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Thought for the Day: Accepting the Torah -- All of It

My grandson (5.8 years old; I have a spreadsheet... are you surprised?) has become enamored with the mitzvah of standing up for his parents and grandparents.  I came home from work the other day and he made a point of making sure I saw him stand up for me when I walked into the living room.  He further noted to me -- with a huge grin -- that he had heard me coming in the front door and so he ran to sit down specifically so he could stand up when I entered the room.  Very cute; a real nachas moment.

The next day I heard his mother asking him for the fourth/fifth/nth time to pick up his toys.  She finally said with a bit of exasperation, "You know, listening to your mother is a mitzvah; and you told me how much you love doing mitzvos."  His answered, "Mom... I love doing the mitzvos that I want to do."  (Another nachas moment... but for different reasons, of course.)

The famous medrash says that at the moment of truth, when Klal Yisrael was poised to accept the Torah, HaShem held the mountain over their heads like a barrel and said, "If you accept my Torah, good; if not, then this will be your grave!"  Many ask on this medrash: Klal Yisrael had already proclaimed: נעשה ונשמע/we shall do and we shall always strive to learn more in order to do more, and we accept from today that whatever we learn it will be to us as if we already knew it when we accepted the Torah!  (My free, but on point, translation.)  If so, why the menacing threat at this point

In truth, HaShem's declaration was neither a threat nor menacing.  It was simply the plain, unadorned Truth.  They were in awe and feeling justifiable trepidation at they experienced the real import of what they were accepting.  The "threat" was really just a nudge to push them into doing what they truly wanted.  If so, one might ask (and many have): So just remove the light/sound/tremor show and they'll easily accept -- with all sincerity -- their mission, but without the force.

Acceptance of Torah is not enough.  Even full acceptance is not enough.  Acceptance of the Torah must perforce be accompanied with the full realization that there really is no choice.  There is no reality without the Torah, there is no Torah without a nation to live it.  We and the Torah and inextricably bound.  The Torah must be accepted by free and unfettered choice; it must also be understood that there is no life -- indeed no reality -- without Torah.  Acceptance of Torah comes with acceptance of that reality.

Of course קבלת התורה/the receiving and accepting the Torah means the entire Torah; there is no picking and choosing.  There are mitzvos we enjoy doing... and there are mitzvos we don't yet enjoy doing... and it all starts with that black and white world of the five year who knows there some mitzvos he likes, some he doesn't like, and even some he doesn't even want to like.  All the while knowing -- even when he rebels -- that there really is no choice.


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