Below, please find a write-up of Rav Weinberger's morning drasha from parshas Nasso. Baruch Hashem, this version reflects his review of the write-up. See here for past write-ups. Also, thousands of Rav Weinberger's shiurim are available onlin HERE. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. Shalosh Sheudos will remain up. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.
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Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Naso 5773
Hold on, Don’t Let Go
We spoke last week about the trait of “הרגשת הסתירה,” being sensitive to living a life of contradictions in which we do not act according to that which we know is true. Continuing on this theme, we must examine the Nazir’s obligation to bring a sin offering at the conclusion of his period as a Nazir (Bamidbar 6:14). The Ramban explains the simple meaning of this requirement as follows: The Nazir is not satisfied with “just” keeping the 613 mitzvos of the Torah. The concept of Nazirus resonates with him and he sees the value in a more sanctified way of life. Yet after living on that higher level of existence, at the conclusion of his Nezirus period, he wishes to return to the “regular” mitzvos of every other Jew. The Ramban writes regarding this step-down from his status as a Nazir:
כי האיש הזה חוטא נפשו במלאת הנזירות, כי הוא עתה נזיר בקדושתו ועבודת השם, וראוי היה לו שיזיר לעולם ויעמוד כל ימיו נזיר וקדוש לאלוקיו... והנה הוא צריך כפרה בשובו להִטמא בתאוות העולם
This person sins against his soul at the completion of his Nazirus period because now [before ending his Nazirus], he remains a Nazir in this [higher level] of holiness and service of Hashem. It is fitting for him to remain forever as a Nazir, sanctified to Hashem... Therefore he requires an atonement when he comes to defile himself with the desires of the world.
This Jew desired a higher level of holiness and closeness to Hashem. The Torah even calls him (Bamidbar 6:8) “קָדשׁ הוּא לַה',” “sanctified to Hashem.” When he leaves this status, he is somewhat blameworthy for giving up the higher level of existence that he had attained. He wore the crown of G-d on his head (Id. at 7) and has now decided to remove the crown to return to pedestrian existence.
We must remember that Nazir status means more than the sum of the prohibitions a Nazir takes on. According to the Avnei Miluim (citing the Maharit, Responsum 22), when one becomes a Nazir, it is not because he vowed not to consume foods or drinks derived from grapes, cut his hair, and come into contact with a dead body. Rather, being a Nazir is a special, holy status. The Nazir’s prohibitions are the result of his special, elevated status, not its cause. Because of his status as a holy person, he must conduct himself accordingly and avoid worldly desires. If someone on this higher level decides to stop, to interrupt his holy life, he is blameworthy. That is why he requires the atonement of a sin offering.
We find a thematically similar teaching in the Gemara (Yevamos 48b), which says: “מפני מה גרים בזמן הזה מעונין ויסורין באין עליהן ... מפני ששהו עצמם להכנס תחת כנפי השכינה,” “Why do converts these days experience poverty and suffering? ... Because they delayed in coming under the wings of the Divine presence.” The Gemara brings a proof for this explanation from a pasuk in Rus (2:12), where Boaz praises Rus: “יְשַׁלֵּם ה', פָּעֳלֵךְ; וּתְהִי מַשְׂכֻּרְתֵּךְ שְׁלֵמָה, מֵעִם ה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר-בָּאת, לַחֲסוֹת תַּחַת-כְּנָפָיו,” “May Hashem repay you for your deeds and may your reward be complete from Hashem the G-d of Israel because you took shelter [quickly] under His wings.” Rashi explains the pasuk to mean that Rus was praised for converting as quickly as possible. According to the Gemara, since Rus’s speed in converting after she realized that the Torah was the path of truth, it can be inferred that a convert would be blameworthy if he or she delayed in acting on a new-found belief in the truth of the Jewish life. Rav Yaakov Emden in Haga’os Ya’avetz questions why a convert should be blamed for delaying his conversion. After all, gentiles have no obligation whatsoever to become Jewish. What difference does it make if he or she postpones conversion until a more convenient time?
As I understand Rav Emden’s answer, it is very similar to the guilt of a Nazir who completes his Nazirus period. After a person reaches the conclusion that the Torah is true and that life of Jewish holiness speaks to him or her, what possible justification is there for delaying conversion and living a lie? If the person knows that Yiddishkeit and closeness to Hashem represent a greater way of life, how can he or she take a break from growth (similar to the Nazir who leaves his Nazirus) simply to “enjoy” the non-Jewish life a little longer? Certainly, even if his commitment to convert has the status of a vow, there is no halachic prohibition against delaying the fulfillment of his vow (See Mishna L’Melech on Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 10:7). But when a human being recognizes the truth, even if he has no technical obligation to change, he must not interrupt his spiritual ascent for detours. Rather, he must pursue that higher path diligently because he is someone who recognizes its importance.
This is another aspect of what it means to have “הרגשת הסתירה,” “sensitivity to contradictions.” When a person begins to recognize a more exalted way of life (even though others around him do not recognize it) and has begun to wear the crown of Hashem’s holiness a little bit, he must hold onto it. As Shlomo Hamelech says (Shir Hashirim 3:4) “אֲחַזְתִיו וְלֹא אַרְפֶנּוּ,” “I will hold on and not let go” When a person recognizes a certain truth, he cannot go on living a life which contravenes that truth. When a person desires something more from life, how can he quit and go back to a life of darkness as if he never knew any better?
We face this problem after a Yom Tov like Shavuos. This Shabbos is called the “שבת נאך שבועות,” the “Shabbos after Shavuos.” It has this special name because after we have reached a greater recognition of the preciousness of Torah, it affects how we act after Shavuos is over. We felt (Shmos 20:19) “אַתֶּם רְאִיתֶם כִּי מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם דִּבַּרְתִּי עִמָּכֶם,” “You have seen that I have spoken to you from Heaven.” Some people feel nothing on Yom Tov and have no greater recognition of the truth whether it is Yom Tov or a regular weekday. But for people who feel something and recognize that a greater life of Torah is for them, that person’s sensitivity to contradictions compels him to live in accordance with that greater understanding.
This is also the challenge faced by young men and women returning from their year in Israel. In high school they were too busy with the silliness with which teenagers are often preoccupied to recognize their potential as Jewish men and women. But during their year in Israel, many people experience an awakening for something greater. The challenge on the return home is to be sensitive to the higher level of reality of which they had become aware and not give it up as soon as they return to their old haunting grounds. They must work to continue living according to the higher perception they gained during their experience in Eretz Yisroel.
The same thing applies to any one of us who experiences some sort of elevation in his thinking. He looks around at his friends and may feel somewhat envious of their seemingly carefree life of the distractions of this world. But a person must retain his sensitivity. He must not abandon the higher path, but cultivate an aversion to the emptiness of the more mundane level of existence.
This Shabbos is the yohrtzeit of a great tzadik who few people know of, the holy Reb Moshe of Razvodov, זי"ע, the son of Reb Lazer Dzikover, זי"ע, and the grandson of Rav Naftoli Ropschitzer, זי"ע. The tzadikim in his time would come to Reb Moshe Razvodov for brachos. When he left for the next world, Rav Shlome’le Bobover, זי"ע, said about him, “The Divine presence had a good friend in this world, but now he is gone.” When a Jew abandons a higher path which he recognizes to be true, Hashem also loses a good friend. May Hashem find good friends in us and may he send the ultimate friend, the (Menachos 53a) “ידיד בן ידיד,” “friend, son of a friend,” Moshiach, to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash soon in our days.
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