Torah Fax

Friday, June 11, 2004 - 22 Sivan, 5764

Torah Reading: Shlach (Numbers 13:1 - 15:41)
Candle Lighting Time:  8:09 PM
Shabbat Ends: 9:19 PM
We bless the New Month of Tammuz

Pre - Prerequisites

The end of this week's parsha deals with the Mitzvah of tzitzit, fringes for the four corners of our four cornered garments. Most commandments are mentioned in the Torah without any explanation or rationale as to what is their function and objective. The Mitzvah of tzitzit, however, is an exception. Here the Torah states that by wearing these fringes on our garments we will be able to remember all of G‑d's commandments. 
After the Torah tells us that  the tzitzit is an aid to remembering the commandments, it adds another effect the tzitzit have: "You will not follow your hearts and your eyes."  The simple meaning of this is that  we will not be lead astray by the things that we see  ("eyes") and desire. ("heart"). As Rashi, explains, there are two agents to sin: our eyes and our hearts. First our eyes see that which they should not, and then the heart desires, which leads to action.
But based on this, the obvious question arises: Why does it mention the word "heart" before the word "eyes?" Doesn't a person first see the thing that they covet and desire and then have harbor the desire?
The question can be answered simply with another question: The text first speaks of observing the commandments, and after that it talks of not following one's heart and eyes. The entire order should have been reversed: It should have said: "And you should not follow your eyes and heart and then you will observe the commandments." Isn't avoiding following the desires of the heart a prerequisite to observing the Mitzvot? One answer is: The Torah is actually telling us that when one wears the tztizit, it first helps a person avoid following the desires of the heart, which in turn will cause him to observe the Mitzvot. In other words, tzitzit are the catalyst that helps in every stage of a person's spiritual development. There are no prerequisites to tzitzit. Similarly, though the eyes are what leads the heart to desire, as Rashi says, the Torah mentions heart first because it is saying that tzitzit will help avoid anything that will ultimately lead up to unholy desires of the heart, including eyes seeing inappropriate things.
There is a deeper approach to the Torah's prefacing the heart before the eyes. While the outer "mechanics" of sin involve sight before desire, the inner "dynamics" of sin require that we first have, on some level, a desire, something to link us to the sinful action. Only then does the actual mechanical process take effect. This process starts when we allow our eyes to begin "looking" for things that are not for us. It then leads us to make that desire-that was heretofore latent and nascent-to manifest itself in a case of full blown passion for that which is wrong. 
To explain: Rashi applies the term sarsur, which means  "broker," to the way the eyes and heart function in causing sin. A broker is a person who connects two distinct people, a seller and a buyer. Without the broker, the purchaser would never have known that the merchandise existed or that it was for sale, and conversely, the vendor would not have known that there was an interested customer. When it comes to material goods and physical pleasures, one's relationship and connection to them exists even without the eyes. Our hearts, or desires are by nature attuned to the more physical aspects of our existence. A child knows that it is hungry and wants to eat; it takes years before the child acquires a taste and desire for more aesthetic and spiritual tastes and desires.  Hence the Torah says that when one wears the tzitzit it gives the person a different perspective on what is important in life. It changes one's heart and desires, so that one will not want to see what is not theirs and not be affected by what they see even if they were to see it.
This approach help us to understand the paradox we find with regard to the spies in the beginning of the parsha.  The Torah relates how Moses selected 12 spies to scout the land of Israel. Ten of them slandered the land and blasphemed G‑d.  The question asked by commentators is: if Moses selected them they must have been decent people, as Rashi claims they indeed were at that time. Yet, paradoxically, they turned out to be so corrupt. How could that have happened?
The answer is that they started off with their hearts were already in the wrong place, though they did not show their flawed hearts. Moses therefore judged them by their overt behavior, which, at that time, was exemplary. A judge must go by what he sees.
Everything said here about the eyes and heart applies equally to the realm of goodness and holiness, only in the reverse. We should follow our heart and eyes.  Deep down inside, are heart is faithful and truly desires to get close to G‑d. However, to make the heart's latent good desires surface, one must follow their eyes. They must use their mind's eye to see the true nature of G‑dly energy that is present in everything. Once we "opens his eyes" to see things from a higher and deeper perspective, our hearts will begin to beat lustily in expression of its passion for G‑dly things. As we stand poised to enter into the age of Moshiach, when our hearts, i.e., our spiritual feelings, will open up, our challenge now is to "open our eyes"; and to view things from a totally different vantage point.

Moshiach Matters

Even though Moshiach's prayers are always answered immediately, nonetheless when he suffers the pains of his body, like a sheep before her shearers is silent, so too, does he suffer and opens not his mouth to request that even one of his afflictions be removed from him, or to say to G‑d, "I want not the pain nor its reward." (Alshich on Isaiah 53:7)
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