Bamidbar / Shavuos
- Connection of Bamidbar to Shavuos
- Shavuos, Inyanei Torah
“ואלה תולדת אהרן ומשה” (ג:א) ואינו מזכיר אלא בני אהרן ונקראו תולדות משה לפי שלימדן תורה מלמד שכל המלמד את בן חברו תורה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו רש”י שם.
Last week, we were mekayeim the takanasEzra to read the Klalos of TorasKohanim before Atzeres (Megilla 31b). But what is the connection between parshas Bamidbar and Shavuos? True, there are two tzdadim in Tosafos (ibid.) if it is ok to be mafsik between Ki Savoh to Rosh Ha’Shana and between Bechukosai and Shavuos, but there is definitely a connection.
The connection, or at least one of the connectons, is what Rashi says on the pasuk, “V’eileh toldos Aharon v’Moshe b’yom diber Hashem es Moshe b’Har Sinai”. The next pasuk only mentions the sons of Aharon which shows that teaching someone Torah is like being molid him. And when did the sons of Aharon become the toldos of Moshe? On the day that Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai – the day of Matan Torah – because he taught them what he learned mi’pi ha’Gevurah.
Even on the superficial level, this is a gevaldikeh idea. The Gaon says that k’ilu yaldo is not mashal or melitzah, it is literal. The pshat is that just as there is a holadah in gashmiyus, so too is there a holadah in ruchniyus. In Bava Metzia we find the din that aveidas Raboh comes before aveidas aviv because a father brings him to Olam Ha’zeh and his Rebbi brings him to Olam Ha’Bah. What this shows is that just as one’s entire existence, his entire kiyum and physical being in Olam Ha’zeh is only by dint of his parents who were molid him, so too is existence in Olam Ha’Bah only possible because of Torah. The Torah is mechayeh him. And this comes about through his Rebbi.
Now that Torah sheh’b’al peh is written down, it is possible to get this, to a certain extent, by learning from a seifer, and access thereto is not as critically limited to getting it from a Rebbi as was in the time when Torah sheh’b’al peh was oral.
In addition, there is a deep nekudah here.
The whole idea of biological toladah is essentially an escape hatch from the curse of “b’yom acholcha mimenu mos tamus”. The yom is yomo shel Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu. But still, mos tamus really should be a dead end in this world. However, the ability to produce toldos means that a part of Adam Ha’Rishon survived and continues to survive. So too, every person in the briah. The klalah applies to everyone. But there is an escape hatch. A person’s tolados provide him with a continuity. What this means is that all of human existence is one chain of life. One link. It’s not the same guf, it’s in a different form and tzurah, but it is nevertheless literally a link of one continuity of life.
In that sense, k’ilu yaldo by Torah means that in ruchniyus as well it is one chain of life. Not going back to Adam Ha’Rishon, but to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai. It means that there is no absolute hefsek. A cheilek of the spiritual chiyus of each Rebbi is passed on to the next generation.
It says in the Chassidisheh Sefarim that a person can have two Rebbeim: a Rebbi that he learns from in person in Olam Ha’zeh, and a Himmeldikeh Rebbeh, even if he did not live in that Chacham’s lifetime at all. By learning his divrei Torah, one can become his talmid. That means that we can all be talmidim of Rashi. And you can also be a talmid of the Rambam, Rabi Akiva Eiger…anyone you want; who not?! Of course, this is only to the extent that we make ourselves their talmidim by investing the appropriate effort to understand and absorb what they say.
The most direct way, though, that one connects to this chain of spiritual chiyus going all the way back to those who heard Anochi Hashem Elokecha mi’pi ha’Gevurah is from the leibidikeh Masores, by learning and being mekabeil from a Rebbi directly. As Rabbeinu Yonah says (Avos 1:1) that even after chasimas ha’Talmud, there still is a necessity of Mesoras Ha’Torah in every generation from Rebbi to talmid.
It’s a new understanding in kol gadol v’lo yasaf – the kol of Torah that was sounded at Har Sinai never ceases, because the Rebbi to talmid connection in every generation perpetuates it as one continuum of chiyus.
Ultimately, this means that we are all talmidim of Moshe Rabbeinu. There’s a Gemara in Menachos that says “Talmidim of Moshe Rabbeinu” is coming l’afukei tzedukim. The Medrash (Tikunei Zohar 114a) says “ispashtusei d’Moshe b’chol dor v’dor”. The hashpaah of Moshe Rabbeinu is in every generation. This link of Rebbi to talmid means that we have an unbroken chain of chiyus going all the way back to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai, and within every generation’s mesoras ha’Torah exists a cheilek of that hashpaah of Moshe Rabbeinu.
What we see from all this is that learning Torah is not just a serious business. It is a serious business – ki heim chayeinu v’orech yameinu, and without it, chalila, the opposite. But it is not just a serious business, it is also a tremendous, glorious endeavor. And it is only Torah that has this incredible maalah. Someone who is moser nefesh to be osek in avodah or chesed the whole day, even though his zechus may be very great, he does not necessarily have this. Torah gives us this! This glorious inyan of one, unbroken continuum of chiyus that connects all the way back to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai.
(Audio, available here: https://app.box.com/s/fcxl6c9qhb7hraamfevhvsv9u749v557, begins from 41:22)
On numerous occasions Rebbi emphasized that “one cannot say ‘he was my rebbi’. If he was once your rebbi, then he still is your rebbi. And if he isn’t your rebbi now that means that he never was your rebbi.” Rebbi clearly held that a rebbi-talmid relationship is a kinyan olam, a bond that lasts forever. He explained this to his talmidim in very simple, down-to-earth terms: “Would you say about your father, ‘he was my father’? Of course not! Well, the same thing applies to your rebbi!”
(Combination of my memories and from Reb Matis Feld in Kuntras Divrei Zikaron page 162)
Once, at the vort of a talmid whose parents were not able to be there for some reason, when Rebbi stood up to speak, he said, “Chazal tell us that a Rebbi is like a father. So, right now, I am speaking as a father.”
(Reb Matis Feld, ibid.)
The Gemara in Maseches Shabbos says an example of notrikon is the word Anochi. Anochi stands for Anah nafshi kesivas yehavis. Rashi explains that anah nafshi means ani b’atzmi, that Hashem is saying I myself wrote and gave the Torah.
The Chasam Sofer in his drashos for Rosh Ha’Shana says a vort. He brings that the Rokeaich says that the title of seifer should have the author’s name somehow contained therein. This notrikon of Anochi, says the Chasam Sofer, is a kiyum of that inyan. Since Anochi is the beginning of Klal Yisrael getting the Torah, it is as if it is the title of the Torah.
In the sefarim there is another pshat given for anah nafshi, that Hashem is saying, “My nefesh is also part of what is written and given in the Torah.” In the context of speaking about Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, what does nefesh mean? Like by “im yeish es nafshechem”. Meaning, ratzon. In the Aseres Ha’Dibros, and the Torah as a whole, Hashem gave over, kavayachol, His ratzon. What that means is that the Torah is the way by which we can connect with Hashem.
Furthermore, it means that if you want to know about Hashem – what it is that He wants from the briah – the only portal to that knowledge is the Torah. Torah is not just a set of laws. Every word in Torah carries “nafshi”, ratzon Hashem.
When the pasuk says al levavecha, it is talking about the mitzvah of remembering Torah. Yonasan ben Uziel says kesivin al luach libchon. It means that the Torah is supposed to be retained. The Brisker Rov said that it is a shiur in yedias ha’Torah. Something that is written out in front of you, you don’t need to think to recall it; it’s right there!
In Toldos Adam, it is brought down the way Rav Chaim Volozhiner described the Gaon. How he was absolutely phenomenal in every way. The Gaon would have an aliyas neshama every night without engaging in hazkaras Sheimos – the Besh”t had aliyas neshama with hazkaras Sheimos – and during his sleep would be mashlim his yedios. And on and on. Someone asked Rav Chaim Volozhiner, “But your brother Rav Zelmeleh – who was niftar young – also knew kol ha’Torah kulah?!” Rav Chaim responded, “There’s no comparison!” And he explained it. Rav Zelmeleh knew kol ha’Torah kulah the way every Yid knows Ashrei, with total fluency. But if I ask you what is the word that comes beforeu’gvurosecha, you have to think about it to get the answer. You have to go back to the beginning of the pasuk in your mind and get to that point in order to remember. But the Gaon, he was on a completely different level. His yedias ha’Torah was so great that he knew it backwards as well as he knew it forwards.
That description of the Gaon is the kasveim al luach libecha, as if the text is written down right in front of him.
Even though in the rest of the dinei ha’Torahkesivah does not require chakikah, in order to be mekayeim kasveim al luach libecha, it needs to be a chakikah; engraved. Just writing with ink doesn’t sink in. Halevai we would even write the words of Torah on our hearts!
Practically speaking, how does one go about engraving divrei Torah on his heart? There are two aspects to it, and one without the other does not suffice. The first component is to work to understand the divrei Torah to the best of one’s ability. The more a person understands the sugyah, the deeper in it goes, and he retains it better. When a person really puts all his kochos into a sugyah, it is possible that even ten, twenty, or thirty, or even forty years later he will still remember it. If one just glosses over divrei Torah, though, then the divrei Torah might gloss over him.
The second component is ribuy chazaros, lots of review. Both are needed. Hah b’lo hah lo sagyah.
Rabbeinu Chananel brings in Maseches Rosh Ha’Shana (34) a Yerushalmi that says every Yomtov by the sair it says l’chatas, whereas by Shavuos it just says sair izim without the word chatas because “since you accepted upon yourselves ol Torah it is as if you never sinned.” Every year, there are two paths of mechilas avonos. One is during the Yamim Noraim and the other is on Shavuos. Relative to the concerted effort associated with the avodah of Yamim Noraim, the mechilas avonos that we get on Shavuos is a tremendous gift. Just by dint of the acceptance of ol Torah, it is granted to us. The Rokeaich says that this is the reason why the Gemara says that on Shavuos there is an extra component of simcha for which reason everyone agrees that we require lachem.
Derech agav, the three times of year that the Gemara says everyone agrees that we require lachem are Shavuos, Purim, and Erev Yom Kippur, and the Gaon explains that all of them have to have to do with the quality of Torah that is associated with the day.
When one takes something on, it should be specific, concrete, and practical. Not a migdal poreiach ba’avir. It needs to be something that one truly has the ability to maintain. Our kochos are far, far removed from anything resembling the kochos of the previous generation. The goals we set for ourselves need to be modest in accordance with our modest capabilities.
Bear in mind that giving examples of things that are possible to take on carries a danger that the mind will become constricted from thinking creatively. Really, each individual needs to think for himself what the appropriate goals are for him to set for himself. With that in mind, here are two examples. Establishing a seider, or a certain amount of time for learning, that is chok v’lo yaavor, that no matter what happens that day, this kevius will not move. The second example is to have a concrete goal of something you are going to accomplish in learning. This type of goal may be best to split up according to the natural tekufos by which the year is divided and structured, wherein you set a different goal for each tekufah.
Regarding what to do on Shavuos itself, there are different approaches. Some say that one should go into Shavuos with a cheshbon. Meaning, learn during whatever time will be the most productive, and sleep the other time. Also, don’t wear yourself too thin because there is life after Shavuos too! Isru Chag – right after we are mekabeil the Torah – is the time to start learning, and not to be like a tinok boreiach mi’beis ha’seifer.
My son told me that he prefers to stay up all night motzaei Shavuos. Why? Because we just got the Torah, so what am I going to do with it, go to sleep with it? I want to learn it! Ok.
Another tzad – I am not saying that you should do this – but some say, and there certainly is a sevara that it is k’dai, that during the mei’eis l’eis of Shavuos one should put every last ounce of kochos into learning, until one has used up all one’s kochos and even more, because this is the day of Matan Torah, the day to make a chakika b’leiv, just like then when they heard Anochi and it was nechkak b’leiv!
And what will be with Isru Chag? You’ll take a nap; it’s not so terrible.
Everyone should be zocheh to kabalas ha’Torah b’ahava u’b’simcha!
(Audio, available here.)
Provided courtesy of VayigdalMoshe.com