Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Sivan 5759, May 19 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
A New Acceptance of the Torah

The Jewish year is an ever-fascinating interaction between the recurring holy days with their universal themes that speak to us across the millennia and all of the varied and variable elements of our communal and individual lives. Each year we take what we have gained and lost, what we have earned and learned, and approach Sinai once again to receive the Torah and rededicate ourselves and our lives to the word of Hashem. Each year we accept it anew, but we are really not the same people who received the Torah last year, but a new and different folk who come to the holy mountain for that great Revelation.

Chazal compare the radiance of Hashem's influence on the world to a single light source that can appear so different depending on the filters that are interposed between the source and the recipient. If the filter is, for example, red, then the source itself will appear to be red, and to be emitting a red radiance.

In the same way, but ever so much more complex, the radiance of Sinai is filtered by our communal experiences and by our individual state each year as we experience the Zman Matan Toraseinu. The light is the same, but how do we receive it?

Have we grown this year? Have our insights matured and deepened? Can we receive the Torah at a deeper and richer level than in the past?

What about those around us? What about our families, our friends, our acquaintances, our fellow Jews? Have we neglected them -- or have we ensured that they have become larger and better vessels to receive the Torah? We all benefit when any one of us benefits for we are all one, and an increase for one is an increase for all. This is especially so with regard to Torah, which required the unity of purpose that Klal Yisroel displayed in Midbar Sinai, when they encamped "as one person with one heart."

This is certainly the time to emphasize and recall the importance that Torah has for us as individuals and as a community. As Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch writes, "Our summer will come when the fire of Sinai becomes our sun." (Collected Writings, Volume I, p. 277)

We can take steps to ensure that Torah is central to ourselves and to those closest to us, but it is very far from the center of the rest of the world, and even the rest of the Jewish world.

Torah is the key to the persistence of the Jewish people. Rav Saadia Gaon said that we are a people by virtue of the Torah and this is certainly no less true in our day, even when we are privileged to live in Eretz Yisroel. What is it that brought us back from all over the world if not the common bond of Torah?

Who is a Jew is the question that is asked all over the world. They say that the American Jewish community is 5.5 million strong, but that is based on letting each individual decide for him or her self whether he or she is Jewish. The number of halachically Jewish people in America is much smaller, and the number of Jews who truly accept the Torah every year is vastly smaller -- but this is the core Jewish population that will preserve the Torah and the Jewish people in the difficult times ahead.

We must pull ourselves together. How did we manage to make a collective covenant? Uvo'u kulom bivris yachad, when we all said na'ase venishma together.

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