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“To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos and the Holidays”
The Jewish Home
The Connection between Hashem’s Revelation at Yam Suf/the Red Sea and at Mt. Sinai and the Mitzvah of Tefillin
“אתה הראת לדעת כי ה’ הוא האלקים אין עוד מלבדו” (דברים ד:לה)
“You showed to know that Hashem He is Elokim there is no other except Him” (Devorim 4:35)
Rashi explains that when Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave the Torah, He opened in front of them seven heavens. And, just as He tore the upper heavens for all to see, so too He tore the lower ones and they saw that He was Alone!
Apparently, this “seeing” of Hashem is redundant, for Hashem already revealed Himself to the Jewish people when they crossed the Red Sea as it states“זה קלי ואנוהו” / “this is my G-d and I will glorify Him” (Shemos 15:2) and Rashi explains there that Hashem revealed Himself to them.
The Difference between the Revelation at the Red Sea and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai
In answer, we can suggest that at the Red Sea Hashem revealed Himself to Bnei Yisrael with His trait of fear/awe and at Mt. Sinai He revealed Himself to them through the trait of love. Thus, regarding the Red Sea it is written“וירא ישראל את היד הגדולה אשר עשה ה’ במצרים וייראו העם את ה'” / “And the Jewish people saw the great hand that Hashem made in Egypt and the people feared Hashem” (ibid. 14:31) while regarding Mt. Sinai it states“ויוצא משה את העם לקראת האלקים מן המחנה ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר” / “And Moshe took out the people to greet Hashem from the encampment and they stood at the bottom of the mountain” (ibid. 19:17) and Rashi says that we learn from here that the Shechina/Hashem’s Presence came out to greet them as a groom comes out to greet his bride. This, then, is a revelation out of love!
In this light as we we can explain as well the last three words of the posuk “ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר” / “and they stood at the bottom of the mountain” as a groom and bride who stand under the chupa/wedding canopy. Also here we see Hashem relating to Israel with the trait of love!
“אנכי ה’ אלקיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים“
“I am the Lor-d your G-d Who took you out of the land of Egypt”
This is as Rashi explains the posuk “אנכי ה’ אלקיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים” (ibid. 20:2) since Hashem revealed Himself on the Sea as a conqueror and here at Sinai revealed Himself as an elder full of compassion, (Hashem said) since I change in the way I relate to the world, don’t say that these two opposing actions teach that there are two different controllers of the world, rather “אנכי” / “I” am the One (and the Same) that “took you out of Egypt” and Who saved you at the Red Sea. That is, at Mt. Sinai, Hashem revealed Himself as a father showing love to his son, and the addition, “He took you out of Egypt”, is secondary.
Keeping Attached to Hashem’s Presence
We can suggest that in order to keep us continually attached to and inspired by the above two revelations and in their very order, Hashem gave us the mitzvah of Tefillin: the hand Tefillin and the head Tefillin. This, to some degree, keeps Hashem’s Presence close to the Jewish people even in a most distant exile as the posuk states “עמו אנכי בצרה” / “I am with him (Klall Yisrael) in their pain/exile” (Tehillim 91:15). (See Medrash Rabbah, Shemos 30:24 who elaborates on this point.)
Tefillin – a Worthy Substitute for the Heavenly Crowns of Sinai
The Sefas Emes explains in a similar light that the two boxes of Tefillin given to the Jewish people are in place of the two crowns which they received upon saying “נעשה ונשמע” / “we will do and we will hear” (Shemos 24:7) and which they lost because of the sin of the golden calf. Now, Rashi explains that the two crowns allowed the people to revel in Hashem’s Presence, and according to the Sefas Emes we learn that also through donning Tefillin the Jew’s soul feels the light of Hashem’s Presence radiating in his direction.
The Hand Tefillin and Krias Yam Suf/the Head Tefillin and the Giving of the Torah
It appears that the hand Tefillin represents Hashem’s revelation on the Red Sea regarding which it is written “וירא ישראל את היד הגדולה” / “And Yisrael saw the great hand“, and we don the head Tefillin in place of the great revelation at Mt. Sinai. This we learn from the fact that Bnei Yisrael received two crowns at Mt. Sinai and crowns are placed on the head. Additionally, at Mt. Sinai it states “אתה הראת לדעת” / “You showed to know” (Devorim 4:35) and regarding the head Tefillin the posuk states (see Brachos 6a) “וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה’ נקרא עליך” / “And all the nations of the land saw that the name of Hashem is called upon you” (ibid. 28:10).
Why do We Don the Hand Tefillin before the Head Tefillin?
From the above we learn, that even though the head Tefillin has greater holiness than the hand Tefillin, we first put on the hand Tefillin for it represents the revelation at the Red Sea which was revealed to the Jewish people first – through the trait of fear – and only afterward we put on the head Tefillin which represents the revelation at Sinai which came after the revelation on the Sea and where the Torah was given to the people through the medium of love.
Revealing His Essence vs. Revealing His Powers
Taking the above one step further, we can suggest that at the Red Sea Hashem revealed His powers and at Mt. Sinai He revealed Himself. Thus we find that at the Sea it is written “היד הגדולה אשר עשה ה’ במצרים” / “the great hand that Hashem made in Egypt” which is an expression of His strength and at Mt. Sinai it says “אנכי ה’ אלקיך” / “I am the Lor-d your G-d”, meaning Hashem gave to Israel all the mitzvos of the Torah which he took from His personal treasure chest, as a groom who prepares expensive gifts to give to his bride when they stand under the chupa/wedding canopy. This signifies a revelation of Hashem Himself, that is “אנכי” – I, Myself, as exposed in My names הוי”ה ואלקים.
Another Difference between the Two Revelations
Alternatively, we can answer our original question regarding the need for two revelations, that at the Sea they saw that they extended from a Source of great holiness and at Mt. Sinai they saw that that holiness, that is Hashem yisborach, was one of a kind (Rashi) and there was no other, either with Him or beside Him!
The Royal Guards: Tefillin, Mezuza and Tzitzis:
“וקשרתם לאות על ידך והיו לטוטפות בין עיניך. וכתבתם על מזוזות ביתך ובשעריך” (דברים ו:ח-ט)
“And you shall tie them for a sign on your arm and they shall be an ornament between your eyes. And you shall inscribe them on the door posts of your house and your gates” (Devorim 6:8-9)
The Triple Protection of Tefillin, Mezuza and Tzitzis
Our sages have taught us (Menachos 43b): Beloved are the Jewish people who merit that Hashem surrounds them with mitzvos: Tefillin on their heads, Tefillin on their arms, Tzitzis on their garments and Mezuzas on their doors, and regarding these mitzvos Dovid Hamelech said“שבע ביום הללתיך על משפטי צדקך” / “Seven in the day I praise You for your righteous laws” (Tehillim 119:164). (Dovid is referring to the seven laws mentioned above: Head Tefillin, Arm Tefillin, four Tzitzis and Mezuza = seven – Rashi).
Continues the Medrash, Rebbi Eliezer the son of Yaakov said, whoever dons Tefillin on his head and his arm, ties Tzitzis onto his garment and attaches a Mezuza on his door, can be sure that he will not sin, as it states“והחוט המשולש לא במהרה ינתק” / “And the tripled thread shall not quickly tear” (Koheles 4:12) (Shlomo Hamelech is referring to Tefillin, Tzitzis and Mezuza – Rashi). It says as well “חונה מלאך ה’ סביב ליראיו ויחלצם” / “An angel of Hashem encamps around His fearful/faithful ones (who perform the mitzvos – Rashi) and saves them (from sin – Rashi)” (Tehillim 34:8). Rebbi Meir taught, why is the color techeles/blue-green different than all the other colors (in that it is used to die the 8th string of the Tzitzis)? Because the color techeles is similar to the color of the sea, the sea is similar to the color of the sky, and the sky is similar in color to the Heavenly Throne!
Now that we have seen that Tefillin, Mezuza and Tzitzis were chosen as Hashem’s faithful servants to guard the Jewish people from sin, let’s delve into the secret of their special power!
Tying and Binding Tefillin to Oneself
We can suggest that their power lies in the fact that each of these three mitzvos is tied either to the body, home or clothing of a person. Regarding Tefillin, it is written “וקשרתם לאות על ידך” / “And you shall tie them as a sign on your arm” and this applies to the head Tefillin as well (Menachos 37b). This is a signal to man that he is to tie, meaning to submit, the actions of his body and the thoughts of his mind to Hashem’s will.
Attaching the Mezuza to the Door Post
Mezuza as well has to be tied/attached to the door post as it states“וכתבתם על מזוזות ביתך ובשעריך” / “And you shall inscribe them on the door posts of your house and on your gates”. The reason for securing the Mezuza to the door post is to establish one’s home as a place where Hashem’s Presence can rest even outside the Holy Temple.
Tzitzis – Tying and Submitting our Possessions to Hashem’s Will
Similarly with Tzitzis, we are commanded to tie Tzitzis to the four corners of one’s garment, and this demonstrates our will to use our possessions in the service of G-d.
Connection to Mt. Sinai and the Giving of the Torah
Until now we have established that the common thread running through the above three mitzvos which gives them the power to guard man from sin is that they are all tied to the person, either to his body, his home or his clothing. If we delve a bit further into this topic we notice that the act of tying is not limited to the action of the individual mitzvah but all these mitzvahs as well tie a person who performs them to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai!
Tefillin ties man’s main organs through which he received the Torah – his head, his heart and his arm – to the Torah. This is as the posuk states “כל אשר דבר ה’ נעשה ונשמע” / “all that Hashem speaks we will do (arm, heart which gives agreement) and hear (head)” (Shemos 24:7). This tying also serves as a covenant between Hashem and his people.
Two houses of Tefillin in place of the Two Crowns Received at Sinai
On this note the Sefas Emes explains that the two houses of Tefillin were given to the Jewish people in place of the two crowns they received at Sinai when they accepted the Torah upon themselves which they in turn lost when they sinned in the golden calf. In addition, the Tefillin themselves are words of Torah and are even written on klaf/parchment similar to the writing of the whole Torah.
Tefillin – Reattaches the Wearer to the Giving of the Torah at Sinai
We find as well that Tefillin are likened to the whole Torah as it states“והיה לך לאות על ידך ולזכרון בין עיניך למען תהיה תורת ה’ בפיך” / “And it shall be for you for a sign on your arm and as a remembrance between your eyes in order that Hashem’s Torah shall be in your mouth” (ibid. 13:9). Why does it say “in order that Hashem’s Torah shall be in your mouth” and not “in order that you learn Hashem’s Torah”?
We can suggest that this teaches us that the intent of Tefillin is to help a person return to his “mouth” the words his mouth uttered at Mt. Sinai –“כל אשר דבר ה’ נעשה ונשמע” / “all that Hashem speaks we will do and we will hear” – in order to reenact one’s original acceptance of the Torah upon himself!
Sanctifying the Home through the Placement of a Mezuza
Mezuza as well is made up of two sections of the Torah and it too is written on parchment similar to a Torah scroll. In addition, the door and the home on which the Mezuza is attached is meant to be similar to the Sanctuary which Bnei Yisrael were obligated to construct at Sinai. Just as the Sanctuary was built to “house” Hashem’s Presence on earth, so too one’s private home is meant to be a mini sanctuary where Hashem’s Presence “resides”. Regarding this, the posuk states “ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם” / “Make/build a Temple for Me and I will dwell in them” (ibid. 25:8). It does not say “I will dwell in it” but rather “I will dwell in them“, meaning that Hashem’s main intent is to dwell among the Jewish people, i.e. in their homes!
In addition, the mitzvah of Mezuza is meant to remind us of all the mitzvos of the Torah (sefer Orach Apaim). This is understood from Korach’s ridiculing of Moshe’s insistence that even a home full of seforim/Torah literature needs a Mezuza (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:3).
Tzitzis as well Connects Us to Sinai
And the mitzvah of Tzitzis as well reminds us of the Torah we received at Sinai, and this for several reasons: 1) the five knots of the Tzitzis on each corner of the garment allude to the five books of the Torah given at Sinai, 2) the eight strings of the Tzitzis, where the eighth one is colored techeles, alludes to the Torah which was given from the “eighth” place in the heavens, meaning from a place above this world. This is as it states“אתה הראת לדעת כי ה’ הוא האלקים אין עוד מלבדו” / “You (Hashem) showed us to know that Hashem He is Elokim there is no other besides Him” (Devorim 4:35) and Rashi comments that Hashem tore open the seven levels of the heavens and from there above (from the “eighth” level) showed the people that He is One and Alone, in the heavens and on earth. In addition, the color of techeles reminds us of Hashem above as we mentioned above, and from that “place” He gave the Torah to Bnei Yisrael. In addition, Tzitzis is compared to all the mitzvos of the Torah (Bamidbar 15:19).
In summary, we find that the mitzvos of Tefillin, Mezuza and Tzitzis have two important strengths which give them the ability to guard man from sin: 1) they tie man to the mitzvos and to Hashem’s will and 2) they tie man to the time and spirit of the giving of the Torah at Sinai.
May we take inspiration from the above words and attempt to fulfill these powerful mitzvos with greater exactness and greater zeal! In doing so, we will awaken the power within these mitzvos to protect us from all spiritual and physical harm, and as well reconnect ourselves with our original acceptance of the Torah at Sinai!
Menachem Av 5778
Preceding Hashem’s Will to One’s Intellectual Accomplishments
“ראשית חכמה יראת ה'” (תהלים קיא:י)
“The beginning of wisdom is yiras Shamayim/fear of G-d” (Tehillim 111:10)
All of Hashem’s Creations Bow before Him
It appears that we can gain an insight into the meaning behind the words of Shlomo Hamelech with the help of the Gemora in Sanhedrin (91b). The Gemora says Antoninos [the Roman leader] asked Rebbi [Rebbi Yehuda Hanasi] why does the sun set in the west? Rebbi answered, in order to greet its master, as the posuk states “וצבא השמים לך משתחווים” / “the hosts of the heavens bow to You” (Nechemia 9:6). Rashi explains that they bow to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for He is in the west. (And so we find that Hashem’s Presence hovers over the Holy of Holies which is in the west of the Beis Hamikdash/Holy Temple.) When the sun reaches the west it gradually bows in front of Hakadosh Baruch Hu Who created it and thus sets [in the west] bowing before Hashem (Rashi).
The Brilliance of Creation and its Functioning
Now, the creation of the world and its heavenly bodies and their orbits is an act stemming from great wisdom. So much so that the posuk states“כי היא חכמתכם ובינתכם לעיני העמים” / “for it is your wisdom and your cleverness in the eyes of the nations” (Devorim 4:6). Our sages explain (Shabbos 75a), from where do we learn that we are commanded to calculate the different periods of the solar year and the constellations? From that which is stated“ושמרתם ועשיתם כי היא חכמתכם ובינתכם לעיני העמים” / “And you shall guard (learn – Rashi) and fulfill for it is your wisdom and your cleverness in the eyes of the nations” (Devorim 4:6). Which wisdom and cleverness is seen by the nations? It must be the calculation of time periods and constellations.
The Sun together with all the Celestial Bodies Bow in Constant Humility and Submission before Hashem
Now, all this is referring to the grand order we are witness to in the heavens. In addition to the above, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, in his infinite wisdom and kindness, set up the solar system so that the earth rotates around the sun (or the sun around the earth according to some opinions) and as well the earth rotates on its own axis. The monumental result of this setup and order is that in each and every second of the day [24/7 and forever] as the earth rotates, the sun is found to be bowing to its Master, each second bowing at a different location. In addition, we are told that the earth is in a constant state of tilting which adds as additional measure of bowing before Hashem.
Yiras Shamayim Precedes Calculating the Brilliance of Creation
This is the explanation of “ראשית חכמה יראת ה‘” / “The beginning of wisdom is yiras Shamayim”, meaning that before a person calculates the brilliance of Creation, he observes that the earth, the sun and all the celestial planets bow in humility and awe before their Creator and Master as it states“וצבא השמים לך משתחווים”. The magnificence of the world’s design and the humility and subservience of the heavenly bodies to the will of Hashem is meant to install humility and yiras Shamayim in the heart of man, teaching him to always precede his subservience to Hashem before exercising his intellectual abilities, however important that service is before Hashem!
Menachem Av 5778
The Jewish Home
Educating a Child to Greatness
(חנוך לנער על פי דרכו גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה” (משלי כב:ו”
Educate a child according to his way (so that) also when he becomes an elder he will not leave it (his path)” (Mishlei 22:6)
Taking Note of a Child’s “Way” from the Outset
The word “חנוך” means “beginning”. Thus, parents are obligated to be aware as early as possible in their child’s development of the child’s personality, character traits and unique abilities or limitations in order to be able to educate him or her in the most suitable way for him or her “על פי דרכו” / “according to his way”.
Now, the posuk states that if you will do this, the child will continue down his path “גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה” / “(so that) also when he becomes an elder he will not leave it (his path)”. Now we need to clarify what the posuk is referring to when it says “ממנה” / “from it”!
Implanting the Beauty and Importance of Torah in a Child’s Heart
The simple understanding is that an education in line with the child’s “way” and not one which contradicts it, ignores it or misreads it, will implant the beauty and the importance of the Torah way of life in the child’s nature to the point where he will never leave its path.
The Path of Continual Development
On a deeper level we can explain, with Hashem’s help, that the intention is that an education which is at harmony with a child’s nature and abilities“גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה” / “also when he becomes an elder he will not leave it (his path)”, meaning that will he not divert from the path of continual development.
Developing in Line with the Time Period
What is the word “גם” / “also” coming to add? If you’ll say that it is coming to include the middle days in a person’s life, are these days not included in the wording that the child will not divert from his ways when he becomes an elder!?
Rather, it seems to be referring to the different stages in a person’s development, as in each stage of a person’s life he develops in a different manner; at a different speed, a different direction or a different depth of clarity, etc. The way he develops and improves at a young age is not the manner in which he develops and improves at later stages in his life. This is the reason for the addition of the word “גם” / “also”, to teach us that if a child is educated and directed according to his nature and abilities at a young age, then in each and every stage of his life he will continue to develop and flower as is expected of him at that particular stage – in Torah learning, in fulfillment of mitzvos and in his general behavior and yiras Shamayim, and he won’t find himself stuck in an earlier stage of life and as a result not develop into the great man he was destined to become!
Relax, enjoy and be safe in all your summer outings!
Wishing you a good Shabbos!