Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Iyar 5768 - May 22, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

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.

La'asok Bedivrei Soroh

Chazal set the text of the brochoh, "Who commanded us to occupy ourselves with the words of Torah," and not, "Who commanded us to learn Torah."

They taught us by this usage of words that a man must perform all his Heavenly obligations as an eisek, occupation, just as an occupation or business in worldly affairs. A person who relates to his Heavenly occupation like a worldly business, with all the characteristic conduct such a thing entails, will be assured that he will succeed in his Torah and his avodas Hashem.

The many bothersome duties in the course of his life can overwhelm a man. However, when he is involved in a regular business, he usually manages to overcome all the obstacles and to continue his business. He knows that any interference in his business causes a great loss which he may never be able to make up. Furthermore, his friends and family and other close ones, will not bother him, because they understand the importance of his business affairs and the need concentrate on them without interruption.

If a man related to Torah as a business, he would strengthen himself like a lion to overcome all the obstacles and stumbling blocks, and nothing would stop him nor prevent him from engrossing himself in Hashem's Torah. All his close ones would also be afraid to interrupt him, knowing the importance of his occupation.

This is the intent of the posuk: "These things have you done... but I will reprove you, and set the matter before your eyes" (Tehillim 50:21). When a man is confronted with this against that, with this occupation compared to that occupation, it will be demonstrated how much he failed to relate to his Heavenly affairs as he would to business affairs. From here a man can learn the way to deal with the interruptions and stumbling blocks that overwhelm him every day. (Maran the Alter of Kelm)


The Bircas HaTorah has thirteen words corresponding to the Thirteen Rules through which the Torah is elucidated. (Shulchan HaTahor, Kamarna)


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

There would seem to be a difficulty here. Hashem went around to all the other nations before Matan Torah and offered them the Torah, and they did not accept it. Only the Am Yisroel agreed to accept it. If so, why do we say, "Who chose us from all the nations," when in fact we chose the Torah?

However, the Sages said: "There is no mazal for Yisroel" (Shabbos 156a). Avrohom Ovinu saw in the stars that he could not bear children, for all the mazalos opposed his having seed. However, Hashem elevated him above mazal, and Yitzchok was born.

The entire existence of Am Yisroel is above mazal. Therefore we can keep the Torah and mitzvos, for someone who is subjugated to mazal is forced in his deeds and devoid of free will. This is why the nations of the world refused to accept the Torah, in the knowledge that they were subjugated to mazal and that is what causes them to do good or evil. But Am Yisroel is above mazal, and can choose good and despise evil, for mazal does not force them one way or the other.

We thank Hashem for this choice when we say: "Who chose us from all the nations." He did so by elevating us above mazal. Therefore, "He gave us His Torah," as an outcome of this choice we accepted the Torah. For if we were under the influence of mazal, it would have been nearly impossible to accept the Torah, since we would have been devoid of free will.

This explains why Hashem had to suspend Mount Sinai over them like a barrel and say: "If you accept the Torah—that will be fine; and if not—there will be your burial" (Shabbos 88a). Am Yisroel were afraid that perhaps they were subjugated to the influence of mazal and for that reason they refrained from accepting the Torah.

Therefore, Hashem told them they were mistaken, and that mazal does not rule them. If they were subjugated to the rule of mazal they would not exist, for Yitzchok would never have been born. Consequentially, if they would accept the Torah, knowing that there is no mazal for Yisroel—"that will be fine." But if they refuse to accept it, thinking that they are under the rule of mazal— "there will be your burial," for mazal will cause them to be destroyed. (Rebbe Yehonoson Eibshitz, Ya'aros Devash)


Asher bochar bonu mikol ho'amim venosan lonu es Toroso

This matter seems perplexing. How is it possible to say that Hashem "chose us from all the nations?" Actually, HaKodosh Boruch Hu went around to all the nations and offered them the Torah, but they did not want to accept it!

The gemora (Avoda Zara 2b) says that in the future the nations of the world will contend: "Master of the Universe! Did you suspend the mountain over us like a barrel and we did not accept it? Yet, this is what You did for Yisroel!"

The explanation of this matter is that keeping the Torah, and especially keeping it perfectly, is not an easy thing at all. The event of suspending the mountain over the Am Yisroel like a barrel goaded them into preparing themselves and imbued them with a special strength, which enabled them to be steadfast, worthy, and capable of fulfilling the Torah if they choose to do so. Therefore, the nations contended: Why were only Yisroel privileged to this?

This is the meaning of the posuk: "And Hashem has chosen you today to be a treasured nation for Him" (Devorim 26:18). "And Hashem has chosen you today"— Hashem gave Yisroel the special strength they needed, "to be a treasured nation for Him." Without Hashem's special help to the `mighty ones' they would not be capable of keeping the Torah and the mitzvos.

Thus, the Men of the Great Assembly fixed the text of the brochoh: "Who chose us from all the nations." The soul of a Jew is more prepared and capable than that of the nations, and has a special strength that does not exist by them.


It is possible to explain the brochoh in another way based on the following: One could observe the Torah in two possible ways. Some keep the Torah's mitzvos because we were commanded about them at Sinai, and even though their reasons may not be clear to us.

On the other hand, some keep the Torah because of the dictates of their knowledge and intellect alone.

This is the intent of Chazal (Avoda Zora 2b) when they said HaKodosh Boruch Hu went around to every nation and tongue, but they did not accept the Torah. However, when He came to Yisroel they accepted it. This is because the nations wanted to accept the Torah based on their intellectual understanding alone and not because it is the Torah of truth that was commanded from the mouth of the Almighty.

Therefore, Hashem "chose us from all the nations"—Yisroel accepted the Torah because it is Divine and not because of a conclusion based on their intellect and understanding. (Rebbe Yosef Shaul Natanzon, Divrei Shaul)

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