Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rav Isser Wolfson: Parshas Mishpatim

Note: HaRav Isser Wolfson shlita is a noted talmid chacham, dayan and posek. The shiurim were transcribed by me and reviewed by Rav Wolfson. What you are reading is just an excerpt and not the whole shiur. This week's excerpt is from Mishpatim 5764.

The Gemara in Shabbos (88) says that HKBH forced the B’nei Yisroel to accept the Torah by threatening to drop Har Sinai on top of them (kafa aleihem har k’gigis). Tosfos asks, if the B’nei Yisroel had already said "na’aseh v’nishma", why was it necessary to do this? Tosfos answers that HKBH was afraid that when the B’nei Yisroel saw the tremendous fire surrounding the event they would change their minds out of fear. A second teretz is given by the Medrash Tanchuma in Parshas Noach. The medrash says that when the B'nei Yisroel said na’aseh v’nishma, they were only referring to Torah Sheh Bichsav. However they were not willing to accept upon themselves Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. For this the the B’nei Yisroel had to be forced into accepting it.

The Medrash Tanchuma further explains that there is a difference between the effort needed to learn Torah Sheh Bichsav and the effort needed to learn Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. Torah Sheh Bichsav is very easy to learn and does not require a lot of exertion. Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh on the other hand requires a lot of yegiah and ameilus to understand it properly. The medrash concludes that this ameilus can only come about through ahavas Hashem. This madreigah was not included in the kabbala of na’aseh v’nishma.

In Parshas Va’eschanan (5:21-24), the Torah describes how the B’nei Yisroel were afraid of the fire on Har Sinai. Rashi (5:24) explains that the ta’anah on the B’nei Yisroel was that they should have let their ahavas Hashem overcome their fear of the fire of Har Sinai. From here we see that B’nei Yisroel experienced a chisaron of ahavas Hashem. With this we can suggest that the two answers mentioned in Tosfos are really the same answer. Tosfos said that HKBH was afraid that when the B’nei Yisroel saw the fire, they would be afraid and change their minds. We see from Rashi that this fear comes from a lack of ahavas Hashem. Furthermore, we see from the Medrash Tanchuma that a chisaron in ahavas Hashem causes a chisaron in learning Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. This fits with the second teretz, that B’nei Yisroel originally didn’t accept Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. Since there was a lack of ahavas Hashem, mimeilah they couldn’t be mikabeil Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh.

We can also explain why in Va’eschanan the parsha of shema immediately follows the parsha of mattan torah. Shema talks about ahavas Hashem, which leads to learning Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh (V’Shinantam). After the kafa aleihem har k’gigis, the B’nei Yisroel said shema and through the ahavas Hashem they were then able to grasp Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh.

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