Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Torah is accessible to all

Summary: A lovely homiletic, midrashic, explanation of the pesukim by Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz. We don't need ruach hakodesh, mazal, or living in Eretz Yisrael to attain Torah.

Post: The relevant pesukim in Nitzavim, discussed also in this other post:

11. For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away.יא. כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹא נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹא רְחֹקָה הִוא:
12. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"יב. לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַעֲלֶה לָּנוּ הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַעֲשֶׂנָּה:
13. Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"יג. וְלֹא מֵעֵבֶר לַיָּם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַעֲבָר לָנוּ אֶל עֵבֶר הַיָּם וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַעֲשֶׂנָּה:
14. Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.יד. כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ:

In Tiferes Yehonasan, after cited portions of these pesukim, Rav Eibeshitz writes:

"That you should not say that to understand Torah and to learn it, this mitzvah he speaking of, requires the achieving of ruach hakodesh, as the generation of the wilderness attained, for from the heavens Hashem spoke with them. And there are, as well, many mitzvos which were commanded of old because they attained ruach hakodesh, when they were upon the Sea {yam}, as they {=Chazal} said, 'a maidservant saw upon the {Reed} Sea more that Yechezkel and the prophets saw {Mechilta, 3}.' 

Or you might say that it is dependent upon mazalot {planetary influence}, for {Shabbat 156a} "mazal makes one wise". And this is 'it is not in heaven'. And also, when you are in chutz la'aretz -- in the Diaspora, which is called medinat haYam, as is stated in the gemara in Gitten -- you could say that Torah is only understood in Eretz Yisrael, for 'the air makes one wise'; and this is 'over the sea'. And this tells us that it is not so, but rather, in every place, all is in the hands of mankind. And understand this."

I don't really have anything to add to this devar Torah. It is a nice homiletic message. And one that runs somewhat counter to what certain unnamed individuals would say, in boosting Eretz Yisrael as the only purpose of Judaism.

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