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PIRKEI HAMACHSHAVAH - GATE 1 - CHAPTER 5: MATAN TORAH AT MOUNT SINAI

GATE I

Chapter 5: Matan Torah - The Giving of The Torah on Mount Sinai

By Rav Yaakov Adés

FIRST PART


1. The "Matan Torah" (the Giving of the Torah) on Mount Sinai is extensively described in the Parashat "Yitro". But since it is impossible to develop this theme through these few pages, we will concentrate our observations on an idea that one finds in the holy books and that deals in a general way, with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and about what we can get from this for the study of Torah and Avodat HaShem. 

2. Our work does not seek to justify our Emunah (our faith), but only to show what are the ways that allow us to come close to HaShem. However, since this chapter is about the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, we must be somewhat concerned about what links the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai to faith. Now, there is a fundamental difference between the religion of Israel and the other religions that are based on the account of the revelation of Mount Sinai. 

This revelation from which other religions have also emerged is, in fact, for those religions, it has always been about a revelation made to a single man or to a group of isolated men. So much so that these same religions depend on the tacit acceptance by their followers that these men were not lying. However, anyone who has looked at the stories on which they are based, knows that they are incompatible with the most basic logic and that it is therefore impossible to accept their version of the events; However, it would be inappropriate to dwell here on their aberrations or to show how insane the improbabilities contained in some of their texts are. 

On the contrary, the extraordinary revelation on which the Jewish religion rests has the peculiarity that it is contemporary with the Matan Torah (the receiving of the Torah) on Mount Sinai, an event that unfolded before the eyes of several million people. In the Torah it is said that the revelation of Mount Sinai took place under the eyes of six hundred thousand men, counting only those men over twenty years of age. If we add the women, we must add almost one million two hundred thousand to that number. And with children under twenty, you have to add more than two million people more on top of the previous sum, and that is without counting those of the "Erev Rav" (those of the mixed crowd) who followed the children of Israel. on the way out of Egypt. 

De facto, it is impossible for this kind of story to be a mystification. To understand it, imagine a man screaming having discovered a hitherto unknown animal. Anyone who wants to believe it can do it, but nothing forces them. On the other hand, if he says that he is not the only one who has seen this animal, but that several million more people saw it at the same time as him, we will ask to hear their testimony as well. And if it really were known that several million people are likely to confirm his statements, we would have to admit that they are telling the truth. In fact, we don't see what interest they would have in lying, especially if their testimony forces them to respect the Torah and Mitzvot with all the complications that entails! 

3. This being an unquestionable truth; It is also for this reason that other great religions (such as Christianity and Islam) were built taking as a reference the event of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai which belongs to the religion of Israel. It was only later that they tried to differentiate themselves from Judaism, constructing a series of crazy inventions, each in an attempt to replace Judaism with a series of paganism-infused follies. But let's just ask the following question: why should these religions take the religion of Israel as their foundation? A question that arouses even more astonishment insofar as, if these religions have accepted the truth of Israel's religion since their inception, we do not understand why, despite the crazy reasons they raised to justify the modification of the dogma, they felt that it was necessary to reform it. Why? 

This contradiction is also at the origin of a deep hatred that these religions harbor against the Jewish people, because the very reality of the people of Israel constitutes their own negation, being the source of a religious dogma contrary to their own legitimacy). 

But in truth, if these religions were built taking as reference the religion of Israel, it is because they were effectively forced to cement an experience whose veracity prevails over reason: the fact that the Torah of Israel was revealed on Mount Sinai before the eyes of millions of people. An event that cannot be invented out of nowhere and that constitutes for these religions the only truth from which they have taken their first steps. 

4. And it would be wrong to object that if the truthfulness of the Sinaitic revelation prevails over reason, how is it that a great number of scholars reject it? Because this is not an objection. The proof is that there are also "great scientists" who try to refute that the Shoah (The Holocaust) ever took place, while their own arguments contradict the most elementary logic. And for good reason: when a man pursues his own interests, he can invoke science to back up ideas that even go against common sense. Since you are looking for your own interests, that very easily can make you say something different than what you really think, and even that can force you to change your own perception of the world. 

In fact, there are a lot of areas of interest and of a very different nature, and some have the power to prevent man from changing his mind. The Torah teaches on this subject, saying: "For corruption disturbs the sight of the wise and distorts the judgment of the righteous" (Shemot 23: 8). 

This is a verse that we ask several questions about on behalf of the Vilna Gaon: 

(1) Why does Scripture begin by saying: "corruption disturbs the sight of the wise," and then once again adds, "it distorts the word of the Tzadikim (the righteous)"? 

(2) What is the reason for this name change: firstly "it disturbs the sight of the wise, and then it distorts the word of the righteous"? 

(3) Why is "the wise" mentioned first and then "the righteous"?



And we often answer on behalf of the Vilna Gaon that, in order for them to reach a just verdict, the judges must first of all pay attention to two things: 



(a) They must first fully understand the reality they are given to judge. 

(b) And on the other hand, they must be able to apply the law that corresponds to the case presented to them. 

However, the verse teaches that corruption perverts these two requirements: the authentic perception of reality on the one hand, as they say: "disturbs the sight of the wise" precisely, to the extent that this term does not designate only the acquired rank. in the study of Torah (but also any kind of Wisdom, Ndt.). And on the other hand, the exact understanding of the way in which the law should legislate the real. That is why it is said: "distort the word" "of the righteous" precisely because knowledge of the Torah is based on true justice. 

The pursuit of personal interests effectively corrupts the validity of a judgment, either with regard to our perception of reality itself or our ability to draw conclusions from the reality that we face. 

5. Nor should we ever forget that all the sciences studied in the world could be reduced to two large groups: the so-called "speculative" sciences, which include philosophy and other disciplines of the same type, and the "Exact Sciences" . ”, Which includes physics and other related disciplines. 

However, among the "speculative" sciences, one can find in the same university, a professor who teaches the principles of a certain religion and another the dogmas of another religion; a doctor who professes the creed of such an atheistic doctrine and another the rules of another ideology. , etc. And if we take the trouble to think about it - although we know very well that only Judaism is founded on reason - we must recognize that, also for them, only one of these religions or doctrines preaches the truth, while the others are wrong. . And if so, how is it that all these gentlemen are considered "great teachers"? If this is only because for the "speculative" sciences, the veracity of what is professed does not matter, what counts is the art with which it is known to present things, to make them as interesting as possible, to be able to repeat them with maximum ease , and nothing more! [Some disciplines, moreover, are made up of both "speculative and exact" sciences. Taking as a base the sensible experience, developing from there a series of hypotheses; this is particularly the case in research related to the origin of the world. 

But again, from the point of view of their degree of certainty, these disciplines are no more credible than the sciences. 

Properly "speculative". If proof is necessary, it will only be recalled that no commercial manager would agree to invest in the creation of a factory for a sum that is not usually dedicated to a project based on uncertainty. I would only do it for something infallible, that is, if, and only if, the arguments that are put forward to demonstrate that machines have the capacity to produce this or that merchandise are based on evidence that from the beginning to the end is unmistakable, and not in evidence partly from experience and partly based on hypothesis ...) 

6. There is still much to say and we could make many arguments for authentic faith, but that is not our intention here. Perhaps the Holy God, Blessed be He, will give us the possibility to discuss it in greater depth in another work, since the present digression had no other purpose than to illustrate one of the reflections that can be made when meditating on the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai for the purpose of strengthening your Avodat HaShem.

SECOND PART

Now let us return to this topic, and analyzing it more closely, that it is possible to deduce the sight of Matan Torah on Mount Sinai to strengthen the Avodat HaShem from that. In his book "Derech HaShem", the Ramchal writes that, apart from the explicit revelations mentioned in the verses of the Parashat Yitro ”, another phenomenon in the extraordinary event that took place on the occasion of the Matan Torah on Mount Sinai. The Eternal, in fact, showed the children of Israel how everything that exists in the world is the continuous work of divine creation, and that, apart from the Creator, nothing in the world has an autonomous existence, since it is He, in every moment, which makes everything be and continues to keep it in existence. We find a similar idea in the "Nefesh Ha'Chaim", in the third Gate, in chapter 11; that we cited in chapter 3 above; We will also refer to the allusion, the idea that the author extracts from the verse itself.

We could explain it with the help of a metaphor, imagine three Friends: Reuven, Shimon and Levy. One day Reuven declares to Shimon that the friend they have in common, Levy; that he is not a human being, but an automated robot manipulated by the secret services of an enemy country. Shimon would more than likely try to find some kind of evidence to prove or convince himself that what Reuven is saying about his good friend, Levy; is impossible. On the other hand, if Reuven were to declare to Shimon, that Shimon himself is not a human being; but an automated robot, obviously it is with a lot of certainty that Shimon would no longer need any proof to know for sure that Reuven is wrong. And for good reason, due to the fact that Shimon knows himself perfectly and very well, knowing that there is nothing about such a thing. He knows very well that he is a human being with a living soul. etc.

Now this is exactly what happened when we received the Torah on Mount Sinai, everyone had a real experience; through their senses and with a clear and distinct awareness of how all the reality of creation derives its present existence from the Creator: a truth that needs nothing more than itself to be verified.

In reality, regardless of the revelation of Mount Sinai, if each human being had a clear and distinct knowledge of his soul, he would also know how the Eternal created it and how he keeps it in its vital existence. In fact, the very essence of the soul is the work of the Creator. Blessed be it, it literally flows from Him [which is also true of all created things; however, as far as the Jewish soul is concerned, this connection is more direct].

Many people feel this phenomenon, at least in part. And happy is he who has the merit of having such a conscience, because he has the power to encourage man to join HaShem in the most beautiful way possible. And even if we don't fully access this awareness. it is possible to reach the highest heights in attachment to HaShem. In fact, even among those who claim to be unfamiliar with this phenomenon, most experience it in part, but not as strongly as they would like. So they have the feeling that this awareness is missing]. And if it is not given to everyone to feel this phenomenon in all its intensity, it is because the body in which the soul is located prevents it, which is like a screen present in the very heart of Creation.

Anyway, even if we do not have the merit of feeling this phenomenon, there are several ways to access it. [The following letter was taken in part from Rabbi Shmuel Rosovsky's comment on Tractate Makot, in the new edition at the end]. The study of the Torah or the Talmud Torah as it is said in Hebrew, for example, is one of these means, for several reasons. Among them, as explained above, the fact that the highest consciousness of this phenomenon occurred when Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai.

The author of "Nefesh Ha'Chaim" (in Gate 4, Chapter 14) says when it is written that every time one studies Torah, the Jewish person feels the same joy as when he received the Torah on Mount Sinai, as is taught in the Zohar, at the beginning of Parashat "Jukat"; “Anyone who endeavors to study Torah is in the same situation as if he were on Mount Sinai all day to receive the Torah [we will pay attention to the words used here. In other words, "whoever makes an effort to study" implied: even if he does not achieve it as he would like, the important thing is to make the effort in that sense and that he dedicate himself to study]. In fact, in the same way as on the occasion of Matan Torah on Mount Sinai, man could feel how he is, as it were, one with the words of the Holy One, Blessed be He.

And it is exactly so every time he dedicates himself to the Talmud Torah and when he studies it aloud. The man then relates to HaShem's words, because all the words that come out of the Torah were revealed by HaShem to Moshe on Mount Sinai, even the questions that a young disciple asks his Master. However, this is still the case today: every word uttered by the one who studies the Torah, every sound he utters, is for some like a flame of fire coming out of the mouth of the Eternal. [It will be understood that it is not a question of a true fire, but of an absolutely holy and spiritual reality: in the same way, when referring to the mouth of the Eternal, it is of course a metaphor. We must consider this as if this student had received the words from the mouth of the Eternal on Mount Sinai.

Therefore, our Teachers urged us to make sure that these words are accompanied by as much joy as when they were revealed on Mount Sinai. Because these words express the abundance of light and blessing of the upper root of all worlds, and the Earth itself is illuminated by its radiance and benefits from it; these words bring tremendous benefits and many blessings to the world ”.

The revelation that took place during the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai reappears every time a Jew studies Torah. Of course, they are of a lower level than those who accompanied the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, but they are of the same nature.

So, as far as we are concerned, we see then how everything that man is capable of experiencing, relatively, how his soul is deeply linked to the Holy God, Blessed be He.

In summary of everything that we have just explained in this chapter [with some additions]:

A) There is a level of attachment to the Eternal in which the soul can have the merit of accessing when it is clearly aware of its true essence. That is to say, that she herself is a spiritual flow continually generated by the Creator. Thus the soul is given the power to experience the real connection it has with the Eternal.

B) When the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel had the merit of accessing this consciousness in the most perfect way that exists. 

C) Even after Matan Torah, many have had the merit of accessing this consciousness, each according to his level and in special circumstances. 

D) Even those who do not feel it [or who feel it, but not as strong as they would have liked] should know that there are different ways to access this Consciousness, especially if they are making efforts to dedicate themselves to study as much as they can possible. 

E) Even if one had never experienced the true dimension of the soul, it is possible to believe with Emuná Shelemá (Perfect faith) in the Eternal and serve him in the best possible way, each one must face it by applying to it according to the level assigned by the Creator. 

F) Finally, you should know that in retreat to this inner feeling that we have told you about, some sacred books speak of a "spontaneous faith or Emuná Peshutá".      

And it will not be argued that, although it is possible to accept the idea that the soul may be aware of the fact that its intrinsic nature proceeds directly from the Creator, we do not see, however, how it should do it, by virtue of this self-awareness, recognize the veracity of the Torah of Israel, as if these two truths had to be linked. This argument is inadmissible, because the permanent flow through which the Souls of Am Israel receive the blessings of the Eternal is precisely through the light of the Torah, as we explained previously in chapter 2 above. Therefore, it is inherent to the soul to feel it when no obstacle prevents it.



NEXT 
CHAPTER 6: STABILITY OF THE WORLD DUE TO THE STUDY OF THE TORAH.




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