1. The Spiritualization of the Material
The Torah states that Yaakov blessed Yisachar saying, “Yisachar is a strong-boned donkey (chamor); he rests between the boundaries. He saw tranquility that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant, yet he bent his shoulder to bear the burden and he became an indentured laborer.” It is interesting to note that Yechezkel Ha’Navi, the Prophet, refers to the Egyptian people as, “the flesh of donkeys (chamor) is their flesh.” The Maharal of Prague explains the reason Yechezkel equates the Egyptian to the chamor (donkey), is because the word chamor connotes chomer which means material. Of all the nations of the world, the Egyptian people are the most devoid of spirituality and therefore are referred to as chamor/chomer (physical/material). If the classification of chamor is to indicate the lack of spirituality vis-à-vis the Egyptian people, then why does Yaakov choose to identify Yisachar as a “chamor/donkey”?
Reb Chaim of Volozhin z’tl cites the Zohar, which explains that the reason Yaakov identifies the tribe of Yisachar as the chamor is to indicate and allow us to understand that although the make-up of Yisachar is material (chomer), the Torah has the ability to spiritualize that physicality and elevate it to a new level. According to this understanding, the verse, “He saw tranquility that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant, yet he bent his shoulder to bear the burden and he became an indentured laborer,” means that despite the fact that Yisachar saw that he had tremendous bounty and material success, he nevertheless chose to remain unaffected by it. Rather, he “bent his shoulder…” to assume the yoke of Torah. Yisachar took the “chamor/chomer” and spiritualized it.
The Chofetz Chaim writes that the yetzer hara (the evil inclination) has an amazing ability to confuse a person. He explains this with the example of a person who initially is committed to study Torah and prays with a minyan (quorum) three times a day. As this person’s business becomes more prosperous, he chooses to pray with a minyan only in the morning because his success requires his attention. As his success grows, he decides that he can no longer afford to attend minyan every morning but rather only on Monday and Thursday (when the Torah is read). With continued achievement, this person believes that he has an obligation to be more committed to the financial blessing that Hashem has given him. Thus, he only attends shul (synagogue) on Shabbos. He no longer has time to study Torah during the week. The Chofetz Chaim points out that it is incongruous that a person, who so blessed by Hashem, rather than increasing his commitment to his Torah Judaism, moves in the opposite direction and in so doing continually diminishes his spirituality. This is not the case with Yisachar. Although the tranquility was “good” and the land was “pleasant,” he chose to be more committed to Torah and to spiritualizing his blessing rather than permitting it to diminish him.
The Gemara tells us at the end of Tractate Sanhedrin that when Chizkeyahu HaMelech (the King of Judah) assumed the throne, he placed a sword in the bais medrash (study hall) and gave the people an ultimatum. He said either you study Torah or you will be pierced by the sword. Chizkeyahu HaMelech brought the people to a very advanced level of Torah proficiency – even the children were well versed in the most complex laws of spiritual purity. Because of a total commitment to their spirituality, their vineyards withered from lack of attention.
The Talmud tells us that although the vineyards and the orchards had great value, the people chose to be committed to Torah study and did not pay attention to the material. Because of their selflessness commitment to spirituality, when the Assyrian king Sancherev and a multitude of his troops descended upon Yerushalayim to bring about its destruction, Hashem miraculously decimated their camp. The abundant spoils that were left were more than enough to compensate the Jewish people for the loss of revenue that was incurred because of their Torah study.
2. Love of Your Fellow man is the Determining Factor
The Torah states at the beginning of the Sefer Shemos, “Yosef died, and all his brothers and that entire generation. The Children of Yisroel were fruitful, teemed, increased, and became strong – very, very much so; and the land became filled with them. A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Yosef. He said to his people, “Behold! The people, the Children of Yisroel, are more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us outsmart it lest it become numerous and it may be that if a war will occur, it too may join our enemies, and wage war against us…” Rashi cites the argument between Rav and Shmuel as to whether or not the “new king” in Egypt was the same Pharaoh who knew Yosef, but who instituted a new mandate and acted as if he did not know him. Or, in fact, the Pharaoh was indeed a “new king” who did not know Yosef. In any case, this Pharaoh told his people that they must be “wisened” to the Jewish people because they had become numerous and that they may join with its enemies against Egypt.
It is difficult to understand how Pharaoh or the Egyptian people would actually believe this. It was Yosef, the Viceroy, who actually saved Egypt from extinction during the time of the great famine. It was Yosef’s plan and control over the grain that caused Egypt to become the wealthiest nation in the world because everyone turned to Egypt to purchase grain. The Nile would rise in the presence of the Pharaoh only because of the special blessing given to him by Yaakov. After all of the contributions Yaakov and Yosef made to Egypt how is it possible that Pharaoh would make a decree against the Jewish people and suspect that the same people who saved Egypt would join with its enemies against it?
There is a Positive Commandment in the Torah that one must love his fellow as he loves himself. The Chofetz Chaim writes in his work Shmiras HaLoshon (Guarding One’s Tongue), that if one truly loved his fellow man, he would not speak negatively about him. In addition, there is a mitzvah to give someone the benefit of the doubt. If a Jew truly loved another Jew, he would try in every possible way to put him in the most positive light. If one speaks negatively about his fellow Jew or does not give him the benefit of the doubt, it is a clear indication that he does not love him as he loves himself. All difficulties between man and man stem from the failure to observe this Positive Commandment.
Given everything that Yosef and his family had done for Egypt, one would expect that the Egyptians would be beholden and have an exceptional love for the Jewish people. The fact that Pharaoh and the Egyptian people could suspect the Jews would join their enemies is only an indication that they truly lacked the proper love and appreciation for the Jewish people. The Egyptians did not have the capacity to appreciate what the Jews had done for them. We see that this is inherent in the character of the Egyptian.
After Yosef had interpreted the dream of the wine steward while in prison, the man was subsequently released. Yosef had asked that he “remember” him and “mention” him to Pharaoh so that he too would be released from prison. The Torah tells us that the moment the wine steward was released, “he forgot Yosef”. Rashi cites the verse in Tehillim (psalms) which states, “Fortunate is the man who puts his faith in Hashem and does not turn to the arrogant.” The Midrash explains that “the arrogant” is referring to the Egyptian. The Egyptian does not have the capacity to appreciate the kindness that was done to him and thus cannot be relied upon to reciprocate.
Even if the Pharaoh was truly a “new king” who did not personally know Yosef, there is no way that he could have ignored the historical recording that Yosef and Yaakov had saved Egypt. It is obvious again that he did not have the capacity to appreciate what the Jewish people had done for Egypt. Thus, he was able to enact new and harsh decrees against the Jews and impose upon them an overbearing bondage.
The reason a person chooses to behave as a rasha (evil person) is that he does not appreciate the goodness that is bestowed upon him by Hashem. If one truly appreciated that he was the beneficiary of G-d’s Kindness, he would be completely beholden and would behave differently. If Hashem continuously provides us with life and all other amenities, then how is it possible to have difficulty in carrying out His Will. The answer is obvious – it is only due to a lack of appreciation that causes one to fall short of serving Hashem selflessly.
3. What Guarantees the Survival of the Jewish People
The Torah tells us that after Yosef and that entire generation passed away, the Jewish people “were fruitful, teemed (va’yishretzu), increased and became strong”. The Torah continues to tell us that a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Yosef. The increase of the number of Jews in a short period caused Pharaoh to be concerned that they may align with Egypt’s enemies and drive them from the land. On a literal level, we could see that what fueled Pharaoh’s concern was the increase in the number of Jews in the land. However, we can understand it differently.
The extreme change in the status of the Jewish people only occurred after Yosef and that entire generation passed away. The Torah tells us that seemingly it was only after the Jews began va’yishretzu (teeming) that Pharaoh became concerned.
We find that after Yosef was sold into slavery and ultimately was purchased by Potiphar, he quickly ascended to become the head of his master’s household. At that time, the Torah states, “Now Yosef was handsome of form and handsome of appearance. After these things, his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Yosef and she said, “Lie with me.” Simply one could say that the reason his mistress took notice of him was because of his beauty and handsome appearance. However, Rashi explains it differently based on the Midrash. The Midrash says that when Yosef became the head of his master’s household he began to focus on his looks by beautifying his eyes and grooming his hair. Chazal tell us that Hashem said that Yosef’s behavior at that moment was inappropriate because he was paying attention to his beauty when his father Yaakov was grieving over his loss. Hashem said, “Because you were insensitive to your father’s pain, I will set your master’s wife upon you.” The Torah is telling us that if it were not for the inappropriateness of Yosef’s behavior (despite his beauty), his mistress would not have taken any interest in him. It was only because of his spiritual failing that Hashem allowed her to take notice.
In a similar vein, one can now understand Pharaoh’s concern with the increase in the Jewish population. Pharaoh had a sense of insecurity because Hashem allowed him to perceive the Jewish people in a suspicious manner.
Sforno explains “va’yishretzu” to mean that after the generation of Yosef had passed away, the Jewish people began to behave inappropriately – similar to rodents (pejorative term for improper behavior). The Midrash tells us that the bondage of the Jewish people started only after they stopped circumcising themselves. As long as the Jewish people circumcised themselves, they were not subject to slavery. However, when the generation of Yosef passed away, the Jewish people in Egypt no longer wished to value their spirituality, which is represented through the circumcision (sign of the Holy Covenant). It was at this time that they were subjected to bondage.
Under normal circumstances, Pharaoh would not have felt threatened by the sudden increase in the Jewish population. However, because the Jews began to abandon their spirituality, Pharaoh began to take notice. The justification for Pharaoh’s behavior was that the spirituality of the Jew had eroded to such a degree that he no longer identified them with their forbearers. Because Pharaoh could no longer recognize the spiritual influence of Yosef and that generation, he was able to justify the bondage.
The Gemara in Tractate Chulin says that the only time an animal attacks a human being is when the animal sees the person as an animal (commonality with itself). However as long as the animal is able to sense the “tzelem Elokeem – the Image of G-d” (the spirituality) of the person, the animal will not attack. It is only when the human being is put on the same level as the animal will he be subject to attack.
Similarly, the non-Jew becomes insecure when he perceives the Jew on his level. If the Jew retains his spirituality, then he does not have commonality with the non-Jew and therefore Hashem will not allow him to be despised. However, if the Jew should abandon his Judaism and attempt to assimilate with the non-Jew (even culturally), he will eventually become despised and rejected by the non-Jew. This is why Pharaoh became concerned with the increase in the Jewish population and thus instituted the bondage to subordinate and control the Jew. This unfortunate reality has repeated itself many times throughout history.
4. Understanding One’s Basic Purpose
The Torah tells us that Pharaoh decreed that all the Jewish newborn males should be thrown into the Nile. When Moshe was born, his mother Yocheved hid him until she could no longer conceal her son. In an attempt to save him from the Egyptians, the Torah states, “…she (Yocheved) took for him (Moshe) a box fashioned of balsa wood gomeh and smeared it with clay and pitch; she placed the child into it and placed it among the reeds at the bank of the River.”
It is interesting to note that the Torah is very specific about the material from which the box was made. Regarding Noach, the Torah tells us specifically that gopher wood was used to build the Ark. Rashi cites Chazal that the reason the Torah tells us this is because it is an allusion to the fact that the world will be destroyed by the sulfuric (gufris) water. However, regarding Moshe’s box, what is the significance of identifying the material from which it is made?
There is an opinion cited in the Midrash (which is the opinion of Reb Elazar) who explains that the reason the Torah specifies the wood of the box is to tell us that it is of inferior quality. This teaches us that a tzaddik values his money to a great degree. Yocheved chose to purchase the most inferior quality wood because of the degree to which she valued Hashem’s blessing, i.e. her personal assets. The question is how do we understand this? How is it is possible that she was concerned with cost of the wood when it was a question of saving the life of her child?
The answer is that Yocheved was convinced that Moshe would survive the water regardless of the quality of the wood that was used, since he was to be the Redeemer of Israel. Miriam, Moshe’s sister, had shared a prophecy with her father that Yocheved would give birth to the Redeemer. In addition, Chazal tell us that when Moshe was born, the house was illuminated by his presence and he was able to speak although he was only a newborn. It was evident to his parents that he was destined to be The Redeemer.
Yocheved understood that Moshe would have survived even if she had placed him directly into the water because she knew that Hashem would perform the miracle necessary to ensure Moshe’s survival. If this is the case, then why place Moshe in a box at all, regardless of its minimal cost?
Noach did not necessarily need to build an ark to survive the Great Flood because Hashem could have performed a miracle by suspending him and all the other creatures above the waters. Ramban explains, the reason Noach was instructed to build an ark was so that Hashem could bring about the miracle of his survival (and all that had accompanied him) in a concealed manner. If all of existence had survived through a revealed miracle, it would have been difficult to deny G-d’s existence and thus free choice would have been diminished.
Yocheved understood that she had to conceal the miracle of Moshe’s survival. Thus, it was necessary to fashion a box in order to cloak the miracle. Therefore, inferior wood was sufficient and spending more than what was absolutely necessary would have been considered wasteful. The Torah tells us that the basket was made of gomeh in order to inform us that Yocheved was aware of the destiny of her child.
From the time of his birth, Moshe understood that he was the Redeemer. The Torah tells us that when Moshe became an adult in the house of Pharaoh, he went out of the palace to see the suffering of his brothers (the Jewish people) and he came upon an Egyptian beating a Jew. Moshe first looked around, then killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. The reason Moshe killed the Egyptian was because he had raped the wife of the Jew who he was beating. How could Moshe kill the Egyptian without taking into consideration the consequences of his actions? If it were found out that he had killed the Egyptian, he would be forced to flee Egypt or even be killed. The answer is – Moshe knew that the Egyptians could not kill him. He knew that Hashem would protect him because he was destined to take the Jewish people out of Egypt.
The fact is, unlike Moshe, most people do not know their mission in life. Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) says in “Koheles” that the day of one’s death is greater than the day of one’s birth. This is because when one dies, his life has shown its purpose (if he has succeeded). However, at the time of birth, one does not know how life will evolve and unfold. Although one’s future is unknown because the course of our lives is dictated by our free choice, we do know that there is a baseline within which every Jew must operate. Regardless of who we are as individuals, we know that we are all obligated in the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvos. The Torah establishes the guidelines for every aspect of our lives and in that respect we know who we are as Moshe understood who he was. Therefore, we too should not compromise in our behavior.
5. The Far-Reaching Effects of a Good Deed
The Torah tells us that Yocheved (referred to as Shifrah) and Miriam (referred to as Puah) were the head midwives supervising the delivery of all Jewish children. The Torah states, “The King of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the first was Shifrah and the name of the second was Puah – and he said,’ in your assisting the Hebrew women at childbirth and you see on the birthstool, if it is a son you are to kill him, and if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared G-d and they did not do as the King of Egypt spoke to them … G-d did good to the midwives – and the people increased and became very strong. And it was because the midwives feared G-d that He made houses for them.”
The Torah tells us, “G-d did good to the midwives – and the people increased and became very strong. And it was because the midwives feared G-d that He made houses for them.” Rashi cites Chazal who explain that the “batim – houses” which are referred to in the pasuk are the houses of the Kehunah (priesthood) and Leviyah (tribe of Levi), which emanated from Yocheved, and the house of Malchus (kingship/royalty), which emanated from Miriam. However, the pasuk also interjects here that the Jewish people increased and became strong. Seemingly, this phrase is a digression from what the Torah is telling us about the good that G-d had done for the midwives. How do we understand this?
The worth of a good deed is based on the far-reaching effects that it has. For example, if one performs a good deed but it has limited impact then its value is also limited. However, in the case of the midwives, since Yocheved and Miriam feared Hashem, He wanted their sacrifice to have the greatest impact and therefore He wanted to maximize the value of their good deed. Because the midwives did not follow the orders of Pharaoh (which was considered a sacrifice since their lives could have been taken for defying his directive), the children that they saved increased in number and became strong.
The result of the midwives not killing the children thus became unlimited since the increase in the Jewish people was unlimited. Therefore, the reward which they received, namely the “batim-houses” of the Kehunah (priesthood), Leviyah (tribe of Levi), and Malchus (kingship), was unending.
Hashem did “good” for the midwives by imbuing their actions with even greater value. Yocheved and Miriam merited such special families because their sacrifice, demonstrated by their fear of G-d, brought about far-reaching effects. In order for the Jewish people to be able to receive the Torah at Sinai, there needed to be 600,000 Jewish males above the age of 20. Without this minimum, the Torah would not have been given at Sinai. It is because of the sacrifice of the midwives that the population increased to the necessary number and the Jewish people were able to receive the Torah – which is the purpose of the redemption from Egypt (to become G-d’s people). It is because of these incalculable and valuable effects that Hashem rewarded the good deeds of Yocheved and Miriam with such special families.
6. Greatness Lies in What is not Obvious
The Torah states, “The minister of Midian (Yisro) had seven daughters; they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s sheep. The shepherds came and drove them away. Moshe got up and saved them and watered their sheep. They came to Reuel (Yisro) their father. He said, “How could you come so quickly today?” They replied, “An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds, and he even drew water for us and watered the sheep.” He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why did you leave the man? Summon him and let him eat bread!” Rashi cites Chazal who explain that when Yisro said, “let him eat bread” he meant that Moshe should be considered as a candidate for marriage to one of his daughters. The question is why did Yisro feel that Moshe was worthy to be a perspective husband for one of his daughters? Were there no other available men for marriage in the Midian community?
Yisro, the sheik of Midian, was not a person of ordinary ability. He was an individual with exceptional understanding and ability and was therefore sensitive to many events and issues that most were not. As we see, Yisro heard (as the entire world had) that G-d had taken the Jewish people out of Egypt. Yisro was affected by this information differently then the rest of the world. He was compelled to leave his glory to join the Jewish people in the desert. When Yisro heard what “the Egyptian man” (Moshe) had done for his daughters he immediately appreciated the specialness of Moshe and understood that he was a person of unique character.
Although Moshe went out of his way to assist Yisro’s daughters, he nevertheless did not seek any remuneration or acknowledgement. This level of behavior was something out of the ordinary. Under normal circumstances, the individual who offered this level of assistance would have returned with the daughters so their family would understand and appreciate what he had done for them. Even though he put his life in jeopardy when fending off the attackers and subsequently watered Yisro’s flocks, he walked away without any interest in acknowledgement. Yisro, being a highly astute individual, immediately recognized Moshe’s unequalled quality of person. He therefore asked his daughters, “why did you not bring him back?” – he was a qualified husband for one of them.
The Midrash Tanchuma states, “Hashem does not give greatness to a person unless he has been checked and tested in an insignificant area. It is only then that Hashem causes him to ascend to greatness.” The Midrash gives the example of two world-renown individuals: Dovid HaMelech (King David) and Moshe Rabbeinu. Dovid as a shepherd would take his flock into the desert to graze, because he was concerned that if they would graze closer to the community they may graze on lands that were not his and thus he would be in violation of stealing. Even if Dovid had not taken his flock into the desert he would have been careful and vigilant not to allow them to graze in a location that was not his. Nevertheless, Dovid conducted himself in a manner that was above reproach. Even if it were remotely possible for the sheep to steal, this was not acceptable to him. Therefore Dovid was chosen to be the king of Israel. The Midrash is teaching us that through one’s actions, which seem to be insignificant, one is chosen for greatness by Hashem.
Similarly, Moshe also lead the flocks of his father-in-law into the desert to graze out of the same concern. Hashem said to Moshe, “Since you were so faithful in your responsibility to your flock, because you wanted your behavior to be above reproach, you shall lead My flock (the Jewish people).”
Yisro understood from something that seemed to be unnoticed and insignificant to others, that Moshe was a person who was very special and unique. It is through one’s behavior that is normally unnoticed that one reveals his true character.
The Gemara in Tractate Shevuous tells us that a judge must value a case that is worth one cent as much as another case worth an enormous amount of money. The judge is not permitted to even switch the order of adjudicating the case of minimal value with the case of greater monetary value The Gemara tells us that both cases are of equal importance. Thus, the judge must be a person of such caliber that he does not differentiate between the inconsequential amount of money (the penny) and an enormous amount of money.
In order to recognize a special individual, one needs to be special himself. When Reb Yisroel Salanter z’tl was a mere youth seventeen years, he recognized the greatness of a certain individual in his community who was working in a distillery. By the age of ten, Reb Yisroel Salanter was proficient in the entire Talmud. At the age of seventeen, he was already recognized as a great Torah mind. Reb Yisroel Salanter approached this individual on his way to the distillery and asked him to become his rebbe (teacher). The individual replied, “I am no more than a laborer in a distillery. Why would you think that I am qualified to be your rebbe?” Reb Yisroel replied, “I have noticed the manner in which you conduct yourself during the Morning Service. Every aspect of your conduct during the service adheres meticulously to the various opinions of the Halachic Decisors (poskim). Your behavior is one of a kind and therefore it indicates to me that you are a hidden Torah Sage.” This was Reb Yosef Zundel of Salant z’tl, one of the leading Torah Sages of that generation. Reb Yisroel Salanter was able to perceive and recognize what others could not. Because he himself was special, he was able to identify his rebbe Reb Yosef Zundel of Salant.
We can see that the true greatness of an individual is revealed in the way one conducts himself in areas that are unnoticed by others.
7. The Power Behind Yaakov
The Torah states, “Then Yisroel said to Yosef, “Behold! – I am about to die…And as for me, I have given you Shechem – one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Emorite with my sword and with my bow.” Rashi explains “with my sword and with my bow” to mean “with my chochmah (wisdom) and with my tefillah (prayer).” Yaakov is not referring to a physical sword and bow but rather to wisdom and prayer. The Targum Unkelos explains “with my sword and with my bow” means “b’tzlusee (with my tefillah/prayer) and u’viusee (with my bakashah /request)”.
The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) states that if one knows he will not be able to have proper intent when he says any one of the three obligatory Amidahs (Silent Prayers), his tefillah is considered valid. However, if one wishes to recite a tefillas nedavah (optional silent prayer for additional requests from Hashem), one must feel that he will have the proper concentration from the beginning of the tefillah to the end. Otherwise, it is considered that the person is praying in vain. Reb Meir Simcha explains that based on its own weight, the sword has the ability to cut and pierce; so too, the obligatory tefillah has inherent value, even though the person may be lacking in concentration. However, just as the effectiveness of the bow (which propels the arrow) is the result of the archer’s power, so too, the tefillas nedavah is effective only when one infuses it with the proper concentration. This is what Yaakov meant when he said to Yosef, “…which I took from the hand of the Emorite with my sword and with my bow.”
Sforno offers yet another interpretation of this pasuk. Based on the Gemara in Tractate Shabbos, he explains “with my sword and with my bow” means “with my chachmah (wisdom) and with my binah (understanding)”. The Gemara says that this pertains to the study of Torah. Chachmah refers to the knowledge of Torah, while binah refers to binah refers to the delving and application of concepts that come about through the study of Torah.
The Midrash illustrates the difference between chachmah and binah by discussing two types of people, a chacham and a navon, respectively. The chacham is likened to the person who possesses many coins and all he does is repeatedly count his money. The navon, an individual with binah, can be compared to a person who understands the value of those coins and thus invests them in order to greatly multiply their value. The question is what is the relationship of the sword to chachmah and the bow to binah?
Just as the sword has the natural ability to cut because of its weight and sharpness, so too, the wisdom of Torah has innate value. Just as the bow’s ability to propel the arrow is solely based on the power of the archer, so too the only thing that can give one the ability to delve into concepts and apply them to situations (that are not so obvious) is to dedicate oneself to the study of Torah. One is only able to comprehend the Torah to the degree that one applies himself to it. As the Gemara in Tractate Megillah tells us, “If one toils in the study of Torah and comes upon its Truth it should be believed (yagata matzasa taamin).”
Yaakov was the Patriarch who represents Torah; He devoted his entire life to its study. His dedication was to such a degree that for the fourteen years that he spent at the Yeshivah of Shem V’Aver, he did not lie down to sleep. Through his dedication, he achieved chachmah and binah. As a result, he merited the portion (Shechem) which he gave over the Yosef. We learn from this that the degree to which one dedicates himself to the study of Torah will determine what he will derive from it.
Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky and Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Kalatsky is the founder of the Yad Avraham Institute, a New York-based learning center whose mission is to disseminate Torah to Jews of all backgrounds and walks of life.