This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Mishpatim (5767)
According the mystical book the Zohar every idea, sentence and letter of the Torah contains deep mysteries.
For instance, many the fifty three commandments of this week's Torah portion, although they deal with damages and monetary laws, really explain the workings of re-incarnation (gilgulim).
On one hand this is not very mysterious. We know how money blinds and confuses even the most righteous souls (Exodus 23:8). So it's not surprising it could bring souls back to earth as well.
But some of the commandments seem to be misleading.
For instance, there is a commandment to loan money even if the one requesting is rich. But strangely the Torah here seems to say the opposite!
"You should loan money to the poor person in your midst." (22:24)
If it is a commandment to loan to everyone then why does the Torah only say to the poor person?! What is the spiritual lesson in concealing the truth?
To understand this, here is a story. (HaShavoa Newspaper 25-1-07)
After the expulsion from Spain, Morocco became a great center of Judaism. In fact until just recently it was the home of myriads of 'Tzadikim' (completely holy Jews) one of the most famous of whom was Rabbi Yisroel Abuchasera. (Often nicknamed 'the Baba Sali')
Besides being fluent in all aspects of the Torah; (mystical, legal, Talmudic etc.) the Baba Sali, like Moses thousands of years earlier, often did open miracles in order to help others.
Here is an example.
It was the Baba Sali's custom to regularly travel to other Jewish communities to strengthen, bless, advise and inspire them.
Once he traveled to a distant city and, as usual, when the all the Jews there heard of his arrival, they all rushed to greet him, hear him speak and bask in his presence.
He was then ceremoniously ushered to the largest synagogue in town where, after the evening prayer, he spoke words of Torah.
He held the crowd spellbound for several hours with everything from simple and practical ideas to deep and even mystical concepts and when he finished the entire crowd stood on their feet beaming with joy and awe and crowded around to shake his hand and thank him.
The head elder of the congregation was the first in line and he requested the honor and blessing of having the Tzadik spend the evening in his home.
But the Baba Sali didn't move. Rather he cleared his throat for attention and when everyone fell silent he announced; "Despite my fatigue from the journey I would like to first request that I be taken to see your Mikva."
(Married women are required by Torah law to regularly immerse in a 'ritual pool' based on rain water called a 'Mikva' built according to Torah standards.)
The town elders began turning colors in shame nervously clearing their throats and shooting desperate, sheepish looks at one another. Until finally one of them stepped forward, hung his head and explained.
"Well, you see, that is…. Errrrr… rain doesn't fall very often here and, well. Well, the Mikva is dry and…"
He felt he was melting under the stare of the Tzadik as he continued. "And it hasn't been used for, well, as long as I can remember. The women here travel to the Mikva about an hour's ride from here."
The Baba Sali replied "Where is the Mikva?"
"But it's empty" someone else meekly protested, "and it's filthy. I mean, it hasn't been used for at least fifteen years"
But the Tzadik wanted to see the Mikva. So in ten minutes they were standing before the dilapidated Mikva building in the dirt and weeds.
The Baba Sali opened the door and entered and in a few moments came out, removed his fine linen outer robe rolled up his sleeves and entered to begin cleaning.
In just seconds all the men in the town were at work clearing the room and even the grounds outside. And after they were finished the women entered and put on the finishing touches. Five hours later the place was spotless and sparking clean.
But what about the rain water?
The Baba Sali put on his coat, stood before the Mikva building, raised his hands to heaven and cried out:
"Creator of the Universe! We have done all we can. Now You do what only You can… your children need rain!!"
In just moments, as though from nowhere, the sky darkened, a cold wind blew furiously and rain began pouring in such torrents that everyone ran for cover in fear of the awesome miracle.
In no time the Mikva was full to the brim and the rain stopped. Some of the younger men even began dancing for joy in the puddles that filled the road.
But the Tzadik didn't look happy. Exactly the opposite. He held up his hands for quiet and everyone gathered round him again.
"Empty the water from the Mikva!" He announced grimly to a shocked audience.
Someone whimpered, "But we never have rain here, and after so long… when will it rain again?!"
"Empty the water!" He repeated. I have just discovered that the rain water ran to the Mikva through metal pipes. And according to the opinion of the Bait Yehuda; the great Tzadik Rabbi Yehuda Ayish, this is not kosher."
The crowd couldn't believe their ears but with no other choice they dispersed, each one brought a bucket from his home and in no time the precious Mikva was, sadly, empty again.
Rav Abuchatzera then directed the men to remove the metal pipes and replace them with wood and as soon as the work was done he stood just as before, raised his hands to heaven and declared:
"Rabbi Yehuda Ayish! We have just disqualified and corrected this Mikva to comply with your interpretation of the holy Torah. Please pray to the Creator of the Universe that rain should again descend for Your children to do Your will!"
And so it was, the skies again darkened and in just ten minutes torrents of rain again descended and filled the Mikva.
This answers our questions.
The Jewish people have a purpose; to hasten Moshiach who will reveal the truth. Namely that G-d creates all being constantly according to His Torah.
The reason for re-incarnations is to give those souls that have failed in this purpose another chance to succeed. And one of the biggest causes of failure is money.
Money blinds the wise and perverts the words of the Tzadikim!! Because it makes them forget that they are being created every instant anew by G-d.
And that is the purpose of the commandment to loan money to the poor.
The spiritual message of loaning money is that everyone, even the richest people, and even the most spiritually gifted, essentially are poor; the entire creation is lacking existence itself.
This is the message of Moshiach: we are all living on 'borrowed' time, life and existence and we have an obligation to pay the loan back. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said many times quoting the Mishna in Brachot (1:5) "All your time, life and existence must be dedicated to bringing Moshiach".
But the 'loaner' namely G-d, is very reasonable, kind, patient and forgiving.
And just as the Baba Sali brought rain through his humility and holiness so we will bring the complete redemption of all the Jewish people through our good deeds, words and even thoughts …..
Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.