Friday, August 24, 2012

SHOFTIM; BETROTHAL AT THE MOUNTAIN


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Jewish DNA reflects a yearning to simultaneously ascend two figurative mountains: the universal call to serve humanity on the one hand, and the particular call to serve the Jewish people on the other hand, whereby we preserve our culture, religion and heritage and get to be alone with our G*d.

Ultimately, through fulfilling both yearnings we then come to serve G*d in the deepest way. Serving humanity, and serving G*d's priestly nation of Israel - G*d's servants for humanity, is the ultimate path to serving G*d Himself. After all, Kohein means servant. Lekhahein is the infinite form meaning "to serve," and what is a truly lived life but one which was a life of devotion and service.

These two inclinations are paired together - the Sinai inclination and the Yerushalayim inclination; the universal urge and the national urge. In truth, we should serve G*d with both urges. 

The call of Sinai in the wilderness, that zone of undifferentiated universality, where Israel received its charge to bring the Torah, the light of the world, to the nations of the world competes in our hearts with the yearning to be alone with G*d, apart from the other nations, on His holy mountain in the city of David.

But really they don't contradict each other at all. Really the two are actually one very deep yearning- that we will one day play host to all the nations of the world who will then come up to Yerushalayim, to G*d's Holy Mountain to testify to G*d's Oneness. Yeshayahu states: ISAIAH 56:7,: Ki beisi beis tefiloh, yekare es kawl he'amim. "For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

In this prophetic utterance the universal vision becomes the national hope, and the national vision becomes the universal hope.

And in the previous verse (Deut. 20:7) it states, "is there any man among you who has betrothed a woman and not married her? Let him go home so that he will not die in war and have another man marry her."

In the deepest sense this is an allusion to the nation of Israel who is betrothed to Hashem. Each and every year Israel renews the marriage vows of Sinai on the Festival of Shavuoth. Therefore Israel is always to seek the peaceful path, for Israel is constantly in a state of betrothal to Hashem, always bringing the softness of the heart to the hearth of the home. We seek peace always, fighting only in self defense when our enemy wants war. Because we are in a state of constant betrothal to Hashem we always seek peace and tend to fight only as a last resort in our own self defense when threatened.

We were betrothed to Hashem at Sinai, in the universal zone. But we preserve the message of Hashem's  revelation of Himself in the world via the vitality of our national rebirth in the Land of Israel, the zone of Zion.

The two mountains of Judaism are Zion and Sinai. With two hearts, our world/universal heart and our national/Jewish heart we are to serve G*d. Human values are Jewish values and Jewish values are human values. But in truth they are really the same heart, for as we say in the first paragraph of the shema, "...bechawl levavcha" - "(you are to LOVE Hashem) with all your hearts (plural)" - not only with your/our good inclination and your/our evil inclination, but also with your/our love/lev of Zion and your/our love/lev of Sinai.

Shabbat Shalom.
Good Shabbos.

© 2000 - 2012 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.


http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html 
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=esther-melman&pid=143745543

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)

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About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!