Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parshas Va'eschanan - seeking Hashem with one heart

The passuk says in parshas Va'eschanan (דברים ד', כ"ט):

וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם מִשָּׁם אֶת ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ וּמָצָאתָ כִּי תִדְרְשֶׁנּוּ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשֶׁךָ

“And you will seek from there Hashem your g-d and you will find Him when you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The Meshech Chachmah asks; Why does the passuk start in the plural, “וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם” – “and you (plural) shall seek”, and finish in the singular; “וּמָצָאתָ” – “and you (singular) will find”.

The Meshech Chachmah also asks; the gemara says in Berachos 58a that every Jew has their own way of understanding things:

תנו רבנן הרואה אוכלוסי ישראל אומר: ברוך חכם הרזים. שאין דעתם דומה זה לזה, ואין פרצופיהן דומים זה לזה.

The rabbis have taught, if someone sees a multitude (600,000 or more) of Jewish people he should make a berachah - "blessed is the Wise One who knows secrets." Because their minds are not similar to each other and their faces (which  reflect their personalities) are not similar to each  other."

On the other hand, the passuk in parshas Yisro (Shemos 12:2) says that before Matan Torah:

וַיִּחַן שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶד הָהָר

"And the benei yisrael camped opposite the mountain."

On which  Rashi comments:

"ויחן שם ישראל" - כאיש אחד בלב אחד

"The passuk says that the benei yisrael camped there, in the singular, to teach  you that  the whole nation was like one man with  one heart."

You see from this Rashi that it is possible that the whole of the benei yisrael should be perfectly united, if so why do we always assume that they have different minds so that when we see 600,000 Jews we say the berachah of ברוך חכם הרזים which implies that they all think differently?

The passuk says in Bereishis (2:9):

וְעֵץ הַחַיִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַגָּן

"Hashem place the Tree of Life in the centre of Gan Eden."

Why  was the Etz ha'Chaim placed particularly in the centre?

The Meshech Chachmah explains that the service of Hashem is comparable to people standing on the circumference of a circle and wanting to go to the centre of the circle. Each person will head in a slightly different direction, because each person started on a different point of the outer circle, however everyone moves towards and eventually reaches  the only centre of the circle.

Similarly, even although אין דעתם דומה זה לזה, the minds of the benei yisrael are all different to each other, nevertheless when they use their intelligence in avodas hashem, they reach a mutual understanding because they realise that they are all heading towards the same goal of understanding Hashem - albeit from different directions and with different tools.

That is why when the 600,000 benei yisrael merited to stand at Har Sinai, they were כאיש אחד בלב אחד - like one man with one heart, because even  although  they all understood the Torah in a slightly different way according to the root of their neshama in the 600,000 letters of the Torah, they all knew that the purpose of their accepting the Torah was to draw closer to Hashem.

Similarly the passuk in Va'eschanan starts in the plural, וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם, and you (plural) will seek, and finishes in the singular, וּמָצָאתָ, and you  (singular) will find. Becuase once the benei yisrael find Hashem, they realise that they are all united in a common purpose although they had different approaches to finding Hashem initially.

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