Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh

Subjugation to Divine Values Versus Chasing After Self-Interests

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By: Rav Zion Luz

(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)

In Parshat Yitro, only after Am Yisrael declared the outstanding declaration, "All that Hashem said we shall do," is the Torah given. (Shemot 19:3-10) The same is true in Parshat Mishpatim. (Ch. 24, with the addition of, "and we will listen.")

It appears that this is not merely a credit to Am Yisrael, but rather this is a prerequisite for receiving the Torah, as Chazal comment on the verse, "He appeared from Mt. Paran." G-d brought the Torah around to all the nations to accept it, and all of them asked, "What does it say in it?," and refused to accept it. Only Am Yisrael, who said, "all that Hashem spoke we will do and we will listen" - received the Torah. It seems, that this is the foundation for the acceptance of Torah from then and forever. Only one who internalizes this declaration - complete subjugation to the values of Torah and its mitzvot - only he receives the Torah from Hashem. The basic difference between the nations and Am Yisrael is in this point. Whereas Am Yisrael, "reduce themselves before Me," and "Hashem, your G-d, you have designated" - it says about the nations of the world, "the kindness of the nations is sinful." All kindness that they do to do only for their own good. (Bava Batra 10b) Thus, G-d says to the nations in the future, "Fools of the world, everything that you did - you did only for yourselves." (Avodah Zara 2b) Thus, R. Shimon b. Yochai said about the activities of the Roman nation: "Everything that they prepared -  they prepared only for themselves. " (Shabbat 33b)

This means that even what looks like values of ethics and justice are only hidden self-interests and considerations of gain and worthwhileness in an appearance of kindness and righteousness. The Torah, which is the source of the word of Hashem, was not given to the nations of the world. They would take out of it what they want; they will distort it, and turn it into being a Divine seal of approval for all their desires and needs. They would turn it into a tool and means, instead of the purpose of the entire world. They would remove from it the word of Hashem and chase away from it the holy letters. Therefore the Torah was given only to Am Yisrael. Only one who has this quality, the ability to submit himself completely to G-d, only he can truly take out of it the world of Hashem in purity, and the inherent truth without any distortion, and without tilting it to his needs. This Jewish trait, whose root is in our holy patriarchs is etched in our flesh in the form of brit milah, and it is the foundation of the entire Troah. "On the brit that you have sealed in our flesh, and on the Torah that you have taught us" - this is the order and there is no other way. Therefore, the month of Shevat, which is fitting for correcting the "yesod" (Shoveveim, Pri Tzakid for the month of Shevat), is the introduction to the month of Adar, in which Am Yisrael reaccepted the Torah in the days of Achashverosh. Therefore, R. Shimon B. Yochai established in the holy Zohar to say "brich shemei" before taking out the sefer Torah, whose basic content is: "I am the servant of the Holy One, blessed be He, whom I bow before and before the honor of his Torah ... for He is the true G-d and His torah is true." And therefore, "May it be your will that you should open my heart in your torah." Without the complete subjugation to Hashem and submission before him, there is no guarantee that we will see in the Torah the word of G-d truthfully, which is the opening of the heart in Torah, and therefore, Moshe, who was the choice of the nation and "You called him a faithful servant," is the one who brings the Torah to Israel. He is called Rabbeinu for all generation, and about him it says that the Divine Presence speaks from his throat - the word of Hashem in its full purity.

However, at the sin of the golden calf something terrible occurred, whose by-products we sense in all generations. "There is no punishment that does not have in it of the sin of the golden calf (Brachot 32a, see Maharsha that this is until the era of Mashiach.) A group of erev rav - who are not of Israel, and not rooted in the aforementioned quality, who has the non-Jewish quality of self-interests and worthwhileness - dragged a large part of Am Yisrael after them. It overturned everything, and instead of our being servants to Hashem and His Torah - we will turn the Giver of the Torah and His Torah to our servants, and to the source of all our needs. Instead of serving Him, He will serve us. We will turn him to the servant of gold; we will turn the Torah into a shovel to dig with and to be a crown to be great by.  (The Kabalistic works call this the klipa of the erev rav, which is impossible to remove from Am Yisrael without suffering, and they are of the birthpangs of Mashiach. Therefore, when Moshe saw the golden calf, the holy letters flew off the luchot, (Tanchuma and Zohar.) The purity of the word of Hashem flew off the Torah. This non-Jewish temptation is so great, that it managed to drag many after it, and instead of accepting the Torah with fear, with trembling and shaking, as a servant before his Master, we went out with dances around the sholvel and the crown, around silver and honor. Minute by minute more circles of dancers were added.  From now on, to take people out of the circle of dancers, even if they are fully Jewish in the nature and internal qualities, is very, very difficult. They are already in a great trance, and "don't bother us, we are in the middle of the dances." Even Aharon the Cohen does not succeed in taking them out of it, and appears to cooperate, and only Moshe Rabbeinu, with his call "Who is for Hasehm - to me!" together with his followers from the tribe of Levi, succeed in stopping the tide, and to take the calf and pulverize it until nothing is left of it, to return the purity to the service of Hashem to its place. (See Rambam Hil. Shemitta 13:13, that not only the tribe of Levi, but rather anyone of this nature. This is essentially the advice of Yitro in our parsha, "men of accomplishment, G-d fearing, truthful people, and people who despise money.")

In says that R. Tzadok fasted forty years for this very issue before the destruction of the second Temple (Gittin 56a), when he saw that self-interests penetrated into the halls of Torah and formed hatred between the Sages. Therefore, he would say, "Do not make the Torah a crown to be great by, and not a shovel to dig with. There, also, people did not listen to him. They were all dancing around the shovel and the crown, such that he could not take them out of there. Presumably, during their wild dancing, they thought that very soon Mashiach was coming, but instead Titus came. (See the introduction of the Netziv to Sefer Bereishit and in Bach Orach Chaim 47)

The rebuke of R. Tzadok was a voice calling out in the desert. The Temple was destroyed, and there is seemingly no rectification, and we went out to a long exile. The way is very long to remove the klipa of the erev rav from us. "When our Sages entered Kerem B'Yavne they said, "The Torah is destined to be forgotten from Israel, as it says, "They will drift to find the word of Hashem and they will not find. (Shabbat 138b) With the outgrowth of the sin of the egel, who dances among us during the course of the long exile, it seems that the distance from the word of Hashem will be so great that it will be completely forgotten. However, R. Shimon b. Yochai answered them and said, "Heaven forbid that Torah should be forgotten from Israel, for it will not be forgotten from its generations." How do I explain, "and they will not find?" That they will not find a clear halacha and clear Mishna in one place."

Perhaps the intention is that the framework of Torah will always s be found in Israel, but it will not have the quality of the pure word of Hashem, which is primary. (See Rashi.) However, the preservation of the framework has the importance of preserving the Torah, until days will come that it will be possible to extract the word of Hashem from the Torah. This will be in Yerushalayim, the city of beauty, the city of righteousness, the faithful city. (GR"A in many places.) This is what it says, "Let us go up to the mountain of Hashem ... and he will direct us in his ways, and we will go in his ways, for from Zion Torah will go forth, and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. The house of Yaakov, let us go and walk in the light of Hashem" (Yeshaya 2:2-5), and, "Shine a new light over Zion and we will all merit hastily for its light."

Therefore, if in the aftermath of the sin of the egel, the crowns and the value of "all that Hashem said we will do and we will listen," were removed from Am Yisrael - in the future "G-d will return them to them, as it says, "Those redeemed by Hashem will return and come to Zion with joy, and eternal happiness on their heads" - happiness from days ago on their heads. Speedily in our days, Amen.

Shiur ID: 3676

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