Torah Fax

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 20 Nissan, 5766
Candle Lighting time (4/18): 7:20 PM
Candle Lighting time (4/19):(from a pre-existing flame) after 8:23 PM
Yom Tov ends (4/20) 8:24 PM
Please allow the Rabbi about an hour to buy back your chametz

Torah Reading: Shemini (Leviticus  9:1 - 11:47)
Candle Lighting Time (4/21):  7:23 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:27 PM
Of Horses and Handels
The seventh day of Passover-Shevi'i Shel Pesach-marks the day the Jewish nation miraculously crossed the Red Sea. Accordingly, the Torah reading for this day is the Shirah, the Song that Moses and the Israelites sang upon their miraculous deliverance from the onslaught of the pursuing Egyptian army.
Among the varied expressions of praise to G‑d, indeed, the very first one to appear in the Song, is the description of the drowning of the Egyptians: "The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea."
Rashi comments that the miracle here was that the rider was attached to his horse as they were cast into the sea.
At first glance, this miracle appears to be superfluous. What difference would it make if the rider would have been thrown off his horse as he was thrown into the sea? Why did G‑d have to bind them together?
One approach to this matter can be to look at the Egyptians as the symbol of evil. The Egyptians were the major force that tried to undermine the integrity of the Jewish people. Their drowning in the Red Sea was G‑d's way of frustrating that threat to the Jewish people.
Panim Yafot cites the famous Talmudic parable of the king who hired both a blind person and a lame person to guard his orchard. This way, he thought, he would be guaranteed that the guards themselves would not steal his luscious fruit. What did they do? The lame person who saw the fruit and was tempted by it asked the blind person to carry him on his shoulders. In concert, they managed to reach the orchard and steal its fruit. The Talmud concludes that when the king discovered the theft, he made the blind man carry the lame man, and administered lashes to both of them as they were in that tandem position.
This metaphor is used by our Sages to describe the symbiotic relationship between the soul and the body. Without the soul the body cannot function and without the body the soul cannot accomplish its mission in this physical world.
The horse and rider also represent the combined efforts of the body and the soul in all of our negative and positive pursuits. One cannot separate the two.
In addition to the application of the horse and the rider to the joined efforts of the soul and the body, one can also discern between the primary forces and secondary forces in all the evil or good that is performed. Lest we minimize the threat from the secondary powers that bring about evil, the Torah informs us that G‑d had to punish both the rider and the horse, the primary and secondary threats respectively. To deal with only the direct causes of evil and to neglect the accessories to evil - the horse - could eventually lead to future problems. Likewise in the realm of positive efforts, one should never minimize the secondary influences in the performance of a Mitzvah.
In the words of Ethics of the Fathers: "You will not come (even) to the handles of sin." A person must strive not only to avoid sin, but even to avoid the "handle" of sin - the extended circumstances which may ultimately lead to sin. One must eliminate not
only the rider, but also the horse.
The Shirah opens with an introductory phrase in the future tense, "Then Moses shall sing." The Midrash states that this alludes to the future song of the Jewish nation in the Messianic Age. At that time, not only will we have eliminated the actual causes of evil, but even the means to the end - the "handle" - will be purified and sanctified. Now that we are in exile, we cannot always get a hold of the secondary and tertiary influences that lead to sin. In the Messianic Age, G‑d will remove all impurity from the land and even the "handles of sin" will be removed. Furthermore, both the soul and body will enjoy a close relationship, wherein both are harnessed for service to G‑d.
Moshiach Matters
While man can choose how to act in any given moment, the very nature of humanity, and of G‑d's creation as a whole, mandates that it not only can, but will attain the perfection of the Era of Moshiach. The Era of Moshiach means that the true nature of creation will ultimately come to light. That "evil" is but the shallow distortion of this truth, and has no enduring reality. That man will free himself of hate and ignorance. That every human being will fulfill his divinely ordained role as outlined in the Torah, transforming the world into a place suffused with the wisdom, goodness and perfection of its Creator.
(From "For Real" by Yanki Tauber.)
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