Thursday, February 4, 2010

213 - Yisro

In preparation for Matan Torah, Hashem tells Bnei Yisroel, "If you listen to My voice and you guard My covenant. . . You will be unto Me a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation" (Shemos 19, 5-6). Rashi tells us that kohanim in this context does not refer to priests but rather to dignitaries. Through accepting the Torah, Bnei Yisroel would attain a greater stature. Likewise, after Matan Torah, when Bnei Yisroel begged Moshe to act as an intermediary between Hashem and themselves, Moshe responded: "Do not fear, because it is for the purpose of exalting you (l'nasos) that Hashem has come" (ibid. 20, 17). Rashi explains that l'nasos is a term describing elevation and greatness.

It appears from Rashi that he understood that the purpose of ma'amad Har Sinai was to elevate Bnei Yisroel. How could it be that the purpose of the awesome revelations experienced by Har Sinai was solely intended to elevate Bnei Yisroel? Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) explains with a quote from the Alter of Slabodka: "Do not look to become better, rather, look to become higher." When one elevates himself to a higher standard, automatically a multitude of petty issues and obsessions will fall by the wayside. After experiencing the revelations of Matan Torah, Bnei Yisroel would gain an entirely new perception of themselves and, thereby, on life in general.

We are an exalted nation and each individual is a dignitary. This does not mean that we should act as if we are on a spiritual level that we are not, for such behavior is doomed to failure even before it starts. This idea is brought out earlier in the parsha. "And also the kohanim who serve Hashem should prepare themselves" (ibid. 19, 23). Rashi explains that they should be prepared to stand in their designated places and not rush forward to get even closer to Hashem. Rav Wolbe says that one of the hardest aspects of avodas Hashem is acknowledging where one stands and not biting off more than he can chew. One who gets caught up in the momentum of spiritual ascent, and begins skipping rungs of the ladder, will end up falling through the holes.

Our true avodah is to recognize that, regardless of our personal spiritual level, as the mamlecheskohanim who received the Torah from Hashem, on Har Sinai, we are indeed elevated and prestigious. This perception will cause the insignificant issues in our lives to fade away, allowing us to focus on our real mission.

No comments: