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15 Elul 5764 - September 1, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Comfort on the Tablets of Our Hearts

by Rabbi Mordecai Plaut, based on a shiur of a rosh yeshiva in Yerushalayim (HaRav Moshe Shapiro zt"l)

As we read the seven haftorahs of comfort that lead up to the Yomim Noraim, these insights into the true meaning of comfort should prove very valuable.

Part III

Part I discussed the fact that the seven haftarahs that we read from Tisha B'Av until Rosh Hashonoh show that consolation provides a crucial bridge that takes us from the Churban to the Tikkun that we have on Yom Kippur, equivalent to our receiving the Second Luchos on that day. However, we do not even understand what consolation is and how it could be possible. How can we console someone in the midst of a loss? Consolation does not mean distraction, so how is such a thing possible?

We must learn and absorb the words of the prophets. What is their message? . . . devorai asher samti beficho, lo yomushu mipicho umipi zar'acho umipi zera zar'acho, omar Hashem, ad olom. The prophets continued the experience of Sinai, by propagating the dvar Hashem in our community. What was (is) their message? Teshuvoh and Geuloh. We note that the role that the prophets play was given over to the chachomim at the Churban. The prophets also bring us consolation, though, in critical times, Hashem brings us that message Himself. Putting these elements together, each in its proper setting, will help us grasp what consolation is and how it is effected in this period.


The Key Difference

The special thing that happened, starting on Rosh Chodesh Elul and continuing for forty days until Yom Kippur, is that Hashem had told Moshe Rabbenu to come up to Him on Mount Sinai and to bring along with him the Second Tablets of Stone (Luchos Avonim). Hashem asked Moshe Rabbenu to prepare those Tablets and then to go up on Rosh Chodesh Elul.

The striking difference between the First Tablets and the Second Tablets is that the First Tablets were an act of G-d, but stones for the Second Tablets were brought up by Moshe Rabbenu to Heaven. On the First Tablets was "the writing of Elokim" (michtav Elokim -- Shemos 32:15) but upon the Second Tablets Hashem wrote the "words that were on the First Tablets that you broke" (Shemos 34:1).

The First Tablets were given to us by Hashem -- a complete gift from Above. The Second Tablets we brought ourselves.

That is, the second time the recipients of the Torah brought the Tablets themselves, and it was upon these that the Borei Olom wrote the words of the Torah. The Torah that we have today is Torah that was written upon Tablets that were brought by us, the recipients of the Torah.

This is the main difference between the First and Second Tablets, and it is a deep and very important difference: The Second Tablets were written upon what we brought.

The First Tablets, which were broken, were entirely from Hashem. Those First Tablets were entirely a gift from Above.

As Chazal say, the heart is also called a Luach (Tablet). The heart of Yisroel is the Tablet upon which the Borei Olom writes the Torah.

The First time, everything was given by Hashem. The Second time, the Torah was written upon what we brought.

Rabboseinu said (in the name of the Arizal) that the well- known hint that is given for a reference to the month of Elul (Ani leDodi veDodi li--Shir Hashirim 6:3) also indicates what happened in this month. Hashem told Moshe to bring that upon which the Torah is to be written.

Whatever I bring, as it were, is what is used by Hashem upon which to write the Torah. This is the Torah that we got from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur: The Torah that was written by Hashem upon what we prepared. Ani leDodi -- [upon] what I bring to my Beloved, vedodi li that is what my Beloved gives to me.

We must understand and know: For everything that is received from Above and subsequently broken, there is a second time. There is always a "Second Tablet" in the wake of a broken First Tablet. This is necessary. This is the way things are arranged. This is how the Borei Olom created our reality.

Chazal tell us that our world is the Second Tablets. Its essence is of the Second Tablets. The Borei Olom, even before creating the world, created and destroyed earlier stages: Boneh olomos umachrivom -- the Borei Olom constructed worlds and then destroyed then; He chose what He wanted (Bereishis Rabboh 3:9).

And then the order of Creation itself was: At first it occurred to Him, as it were, to create the world with Middas Hadin. Then He saw that the world could not persist so he joined Middas Horachamim to it (Rashi on Bereishis 1:1).

The Fundamental Pattern

It is obvious that there is nothing like real regret with regard to Hashem. There is no progression in which a later stage cancels out an earlier stage, which is what people mean by "regret."

Each stage with Hashem is a reality by itself. So when He originally thought to create the world with Middas Hadin, there is a reality in that. And then, "He saw that the world cannot persist." This is also real.

This shows the same structure as we have been considering: that the world has a state and then the churban of that state, and then a new reality that comes after that churban.

This is a fundamental pattern of the world and the way it was created: a reality, the destruction of that reality, and a new state after that destruction. Thus is the world that was created: Creation, destruction, new Creation.

Chazal say on Bereishis, that Hakodosh Boruch Hu originally saw the Beis Hamikdash built, then destroyed and then rebuilt. Veho'oretz hoyso tohu (Bereishis 1:2), this is destruction. Vayomer Elokim yehi ohr (Bereishis 1:3), this is rebuilding.

We also find this pattern with Yaakov when he has his dream. He sees the Beis Hamikdash built, then destroyed and then rebuilt, as it says ki im Beis Elokim (Bereishis 28:17), it will be rebuilt in the future.

People have bechiroh and do not always choose the best alternative. The reality of the world makes it essential that the world is built, destroyed and then it can be rebuilt. Tohu, bohu, choshech and tehom (Bereishis 1:2) are the Four Exiles. And they are followed by Yehi ohr: then there is light. This is at the root of Creation.

Every time there is destruction, it reveals a new aspect, a new depth that was not present before. Before the first reality was destroyed, all there was, was the first reality. After the destruction, a second reality is revealed.

When the First Beis Hamikdosh stood, prophecy was in the hands of prophets. When that Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed and prophecy was taken from the prophets, it was given to the chachomim.

When the prophets were prophesying, it meant that they received the words of Hashem from Hashem. It all came from Hashem.

How the Dvar Hashem Comes Through the Chachomim

When the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed and prophecy was given to the chachomim, it parallels the stage of the Second Luchos: in order to receive the continuing dvar Hashem, the chachomim must carve from themselves a substrate for the prophecy (as it says "pesol lecho" (Shemos 34:1) ). It is upon that which the chachomim manage to carve from and within themselves, and only upon that, that the Borei Olom reveals what He has to say. From within their words -- within their words themselves -- the Borei Olom adds what He has to say, as it were.

This is what it means that prophecy was not taken from the chachomim. It does not mean that the chachomim receive messages from Above like the prophets did, but rather that they must work and toil very hard until they understand something. What they understand is from their own resources, from their own seichel, a product of their own toil.

It is upon this, the analog of the Second Luchos that Moshe Rabbenu brought, that Hashem again writes, "the things that were upon the first tablets that you broke."

In the same way, each and every one of us must fulfill "pesol lecho" and upon the result, kevayochol, the Borei Olom writes His message. And it is in proportion to what we have carved and prepared from ourselves, that Hashem writes divrei Torah.

The heart is called a luach. This is exactly what it is. According to the luach that we bring to the process, divrei Torah are written. We must supply the luach upon which the divrei Torah are written.

The Creator, as it were, once gave us Luchos and they broke. We will not receive any more Luchos. Hakodosh Boruch Hu will restore the First Luchos in the future, after the tikkun sholeim, the tikkun sofi. But that is in the future.

In the meantime, we have only the pieces of the shattered Luchos. But from these pieces of the shattered Luchos there is a possibility for us to create Luchos of our own. The same things that were written upon what was broken, upon what was taken from us, can be written on the luchos that we prepare.

End of Part III

Click here to view Part 1.

Click here to view Part 2.

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