This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon
"And they journeyed from Refidim and they arrived at the desert of Sinai.
And they encamped in the desert, and Israel camped
Rashi comes along and says that when the Pasuk writes here "Vayichan" and not "Vayachanu", it comes to tell us that here the Bnei Yisroel encamped, "like one person, and one heart".
Previous encamping 's used the plural and here the
Torah uses the singular, to emphasize that there was a joining
single desire. In order for the Bnei Yisroel to reach high levels,
it needs to be united.
This Achdus that they had by Har-Sinai, brought about
their repentance, even for a "Shaah Kala". For they
sinned in the desert when they said, "Is Hashem in our midst
Rav Shimon Schwab writes in his Sefer "Mayan Beit Ha Shoeiva" that from here we see the great power of Teshuva and Achdus, even if the repentance is short, it can change a Rasha into a Tzadik.
Let us remember this during our Shmonei Esrei when
we ask from Hashem, "Hasheiveinu Avinu Eilecha..."
One heart, one person:
When we take a quick look at a similar Rashi in last
weeks Parsha, when the Egyptians were chasing after the Bnei Yisroel,
Rashi writes that the Egyptian's were united, "they were
of one heart, one person".(Shmos 14:10)
Why does Rashi explain this Pasuk differently?
Comes the Avnei Nezer and explains that in the first case, the Egyptian's were chasing after what they called "their enemy", thus they united in order to have a chance to survive, this is a normal way to act when one goes out to war.
As Rabbi Twerski writes(Living Each Day), it is the
being "of one mind", the shared impulse for survival
that binds the group together, and thus makes them as one person.
Thus by the Egyptians, it was the joint mind that brought them
to be one people.
While by Bnei Yisroel, they united ideologically to receive the Torah.
They were not united against a joint enemy, and their
survival was not threatened. They joined as one person, as Klal
Yisroel, and thus they had one mind and one heart.
The Torah was not given to the individual, not even
to 600,000 individuals, rather the Torah was given to one, single
unified nation, "Keish Eichad Bleiv Echad".
Rav Chaim Shmulevitz in Sichos Mussar writes that if we take a closer look at the terminology that Rashi uses, we will see that Rashi picked Davkah the terminology of "One Heart" and not "Achdus"(unity).
Why did Rashi pick Davka this term?
It comes to show us that it is not enough to show
an outwards appearance of unity, or the concrete act, rather it
was the deeper feelings that each person had in their hearts which
cleansed out any possible hatred that may have entered, this was
the prerequisite to receive the Torah.(Sichos Mussar).
Rav Yeruchum Levovitz writes that from here we can
learn that one's love for his fellow man is a prerequisite for
accepting the Torah.
Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorki noted that if we take the word "Vayichan" and look at its root, we can see the word "Chein", which means favor.
He explains that Bnei Yisroel found favor in the eyes of one another, and therefore found favor in Hashem's eyes.
True unity can only take place when each Jew finds favor in the eyes of his friend.
The Noam Elimelech brings down that this Achdus is
also needed to over-power the Yetzer-Hara who is compared to a
"mountain". For it looks very hard to overcome, but
it really is as small as a hair.
He continues by writing, that when one looks for faults in another, he starts to dislike the other and distances himself.
When we look for the good, we become closer, and
are thus ready to accept the Torah.
The Sefer Nachal Kedumim, gives us a lesson on how
we can get Achdus in Klal Yisroel, through humility, when one
doesn't feel haughty over his friend.
When Bnei Yisroel came to Har-Sinai, which represented the attribute of humility, they also internalized this attribute within themselves.
When one internalizes within himself the attribute
of humility, one then does not feel a need to gain power over
others, and thus does not feel greater than others by looking
at their faults.(Rav Pliskin)
Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch writes that this is not the first time that the Torah mentions Vayichan during the Bnei Yisroel's traveling in the desert, however, the Torah does specifically state here, "Vayichan Yisroel", "...And Israel camped there."
Here the Torah adds "Yisroel". For till now, when they came to a new place in the wilderness, they would first check out the place and see if it was fit for camping or not. However, here, Har-Sinai was the reason for their present traveling. When they saw the mountain in front of them, nothing else mattered about the physical surroundings and climate.
They were here ready to hear what Hashem would command them.
This also proves that previously, when they had cried
out for food, water...it was not because they lacked faith and
trust in Hashem, rather because they had their doubts about Hashem's
messengers, Moshe and Aharon, whom of course they had no reason
to doubt, since they were both sent by Hashem.
Rashi on Pasuk (19:1) writes that Bnei Yisroel arrived at Midbar Sinai on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, six days before they were to receive the Torah.
Astronomically, the month of Sivan is represented by the sign of "Teumim", "twins".
Rav Dovid Feinstein explains that this brings out an interesting symbolism. The Torah is called, "The Torah of Kindness(Mishle 31:26)."
In order to keep the Torah properly, one is to relate to his fellow Jew in the same way that one relates to his twin brother/sister.
Even though we are all separate individuals with
different needs and personalities, we are still closely tied to
our fellow Jew, and we must feel for the others needs and we must
feel a sense of responsibility for each other.
The Wedding Ceremony:
Our Sages compare the giving of the Torah at Har-Sinai,
to a "wedding ceremony" between Hashem and the Bnei
As the Pasuk says (19:5), "..And you shall be
My treasure amongst the nations, for the whole world is mine..."
Rashi writes on this Pasuk, "Don't say that
you alone are mine, and that I don't have any other nations to
choose from besides you, for I have others to choose from...but
they are all in my eyes, but nothing.."
Rav Henach Leibowitz explains that Rashi seems to be saying that the fact that Hashem picked Davkah Bnei Yisroel, from amongst the nations, shows Hashem's love for us.
He asks, wasn't it obvious that there are other nations
in the world?
He explains, that when Hashem pours out His love for Bnei Yisroel, one may become more aware of this love, however, one may loose the appreciation that one first had, of being picked out of a large field of other candidates. One may start forgetting how special he is in Hashem's eyes. He starts feeling that there is no one else for Hashem to love, and Hashem's love is no longer as meaningful as it originally was in his eyes.
This is what Rashi is coming to tell us. Of course
we all know that there are many other nations to choose from,
however this knowledge may be forgotten over time, and we may
loose the sight that Hashem can give over affection to any other
Rav Henach Leibowitz ends off by comparing this to
our everyday life. When people first marry, each person showers
affection on the other, and after a while one may start to forget
that ones wife prepared a nice meal specially for him, or that
the husband works late specially for his wife, and that it doesn't
have to be like that, there are many other people out there.
This may happen Davkah because they do so much for each other.
This is true in any relationship. We must realize
that we were specially chosen by the other, and that the kindness
and love given by the other, is uniquely for us. It is thus important
to constantly remind ourselves about this fact, and then maybe
we will all feel more appreciation of the many blessings that
we have in our relationships and in our lives. (Rav Henach Leibowitz
- Sefer Mussar Ha-Torah.)
This week we read in the Fifth of the Ten Commandments, that one is to honor his parents.
The reward for this Mitzvah is "Arichus Yamim", a long life.
There are those who explain that this "Arichus
Yamim" is not talking about this world, but in the world
to come, one would have it good.
When it comes to giving respect, the Torah writes first to respect his father, while when it comes to fear, the Torah writes fearing one's mother first.
For the Pasuk states, "Honor your father and mother...", first father than mother. While there is another Pasuk (Vayikra 19:3) which states, "A person is to fear his mother and father", first one is to fear his mother then father.
This is so, because it is normal for one to show
respect to ones mother more than one's father, and it is also
more common for one to fear his father over his mother. Therefor
we have it in this order. (Gemarah Kedushin 31:a)
Honoring ones grandparents:
There is a Machlokes if ones grandparents are included in the positive commandment of honoring ones parents.
When one has in front of him to requests, one from his father, and the other from his grandfather, whom de we listen to?
I may think maybe the grandfather, because both I and my father are required to honor him, yet the Halacha says otherwise.
One is to honor his father first, for respect to
ones father comes before the respect to ones grandfather.
Aunts and Uncles:
One is also required to honor ones Aunt and Uncle, during the lifetime of his parents, Midorisa.
Since the respect do to ones Aunt and Uncle is only because of the respect
that one is required to give to his parents, it is unclear if this means that one is required to serve his aunt and uncle food... or if it means he shouldn't call them by their first names.
And from this comes the Minhag of one calling his
uncle, "Uncle Jack" and not just plain Jack, as a sign
Father is a Non-Jew, Mother is a Jew:
In this case, one has no connection to his father.
Even if his father becomes a Geir, he still has no
commandment of showing the respect that is due to a father.
The above Halachos were adapted from the Sefer "Ben Yechabed Av" written by Harav Yoel Schwartz Shlita. I hope I brought them out correctly.
He writes a lot more on this topic, this is just a taste of what he writes about.