Chodesh Adar B': A message from Rav Josh Friedman
Kabalas HaTorah Everyday
The famous Gemara in Masechet Shabbos 88a describes as follows: Rav Acha Bar Yakov claims that because HaShem held Har Sinai over the heads of the Jewish people at Matan Torah, the Jews were essentially coerced into accepting the Torah. When they would reach the heavenly courts, they would have claims against the enforceability of the Torah. Rava responds that the Jewish people re-accepted the Torah in the Purim story, as it says “kiymu v’kiblu” kiymu ma sh’kiblu kvar.” At first glance that seems like a nice answer. However, we need to ask the obvious: How did the Jews re-accept the Torah? How does one do that? What do we learn from it?
Let’s compare these two pictures of accepting the Torah within the Jewish people’s history. One - the Jewish people are in the desert, at Har Sinai, eye-witnessing G-d’s miracles, delclaring naaseh v’nishma and accepting the Torah. Two - the Purim story of Persia with the Jews in exile. Here we also see acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish people. However, a complete opposite experience inspires them to do it. HaShem’s miracles of the Purim story were hidden ones, subtle nuances that could have been mistaken as coincidence and chance. HaShem worked behind the scenes, orchestrating the salvation of the Jewish people, but hidden behind the curtain of the natural order of the world. It was the faith of the Jewish people in HaShem, in his hashgacha, that enabled them to see HaShem’s hand pulling all the strings. It wasn’t obvious and in front of their eyes, and yet they chose to see HaShem and His involvement in the salvation of their lives.
We also live in a time where HaShem’s miracles, His involvement isn’t easily seen to the untrained eye. The number of atheists in the world continues to grow. And yet, the Jewish people continue to choose to see G-d’s Hand. We choose to believe that our lives are best served fulfilling His Torah and mitzvos. That is what I believe it means to reaccept the Torah. Yes, the Jewish people accepted the Torah seeing G-d’s miracles at Sinai, but we accept HaShem and His Torah every day, choosing to bring Him into our everyday lives. As we say in Shema every morning and night, “vihayu hadvarim ha’eila asher anochi m’tzavecha hayom al livavecha,” take to heart these things to which I command you today. Why does the pasuk say that we are commanded today? Shouldn’t it say as we were commanded many years ago? The answer is that kabalas haTorah happens every day. Each morning when you get up early to go to Shachris. Each afternoon when you stop work to daven Mincha. Each evening when you dedicate time to Torah learning. Every one of these moments is each of our kabbalas haTorah, choosing to see HaShem’s hashgacha in a hidden world. Choosing to believe our salvation will come from Him, and dedicating our lives to fulfilling His commands each and every day.