Thursday, December 26, 2013

391 - Netzavim Vayeilech

This week's parshios contain an awesome declaration: "For this commandment that I command you today is not hidden from you nor is it distant from you. It is not in the heavens. . . It is not on the other side of the ocean . . . Rather, it is very near to you; in your mouth and in your heart to perform it" (Devarim 30, 11-14).

While the Ramban explains that these pesukim refer to the mitzvah of teshuva, Rashi asserts that they refer to the Torah. Rav Wolbe (Ma'amerei Yemei Ratzon pg. 378) writes that despite the great distance that separates Hashem from His creations, we have the ability to bridge this gap through the Torah which is near to us. All the mitzvos given to us are to be performed by the physical body and not by the neshama. The Aseres HaDibros begin with "Anochi Hashem" and end with commandments warning us to refrain from killing, adultery and coveting. The intent is that the Torah should penetrate every part of our body, thereby positively affecting us and our physical desires.

Additionally, the Torah does not explicitly refer to the next world. The Kuzari explains that since our purpose is to connect to Hashem, the Torah does not say, "If you do this, after you die I will bring you to a place of pleasure." Rather the Torah says, "And you will be for Me a nation and I will be for you a G-d; and I will guide you." The purpose of the Torah is to bring us close to Hashem in this world.

Moreover, the mitzvos, although they are spiritual, become part and parcel of the physical makeup of those who perform them. The Gemara (Menachos 43b) relates that Dovid Hamelech entered the bathhouse and cried out, "Woe unto me that I stand bare of all my mitzvos" i.e. tefillin, tzitzis and mezuzah. When he remembered his bris milah he was relieved. The obvious question is, since one is not even allowed to think about holy things in a bathhouse certainly it is not a place to perform mitzvos. If so, why was Dovid Hamelech so bothered by his lack of mitzvos? 

The answer is that when Dovid realized that he stood bare of mitzvos, it dawned upon him that the mitzvos he performed were obviously not part and parcel of him. He deduced this from the fact that it is possible to be in a situation where one is bare of all mitzvos. Once he remembered about the bris milah which was impressed on his body, he was comforted that the mitzvos are not merely actions performed; their spirituality fuses into the very makeup of a person!

If we would realize just how close we could come to Hashem, we would have a totally different outlook on life in general and Elul in particular. Elul gives us an extra dose of Heavenly assistance in becoming closer to Hashem. Let us not miss this golden opportunity and make the best out of the last week of this awesome month!

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