In this week’s Torah Portion,
Parshas Yisro, The Giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai
is a famous teaching of the Rabbis regarding the preparation of the Israelites
prior to receiving the Torah; the verse states: “And
Yisrael camped there opposite the mountain”; upon which Rashi comments:
“As one person with one heart (mind). But all the other encampments were
with resentment and dissention.” This means that a
prerequisite for receiving the Torah is unity of the people. About the Torah it
is written. ‘Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are
peace.’ (Mishlei, Proverbs 3:17) Since the
Torah is a Torah of peace, it cannot dwell amid resentment and dissention.
As is well known, our Sages state (Devarim Rabbah 7:8)
that were the Jews to have been lacking even one individual, the Divine
presence would not have been revealed at the Giving of the Torah as implied by
what is written; ‘and be ready
against the third day; for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight
of all the people upon Mount Sinai.’ The Medrash continues with a
narrative concerning Rabi who was about to begin a Torah discourse in the
academy and announced, “Go see if everyone has arrived!” Where did
he learn to inquire if the entire congregation were present before commencing
his lecture? From the Giving of the Torah at which Hashem said: `Assemble Me
the people, and I will make them hear My words’.
Rabbi Shalom Shwadron zt’l
(the famous Maggid of Jerusalem) explained
that the Torah was given only to the Jewish people as a whole. One
shouldn’t think that now that the Torah has been brought down from the
heavens to this world, he will toil in it for his own benefit and not share it
with others. This is what the Medrash above is alluding to with relating the
incident with Rabi; although it is impossible to teach all the people together
as it was at the Receiving of the Torah, still each individual that is added to
the community transforms the community to a ‘Klal Yisroel’, a
totality of the Nation of Israel. Each individual is not a separate entity
– each man for himself, rather he is one part of a whole –‘As
one man with one heart”!
This idea is brought out
beautifully by a personal incident in which Rabbi Moshe Plutchok,
a member of the faculty at Yeshiva Derech Chaim was involved. Reb Moshe used to
spend the summer vacationing in the Catskills. Every day he would study in a
summer Kollel. One summer, a person named Mr. Avrohom Greenstein started coming
to the Bais Hamedrash. He brought along his Artscroll Gemara
and sat down to learn with joy and happiness. He learned and learned and he
enjoyed doing so. You couldn’t tell that, unfortunately Mr. Greenstein
had terminal cancer. He would come every morning and chant the words of the Gemara…H’aishs
niknas…Rava Amar …Abaya Amar…he kept on learning and was always happy.
One day close to the end of the
summer, uncharacteristic of his usual high spirits, Mr. Greenstein came into
the Bais Hamedrash, broken, sad, and listless. He was almost in tears.
Reb Moshe asked him. “You’re
always so happy…What’s wrong? All summer long you were a source of
tremendous chizuk (inspiration) to us…we gained so much from you.
Why so sad?
He replied, “Reb Moshe, do
you really think that the Ribono Shel
Olom is interested in my words of Torah? I have to
break my teeth to get through a Blatt Gemara…do you think He is really interested in
Reb Moshe soothed him by repeating
a story he recently heard.
The famous orchestra conductor,
Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) was a revered musician; he was recognized as one
of the masters of music of that time. In his eighties he retired. Someone wanted
to write a biography of Toscanini and used to spend much time with the Master
interviewing him and writing about his life.
day while the biographer was with Toscanini, there was a symphony performance
broadcast on the radio. Toscanini, who had once led this symphony wished to listen
to the broadcast. As he listened, he commented to the biographer that this
particular music piece was made up of 120 instruments, including fifteen
violins, but he could only discern fourteen; one violin was missing. The
biographer looked at him in astonishment and wondered, “how can he tell”?
He investigated the matter and
indeed, one violin was missing…it seemed that one violinist put
his instrument down on his seat and left in the middle of the performance…he
thought he could get away with it; He probably thought, “What’s one
violin in an orchestra of 120 instruments including 15 violins…?”
But the great master listening on
the radio could tell that one violin was missing.
“So too”, he told Mr.
Greenstein, “when we read the Gemara, even if
we ‘have to break our teeth’ to say it, the Master of the world is
listening to each piece in His orchestra…He is listening to all the music
we play for him… the Torah of the greatest scholars, the smallest
learners and even the little children. This is the orchestra of the Ribono Shel Olom.
If somebody is missing, the Ribono Shel Olom takes notice….you,
Avrohom., are part of the ensemble, without your learning the concert is
incomplete…it is lacking. your words of Torah
…your maasim tovin…
your tzedakah… cheesed ….Middos
Tovos…. are all part of the Symphony of the Torah! Hashem is indeed
deeply interested in your learning!”
These words made a deep impression
on Mr. Greenstein and revived his spirit.
The more Jews who study Torah, who
pray, who serve Hashem in their unique way all contribute to the Jewish people
as a whole and bring the redemption closer.