Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a few Netziv's on Parshas Yisro

A few Netziv's on this coming week's parsha that caught my eye:

1) The Torah relates that the Jewish people journeyed from Refidim toward Har Sinai (19:1). Rashi explains based on the Mechilta that the Torah mentions the nation's departure as well as their arrival to teach that just as the arrival at Sinai was done with the purpose and intent of receiving the Torah, so too, the departure was done with this same intent. Why, asks the Netziv, does it matter to us what intentions were present when the camp departed and travelled toward Sinai? The answer is that this journey was a preparation for the event of kabbalas haTorah, and the Torah wishes to teach us that the greater the effort invested in preparation, the greater the reward from the experience. In other words, even as monumental and significant an event as kabbalas haTorah, during which the souls were literally knocked from the bodies of the Jewish people with each utterance of Hashem, would still fail to make the impression it did if not for proper preparation beforehand!

2) The Torah says to encircle the mountain of Sinai, but also, to be precise, says "v'higbalta es ha'am" (19:12), literally, to encircle the people. Netziv explains that the people camped in concentric circles, with Ahron closest to the mountain, kohanim second, leaders and gedolim further back, etc. each group according to rank. There are madreigos and levels in klal Yisrael and each person needs to find his/her rightful place in relation to Har Sinai for a proper kabbalas haTorah. For example, if a person decides to become a ba'al tshuvah and plunges into Likutei Moharan before learning Shulchan Aruch, such a person is camped in the wrong place.

3) Rashi explains (19:18) that the "kol chazak" of Har Sinai was unlike other kolos which diminish in strength and volume as the note is held -- here the kol intensified. What is the meaning of this miracle? Netziv explains that the kol is a hint to the Torah sheba'al peh, which as we move further from Sinai has grown and grown, each generation adding chiddushim and insights and revealing more Torah than was known in previous doros.

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