Hello [NAME],From our Beit MidrashPARSHAT YITRO / Rav Zvi Leshem The Ultimate Unity with GodThe highlight of our parsha is the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This was not only the transmission of information and the initiation of a covenant, but also a peak mystical-prophetic experience for each and every Jew. We can glean some insights as to the experiential aspects of that unique event from the Meor v'Shemesh, written by Rebbe Kalonymos Kalman [K.K.] of Cracow, the great-grandfather of the Piaseczner Rebbe, who also bore his name. Prior to receiving the Torah, Am Yisrael is referred to as Am Segula, the “Treasured People.” Many interpretations have been given for this change, but for Rav K.K. this means that we constitute the inner dimension of all of the worlds. Knowing this will help us to understand how he describes the intense mystical experience of Matan Torah.Before we actually received the Torah, we made the famous announcement of naaseh v'nishma, “we will do and we will listen.” Here, Rav K.K. describes a religious phenomenon with which we are all familiar. When we are davening together in shul, we have a tendency to fall into the trap of thinking that our tefillah and avodah is the highest in the room, that only we have real kavanah. This is highly destructive. We should always make the opposite assumption, that we are the lowest in the congregation, and need to learn from everyone else around us. If all of us were to think like this we would constantly inspire each other to greater and greater levels of Divine service. This idea is related to Rav K.K.'s theory of community (that had a great impact upon the Piaseczner Rebbe as well). At Mount Sinai, every Jew screamed naaseh v'nishma with their own personal kavanah, thus revealing their own special aspect of the Torah, and so should we.Just before the revelation, we are told that Moshe brought the people out towards God. Rashi comments that, “the Shechinah went out towards them like a groom goes towards his bride.” The Meor v'Shemesh explains, using Kabbalistic terminology, that “by saying "naaseh v'nishma," they raised feminine waters, revealing parallel masculine waters ... for the bride raises feminine waters and receives influx from the groom. Thus Am Yisrael raised feminine waters and the Shechinah went towards them, and they received the Torah.” Here the rapturous nature of mystical union is described in overtly sensuous terms and in a rare usage of masculine gender imagery to describe the Shechinah.The actual experience of Divine speech is described as roim et hakolot v'et halipidim, “hearing the voices and torches,” a synesthetic experience in which they reached a place so high that the distinction into sensory differentiation had not yet occurred. For the Netziv, this means that they saw sparks of fire in the forms of the letters. For Rav K.K. the verse doesn't describe their vision of the Divine voice, but rather of their own! “They witnessed their own voices as they said naaseh v'nishma, and they visualized the letter combinations created by their speech, and the angels created by those letter combinations. And the torches, this was their own enthusiasm.”While we tend to view Matan Torah as a one time historical event, this is an error. The Kli Yakar states that the reason why the Torah does not reveal the date when it was given is that we need to realize that it is constantly being given to us anew. According to Rav Soloveitchik, every time we read the Torah in shul we are reenacting Matan Torah. Of course, for this to be a powerful and meaningful experience we need to make it happen as well. The Beit Aharon writes that Hashem gives us the Torah every single day, when we accept God's light upon ourselves. When we do so then we ourselves play the role of Am Yisrael at Mount Sinai, to whom the Shechinah went out like a groom to meet the bride. In this way, we are able to experience that great moment of unity with God in our own lives.
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(c) Midreshet Yeud 2008