Thursday, April 29, 2021

Lag ba'Omer: Rashb"Y and Moshe Rabeinu

After more than a year locked in our bunkers, most parents have had enough with being home all day with their kids.  Imagine R’ Shimon bar Yochai, locked in his bunker with just his son for 13 years!  If I had to stay locked up with my son for 13 years I probably would have just walked out and surrendered (just joking).  Maybe that’s part of the gadlus of Rashb”Y.

Branded a criminal by the government, forced to flee and hide out for years, only to then re-appear and help lead Klal Yisrael – the story of Rashb”y, the story of Moshe Rabeinu.  Torah sheb’ksav, Torah she’baal peh (see R' Tzadok's first piece on Lag ba'Omer in Pri Tzadik).  The emergence from the cave only to be forced to go back in because the Torah absorbed the first time around was too great for this world, or maybe the world was too small for it, is the sheviras ha’luchos of the Rashb”Y story. 

In Brachos 35 the gemara tells us that Rashb”Y held that one must learn 24x7.  If a person goes out to plant in the planting season and harvest in the harvest season, Torah mah ye’hei aleha, what will become of Talmud Torah?  Yet, the gemara in Menachos 99 tells us that Rashb”Y held that one can be yotzei T”T simply by reciting shema in the morning and at night.  How do you reconcile the two gemaros?

Sdei Chemed explains that the gemara in Brachos is Rashb”Y's view before he emerged from the cave; the gemara in Menachos is his view after he emerged the second time.  Rashb”Y developed and adjusted his position because he grew from his experience.

Torah she'bksav is kedusha that is keviya v'kayma, unchanging and permanent.  Torah shebaal peh grows and develops.  We don't celebrate the death of Moshe Rabeinu with a holiday; we celebrate Rash"Y on Lag ba'Omer because there is an aliyas ha'tzadikim, meaning even after death the tzadik grows, we grow from the tzadik, and so we celebrate what we have achieved and what he hope to continue to achieve (see the Kozhiglover here.) 

I wrote a little over a year ago that those who want the pandemic to end and “things to return to the way they were before” have it all wrong.  If things just return to the way they were before, then we have failed to grow and learn from our experience.  Those years in his bunker changed Rashb”Y: they changed his outlook, his Torah, his view of other people.  Has the year in the bunker changed us and helped us grow and develop, or has it just been time spent hiding from reality?

1 comment:

  1. "before he emerged from the cave", Rashb"Y taught that even slaves "must learn 24x7"! strangers and foreigners would do the work (Yeshayahu 61:5, "Brachos 35").

    "after he emerged the second time", Rashb"Y tempered his approach: "reciting shema in the morning and at night" would be enough, as that is already >beyond the obligation< of slaves (who, like women, are not chayav in krias shema)...