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Shabbat Parashat Naso 5779

Parashat Hashavua: With Desire and by Force

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul p. 241-242 (an article written in 1958)

The gemara (Shabbat 88a) learns from the pasuk, “They stood at the bottom of the mountain” (Shemot 19:17) that He held the mountain over them like a tub, threatening them that if they did not accept the Torah, “There would be your grave.” So it turns out that after Bnei Yisrael willingly accepted upon themselves, before the Torah was given, to keep all the words of the Torah, they still needed to be threatened. Many commentaries wonder about the need for this, and several answers have been given.

The following explanation may be close to the truth. Man has the power to desire something strongly, and man has the power to carry it out. On a theoretical basis, the two are directly connected to each other. When a person wants something, he will carry through on it. However, in practice there is a big difference between desire and actualization. There are many things that we know are good and worthwhile and yet they remain within the realm of plans that one would like to do … but does not do them. This is because carrying out things requires effort, giving up on conveniences, and overcoming obstacles. To overcome these, good will is insufficient.      

We remember well the days of struggle against the British Mandate before the establishment of the State. The struggle was very, very difficult and included a lot of “inconvenience.” Yet, the Jewish inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael stood up to the challenge nobly. They were willing to pay the price, whatever was necessary to reach the goal. In contrast, from the time of the establishment of the State, we have often seen a relaxation of the tension, a weakening of resolve, and a lack of carrying out of that which needs to be done. It is not that there is no possible way to succeed but is due to a lack of stubbornness to get the job done at any price. What caused the difference? It is because at the time of the establishment of the State, the question was raised in the sharpest manner, as people felt that there was no alternative. It was clearly a make or break situation. As people used to say: “We have a secret weapon, whose name is aleph bet: ein bereira (there is no choice).” As they would say in the Navardok Yeshiva: “When there is a possibility to pass, it is necessary to pass; and when it is necessary, then it is possible.”

The same attitude is true regarding the acceptance of the Torah. Certainly, Bnei Yisrael’s unanimous response of na’aseh v’nishma (we will do and hear) was sincere and expressed the people’s good will. However, Hashem knew the characteristic of the people and that not much later they would dance around the Golden Calf. After all, there is a great distance between the theoretical and the practical. It is easy and pleasant to dance around the calf, and it is difficult to “kill oneself in the tent of Torah.” Therefore, there is a need for Divine Assistance, help which comes to one who is sincere in his desire to follow the straight path. This is what Chazal described as holding the mountain over their head. In other words, Hashem was telling them that not just good will would get them to accept the Torah, but that actually there is no choice. Israel’s existence depends on the extent to which they accept the Torah. The feeling of ein bereira gives the good will the ability to carry out their desire in practice.

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Dedication

We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

 

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Netanel Ilan ben Sheina Tzipora 

Netanel ben Sarah Zehava

Yehuda ben Chaya Esther

Meira bat Esther

Yair Menachem ben Yehudit Chana

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

David Chaim ben Rassa

Lillian bat Fortune

Yafa bat Rachel Yente

Eliezer Yosef ben Chana Liba

Ro'i Moshe Elchanan ben Gina Devra

Refael Yitchak ben Chana

 

Together with all cholei Yisrael

 

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell in wars

for our homeland

Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar   10

Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

Tishrei 9 5776


Mr. Shmuel Shemesh  z"l
Sivan 17 5774

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10   5774


Rav Asher Wasserteil z"l

Kislev 9 5769

R'  Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


R'  Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha

and

Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23 5777

 

Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton)

Polin z"l

Tammuz 19, 5778

 

Leiser Presser

ben R'Aharon Yitzhak and Bracha

on the occasion of his yahrzeit, 24 Iyar,

and members of his family

who perished in the shoah

Al Kiddush Hashem.

 

R' Abraham Klein z"l

18 Iyar 5779

 

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of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
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