Tuesday, August 16, 2011

simlasecha lo balsa

"Simlasecha lo balsa mei'alecha..." OK, so they didn't need to visit the dry cleaners during the 40 years in the midbar. But when you read the pasuk in light of this gemara (Shabbos 152b), what a different meaning it has:

ת"ר (קוהלת יב) והרוח תשוב אל האלהים אשר נתנה תנה לו כמו שנתנה לך בטהרה אף אתה בטהרה משל למלך ב"ו שחלק בגדי מלכות לעבדיו פקחין שבהן קיפלום והניחום בקופסא טפשים שבהן הלכו ועשו בהן מלאכה לימים ביקש המלך את כליו פקחין שבהן החזירום לו כשהן מגוהצין טפשין שבהן החזירום לו כשהן מלוכלכין שמח המלך לקראת פקחין וכעס לקראת טפשין על פקחין אמר ינתנו כלי לאוצר והם ילכו לבתיהם לשלום ועל טפשין אמר כלי ינתנו לכובס והן יתחבשו בבית האסורים אף הקב"ה על גופן של צדיקים אומר (ישעיהו נז) יבא שלום ינוחו על משכבותם ועל נשמתן הוא אומר (שמואל א כה) והיתה נפש אדוני צרורה בצרור החיים על גופן של רשעים הוא אומר (ישעיהו מח) אין שלום אמר ה' לרשעים ועל נשמתן הוא אומר (שמואל א כה) ואת נפש אויביך יקלענה בתוך כף הקלע

The rabbis taught: "Return the soul to the Lord as clean as He gave it to thee." This is illustrated by a parable of a king who once gave to his attendants suits of clothes. The wise among them took care of them, kept them clean and folded, and used them on special occasions only. The fools put them on and performed their work in them. Naturally, the clothes became dirty. All at once, the king demanded the clothes back again. The wise men returned them clean and whole, but the fools returned them in a dirty and dilapidated condition. The king was well pleased with the wise men, and told them to depart in peace, and had their clothes stored; but the clothes of the fools he ordered to be sent to the washers, and the fools were sent to prison.
The "simla" of the pasuk is the ruach taharah of Torah u'mitzvos! "Simlasecha lo balsa mei'alecha" -- for forty years that spirit remained untainted and pristine, a model for us to imitate.


  1. Anonymous12:51 AM

    but the entire 40-year period was
    one long "special occasion", with
    little platform for 'dirty work'*--
    how much of a model can it be?

    *the spywork though did risk getting dirty, & indeed 10 of the 12 got some serious schmutz on their kittels...

    [can someone make sense of the talmud here? if we're to invest
    every moment, every 'mundane' context, with holiness, how do so
    with one's spirit/soul folded away in some chest* in an attic? body here, soul there, what's going on?

    *only in the bathroom do we 'box'
    away our souls/minds; surely the
    mashal isn't limited to that!]

  2. chaim b.7:05 PM

    >>>how do so with one's spirit/soul folded away in some chest*

    Maharasha and others explain that the gemara does not mean literally locked away -- it means treated with care.

  3. Anonymous9:37 PM

    >>>locked away

    then why not very easily say 'worn with care' (rather than folded or stored)? metaphors, like literal descriptions, can be accurately drawn, or otherwise; clearly the soul can't simply lay among mothballs, as the 6 constant mitzvos alone require
    its full-time participation...

  4. Anonymous6:58 AM

    whence came the (literal) clothes of the generation that left Egypt?
    why not a wardrobe for them from heaven, of unknown material, rather than preservation of existing, familiar material once worn by abject slaves? (we see the unusual preservation of miracle-food, the 6th-day's extra portion, so why not, conversely, a one-time miraculous generation of slaveless, lasting, weekday clothes, with a new suit of the same strange material min hashamayim every erev Shabbos, that disintergrates upon removal after each melavah malka?*)

    whence came the clothes of the replacement population b'midbar?

    *that which perishes, lasts (by the
    food); that which lasts, perishes (by the clothes)-- however He wills