Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's the Pillar on Which the Whole Torah Stands?

Rebbi Nosson, in the Likutei Halachos Chumash, quoting from Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Giluach 3:8, says the following:

In reference to the pasuk at the beginning of Parshas Acharei Mos, "בְּזֹאת יָבֹא אַהֲרֹן, אֶל-הַקֹּדֶשׁ," With "Zos" shall Aharon come into Holiness," (Vayikra 16:3); Rebbe Nosson says that "Zos" refers to Emunah. If you want to come into holiness, your main avodah must be real Emunah. He says that simple, small people like us have to focus on Emunah, and through that, we can come to attain G-dliness and merit to fulfill our eternal purpose. He futher says that even though a person may have a sharp intellect, and even be a big "Lamdan," and even know Shas and Poskim, and even Kabbalah and Chassidus, as long as he hasn't purified himself from the putridness of the primordeal snake, and hasn't completely broken the desires of his body, then his intellect will not be perfect either, and by studying these very deep subjects he may even come to a great michshol, and fall very far. Therefore, he says we must focus on being mechazeik ourselves with holy, simple Emunah. He points out that even people who did succeed in all of those attainments of breaking their ta'avos and physicalities made their main avodah, in the area of Emunah. This is because Emunah is the gateway to all other higher level atainments.

After learning this, my rebbe pointed out a Kli Yakar on Parshas Kedoshim on the Pasuk, "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ: אֲנִי, יְהוָה," "Love your Neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem." (Vayikra 19:18) The Kli Yakar points out the Gemara in Shabbos 31a that says, "שוב מעשה בנכרי אחד שבא לפני שמאי אמר לו גיירני ע"מ שתלמדני כל התורה כולה כשאני עומד על רגל אחת דחפו באמת הבנין שבידו בא לפני הלל גייריה אמר לו דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד זו היא כל התורה כולה ואידך פירושה הוא זיל גמור." A potential Ger Tzedek came before Hillel Hazaken and asked him to tell him the whole Torah while he's standing on one foot. And Hillel answers him with a rephrasing of the "V'ahavta l'rayacha" pasuk, and tells him that this is the foundation of the Torah, and that the rest of it is an outgrowth from there, and he must now go and learn the rest. The Kli Yakar explains that he was not really asking Hillel to teach literally the whole Torah while the Ger was literally standing on one foot. Rather, it was an expression to mean that he wanted to know one, single principal on which the whole Torah is based. One Klal Gadol baTorah, within which he could frame his understanding of all Torah. Hillel told him that the foundational pasuk of all Mitzvos between man and man; "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ."

The Kli Yakar asks a great Kasha (not that he needs my haskama). What about the Gemara in Makos 24a (that's frequently quoted by the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh): "בא חבקוק והעמידן על אחת שנאמר (Chavakuk 2:4) וצדיק באמונתו יחיה." Chavakuk (the Navi) came and placed the whole Torah on one pillar, "A Tzadik lives with his Emunah." This means that the foundational point, out of which all the rest grows, is Emunah, faith in Hashem. How does this shtim with what Hillel Hazakein said, that the foundation of the Torah is Jews loving one another?

He answers that part of the Ger's question to Hillel was whether Ahavas Re'im or Emunah in Hashem are the foundation of the Torah. Is it the relationships between people, or between us an Hashem that is the center of the Torah. And the Kli Yakar answers that Hillel is really answering that there is no contradition. Because, certainly when Hillel quoted the pasuk, he quoted the end of the pauk as well, "Ani Hashem." You must love other Jews because I am Hashem. Your Emunah in Hashem is also the source for why you must love your fellow Yiddin, because each one is a child of Hashem, just as you are, and he possesses a "Chelek Elokah Mi'ma'al," "a 'piece' of the Living G-d," just as you do.

May we be enlightened by these two teachings and merit to work on improving our palpable consciousness of Hashem's presence and love for us in our daily lives!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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