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Feb 13

Unprecedented!

Our Parsha is host to the narrative of the colossal one-time event when G-d appeared at Mount Sinai and proclaimed the Ten Commandments in the presence of the entire Jewish Nation.

Rashi, quoting the Medrash, explains some of the verses related to the Revelation. The nation saw – means that all the blind were healed. The nation responded – means the mute began to speak. We will do and we will listen – means that the deaf were able to hear. They saw the sounds – means that the Jewish People were actually able to see the sounds! This was a one-time miraculous event!

The Talmud relates another phenomenal occurrence. Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Levi states: When the Jews heard G-d proclaim the Ten Commandments, the prophetic experience was so overwhelming, that with each word G-d declared, their souls departed.

Now, if their souls departed with the first statement how did they accept the rest of the statements? After each statement, G-d sent dew reserved for the resurrection of the dead and restored their lives!

Rabbi Eliyahu Boruch Finkel o.b.m. quoting a passage of the Talmud explains that one who takes part in the Light of Torah – that light will eventually restore his life. Thus we see that the essence of the dew of Resurrection is the Light of Torah.

It emerges, that the dew that restored the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai was actually the words of the Torah itself declared by the Almighty.

This means that each word of G-d had two opposing powers; one, so powerful because it emanated from G-d Himself, made their souls expire, yet the very words of the Torah restored their souls as well.

An amazing concept! This gives us a glimpse of the power Torah and its study can do for each and every one of us. As King David states in Psalms, “The Torah of G-d is complete – it restores the soul.”

This week an amazing organization called Dirshu hosted a huge gathering in honor of the completion of the Talmud Daf Yomi cycle. This celebration highlighted and honored those who took closed book tests on 30 pages of the Talmud every month over the course of 7 ½ years! This required a tremendous commitment to review and thoroughly understand the intricacies of the Talmud.

Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel addressed the crowd and this is the essence of his encouraging remarks.

The Medrash relates a story of two unlearned boys who entered a Torah study hall and observed the people immersed in their studies. They both asked, “What does Torah study entail?” They were told, the written Torah, the Books of Prophets, Chronicles, Mishna, Talmud, Medrash, Halacha – law etc.

Upon hearing the overwhelming sections of Torah, one boy said to himself, “This is an impossible feat. It is overwhelming.” And wondering who has the time and energy to do all this, promptly left the study hall.

The other boy heard the same enormous task of Torah study, but thought, let me begin with one day at a time. I’ll start with one line, then one page, then one chapter and then complete a tractate etc. and in due time, I’ll be able to complete the entire Torah.

Upon analyzation, why wasn’t the boy who was overwhelmed able to make the same calculations as the one who committed himself to study incrementally? What held him back?

Our Sages give an example of a delicious cookie that is hanging from a huge mountain. One person comes by and says it is impossible to reach, and he walks away. Another person comes by and says to himself, “If the cookie is there, someone must have placed it there and there must be a way to get it.” He grabbed a ladder and climbing gear and began to climb and he eventually reached the cookie.

Getting back to the two boys who visited the Torah study hall. The one who said to himself that in a thousand years I cannot study all of Torah and therefore he gave up, may have been correct. From his vantage point it was utterly impossible to accomplish. However, the second boy understood the power of Torah. He made a calculation; if I begin slowly and then build up some momentum, what’s going to happen is that each verse, portion, commentary, passage and accomplishment of Torah study will transform me and elevate me. From his new transformed vantage point he will be energized to climb further and more competently and thus endeavor to complete the study of Torah.

This is the Power that the Light of Torah has – it gradually uplifts, elevates and restores us to appreciate the profound gift and legacy of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos that G-d entrusted to every one of us!