SALT - Thursday, 18 Iyar 5776, Omer 33 [Lag Ba-omer] - May 26, 2016

  • Rav David Silverberg

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This week's SALT shiurim are dedicated in memory of
David Moshe ben Harav Yehuda Leib Silverberg z"l,
whose yahrzeit is Thursday 18 Iyar, May 26
.

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            Yesterday, we cited the well-known comment of the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 35:1) in interpreting the opening phrase of Parashat Bechukotai, “Im be-chukotai teileikhu” – “If you walk in accordance with My statutes.”  The Midrash explains this verse by referencing a verse from Sefer Tehillim (119:59) in which King David proclaims, “I calculated my ways and I turned my feet toward Your testaments.”  According to the Midrash, David here says about himself, “Each and every day, I would calculate [where I should go] and say, ‘I will go to such-and-such place and to such-and-such residence,’ but my feet would bring me to synagogues and study halls.”  And it is to this level of religious devotion that the Torah refers when it speaks of us “walking in accordance with My statutes.”

            Rav Natan Gestetner explained the Midrash’s comment as noting the contrast between the way we are to experience and relate to mitzvot and to our other areas of engagement.  According to Rav Gestetner, King David is not saying that his legs always brought him to the synagogue and study halls, such that he never went anywhere else.  Rather, David is saying that when he engaged in other activities, he needed to “calculate his ways”; his engagement was driven solely by his calculated decision that this was what he needed to be done.  By contrast, when it came to prayer and Torah study, “my feet would bring me to synagogues and study halls” – he went naturally.  The experience felt fully natural; this is where he felt most comfortable and most at ease.  Of course, he needed to engage in a wide array of activities, tending to his own needs as well as those of the nation which he led.  However, he always felt most natural and most at ease in the synagogues and study halls.

            According to this reading, Chazal teach us that we should aspire to make Torah and mitzvot our most natural setting, the activity with which we feel most comfortable.  Although we are of course involved in many different things, our connection to Torah must run deep enough that we can consider it our most natural and comfortable experience, even more so than our regular mundane activities.