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“Vearasticha Li Leolam” & other Mamarim
[Likkutei Torah p. 8]
Parshas Bamidbar is always read on the Shabbos prior to Shavuos, the Holiday celebrating the receiving of the Torah. Various aspects of Matan Torah are explained and given new Chassidic meaning throughout the Mamarim included in the Parsha. Below are sections of three selected Mamarim of this Parsha that deal with Matan Torah.
In the Mamar of Bachodesh Hashlishi,” in Parshas Yisro [which the Rebbe instructed to be learned on Shavuos], the Alter Rebbe delves into the purpose of Matan Torah and the novel quality and character contained within the Torah and Mitzvos after they’d been given at Har Sinai, as opposed to prior to that event. For example, Matan Torah introduced the ability to learn the Torah of Hashem with such nullification to Him that one can actually become a chariot for His speech by simply vocalizing the words that Hashem is saying with Him at the time of learning. Likewise, the performance of the Mitzvos was now able to penetrate the world, making it a dwelling place for Hashem here below.
The Mamarim of Parshas Bamidbar focus more on the actual event of Matan Torah and what it represented. Matan Torah is considered to be the wedding between the Jewish people and Hashem. In what way are we considered Hashem’s bride, and Him our groom? What is the betrothal ring between us and Hashem? This Mamar explains the special bond that the Jewish people share with Hashem, similar to a bride, and the different methods by which our marriage to Hashem is consecrated.
The second Mamar discusses why the Torah was given specifically on Har Sinai, as it is a rather small mountain comparatively. If haughtiness is the problem, then let it be given on flat land, and if it is not an issue then why not choose a greater mountain? In this Mamar, the Alter Rebbe explains the proper approach and attitude one should have when learning Torah and how a measured ego is required.
The third Mamar discusses the true greatness of the Torah and Mitzvos and what should be one’s ultimate motivation when performing them. The Torah and Mitzvos contain two aspects: each is the will of Hashem, and each contains a unique Divine pleasure that formed this will. A Jew must serve Hashem with the knowledge that every Mitzvah contains a unique greatness and pleasure in Hashem’s eyes.
Explorations of the Mamar:
1. Why are we called Hashem’s bride and how is He our Chasan?
2. Why was the Torah given specifically on Har Sinai and not on a large mountain or in a valley?
3. Why was David Hamelech punished for calling the Torah “songs”?
4. What is the more altruistic motive for serving G-d; doing it simply because it is His will, or because it contains great Divine pleasure?
“Vearasticha Li Leolam”
Being engaged to Hashem:
The verse states, “Vearasticha Li Leolam/I will be engaged to you forever,” which means that we, the Jewish people, are engaged to Hashem. The level of Knesses Yisrael, which is the source of all the Jewish souls, is called a “bride” or “Kallah.” Why? In what sense are we a bride of Hashem? The word Kallah comes from the word Kelos Hanefesh, as written in the verse “Kalsa Nafshi/My soul yearns,” and is characteristic of a wife, of whom it states, “El Isheich Teshukaseich/To your husband will be your desire.” This feeling is found in the soul of each and every Jew, as every soul contains a flame that desires to return and attach to Hashem. This is the main service of man, to have a burning desire to be incorporated within G-d, to the point of actual Klos Hanefesh, expiry of the soul.
The two brides:
The Gemara [Kesubos, chapter 2] mentions two types of brides: One is beautiful and pleasant, while the other is blemished (either lame or blind.) Similarly, there are two forms of love that a soul can have. The first is of the soul of a person who is constantly involved in the service of G-d, spending all his day in prayer and Torah learning. This is a person that is spiritually refined and is led primarily by his G-dly soul, which rules his body. The second is of the soul of a person that is spiritually blemished, whose life is governed by the spirit of his animal soul and is involved in animalistic desires. It is the animal soul that rules over him. Nevertheless, even this type of soul is able to reach a love of Hashem via deep contemplation in the greatness of Hashem Himself, and in how Hashem transcends all levels, both Soveiv and Mimalei.
The ring of betrothal to Hashem:
The Kiddushin, which is the legal betrothal and sanctification of a marriage in which the bride becomes bound to her husband in an unbreakable bond, is accomplished through the ring given to her by her groom. The ring of Kiddushin between the Jewish people and Hashem is the Torah. When one learns Torah with the intent to attach to Hashem, he draws down an Or Makkif into his soul, similar to the ring that encompasses the finger of the bride. There are, however, other methods of achieving this Kiddushinesque bond with Hashem, which is similar to the Kiddushin of marriage. For instance, this can also be done through giving charity. The giving of charity redeems one’s G-dly soul from its incarceration within the animal soul, and on this the verse states, “Vearasticha Li Bitzedek/You will be engaged to me through charity.” Alternatively, another method of Kiddushin exists, even for those that are unable to learn and do not have money to give to charity. This method is alluded to in the next verse, which states, “Vearasticha Li Bemuna/Be engaged to me through faith,” and means that through the simple faith and contemplation that a Jew has in Achdus Hashem, he can achieve the wedding betrothal to Hashem.
All of the above is only the betrothal to Hashem, which is the initial stage of marriage that prefaces couplehood but does not actually unite the bride and groom. That stage is called the Nessuin, and is the actual bond and unity that the couple has after marriage. This is accomplished when a Jew dedicates every fiber of his being, his thought, speech, and actions, towards Hashem.
“Inyan Shenisna Torah Al Har Sinai”
Why did Hashem give the Torah specifically on Har Sinai versus the other mountains?
When the Torah was given, many mountains vied for the opportunity to have this momentous event transpire upon them. Only one mountain was chosen, and that is the famed mountain of Sinai. The Sinai Mountain differed from other mountains physiologically in that it was small and did not reach very great heights as did the other mountains such as Mount Tabur, Mount Karmel, or Mount Hermon. Nonetheless, the Sinai Mountain was specifically chosen to have the Torah given on it for the following reason: Height represents haughtiness, which is the root of all evil and is the antithesis of Torah, as Torah can only be grasped through humility. On this, the Sages state [Eiruvin, 54a], “If one makes himself like a desert that all step on, the Torah can be established within him.” This means that if one learns Torah with humility, without haughtiness, then the Torah can become eternal within him. This is also why in prayer we first say, “Venafshi Keafar Lakol Tihyeh/ May my soul be like dust before all,” and only then do we say “Pesach Libi Besorasecha/Open my heart to your Torah.” For this reason, the Torah was not given on the high mountains, as they represent a great level of ego. Har Sinai, on the other hand was low, which represents humility.
Why did Hashem give the Torah specifically on Har Sinai versus a valley or flat land?
Based on the above, it remains to be understood why a mountain was still chosen for the giving of the Torah. If the lower you are, the more humility you represent, then would it not have been fitting to give the Torah on flat land, or a valley? The explanation is as follows: Although Torah requires Bittul, self-subjugation of the ego, it nevertheless also requires a feeling of self-confidence, that one feels assured that he is able to serve G-d and stand up to and battle his evil inclination. Therefore, the Torah was given on Har Sinai, which was of a minimal height, as it represents a balanced ego; an ego which is humble enough to preserve the Torah and at the same time have the self respect to stand up for the good and battle the evil. This is why the mountain was called Har Sinai, which can also mean the “mountain of hatred”, as it brought hatred and enmity to the Kelipos, as through this form of service one is able to battle his evil inclination.
“Viehyeh Etzlo Emun..”:
The Torah is the pleasure of Hashem:
The verse [Mishley, 8/30] states, “Viehyeh Etzlo Emun, Viehyeh Shashuim Yom Yom Misachekes Lefanav/And I will be for Him a parent, and I will be for Him a source of pleasure each day.” In this verse is hidden the power of the Torah, and its unique capabilities and influence. Knowing the greatness of the Torah is not a matter to be taken lightly. We find that David Hamelech [who passed away on Shavuos] was punished for declaring statements about the Torah that were beneath its dignity. David said that the commands of the Torah are to him like songs, Zemiros Hayu Li Chukecha, and due to this statement, which was viewed by Hashem as being beneath the dignity of the Torah, David was punished and told that he would forget a basic Halacha in the Torah that even small children are aware of. And so it was that David Hamelech mistakenly had the Aron transported on a wagon rather than carried by the Kohanim. What was so wrong about this statement of David Hamelech that he had to be punished to such a degree, and what is the true praise of the level of the Torah?
The true intent of David in calling the Torah “songs”:
David Hamelech had every intention of praising the Torah when he made his statement comparing it to songs. A song can contain immense pleasure, to the point that one sings its melody constantly. So too, the Torah to David Hamelech was the ultimate pleasure and ecstasy of feeling, to the point that he called it “Songs”. Furthermore, not only were the understood parts of the Torah considered by him to be on the level of a sweet melody, but even the Chukim, the incomprehensible commandments, contained this immense pleasure for him as well. The reason for this is because all the commandments derive from the level of Ratzon Haelyon, the Divine will. The common denominator of all Mitzvos is that they are revelations of G-d’s will. Each Mitzvah that one performs connects him with G-d and hence, with this knowledge, one should rejoice immensely upon performing the Mitzvah. In the word of the Sages, “A light Mitzvah is to be in your eyes like a severe Mitzvah”.
Why David Hamelech was punished – The true greatness of the Torah:
Despite David Hamelech’s positive intentions in praising the Torah, he was nevertheless punished since he praised the Torah with an external aspect and completely ignored the essential greatness of the Torah. The essential greatness of the Torah and Mitzvos is not that they are the will of Hashem, but that they each contain an immense individual pleasure for Hashem. In the words of Kabbalah, the Torah and Mitzvos are the level of Taanug, or Atik in Kesser (a higher, internal level of Kesser), and not merely the level of Ratzon, which is Arich in Kesser (a lower, external level of Kesser). Each Mitzvah contains a different Divine intent and purpose, and hence there is a difference in the effect of each Mitzvah on the Seder Hishtalshilus, the Divine chain of worlds. In truth, the reason for this differentiation is due to the root of the Mitzvos in G-d’s Taanug/essential pleasure. The Taanug of Hashem is different for each Mitzvah, with each Mitzvah holding a different Divine pleasure for G-d. This Taanug is of an infinitely greater level than is the Divine will for the Mitzvos, and it is in fact this personal pleasure involved in each Mitzvah that begets the level of will. In other words, the “Pleasure” in the Mitzvah is the catalyst and antecedent for G-d to “Desire/Will” their performance and command them. At Matan Torah, this level of Divine pleasure in each Mitzvah was revealed. This is why the Sages state that during the event of the Ten Commandments, the souls of the Jewish people expired, Parcha Nishmasam, for at Matan Torah, every command had its personal essential Taanug revealed. The difference between serving Hashem because His Torah and Mitzvos are His will versus because His Torah and Mitzvos are His Taanug, is only experienced in one’s ability to reach a feeling of expiry of the soul for Hashem. In the former, although this causes the soul to desire to cleave to G-d, nevertheless it remains entrapped within the boundaries and limitations of the body and animal soul. In the latter, however, one is able to escape the limitations of the body and achieve ultimate cleaving and passion for Hashem.
A good and dedicated wife spent many hours preparing a most delicious luncheon for her husband after his return from a long trip overseas. She baked fresh garlic bread, roasted rib eye steaks, and prepared a number of salads and side dishes while waiting for her husband’s return. The husband returned home and was delighted to see the delicacies prepared before him, which would satiate his famished stomach. The aroma would draw anyone to eat another meal, and all the more so a hungry traveler who had not eaten properly in several weeks. At the end of dining, the wife asked her husband, “So what do you say; did you enjoy the food?” The husband turned to her with a smile and said, “You know the taste is not what really matters. It’s the thought that counts, and the fact that you did this for me and that it came from you is what really makes me happy.” Despite the true words and great intentions of the husband, the wife did not sit easy with such a remark and became despondent thinking that perhaps her food did not come out good after all. “Was it really that bad?” asked the wife. “No”, said the husband. “It was actually delicious – I have not have tasted better food in ages!” The wife then sat down and gave her husband a small lecture on the importance of complimenting the true nature of the good that was done.
The above is a parable of the difference between the Will and the Taanug that is present in the Torah and Mitzvos of Hashem. One can say that his pleasure in Torah and Mitzvos is simply the fact that it is Hashem’s will, and hence it makes no difference what Mitzvah or piece of Torah he is learning or performing, as they all come from Him and help one attach to Hashem.
However, in truth there is a reason behind why Hashem has a will for one to fulfill these Mitzvos and learn Torah, and each Mitzvah and Torah contains a specific Divine pleasure before Him that elicited the Divine will that a Jew fulfill them. Thus, Hashem’s true desire is that one should notice and strive to reach the inner meaning behind the Torah and Mitzvos, and not simply be satisfied with the idea that it is merely Hashem’s will. While certainly a Jew must first and foremost desire to do the Mitzvos because they are the will of Hashem, nonetheless, one must reach the true and inner meaning behind them, which is the great Divine pleasure that they each individually contain.
Lessons of the Mamar:
· The Torah and Mitzvos are the ring and consecration of marriage between the Jewish people and Hashem and are what bind us together in unity.
· The Torah can only truly penetrate one who learns it with humility and modesty, and cannot last within one who is of haughty spirit. Learn Torah with the intent to be more nullified to G-d and to fulfill his Will. Never boast of your knowledge and always be open to hear and accept words of Torah from others.
· It does not suffice to fulfill the Torah and Mitzvos simply out of Kabbalas Ol. One must also be aware that the Torah and Mitzvos contain great Divine pleasure and it is for that reason that Hashem commanded us to fulfill them. Be aware, when you fulfill a Mitzvah, that every individual Mitzvah contains a specific Divine intent and pleasure to Hashem.
 Likkutei Torah Bamidbar p. 15
 Likkutei Torah Bamidbar p. 18