Boca Jewish Center - Shavuos and Sefirah


Yeshiva of South Florida - Bechukosai


Boca Raton Synagogue - Behar


Melaveh Malka


Boca Raton Kollel - Tosefes Shabbos


Heichal HaTorah Hollywood, FL - Hachanah for Kabalas HaTorah


Write up of the Shiur Above

As we approach the Yom Tov of Shavuos, besides for reading the Aseres Hadibros, we also read Megillas Rus. Why? There are various explanations, but maybe an idea is that we hear about Matan Torah-the Torah that was given to 600,000 people. But how important is the individual. Megillas Rus teaches us that everybody can forge their individual path to the Torah, and maybe everybody needs to. Meaning, it’s really something that you have to take personally as seen by the fact that the Aseres HaDibros appear specifically in Parshas Yisro, the same idea could be that just as the entire Klal Yisrael received the Torah, Yisro personally found his way to the Torah. If a person doesn’t find his personal way to the Torah, it could all be happening, but it doesn’t have meaning to you. Chazal say Sefiras HaOmerשתהיה ספירה לכל אחד ואחד וספרתם לכם ממחרת השבת, every individual has to count, as opposed to the count of Yovel which is a Mitzvah on Beis Din. Even those who interpret this to mean that you can’t fulfil your obligation by hearing from someone elseשמוע כעונה, unlike Megilah where you can fulfil your obligation with someone else, here everyone needs to count. The idea is because we are preparing and counting towards Matan Torah, and that’s something that everybody has to do for one’s self. Someone else’s preparation doesn’t make you ready. Everyone has to prepare on one’s own, שתהא ספירה לכל אחד ואחד.

How do we prepare for Matan Torah, what is it about? The Gemara in Shabbos says as follows:

ואמר רבי יהושע בן לוי בשעה שעלה משה למרום אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם מה לילוד אשה בינינו אמר להן לקבל תורה בא אמרו לפניו חמודה גנוזה שגנוזה לך תשע מאות ושבעים וארבעה דורות קודם שנברא העולם אתה מבקש ליתנה לבשר ודם מה אנוש כי תזכרנו ובן אדם כי תפקדנו ה' אדנינו מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ אשר תנה הודך על השמים אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה החזיר להן תשובה אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם מתיירא אני שמא ישרפוני בהבל שבפיהם אמר לו אחוז בכסא כבודי וחזור להן תשובה וכו' אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם תורה שאתה נותן לי מה כתיב בה אנכי ה' אלהיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים אמר להן למצרים ירדתם לפרעה השתעבדתם תורה למה תהא לכם שוב מה כתיב בה לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים בין הגויים אתם שרויין שעובדי עבודה זרה שוב מה כתיב בה זכור את יום השבת לקדשו כלום אתם עושים מלאכה שאתם צריכין שבות שוב מה כתיב בה לא תשא משא ומתן יש ביניכם שוב מה כתיב בה כבד את אביך ואת אמך אב ואם יש לכם שוב מה כתיב בה לא תרצח לא תנאף לא תגנב קנאה יש ביניכם יצר הרע יש ביניכם מיד הודו לו להקדוש ברוך הוא וכו' ע"ש.

Rav Yehoshua Ben Levi says that when Moshe went to Shamayim to get the Torah, the מלאכי השרת said to Hashem what is Moshe doing here. He told them he came to receive the Torah. They said to Him, you have such a prize and treasure that has been hidden away for 974 generations and you want to give it to flesh and blood, the Ribbono Shel Olam should keep it in Shamayim. So The Ribbono Shel Olam said to Moshe to answer. Moshe says I am scared they will burn me with the fire in the mouths. So Hashem says hold my כסא הכבוד and answer them. Moshe finally answers them, you know what it says in the Torah, אנכי ה' אלקיך אשר הוצאיך מארץ מצרים- you we never in Mitzrayim and taken out. It says כבד את אביך ואת אמך do you have parents, it says לא תנאף לא תגנב do you have jealousy do you have a Yetzer Hara? And the Gemara says that theמלאכי השרת agreed that the Torah should be given down on earth. And that is why it says the second time around ה' אלקינו מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ and doesn’t say מעל השמים again because they gave up their claim.

What was the claim of the מלאכי השרת? The Gemara says they said מה אנוש כי תזכרנו ובן אדם כי תפקנו, who is frail man to be remembered, who is בן אדם to be accounted for and Moshe Rabbeinu gave them an answer. The answer of Moshe Rabbeinu will be discussed a bit later, but the first question is why did Hashem get Moshe Rabbeinu involved? He wasn’t involved at all in making the decision to give the Torah, it was the Ribbono Shel Olam’s decision. The מלאכי השרת were addressing the Ribbono Shel Olam when they said תנו הודך על השמים, so why does Hashem tell Moshe to give the answer? And even when Moshe Rabbeinu is afraid of giving the answer Hashem gives him support by saying אחוז בכסא הכבוד, Hashem is still not willing to give the answer and instead Moshe Rabbeinu has to give the answer.

It could be explained that it would seem that if man doesn’t know his value, if he doesn’t know what he brings to the table, if he doesn’t know why only he is worthy of carrying out the mission of Torah, then he’s Taka not worthy. Nobody can give that answer for you. You have to know why the Torah is being given to you. And it’s not because you are so great, it’s not only because of the positive qualities that man has but it’s also because of the negative qualities. He has a Yetzer Har, he has קנאה, shortcomings, there’s a challenge, and he has to deal with those challenges and that is how the כבוד שמים is revealed. That is how we bring out the כבוד of the Ribbono Shel Olam, and Moshe Rabbeinu had to give that answer because it has to come from us.

So Kabolas HaTorah begins with accepting one’s self, and if one doesn’t know his own chashivus, if you don’t know your greatness, if you don’t know why you are the one who was chosen to get the Torah, then you can’t really connect. You feel inadequate, you feel unworthy, and you feel like and extra wheel and you realize that it’s up to you to make it happen. We need to repeat it because really for a person to believe in oneself is an ongoing struggle. When you look in the mirror and you see yourself, you see a schlepper so you need to convince yourself.

The Rambam says in Hilchos Sanhedrin 25:2 the following:

וכן אסור לו לנהוג בהן קלות ראש אף על פי שהן עמי הארץ, ולא יפסיע על ראשי עם הקדש, אף על פי שהן הדיוטות ושפלים בני אברהם יצחק ויעקב הם וצבאות השם שהוציא מארץ מצרים בכח גדול וביד חזקה

A judge shouldn’t be נוהג קלות ראש with the people who come before him, אף על פי שהם הדיוטת ושפלים, even though they are simpletons and lowly people, because they are בני אברהם יצחק ויעקב and Hashem took them out of Mitzrayim, בכח גדול וביד חזקה. So the Rambam says the fact that HKBH took them out of Mitzrayim, doesn’t just show that He has the ability, it doesn’t just strengthen out Emunah, and remembering that he did so doesn’t just make us more thankful, but it’s a statement of who we are. It’s a statement that every Yid, even the הדיוטת ושפלים are צבאות ה' that HKBH invested בכח גדול וביד חזקה to take them out of Mitzrayim, so don’t treat them lightly. But it’s not only true about other people, rather it’s also true about one’s self, because it’s not only that he came out of Mitzrayim, but you also came out of Mitzrayim. חייב אדם לראת את עצמו כאילו יצא ממצרים, is not just about our gratitude but it’s also to say that the Ribono Shel Olam took me out of Mitzrayim בכח גדול ויד חזקה and therefore I must be a somebody, significant, worthy and have some value. The miracles in יציאת המצרים were part of a therapeutic process in building our self-esteem and making us understand that we are important and that we played a role and that is a preparation for our קבלת התורה.

By Kriyas Yam Suf the Pasuk says ויאמינו בה' ובמשה עבדו and Rav Tzadok HaKohen writes, what does it mean they believed in משה עבדו because in general Judaism is not so pro in believing in a human being so he writes the following:

כשם שצריך אדם להאמין בהשם יתברך כך צריך אחר כך להאמין בעצמו. רצה לומר שיש להשם יתברך עסק עמו ושאיננו פועל בטל שבין לילה וגו' (יונה ד' י') וכחיתו שדה שלאחר מיתתם נאבדו ואינם. רק צריך להאמין כי נפשו ממקור החיים יתברך שמו והשם יתברך מתענג ומשתעשע בה כשעושה רצונו. וזה פירוש (שמות י"ד ל"א) ויאמינו בה' ובמשה עבדו פירוש משה רצה לומר כלל ששים ריבוא נפשות ישראל בדור ההוא האמינו שהשם יתברך חפץ בהם וממילא גם כן במשה אשר הוא ממש הם

משה עבדו is the embodiment, the personification, encompassing of all the ששים ריבוא נפשות ישראל. Believing in Moshe means believing in us and that ואימנו בה' is not enough. We say every day in Maariv ואמונה כל זאת קיים עלינו כי הוא ה' אלהינו ואנחנו ישראל עמו הפודנו מיד מלכים הגואלנו מכף כל עריצים. This means that when HKBH redeemed Klal Yisrael it told us two things. It told us who He is and is told us who we are, and these are the two sides of the same Emunah. Therefore, just like the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim, with the עשר מכות, and the כח גדול which convinced us that even if we are הדיוטת ושפלים, we are צבאות ה'-a people who Hashem took out of Mitzrayim so we shouldn’t treat ourselves or others lightly, so too the miracles of יצאת מצרים took us to a level of ויאמינו בה' ובמשה עבדו, so that we believe in the Ribbono Shel Olam and in ourselves.

It says in the Haggadah אילו קרבנו לפני הר סיני ולא נתן לנו את התורה דיינו. The question is that אילו הוציאנו ממצרים ולא עשה בהם שפטים could be understood that at least we would have gotten out. Even if the Mitzriim wouldn’t have been punished, it would have been a great accomplishment just to get out of there. Similarly אילו הרג את בכוריהם ולא נתן לנו את ממונם, could be understood and so on and so forth. But אילו קרבנו לפני הר סיני ולא נתן לנו את התורה דיינו, we would be missing the whole point. What is the point of being close to Har Sinai without getting the Torah?

The Abudraham and the Kol Bo say, that קרבנו לפני הר סיני is based on the idea from the Gemara Shabbos 146a בשעת חטא עץ האדם ירדה זוהמא לעולם at the time of the חטא the world became contaminated and defiled. But בשעה שעמדו על הר סיני פסקו זוהמתא, that the contamination was removed at the time of Har Sinai. The Abudraham explains it doesn’t mean when they received the Torah, rather it when they stood by Har Sinai. But this explanation makes one wonder even more, how could being at Har Sinai remove this זוהמא? The answer is because by Har Sinai, even before we received the Torah, the fact is that we were ready to receive the Torah. When Moshe Rabbeinu said that man is worthy of receiving the Torah and not the מלאכי השרת, that itself is what stopped the זוהמא

What was the חטא עץ הדעת? The חטא עץ הדעת was והייתם כאלוהים יודעי טוב ורע. Most Rishonim say it means to become like angels. We didn’t want to be human anymore and make choices. We opted out of the human experience and we wanted יודעי טוב ורע that everything should be clear, so we shouldn’t have any doubt, nothing should be foggy. We wanted to be והייתם כאלוהים that we should have no negative inclination. But when Klal Yisrael stood by Har Sinai and the זוהמא was removed, now we understood that it’s not תנו הודך על השמים- the Torah is not for angels, rather the Torah is specifically and exclusively for humans who make choices and decisions. This is the removal of the dark זוהמא, of והייתם אלוהים יודעי טוב ורע, that we no longer want to be אלוהים rather we want to be who we are. When you want to be what you want and not who you are, you don’t become that and you just lose the ability to function as who you are.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 106a says the following:

אמר מר זוטרא בר טוביה אמר רב היינו דאמרי אינשי גמלא אזלא למיבעי קרני אודני דהוו ליה גזיזן מיניה

If a camel is looking for horns, he loses his own ears. Meaning to say that if you are looking for what you don’t have, not only will you not get it but you will even lose what you have. In order to use what you do have, you have to have an appreciation for what you have and you have to recognize your strengths and weakness in order to function. If you want to be something else, then you are living in dreamland and you are not going to accomplish anything.

With regards to the Etz Hadaas, the Gemara in Sotah 9a says the following:

כל הנותן עיניו במה שאינו שלו מה שמבקש אין נותנין לו ומה שבידו נוטלין הימנו

Such a person loses what he has and doesn’t get what he doesn’t have. Therefore a person should be נותן עיניו במה שיש לו, and not מה שאין לו as he isn’t not getting that anyway and he is just loosing he ability to appreciate what he has.

So the זוהמא, was removed with ישראל עמדו על הר סיני, as they recognised the greatness of being human. Now it can be understood why specifically humans were chosen to carry out the divine mission and not angels. But even though בשעה שעמדו ישראל על הר סיני פסקו זוהמא, the Zohar says that with the חטא העגל, they bought back partially this זוהמא. How was that?

What was the חטא העגל? The Pasuk in Ki Sisa says בושש משה לרדת מן ההר. It’s not that Klal Yisrael were looking for a different Moshe, rather They said עשה לנו אלוהים כי זה משה האיש לא ידענו מה היה לו. They were claiming that human leadership is not reliable and that man is not responsible. Part of the escape of being Human was that they didn’t want human leadership anymore rather they wanted עשה לנו אלוהים אשר ילכך לפנינו and that’s what brought back partially the זוהמא of the עץ הדעת. That is really the struggle throughout the generations that we have to work on fixing and that is by building our self-confidence and understanding of our own self and value even with our fallibility.

In Parshas Ki Sisa, right after the חטא העגל, the Pasuk 33:4 says וישמע העם את הדבר הרע הזה ויתאבלו ולא שתו איש עדיו עליו which means they went into mourning, and that no man put on his jewellery. Chazal says it’s talking about spiritual jewellery. So Pasuk 4 says they are not wearing it, and Pasuk 5 says they have to take it off ועתה הורד עדיך מעליך. On this last Pasuk

The Gemara in Shabbos 88b says that the Malachim came down and removed the עדיו. These Psukim are confusing as to when did Klal Yisrael actually lose there עדיו from נעשה ונשמע because on the one hand, in Pasuk ד it says they were מתאבל and lost their עדיו but in the very next two Psukim, Hashem is instructing to have the עדיו removed? (Rishonim deal with the complication among these Psukim, the דעת זקנים says it’s not the same עדיו and in the two Psukim, it is talking about two different things.)

However there is a sefer called the תפראת למשה by Rav Moshe from Sambor, who was one of the early Chassidic masters. He brings in the name of his Rebbe the Chozeh of Lublin that the לא שתו doesn’t mean they didn’t put it on, rather it’s similar to the לשון that it says by Pharaoh when it says ולא שת לבו גם בזאת, they didn’t take note, meaning they didn’t take note that they still had these crowns on them. They went into such a deep mourning that they didn’t realise that in spite of the חטא, they still had those two crowns. If they would have taken note, then they wouldn’t have lost it. It’s only because they lost their sense of greatness, that ויתנצלו בני ישראל את עדים מהר חורב. This is all part of the same syndrome, איש משה לא ידעה, and the מה אנוש כי תזכרנו. The Ishbitzer says about מה אנוש כי תזכרנו that everybody has it deep in his own heart, and it’s a קטרוג that undoes one’s whole self. Therefore, the תיקון is really שתו איש עידיו עליו, to take note of our own greatness. Of course nobody is perfect, and Baruch Hashem we aren’t nobodies. But we should realise that with all the ירידת הדורות, the fact that Yidden come and learn and daven, that’s greatness, and every time a Yid pushes himself to learn, to daven, it’s a tremendous thing in the eyes of Hashem. The Aibishter should help us that we should be Zocheh to be Mekabel the Torah.