Thursday, October 18, 2012

341 - Shoftim

In the Haftora of this week's parsha, we read, "ooree ooree livshe oozeich Tzion" - Awaken, Awaken, Don Your strength Tzion. However, the Targum translates the pasuk slightly differently, "Reveal, Reveal, Don your strength Tzion." Rav Wolbe explains (Ma'amarei Yemei Ratzon pg. 77) that sometimes people experience giluy (clarity), while at other times they experience hester (confusion). In certain situations the confusion can be so great that one isn't even aware of the strengths that are found inside himself until he is aroused and awakened to them by someone else. Hence, the Targum explains that the "awakening" mentioned in the pasuk, in reality is a mere revelation of the strengths within, which, until then, had been unnoticed.

He elaborates that a person is similar to a tree (as stated in this week's parsha, "For a man is like a tree of the field"). The pit of a fruit contains the entire physical design of the tree that it is able to produce: the type of fruit and leaves, the height of the tree and its color. Yet, none of the above is discernable when one looks at the actual pit. It is only after the tree grows that all the features inherent in the pit become revealed. Similarly, every person is jam-packed with amazing qualities and strengths which are meant to become revealed over the course of his lifetime. However, he differs from a tree in that there is no guarantee that all his features will be revealed, and that sometimes it takes an outside source to arouse and reveal his latent strengths. 

With this approach we can understand the Medrash in this week's parsha. The first pasuk in the parsha commands us, "You shall appoint judges and officers for yourself in all your cities." The Medrash states, "This refers to what is written (Mishlei 6, 6), "Lazy one, go to an ant, see its ways and gain wisdom. Though it has no leader, officer or ruler, it prepares its bread in the summer and it hordes its food at harvest time." In other words, Bnei Yisroel's need for judges and officers seems not to be the ideal situation. The ideal situation would be if people were similar to ants and need no outside assistance in arousing their innate qualities and characteristics. 

Therefore, our job is to reveal the many qualities that have thus far been concealed within us and then use them in our avodas Hashem. Moreover, Rav Wolbe would stress that before one begins learning mussar and starts focusing on his negative traits, it is absolutely imperative that he be fully cognizant of his positive qualities. The first step in improving ourselves is acknowledging our awesome potential!

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