Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shavuos 5633 First and Second Ma'amarim

First Ma’amar
Every morning we begin Pesukei DeZimra with Baruch SheAmar that includes, “בָּרוּךְ אוֹמֵר וְעוֹשֶׂה בָּרוּךְ גוֹזֵר וּמְקַיֵים/Blessed is He who says and does, blessed is He who decrees and establishes.”  The Sfas Emes explains that the first clause is a reference to the Creation – מַעֲשֵׂה בְּרֵאשִׁית – because God created the world with ten sayings – בְּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת.  The second clause refers to the ten commandments because they are God’s decrees and Chazal teach us that the world’s continued existence was dependent upon the nation accepting them.

Accordingly, the bracha above can be translated as, “Blessed is He who says (the עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת/ten sayings) and created (the world.).  Blessed is He who decreed (the עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת/ten commandments) and established (the world.)”

Second Ma’amar
On Shavuos we read, “וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶה אֶל הָעָם אַל־תִּירָאוּ כִּי לְבַעֲבוּר נַסּוֹת אֶתְכֶם בָּא הָאֱ-לֹהִים וּבַעֲבוּר תִּהְיֶה יִרְאָתוֹ עַל־פְּנֵיכֶם לְבִלְתִּי תֶחֱטָאוּ/Moshe said to the nation, ‘Do not fear for God has come in order to raise you up and so that His fear be upon you so that you will not sin.”  The end of the pasuk appears to contradict the beginning.  Moshe tells the nation not to fear then proceeds to tell them that God revealed Himself so that they should fear!  How can this pasuk be reconciled?

The Sfas Emes explains that the two parts of the pasuk are referring to a person’s situation before he sins and after he sins.  Before he sins, it is important to cultivate fear, concern and awe of God in order to keep away from sin.  After the sin though, when a person realizes how very far away from God he truly is, fear and concern can prevent him from returning to God.

After the sin, it is important to determine to serve God through love.  Serving God through love is, in a sense, a way of skipping levels.  When we serve God through love, our strong desire to come close to Him overcomes our logic that tells us that we are not on the proper level.  God then reciprocates and welcomes us.

The Midrash alludes to this explaining the pasuk, “... וְדִגְלוֹ עָלַי אַהֲבָה/… and his attraction to me (was symbolic of his) love.”  In a play on the word דִגְלוֹ, the Midrash uses instead דִילוּגוֹ/his skipping.  According to the Sfas Emes, the Midrash is teaching us that even if a person comes close to God in a non-sequential fashion; he skips levels, still God welcomes him.

We find this concept in the event of God’s revelation to the nation at Mount Sinai.  After the nation heard the first two commandments directly from God, they told Moshe that they wanted to hear the rest from him.  The nation was afraid.  God acquiesced and, in fact, we were far from the level of Moshe Rabbeinu.  Still, God was ready to continue His revelation to the nation even though we were not ready for it if only we truly wanted to come close and receive.  

God welcomes our efforts and true desire to come close to Him.  God will reveal Himself to us based solely on our sincere desire to come close to and experience Him regardless even if our level of piety does not warrant such a revelation.

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