Thursday, May 13, 2010

The BAAL HATURIM on Parashat BaMidbar


Isn't it fascinating how every word in a Torah Parasha can make you stumble; especially when you study different commenatries. After years and years of studying the Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah portion) one may think that he already knows everything but reality proves you wrong. Every year anew, something new and astonishing comes up which you have seemed to overlooked the last time.

"And G - s spoke unto Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai …"

One of the various commentators I seem to have neglected so far is the BAAL HATURIM (Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, 13 century, Germany + Spain). He is making an amazing statement right at the beginning of the Parasha and I haven't found his conclusion in any other of the 15 commentaries I studied.

"BaMidbar Sinai - In the wilderness of Sinai …"

Baal HaTurim: "If a person is not making himself like a wilderness then he cannot know Torah and Mitzvot".

What kind of a commentary should that be ? Doesn't this sounds rather strange ? How am I going to turn myself into a wilderness ?

However, in Judaism there are always Commentaries on the commentaries (which makes Jewish learning much more crazy complicated), and a commentary on the Baal HaTurim stated that the Rabbi actually refers to a verse (Passuk) in the Gemara (rabbinic discussions) in Talmud Tractate Eruvin 54a. There we would find our answer !

Rabbi Yosef said to Rava: "… If a person makes himself like the wilderness which everybody treads upon (e.g. he is humble), then the Torah is given to him as a gift".

Rashi's explanation on this:
If he acts "like a wilderness", then the Torah will be granted him as a gift and will not be forgotten".

The Baal HaTurim wants to lead our attention to the fact that a Rabbi or any other Jew should act in a humble way and refrain from being arrogant. Don't show off with your Torah knowledge and start looking down on others but serve as an example for being a good Torah Jew.

An amazing statement of the Baal HaTurim referring to Eruvin 45a and another example of how the words of Torah may be interpreted in the most awesome ways.

Shabbat Shalom + Chodesh Tov ! Have a great and healthy new month !

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