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).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Parshas Mishpatim: Slow and Steady

וכי יזיד איש על רעהו להרגו בערמה, מעם מזבחי תקחנו למות - שמות כא, יד

"When a man will scheme against his fellow to kill him with guile, from My Altar shall you take him to die." (Shemos 21:14)

The term איש, man, over here is referring to the איש בליעל, the yetzer hara. The yetzer hara schemes against us to bring us down and kill us (as the Zohar HaKadosh says, "Falling from one's level is referred to as a death"). And he does so with trickery and guile. Often, when one is excited about serving the Almighty, the yetzer hara will "help" him by pushing him forward at a faster pace than he is really capable of moving. It's sneaky. It looks like it is a good idea, like Divine service, but in reality the only way to climb the ladder is one rung at a time, deliberately, painstakingly slow.

We learned at the end of Parshas Yisro that the Altar was to be made with a ramp. לא תעלה במעלות על מזבחי אשר לא תגלה ערותך עליו, "Do not ascend My Altar by steps, so that your nakedness will not be uncovered". Rashi explains that steps require one to take wide steps. This is a dangerous approach to avodas Hashem where slow and steady "wins the race".

Here, the Torah is telling us that when this evil "man" is scheming to kill us by pushing us ahead in avodas Hashem, ultimately leading to our downfall (and our revealed nakedness, so to speak), we must learn from the mizbe'ach and tell the yetzer hara that we know better. Ascending the place of Divine service must be like the kohanim who had to walk with the toe of one foot adjacent to the heel of the other. מעם מזבחי תקחנו למות, take [a lesson] from the mizbe'ach, and with that you can do away with the yetzer hara.

1 comment:

jpittleman said...

Thanks for posting this. Very helpful and applicable. I realized now that I can understand this much better now than 3,4,5 years ago. It's really about taking it slow. Maybe that's why Jews eat cholent...