Rabbi's Message

  • February 17, 2017


    Rav Yochanan Zweig shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Talmudical University of Miami Beach, teaches an important message about Kabbalas HaTorah from this week's Parsha. Hope you enjoy. Have a great Shabbos.

    Rashi (19:11) tells us a fascinating occurrence that took place prior to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai: Everyone was miraculously healed. In other words, all the sick and infirm and handicapped were cured at Mount Sinai. Obviously, this explains why almost every Jewish community with a hospital names it "Mount Sinai."  Yet, we must wonder why Hashem saw it necessary to perform such an incredible miracle. What was the purpose in healing everyone? What was the message that we were meant to take away from this incredible revelation of Hashem's power and the departure from the physical norm?  

    In a famous paraphrasing of Karl Marx, critics have called religion "the opiate of the masses." Marx believed that religion had certain practical functions in society that were similar to the function of opium in a sick or injured person. Opiates reduce people's immediate suffering and provides them with pleasant illusions, but no meaningful long term benefits. (By the way, Marx was referring to religion as an opiate for the sickness and suffering brought on by the soulless and heartless suffering caused by rampant capitalism. We all know how well his philosophy worked out for the communists; and yet, Marx's criticism of religion persists even after his ideas for a new world order have been shown to be abject failures.)

    This is the message that Hashem wanted us to learn at Mount Sinai: Everyone was cured to teach us that the optimal way to receive the Torah is when we are in perfect health, both physically and emotionally. Of course the Torah also has the answers when we are suffering and/or not operating at our ideal level, but we can only fully appreciate all that the Torah has to offer on a personal and communal level when we are completely healthy. When a person is ill or otherwise distracted by pain for physical or emotional issues, one's focus becomes distracted by the personal issues at hand. Of course the Torah can be helpful in addressing those issues, but at that moment all that one can see is a very limited perspective of what the truths of Torah contain. This is because a person in a state of pain sees everything through the lens of that suffering. But when one is at 100% strength, both physically and emotionally, the Torah can be seen for what it is really meant to be; a blueprint of Hashem's wisdom for the world and a guide for having the most fulfilling life that Hashem has bestowed upon us. Hashem cured everyone at Mount Sinai so that each person could fully appreciate the infinite wisdom that the Torah offers and connect to Hashem's truths contained therein without the slightest distraction.