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Commitment

 
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After the awesome display at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah, no time is wasted at all as we move straight along to the purpose of the giving of the Torah.

G-d gave us the great gift of His Torah, His wisdom. But what G-d also gave us was a blueprint for our lives, outlined as the Mitzvahs, commandments, listed therein. The nitty-gritty of it all. Great detailed descriptions of how to live our lives on a daily basis.

But how do we relate to it all?

The Torah divides the commandments into three categories, they are:

1) Testimonials; laws commemorating an occurrence. G-d worked for six days, then rested on the seventh, we celebrate Shabbat. G-d took us out of Egypt, we celebrate Passover etc.

2) Civil Laws; those governing a civil society. Do not kill, do not steal etc.

3) Statutes; laws that make no logical sense to our human minds or whose reasons were not given to us.

Testimonial mitzvahs make sense to us as they are commemorative. They are link in our chain of history, connecting us to our past and something to pass along to future generations.

We pride ourselves on being uber-cultured, so reckon we would have figured out the Civil Laws on our own.

But then there are the Statutes. Society has trained us to think and understand before committing to doing something, but these laws are not that way inclined. What would prompt us to keep a commandment of not mixing wool and linen in any garment that we wear? Or even the more popular commandment of keeping kosher, not mixing meat and milk and all the numerous volumes of laws there included?

Perhaps we can say that it is these laws that in fact reveal a different level of our relationship with G-d. In any given relationship, when we do something for someone else that we don’t think is necessary and doesn’t make any sense to us, it is an obvious act of strong commitment on our behalf.

Our bond is deepened because the action is no longer about us, but purely about the person we are acting for.

So perhaps this helps us find meaning even in the laws that we do not comprehend, enabling us to keep them just as we keep the laws that do make sense to us.

However, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that, ‘while the world might tell you to uphold the incomprehensible commandments with the same fervor as the logical mitzvahs, Chassidus teaches that we should aim to perform the logical mitzvahs with the same sense of obedience as we keep the incomprehensible ones.

Join us Friday night for dinner and we can elaborate on this nuanced alternative approach!

Have a wonderful week,

~Nechama~

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How are you staying warm? 

What was the giving of the Torah all about?

 
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The giving of the Torah was a most significant and transformative occurrence in history, as detailed in this week’s Torah portion Yitro.

The giving of the Torah was not just a magnificentlight and sound show, but rather it was G-d’s descent onto Mt. Sinai that transformed the physical and spiritual plains forever.

Prior to the giving of the Torah, the spiritual and physical worlds were mutually exclusive realms without a foreseeable bridge. “The heavens are the heavens of G-d, and the earth He gave to man.” (Tehillim)

When our Patriachs kept the mitzvot of the Torah, without actually having received it, it was about increasing spirituality in the spiritual realm but had no impact on the physical world around them.

However, G-d decided to change that reality and began the process of fusion with His descent onto the Mountain. G-d then commanded us to keep His mitzvot, and thereby enabled the physical and spiritual to mesh.

When doing G-d’s Will with something physical we are given the power toelevate that physical object and impact the physical world around us like never before.

When Jacob put out sticks before Lavan’s sheep, he was bringing down the same spiritual energy into this world as we do when putting on tefillin (Zohar), but the actual object that he used was inconsequential and completely unaffected by his spiritual service, they remained sticks. However, since the giving of the Torah, the commandment to put on tefillin requires black boxes, leather straps and parchment scrolls and by putting them on and reciting a blessing they become holy objects not to be defaced even after their ability to be used.

From this transformation our purpose in this world becomes apparent. G-d put us here to do His will, and by doing so to elevate the physical world and make it a spiritual place. G-d’s purpose for creation was that “the Holy One Blessed be He, desires a dwelling place in the lowest world” (Midrash).

He wanted a place to feel at home.

So next time you do a mitzvah, know that your mitzvah is not just about self-improvement or feeling connected, but it actually realizes the entire purpose of the creation of this world!

Have a wonderful half-week, hope to see you soon,

~Nechama~

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