11 May THE PURPOSE OF MATTAN TORAH – EMUNAH
The purpose of mattan Torah is to believe in Hashem. As the Vilna Gaon zt’l (Mishlei 19:22) writes, ידכב†אוה†לארשיל†הרותה†תניתנ†רקיע†הב†םנוחטב‘†ומישיש, “The Torah was given, primarily, so that they will place their trust in Hashem.” Similarly, the Ramban (end of parashas Bo) writes, “If one doesn’t believe that everything that happens to us is miraculous and that the concept of nature doesn’t exist, he doesn’t have a portion in the Torah.”
The Aseres HaDibros begin with הלאה†םירבדה†≠לכ†תא≠†םיקלא†רבדיו†ךיקלא– ’ה†יכנא†¨רמאל≠†Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhenzk zt’l translates it as follows: “Hashem taught ≠הלאה†לכ†םירבדה†,the entire Torah, so a Yid will be able to believe in Hashem and say ךיקלא†’ה†≠יכנא”
The Degel Machanah Efraim (beginning of parashas Ekev) writes, “The main thing is emunah. My grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov zt’l, would emphasize the importance of emunah. Emunah is the basis of avodas Hashem and the foundation of the Torah. As Dovid HaMelech said (Tehillim 119:86) לכ†הנומא†≠ךיתוצמ, ‘All your mitzvos are about emunah.’”
The commentaries ask, why does the Aseres HaDibros begin with, רשא†ךיקלא†’ה†יכנא†םירצמ†ץראמ†ךיתאצוה” ,I am Hashem your G-d Who took you out of Mitzrayim”? Why doesn’t it say ’ה†יכנא†ץראו†םימש†ארב†רשא†ךיקלא†, I am Hashem your G-d Who created heaven and earth”?
To answer, we quote the Rosh who writes, “Trust in Hashem with all your heart and believe in His hashgachah pratis… Believe that Hashem sees everything you do and examines your heart and your thoughts. Whoever doesn’t believe in yetzias Mitzrayim [which showed us that Hashem leads the world with hashgachah pratis], also doesn’t believe in “ךיקלא†’ה†יכנא” and [belief in hashgachah pratis] is the foundation of the entire Torah.”
The Rosh is saying that ךיקלא†’ה†יכנא†םירצמ†ץראמ†ךיתאצוה†רשא†teaches us two aspects of emunah. ךיקלא†’ה†יכנא†teaches us that there is G-d, the creator. םירצמ†ץראמ≠†ךיתאצוה†רשא†teaches us that Hashem controls the world and leads us with hashgachah pratis, as He did when He took us out of Mitzrayim. This second lesson would be lacking if it stated ‘ ’ה†יכנא†ץראו†םימש†ארב†רשא†ךיקלא≠†“I am Hashem your G-d who created heaven and earth.”
Everything is for the Good Another aspect of emunah, which we acquire with mattan Torah, is the belief that everything is for the good. When Naomi left Beis Lechem to live in Moav, she was a wealthy woman; she was married and had two sons. When she returned to Beis Lechem, Eretz Yisrael, more than ten years later, she was a poor, childless widow. The women of Beis Lechem were shocked to see her so distraught and broken. Naomi told them (Rus 1:20), “Don’t call me Naomi (pleasant). Call me bitter because Hashem made my life very bitter.” The Chasam Sofer zt’l (Drashos vol.2, p.299.) writes another reason Naomi felt so bitter. When Noami returned to Eretz Yisrael, she hoped that her husband’s wealthy nephew, Boaz, would help her settle down in Eretz Yisrael. Noami didn’t want to speak with Boaz directly. As the Chasam Sofer writes, “It isn’t the way of tzanuah women to meet with men. And, indeed, we never find Naomi meeting or speaking to Boaz.” Naomi planned to approach Boaz’s wife and ask her to speak to her husband on her behalf. “However, when Naomi arrived in Beis Lechem, the levayah of Boaz’s wife was taking place (see Bava Basra 91.).” Naomi’s plans and hopes were dashed. But ultimately, it was all for her benefit, as the Chasam Sofer writes. “The petirah of Boaz’s wife was for Naomi’s benefit because Rus came and took her place [Rus married Boaz]. And from this marriage, Rus bore a child, which Naomi raised as her own. So, it was Hashem’s plan, and for the good. But at the time, Naomi didn’t realize that. She thought it was bad for her [because she relied on Boaz’s wife to be her contact]. Therefore, she said , דואמ†יל†י’דש†רמה†יכ†,Hashem made it very bitter for me.’”
The roshei teivos of יל≠†י’דש†רמה†דואמ” ,Hashem made it very bitter for me” spell המלש†.This hints that although Naomi thought matters were bitter for her, it was all for the good, preparing the way for the birth of Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech [who were descendants of Boaz and Rus].
Chazal (shabbos 31) say, הז†הנומא†םיערז†רדס†emunah hints to Seder Zeraim (which discusses the halachos related to agriculture, such as the halachos of terumah and maasar). Why is it called הנומא†? What is the connection between agriculture and emunah? Perhaps we can explain it this way: Agriculture reminds us that when everything seems lost, good things will sprout from it. One plants seeds in the earth, they rot, and it looks like nothing will come from it. But these seeds will sprout, and soon the field will be covered with produce. Similarly, we must believe that even when we go through a difficult period, something extraordinary will sprout from it. Aharon’s children Elazar and Isamar were greater than the seventy zekenim of the Sanhedrin. The proof is the Gemara (Eiruvin 54:) that teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu taught Torah to Aharon, then to Elazar and Isamar, and then to the seventy zekeinim. Elazar and Isamar were taught before the Sanhedrin, which indicates that Elazar and Isamar were on a higher level.
Furthermore, the Gemara explains that Torah study requires review, and Elazar and Isamar would teach the Sanhedrin, to repeat what they heard from Moshe rabbeinu. So, Elazar and Isamar taught the seventy zekenim, which that means Elazar and Isamar were greater. Yet, by mattan Torah, the seventy elders of Sanhedrin were permitted to go on Har Sinai, but Elazar and Isamar had to stand at a distance. As the Torah (Shemos 24:1) says, Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Go up on the mountain, you, Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and the seventy elders of Yisrael.’” Elazar and Isamar aren’t mentioned. Nadav and Avihu were Aharon’s older children. They were permitted to go up on Har Sinai. Moshe, Aharon, and the seventy zekenim were also allowed to ascend the mountain, but not Elazar and Isamar. Why? Why were they denied this privilege? They were greater than the elders of the Sanhedrin! If the Sanhedrin could be on the mountain, why couldn’t they? In retrospect, the reason was understood. The Tur (in his commentary on Chumash) teaches that Nadav and Avihu and the seventy elders of Sanhedrin were punished because they didn’t have the proper yiras Shamayim when they were on Har Sinai. As the Midrash (Tanchuma, Behalascha 16) states, “They were lightheaded when they went up to Har Sinai and saw the Shechinah. As it states (shemos 24) ‘They saw Hashem, and they ate and drank.’ This analogous to a slave who eats his lunch as he serves his master. It isn’t respectful. [Similarly, they watched Hashem on Har Sinai without the proper respect, and] they deserved to be punished for this. But Hashem didn’t want to punish them on the day He gave the Torah to Bnei Yisrael because the day of mattan Torah is special to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Therefore, it states (Shemos 24), Bnei Yisrael, Hashem didn’t put forth His hand.’ This means Hashem refrained from punishing them, and the punishments were postponed for a later date. Nadav and Avihu received their punishment when they entered Ohel Moed with their ketores (and fire came out and burnt them), and the seventy elders were burned when they had the taavah (temptation for meat). As it states,. Who were the ףוספסא? were the seventy elders of Sanhedrin. What does it say about them? םב†רעבתו†ה†שא≠’ ‘Hashem’s fire burned them’” So, in retrospect, Elazar and Isamar understood that it was for their benefit that they were banned from ascending the mountain. Had Elazar and Isamar ascended the mountain and gaze at the Shechinah without the required respect, they too would die, and Aharon would be left without Children.