Friday, July 29, 2011

Mas'ei 5633 Second Ma'amar

Is it wise to commit totally to something even if you doubt that you'll be able to carry out that commitment?  The Chiddushei HaRim answers this question affirmatively.  He couches his teaching in terms of serving God.  The Chiddushei HaRim advises us to dedicate ourselves so completely to God that we will not forget Him for an instant.  We are encouraged to make this commitment even though many of us may know that we are not on this level.  Still, reaching beyond our capabilities helps us to reach higher levels than we would have reached otherwise.

The Chiddushei HaRim learns this from the commandment in this week's parsha to divide the entire land amongst the tribes.[1]  History bears out that this never happened.  The nation never totally conquered the land of Israel.  What then, was the point of this commandment?  Why did God command us to do something that He knew we would not be able to do?

The Chiddushei HaRim answers that this teaches us the importance of making a total commitment.  The Sfas Emes adds that God knew that we would leave Canaanites in the land.  Still, He wanted us to make the commitment to wipe them out completely.  Chazal[2] teach us that when the nation was standing on the dry riverbed of the Jordan, we were given the choice of making the commitment to totally conquer the land and pass safely on or of not making that commitment and being washed away; this, even though it was certainly clear to God that we would not totally destroy the inhabitants of the land.

The Sfas Emes teaches that even though we did not live up to the commitment completely, the very fact that we made the commitment enables us to achieve it in the future.  

[1] Bamidbar 34:2
[2] Sota 34a

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