Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Yisro

Mixed Emotions

By Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden

"The Jewish nation arrived at Mount Sinai and encamped there opposite the mountain. Then Moshe ascended to the L-rd, and G-d called to him from the mountain saying, 'So shall you say to the house of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel'" (Shemos/Exodus 19:3) Rashi explains that the following narrative was to be stated specifically "in this language and this order." At the end of the monologue, Moshe was again instructed, "These are the words that you shall speak to the Children of Israel," (v.6) to which Rashi notes, "no less and no more." Why is there such emphasis on precision?

The Talmud (Shabbos 68a) teaches that after the Jewish nation accepted the Torah unconditionally, G-d nevertheless lifted Mount Sinai above their heads and threatened that if they did not accept the Torah they would be buried on the spot. This is consistent with the Mishna in Pirkei Avos/Ethics of the Fathers (1:3) that teaches one should be like a servant who serves his Master not for the sake of being rewarded [rather, out of love], and have the fear of heaven upon him.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky (1) explains that to serve G-d properly, one needs the two elements of love and fear. One cannot always maintain the same intensity of love nor can one always maintain the same degree of fear. These emotions must both be in place to ensure that G-d will be served properly. Although the Jewish nation had already accepted the Torah out of love, G-d needed to instill the fear of Him in them. Thus, He threatened the nation with instant death if they did not accept the Torah. But the greater imperative was acceptance out of love, so Moshe was told that the endearing messages that he was to send the Jewish nation must be exactly as G-d said them, as G-d did not want any extraneous matter influencing the nation's decision.

This was a great challenge for Moshe. While he very much desired that the nation accept the Torah, his Divine mandate was not to, in any way, influence their decision. Had he changed the message to his liking, then the Torah could not be considered a perfect Divine work in which every word holds infinite depth. Thus, if Moshe would have changed anything he would not have been fit to be the one to give the Torah.

This is a great challenge for us as well. As we continue in our lifelong pursuit of developing our G-d consciousness, we utilize all the gifts inherent in the Torah. Some times the Torah motivates us with a passionate love of G-d, other times we have to resort to the sense of fear the Torah engenders. Either way, the mitzvos (Divine commands), in all their exquisite detail, call out to us today as they did 3316 years ago, echoing the same call from our Father in Heaven: I love you and want you to be close to me.

Have a Good Shabbos!

(1) 1891-1986; Rabbi of Tzitevian, Lithuania and Toronto before becoming Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of Mesivta Torah Vodaath in New York City

This issue of Kol HaKollel is dedicated in memory of Baki (Benjamin) Muchin, a"h.


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden and Torah.org.

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


 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Chanukah and the Torah Scholar
Shlomo Katz - 5762

What A Pity!
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Analyzing The Imagery of A Familiar Chanukah Poem
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Fall of Communism
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Straightening Out The Cause And The Effect
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Stuck on Gum
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

ArtScroll

Chanukah, Chutzpah, and Coming Close to G-d
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

That's Chanukah
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

> Profit from Loss, Light from Darkness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Repent! For the End is Dear
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Yosef Was Rushed From The Pit
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Bit By Bit
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

A New Perspective
Shlomo Katz - 5768

A Killing Prayer
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Just Five More Minutes of Sleep!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759



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