April 22, 2024
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Zera Shimshon on Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudei

וַיּעֲַשׂוּ כָל חֲכַם לֵב בְּעשֵֹׂי הַמְּלָאכָה אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן עֶשֶׂר ירְִיעתֹ שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי כְּרֻבִים מַעֲשֵׂה חשֵׁב עָשָׂה אתָֹם (שמות לו:ח)

“Then, all the wise hearted among those engaged in the work made the Mishkan of 10 strips of cloth, which they made of fine twisted linen, blue, purple, and crimson yarns; into these they worked a design of keruvim.” (Shemos 36:8)

On the pasuk: “And all of the wise hearted … ” the midrash comments, “This is the meaning of the pasuk (Shir Hashirim 8:7); ‘Mayim rabbim lo yuchlu k’chabos ess hawahavah—Great amounts of water cannot quench the love, unaharos lo yishtahvuehue … —nor can rivers wash it away …’” The phrase, “Great amounts of water” is referring to the gentiles, as it is written: “Hoi, hamone amim rabbim k’hamose yamim—Oy, like the many nations who are like the roaring sea …” “If all of the gentiles in the world would come together to break the love between Hashem and the Jewish nation, they would not succeed …” “Nor can rivers wash it away” is referring to governments of the world, who are also not able to break the love between Hashem and the Jewish nation.

Zera Shimshon asks two questions: Firstly, why does the pasuk—according to the explanation of the midrash—have to teach us that no one—not individuals and not whole governments—can break the love between Hashem and Klal Yisroel? Love is intangible and it is impossible to break something that is intangible!

Secondly, after the pasuk teaches us that no one person can break the love between us and Hashem, why does the pasuk add that this is also true concerning governments? Governments are made up of people. If any individual person cannot break the love, why would we think that governments can?

He answers in light of the Gemara (Brachos 8a), “This is what Rabbi Chisda said, ‘What is the meaning of the pasuk, ‘Hashem loves the gates of Tzion more than all of the dwellings of Yaakov?’ Hashem loves the gates that are great through their learning of halacha more than the synagogues and the halls of study.”

From this Gemara, we see—explains Zera Shimshon—that Hashem’s love of us is strongly connected and linked with our learning Torah. When there is a lot of learning in Klal Yisroel, the love between Hashem and Klal Yisroel is strong, and when not, it is weak.

According to this, we can explain the midrash in the following manner. Even though it is impossible for gentiles to directly break the love between Hashem and the Jewish nation because it is intangible, they can prevent us from learning Torah. This will consequently cause—chas v’shalom—a split in the love between Hashem and us. However—as the midrash teaches—this will not happen! Even if they forbid us to learn Torah in public, we will learn in private. Even if they forbid us to learn the written law, we will learn the oral law. We will learn in inconspicuous places—hidden from the gentile’s attention—and our bond with Hashem will never be broken.

However, the midrash is concerned with another situation. True, even though they will not be successful in directly stopping us from learning, however, just being in exile among the nations causes distress and worry. This unsettled state of mind could seemingly stop us from learning. The midrash, therefore, adds that the governments of the world, which alludes to or a situation in exile will also not stop us from learning Torah. As a proof of this, we find in Maseches Eruvin (21b) that explains the pasuk in Shir Hashirim, “Come, my beloved let us go to the field …; ‘let us go to the field, come, and I will show you talmidei chachamim who learn Torah in poverty and in exile.’”

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