Tuesday, May 24, 2016

520 - Tzav

The world gives the impression as if it operates by itself. Although a nonbiased individual should be able to discern the Grand Puppeteer behind the stage, it seems that most people are simply oblivious to the Creator. A fascinating explanation of a mitzvah in this week's parsha offered by the Sefer HaChinuch, illustrates to just what degree Hashem's presence in this world is hidden.

The Torah commands us, "A permanent fire shall be lit upon the mizbeiach, it shall not be extinguished" (Vayikra 6:6). The Chinuch writes that it is well known that even awesome miracles performed by Hashem are somewhat concealed. They appear as if they are simply an element of nature. Prior to the splitting of the sea, arguably the most astounding miracle in all of history, "Hashem moved the sea with a strong east wind all night" thereby giving the impression that the whole incident was the result of a natural disaster. The force of a powerful tornado caused the waters to split thereby allowing the Jews to pass through the parted waters. In a similar vein, despite the fact that a fire descended from Heaven onto the mizbeiach, we are commanded to light our own fire upon it to veil the otherwise overt miracle. Indeed, even when Hashem's reveals Himself, He makes sure to hide behind the veil of nature.

When the Navi exhorts us, "Walk with tzenius with Hashem" (Michah 6:8), he is not merely instructing those who look for publicity to conceal their good deeds. He is informing us that when one conceals his actions he is actually following in Hashem's ways, since He also hides what He does.

Rav Wolbe writes (Alei Shur vol. II p. 594) that many people define tzenius very superficially. The virtue of tzenius being discussed here refers not to an external dress code; rather, it refers to one's internal spiritual composition. The pasuk states, "Tzenius goes together with wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2). Rabbeinu Yonah explains that tzenius is a virtue which is attributed to the wise, "for they hear and listen and they do not desire to reveal what lies in their hearts." They do not feel compelled to reveal everything they have seen and heard. This quality allows them to live a life of penimiyus, since they have created for themselves a world that is not dependent on the opinions and desires of others. They are able to focus on their spiritual state without being affected by outside influences.

It takes one to know one. Only a person who lives with tzenius and conceals his actions has the ability to discern Hashem's concealed hand conducting the world. Had Mordechai and Esther not written the Megillah in a manner which highlights the various milestones that occurred over a twelve year period, most people would have perceived these occurrences as happenstance. Vashti happened to disobey Achashveirosh, Esther happened to be chosen as queen and Mordechai happened to overhear the plot of Bigson and Seresh. It takes a wise man to connect the dots in a way that produces a "picture" of Hashem's involvement.

We live in the internet generation where anything and everything is public. Anything anybody says, publishes or captures on camera is recorded and posted for the world to perceive. People have a hard time keeping anything inside themselves. Creating a relationship with Hashem means one is cognizant of His presence in his life - something inaccessible to a person who perceives the world superficially. Imbibing wine on Purim allows one to discover who he really is. Dig a little under the surface of your skin. Not only will you begin creating a world of penimiyus, but you will also succeed in scraping the veneer off this world thereby revealing the Creator in all His glory!

A Freilichen Purim!

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