Singing in the Desert
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| Published: June 19, 2021
This week’s music video: https://youtu.be/rdcMZctlyvM
The best way to receive a gift us to be totally humble and think only of the feelings of the person giving you that gift. When we received the Holy Torah we were, “like on man with one heart.” No one man or woman having a higher status than his / her friend and neighbor. Each one of us making him / herself “like a desert,” empty of ego and filled with thirst for the well waters of the Holy Torah. These are some of the idea which the Slonimer Rebbe brings down regarding the very interesting inserted verses in this week’s Torah portion of “Chukat.” Then the B’nai Yisrael sang this song, rise up “wellspring” and respond to this song. A well was dug by princes, “our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov” and sunk in by the leaders, “Moshe and Aharon,” carved out by their staffs, and from the desert it was given (Bamidbar21.17-18).
The Talmud in Tractate Nedarim (55.1) points out that the Torah could only have been given in a state of humble desert consciousness. ”Na’aseh v’nishmah,” we will follow whatever it is that comes down to us from the exalted well spring. We were thirsty for the Holy Torah. The only way the Torah can truly quench our spiritual thirst is if we receive it with humility and not for the purpose of showing how bright and intellectually capable we are. That takes a real effort, investment of self and time to appreciate what we have.
Isn’t that how it is so often in life? We simply have a hard time appreciating what we have. We have this beautiful family of brothers and sisters who are willing to put their lives on the line for us all and yet, when we are not fighting the enemy we seem to need to revert to fighting amongst ourselves instead of humbly accepting each other, each with his / her own opinions, faults and credits. Therefore, when we were in the desert we did not sing this great song for the “wellsprings to respond to until 40 years after we received the Torah. Now we had a greater appreciation of this amazing gift which God bestowed upon us. He chose us as a nation, took us out of slavery, split the sea to save us, chose us to give His holy Torah. That was all His doing. Now we needed to internalize the beauty of those gifts and only then, as the Torah teaches.
As we were beginning to spend these forty years processing and attempting to understand the beauty of the Torah, we also needed to concretize that reality that there is only one reason for us to fulfill the, “mitzvot,” 613 commandments found in the Torah. Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev says it loud and clear. The only reason we are expected to fulfill these “mitzvot” is because God commanded them. We spend our live in the midst of a struggle between our body and our soul. Our body would gladly follow the commandments if it only rationally understood the reason for all of these spiritual details. On the other hand, our soul, which was carved out of the seat of God’s Glory needs no other reasons. It is inherently and everlastingly connected to its life source and as such, the reasons are so clear and imbedded in the soul’s being. Thus, “Torah derech hahcaim,” the Torah is our way of life. It is our everything .It is literally a piece of our existence. As The Holy Zohar says, “The Holy One blessed be He,” ohrayta, “the light of the Holy Torah, and Yisrael are One.”
As Hashem spouted this Holy desert well for us to drink and nourish from we were instantly reminded of the gift of the Holy Torah, our life source, and impulsively began to appreciate and sing. May we all be blessed to get to that point where we can put our egos aside and come together to sing with love and simchah on behalf of these beautiful gifts which we have received from Hashem, His Holy Torah, His Holy Land and His Holy people .