Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Parshas Bamidbar 5767

For last year's Dvar, CLICK HERE.

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-משֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי, בְּאהֶל מוֹעֵד: בְּאֶחָד לַחדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית, לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם--לֵאמר.

"And Ad-noy spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first [day] of the second month, in the second year of their exodus from the land of Egypt, saying:" (Bamidbar, 1:1)

Chazal in the Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 1) ask why the Torah was specifically given in the desert, to which they answer that with this we learn that in the presence of three things was the Torah given: fire (Shemos 19), water (Shoftim 5), and desert. The Nesivos Shalom wonders what the common thread is between these three things.

Regarding this, the Nesivos Shalom comments that even though we now associate these three things with holiness and the giving of the Torah, all of these things have the possibility to be associated with Tumah/impurity, as well. Fire, although present at the giving of the Torah, can also refer to the burning Yetzer Hara that flames like a fire which tries to entice us to do negative things. Or, if channeled properly, this same fire can be the fire that fuels our Yetzer Tov to act properly. Water symbolizes yearning (he doesn't explain how, although I'd posit that water is something that people are constantly yearning for); obviously, one can yearn for either proper or improper things. Finally, the Midbar/desert is an ownerless land that symbolizes this idea of being "ownerless." One that channels their energy in an improper manner in this regard is likely to run around wild, almost in an animalistic way (think of a high schooler whose parents go out of town). However, when using this attribute of being "ownerless" in a proper way, one will view not himself as the focus but will shift the focus to holier pursuits.

Thus, we see that the Torah was given with things that have the power to be used both in a proper and improper way. Obviously, this is our challenge; to try to act properly with this fire, water, and desert. I think every person has different personality traits by which one may define themselves. Perhaps, one may think that as they are trying to better themselves, some of these traits may be incongruent with a proper lifestyle. However, I think the message of these three things is that we have the ability to take those things that may be inherently negative and use them for positive. These traits are much of what makes us all different from each other and one shouldn't think that they need to (necessarily) change themselves - just find a way to use them for positive.

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