Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bereishis - Nesivos Shalom

R’ Chaim Vital in sefer Shaarei Kadosh that good and bad Middos/personality traits are not included in the 613 mitzvos. This is a bit tough to swallow: if the purpose of the Torah to teach us how to live, by giving us mitzvos, wouldn’t it make sense that grouped in/inferred from the mitzvos would be middos?

On seemingly unrelated point, the Nesivos Shalom asks a question on the very first Rashi of the Torah. Rashi brings the famous statement from Rebbe Yitzchak: The Torah should’ve started from Parshas haChodesh, the first commandment in the Torah; why does it start here from Bereishis/creation? He answers that we start here so that in the event the Goyim come and say that we’ve stolen land that was rightfully theirs, we can quote this and tell them that the land belongs to Hashem and he can do whatever he wants with the land. It’s a decent answer, but it only answers why the story of creation is included; it doesn’t answer why everything after creation up until Parshas haChodesh is included. Why does the Torah include the stories of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, if there are no mitzvos and it doesn’t help the potential claim of the non-Jews.

As is probably obvious by now, we can piece together these two questions quite nicely. Sure, middos aren’t in the 613 mitzvos, but we have this huge chunk of the Torah from after creation until Parshas haChodesh that serve this purpose. If you were to ask anyone what we learn from our Avos, they would tell you that each represent a different Middah/personality trait (ie. Chesed for Avraham, etc). The torah isn’t just a story book; rather, it is obviously a book that serves to teach.

In a theme similar to that discussed before Yom Kippur, before we can worry about the daunting task of fulfilling the 613 mitzvos, we need to make sure our middos are in check. If we fail rectify our middos, we are missing out on that which the Torah wants to teach us in a large part of the Torah. Sure, I can focus on those mitzvos that can be compared to staying in a penthouse suite (ie. Learning), but if the building doesn’t have a strong foundation of middos, the building is going to fall.

For a more expanded DT on this theme, see ADDeRabbi's DT from last year.

Perhaps this is a lesson that needs to be taught to certain individuals whose actions are described here and here.


Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

1) similar point in netziv's ntro to bereishit.
2)regarding 1st rashi - see this

1:25 PM, October 19, 2006

Anonymous aishel said...

You can take this a step further: Children are not chayav in mitzvos until the reach of bar mitzva and not chayav in issurei kareis until they reach age 20. During that 'introductory' period, they're developing their middos, how they're going to act, and their entire personality. Only then are they chayav in mitzvos.

10:04 PM, October 19, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Good call...I like.

3:56 AM, October 20, 2006

Anonymous HarmonicJew said...

Nice DT.
I can't begin to tell you how much I like the stuff you write in regard to Torah, thanx.

4:24 PM, October 20, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Harmonic, thanks for the feedback. Send me an email if you want to shmooze further: AlanLaz AT Gmail DOT com.

4:46 PM, October 20, 2006


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