Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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By: Rav Aryeh ben-Yaakov

Two items are juxtaposed in Parshat Va'Etchanan. The Torah relates to a state of affairs where we raise children and grandchildren and we become old and settled in The Land (ki tolid banim u'venei banim venoshantem ba'aretz). The other item is the reception of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The first item depicts the dangers of falling into a rut of tedious, daily existence. This affects the Divine Service, relegating it to become merely external exercises and proclamations. This may prod the individual to search for new and innovative experiences in life. Idolatry may be a product of such searches (as the text mentions that we may become debased and create forbidden images).

The antithesis of the above is the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. That momentous occasion revealed the inner message of existence- a connection with Hashem.

The verse states: "These words Hashem said to all of your community; a great voice and did not stop (velo yasaf)". The Midrash explores the meaning of  "velo yasaf". Rabi Shimon ben Lakish remarks that when a human calls to his friend there is a secondary sound (bat kol). When the Holy One, Blessed Be He, calls out, there is no bat kol.

When the Midrash mentions a bat kol, it refers to an echo. Thus, when Hashem spoke to us at Sinai, there was no echo in the first two sayings (dibrot)- which we heard directly from Him. This fact is explained in two ways:

A. If there was an echo, one could mistakenly believe that there are- G-d forbid- two separate entities. Thus, there was no echo, to negate such a possibility.

B. Echoes result from sound waves that encounter difficulty in reception. They are bounced back. However, the message of Hashem- "I am Hashem your G-d"- applies to all of the cosmos, in all the forms. Even inanimate objects receive the dominion of Hashem. Therefore, no echo was formed.

This concept leads an individual to a new perception of the world- it is saturated with His Honor. Every facet can and should be utilized to honor Him. Thus, the danger of spiritual lethargy can be conquered. Every action we perform facilitates a meeting with Hashem and the possibility of a renewal of our Divine Service. Indeed, the experience of Mount Sinai is the antidote to growing old in The Land.

This message is correct in relation to individuals and to the myriad situations that we encounter. The verse in Mishlei- "In all your ways, know Him"- obligates us to constantly conduct ourselves in an elevated fashion. "Know", indicates an intimate connection ("And the man knew his wife Chava"). We should not be bogged down by rote. Let us utilize each situation as a springboard to connect with, and to serve Hashem.


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Vaetchanan
Uploaded: 8/3/2006 1:44:59 PM