Friday, November 8, 2019

Zera Shimshon - Lech Lecha

Zera Shimshon - Lech Lecha 
 (היה דבר ה' במחזה לאמר אנכי מגן לך( טו' א

Hashem spoke to Avraham in a vision saying, 
"Do not fear etc. I am your shield" (15:1) 

On this passuk, the Medrash (Bereishis Rabba 44:1), brings the following passuk (Tehillim 18:35), 

"The word of Hashem is pure (and) serves as a shield to all those that seek His protection. "

The Medrash intends to say that Hashem told Avraham that he should not fear, for He (Hashem), would serve as a shield to protect Avraham. 

The Medrash brings a passuk that teaches that the same holds true to all those that seek protection in Hashem - that Hashem serves as their shields. 

The Medrash continues to elaborate on the passuk in Tehillim and explains that 'the words of Hashem' that the passuk refers to as 'pure', are in reality a reference to the mitzvos that He commanded us to do. 

All the intricate details that each and every mitzva involves, were intentionally added by Hashem as part of the mitzva - to purify those that fulfill them. 

Thus, the passuk is in reality saying that the word of Hashem purifies those that fulfill them. 

With this concept, the Zera Shimshon explains the following mishna. 

The mishna says (Avos 2:8), "Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai received his Torah knowledge from Hillel and Shammai. He used to say, 'If you have learned a lot of Torah, do not take credit for yourself, for this is what you were created for'". 

The Zera Shimshon asks - what does 'a lot of Torah' mean? 
The Torah is endless, how can one measure 'a lot' of Torah? 

The Zera Shimshon explains that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was a student of both Hillel and Shammai. To be a student of both of these Torah Giants is truly a feat since Hillel and Shammai argued about the halacha on countless occasions and each one had compelling proofs and strong reasoning to their respective opinions. Thus, a student of both of them would need tremendous amount of labor to sift through the different arguments, proofs and reasoning to decide how to properly keep the mitzvos. 

Unlike other students of both Hillel and Shammai, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was able to do so. What Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was trying to impart in this mishna is that even one who can mentally work through all the various sides and come to the proper conclusion, something that would be extremely mentally taxing, should nevertheless not hold of himself better than others. 

This is what is meant by if one has learned 'a lot of Torah', he should nevertheless not take credit. 

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai gives a reason for this as well - for this is what you were created for. 

As mentioned, the mitzvos and all their intricate details were given to purify those that fulfill them. Thus, if one has the intellectual capacity to do what Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai did when fulfilling the mitzvos, he has to know that this toil of his in order to properly fulfill the mitzvos is part of his purification process. 

The proof is that Hashem created him with the mental capacity to do so. 

For us the lesson is, any effort of ours to keep the mitzvos, purifies us! 

No comments: