A WORLD WITHOUT TORAH IS NOT VIABLE
The Torah, a treasure deeply hidden inside every Jew. It is for him to discover it.
This Dvar Torah is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Messika, a woman full of Emuna, who unfortunately left us at such a young age. Even though she knew that her days were coming to an end because of illness, she never lost Emuna and never took liberties with any of the mitzvot, because the Torah was deeply rooted in her.
A large crowd attended the Torah lecture given by Rabbi David H. Pinto on the Wednesday of Parashat Bo (15.01.97) at the Pahad David Center, 11 Plateau street. Even the stairs were full of people wishing to hear the grandson of Rabbi Haim Pinto Zatsal speak. Every week, Rabbi David makes the trip to Lyon so that he can spread the word of the Torah to the community. Using a simple language, in order that everyone understands him, Rabbi David captivates the audience by sharing his thoughts on the Torah, Eretz Israel and many other subjects. Indeed, Rabbi David perfectly applies the principle of our Sages: "the words that come from the heart penetrate the heart".
Here are several extracts from the lecture:
The human being, as everyone knows, can only live in this world. The other world is a world of rest, where the evil inclinations do not have their place. It is reserved for Angels, for the Righteous, and for all of those, who prepared themselves in this world to deserve it. Example: Someone who works all year and is already preparing his vacation according to his means. If he is rich, he will be able to stay at the nicest hotels. If he is poor, he'll stay at home and might not even be able to rest. Thus, a person's rest in the other world depends on how he served G-d in this one. Our Hakhamim compare the other world to a palace and this one, to a hall which leads to it. By nature, a hall and a palace are adjoined. From this, we can assume that Olam Haze (this world) can also be called Olam Haba (the future world), for the hall is part of the palace. This is why all the wonders we admire in this world are also part of the palace, but cannot be compared to those that abound the other world. However nice this hall is, it is full of obstacles. Our work consists of getting over these obstacles in order to reach the palace itself.
Our Hakhamim say that when Moshe Rabenu went up to Mount Sinai, and from there to the Heavens, to receive the Torah, the Angels appeared before him and said: "What is a human doing among us?" Moshe was frightened because the Angels seemed to be ready to burn him. He did not know where to go.
I often explained to you that when a man commits a sin in this world, he always has the possibility of hiding or escaping somewhere by car or plane. But this is not at all the case in the other world which is, in some sort, full of cameras, radars and projectors. For example, in the United States, helicopters patrol the cities permanently. In the other world, billions and billions of Malakhim are on patrol.
Thus, the Holy One Blessed Be He, said to Moses: "Come here, touch my throne, and give the Angels the answer that they expect". A great discussion took place between Moshe and the Angels. As the Midrash tell us, Moshe asked them clear questions: "Were you slaves in Egypt? Were you thieves so that you be ordered not to steal? Were you killers so that you be ordered not to kill? Do you have a mother or father that you be ordered to respect? Is there hate or evil inclinations among yourselves? Do you have a Shabbat?". To each question, the Angels were forced to answer no. Moshe then told them: "In this case, why do you want to keep the Torah for yourselves? It is not for you. It is made to protect man from evil tendencies, to help him overcome obstacles which block the road to Good. Man must have it and study it in order to feel responsible".
The Angels, as the Midrash tells us, were so impressed and convinced by his speech, that not only did they not change their mind, they also revealed the secrets of the Torah to Moshe.
However, a question arises: "Why did Moshe feel the need to ask the Malakhim so many questions? In fact, can't we logically conclude that they knew the answers in advance? Weren't they first to know the content of the Torah, that they weren't slaves in Egypt and that they didn't have a Yetser Hara? Finally, it is clear that Moshe did not answer the fundamental question of the Malakhim: Why did he come to receive the Torah?
The Torah starts with the creation of the World, followed by the story of the patriarchs: Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. Thus, why did these stories concern the Angels to the point that they wanted to kill Moshe and prevent him from taking them? We, on the contrary, who live down here, can learn a great deal from the life of our ancestors.
I would like to try to understand, along with you, the meaning and purpose of the discussion between Moshe and the Malakhim. For this, we must ask ourselves how did our Patriarchs learn the Torah? How did Avraham, alone, discover G-d?
Today, many people think that one must study in a Yeshiva to understand that there is a G-d. They are wrong because everyone of us, G-d willing, can discover Him without spending years in a Yeshiva. When King David wanted to admire the greatness of the Eternal, he lifted his eyes towards the sky and when he saw the sun, the moon, the stars, the water, he would say to himself that all the elements of the Creation had a one and only master and he would exclaim: "How numerous are your creations, Eternal!"
Today, scientists attribute the creation of the world to an explosion, the Big Bang. In almost all of the secular schools, children are taught that humans are descendants of the apes. It took centuries for the scientists to find out that there is a hot core in the middle of the earth. But it would have been sufficient for them to read this in the Gemara and Midrash. Not so long ago, these same scientists discovered a cancer-producing substances in shrimp and most of the other sea-food. Thus, this is precisely one of the reasons why the Torah prohibits them. When some of these professors tell me that man descended from the ape, I sometimes tease them by saying: "When I look at you, I believe you!"
All of these "specialists" who don't hesitate to say that the universe is billions of years old, cannot determine the most essential point, cannot answer the simplest question: "Where from?". And I can assure you that none of them will ever find the answer because they refuse to admit the answer: G-d created everything. If they admitted the truth behind the Torah, all of their theories would crumble. They would have to burn their books and start to study the Torah where it is clearly written: "In the beginning, G-d created the Heavens and the Earth". That is the true answer to all the questions. They would then be obliged to stop their costly experiments and turn all their Institutes into Yeshivot. And this is what will happen during the coming of Mashiah. The purpose of Mashiah is to bring truth to this world.
Every one of us, like our Patriarch Avraham, has the means to discover G-d and the Torah, even before going to a Yeshiva. Naturally, one will have to go to a Yeshiva afterwards to learn more. The Hakhamim tell us that Avraham asked himself questions about the movement of the stars and the cycle of the seasons to determine that the universe had a Master. This led him to abandon idolatry and understand many things about human behavior. Thus, each and every one of is able to do the same, but there is one condition: we should be sincere with ourselves in our quest of Emet (truth).
"It is from his loins , our Sages tell us, that Avraham started to discover the Torah". Let's try to understand this. According to our Sages, the Torah is often compared to water. They tell us: "There is no other water than the Torah". Since we only find water in low areas, a man who wants to study the Torah must also show humility to the point of renouncing to his ego during study. This is the true way of learning.
When the Eternal created man, He incorporated 613 veins and limbs into his body, which correspond to the 613 positive and negative commandments found in the Torah. If we feel pain in one of our limbs, it is because we are not properly fulfilling the corresponding mitzva. Thus, man is comparable to a Sefer Torah. This means that when a man begins to find the Eternal, it is his own body that asks to study the Torah and fulfill the divine commandments. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai says in the Zohar that following the example of an architect who bases himself on his plans, "The Eternal looked in the Torah and created the earth". He then said to the Earth: "Earth, earth, let us make a man!". This means that the Torah is present everywhere. The earth asked, in all humility, how it could help. The Eternal answered: "You will give him your sand and I will breathe Neshama into him". Our Sages say that there are three associates in the creation of man: the father, the mother and the Holy One Blessed Be He. The father gives, among other things, the veins, the blood; the mother gives the flesh; and the Eternal gives life. This is why, after 120 years, the Eternal proceeds in the following way: He takes his part, the neshama, and for the family, he leaves the body to be buried and returned to the earth.
The Neshama is the most important thing that man has. It lets him function differently from a mineral, a vegetable or a behema, an animal. It lets him be an Adam worthy of this name, in other words, in the image of his Creator, and like Him, it is able to create. Several great Tzadikim, for example, received truly divine powers from the Eternal. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai and Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, among others, were able to rise people from the dead.
It is the Neshama that will help man to awaken his Jewish conscience and discover the 613 commandments of the Torah hidden within himself.
We will understand why the Malakhim were opposed to Moshe when he climbed to the Heavens to receive the Torah. Their argument was the following: "Why do men need the Torah? Did the Patriarchs need the Torah to find G-d and fulfill his will?". I imagine that Moshe was obliged to give a negative answer because, indeed, man carries within himself elements of the Torah. The Angels answered him: "Do as they do! From the moment that the Holy One Blessed Be He revealed himself to you, you must do your part in order to discover the Torah instead of receiving it on tablets". It is probably at this instant that Moshe, who didn't have an answer, went to take refuge near the Eternal. Man is, inside himself, a Sefer Torah. It is for him to discover the truth, before coming to the Yeshiva to learn more.
Afterwards, Moshe was able to give an answer to the Angels: "Were you in Egypt? Do you know what it means to live in that world, full of noise, fury, difficulty, harassment and Yetser Hara: so many obstacles in the search for truth? Man needs to be helped in order to be a good Jew: That is why he needs the Torah".
It is not a coincidence that our Sages say that the world holds on three things: the Torah, prayer, and kindness towards one another. I asked myself why it isn't the reverse; kindness, prayer and finally, Torah. It is because every morning, from Sunday until Shabbat, when we wake up, the Yetser Hara tries to dissuade us from doing Mitzvot or studying the Torah, by praising the virtues of leisure or secondary obligations. The Yetser Hara presents them as primordial, even if it means spending less time studying the Torah. To turn us away from our essential obligations, the Yetser Hara uses every convincing argument it can come up with. From that point, ending our evening in a disco, for example, is only one small step away. Thus, we understand that to pray well and to be good to each other, we must have the Torah because it is the Torah that protects us from the Yetser Hara. First, everyone must discover this treasure that is inside himself. Without this, one cannot pray well or do good, it becomes false. Because of the Yetser Hara, we risk finding ourselves committing the worst acts in good conscience, under the pretext that we are praying and giving Tzedaka. Rabbi Israel Salanter said that study of the Torah measures itself with how much we sweat during study. It is said that the great Tzadik, the Hofetz Haim, noticed that some people were sleeping during the Shabbat service. He went up to each of them and said "Shalom Alekhem!". They were surprised because this greeting is used for someone coming back from a trip. He said to them: "Indeed, you were traveling, in the other world!".
If, as our Hakhamim say, the world holds on the Torah, it is because it was the Eternal's instrument to create the world, by inspiring it into the heart of every human. The discovery, first, on one's own, then by study of the Torah, must be a priority. Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakai said: "If you have studied the Torah a lot, do not pride yourself, because you were created to do this". Here is how I understand the sentence: "You were created by the Torah". Just like someone who is born rich, we, Jews, are born with the Torah. We must not look far. It is inside us.
Since I carefully follow the evolution of the world, I notice, for example, how many billions of dollars are being invested in research to find a cure for Aids. But, the cure is really easy to find. It is inside the Torah that tells us to keep away from Znut, debauchery. All the governments of the world should work together to fight this curse, the root of evil. Instead, they allow debauchery and pornography. One must only see the posters that cover the walls of our cities! What a contradiction!
Our Sages tell us that all the people to whom the Eternal wanted to give the Torah, wished to know what is written inside. When the Eternal cited the ten commandments to the people, they refused to renounce to theft, murder, adultery, etc... If the Eternal thought for an instant that these people would refuse, He wouldn't have proposed to give them the Torah. If he did, it is logical to conclude that a world without Torah is not viable. How could the other nations refuse the Torah? How can we say no to a King, even more so, to the King of Kings? However, after the exodus from Egypt, the whole world understood that there was a G-d, through the miracles that favored the Hebrews. I think that in reality, the Goyim would have accepted the Torah, if G-d would have dictated it to them without forcing them to observe its commandments. But the Torah is not subject to everyone's interpretation. The Eternal wants us to apply it, as He hears it. It is for this reason, as our Sages say, the Eternal imposed the Torah to the Jewish people by saying: "If you do not accept it, this mountain of the Sinai will be your tomb". In reality, it is a privilege for us to be Jewish, because the interdictions imposed upon us are not meant to "ruin our lives", as it might seem. In fact, they assure us an infinitely better life.