Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Derech Eretz Kadma la'Torah

I heard R' Henoch Leibowitz, zecher tzadik v'kadosh livracha, say that a person can have gadlus and not be a gadol.  He can have gadlus in his knowledge, but not be a gadol because that knowledge is associated with him and not an expression of his very being.  When Betzalel was told by Moshe Rabbeinu to build the keilim and then the mishkan, he didn't just do as he was told.  Rather, Betzalel said, "Everything I know from the Rebbie up till now would lead me to believe that the mishkan should be built first and then the keilim"  (Rashi to Shemos 38:32).  Why didn't Betzalel just do as he was told by his rebbie; a man who had just come done from weeks of intense instruction from the Creator of the World, Himself?  Betzalel was looking to Moshe Rabbeinu to correct his thought processes in order that he could appreciate and feel that this was the proper way to proceed. (In fact, Moshe Rabbeinu in this case admitted to a mistake and praised Betzalel for his questioning and analysis.)

It is a very narrow path indeed, that the Torah demands of us.  Off to the one side is slavish obedience to authority, off to the other is rebellion against authority.  The only way to remain on that narrow path is to have approach the Torah with extreme derech eretz.  To appreciate both who I am and the awesome responsibility that I have to correctly imbue myself with Torah; to become an authentic channel for revealing HaShem in this world by living according to His Torah.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…