Holy Nation? Yes, we are!
 
 
  Breaking Free chizuk #1502  
 
 
In Today's Issue
   
Image of the Day
Torah: A Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation
Chizuk: 90 Days; One Hour at a Time
Daily Dose of Dov: You Can't Learn Torah with "Dirty Hands"
 
 
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Image of the Day
 
Torah
 
A Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation
 
Part 2/2
 
By the.guard

The Gemara tells the story of Rabbi Akiva and Turnusrufus Harasha (who was the ruler of Israel in Roman times). Turnusrufus asked Rabbi Akiva why the Jews make a bris milah. After all, if G-d created man in this way, why do the Jews come and change G-d's handiwork? Rabbi Akiva asked him to bring a bundle of wheat along with rolls of freshly baked bread, as well as a bundle of flax along with beautifully crafted flax-based clothing. When the items came before them, Rabbi Akiva asked Turnusrufus, "Which of these are nicer? G-d's handiwork or the handiwork of man?"

In other words, G-d created many things with the intention that man should come and perfect them into much more useful and beautiful things.

But what was their real argument, on a deeper level; did Turnusrufus really care which is nicer? Their argument was a reflection of the fundamental difference in attitude between the Jews and the Goyim. Turnusrufus was of the view of ESAV, his forefather, that man is what he is and cannot be changed for the better. We are creatures of our instincts, and although we may be able to act with honor and restraint at times, it is only if it ultimately benefits us and our desires. We can't change our nature, we are just intelligent animals. But the Jew stands for the opposite. We were given the Torah, which helps a person rise ABOVE their nature and change their instincts and animalistic drives. A human may be part animal, but he is also part soul! The light of the Torah can actually change a person, and that is what the bris milah symbolizes. The bris symbolizes that Hashem gave us this animalistic body unperfected, with the intention that we perfect it and rise ABOVE our nature.

Why was this symbol given specifically on this organ? Perhaps because it is the sexual drive that tests a man's animalistic desires the most in this world. At the bris milah, a piece of our flesh must be painfully removed from our bodies, so too, the shmiras habris - the upholding of sexual purity throughout our lives - is the true test of whether a person is ready to rise ABOVE their animalistic desires and fulfill their purpose. Upholding the bris can feel sometimes like we're ripping a part of our hearts out! That is why both the bris and the heart are sometimes called "arel" - uncircumcised, as the pasuk says "ומלתם את ערלת לבבכם" - and you shall curcumcise the "foreskin" of your hearts. When we uphold the bris throughout our adult years, we are in effect affirming retroactively how much we value the bris - treaty - that was made between us and Hashem at 8 days old without us having had a say in the matter.

The Jew and the bris are inseparable. It is a symbol of what we stand for and of our unique place in creation.

Chizuk
 
90 Days; One Hour at a Time
 
By Loi Miyaeish

"Loi-miyaeish" (a bachur) wrote in the forum:

Read more
Daily Dose of Dov
 
You Can't Learn Torah with "Dirty Hands"
 
By Dov

'AryehTahor' asks on the forum:

Since my last fall and my general life situation at the moment, I have decided I would like to start working the steps. Can the steps be effective if you basically print them out and study them a little each day and think about them? Or do you need to be involved with a program, and go to meetings and have a group of people etc.? I ask because I can't practically be involved in an SA program at the moment and am wondering if I will get anything out of what I said above, or if it will be basically a waste of time and I should try to learn Mussar instead?


Dov Replies:

For the record, haven't you been learning mussar already? If not, what pray tell (that's fancy talk for "the hell") have you been doing all these years?

And no, the steps are not said to work unless you "work" them. It requires action, not reading and thinking. Even writing, which is absolutely indispensable for most folks, is not enough. Action is needed.

The concept of "kol ha'omer: 'ein li ella Torah' ("I only want to learn - not keep the mitzvos"), afilu Torah ein lo! (even Torah he doesn't have)" applies to the steps even more so.

Just for fun, here's a little vort:

 

A question:

Why is it that if we smear mud or wipe a shoe on our backs or faces we can still learn Torah, but if we touch a shoe with our hand we cannot? What's with the hands?!

 

An answer:

Hands symbolize action - asiyah - what the malachim are missing. That's why we have the Torah, not them. "Hands being dirty" symbolizes that they are not muchshar for asiyah - i.e. there is an inherent lack in our ability to implement Hashem's Will.

And one who is not in a state to put the Torah into action is pasul for learning because it is as though they are saying "I'll just learn it". And apparently, that's not what Torah was made for. Our hands have to be OK, even though our asiyah will not be perfect. They need to be ready for Hashem to work through them.

Hatzlocha!

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