Thursday, May 13, 2010

Parshas Bamidbar 5770

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Bamidbar – Avos perek 6

Rosh Chodesh Sivan (45th day of omer) 5770/ May 14, 2010

A number of years ago as we were preparing to head up to camp for the summer, our then four year old son Shalom asked me why we were putting clothes, seforim, and toys into boxes. I explained to him that we were getting ready to go up to the mountains for the summer. He replied rather emphatically, “Abba, I know why we are going up to the mountains; we are going to get the Torah!”

It is well known that the Torah was given specifically on Mount Sinai because of its humility. While the mountains of Tavor and Carmel were taller and more impressive, they were also more arrogant.

The opening words of Tractate Avos read, “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai”. The commentators explain that although the Torah came from G-d and not from Sinai, the Mishna records that Moshe received the Torah from Sinai to allude to the idea that Moshe merited being the transmitter of Torah on account of his extreme humility, just like Sinai itself. The opening words of the tractate devoted to Torah ethics and morals reminds us that for one to internalize the ideals of Torah he must be humble and unassuming.

Last week, Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch went on its annual Lag Ba’omer outing to Bear Mountain. While hiking up the mountain, I mentioned to some of the boys that although when we reached the peak I would see the same view as I saw last year, this year I would appreciate it much more. I asked them why they thought that was true. One of the boys replied that the year before I had driven up to the top of the mountain with the drinks and snacks, while this year I was hiking up with the rest of them. Last year I didn’t have to work to reach that beautiful scenic view. This year however, I would ‘earn’ it by trekking and sweating up the mountain with everyone else.

As everyone knows when you have to work for something you appreciate it much more. A good friendship or marriage, a coveted professional position, and becoming a good parent, all requires sweat and toil.

Similarly, achieving greatness in Torah requires perseverance and determination. One who seeks an easy path to Talmudic knowledge may indeed amass much Talmudic sagacity, but he will not become a Torah scholar. That designation is reserved for one who is willing to invest the requisite time and effort into his studies so that what he studies becomes an inextricable component of his personality.

Dovid Hamelech asks (Tehillim 24:3) “Who will ascend the mountain of G-d and who will stand in His holy place?” One who wants to achieve greatness must realize that it’s an uphill climb. But the view from the top is absolutely magnificent.

Good Chodesh to all

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum