Thursday, March 4, 2010

217 - Ki Sisa

The Ramban in this week's parsha (Shemos 34, 27) writes that the second set of luchos differed from the first set of luchos, and was, so to speak, a new Matan Torah subsequent to the sin of the golden calf. Rav Wolbe explains (Alei Shur vol. II pg. 109) by citing the Gemara (Avodah Zara5a) which tells us that had Bnei Yisroel merited to keep the first set ofluchos, the world would look much different. None of the Torah learned would ever have been forgotten, and neither the Angel of Death nor the nations of the world would have had dominion over Bnei Yisroel.

Moreover, even the purpose of Torah study changed in the aftermath of the sin of the golden calf. Through receiving the second set ofluchos, "Hashem dwelled among them in their impurity" (Vayikra16, 16). Albeit that before thechet haeigelBnei Yisroel rose to a level where they had noyetzerhara, they became impure due to their sin and thereafter had to contend with theyetzerhara. Hence, ouravodahchanged, and its focal point became the battle against theyetzer hara. The Torah is the weapon we were given to accomplish our objective of overcoming theyetzerhara. As Chazal tell us (Kiddushin30b), Hashem said, "I created the yetzer hara and I created the Torah as its spice"(through which theyetzerharacan be refined to become a positive force).

Chazal mention numerous methods of battling theyetzer hara. "Yargiz" - get angry at him, "Misgaber" - overcome him, "Rodeh" - subjugate him and "Mifatpeit" - belittle him. However, all these methods involve a direct confrontation with theyetzer hara. The study of Torah functions in an entirely different manner. As Rashi (ibid.) explains, it elevates a personabovehisyetzer hara. A child might ride on a stick and claim that it's his horse, however, he will not do this once he gets older, for he comprehends that a stick is not a horse. He doesn't have to fight with himself or convince himself not to do it; rather, it is simply a matter of maturity. The Torah works in a similar fashion. Once a person delves into the Torah, he matures to a level that he is simply not interested in what theyetzer harapreviously offered him.

In our battle with theyetzer harathe optimal approach is not to fight him head on, but to rise above him and make him irrelevant through the study of Torah.

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