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Parshas Naso - Shavuos 5759

Outline Vol. 3, # 23

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Shavuos is the time of the Receiving of the Torah.

"Anyone who learns Torah for its own sake, merits many things..." (Pirke Avos, Chapter 6) The Braisah lists many blessings which come about due to this level of learning. The Slonimer Rebbe asked, why do the brochos result soley from Torah Lishma -- learning Torah for its own sake? Surely every mitzva should be performed for intrinsic reasons, rather than for ulterior motives.

The discussion takes us back to the topic of Tisha B'av, and the destruction of Eretz Yisrael and the Beis Hamikdosh. The tragedy was said to have been a result of one factor -- "sh'lo birchu batorah batichilah" -- they didn't say the brocha before studying the Torah. (Last summer, we discussed whether this was meant literally, or figuratively.)

The Bach, in his commentary to the Tur, Orach Chaim simon 47, questioned why such severe punishments were given for an apparently minor mistake. Torah Learning, the Bach concludes, is not a study, but its purpose is "lihisamos nafshoseinu b'atzmus, b'ruchniyos ubik'dusha" -- to solidify our souls with spirit and sanctity. If Torah Learning were performed properly, with an internal, intrinsic intention, then, though "d'veikus" -- attachment -- we would become a "merkavah l'sh'chinah" -- a vehicle for the Divine Presence. We would be a tool for Hashem's purposes. Therefore, a diminishing of the quality of Torah Learning, affects the highest spheres...

The brochos are only on account of Torah studied for intrinsic purposes. Today, however, such levels are not often attained. As a result, we have fractured our unity, and are scattered into many splinters, arguing and bickering among ourselves. (See further: Bach, Orach Chaim, simon 47.)

The Slonimer Rebbe continued. Meiras Einayim in Parshas Bechukosai writes that Hashem, who is beyond limit, contracted Himself into the Torah; this way, limited man could have the opportunity to reach out to Hashem.

The Medrash states that Hashem looked into the Torah before He created the world. Why was this necessary, asked the Rebbe. Hashem, the all-powerful, could surely create the world without "looking into the Torah." The answer is that the Torah is the intermediary, the stepping-stone for man's elevation. He looked into the Torah first, in order to establish the connection with limited mankind, and then proceded to create the world.

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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