The pleasantness of the Torah is what we would like to
display for all to see, since that would undoubtedly be the
most effective aspect to draw in the lost souls, and also to
impress the rest of the world.
Yet this is often problematic: there are aspects of the Torah
which are not perceived as pleasant by outsiders in today's
world. For example, the Torah has capital punishment, which
in principle is considered by some to be unpleasant, and it
is meted out for actions that are considered trivial
(carrying on Shabbos) or even heroic (living a hedonistic
life in deviant ways) in modern times.
On the other hand, it is clear that the Torah does not
advocate wholesale execution of those who transgress its
mitzvos when there are masses of people who do so. Whenever
transgressors became too numerous, Chazal suspended the Torah
sanctions: when murderers became numerous they suspended
Egloh Arufoh. When adulterers became numerous they
suspended the waters of Sotoh (Sotoh 47a). In fact,
when murder became too common the rabbinical judges stopped
judging murderers altogether (Avodoh Zorah 8b).
The Torah is not intended to correct the imbalances and
perversions of a world run wild. Rather, it is a
comprehensive system that provides a blueprint for all
aspects of life from the ground up: the individual, the
collective, and all of humanity. It cannot be interposed or
imposed upon a reluctant community. It must define the basic
parameters as well as the particular laws.
HaRav Hirsch (Collected Writings, vol. I, p. 183 and
seq.) writes, "The Torah is One and Unique like G-d its
Creator. It has nothing in common with other laws, teachings,
systems and institutions. It is so unique that it can be
compared only to itself, it is something sui generis;
as soon as you describe it by names and terms taken from
other spheres you falsify the essence of Torah and bar the
way to its real understanding."
This warning is well-taken even for many who grew up in a
modern Torah community. Many are exposed — to a greater
or lesser extent — to so many aspects of the secular
and non- Jewish life that there is a natural tendency to make
comparisons. These are wrong and misleading. In order to
really receive the Torah, we must make ourselves empty like a
desert. "If one makes himself like a desert then Torah is
given to him as a gift, as it says, `Umimidbar matonoh'
(Bamidbar 21; Eruvin 54a)" and also, "The words of Torah will
persist only in someone who completely negates himself"
One must leave himself completely open to receive the wisdom
of G-d as expressed in the Torah, otherwise he will certainly
miss important parts. Since the Torah is so unique, nothing
outside of it can reliably help to understand it.
As HaRav Hirsch continues, "What the Torah wants to regulate
is not only the thoughts and sentiments of man, but the whole
of human existence — man's sensual impulses, his needs
and desires, his individual life as well as that of his
family, society and state. The Torah is the unique message of
G-d addressed to Man in his totality" (page 186).
We cannot measure Torah against the standards of men that are
based in their animal lusts or else are the products of their
individual dreams and experiences. The pleasantness of the
Torah is a perfection that can be visible to all, but perhaps
only after the Torah and the life that it produces are
experienced on their own terms.
A true talmid chochom displays the darchei noam
of the Torah in everything that he does and even in the way
he just is, constantly.
The large communities that are composed of Torah families in
Eretz Yisroel and in chutz la'aretz also
radiate the noam of the Torah. Although it may not be
possible to demonstrate it to a skeptic, anyone who sees it
from the inside can satisfy himself that the problems that
are present — and problems are still present —
are the result of outside influences, the sad fruits of the
fact that the larger society is not fully run according to
the system of the Torah.
HaRav Hirsch (p. 206): "The Torah is the Divine seed of all
human happiness that is to come, the indispensable condition
of independence and progress in this world which man seeks in
vain through other means. . . . in G-d's good time, the great
Jubilee of the Torah will come, . . . then the fetters of our
spiritual slavery will be broken, the allurements of non-
Jewish life will have lost their attraction, even the
remotest and most estranged of our brethren will then hear
the ancient call of G-d . . . and they will turn and return
to the sacred heritage of our fathers, and the eternal, holy
vocation of our people."