Tonight R’ Bamberger discussed the importance of the kedushah (sanctity) of the Torah. Tonight’s vaad was based on the sefer Ohr Gedalyahu by R’ Gedalyah Schorr.
During Chanukah we celebrate the Jews’ victory over the Greeks. What was the conflict with the Greeks about? The Greeks had no desire to kill the Jews, nor to prevent them from practicing Judaism. They even had respect for the Torah, considering it a book of great wisdom. In fact, the translation of the Torah into Greek was based on the Greeks’ desire to study the Torah.
The Greeks were disturbed, however, by the kedushah of the Torah. They had no problem with Jews studying Torah, as long as they learned it as a secular wisdom.
In the “Al Hanissim” prayer that we recite during Chanukah, we read about the desire of the Greeks to prevent the Jewish people from performing the statutes of the Torah. Since the statutes of the Torah have no logical basis that we can understand, a person performs them only in order to fulfill G-d’s will. This approach to the performance of mitzvos creates a strong bond between us and G-d.
The truth is that we are supposed to perform all the mitzvos in the Torah in order to fulfill G-d’s will. Thus, even the laws of “torts” described in Parshas Mishpatim are really decrees of G-d that we perform only because they are G-d’s will. The Greeks wanted to destroy this aspect of the mitzvos.
The mitzvah of succah, for example, symbolizes the separation between Jews and the gentile nations of the world. The Gemara tells us in Mesechta Avodah Zarah that when Moshiach comes G-d will offer the mitzvah of succah to the gentile nations of the world. However, G-d will cause a blazing heat to prevent them from actually fulfilling the mitzvah. As a result, the nations of the world will kick the succah and leave it. This rejection of the mitzvah of succah by the nations of the world will serve as an indication that they have no connection to all the other mitzvos of the Torah as well.
R’ Bamberger related that the American media actually distorted some of the events that occurred in Mumbai, India over this past weekend. While the media made it sound like R’ Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah were simply shot during the chaos of the terror attack, the reality was much more grim. Indian media sources revealed that they were actually tortured and mutilated in a horrific fashion. Additionally, all the sefarim in the Chabad house were ripped and destroyed. The Islamic terrorists even sprayed bullets into the sefer Torah that was in the room. The bullets penetrated the section of the parchment containing the parshios of Acharei-Mos and Kedoshim, describing the deaths of Aaron’s two sons Nadav and Avihu. Thus, the Mumbai terror attacks were essentially an attack on the kedushah of the Torah.
Mr. Ronald Lowinger once made a siyum in Yeshivah Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway to celebrate the completion of a chapter of Mesechta Bava Basra. During the siyum, he recounted his latest trip to Europe to erect a monument on a mass grave for Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. As he was traveling through Hungary, he noted the hateful words of a Hungarian anti-Semite: “We thought we got rid of you people.” He also noted how a sefer Torah was strewn on top of the bodies in the mass grave.
After Mr. Lowinger finished speaking, R’ Zevi Trenk, the menahel of the yeshivah, pointed out that it was unusual that the sefer Torah was on top of the bodies. If all the Jews were killed prior to the sefer Torah being buried there, who could have buried the sefer Torah? R’ Trenk surmised that the Nazi Gestappo must have buried it. Clearly, the Nazi Gestappo believed that burying the sefer Torah was tantamount to burying the “Jewish G-d” as well.
R’ Trenk then turned to Mr. Lowinger and told him how he should have responded to the Hungarian anti-Semite: “Not only did you fail to bury the Jewish people, but you failed to bury G-d and his Torah as well.”
The language of the mishnah in Pirkei Avos, “Moshe received the Torah on Mount Sinai,” further supports this idea. If the name of the mountain was “Choreiv,” why was it called “Mount Sinai?” The answer is that the Hebrew word “Sinai” is phonetically similar to the Hebrew word for “hatred” (sin’ah). Thus, as a result of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, hatred against the Jews descended to the nations of the world.