Tuesday, July 3, 2012

328 - Shavuos

Chazal tell us (Bava Metzia 83b) that the pasuk (Tehillim 104, 20), "You make darkness and it is night" alludes to our world which can be compared to darkness. The Mesillas Yesharim explains that darkness causes confusion in two different ways. Firstly, it blinds a person, thereby obscuring certain objects entirely. Additionally, it clouds one's vision, causing him to mistake a pole for a man and vice-versa. Similarly, the physicality of this world obscures the pitfalls of life, and moreover, causes people to mistake good for bad and bad for good. Incidentally, the word "olam" (world) stems from the word "ha'alama" - hidden.

Rav Wolbe writes (Alei Shur vol. II pg. 86) that Torah is the "tool" that was given to us to navigate through the nighttime of this world. It illuminates the darkness and guides us in every possible situation that might arise. It is the instruction guide that gives us clarity in this sea of confusion. As the pasuk in Tehillim (19, 9) states, "The mitzvos of Hashem are clear, they enlighten the eyes." The mitzvos enlighten us to what is permitted and what is forbidden; to what is pure and what is impure.

Chazal relate an interesting story which summarizes this idea. Reb Yosi the son of Reb Yehoshua ben Levi took ill and passed away, but shortly afterwards he returned to this world. His father asked him what he saw in the next world. He answered, "I saw an upside down world: those who are higher in this world are lower in the next world, while those who are lower in this world are higher in the next world." To which his father replied that in truth he had perceived a world of clarity. "Where do we (the Torah scholars) stand in the next world?" his father queried. Reb Yosi answered, "Just as we stand here, so too, we stand there [in the next world]. Additionally, I heard them saying, 'Praiseworthy is he who comes here with his Torah knowledge (talmudo) in his hand.'"

As opposed to this world where everyone and everything is valued subjectively, the world to come is a world of total clarity. However, those who study Torah live with clarity not only in the next world, but even in this world. How does one reach this clarity? He lives his life "with his Torah knowledge in his hand." This can be explained in two ways. One who ingrains the Torah into his heart until it becomes part and parcel of his very being acquires a clearer perception of this world. Alternatively, one whose Torah study is in his hand, i.e. his learning is translated into actions, has the ability to traverse life with clarity.

The Torah is awesome and eternal. Even with the innovations, changes and added confusion of the twenty first century, the Torah illuminates the way and guides us through every step of our lives. May we be zocheh to be mikabel this Torah on Chag HaShavuos!

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