Monday, December 31, 2007

"Al yishu b'divrei sheker" - a powerful R' Tzadok not for the faint of heart

Unlike a novel which presents ideas and thoughts from a particular character’s perspective, R’ Tzadok holds that every word contained in the narrative of the Torah is absolutely true – not just true from the perspective of the person saying them or true in the context of the time or place of the story (which goes back to my post on anachronism), but eternally and absolutely true. R’ Tzadok (Pri Tzadik, Shmos 3) therefore asks:

ובזה נוכל להבין מה שכתוב בתורה ״ואל ישעו בדברי שקר״ שנדרש במ״ר שאמר פרעה על המגילות שהיו משתעשעין בהם וקראם פרעה דברי שקר. ובאמת הם דברי אמת שהיו הנביאות וההבטחות להאבות. ואיך תכתוב התורה דברי בדאי שאמר פרעה. וכמו שאמרנו כמה פעמים שאף שהדבר אמת שאמר כן מ״מ כיון שאמר דברי בדאי אין התורה כותבת אותם

How can it be that the Torah records Pharoah’s description of the scrolls of nevuah that Bnei Yisrael had with them in Mitzrayim as “divrei sheker”, falsehoods? These scrolls contained the prophetic truth of geulah as handed down from the Avos and were studied by Bnei Yisrael to remind them of the hope of redemption. What truth could there be to calling these “divrei sheker”? Fasten your seatbelt from R’ Tzadok’s answer:

אך לפי האמור מובן מפני שמה שהיו משתעשעין בהמגילות לומר שהקב״ה גואלן לא הי׳ להם האמונה בשלימות ע״כ קראם הכתוב דברי שקר

Pharaoh got exactly right what we, the Jewish people, thought of the legacy of our Avos. It made for nice Shabbos reading, a nice story to pass on and give the kids hope, but when push came to shove, it was Moshe and Ahron who were left to face Pharoah alone. No Zekeinim. No friends and neighbors. No support from anyone, especially once Pharaoh decreed that they would have to get their own straw. Easy to say “vaya’amein ha’am”, much harder to live it.

ובאמת כל א׳ וא׳ מישראל מאמין שהכל מהש״י והוא הזן ומפרנס ומ״מ רואים אנו שמבטלין מן התורה ומטרידין א״ע בהשתדלות הפרנסה. ואף שמאמינים שהכל מהש״י והי׳ לו לסמוך שאין מעצור לה׳ להושיע במעט השתדלות והי״ל לעשות תורתם עיקר ומלאכתם ארעי

Ask any frum Jew and they will tell you Hashem gives them their parnasa, Hashem ultimately is the one who provides food, sustenance, a roof over our heads. But that same Jew is spending 15 hours a day at his law firm or doing computer support or running his business. That same Jew can’t sleep at night because he worries about his job and his parnasa. That same Jew doesn’t have time for a seder because he has another project to do at the office or another deal to close. I know because I do the same myself. We profess belief, but the voice of Pharoah cries our “Divrei Sheker!” And you know what? We don’t like to admit it, but that voice has a lot of truth to it.

I warned you to fasten your seat belt! This R' Tzadok pulls no punches.


  1. This is the same idea that you said from the Rogatchover on the 27th-- that everything in the Torah has to have an element of eternal truth in it. This idea extends further-- that we need to analyze the arguments of the villains in the Torah to see why they were right, and to then see why they were, in the final and true analysis, wrong.

    I always say this over from Rav Moshe Tendler. If you see the resha'im in the Torah-Kayin, Korach, Eisav, Yishma'el, whoever- as absolute resha'im, then you are missing the point. First you have to find out why they were 100% right. Then you have to keep on thinking until you realize why they were wrong.

  2. I accept the first part that there cannot be any sheker in the Torah but I do not accept the interpretation. I cannot accept R. Zadok's zugang as I understand that Vekivshua is a mitzvah and to be ossek beyishuvo shel olam is a virtue and not a lack of emunah or bitachon.

    A nd furthermore I do not believe that anyone who proclaims these derashot believes them in his heart of heart. As you admit yourself you are naeh doresh but thank God not mekayem !

  3. >>>Vekivshua is a mitzvah

    Not on any list of 613 that I am aware of!

    R' Tzadok's point is that Torah has to be keva and everything else arayei. I hope that I at least do aspire to that.