HaRav Moshe Meir Weiss

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Title: The Core Value of the Torah

by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Jun 12, 2012


Many of tod ay’s big corporations have what’s called a Mission Statement.  It defines the very essence of the goals and ambitions of the company.  If we had to pick what the “mission statement” of the Torah is, what would it be?  I think the answer might surprise many of my readers.  At the end of Hilchos Chanukah, the Rambam reveals a fundamental concept.  He states categorically, “Kol HaTorah nitna la’asos shalom b’olam – The whole Torah was given to make peace in the world, She’ne’emar, ‘Derochehah darchei noam v’chol nesivosehah shalom – All Its ways are ways of sweetness and all Its paths are paths of peace.’”  Thus, the Rambam is informing us that the core value of the Torah is peace.

 

In a similar vein, remember when the gentile who had about as much patience as an American teenager approached Shamai and said, ‘Teach me the entire Torah while I’m standing on one foot.’  Shamai, who did not suffer fools easily, shooed him away with a yardstick.  He then went to Hillel and Hillel answered him succinctly, “             Mah desoni loch, l’chavreich lo savid – What is distasteful to you, do not do to your fellow.  Zeh kol HaTorah kula v’idoch peirusha – This is the whole Torah.  Everything else is commentary.”  As one of the vital links in the mesora, transmission, from Sinai, the great Hillel is once again clueing us in that the very essence of Torah is the refinement of interpersonal relationships. 

 

Also, let’s recall when the legendary Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son had to go into hiding and live in a cave for a decade to escape execution by the Romans.  Miraculously, Hashem grew a carob tree and provided a fresh stream so that they could survive in the cave.  For ten years they immersed themselves in full-time learning.  When the Heavenly decree informed them that it was safe the leave the cave, they re-entered society.  However, they were on such a lofty spiritual level that anything material that they saw was immediately burned by their pure laser-like holiness.  A Divine declaration emanated declaring, “I did not allow you to come back to destroy the world.  Return to your cave.”  Two years later upon exiting once again, they were now able to successfully mesh with society.

 

Rav Reuvein Feinstein, Shlit”a, asks the obvious question.  If immersing in the cave caused them to be too spiritual for this world, wouldn’t things become worse if they were sent back into the cave for an additional two years.”  He answers that Hashem instructed Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to go back into the cave to re-examine the Torah and to study it as a Toras Shalom, a Treatise of Peace.  After this two year extensive course of learning the Torah through the lenses of peace, they were able to successfully integrate again with mankind. 

 

When we refer to someone as a Ben or Bas Torah, we mean that his or her ideals and values are borne and molded from the Torah.  It is therefore impossible for a quarrelsome and contentions person to be referred to as a Ben Torah for machlokes is the very antithesis of everything that that Torah stands for.  When we want to choose the person who should be our representative to enter the holiest place on earth, the Kodosh Kodoshim, the Holy of Holies, in the Temple on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the quality that we look for is the quality of the first Kohein Godol, Aharon, “Oheiv shalom v’rodef shalom – He who loves peace and pursues peace.”  Nowadays, when we look for our chazzan for the High-Holy Days, a melodious voice and a good knoledgec of nusach is a plus.  But first and foremost we insist on the quality of me’urav im habrious, one who gets along with everyone for he is the ambassador we choose and he will represent the very essence of the Torah when our very lives hang in the balance.

 

Furthermore, we are taught in Masechtas Derech Eretz Zutra that the gematria of shalom, 376, is the same gematria as shavei’a, to cry out, for he who embraces peace, his prayers are never turned away by Hashem.

 

Finally, we are taught that the mizbeach-altar can never be cut by instruments of metal.  Rather, Hashem created a miraculous creature called the shamir to cut the huge stones.  Rashi explains that since the altar makes peace between us and our Father in Heaven, it is protected from metal, the weapon of violence.  Rashi then proposes a kol v’chomer, a fortiori: if the mizbei’ach, an inanimate object, is protected from all metals because it is a peacemaker, then we humans, if we go out of our ways to ensure peace by being peaceful, generous, tolerant, giving, and most of all excelling at the very hard trait of looking away, we will surely be protected from any dangerous metals such as car accidents, surgical scalpels and the root canal drill. 

 

In the merit of our constantly working on getting along with everyone, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health; loads of peace, and everything wonderful.

 

 

 

 

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