"Chaim, did you hear about the exhibition that is visiting our town?"
"No, Avi. What is it?"
"The royal jewels are on display."
"What are the royal jewels, Avi?"
"The king of a small wealthy country has amassed a fortune of precious stones and jewelry. There are antique treasures and modern gems. He has put his collection on display. The exhibition is in our town for the next few days."
"It sounds very special. There must be some very heavy security protecting these priceless pieces."
"I'm sure there is. Come, let's go have a look."
And so, Chaim and Avi make their way to the exhibition of the royal jewels. As predicted, it is heavily guarded. After waiting in a long line, the two boys are finally admitted to the room where the jewels are on display.
"Chaim, look at that gold necklace. It is inlaid with diamonds."
"It is beautiful. Next to it is a Swiss watch."
"Rings, bracelets, they are all exquisite. Let's ask the man in charge about them. Sir, can we ask you a few questions about this collection?"
"Go right ahead, boys."
"Which is the oldest piece of jewelry here?"
"This platinum bracelet."
"How old is it?"
"It dates back 900 years to the queen of Egypt."
"Really? The Rambam lived in that time and place. He may have seen this very bracelet!"
"That is quite possible, boys."
"Sir, is this the king's entire jewelry collection?"
"No, boys. He has a special treasure that is his alone. He never lets it out of sight. It is a piece of jewelry that has been in his family for 1000 years. He gets endless pleasure from it, and will not part with it under any circumstances."
"Sir, WE are that treasure!"
"What? Who? Us? I don't understand what you are talking about. You will have to explain yourselves, boys."
"The Torah, in this week's parasha, refers to the Jewish people as Hashem's treasure. As the verse states, 'Now, if you will surely listen to My voice, and keep My bris (covenant), you will be a segulah for me, more than all the nations, for all the earth is Mine' (Shemos 19:5). Rashi and the Targum Unkelos explain segulah to mean 'chaviv' - something very dear. Rabbeinu Bechaye adds that a segulah is something special and dear to the king. He keeps it in his hands alone, not giving it over to any guard to watch. Shlomo HaMelech refers to his fortune of treasure as segulah. 'I amassed even silver and gold for myself, and the segulos (treasures of) kings and the provinces' (Koheles 2:8). Therefore, we see that just as prized treasure is a segulah for a king, so too Klal Yisrael is a segulah for the King of kings. This exhibition hints to this fact. The king has sent his jewels on a tour, in the hands of his security guards. However, his segulah - his special treasure - stays with him alone."
"Boys, I admire your imagination and thinking ability to see the connection between these two things. Can you give me an example that demonstrates the Jewish people's dearness to Hashem?"
"The Ohr HaChaim gives a few examples, sir. He cites the Sifrei in Parashas Vizos Habracha. Before Hashem offered the Torah to Klal Yisrael, he offered it to the other nations of the world. They each asked Him, 'What is written in it?' To Eisav He replied, 'Do not murder.' They could not accept the Torah because they lived by the sword. To Yishmael he replied, 'Do not steal.' They could not accept the Torah because they survived by stealing. And so it went with every nation. Lastly, Hashem offered His prized possession, the Torah, to His 'am segulah' - Klal Yisrael. We said, 'naaseh vi'nishma! We will do and we will listen!'"
"Boys, I have a question for you. If we are Hashem's treasure, why did He offer His Torah to us last?"
"He did not want the other nations to have a claim against us, sir. They could rightfully complain that they were never offered the Torah. Therefore, He gave them the first opportunity. However, He did it in such a way that they would refuse. In this way, He was able to give His treasured possession to His treasured people. That shows His great love for us."
"Beautiful, boys, just beautiful."
Kinderlach . . .
You are a member of Hashem's 'am segulah'. He loves you more than anyone in the world. Do you know what this means? The Almighty, Eternal One, Creator of the universe, King of kings, the Holy One Blessed be He loves YOU. Not only does He love you, He loves you more than anyone else. What a great feeling! What a tremendous zechus (merit). Enjoy it, kinderlach. Enjoy being a member of Hashem's 'am segulah'.
To Sum It Up
The Aseres HaDibros are arranged in a very orderly fashion. The Avi Ezer points out that the first nine dibros deal with the details of observing various mitzvos. The last mitzvah "lo sachmode" (do not covet) sums up all of the details into one mitzvah. Observing it entails observing all of the previous mitzvos. It is well known that most aveyros (sins) are a result of desire for the possessions of the other person. The sinner immediately violates "lo sachmode". The next step is to give false testimony to get the money. Or to work on Shabbos to make more money. One who really desires wealth will stop at nothing. He will insult his parents or even commit murder if the stakes are high enough. He will even worship idols to find favor in the eyes of his employer. Therefore, Hashem arranged the mitzvos in the order from the details to the general rule. When a person prepares himself by observing the details, the thought of desiring something that is not his will never enter his heart.
Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch relates that "lo sachmode" is Hashem's "signature" (so to speak) on the Aseres HaDibros. People can legislate laws like "do not murder" and "do not steal". These are only the symptoms of the problem. In the heart lies the root of the sin. The eyes of man cannot detect this. Only Hashem can search the innermost chambers of a person's heart. Only He can forbid evil desire and purify the heart. Therefore, any system of law written by man is at best a shaky building. It lacks the strong cornerstone of Divine law. Only the Torah recognizes the holiness of man. Every good deed must come from a pure heart. And every pure feeling must express itself in a good deed. Only the Torah can accomplish this. The mitzvos penetrate our hearts.
Kinderlach . . .
We are fortunate to be living under the best legal system in the world: the Torah. Hashem, who understands our hearts, wrote the Torah. The heart guides the person. If we rule over our hearts, then the rest will fall into place. This requires preparation however. The mitzvos accustom our bodies to doing good. It becomes second nature and the thought of doing bad never even enters our heart. "Create a pure heart for me, Hashem" (Tehillim 51:12).
What is the reward for honoring your parents? (20:12)
Which sin does Hashem not forgive? (Rashi 20:4)
What were the integrity requirements to be a judge? (18:21)
Kinder Torah Copyright 2005 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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