Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Out of the Darkness

Here is the d'var Torah that I worked on for this week's edition of Drops of Rain. I decided that it wasn't of the same quality as usual and it ends without much chizuk so I feel that it can't be billed under that title. So, here it is as is and maybe next year I'll work on it some more. Have a good Shabbos!

In Parshas Emor, Hashem instructs Moshe Rabeinu regarding tumas meis for kohanim, and who the kohanim may and may not become ritually defiled for. The Medrash  relates that, upon learning of this new level of impurity, Moshe Rabeinu asks Hashem what steps must be taken to become tahor again. Instead of responding, Hashem is silent, ignoring Moshe, whereupon Moshe Rabeinu becomes so terrified that his face turned colors.

Its not until Parshas Chukas that Hashem says, “Remember when you asked me about tumas meis and I left you in the dark? Here is the answer.” Then the Torah proceeds to speak about the parah adumah and to alleviate tumas meis.

The obvious question is, if Hashem had an answer, why didn’t he give it to Moshe right away? What was the objective of making him wait?

One of the things we must understand is that even though there is a concept of teshuvah, that a person can come back even after they have betrayed Hashem’s trust and offended the sanctity of their soul, but that teshuvah must be generated from a place of feeling and authenticity. If the various technical requirements for teshuvah are met but the person doesn’t feel changed, there is something inherently wrong with the process.

In a general sense, the whole idea of coming in contact with death can be viewed as a metaphor for our own experience in the service of Hashem. When a person deadens his soul by doing something he shouldn’t, whether by commission or omission, neglect or desire, he has ostensibly distanced himself from his Creator.

When somebody has figuratively touched death, which in Divine service represents the opposite of a connection with G-d, the first thing he does is say, “I made a mistake. Now what do I do? Give me the formula to get out of this.”

The problem is that sometimes it can’t work like that. We are used to treating Hashem like a computer. If we give eighteen dollars to tzedaka, toivel twenty-six times and accept a new resolution in our middos or performance of mitzvos, we expect to automatically receive the desired result.

Now, sometimes you only need a minor readjustment. Also, they are enumerated in the holy texts as part of teshuvah process, but only after the relationship is restored.

The real formula is that one doesn’t hear anything, there is no answer. The only way in which he can completely restore his integrity is by really feeling, experiencing the distance and isolation, the terror of being separated from Hashem. One must feel what it means to be detached. It is only out of that experience that a person is urged to call out to Hashem with the requisite longing and an authentic remorsefulness that can allow the connection to be made again. It can’t take place mechanically. It must come forth from a deep place of recognition that whatever he did may have been exciting or comfortable but where he finds himself now is too painful, and he comes to the clear realization that it was a huge mistake.

But when you’ve done something representative of having touched death, when you’ve distanced yourself from the source of life, the answer doesn’t come quickly. The answer only comes out of realizing you’re alone and recognizing that you’ve severed a connection to the Ribono Shel Olam. It’s the longing that comes out of the separation which repairs. From there is the restoration of taharah.

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