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Toras Chaim

Rabbi Moshe Lieber

Parshat Mishpatim

Oct 21, 2009

Toward the end of the Parashah the Torah teaches that Hashem commanded Moshe to alight Har Sinai. Moshe Rabbeinu then came and told the words of Hashem to the People. After writing the Sefer HaBris he built an Altar where they brought two types of Korbonos, Olos and Shelamim. Moshe placed half of the blood on the Altar and half he sprinkled on the People who then said “Naaseh V’Nishmah”.

According to Rashi this occurred before Matan Torah. We need ask ourselves why the Torah delays writing this until after all the laws regarding the mundane issues of interpersonal conduct and monetary matters are spelled out in Parashas Mishpatim.

Furthermore what is the significance of these details in establishing the Covenant of Torah between HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His People?

 

The answer lays in understanding a perplexing comment of Chazal.The Gemara teaches that a non-Jew may send a korban to the Beis HaMikdash to be offered .However only a Korban Olah is acceptable; a non – Jew may not send a Shelamim.The Gemara states that the reason for this is because “Akum lebo lashamayim-the non-Jew’s heart is directed to Heaven “.What does this mean? The heart of a Jew is not to Heaven?!

Herein lays a fundamental difference between a Torah conception of Kedusha and a non-Jewish perspective. That an Olah, which is totally consumed on the Altar can be holy is understandable even to non- Jews. But that a shelamim, which is eaten by the owners and by the Kohanim is also holy, is beyond the ken of the non-Jew. His heart is toward Heaven but he can’t fathom that something as mundane and potentially animalistic as eating can be an act of Kedusha.

 

This perspective is underscored in the comment of Chazal that even those Sages who generally advocate spending Yom Tov in activities blatantly spiritual (Prayer, Torah Study etc.) admit that on Shavuos we need experience some type of physical pleasure. Why is this? asks the Gemara. ”Because on Shavuos we received the Torah” comes the reply. What?! On the day we received the Torah shouldn’t our focus be totally spiritual?

R’ Elya Lopian zt”l enlightens us. The Torah is our users’ guide on how to harness all of our day to day physical activities and infuse them with sanctity and meaning. Were it not for receiving the Torah we would be like non-Jews who perceive the holy and mundane as separate worlds and never shall the twain meet. On the day we received the Torah we learned how to make eating and other physical pleasures into vehicles for sanctity.

 

When we received the Aseres Hadibros at Har Sinai the giving of Torah was not over. Torah combines the holy and mundane showing us how all of life must find it’s way under the umbrella of Avodas Hashem. Hashem told us to offer Olos symbolic of Hashem and Shelamim where man eats in sanctity. Half the blood is placed on the Altar and half sprinkled on the People again to equate the human with the holy teaching us that human affairs are also part of the Kedushas HaTorah.Then the Bris HaTorah is in place and then Jews can say with a full heart “Naaseh V’Nishmah”.

 

The Luchos are called luchos HaBris yet the word is written in the singular “luchas”.One side contains the mitzvos bein Adam lamakom and the other half governs human relationships. Torah governs the home no less than the shul.Torah allows for no separation of church and life; it is all-encompassing. The boardroom and the bedroom, study and socializing, religion and real-life all fall under the purview of Torah. Only when Anochi Hashem Elokechah translates into the laws of my ox and yours, damages and servants is Matan Torah truly complete.

 

May the Ribbono shel Olam grant us the broad perspective to see Torah not as religion to be relegated to a compartment of our lives, but rather as a Toras Chaim which puts light and kedushah into every molecule of our lives and every nook and cranny of our days.

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