This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Yitro (5762)
This weeks Torah portion tells us about the giving of the Torah; a story which has no comparison in history, and which defies even human imagination.
But what does it mean today?
To understand, here is a story.
Some ten years ago I was present at a Chabad Shabbat Seminar at a fancy hotel. The main speaker was Rabbi Yechezkel Sofer, and I was helping out. After the first evening session I announced that the next morning the schedule was that we would learn Chassidut at 8:00 a.m. and at 9:00 we would begin to pray.
Among the participants were a group of "Misnagdim" (religious Jews, that oppose the Chassidic way in general and Chabad particularly) who came not so much for the lectures as for the reduced hotel rates, and as soon as they heard the announcement about learning Chassidut they protested for three reasons:
1) They argued that prayer must be done first thing in the morning.
2) What was the point in learning these mystical Chassidic ideas about G-d that no one understands anyway.
3) For over three thousand years Jews did without Chassidut, their fathers didn't learn Chassidut and they wouldn't either.
Rabbi Sofer listened and calmly replied that if they could answer one simple question he would excuse them wholeheartedly. They, being Torah scholars, agreed.
The question was: "What is the meaning of the word "BORUCH"?" (Jews are supposed to say one hundred blessings every day and every blessing begins with this same word which literally means "blessed" namely; Blessed are you G-d etc.)
They immediately answered, "Well its like saying thanks to G-d". "No no" Answered Rabbi Sofer, "Then it would be a different word, then it would be "Modeh" ".
"Alright, then its like praising him and saying that He's holy" they tried again."No! The word for that is "Kadosh" " He answered.
"Well" they tried once more.... "It just means that G-d is blessed"
"What?! We bless G-d!? He needs to be blessed?"
They tried a few more but finally realized that they really never gave the subject much thought, and they gave up and asked him what it means.
"You want to know what it means?" Rav Sofer asked rhetorically as he looked each of them in the eye.
"Come to Chassidut - Tomorrow morning eight o’clock!"
Needless to say they all arrived. And he explained:
"The word "Boruch" means to "draw down". G-d purposely created this physical world differently from the "upper" spiritual worlds. Up there, G-d is revealed, while down here the Creator, although He creates everything constantly, is concealed. And it is our job to reveal him, as He was revealed at Mount Sinai or later in the Holy Temple.
Every time we make a blessing, especially on a commandment, we draw down G-dliness from the upper worlds so that this world also feels a little bit like the angels do; that G-d is Creator of all being and He is the King of the Universe."
The Misnagdim were satisfied.
This is what happened at Mount Sinai that made us different. The Jews received the Commandments, began making BLESSINGS and started changing the world.
Or in more simple terms, when they got the Torah they became chosen by G-d to be His SERVANTS. So that even today, whether they know it or not, they, and only they (each and every one of them) can make this world into a blessed and meaningful place. That is what G-d chose us for and that is the service that He wants from us.
As G-d said to Moses at the burning bush (3:12) "You will SERVE me on this mountain." And as He told Moses so many times to relay to Pharaoh "Send my people so they will SERVE me."
Of course this ultimately will be accomplished by Moshiach (Maimonides, Melachim 12:5) and that is why we so impatiently await his arrival. (As it says in the beginning of the book "Sefer Mitzvot Katan": The first of the Ten Commandments, "I am G-d that took you out of Egypt" implies the arrival of Moshiach who will bring the redemption, just as Moses redeemed the Jews from Egypt).
But it is up to us to hasten his arrival by increasing good deeds, making blessings and waiting impatiently for....
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