [and heat] of the summer. If we witness such an occurence, we should tell this person to wait and have patience since the holiday of Sukkos is limited to a certain time - just as the mitzvos of tefillin and the blowing of the shofar.

While Hashem limited the time in which these mitzvos can be performed, He did not, however, set a specific time when one can do teshuva or accept the yoke of Torah. For these, there is no time limit!!

This is the reason that the Torah did not set a specific date for Shabbos Hagadol and Zman Masan Toraseinu.

The times that the two holidays symbolize – the time of leaving sin and that of accepting the Torah - are always available to us. There is no set time! We always have the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and repair what we may have damaged in the past.


At May 27, 2009 at 10:45:00 AM EDT, Blogger aaron.nanach said...

Well written article.

At May 27, 2009 at 11:26:00 AM EDT, Anonymous schneur said...

Interesting essay.
May I know some background information on the Suddlikower rebbe. Where did he study , who his rebbe was, is he a recent arrival from Russia?
I try to keep up with the world's Hassidic news and personalities ,a nd I must say he has flown under my radar.

At May 27, 2009 at 2:18:00 PM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Beautiful. Thanks for posting.

At May 28, 2009 at 4:05:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Yehuda said...

As always, a great, important and powerful post. your rebbe have a deep look, in a simple language. I got a tremendous Chizuk, thank's. a good yom-tov.


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