Torah Fax
Friday, August 11, 2006 - 17 Menachem Av, 5766

Torah Reading: Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25)
Candle Lighting Time: 7:41 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:43 PM
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 4
 
Inside Out
 
One of Judaism’s central prayers is the Shema, which consists of three paragraphs. The first paragraph that begins with the immortal words Shema Yisroel, Hear O Israel, was read last week as part of the weekly Torah portion. This week we read the second paragraph, which begins with the words: “And it will come to pass that you will listen to My commandments etc.
 
Upon closer examination of these two paragraphs we realize that there are many similarities in them as well as significant differences.
 
Both of these paragraphs command us to love G‑d, study Torah, put on Tefillin and affix Mezuzot to our doorposts. They differ, however, in several ways. One of these differences relates to the order of three of the commandments that are mentioned in both paragraphs:
 
In the first paragraph the Torah speaks first of the commandment to teach Torah to our children, followed by the Mitzvah to place the Tefillin on our arm and head, and then the Mitzvah of affixing the Mezuzah to our doorposts.
 
In the second paragraph, the order is inverted: First, the Mitzvah of Tefillin is discussed, then teaching Torah to our children and then Mezuzah.
 
Why is the Mitzvah of teaching Torah preface Tefillin and Mezuzah in the first paragraph, while it is sandwiched in between Tefillin and Mezuzah in the second?
 
The answer relates to the role of teaching Torah to our children and Torah study in general. A Jewish education, synonymous with a Torah education, serves two functions: Firstly, it is the very foundation of our Jewish life. If one wants the ideals and values of Judaism to permeate our mind, heart and actions, symbolized by and expressed through the Mitzvah of Tefillin, we must give our children a Torah based education and study Torah ourselves.
 
If we want the values and ideals of Judaism to affect the atmosphere of our home and by extension our community and the rest of the world, symbolized and expressed through the Mitzvah of Mezuzah, we must teach Torah to our children and learn Torah in that home and community.
Thus, in the first paragraph, the Mitzvah of Torah study is mentioned as a preface to and foundation for the other Mitzvot.
 
In the second paragraph, however, Torah study is inserted between the Mitzvot of Tefillin and Mezuzah. Tefillin represents an obligation that is personal and internal, as it involves placing boxes with scrolls on our heads and arms. The goal and objective of Tefillin is to introduce the idea of G‑dly unity and love into one’s consciousness.
 
Mezuzah, by contrast represents an obligation that is objective and external, as we place the mezuzah on the doorposts of our homes and cities. It is our way of taking the beliefs and ideals of the Divine and projecting them outwards.
 
To go from the internalization process represented by Tefillin to the externalization process represented by Mezuzah is a process that is extremely challenging and daunting. It can be compared to a person who is expected to be simultaneously introverted and extroverted, or, at the least, to alternate from moving inward to moving outward. 
 
How does a finite human being accomplish this “feat?”
 
The answer is Torah study. Torah is the glue that connects the internal and the external.
Torah, among its other properties, has the unique capacity to unify opposites. Since Torah is a G‑dly wisdom, made accessible to the human mind by G‑d, it enables us to encompass opposites.
We are living in paradoxical times that pose new challenges for all of us. On the one hand, we are on the threshold of the Messianic Age, as has been declared by the greatest of our Jewish leaders in the past few decades, particularly the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who stated emphatically that the coming of Moshiach is imminent. We have seen some of the light and heard some of the echoes from the future in so many of the spectacular events that transpired within the last two decades.
And we are expected to internalize the unprecedented spiritual energies of the coming Messianic Age that will be punctuated with the Tefillin model of internalizing G‑dly light into our minds, hearts and actions.
 
On the other hand, we are now going through an extremely difficult period, where evil, anti-Jewish forces threaten Israel and the entire civilized world.
 
And in spite of the imminence of the Messianic Age, we must still deal with the external, anti-Messianic forces that threaten our existence. We have to fight the inhospitable atmosphere of the “street,” be that the materialism or secularism that prevails there, or/and the evil terrorist forces that threaten the Jewish people and humanity. In short, we must go from the Tefillin model to the Mezuzah model and unify the two.
 
These paradoxes of modern life that have exacerbated in recent days can be extremely disconcerting to many. How do we make sense out of all these contradictions? And how do we combine to opposite attitudes in responding to these new challenges?
 
The answer is Torah study. Torah can unify opposites and mold our minds in a way that allows it to accommodate the internal and the external. More specifically, the answer is to study the teachings of Torah concerning the future Redemption. Because when we absorb the Torah’s Redemptive perspective it enables us to think in a Redemptive fashion and to live our lives accordingly.
 
Obviously, Torah study must be accompanied with action on all levels and on all fronts. But, Torah study should be seen not as a merely a rich intellectual experience, which it is, but also the foundation of all of our Judaism, and the glue that keeps it all together. It is the catalyst that makes the imminent Redemption materialize.    
 
    
Moshiach Matters
Every Shabbat (Sabbath) is a microcosm of "the era that is all Shabbat and rest for eternity" and the thee Shabbat meals are a reflection of the feast to be served on that day.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit www.moshiach.com
 
© 2001- 2006 Chabad of the West Side