You shall place the Urim and the Tumim into the Choshen of judgment so that they will be over Aaron’s heart when he comes before HASHEM, and Aaron will carry the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before HASHEM at all times. (Shemos 28:30)
the judgment of the children of Israel: [I.e., the solution of] the matter about which they [the Israelites] are judging and debating, whether or not to do something – Rashi
The Urim v’ Tumim was some kind of mystical instrument for determining or divining truth. Stones and letters would light up and a Kohen with Ruach HaKodesh would be able to discern the message while the pedestrian- layman who stood by would remain clueless.
Where has this device disappeared to. We could all use a little Divine guidance?
The Piaseczno Rebbe, Rabbi Klonimus Kalman Shapiro wrote in Sefer Derech HaMelech that we may still have this type of Heavenly help even nowadays. He claims that we may still have access to prophecy even though we have been a non-profit organization for the past 2400 years.
He writes: “There is a type of prophetic knowledge that comes when one looks in a holy book. Not knowledge of the future, for that ceased when the Temple was destroyed. Rather, it is a call to the service of G-d and the holiness of Israel.
At times, we have all experienced looking into a holy book and suddenly becoming extremely moved by a certain idea. A word pierces our heart and gives us no rest for years, until it can transform us into a different person, and sanctify and uplift us.
What is going on? We have already heard this idea from others, and seen it in books, yet we remained untouched. Yet now, the matter suddenly penetrates our heart and mind. This is a form of the Urim v’ Tumim. (the breast plate worn by the High Priest) There too, all the letters were written, yet only some of them would shine in the eyes of the Kohen; and only a Kohen with Divine Inspiration. Another Kohen would stand by him and not see a thing.”
Isn’t it amazing! We all come to Shul on Shabbos and review the same Parsha and yet every person finds different points that catch their attention. If I would give 50 different people a Sefer Tehillim and ask them to highlight one Possuk each week that speaks to them, one that jazzes their soul, what is the likelihood that any two would have the exact same 50 verses highlighted!? That’s a rhetorical question. Way beyond highly improbable!
All throughout Mishlei Shlomo HaMelech writes in the persona of the Torah, “Listen My son…”. Not only do we learn Torah as an intellectual exercise or a scholarly discipline but at the same time we are shopping for truth. Again, Shlomo HaMelech writes, “The Truth, acquire it but don’t sell it!” We are on a buying mission. Many people walk through a store but everybody zeroes on what suits them best.
The main questions are, “What is the Torah teaching us and what is HASHEM saying to me?” You can hear it in the writings of the Chofetz Chaim. You can almost feel the warmth of a Rebbe and smell the sweet breath of a father whispering to his child. He is talking to us. We are not just “learning up” his books, but rather we are imbibing his loving advice. The Torah is talking to each of us in an intimate and a deeply personal way.