Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Yiras Hashem as the Way of Acquiring Wisdom - Meor Einayim - Bilvavi
Shmos 20:1 - וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֵאמֹר. - "And Elokim spoke these words, saying..."
Reb Nachum Chernobyler, on this pasuk, asks why Hashem chose to use the name "Elokim" to introduce the Aseres Hadibros, the ten commandments? The name Elokim indicates Hashem's trait of strict justice. Why does He use that name specificly right now?
He answers by saying a yesod that Yiras Hashem is the vessel required to acquire the Torah. And that Torah is enclothed and wrapped in Yiras Hashem. Therefore, in order to allow the Jewish people to have a vessel in which to receive the Torah, he first had to inspire them with fear of Hashem, Yirah. That is why he introduced the Aseres Hadibros with the name "Elokim," to instill the trait of Yirah necessary to be the vessel within which the Jewish people could receive the Torah.
The fact that Yirah is the Kli, the vessel, for Torah , and must preceed it, is seen from the pasuk in Tehillim 111:10, "רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה יִרְאַת ה." "The beginning of wisdom [Torah] is Yiras Hashem." Also, it says in Pirkei Avos 3:11, "כל שיראת חטאו קודמת לחכמתו, חכמתו מתקיימת; וכל שחכמתו קודמת ליראת חטאו, אין חכמתו מתקיימת." "Anyone who has fear of sin that preceeds his wisdom, his wisdom will endure. And anyone whos wisdom preceeds his fear of sin, his wisdom will not endure." This, again, is because Yirah is the vessel within which Chochma, Torah, can exist. Without it, there is nothing to hold the wisdom, and it will necessarily dissipate.
He uses this yesod to explain several things. He says that this was how Avraham knew the whole Torah, even though Hashem had never revealed it to him. Since Avraham had Yiras Hashem ("עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי-יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים אַתָּה," "Now I know that you are one who fears Elokim." - Breishis 22:12), Chochmas Hatorah automaticly came bundled up with it, since Yirah is the garmet for the Torah.
Also, he uses this yesod to explain why Hashem gave over all of the words of the Aseres Hadibros with one utterance, simultaneously. It seems difficult to understand how Hashem could have expected the Jewish people to understand this message, when the ear cannot hear words unless they are spoken one by one! He answers that by speaking the the whole Torah in one utterance, it also instilled fear in the people, and again, with this fear came bundled the understanding of the Torah. It was not communicated in the words, but rather in the Yiras Hashem of the moment.
In our generation, we don't like to think too much about Yiras Hashem. It's an unpleasant subject. But the most practical advice I've seen that is still geared towards our current generation is in the sefer Bilvavi MIshkan Evneh. Both in volume 1 and 2, he has sections with practical, step-by-step advice on how we can attain the different levels of Yirah. He breaks Yirah down into its 5 component parts and explains how to attain each level, one by one. It is highly recommended, and almost the only thing you'll find out there with practical advice on how to do this and why it's important, even in our generation!
(Picture courtesy of templeinstitute.org)
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