Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shlach

GENTLE ENCOURAGEMENT

Rabbi Pinchas Avruch

"G-d said to Moshe saying, 'Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves tzitzis on the corners of their garments throughout their generations.'" (Bamidbar/Numbers 15:37-38) Two features distinguish the mitzvah of tzitzis from most of the mitzvos (Divine commandments) in the Torah. Most mitzvos mandate that we unconditionally perform an act - eat matza at the Seder, wave a lulav on Succos, listen to the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashana - or unconditionally refrain from certain acts - do not eat on Yom Kippur, do not speak slanderously of others, do not steal. This contrasts the tzitzis strings that are only put on the corners of a four (or more) cornered garment. No corners, no tzitzis. With today's wardrobe of shirts and slacks we have no Torah obligation of tzitzis (although there is a Rabbinic imperative to wear a four cornered garment so that we can accept upon ourselves the Torah's mandate). Second, when G-d gave Moshe most of the mitzvos, the Torah relates, "G-d spoke to Moshe saying". Speaking is firmer and more direct than saying.

Why is this mitzvah only said, not spoken? And why is the Torah commandment conditional? Especially considering the rationale the Torah itself gives for the mitzvah of tzitzis: "That you may see it and remember all the commandments of G-d and perform them; and not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray. So that you may remember and perform all My commandments and be holy to your G-d." (15:39-40) This is not just "another" mitzvah; this is the key to them all. Proper fulfillment of tzitzis helps develop the mindset such that all the other mitzvos fall into place. How can THIS mitzvah not be mandatory?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986; Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem in New York City; the leading Halachic/Jewish legal decisor and of his time and one of the principal leaders of Torah Jewry through much of the last century) explains that in the choice to fulfill this mitzvah rests the "magic" of the mitzvah. The power of this mitzvah to remind us and encourage us to do the other mitzvos is borne in the G-d consciousness, the fostering of love toward and a loving relationship with G-d, which emanates from tzitzis. Only the gentle encouragement of "saying" will lead to choice, which leads to love, which leads to contemplation, which leads to the understanding that more mitzvah opportunities will further fortify the relationship, thus reminding and encouraging us to remain focused on the relationship, not to become distracted by the illusory fulfillment of temporal pleasures.

In these weeks between Pesach and Rosh Hashana Jews traditionally study one chapter of Pirkei Avos/The Ethics of our Fathers per week. Each chapter ends: Rabbi Chanina ben Akashia says, "The Holy One, Blessed is He, wished to confer merit upon Israel; therefore he gave them Torah and mitzvos in abundance..." G-d wants us to build the relationship. That is why He gave us so many mitzvah opportunities; that is why He supports us with gentle encouragement.

Have a good Shabbos!


Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Pinchas Avruch and Project Genesis, Inc.

Kol HaKollel is a publication of the Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish Studies 5007 West Keefe Avenue; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 414-447-7999


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Wise Rebuke
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

What Are We Missing On Tisha B'Av?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

What Are We Mourning on the Ninth of Av
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Unquestioned Answers
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

The Secret to Rebuke
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Not To Worry, G-d's In Charge
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Seeing HASHEM with Our Hearts
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

It's Not What You Want - But How You Ask
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Of Prophets and Teachers
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

ArtScroll

Fix the World
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

The Bobover Rebbe Zt"l
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Petty Squabble to Baseless Hatred
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

> The Three Weeks: What Are We Trying to Achieve?
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5768

Flight to Freedom
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Born To Be Wise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Now I Know My Aleph-Bais
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information