Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar 5761 - March 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Each Day Like New

by Maran Rosh Hayeshiva HaRav Eliezer Menachem Shach shlita

It is written, "And He gave to Moshe after He had finished speaking with him at Mt. Sinai the Two Tablets of the Testimony." Says Rashi: "The Torah was given to him as a gift, like a kallah to the chosson."

In his dream, Yaakov Ovinu beheld a ladder whose feet were steadfast on the ground and whose head reached the heavens. When one stands upon the first rung of a ladder, one does not necessarily feel connected to the rung above. Once a person has ascended to that upper rung, his stance is different, new. His position did not exist previously, it is an advantage.

And thus is it with receiving Torah. Having accepted it, a person is necessarily transformed; he must be different, more exalted and purified. Similarly, with every succeeding rung scaled and mounted -- a person has ascended spiritually, progressed to a new level of kabolas haTorah, like a new bride.

Furthermore, when Chazal established that Torah was given like a bride to a groom, this means that matan Torah is the beginning of a future continuation. There are no commencements without progression. Every stage of kabolas haTorah constitutes a level from which one must continue upward to a higher stage.

The Torah and its commandments were designed to sublimate man who is born like a wild young donkey. And if we say that the words of Torah should be new in one's sight every day, that Torah should be regarded always like a new bride unto her groom, this means that Torah should cause him to rise ever higher with fresh vigor.

When Yisro came to Moshe, the Torah states, "And they kissed one (ish) another." Who, ask Chazal, kissed whom? Moshe, the man of Hashem, kissed Yisro.

How do they know this? Because ish denotes a man of stature, a man of G-d! Man, in this sense, refers to the paragon of mankind, not any man, as we commonly use the word. A man par excellence is one whom the Torah has transformed into a man of G-d, the epitome of man. The Torah metamorphosed him, it molded his personality to conform to the ideal of mankind.

In Shabbos 89, Chazal quote: R' Yehoshua ben Levi said: When Moshe descended from Mt. Sinai, along came Satan and stood before Hashem, saying: Ribono Shel Olom, what happened to the Torah? Said Hashem: I gave it to the earth. Satan went to the earth and asked: Where is the Torah? She said: Hashem did what He saw fit to do with it. Satan went to the sea, who replied that it was not by him . . . and so on. Satan returned to Hashem and said: I searched for the Torah and did not find it anywhere in the world. He said: Go to the son of Amrom. Satan went and asked: Where is the Torah which Hashem gave you? Replied Moshe: Who am I that Hashem should entrust the Torah to me? Said Hashem to Moshe: Moshe, are you a liar? Moshe replied: Hashem, You possess a hidden treasure with which You beguile Yourself each day. Who am I to lay claim to it on my merits? Said Hashem to Moshe: Since you belittled yourself, you deserve to have the Torah called on your name, as it is written, "Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant."

It appears that the meaning of this is that the Torah was not given only once, but that there is a constant need to receive the Torah anew. Similarly, Chazal said on the verse, "And these words which I command you today -- each and every day they must be like new in your eyes." This means that one must not regard the Torah as a guaranteed acquisition, as something which we already received, laid claim to and is in our possession, and must merely be fulfilled from hereon in. Rather, we must regard it as if it must be acquired afresh, all the time, so that it is always new to us.

By our preparing ourselves, purifying ourselves, we become capable of receiving the Torah, for "Hashem grants knowledge, from His mouth wisdom and understanding." But if one does not rise to the challenge and is not privileged [to receive the Torah], it remains by Hashem. For the Torah is limitless, infinite. It is not an entity within a person's grasp that once given, it belongs to him and he can call it his. Torah is an elusive treasure with which Hashem beguiles Himself each day. Torah is divine wisdom and as much as a person acquires, there will always be infinitely more still beyond his grasp, still waiting to be attained. Even were a man to live a millennia, he could not make a dent in it despite all his wisdom and effort.

This is what Moshe meant when he said, "Who am I that Hashem would give the Torah to me? Is not the Torah beyond human grasp? Does it not still remain by Hashem to beguile Him, as it were, each day? How can I begin to presume that I have acquired Torah? It is infinite. It is totally beyond human attainment. A person must refine himself, time and again, level after level, in order to constantly acquire a new understanding in this infinite divine wisdom. Man is raw material, a wild, untamed beast who must sublimate himself constantly, through each new level of acquired Torah, to become noble and refined and capable of receiving the next level, and so on, constantly.

But to state that one has already received the Torah -- this Moshe was incapable of saying for in his abject humility, he only saw himself at the constant receiving level of aspiring to more and more, of attaining a greater understanding in that infinite treasure which forever remains ensconced by Hashem, always just beyond reach, for there is always still more to grasp.

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