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24 Iyar 5768 - May 29, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
Telolei Oros
A Collection of Insights about the Torah, following the Order of Prayer, in Honor of Shavuos, the Uplifting Day of Matan Torah

From "Telolei Oros, the Prayer Anthology" by Rabbi Yissochor Dov Rubin, who was niftar on Shabbos parshas Kedoshim at the age of 45.

Asher bochar bonu mikol ho'amim venosan lonu es Toroso

This brochoh is perplexing. Chazal said (Avoda Zora 2b) that Hashem offered the Torah to all the nations, and only after they refused to accept it, He gave it to Yisroel. If so, how can we make the brochoh, "Who chose us from all the nations and gave us His Torah?" What kind of choice did He make choosing Yisroel if He had previously offered it to all the nations?

In fact, Chazal said that the Torah was given in seventy languages, so that all the nations could read it (Sotah 33a). However, loshon hakodesh is different from the rest of the languages, for the Torah hints to the Oral Law in this language. All the droshos of Chazal are based on loshon hakodesh, as they are learned from the words of the Torah in loshon hakodesh. However, the Oral Law is not hinted to in the Torah when it is translated into any one of the other seventy languages.

Therefore, we say in the brochoh: "Who chose us from all the nations," for Hashem wanted to give the Torah to all the nations in their language. Nevertheless, He chose us to give the Torah in loshon hakodesh—"and He gave us His Torah"—in the language in which it was written On High: Loshon hakodesh. (Marpeh Loshon, Rebbe Refoel HaCohen of Hamburg)


Asher bochar bonu mikol ho'amim, venosan lonu es Toroso

The Eitz Yosef asks the same question: Chazal said that Hashem went around to all the nations and offered them the Torah and they did not accept it, until Yisroel accepted it (Avoda Zora 2b). If so, how can we say, "Who chose us from all the nations and gave us the Torah?"

He answers that in the future the nations will contend to Hashem: "Did you suspend the mountain over us like a barrel and we did not accept it? Yet, this is what You did for Yisroel!" (Ibid.). This is the means by which Hashem chose us from all the nations—He suspended the mountain over us like a barrel, which He did not do for any other nation.


However, it is possible to resolve the Eitz Yosef's difficulty based on the words of the Sefer Chassidim: "All of Yisroel are guarantors, one for the other. If one Jew would have protested, the Torah would not have been given to them" (Siman 233).

From his words we see that the entire klal Yisroel needed to accept the Torah — as one man with one heart. If Klal Yisroel were not a unique nation by itself, but rather were only a portion of a larger nation, they could not have accepted the Torah. For example, if they were a part of the nation of the larger group the sons of Shem (Semites), or Avrohom's sons, or even Yitzchok's sons, and Hashem asked them if they wanted to accept the Torah, then even if all of Yaakov's descendants said, "Na'aseh venishmoh," the Torah could not be given to them since the rest of Yitzchok's descendants, i.e., Eisov's descendants, did not accept it.

The agreement of Klal Yisroel alone to accept the Torah was sufficient only because Hashem separated Klal Yisroel as a separate people and called them a unique title, "Bnei Yisroel," while they were still in Egypt. This is the meaning of the brochoh: "Who chose us from all the nations," meaning, already in the days of old He chose us as a separate nation, and only as a result of this choice, "He gave us His Torah." For without this, we would not have been able to accept it even if we wanted to. (Zera Yaakov, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Zaleznik, Rosh Yeshivas Eitz Chaim)


Shetargileinu beSorosecho — May You accustom us to Your Torah

Rebbe Yehonoson Eibshitz writes: "The main thing is to pray to Hashem that He should condition our hearts with a nature to fulfill His Torah. For Hashem will heed the call of one who prays to Him and will inscribe in his nature to be wary of transgression, just as Am Yisroel is conditioned by nature not to eat pig, repugnant creatures, or lowly crawling insects. "It is repugnant to you and it shall not be eaten." "They assist [with Heavenly assistance] one who comes to purify himself." Therefore, he should also pray to Hashem that keeping the Torah should be inscribed in his heart as second nature, so that his heart will never turn astray." (Yaaros Dvash)


Shetargileinu beSorosecho

In the root of a Jew's soul there is the will and desire for the Torah. If he does not realize his potential, it is only because he accustomed himself to the opposite things.

Consequentially, everything follows habit. As the Gra wrote: "When a man accustoms himself to wasted words (devorim beteilim) and mockery, he continues to be attracted to them with such a strong desire that it is difficult to extricate himself from them" (Mishlei 1).

On the other hand, when a man accustoms himself to study Torah, he becomes attached to it and drawn after it with a strong desire, until the point where he cannot exist without it.

This is what a man prays for and asks: "May You accustom us to Your Torah." (Siach Yitzchok)


Shetargileinu beSorosecho

"May You accustom us"—"May we do the mitzvos like a second nature, and not turn astray from them, and they will be like our nature to eat and drink, without which we cannot survive, so too, may He accustom us to a matter of a mitzvah so that we cannot survive without it." (Sefer HaMinhagos)


Shetargileinu beSorosecho

One of the chassidim once asked the Admor Ra'M of Gur: What is the meaning of the prayer, "May You accustom us to Your Torah?" Habits have a negative connotation, for anything that becomes habitual loses its flavor. However, concerning the words of Torah it is said: "Every day they should be new in your eyes" (Voeschanon 6:6).

The Admor answered: This is a habit like eating. Even though one eats everyday, he does not lose interest in eating. Rather, he eats each time with an appetite and renewed desire. (Likutei Yehuda)


He relates his word to Yaakov, His statues and judgments to Yisroel, He did not do so for any other nation, such judgments — they know them not

"He relates his word to Yaakov"— The word maggid, relates, connotes exactness of the words and their explanation, as the Chazal derived from the posuk: "Vesaggeid, and you shall relate, to Bnei Yisroel" (Shemos 19:3), "tell them the exact details of the matters that they may obey" (Shemos Rabbah 28). Therefore, the posuk did not use the language of amiroh, saying, or dibbur, speaking. Rather, maggid, tell and explain the exact details of the matters and the judgments—to Yaakov and Yisroel alone, for only they were given the Oral Law.

"He did not do so for any other nation"— The Torah was not given to the nations of the world. The reason is, "And such judgments — they know them not." They do not know how to properly explain the Torah's judgments that are written in explicit verses; they are not capable of understanding deeply the essence of the matters. (Rebbe Azariyah Piggo, Binah LeItim)

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