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I've heard about a connection with the עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֑ים being connected to שטות.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? (Posibly from Toras Lubavitch)

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  • Degel Machane Efraim (grandson of the Baal Shem Tov) dances around the idea here in Parshat Teruma, without saying it explicitly. sefaria.org/Degel_Machaneh_Ephraim%2C_Terumah.7?lang=bi
    – Menachem
    Jun 7, 2023 at 1:59
  • מילתא דשטותא MIlta d'sthuta - "a nonsense matter" - joking around - because usually a person needs some lighthearted jest and joking around in order to be m'kayem and sustain Mitzva Gedola Liyhot b'Simcha Tamid see L. Moharan II: 24 עַל כֵּן צָרִיך לְהַכְרִיחַ אֶת עַצְמוֹ בְּכחַ גָּדוֹל לִהְיוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָה תָּמִיד וּלְשַׂמֵּחַ אֶת עַצְמוֹ בְּכָל אֲשֶׁר יוּכַל וַאֲפִילּוּ בְּמִלֵּי דִּשְׁטוּתָא אַף שֶׁגַּם לֵב נִשְׁבָּר הוּא טוֹב מְאד עִם כָּל זֶה הוּא רַק בְּאֵיזוֹ שָׁעָה etc. and see how Atzei Shitim are in the Aron haKodesh in the K"HK which is represents the Mind etc. Na Nach Jun 7, 2023 at 14:11
  • So the ikkar is throw away your Chokhmot throw away your brain and be mevatel or at least covered by the gold which is the True Tzaddik "and the gold of that land is very Good" Good as Bathya said baby Moshe "Good"! Na Nach NaChMa NaChMaN meumaN Jun 7, 2023 at 14:22
  • Rav Manis Friedman summing up the concept of the series of ma'amarim that mention this idea in Toras Lubavitch: youtube.com/watch?v=YGFutGJXmHg (1h20m) tl;dr evil vs insane (irrational, shtus) evil. Good vs insane good. Insane good required to defeat insane evil. Hashem builds the walls of the Mishkan with our irrational good.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jun 7, 2023 at 19:12
  • Basi legani ch 3
    – Dude
    Jun 8, 2023 at 14:58

3 Answers 3

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Both Midrash Tanchuma (Balak 16) and Bamidbar Rabba (20:22) Say almost the exact same thing. Here's the quote from Midrash Tanchuma:

וְכָל אוֹתָן אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה שֶׁהָיוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר, לֹא סָרְחוּ בָּעֲבֵרָה, עַד שֶׁבָּאוּ לַשִּׁטִּים. לְפִיכָךְ כְּתִיב: וַיֵּשֵׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּשִּׁטִּים, שִׁטִּים, שֶׁעָשׂוּ שְׁטוּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: נוֹאֵף אִשָּׁה חֲסַר לֵב (משלי ו, לב).

In all those forty years that they were in the desert, they never committed the sin [of unchastity], until they came to Shittim. It is therefore stated (in Numb. 25:1), “While Israel was staying at Shittim, [the people began to commit harlotry].” 'Shittim', because they had committed folly ('shetut'), as stated (in Prov. 6:32), “One who commits adultery with a woman has no sense.”

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Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky in Chochmah Yomit, Daily Wisdom by the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains (parashas Terumah):

The Hebrew word for “acacia” (shitah) means “bending.” The acacia tree is called the “bending” tree because it bends to the side as it grows, rather than growing straight up. The Hebrew word for “foolishness” (shetut) is another form of this word, since foolishness is an act of “bending” from the path dictated by logic.

In Sefer HaMaamarim, the Frierdiker Rebbe explains that the foolishness (shetut) is like a shell on our G-dly soul. It is like a "peel". It hides the light of the revelation of G-d and thus, a person could think that there is still a strong connection after doing something extremely foolish. He does not feel an seperation from G-d, so to speak.

This is why the Gemara teaches us that "a man commits a transgression only if a spirit of folly [shetut] enters him" (Sotah 3a).

The Rabbeinu Bahya has an interesting way of looking at it. He says:

The meaning of the words: “upright standing acacia wood,” is that these woods lend hope and spiritual fortitude to those who look upon them. If you perchance would think that after all they have now been lost to us and just as they have been lost so has our hope faded, the Torah described them as “standing,” i.e. in the present tense, to reassure you that the concept they represent will endure forever and ever.” The word צפוין in the Talmud there means “the power which is expected of them by those looking at them with hope.” The meaning of the words מעמידין אותו הכוח is תלה גדול בקטן, “that the great was made dependent on the small,” The wood of the shittim trees held the gold overlay in place instead of vice versa.

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  • Hartelijk dank.
    – The Targum
    Jun 7, 2023 at 19:24
  • 1
    You're welcome! How do you know Dutch (and know that I speak Dutch)?
    – Shmuel
    Jun 8, 2023 at 15:34
  • Probably from here
    – shmosel
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:17
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The Rebbe Rayatz spoke about it in Chapters 3-5 of the discourse Basi Legani:

The word used in the Torah for "acacia" is Shita, the root of which implies deviation in either direction, higher or lower, from a middle path.

The same root also implies foolishness, for foolishness (Shtus) is a deviation from the middle path of knowledge and wisdom.

It goes on to explain that sin comes from a spirit of unholy shtus and we can counteract it with a spirit of holy shtus which transcends reason.

The Rebbe would ultimately appropriate Basi Legani as a sort of mission statement upon accepting leadership of Lubavitch, and he would deliver a discourse each year expounding on one chapter of the original. You can find the ones on these chapters here, here and here.

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  • Thank you, do you know where i can find it in English. i remember learning about "shtus d'kedusha" and a story of a rabbi who would juggle by weddings... is this related to basi legani?
    – The Targum
    Jun 7, 2023 at 15:06
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    The first link is in English. The juggling story is referenced in chapter 5.
    – shmosel
    Jun 7, 2023 at 16:53
  • Thanks, and where can i find Chapter 5 from Rayatz in Hebrew>
    – The Targum
    Jun 7, 2023 at 17:00
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    Here's the full text: abc770.org/article_node_1438
    – shmosel
    Jun 7, 2023 at 17:07
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    See ספר המאמרים תש"י by the Frierdiker Rebbe (p. 114)
    – Shmuel
    Jun 7, 2023 at 18:56

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