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Parshat Yitro (5770)
This week we learn about the high point of world history; the Giving of the Torah and ultimate founding of Judaism.
Never before has there been such an event and never will there be anything like it again.
G-d, the Creator of all being; time, space, matter and spirit, actually 'chose' a nation of several million slaves (Hebrews held by the Egyptians) freed them with great miracles and then personally revealed Himself and His Torah to them on Mount Sinai.
From all the great religions, nations and races of the world, none even CLAIMS to have such a background! Only the Jews.
But was it really necessary? After all, it didn't seem to work very well; Judaism is perhaps the smallest religion in the world while the other religions have billions of followers, and the majority of the Jews don't even believe in the Torah!
To understand this here is a story, (Tzfat Merom weekly #13) about a pupil of the great Tzadik Rabbi Yoel Sirkush (1561-1640, the author of the 'Bais Chadash' (Ba'ch) on the Tur).
Rabbi Sirkush was a master of all aspects of the Torah; both revealed and mystical and, as well as being a Talmudic and legal genius, he also was familiar with the 'upper' worlds.
One of his pupils was a sixty year old wealthy Jew by the name of Yosele HaGvir. This Yosele could have been a teacher in his own right, and certainly he did occasionally teach others, but he was first and foremost a devoted pupil of the great master Rabbi Sirkush and did whatever the Rabbi told him to do without hesitation....almost.
It so happened that one summer day there appeared in Rabbi Sirkush's Synagogue a distraught Jew by the name of Reb Shaya who asked if he could meet with the Rabbi. When he was told that he would have to wait he began pouring out his heart to whoever would listen.
He lived in a nearby town and made his living by running the inn he rented from the local Baron, selling liquor and sandwiches to the local population. But just a few days ago the baron appeared and announced he was doubling the rent and if he didn't get paid within a few days Reb Shaya would have to leave!
Poor Reb Shaya almost lost his mind! He had a wife and seven children! Where would they go in such a short notice? And how would he live? What would he do?! Someone told him about Rabbi Sirkush, and that's why he came.
The Rabbi's secretary suddenly appeared, tapped Shaya on the shoulder and told him very politely that the Rabbi could see him.
Reb Shaya entered the Rabbi's study and repeated his sad story upon which Rabbi Sirkush replied. "Go to my follower; Yosele HaGvir. Tell him I sent you and that he should talk to the baron. Yosele will be able to help."
Reb Shaya left the Rebbe with wings on his feet and hope in his heart. He only had to find this Yosele and everything would be all right.
But it wasn't so simple; when he found Yosele HaGvir he was packing his bags to go to the great bazaar in Krakow (the town where Rabbi Sirkush presided) and the delay of a day or two required to travel to the baron, get an audience and convince him not to raise the rent would cost him fortune.
All the begging, pleading and arguing of Reb Shaya fell on deaf ears. Yosele just kept replying, "Listen, my friend. No reason to worry. Man's yearly income is determined when the Shofar is blown on Rosh HaShanna, speeding now won't help. Just have a little trust in G-d. Without trust in G-d what is life worth anyway… even WITH the inn! Etc. etc." Yosele shook Reb Shaya's hand and set off to the Bazaar.
But when Reb Shaya returned home his wife really gave it to him over the head. "What!? And you let him go!? Did you tell him it was urgent!? Did you tell him we have only a few more days?! What about out children!? That man was a follower of the Rabbi… why, you should have gone back to the Rabbi and told him to force him to go now! What a fool you are!! Now we are going to get evicted! What's going to be with me?! Where will we go!? And so it was, non-stop, for the next FOUR days!
After the Bazaar was over, Yosele HaGvir didn't even return home. He didn't forget Reb Shaya and traveled directly to the Baron's house certain in his heart (but with a small doubt in his mind) that it wasn't too late and his efforts, G-d willing, would succeed.
And sure enough, he was right! He immediately entered the Baron's castle, met with him for almost an hour, had a few l'chaim's (drinks), business agreements and, last but not least, not only convinced him to let Reb Shaya stay but even to lower his rent!
From there, Yosele traveled to Reb Shaya to tell him the good news. As he approached the house he could hear Reb Shaya's wife yelling hoarsely from inside as though she'd been at it for a while! But when he knocked on the door and gave her the good news, she calmed down, thanked him profusely and promised never to yell at her husband again.
But the story isn't over. Ten years later Yosele G'vir passed away and several days later appeared to his teacher Rabbi Sirkush in a dream! He explained that he had been granted permission from heaven to relate what had happened to him when he got up there and he requested that the Rabbi pass the message on.
When he reached heaven he found himself in a long line waiting to be judged. The Judges were great holy men that he didn't recognize and each time someone was tried masses of angels and monstrous devils created by their good and bad deeds respectively, came to testify for or against that person.
When his turn finally came his judgment did not take long because he had done so many good deeds and helped so many people. But just as he was about to be escorted into heaven a large angel suddenly appeared and blocked the way!
"Who are you?" He asked the angel "And why are you stopping me?"
The Angel answered "I am the good deed you did for one 'Reb Shaya' about ten years ago. Remember, when you spoke to the Baron on his behalf?
Well, you saved his life, but because you delayed and caused him and his wife so much anxiety therefore I have been ordered to prevent your entrance for the time you delayed in the Bazaar instead of going to the Baron immediately!
"You should have said to yourself what you said to Reb Shaya; that your livelihood is determined on Rosh Hashanna, and rushing off to the Bazaar can't add or subtract!" This comes to teach us to not put off or delay the performance of a good deed.
This answers our question.
True, G-d didn't have to give the Torah with such miracles but then the Torah would have been like Yosef HaG'vir's Mitzva in our story; it might have worked for a while but it would have been incomplete.
The essence of the Torah is that it is Truth and every aspect of it is truth: G-d, the Creator really did give it, every word is G-d's will, G-d never revealed His will to any nation or people before or afterward and G-d really does control the world.
This is the truth and eventually everyone will accept it (As we say in the Shma Yisroel prayer (see Rashi on Deut. 6:4))
But until then, even if we don't see results, it is complete and gives us the power, when we learn it with joy, to also become complete! As King David said, "Torat HaShem Tmima, mshivat Nafesh (Ps. 19:8) "The Torah of G-d is complete, it returns the soul."
Therefore the entire power of Moshiach (King David was the First Messiah, the last will be Moshiach the offspring of David) will be Torah, his goal will be strengthening Torah and he will bring all mankind to observe the Torah (Jews to 613 commandments and 7 Noahide commandments for the gentiles).
We must do all we can to use the truth, power and joy of the Torah and bring....
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