Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 24   No. 17

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Yonah ben Elchonon Moshe z"l
whose Yohrzeit will be on 20 Shevat
May he be a meilitz yosher for his family and for all of K'lal Yisrael.

Parshas Yisro

Am Segulah

Undoubtedly, the most important event in the history of the world was the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai. Nor has the world ever witnessed an event which made a greater impact or that had further reaching consequences. Indeed, it was the only occasion in history that Hashem presented Himself to any nation or communicated with them directly.

Consider also, the tremendous build-up to Matan-Torah, played out against a background of pomp and ceremony so awesome, that it almost defies the imagination; the gradually increasing tone of the Shofar, the thick clouds covering Har Sinai, continual thunder and lightning (although there was no rain), the three day separation of the men from their wives, the fencing off of Har Sinai and the mounting excitement as Moshe Rabeinu ascended the Mountain daily, bringing Divine instructions to the people and their replies to Hashem. The Torah can hardly be describing the impending enactment of anything other than a world-shattering event of unique proportions.


Ma'amad Har Sinai deeply affected, not only Klal Yisroel, but also all the world's nations. The accompanying thunder and lightning (like the crossing of the Reed-Sea that had only recently taken place), were experienced throughout the world. Indeed, the Medrash relates, that when the various nations, fearing another flood, sent delegates to the renowned statesman and leader, Bil'om, asking him for advice, he replied simply: "Hashem is giving strength (Torah) to His people", whereupon they proclaimed: "Hashem should bless His people with peace".

Yet Ma'amad Har Sinai went much further than just to create a profound momentary impact on the people of the time. It changed drastically the future destiny of Klal Yisrael turning them into the "Am Segulah", and by virtue of the other nations' reaction to that choice and of the subsequent new triple relationship - Hashem, Yisrael and Torah - the destiny of the other nations was irrevocably changed too.

For the first time in history, a nation forged direct links with the Creator of the world, who provided them with a strong means of communication with Him through prophecy and through prayer. For the first time, the concept of Divine Supervision (Hashgochoh K'lolis) over a whole nation was introduced. This in turn, was triggered off by the presentation of a Divine constitution, and was governed by its implementation on the part of Klal Yisroel themselves. And this direct communication, made possible by introducing two new functional institutions - prophecy and Torah - was to cause our life-style to undergo a complete transformation; from now on, we became bound to do G-d's will, and He became our Supreme Master, undertaking to provide for all our needs and to protect us with a homeland, a homeland which would fall directly under His own personal supervision. The strength or weakness of this personal relationship would lie in our hands and would be governed by our own loyalty to our new Master, (or by our lack of it) - but it would never be broken.


Perhaps the most striking fact of all is that the Revelation of Hashem to Klal Yisroel took place before the very eyes of a few million people and, as we mentioned earlier, the entire world was aware of it. Nobody denied Ma'amad Har Sinai, indeed nobody could deny Ma'amad Har Sinai, because assuming Ma'amad Har Sinai was false, how could one possibly introduce into the annals of history something that never took place. The fact is that Ma'amad Har Sinai has no challengers. It did take place and it must have taken place (heard from Rav Ya'akov Weinberg z.l.). Whatever the claims of the other nations, we continue to be the treasured nation of Hashem. If anything, our continued existence as a nation in the face of the numerous attempts at genocide, by a variety of nations, is clear proof that our status has not changed. All that is required to revert to our close relationship with Hashem is that we strengthen our ties with Him. Then, in accordance with the covenant made at Har Sinai, He will strengthen His ties with us, and peace and prosperity will be ours forever. And this is the meaning of our new title - the "Am Segulah".

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the G'ro)

Remember the Shabbos!

"Remember the Shabbos day... Six days you shall serve and do all your work. But the seventh day is Shabbos for Hashem ... Do not perform any work " etc. The pasuk of "Six days you shall work" appears to be redundant - since when is it a mitzvah, asks the G'ro, to work on the six days, and besides, how do we understand the words "all your work" in this pasuk and "any work", at the end of the quotation?


In answer to these questions, the G'ro quotes a Gemoro in Shabbos (69b).

The Gemoro says that a traveller who loses his sense of time and forgets when Shabbos is, should count six days from the time he becomes aware of the problem, and keep the seventh day as Shabbos (to make Kiddush, etc.). However, he is only permitted to do whatever he needs to stay alive - both during the six days and on his Shabbos - no more than that.

And it is this halochoh to which the Torah is hinting here. "Remember the Shabbos day!" the Torah is warning. Don't forget which day is Shabbos, because then you will be able to do all your work. (And what is more, the seventh day will be Shabbos for Hashem, not just an arbitrary one for you - added to the G'ro's explanation). And then, you will also be able to observe Shabbos properly, to ensure that you do not perform any work at all.


Do Not Murder

"Lo tirzoch!" (with a "komatz") That is the way the word is written in the Ta'am Ho'elyon - (the way we read it on Shevu'os), whereas on Shabbos Parshas Yisro we read "Lo tirzach" (with a "patach").


The G'ro points out that "komatz" means "closed" and "patach" means "open", and he explains the significance of this change (by way of a hint) with a Gemoro in Avodoh Zoroh (19b), which, explaining a Pasuk in Mishlei, comments that there are two types of murderers among talmidei-chachomim: one who issues rulings when he is not competent to do so (he opens his mouth when he ought to keep it closed), and the other who refrains from issuing rulings when he is (he keeps his mouth closed when he ought to open it).


The Ten Commandments

The Aseres Ha'dibros begin with an "aleph" and end with a "chof", and this is hinted in the possuk "But (ach) good for Yisroel" (Tehillim 73:1). They contain 620 letters, corresponding to the 613 mitzvos plus the seven mitzvos b'nei Noach. (Alternatively, the Ba'al Ha'turim may well have substituted the "seven mitzvos de'Rabbonon" for the "seven mitzvos b'nei No'ach"), and the symbool for this is "Kesser Torah" (Kesser = 620), to tell you that if someone studies Torah for its own sake, it becomes a crown for his head. Should he however, learn for false motives, it then becomes "Koreis" - it cuts him down (Koreis too=620).

It also contains 172 words, and that is hinted in the phrase "(Moshe com-manded us Torah) a legacy for the congregation of Ya'akov". Ya'akov = 10 + 172, i.e. the ten commandments which contain 172 words (Ba'al Ha'turim).

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