Monday, October 12, 2009

neshomos suited for Torah

Dashening the pasuk "Hashem m'Seir ba...." Chazal explain that Hashem went to Eisav and Yishmael and the other nations and offered them the Torah before giving it to the Jewish people. Each nation asked what was in the Torah before answering. When Eisav heard the Torah prohibits murder, they declined to accept it, as they could not imagine life without murder. After hearing the prohibitions of theft, of arayot, etc. nation after nation declined the Torah, each unable to fathom life without the particular slice of immorality that characterized their society. Only the Jewish people accepted Torah unconditionally, without even asking what it contained.

Of course G-d did not literally go nation to nation and consulting their Prime Minister or President as to whether they wanted the Torah. What the Midrash means, as the Maharal explains in Tiferes Yisrael, is that every nation of the world has ingrained in its neshoma some trait that is antithetical to a Torah lifestyle, be it murder, robbery, immorality. Only the Jewish people have the neshomos able to absorb the dvar Hashem in its totality.

Among the published correspondence (that I mentioned here) of my wife's grandfather, R' Dov Yehudah Shochet, is a tshuvah to him from R' Avraham Bloch, R"M of Telz, and his response regarding whether one may teach a Torah or Bible class to a non-Jewish audience. Chazal learn (Chagiga 13) from the pasuk, "Magid devarav l'Ya'akov..." that in addition to the prohibition of a non-Jew learning Torah there is a seperate prohibition against us teaching them Torah. R' Bloch interestingly suggests (without referencing this Maharal) that the reason behind this issur is this incompatibility between the neshoma of a non-Jew and words of Torah.

Interesting aside #1: R' Bloch proves from the fact (B.K. 92) that Avraham assumed the Plishtim were immoral because they first questioned him about his wife rather than offering food and lodging that there is a chiyuv even for non-Jews to learn those parts of Torah that teach midos and derech eretz. The kal v'chomer to what we should be learning and teaching is obvious.

Interesting aside #2: The teshuvah from R' Bloch opens with a mazal tov to RDYS on the birth of a girl (if I figured out the dates right, that newborn would be my MIL!) and a bracha l'gadla l'chupah u'lma'asim tovim. He then adds that perhaps he should use the nusach of the bracha l'gadla l'Torah l'chupah u'lama'asim tovim as in the climate of the times it is impossible to raise a bas Yisrael without giving her an appropriate Torah chinuch. The kal v'chomer to our times is obvious here as well.

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