June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Moshe sees the joy, the dancing, and the partying taking place with the golden calf and breaks the first Luchot. Although this may seems to be the reason for the breaking of the Luchot, the Midrash Tanchuma (Ki Tisa, 31) seems to provide a catalystitical reason that seems to be the backbone for why the first Luchot did not merit to last, whereas the second pair did. The Tanchuma explains that the first Luchot were given in a public gathering. However, the second Luchot were given totally hidden, with no fanfare, but just to Moshe with absolutely no people around—even in the area in which it was permissible for people to stand by the first Luchot; some say even malachim were not present (see Rashi & b’iurei Rashi to 34:3). The tzniut that accompanied the giving of the second Luchot merited the second Luchot to last. Hence, the Tanchuma (ibid) concludes that Hashem is telling us that “there is nothing more beautiful than tzniut,” and R’ Yerucham Levovitz (Da’as Torah, Ki Tisa) says, this teaches us that tzniut is the entire essence of Torah.

The first pair of Luchot were far beyond outstanding. In fact, in a number of ways they seem to have been more prestigious than the second pair. For example, the actual structure of the first Luchot were crafted by Hashem Himself, whereas the second were made by Moshe. Moreover, the first Luchot contained the entirety of Torah, as opposed to the second pair, which only the written Torah was contained in it (see Bet Halevi, drush 18). Furthermore, the Gemara (Eruvin 54) writes that if the first Luchot were not broken, the Jewish nation would never have had to undergo exiles and oppressions from the other nations.

We would think based on these advantages that the first Luchot should survive, yet we see that a lack of tzniut in its deliverance caused its inability to remain. As opposed to the second Luchot, which, although not quite on the level of the first Luchot at least in these respects, nevertheless lasted due to the sole trait of tzniut that accompanied its deliverance. We see from here the importance of tzniut, that even in regards to Torah—its endurance is dependent on tzniut (Da’as Torah, ibid). We perhaps see this hinted right in the very beginning of the Torah, and essentially the very beginning of the creation of human itself, where Hashem demonstrates the middah of tzniut. Hashem said, “Let us make man” (Bereishit, 1:26), even this would give way for heretics to excuse themselves (see Rashi, ibid). We see that tzniut, although it can compromise the belief in Hashem and Torah, is nevertheless so part and parcel of Torah even though it may keep the distant, distant.

The Gemara (Megilla 13) says that due to the tzniut of Rachel she was rewarded with having Shaul come from her, and due to the tzniut of Shaul, he was rewarded with having Esther come from him. Esther—which comes from the word סתר, which means hidden (i.e., tzniut)—and who exemplified the midah of tzniut, led the way in the Purim story, which was a story of “hester panim”—of Hashem’s secrecy. Indeed, Hashem’s “hand” throughout the entire episode of the story was very much covered up and hidden. In essence, the great miracle of purim that Hashem brought about was surrounded by a mode of tzniut both in the part of “man” (Esther), and Hashem. What ultimately transpired from the tzniut of Hashem in the Purim story was a reignited acceptance of the Torah (See Sisei Chaim, Moadim 2, p. 211. No longer from a state of pressure, this time, Bnei Yisrael accepted it wholeheartedly (see GM Shabbat 88). Here too, perhaps we see the emphasis of tzniut in direct relation to Torah, in how it led to a renewed and newfound acceptance of the Torah.

Torah, which is Hashem’s “formula” for our personal growth, carries with it the essential feature of tzniut and thus shows how our growth is meant to be kept secret, b’tzniut. Indeed, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 20) praises R’ Ilai who had six students who would gather under one garment and learn Torah, and does not praise the Torah study by those who were in the generation of Moshe who were the ones who saw great revelations of Hashem, nor does it praise the generation of Chizkiya, where men, women and even children were all proficient in very intricate details of Torah. Just six students—but their growth in hiding was lauded over the great prophets in Moshe’s time and the massive scholars in Chizkiyahu’s time.

The Gemara (Bava Batra, 123a) notes that because Rachel demonstrated great tzniut, she merited to have the bechorah end up by her [meaning, although Reuven who was born from Leah was the bechor, later on Yosef, who was born from Rachel, ended up receiving it in his stead]. What was the outstanding tzniut? The Gemara says that in regard to the incident of giving the “signs” to Leah, people only found out in the morning that it was Leah, and not before. In other words, Rachel didn’t spill the beans. R’ Nosson Vachtfogel notes that the incredible self sacrifice of Rachel giving away her to-be husband, which would incline her toward marrying Eisav, wasn’t enough to merit to have the bechorah come from her, but rather it was also because of her ability to be “tzanua” about the great deed she did so that no one find out before.

Typically we think of tzniut as the method of clothing the body, the external; yet as we see, tzniut also applies in regards to “clothing” the internal. In an intimate relationship, tzniut is certainly at the core of what keeps the bond sacred, and a breach of it can diminish the personal nature of the relationship. So too in the relationship between us and Hashem, keeping our good deeds and our growth private is what makes the relationship sincere and sacred.


Binyamin Benji can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles