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The Torah in Parashas Masei tells us (Bamidbar 33:1):

Eileh Masei B'nei Yisrael - these are the journeys of the children of Yisrael

One of the journeys was from Sinai to Kivroth HaTaavah (v.16)

And they removed from the desert of Sinai, and pitched at Kivroth Hataavah.

On this posuk, Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank (Sefer Har Tzvi Al HaTorah, parashas Masei, p. 122) explains that the meaning of this is when a person "moves away from Har Sinai", e.g. from Torah study, he will fall victim to the earthly desires.

פסוק זה מרמז לנו דהמתרחק מהתורה שנתקבלה מסיני היכן תמצאהו בקברות התאוה כי אי אפשר לעצור בעד התאוה אלא בכח התורה בלי תורה נמסר האדם תחת יד כחות התאווה

The remedy for this is, as Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank explains, to strengthen Torah study.

I have found, however, a possible contradiction to this chiddush. The Satmar Rav, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, in his Divrei Yoel (parashas Masei, p. 209) (left colomn) and elsewhere in parashas Naso (p. 141) explains that in all of these places that the Jewish people traveled to, spiritual rectifications needed to occur. The Satmar Rav quotes the sefer Zera Kodesh and says that through Torah study and mitzvos, they uplifted the holy sparks and these places would have the same kedusha as a Beis Midrash.

This seems to contradict the teaching of the Har Tzvi Frank, who explains that in one of these places, they were far off from Torah. They were fallen into the hands of earthly desires.

How to resolve this? Are there sources that explain that in all of these places, the Jewish people would study Torah? From the one source, it would seem that they have fallen prey to the earthly desires, and from that it can be concluded they weren't involved the way the Satmar Rav explains they were..

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My understanding of this is based off of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's explanation of sin, in this sicha.

The answer is that there are two ways to rescue a spark. The first is to be tempted by an aveira, and resist. This is inevitable, part and parcel of life in this lowest world.

The second way is to actually perform the aveira, ch'v, and do teshuva from ahava. This second way is where we can resolve your contradiction: As the Rebbe explains, the word "אסור" means "bound", i.e. the spark in the aveira is tied up and we can't access it. The practical of this is we are not allowed to perform a sin lechatchila to rescue a spark. That doesn't work.

However, if the sin is performed "lishma", i.e. the person gives in to temptation, and then they do teshuva, this is indeed a very powerful way to rescue the spark, and is therefore, from Hashem's eternal point of view - the point of view of the cosmic plan - what was meant to happen, and a net good.

Therefore, when it is described as terrible, and we must seek a remedy, that's right. From our point of view, we are meant to flee from sin at all costs. When it is described as "a rectification that needed to occur", this is also true. That is generally "none of our business", but BH Hashem tell us many spiritual secrets that we should treat with awe and respect.

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  • Nice answer Reb Kaii. However, I have difficulties understanding how these explanations resolve the contradiction between the Har Tzvi and the Divrei Yoel.
    – Shmuel
    Oct 6, 2023 at 10:01
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    @Shmuel thanks sorry bout that, I'll give it another look after yom tov. Chag samayach and Shabbat Shalom!
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 6, 2023 at 16:48

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