Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Dvar Torah for Shlach

Hey, it's never too early!

In the parsha of Shlach, there is the story of the Mekoshesh Eitzim. It comes after the story of the spies, and a piece about the prohibition of Idol Worship.
After the Jews were punished with not being allowed entry into Eretz Yisroel, and were forced to remain in the midbar, they assumed that they were not chayiv in mitvos anymore.
The Wood Gatherer did exactly what his name implies. He purposely went out on Shabbos and gathered wood (a shabbos no-no), in order to be killed, to show the Yidden that they were still chayiv in mitzvois.

To understand the connection between these sections, the Rebbe first explains what the problem with Avoda Zara is.

The main problem is in a person's thoughts. He is not allowed to think and give importance to anything besides for Hashem, especially as a god, chas v'shalom. So why then, the Rebbe asks, do we find that all Jews will quickly give up their lives in Mesiras Nefesh, even to not bow down to an idol, when in their hearts, they are still fully devoted and faithful to Hashem? There should be no problem with the act of idol worship, if the main issur is the actual thought and consideration as that idol as a god, chas v'shalom!
We see that Ma'aseh, actions, are extremely important, and a Yid doesn't want to do even an action that shows idol worship.

This is what the wood gatherer wanted to show, also. Many commentaries ask-why did he specifically transgress shabbos? Any other Aveirah would have sufficed to be punished for, especially in his self-interest, an aveirah that he would not be killed for?

The wood gatherer did not want to do a Chet. He didn't want to separate himself from Hashem. And the truth is, he did nothing wrong!! He was not deserving of death. You only get killed for doing a melacha for its intended purpose. Here, the Mekoshesh Eitzim did not want to desecrate shabbos. On the contrary, he wantedd to guard it and protect it more! The din is that a Melacha SheAina Tzricha Legufa is potur!!

So why was he killed? The reason is that Hashem gave us clear instructions in the Torah on how to judge a case. We must judge based on what actions we see. We cannot guess into his mind. We have to rely on Hashem for taking care of somebody who did tshuva, or didn't have in mind to desecrate shabbos, but we don't know about it.

The Wood Gatherer wanted to show this exact point. Action is everything. It's what we judge according to. It's what is so important about mitzvos.

Now we'll understand what the Jews were even thinking when it says that they thought after being dumped in the desert for another forty years, they were potur from mitvos.

In the desert, life was grand. They could learn Torah all day. They had the Clouds of Glory. Entering Eretz Yisroel meant working the land, and all other mitzvos that meant much more Ma'aseh. Once that plan got ruined, they figured Ma'aseh was not their duty. Back to learning Torah, and connecting to Hashem only through intellect.

The wood gatherer (I know, I know, here I didn't capitalize him) proved to them all that for the mitzvos that they still had, Ma'aseh was still the key, and the most important aspect to the mitzvos.

(Sicha in Chelek Chof Ches)