Parshas Ki Savo
By Dr. Meir Tamari
As it is written in the Zohar (part 3:80b.), "the heart of a human being is
never spiritually purified except through the words of the Torah".
However, the spiritual Jewish personality has two aspects.
It is only this aspect of the heart that is able to receive Torah without
effort or labor. In addition, there is, however, the externality of the
heart, that is like raw material that can be shaped and formed, and
therefore needs labor and effort to be purified and cleansed spiritually,
before it may receive the Divine Presence. This aspect of the heart
requires the study of Torah and involvement in its mitzvot. They enable the
Divine Soul in the heart to shape and form the externality of the heart, so
that it may achieve purity and sanctity. In this respect, the externality
of the heart is similar to the animal hides that need processing before
they may be used for the Torah scroll. This what the Avnei Nezer meant when
he quoted the verse from Mishleh that the Torah may be inscribed on the
heart. Parallel to this aspect of the externality of the heart, the Divine
Soul that lives in the innermost chambers of the heart and cannot be
shaped, changed or influenced is like the inanimate stones on which Israel
was to engrave the Torah after it crossed into the Promised Land.
It is this aspect of the innermost chambers of the heart that is purely
spiritual and cannot be influenced, that is the difference between Israel
and the Nations of the World. This spiritual difference will enable Israel
to conquer the Holy Land, that itself possesses an intrinsic purity and
sanctity lacking in all other countries.
The midrash of tells us that there is wisdom amongst the Nations of the
World but there is no Torah. Their study and understanding of the Torah and
even their observance of its mitzvoth proceed from and extend only to the
externality of the heart, that is raw material to be shaped and formed.
Israel, however, possesses the virgin-like, innermost and spiritual aspects
of the heart that require no labor or effort to receive Torah, rather the
Torah is automatically an intrinsic part of The Divine Soul, that resides
in that heart. The Nations therefore, are only able to observe, study and
understand the rational and logical mitzvot, without having a relationship
to the hidden and secret spirituality of Torah. Eisav is able to excel in
the observance of the commandments of honoring one's father and mother,
because this is natural and logical. He could not, however, have any
relationship to the other mitzvot. So too, the gentile in Ascelon whom the
Talmudic sages so highly praised for his treatment of his father, did so
because it was dictated to by his intelligence and logic ( Maharal of Prague).
Perhaps this explains the mitzvah of Shofar on Rosh HaShanah. In theory it
would be sufficient for us to express all the ideas of Rosh HaShanah - the
Coronation of HaShem as King of the universe, the Day of Judgment and the
ability of human beings to do Teshuvah- verbally without the sound of the
Shofar. So we use the Shofar where there is only the spirituality of a
sound, but one that comes from the recesses of our hearts and expresses the
innermost feelings of religiosity, even before these may be spoken or take
the material form of words. The Nations of the World cannot on this day,
accuse Israel or claim to be its equal, since through the Shofar we express
the Divine Soul that lies hidden and protected in the recesses of the
heart, even as the Torah engraved on the inanimate stones..
Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Meir Tamari and Project Genesis, Inc.
Dr. Tamari is a renowned economist, Jewish scholar, and founder of the Center For Business Ethics (www.besr.org) in Jerusalem.