by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS YISRO 5772 BS"D
Ch. 19, v. 8: "Va'yaanu chol ho'om yachdov" - And all the nation responded together - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh derives from the word "yachdov" that each and every one of the nation answered "naa'seh," but on an individual basis, meaning that no person heard what another responded. The acceptance of the Torah was not through mass hysteria or mass persuasion. This gives us a profound practical application. If the Torah would have been accepted by the people as a group and not individually, then if a person finds himself in a situation where he is basically alone, without a larger group of bnei Yisroel living where he lives, he thus has difficulty with his children's education, kashrus, etc., matters that require a community effort. He might want to excuse himself for not living up to all the required laws of the Torah, saying that the Torah was accepted by the masses, and in this situation, as a person alone, it is not binding. Now, that the Torah was accepted individually, this excuse falls to the wayside. (Ksav Sofer)
Ch. 19, v. 8,9: "Va'yoshev Moshe, Va'yageid Moshe" - And Moshe reported, And Moshe told - The gemara Shabbos 87a comments on the change of terminology from "va'yoshev" to "va'yageid." First Moshe told of the rewards for fulfilling the Torah, "m'shivin daato shel odom," and then he clarified the punishments for transgressing, "dvorim shekoshin l'odom k'gidin." We find by the conversion of Rus, as clarified by the gemara Y'vomos 47a, that Naomi told Rus the easier matters before the harsher matters, "T'chum Shabbos, yichud, that there are 613 mitzvos, avodoh zoroh, capital punishment, two areas of burial for those killed through the courts (see Megilas Rus 1:16). Why was the order reversed?
If a person is offered a set of rules and the details are given from easiest to hardest, when he hears the step-by-step increase in difficulty, he likely will refuse, thinking to himself that the harshest are likely beyond his ability. If he hears the harshest first and accepts then he will surely accept the whole package. By the giving of the Torah, once the rewards were mentioned and the transgressions and their accompanying punishments began, the sins of idol worship, murder, adultery, etc. are mentioned in the Ten Commandments. This is because Hashem wanted to present the Torah to the bnei Yisroel in a manner that they would accept it.
This is not the case by Rus or any other potential convert. We try to gently dissuade them to separate the serious candidate from the non-serious candidate. This is why Noami first mentioned the easier matters. At that point Rus did not know what harsher matters lie ahead. Once Rus accepted even the harsher matters, Noami knew that Rus was serious about her conversion. (Taamo Dikra)
Ch. 19, v. 9: "Hinei onochi bo ei'lecho b'av he'onon baavur yishma ho'om" - Behold I am coming to you in the thickness of the cloud so that the nation will hear - "The thickness of the cloud" means that Hashem's appearing will be on a low level. This is "baavur yishma ho'om." Had the vision of Hashem been so clear and powerful, the bnei Yisroel would totally be involved in their sense of vision and in turn their sense of hearing would be relegated. Hashem wanted them to concentrate on what they would hear, so He limited the visual experience, which in turn enhanced the auditory experience. (Kli Yokor)
Ch. 19, v. 13: "V'higbalto es ho'om soviv leimore" - And you shall cordon off the nation around thus saying - Rashi says that "leimore" teaches us that the border of the mountain spoke, saying "Do not pass over me." What need is there for this miracle?
The gemara Shabbos says that Hashem lifted the mountain over the bnei Yisroel. We thus have an obliteration of the visual border of the mountain. This required an audio warning of where not to tread. (Holy Admor of Satmar zt"l in Botzina Kadisha) Another answer was offered in Yom Tov Selections Shovuos compendium years ago.
<< Rashi on Shmos 19:12 says that we derive from the word "leimore" in the verse "V'higbalto es ho'om soviv LEIMORE hishomru lochem alose bohor" - And you shall cordon off the nation around, SAYING "Guard yourselves from ascending the mount," that the physical border that was created, miraculously spoke, clearly warning the people to go no further, lest they touch or come onto the mount and be liable for the death penalty, "Kol hanogei'a bohor mose yumos." There is no doubt that there was such a powerful yearning to come close to Hashem at the time of receiving the Torah that there was a true fear that in a surge of spiritual emotion the masses might have stepped over the demarcation line and a day of monumental happiness could have turned into a day of great mourning. Hashem in His infinite kindness wrought a miracle, having the boundary continuously announce, "Do not go beyond this point!" This miraculous safeguard for restraining the people is remembered in the word "Atzerres," restraint.
Perhaps with this we can answer the question raised by the Kedushas Levi, that we call Shovuos "Atzerres," and in the Torah it has numerous names, but not "Atzerres." We know the insight of the Kedushas Levi on Pesach that Hashem named the holiday Pesach "chag hamatzos" to praise the bnei Yisroel for leaving Egypt with full trust in Hashem, taking along only matzos as provisions. Nowhere does the Torah call the Yom Tov "chag haPesach." On the other hand, we praise Hashem for having mercy upon us and skipping over our homes during the plague of the smiting of the first born, hence we call it "chag haPesach." He takes this concept from the gemara Brochos 6a that says that the script in Hashem's tefillin praise the bnei Yisroel, while the script in the bnei Yisroel's tefillin praise Hashem.
We can extend this concept to Shovuos. Hashem calls the Yom Tov Shovuos, Bikurim, Kotzir, all in praise of the bnei Yisroel who have counted seven weeks in preparation, who bring the first fruits to the Beis Hamikdosh, who leave their fields at the busy time of harvest to come to Yerusholayim. We, on the other hand, praise Hashem, calling the Yom Tov "Atzerres," in appreciation of Hashem's placing a miraculous audible RESTRAINT against our entering Har Sinai, lest we deserve the death penalty for treading upon forbidden terra sancta.>>
Ch. 19, v. 13: "Hishomru lochem …… ungo'a bikotzeihu" - Guard yourselves …… and to touch its edge - The next words of the verse are, "Kol hano'gei'a bohor mose yumos," - whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. The simple way of expressing a prohibition to not touch the mountain is contained in the phrase of the negative consequence, "whoever touches the mountain." Why by the command does the verse express itself with "bikotzeihu," its edge?
Hashem lifted the mountain above the bnei Yisroel to serve as a message that they either accept the Torah or else they would ch"v be buried under it (gemara Shabbos). Although it is obviously futile to attempt to hold up a mountain that is suspended above one's head, nevertheless, it is the human reaction when in dire danger to "grab at a straw." They would thus likely reach up and "hold up the mountain." Hashem wanted them to not do this. He wanted total submission for acceptance of the Torah or else face the dire consequences. There was no room for the natural reflex to reach up and "hold up the mountain." This is why in the warning, the bnei Yisroel were told to not touch its EDGE. (n.l.)
Ch. 19, v. 23: "Hagbeil es hohor v'kidashto" - Cordon off the mountain and sanctify it - The word HaR contains two letters, Hei and Reish. The letter Hei has the letter Dalet before it and Vov after it. The letter Reish has a Kuf before it and a Shin after it. These four letters ar at the borders of HaR. They spell "KoDOSh." (Holy Admor Rebbi Yisroel of Rizhin)
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