12 Tishrei 5781 / Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
 
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Our Covenant From Sinai    

Our Covenant From Sinai



There’s such a thing as “learning”, and there’s such a thing as “giving over”. You don’t only teach children Yiddishkeit, you give it over to them…

 



Compiled and edited by Ziv Ritchie
 
 
When Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Mt. Sinai, during the day G-d dictated the Chumash to him, during the night G-d explained the Mishna and Gemara to him [the Oral Law].  We don’t know what Chumash [Five Books of Moses] really is.  If someone says, “I know Gemara,” he’s probably lying, but maybe he isn’t.  But if someone comes to you and says, “I know Chumash,” he’s definitely lying [fooling himself].  Because Chumash is way out [beyond everybody].  So many times Moshe Rabbeinu asked G-d, “Why don’t you let me write it down?” - and he was begging G-d, “Why don’t you let me change some of the wording, it would come out so much clearer.” But G-d said, “No.”
 
Covenant
 
There’s a verse that says that G-d made a covenant with us:  the Gemara says that the covenant is the Oral Law.
 
What is a covenant?  When you have a covenant with someone, you say something to each other.  But what’s the covenant between Israel and G-d?  It’s the Oral Law. 
 
The Gemara puts it like this - and if it was real then, how much more real is it now!  G-d says to Moses, There will be a time when the whole world will also know the Bible.  So they will say, “We’re just like the Jews,” but the one who knows the Oral Torah, the one who knows what it really means - the world knows that they are the real Jews, the people who were at Mt. Sinai.  And the ones who know the Bible via translation, they aren’t real.
 
Maybe some of you know that the first time the Bible was translated, it was translated from the original Hebrew into Greek.  And so, even today, we fast on the tenth day of Tevet, - one of the reasons is because it was on that day that the Bible was first translated.  It’s the saddest thing in the world.  Because before then, any non-Jew who wanted to know the Bible came to Israel, and we taught him the Bible.  In this way, we were teaching it, and so we knew that he knew exactly what was being said.  But the moment the Bible was translated, any little person could buy himself a copy of the Bible, and think he knows what G-d is saying.  So on that day we are still fasting, because it’s a degradation of Mt. Sinai. 
 
And so now the Bible has been in translation for about 2200 years, and the fact is people don’t know the Bible yet! 
 
Without hurting anybody’s feelings, take a priest who writes commentaries on the Bible.  He might be a sweet little man, but he cannot write commentaries on the Bible.  It just does not work.  And take a little Yiddele who writes commentaries on the Bible, and it does work... Because we have a covenant with G-d.  So, the actual words themselves can be translated, and for that you don’t necessarily need a Jew, maybe.  You don’t need a Jew to know that the word ‘Bereshit’ means “In the Beginning.”  But the real meaning of G-d’s words was just given to us Jewish People, and that’s not written down. It’s just handed down from one generation to the other.
 
So whoever wants to come and learn what HaShem is really saying, can come and we’ll teach him.  But he has to come to us; we have to be the channel because it has to be given over from mouth to mouth.
 
Without going into a long story, I was once invited to give a concert in a monastery.  So I began talking to them about the Psalms.  They asked me, “Teach us one Psalm.” So I took one and taught it it to them, and I really know very little.  But, regardless, they were mamash saying, “I never knew the Psalm was so good.”  And they all really know the Psalms by heart; they’re good people, but they didn’t know what the Psalms are saying.  Because the Psalms were given to the Jewish people.  I can teach it to them.  But I cannot give it to them; I cannot give it over to them.
 
Giving over
 
There’s such a thing as learning, and there’s such a thing as giving over.  You don’t only teach children Yiddishkeit, you give it over to them.  Sometimes, someone might have a great Rabbi, who can teach him the entire Torah, yet he doesn’t give him over anything.  And maybe Moshe the water carrier doesn’t know much to teach his son, but mamash he gave Yiddishkeit over to him!
 
So G-d says to Moses, if I would write down the whole Torah, then the Jews could become strangers, G-d forbid, to their own Bible, to their own Mt. Sinai. But because it’s not all written down, therefore, it’s just given over to them.  So the one nation who knows the Oral Law is the one nation that was at Mt. Sinai and received both the Written and the Oral Law, and the ones who don’t know the Oral Law were not there.
 
 
* * *
Excerpt from “Rebbe Nachman Says”, The Teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev as Taught by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z”tl
 
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s booksare available online at the Breslev Israel store. 





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