It is written, "And He gave to Moshe after He had finished
speaking with him at Mt. Sinai the Two Tablets of the
Testimony." Says Rashi: "The Torah was given to him as a
gift, like a kallah to the chosson."
In his dream, Yaakov Ovinu beheld a ladder whose feet were
steadfast on the ground and whose head reached the heavens.
When one stands upon the first rung of a ladder, one does
not necessarily feel connected to the rung above. Once a
person has ascended to that upper rung, his stance is
different, new. His position did not exist previously, it is
And thus is it with receiving Torah. Having accepted it, a
person is necessarily transformed; he must be different,
more exalted and purified. Similarly, with every succeeding
rung scaled and mounted -- a person has ascended
spiritually, progressed to a new level of kabolas
haTorah, like a new bride.
Furthermore, when Chazal established that Torah was given
like a bride to a groom, this means that matan Torah
is the beginning of a future continuation. There are no
commencements without progression. Every stage of kabolas
haTorah constitutes a level from which one must continue
upward to a higher stage.
The Torah and its commandments were designed to sublimate
man who is born like a wild young donkey. And if we say that
the words of Torah should be new in one's sight every day,
that Torah should be regarded always like a new bride unto
her groom, this means that Torah should cause him to rise
ever higher with fresh vigor.
When Yisro came to Moshe, the Torah states, "And they kissed
one (ish) another." Who, ask Chazal, kissed whom?
Moshe, the man of Hashem, kissed Yisro.
How do they know this? Because ish denotes a man of
stature, a man of G-d! Man, in this sense, refers to the
paragon of mankind, not any man, as we commonly use the
word. A man par excellence is one whom the Torah has
transformed into a man of G-d, the epitome of man. The Torah
metamorphosed him, it molded his personality to conform to
the ideal of mankind.
In Shabbos 89, Chazal quote: R' Yehoshua ben Levi
said: When Moshe descended from Mt. Sinai, along came Satan
and stood before Hashem, saying: Ribono Shel Olom,
what happened to the Torah? Said Hashem: I gave it to the
earth. Satan went to the earth and asked: Where is the
Torah? She said: Hashem did what He saw fit to do with it.
Satan went to the sea, who replied that it was not by him .
. . and so on. Satan returned to Hashem and said: I searched
for the Torah and did not find it anywhere in the world. He
said: Go to the son of Amrom. Satan went and asked: Where is
the Torah which Hashem gave you? Replied Moshe: Who am I
that Hashem should entrust the Torah to me? Said Hashem to
Moshe: Moshe, are you a liar? Moshe replied: Hashem, You
possess a hidden treasure with which You beguile Yourself
each day. Who am I to lay claim to it on my merits? Said
Hashem to Moshe: Since you belittled yourself, you deserve
to have the Torah called on your name, as it is written,
"Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant."
It appears that the meaning of this is that the Torah was
not given only once, but that there is a constant need to
receive the Torah anew. Similarly, Chazal said on the verse,
"And these words which I command you today -- each
and every day they must be like new in your eyes." This
means that one must not regard the Torah as a guaranteed
acquisition, as something which we already received, laid
claim to and is in our possession, and must merely be
fulfilled from hereon in. Rather, we must regard it as if it
must be acquired afresh, all the time, so that it is always
new to us.
By our preparing ourselves, purifying ourselves, we become
capable of receiving the Torah, for "Hashem grants
knowledge, from His mouth wisdom and understanding." But if
one does not rise to the challenge and is not privileged [to
receive the Torah], it remains by Hashem. For the Torah is
limitless, infinite. It is not an entity within a person's
grasp that once given, it belongs to him and he can call it
his. Torah is an elusive treasure with which Hashem beguiles
Himself each day. Torah is divine wisdom and as much as a
person acquires, there will always be infinitely more still
beyond his grasp, still waiting to be attained. Even were a
man to live a millennia, he could not make a dent in it
despite all his wisdom and effort.
This is what Moshe meant when he said, "Who am I that Hashem
would give the Torah to me? Is not the Torah beyond human
grasp? Does it not still remain by Hashem to beguile Him, as
it were, each day? How can I begin to presume that I have
acquired Torah? It is infinite. It is totally beyond human
attainment. A person must refine himself, time and again,
level after level, in order to constantly acquire a new
understanding in this infinite divine wisdom. Man is raw
material, a wild, untamed beast who must sublimate himself
constantly, through each new level of acquired Torah, to
become noble and refined and capable of receiving the next
level, and so on, constantly.
But to state that one has already received the Torah -- this
Moshe was incapable of saying for in his abject humility, he
only saw himself at the constant receiving level of aspiring
to more and more, of attaining a greater understanding in
that infinite treasure which forever remains ensconced by
Hashem, always just beyond reach, for there is always still
more to grasp.