Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Kedoshim) Love Should Conquer
We count a 49 day period leading us to the Holiday of Shavuos, starting from the second night of Pesach.
Our Sages tell us that the Jews in Egypt had sunk to the 49th level of impurity. Had they sunk to the 50th level of impurity, the lowest level, they would have forfeited their spiritual future; therefore, G-d hastened their redemption.
The Jews spent the 49 days after the Exodus traveling toward Mt Sinai in anticipation of an encounter with the Almighty. They continually raised their spiritual awareness and preparedness for this intense engagement.
Generally, when the Torah describes a process of purity it consists of a seven day cycle. However, when Jews counted towards G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai, they required a seven-week counting period. Why?
Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried o.b.m. offers a very interesting insight. Looking through the Torah, one finds seven types of impurities that require a seven day purification count: Two categories of menstrual emissions, after giving birth, upon coming into contact with a human corpse, and three types of leprous appearances, on one’s body, one’s clothing or one’s home.
While the Jews were in Egypt, they encountered and experienced an intense impurity through the decadent and idolatrous environment, which was equal to contracting all seven forms of impurity. They therefore needed a seven-week period of purity; seven - seven day periods to counteract and release themselves from all seven forms of impurity.
Each year, during the time that our ancestors counted their purification course of spiritual development, we also count each day in preparation and in anticipation for the Holiday of Shavuos.
The Sfas Emes points out that beginning with the plagues in Egypt through the Revelation at Mount Sinai, G-d demonstrated that He is in control over the three entities of the universe: earth, bodies of water, and the Heavens.
With the ten plagues, G-d displayed His mastery over all elements that relate to the earth. During the splitting of the Red Sea, all containers of water in the world split as well, thus showing G-d’s control and power over the waters. At the Revelation, G-d brought the Heavens to the worldly atmosphere at Mount Sinai.
All of this was done on behalf of the Jewish people. G-d demonstrated in physical and perceptive form that all zones and areas of creation were altered specifically for the Jews. When the Jews uphold and adhere to the laws of the Torah they will provide Tikun – restoration to all aspects and features of G-d’s creation.
A law in this week’s Parsha gives us a glimpse of the character refinement that G-d expects from us.
The Torah tells us, “You shall not take revenge.” Rashi presents the following situation: One man said to another. “Lend me your tool.” To which he responds, ‘No.” A while later the one who refused to lend asked the other if he could borrow a tool. The Torah tells us he is not allowed to say, “I am not lending it to you just as you did not lend it to me!”
Question: Why does the Torah exhort the one from reacting revengefully and not exhort the one who originally refused to lend?
Chizkuni explains that the one who originally refused to lend the tool, may have done so because he was cautious due to the fact that the item was dear to him; and G-d does not expect one to lend an item against his will.
However, when the other responds in a revengeful manner it is obviously because he has a disgust and hate towards the other. G-d insists that feelings of love towards another should overcome the feelings of hate and disgust.
Chizkuni continues: When we exercise and implement such Tikun - character refinement into each of our lives, peace will prevail in the entire world.
Such is the power that G-d invested in us!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks