Tuesday, May 24, 2016

516 - Ki Sisa

"After He finished speaking with him on Har Sinai, He gave to Moshe two tablets of testimony; stone tablets written by the finger of Hashem" (Shemos 31:18). Since this conversation which took place was one sided with only Hashem speaking to Moshe, shouldn't the Torah have written, "After He finished speaking to him" instead of "with him?" Rashi explains that actually a discussion took place. After Moshe heard all the commandments from Hashem they then discussed them together! The only question is, for what reason did Hashem feel it necessary to discuss together with Moshe everything that He had just finished teaching him?

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash ibid; Parshas Yisro19:17) cites the Maharal's explanation of this event. He writes that the commandments of the Torah differ greatly from the decrees and edicts enacted by human monarchs. Their decrees might have been composed by whim, and all of them are subjective since they are based on the ruler's own intellect and understanding. Thus, there is no reason for the monarch to discuss his decrees with his constituents because regardless of their truth the decrees must be accepted. In contrast, the commandments of the Torah are absolute and incontrovertible. After Hashem taught Moshe the entire Torah, He discussed each mitzvah with him and showed him how every aspect of the Torah is necessary and indispensable.

With this idea, we can elucidate a Rashi earlier inSefer Shemos. The Torah tells us (Shemos 19:17) that during Matan Torah Bnei Yisrael stood "under the mountain." Rashi, quoting Chazal, explains that Hashem uprooted the mountain and held it threateningly above their heads, thereby forcing them to accept Torah. Elsewhere Chazal tell us that after Moshiach comes and Bnei Yisrael will receive their just reward for performing the mitzvos of the Torah, the other nations will step forward and complain to Hashem: "Why didn't You hold the mountain above our heads and force us to accept the Torah like you did to Bnei Yisrael?" Hashem will respond that they cannot complain, since even the seven mitzvos that they were commanded they did not fulfill (Avodah Zara 2b).

Rav Wolbe explains that Hashem held the mountain over the heads of Bnei Yisrael only after they had decided on their own volition to accept the Torah with their wholehearted declaration of "na'aseh v'nishma." After they made the first step, Hashem rewarded them with a dose of Heavenly assistance, and He, so to speak, "held the mountain over their heads." In other words, after Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah, Hashem revealed to them what He discussed with Moshe. He showed Bnei Yisrael how every aspect of the Torah is entirely necessary and crucial for the existence of the world. Chazal are telling us that they were intellectually forced to accept the Torah because its truth was made glaringly clear. The other nations did not take the first step by fulfilling the seven mitzvos given to them. Therefore, they did not merit the Heavenly assistance which comes to those who demonstrate their eagerness to submit themselves to Hashem's will.

Some turn their eyes heavenward and wait for Hashem to help them in their spiritual struggles. Should it not come, they complain, "Why don't you help me like you helped Yankel and Shmerel." Chazal are informing us that to merit Hashem's assistance, one has to take the first step himself. Show Hashem that you believe in Him, show Him that you trust Him or how you are interested in growing in your avodas Hashem and yiras Shamayim. All you have to do is initiate, and Hashem will respond with a generous dose of Heavenly assistance!

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