May 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

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

Childhood memories are by far the most vivid. Decades later, they remain fresh in our minds. I can still remember the first time I saw a rock from Har Sinai. My first grade rebbe brought it with him to yeshiva, showing us the little bushes that were imprinted all over the rock. He even broke off a piece to demonstrate how the images of the bushes still appeared all over. (This reflects that Moshe Rabbeinu’s burning bush vision occurred on Har Sinai.)

When I was in Eretz Yisrael one Pesach vacation, I had the opportunity to actually travel to Sinai. At the crack of dawn, we camped at the foot of what is claimed to be Har Sinai and climbed up to daven Shacharis on top. We saw rocks similar to the one my rebbe had shown us, but the images of the bushes were much larger. Some Bedouins claim that the real Har Sinai was four hours away from where we were, but regardless, one is permitted to ascend the mountain.

Still, isn’t it shocking that the most monumental location in world history, Har Sinai, where Hashem gave the Torah, did not remain sacred? During the time Hashem gave us the Torah, He gave us great warnings and was very strong about the need to fence off the mountain. He even instructed Moses twice in that regard! Yet, Hashem clearly told Moses that when the shofar is blasted after the revelation, the presence of Hashem will be removed from the mountain and it will once again be permitted for all to ascend. Why is it that Har Sinai did not remain holy?

Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk tells us a fascinating insight. The terminology of the verse to fence off the mountain is “v’higbalta es ha’am.” Simply translated, it means you shall make boundaries for the nation. But Rav Meir Simcha points out that the language implies the people themselves will be the boundary/fence. He compares Har Sinai to the location of the Mishkan. The ground the Mishkan rested on was only holy while the Mishkan was there. Once the Mishkan was moved, the ground did not remain holy. However, the materials of the Mishkan (such as its beams and sockets) always remained holy wherever they were. So too, Har Sinai was just the temporary location for the presence of Hashem and therefore lost its kedusha (holiness) when Hashem’s presence departed.

With this explanation, we gain a new perspective on klal Yisrael. The nation itself constituted the boundaries/walls to house the revelation at Sinai. Since a structure housing Torah always remains holy, so too, klal Yisrael remains in the state of holiness created by the giving of the Torah to them…forever. I believe this association of klal Yisrael being the walls and structure for the presence of Hashem is a major concept that can help us achieve our purpose in life.

There is an eye-opening dialogue recorded in Tana Dbei Eliyahu regarding the true purpose of Hashem giving the Torah. A person encountered Eliyahu Hanavi and asked him what is greater—the Torah or klal Yisrael. Eliyahu replied that most people would reply the Torah is greater, but the correct answer is klal Yisrael. How so? Rav Wolbe explains this puzzling conversation. The man was asking Eliyahu the purpose of creation. Is the Torah the purpose or is klal Yisrael the purpose? And to that Eliyahu replied that certainly, Torah is the mainstay of the world and we might even say the direction of the world. However, the true purpose of the world is the perfection of man, and Torah is the only means that man can use to help attain his complete self—to achieve his perfection.

That is what Hashem is telling us by giving us the Torah on Har Sinai. You—klal Yisrael—will be the structure/walls/boundary, and after Hashem lifts His presence from the mountain, the mountain will revert back to its non-holy self. However, klal Yisrael, imbued with the Torah, will forever be that special nation, charged with a mission of higher development. The Torah is what makes us shalem—complete.

In the course of trying to perfect ourselves, many times we get stuck or we stumble. We lose our belief in ourselves and in our potential. However, our holiness is given to us by the Creator. It’s inside of us at all times. We just need to tap into what’s already there and realize that studying and observing the Torah is the means to unlock the kedusha within us.

By Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim

 Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Bergenfield, Paramus, Rockaway and Fair Lawn. He initiated and continues to lead a full multi-level Gemara learning program in the evenings, gives Halacha and hashkafa shiurim on Shabbos and, more recently, has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis midrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in both Livingston and Springfield.

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles