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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Giving of the Torah

The Peleh of Self-Sanctification

How can we continue the phenomenon of a connection between physical and spiritual that began at Sinai when heavens touched earth and the Divine Presence rested on a human nation? It requires sanctification, as Bnei Yisrael prepared at that time.
Rabbi Yossef Carmelאייר תשס"ז
3395
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Let us connect a central motif of our reading this Shabbat with matan Torah, which we just commemorated on Shavuot. Prior to matan Torah, Hashem told Moshe to sanctify the nation (Shemot 19:10-14), as this was a requirement for receiving the Torah.

In the section that deals with the nazir, the Torah talks about one who was mafli to make an oath of nezirut (Bamidbar 6:2). The same root appears in the haftara regarding the angel who told Shimshon’s parents-to-be that he must be a nazir. The Sefat Emet explains as follows. A nazir is separated from the matters of this world even though he acts within the world. A person can connect himself to the internal life of each matter called peleh (usually translated, wonder), which is active even within physical activities.

The idea that one can cling to the Divine Presence is at the heart of the hafla’ah of nezirut. The Sefat Emet’s idea has a source in the Rama’s explanation of the beracha of Asher Yatzar, which ends with the words "mafli la’asot." He writes (Darchei Moshe, OC 6:2) that mafli la’asot refers to the soul that Hashem put into the person. It is a wonder that a spiritual thing from above can be in and be attached to a physical thing from below.

How can we continue the phenomenon of a connection between physical and spiritual that began at Sinai when heavens touched earth and the Divine Presence rested on a human nation? It requires sanctification, as Bnei Yisrael prepared at that time. How do we do this on a daily basis? The Ramban (in Igeret Hakodesh) teaches us the following amazing idea.

Chazal learn from "You shall follow His path" that just as He is holy, you shall be holy and just as He is compassionate, you shall be compassionate. Thus, the behavior of Bnei Yisrael should be based on Hashem’s Oneness, resembling Him in all their ways, as Hashem said, "You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I [Hashem] am Holy" (Vayikra 11:44). It turns out that whenever we do the good and the straight, we sanctify His Great Name. The Torah says "Who is a great nation that has righteous laws...?" (Devarim 4:8) because we thereby resemble Him. Whenever we act improperly, we desecrate His Name, as we are assumed to resemble Him. The gemara (Yoma 86a) contrasts people with good middot vs. those with bad middot, stressing honesty in business, as the test whether one sanctifies or desecrates Hashem’s Name.

The Ramban’s fascinating idea is that the foundation of the belief of the individual and the way to sanctify himself and approach the Divine Presence is by walking in Hashem’s ways, primarily in two areas. One is by strengthening the attribute of compassion toward others, whether in individuals’ private lives or society’s priorities. The second is honesty in business, dealing straightly with individuals and society. When we sanctify His Name in this way, we prepare ourselves for the state that existed at matan Torah and the return of prophecy and the Divine Presence to Israel speedily. This is food for thought!
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