Gleaned from the Sfas Emes

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Parshas V'zos Habrocha

What is Torah?

Moshe's blessing begins with mention of events before Matan Torah...

"He shone to them from Seir, He appeared from Mount Paran..." (33:2)

Rashi explains that G-d went first to the children of Esav (in Seir), and asked them if they wanted the Torah. They refused it. Then He asked the children of Yishmael (in Paran). They, too, refused it. Only Am Yisroel agreed to accept the Torah.

This Rashi, at first glance, is difficult to understand. The Torah is all about Am Yisroel. Even the Ten Commandments mention an event of Jewish history, "I am the L-rd... Who took you out of the land of Egypt." How could G-d have offered the Torah to nations which did not have their history recorded there? How could they keep mitzvos such as those of Pesach, which revolve around uniquely Jewish experiences? A similar question can be asked of the Talmud, which says that the angels also coveted the Torah (Shabbos 88b). Could the angels eat matzah, or bring sacrifices?

Torah is much, much more than a Code of Law and an historical document. Torah is Divine Power! It creates and sustains existence. Everything can exist, and happen, because the Torah so states. As our Sages teach: "G-d looked into the Torah, and created the world." (B'reishis Rabba, 1:1).

Toras Moshe, the Torah we have given to us by Moshe Rabbenu, from G-d, is one of many different Torah combinations of letters. It is the one that relates to our essence and our experiences. Other permutations of Torah exist for other creations. There is a form of Torah for angels, and forms for non-Jews. The essence of Torah is such that existence on all levels, from highest to lowest, stems from the Divine Power of Torah and is reflected in its permutations. (See Ramban, end of his Introduction to the Chumash). It was (one of) these permutations of Torah which G-d offered the nations, and which the angels coveted. (Sfas Emes, Succos 5631)

Recently, mathematical progressions and hidden codes have been discovered in the Torah, which reveal post-Biblical phenomena - names, events, etc. The statistical impossibility of any human being writing such a work clearly demonstrates the true Authorship of our holy Torah. However, to use these codes to predict future events, is wrong. We have "bícheera" free choice, and through repentance and prayer (or sin, G-d Forbid), we can evoke changes and cause other permutations to be applied. What we can conclude, however, is that everything - all people, events, etc. - has its source in our Torah.

"Gleaned From the Sfas Emes"- excerpts adapted from a soon to published book, G-d Willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of "The Sfas Emes Haggadah"(Targum Press) and "Kasheleg Yalbinu", a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.

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