Rabbi's Message

  • January 29, 2016


    The following is a Dvar Torah from Rav Yosef Bronstein, a member of Yeshiva University's Wexner Kollel Elyon, a professor of Jewish Philosophy at YU, and a PhD candidate in Talmudic Studies. Hope you enjoy. Have a great Shabbos!!

    Even before receiving the Torah, the Jewish people accomplished one of our national aspirations.  The Torah records that when the Jews reached the Sinai Desert “and Israel camped there opposite the mountain.” The word for “camped” – va-yihan – is written in the singular form, leading Rashi to comment that the nation was completely unified – “as one person with one heart.” 

    It is not a coincidence that this level was reached immediately prior to the giving of the Torah.  Tanna D’vei Eliyahu, a midrashic compilation, explains that Hashem waited until there was peace and unity amongst the Jewish people before revealing Himself to them. The Jewish people can only experience the Shekhinah when they are unified.
    Though this intense level of unity only existed at Sinai and has since been a desideratum, in the ideal halachik system this experience is supposed to be partially recreated three times a year.  In the wake of the great revelation at Sinai, Hashem instructed the Jews to construct a Mishkan and later a Beit ha-Mikdash where that intense connection to Hashem that existed at Sinai could continue to accompany the Jewish people. The connection between Mount Sinai and the Beit ha-Mikdash is so deep that according to one midrash Hashem actually took a part of Temple Mount in relocated it in the Sinai desert in order to create Mount Sinai. Also, according to Rashi, the name “Har ha-Moriyah” can refer to both Temple Mount and to Mount Sinai.      
    But as with the revelation at Sinai, there is a prerequisite for the Jewish people to be able to experience the intensity of the Shekhina.  Before arriving at the Beit ha-Mikdash the Jews needed to pass through the city of Yerushalayim.  The Gemara refers to Yerushalayim during the holiday pilgrimages as a city that “makes all Jews into haveirim.” In the context of the Gemara it is clear that Haveirim refers to a specific group who are believed regarding the purity of trumah and kodshim.  However, many see the word choice of “haveirim” as also entailing a sense of friendship and unity. In order to finally arrive at the Beit ha-Mikdash and perpetuate the Mount Sinai experience, the people needed to first replicate the Sinai Desert experience and be able to camp as one person with one heart.  Only then were they worthy of entering the Beit ha-Mikdash.
    The lesson for us is clear.  If we want to merit the rebuilding of the Beit ha-Mikdash and the revelation of the Shekhina, we need to understand that unity, is one of the essential prerequisites.