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1 Sivan 5761 - May 23, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
The Bond Of Intimacy

By HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus zt'l

From The Introduction To Tifferes Torah

Weeping for Generations: By Way Of Introduction

"And your brethren, all of beis Yisroel, shall weep over the burning that Hashem burnt" (Yayikro 10,6).

" `All of beis Yisroel,' refers to each and every Jew, for all future generations. It is brought in the machzor of Yom Kippur, that to shed tears over the deaths of Aharon's sons is a very worthy and sublime thing.

"The gemora (Moed Koton 27) says however, "Do not weep for the dead person, nor nod for him . . . " (Yirmiyohu 22:10). Do not weep too much for the dead and do not exceed the measure of nodding [in mourning]. How? Three days for weeping, seven for eulogizing, thirty days of refraining from pressed clothes and haircutting. After that, Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, "You don't have more mercy on him than I do." ' "

Why then, is there no limit to the weeping over Nodov and Avihu?

We can explain by citing the custom to feed a mourner eggs and round lentils to comfort him. By doing this we wish to convey the message that the cycle of life and death is one which is continually recurring. A new generation arises which fills the gaps left by the one that has departed and there is no reason for excessive grief. This, however, only applies when the death was a natural one. If it represents the untimely uprooting of a particular quality that is unretrievable, that is certainly cause for weeping that lasts forever.

Imagine if someone loses a hand. Is there a limit to his tears? He'll remain without this important limb for all his life.

So it was with Nodov and Avihu. Had they died naturally, others would have arisen to fill the gap that would have been left, each generation according to its own level. Since they died prematurely though, the world will always be lacking two great tzaddikim like Nodov and Avihu, even on the lower levels of later generations. This is a reason for every generation to weep.

This is the meaning of all the things that every generation continues to weep over: like the mourning over the tens of thousands at the time of the churban, which is mourning over the uprooting of something which will never be replaced.

(HaRav Shimshon Pincus in Tifferes Torah on parshas Shemini)

The following essay presents the fundamentals of the message that HaRav Shimshon Pincus attempted to convey to Klal Yisroel in the countless shmuessen and talks that he delivered tirelessly to audiences everywhere.

In the words of hesped which he delivered at the levayos of his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, ylct'a, HaRav Chaim Avrohom Pincus said of his son, "We have no grasp of his love of kindness. He looked for kindness. It was difficult for him to travel, but he was always travelling, day and night. It was all kindness. How many thousands of lives did he influence? I once asked my son whether people weren't tired of his talks. He said, `When they listen, I'll stop speaking.' "

He has stopped speaking but have we listened?

The following is a translation of the introduction to the sefer Tifferes Torah by HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus. It was recently published separately as a pamphlet, upon the advice of HaRav Yisroel Elia Weintraub, to call attention to the important message that it contains.

The Bond of Intimacy

(Declaration of Intent)

Part I

Every sefer has a title page, telling the reader what he will find inside, whether chidushei Torah on the gemora's discussions, clarification of some area of halochoh, stories of gedolei Yisroel or whatever. This page is needed by the work's readers, for one cannot begin reading a sefer without having some idea of what it contains.

The author himself will certainly never forget what he is writing about, even for a moment. If he's producing a sefer about hilchos Shabbos, it's unthinkable that in the middle, he'll suddenly start writing a chiddush on a gemora in Zevochim, for that would mean that the entire purpose of his sefer had slipped his mind.

It is the same with everything a person does. To begin with, he has to be aware of what it is he's actually attempting to do and only then can he start thinking and planning how to arrange things in the best possible way. If someone is opening a store, his aim is probably to make money. It may be that in time, he realizes that he omitted to take certain factors into account, say for example, the effect of his business on his competitors, but he'll never say, "Oh, I made a mistake; I thought I was simply providing people with groceries. I didn't realize that I am supposed to be making money." That would mean that he'd forgotten the entire purpose of having opened a store, and people never lose sight of what their main purpose is.

When a couple marries, there are two sets of agreements they draw up. One is what we refer to today as teno'im and the other is the kesuvoh. The teno'im set out the basic nature of the relationship between the two parties, namely, that he will take her as his wife and that they will live together in love and companionship, with Heaven's help. Only afterwards comes the kesuvoh, which details his obligations towards her, to support her and to respect her " . . . in the manner of Jewish husbands."

While a man may possibly make mistakes about some of the details of his obligations, its unthinkable that he'd say, "I forgot that she is my wife; I thought for a moment that she's my servant." One never forgets the basic nature of the relationship.

Bearing all these examples in mind, let us examine the essence of Torah and Yiddishkeit. The Torah's mitzvos are the details of the "contract" between Hakodosh Boruch Hu and His nation, just like the kesuvoh in our last example. The most important thing for every Jew to know however, is the essential nature of this "contract," which we must never lose sight of, even for a moment.

The Torah devotes a special parshah to this subject: the preface to matan Torah. The pesukim say, "In the third month after bnei Yisroel left Egypt, on this day, they came to Midbar Sinai . . . And Moshe ascended to Hashem, and Hashem called to him from the mountain to say, `So shall you say to beis Yaakov and tell bnei Yisroel, "You have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I carried you on eagle's wings and that I brought you to Me. And now, if you listen constantly to My voice and guard My covenant, then you will be a treasure for Me out of all the nations, for the whole world is Mine. And you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for Me." These are the things that you should speak about to bnei Yisroel.'"

In this parshah, the Torah spells out the very essence of the "deal" which Hashem made with us. It is a parshah of fundamental importance, from which one ought never to divert one's thoughts, even momentarily.

Agreement or Alliance?

The essence of Yiddishkeit is our nation's establishment of a pact, or an alliance (bris), with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. The marriage bond is another example of an alliance, as opposed to a working contract which covers arrangements such as that she will turn over the results of her labor to him in exchange for which he will support her; or she will keep the home clean in exchange for which he will bring her jewelry. Obviously, anyone who looks at marriage in this light is mistaken. It is a far more profound and far reaching relationship.

Matan Torah was the same. To think of it in terms of the drawing up of a simple "business contract" -- we observe the mitzvos in exchange for which Hashem sustains us and provides our needs -- is to negate the essence of Yiddishkeit.

This idea of an alliance with Hakodosh Boruch Hu doesn't only apply to Yiddishkeit on the national level. It applies to life itself, to the entire meaning of every individual Jew's life in this world.

There are those who think that we are in this world simply to live here. Everyone wants a good and happy life, and only Hakodosh Boruch Hu, who is Master of the universe, has the power to grant this. So, in order to merit a good life, they reason, one has to learn and do mitzvos, because this is how one merits a good life.

Such an outlook is the total antithesis of Yiddishkeit. If a person imagines that he is in this world in order to eat and drink and enjoy good health and marry off his children with plenty of yiddisheh nachas, and to do mitzvos so that he merits all of this, he is like a man who sits in a store buying and selling merchandise, imagining that his purpose is merely to sit there and trade and forgetting that he's actually there to make money. Such a man has done what nobody does -- he's forgotten the main purpose.

Just as the heart of Yiddishkeit is the establishment of a covenant of love with Hashem yisborach, living in partnership with Him, in love, companionship and siyata diShemayoh, the meaning and purpose of each person's life in this world is to attain closeness to Hashem -- for here is where the greatest closeness can be attained - - and to live together with Him. This, and nothing else, is the sum total of man's life.

We Will Build A Home

Let us consider an amazing thing. All the promises which Hakodosh Boruch Hu made to the ovos were about one thing and one thing only -- giving Eretz Yisroel to their descendants. Never is any promise made about giving them Torah and mitzvos.

When making the first covenant, the Bris Bein Habesorim, the posuk (Bereishis 15:18) tells us, "On that day, Hashem established a covenant with Avrohom saying, `I have given this land to your offspring.' " Later, when making the covenant of miloh, Hashem said (17:7- 8), "I will uphold the covenant between Myself and between you and your offspring who follow you . . . to be Elokim to you and to your offspring after you and I will give you and your offspring who follow you the land in which you dwell, all of Eretz Canaan, as an everlasting possession."

Hashem promised Yitzchok (26:3), "Live in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for I will give you and your offspring all these lands and I will uphold the oath which I swore to Avrohom your father."

And with Yaakov too (28:13), "And behold Hashem was standing over him and said, `I am Hashem . . . I will give you and your offspring the land upon which you are lying."

At the burning bush, Hashem told Moshe (Shemos 3:8), "And I will come down to save them . . . and to bring them up from that land to a good, extensive land, to a land flowing milk and honey . . . "

At first glance, this is all quite astonishing. How is it that Hashem did not mention the most fundamental thing: Torah? Is Eretz Yisroel the principle element in the relationship between us and Hashem? We have been cleaving to Him for two thousand years without possessing Eretz Yisroel, whereas we could not continue for one moment without Torah. Why was Eretz Yisroel made the center of the covenant?

The explanation is as follows. Of course, our entire connection with Hashem is only through Torah, and without Torah there is nothing. However, when the chosson declares to his kallah, "Together, we will build a home," he is not referring to the bricks and mortar of their house but to their relationship as a couple, which is at the center of the home which they hope to establish. If they merely live in one house, while he looks one way and she looks another, there will be no home. Klal Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel without Torah would be a comparable situation. The whole basis of the bond would be lacking.

Were Hakodosh Boruch Hu to have made an explicit promise about giving the Torah, this would have implied the existence of a covenant over the actual study of Torah and the fulfillment of the mitzvos, possibly on account of the rewards for these pursuits or because of the wisdom and depth that they contain. What Hashem meant to imply however, was that the goal of the covenant between Him and our nation is the actual closeness itself. When He promised Eretz Yisroel to the ovos, He was promising an attachment, a close relationship.

This is the foundation of the Jewish personality. A Jew is someone who, basically, prays three times and makes one hundred brochos every day. Not all Jews apply themselves to Torah study but all enter a beis haknesses to pray and all make brochos on their food. It is this which maintains an ongoing relationship with Hashem, just like a married couple, who are always talking and communicating with one another.

Consider how amazing it is that neither the three tefillos, nor the brochos are Torah commands but institutions of the ovos and of Chazal. The kesuvoh details a husband's obligations to his wife but it doesn't say that they are expected to speak to one another because that isn't an obligation, it's a fundamental part of the bond between them and in fact, if it comes only through coercion it lacks all worth. Communication must come naturally, because of the closeness between them.

The institution of the tefillos also sprung spontaneously, as it were, from Klal Yisroel, in order to maintain an ongoing connection with Hakodosh Boruch Hu throughout the day.

Realizing Where We Are

The author of Mesillas Yeshorim opens his work with the words, "The foundation of piety and the root of perfect service is that a person's obligation in his world should become clear and real to him, as should the things which ought to be the subjects of his present attentions and his long term aims, in all that he toils over throughout his life. Now, what Chazal have taught us [on this matter] is that man was only created for the purpose of having pleasure in Hashem and benefiting from the radiance of His Shechinoh . . . and the place for this delight is really Olom Haboh . . . " He continues by quoting Chazal's statement that this world is merely a corridor to the next and he seems to be saying that the whole purpose of this world is to serve as a means of reaching the next, not that it has an intrinsic purpose of its own.

There are however, two separate things to appreciate about life in this world: its essence and its goal. Its goal is Olom Haboh. Certainly, something which is temporal and fleeting cannot constitute an ultimate goal. The essence of life in this world, however, is the attainment of a bond of love with Hashem and it is principally through this bond that the final purpose is achieved. This bond has its origins only in this world.

Although it seems that I'm always citing the marriage bond as an example, the truth is that this is the very example which Hashem Himself gave us of His relationship with us, and no other example exists. In fact, according to some Rishonim, the brochoh which we make under the chuppah, "Who sanctifies His nation through chuppah and kiddushin," refers not to the ceremonies by which individual Jewish couples marry but to Hashem's betrothal of our nation at Har Sinai, when His suspension of the mountain over us was in place of a chuppah, and the covenant which He made with us was in place of kiddushin. Therefore, if we examine the example it will lead us to a correct understanding of the nature of our bond with Hashem.

Marriage itself is not an ultimate end. Its purpose is to ensure continuity. However, the essence of marriage is a moment of closeness and attachment; it is not merely a means of conveyance into the future.

For example, imagine if a chosson enters the room where he and the kallah seclude themselves following the chuppah, takes a newspaper out of his pocket and begins to read the news, saying to his kallah, "There's nothing to get excited about; the really joyous occasion is yet to arrive. When we make a bris for our as yet unborn son, then we'll be happy because that is the purpose of our getting married" -- of course this is a mistake. Certainly, the ultimate purpose is the future but the essence of the connection is the marriage bond itself.

The ultimate purpose of our world is the attainment of Olom Haboh, but our world is the chuppah. Our hundred and twenty years here are supposed to be spent in love and attachment to Hashem yisborach. Just as in marriage, "a woman only makes a covenant with the one who makes her a vessel," meaning that the degree of the love that existed at the outset determines how things will continue throughout life, so too, the level of attachment that one attains in this world, will continue forever.

Our world is not simply a tool or a means by which to obtain the next. Our world is the real point. Here is where we must live our attachment to Hashem, and from here, it carries on forever.

End of Part I

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