Friday, May 09, 2014
Behar 5636 First Ma'amar
At the end of parshas Behar we find, “כִּי־לִי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבָדִים עֲבָדַי הֵם .../For the children of
Israel are servants to me; they are
my servants…” (VaYikra 25:55) Why
the repetition? The Sfas Emes explains
that first God chooses the children of Israel. Then, the children of Israel choose God by accepting upon
themselves the yoke of Heaven. This idea
is clearly the meaning of two p’sukim in parshas Ki Savo, “אֶת־ה' הֶאֶמַרְתָּ הַיּוֹם/Today
you have made God unique.” (Devarim 26:17) In the next pasuk we find, “וַה' הֶאֱמִירְךָ הַיּוֹם/And
God has made you unique today.” (Devarim 26:18)
The Sfas Emes teaches that there is a continuum of acceptance ranging from no acceptance at all to complete acceptance. God alone rules over us to the extent that we subordinate ourselves to Him.
We find this concept earlier in this week’s parsha. The pasuk states, “כִּי־עֲבָדַי הֵם ... לֹא יִמָּכְרוּ מִמְכֶּרֶת עָבֶד/For they are my servants … they will not be sold like slaves.” (VaYikra 25:42) These very same words, “עֲבָדַי הֵם/they are my servants” appear in the pasuk referred to earlier. This pasuk ends with a prohibition against selling a Jew on an auction block in the fashion that slaves are sold, “לֹא יִמָּכְרוּ מִמְכֶּרֶת עָבֶד/ they will not be sold like slaves.” The Sfas Emes teaches us that this prohibition is also a promise. To the extent that we subordinate ourselves to God, we will not be subject to the rule of others.
We find this idea in Pirkei Avos (3:5) as well, “Whoever accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah, the yoke of government is removed from him.” According to the Sfas Emes, this is not all or nothing, black or white. Rather, to the extent that we accept the yoke of Torah, the yoke of government is removed.
To the extent that we subordinate ourselves to God, we remove from ourselves the yoke of others. May we merit it. AMEN!