Thursday, March 22, 2007

VaYikra 5631 Second Ma'amar

“ויקרא אל משה .../He called to Moshe …” A Midrash in this week’s parsha says that an animal is better than a Talmid Chacham/Torah scholar, who does not have da’as/knowledge, for even Moshe Rabeinu did not enter the tent of testimony until he was called. What is the meaning of this Midrash?

Entering the tent of testimony is a metaphor for accomplishing God’s will. Being called to enter it symbolizes being helped. The Midrash is telling us that even Moshe Rabeinu was unable to fulfill God’s will without God’s help. He could not enter on his own. He needed to be called. In order to hear the call, in order to be helped, he had to first realize that he needed help. Without this knowledge, he would not have heard and he would not have accomplished his mission.

If this is true for Moshe Rabeinu, it is certainly true for us. We need God’s help to achieve His will. Why is this? Contemplating accomplishing the will of God – the Infinite Being – can be overwhelming. How can we finite beings possibly approach the task on our own? Fortunately, God wants us to achieve his will. It’s the reason we were sent into this world. God helps us to achieve his will by “calling us” through the mitzvos. The Chidushei HaRim explains that a mitzvah is not simply an action. Rather, it has a spiritual power. This power helps us to perform the act of the mitzvah properly. We see a hint to this in the brachah we say before performing a mitzvah, “... אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו .../… that He has sanctified us with his mitzvos and commanded us …” The mitzvos themselves sanctify us thereby helping us to perform them.

In order to receive God’s help, we need to be ready to receive it. When we perform obvious mitzvos, it is easier to accept God’s help because it is obvious to us that we are doing the mitzvah to accomplish His will. He commanded us to do it. However, The Sfas Emes says that we are God’s agents in everything we do. We were sent into this world to accomplish His will in everything we do. How do we prepare ourselves to hear God’s call, to accept His help regarding all our actions that are not mitzvos? The Sfas Emes explains that every one of our activities is a potential mitzvah. By intending to accomplish God’s will with each of our actions, we transform them into mitzvos as well.. Even our mundane daily activities which we usually do not associate with mitzvos can be thus transformed. By focusing on accomplishing God’s will through our actions, the actions themselves acquire a spiritual power that helps us to achieve this goal. Our intent prepares us to accept God’s help in everything we do. It also transforms everything we do into mitzvos. These, in turn, are the vehicle that God uses to help us accomplish His will.

The Sfas Emes notes that the realization that we can only achieve God’s will with His help is called chochma/wisdom. He refers to the application of this wisdom to our everyday lives as da’as/knowledge. The reason is that da’as/knowledge in Hebrew connotes connection. (We find, for example, “And Adam knew his wife Chava …” He connected with her). We connect to the wisdom that our physical actions have spiritual components which we need to draw out by intending to do so.

The Midrash, then, can be translated as, “An animal is better than a Torah scholar who does not realize that he needs God’s help in order to accomplish His will. He can only receive God’s help by being ready to accept it. Even Moshe Rabeinu could not enter the tent of testimony, could not achieve God’s will without being called. Significantly the Zohar says that Moshe Rabeinu is the repository of da’as/knowledge for the nation of Israel. According to what we’ve said, this also means that he was constantly ready to receive God’s help – to be “called.”

God is constantly calling each of us. We open ourselves to hear His call by being ready for it. We ready ourselves by intending to accomplish His will through our actions. Practically, this means taking a few moments before each activity during the day (e.g. going to work, eating a meal, shopping) and contemplating doing it in order to accomplish God’s will.


Anonymous said...

I heard two interesting Things from the Sfas Emes on Pesach But I don't thing they are in the Sefer maybe the Likutim.
There is a Famous question,why dont we make a Bracha on סיפור יצאת מצרים ? They asked to the Sfas Emes as a young Child and of course he had an ingenuous answer. He said why don't we make a ברכה on כיבוד אב? The answer is it is disrsepectfull You would be saying I am not doing because you are my Parents because אשר ציותנו I was commanded by god i have no choice it is a lack of Hakoros Hatov,so to
Yitzias Mitzrayim we don't want to tell Hashem we are only doing it because we are commanded.

Anonymous said...

Another short one which might be in the Sefer I will say it Bkitzur Nimratz.
Why is it by Hasidim At least Pesach we are so steadfast about our Minhagim.Which even when we know the Mekor and the reason for the Mekor no longer exists we do it any way? The reason שלו שינו את לשונם ואת מלבושם
Because they were so steadfast in their Minhagim they were saved so we miror there behavior.

Moshe David Tokayer said...

I found something similar in Acharei Mos 5661. He doesn't talk about Hasidim but he talks about the importance and significance of not changing as a way of not being influenced by negative surroundings.

Btw, you can use Kulabay. Just click twice on the Comments button. It's much better than the blog comments feature.

Anonymous said...

I honestly tried I cant figure it out