web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Gift Of Life

PTI-053014

Life is what you make of it. And if our lives are defined by Torah, then these weeks of Sefira are all about making the most of it.

We all know the famous Gemara (Shabbos 88a): At Har Sinai, Hashem turned the mountain on top of Bnei Yisroel like a barrel and said, “If you accept the Torah, good. But if not, here will be your burial spot.”

This is based on the pasukVayisyatzvu b’tachtis hahar – and they stood at the foot of the mountain” (Yisro 19:17); in which Rav Avdimi Bar Chama translates the word tachtis as meaning “underneath.”

Let’s start with a simple question: Why does the Gemara refer to the upside-down mountain as a barrel?  Better yet – we visualize the mountain being suspended over Klal Yisroel, ready to squash them. But if it were really like an upside-down barrel, then they would be trapped inside, not squashed. What was the point of trapping them?

I heard an incredible explanation on this Gemara from Rav Yehuda Wagschal of the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. He cited the Chasam Sofer who refers to another passage in the Gemara (Shabbos 105b) that says if someone is lazy and delays in eulogizing a talmid chacham properly, that person deserves to be buried alive!  A terrible fate, but what is the connection to the sin?  (Pardon me if this is a little morbid but it is a Gemara and we need to understand it as this insight is imperative for our personal understanding of Shavuos.)

How could one ever bury someone alive? It’s only possible if the persecutor does not consider this person’s life to be a life. He is not granting him the ability to even die because, in his book, the person is not really alive in the first place.

A person who does not eulogize a talmid chacham properly shows that he does not value the Torah and the accomplishments of a talmid chacham.  This crime is punishable by being buried alive.  The Gemara is teaching us a fundamental concept – the very definition of life is Torah and the value we place on it.  One who does not value Torah is not alive and therefore deserves to be buried alive – he doesn’t need to die as he is nothing more than a walking corpse.

Every night in Maariv, we say “ki heim chayeinu – for [the Torah] is our life” – literally!

That’s what Hashem essentially said at Sinai, “If you don’t accept the Torah, I will put this barrel over you, burying you alive, because not accepting Torah means you don’t value it. Hence, you are already as good as dead!”

Pretty scary.

After WWII, the situation of talmud Torah in England was very dismal.  There were many young children left without parents and no one to teach them Torah. Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, ztl (Chief Dayan of the London Beis Din, 1934-1951) saw the great need to open a yeshiva to preserve Torah in the youth in England.  Food was scarce and money was tight but that did not deter Rav Abramsky from opening the yeshiva and raising the funds.  Late one Thursday, as he was finishing his day collecting, he turned to his associates and asked, “Is there anyone else we did not approach?”

“No,” they replied.

“Are you sure?” asked R’ Abramsky.

“Well, there is one wealthy secular Jew but don’t waste your time. They said once you say the word ‘yeshiva’ or ‘Torah’ he will dismiss you.”

“What is his phone number?” asked R’ Abramsky, as he picked up the phone to dial.

About the Author: Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is Associate Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Passaic Torah Institute, Passaic, NJ.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “The Gift Of Life”

  1. Shabbat shalom & thankyou.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaking in Ramallah, July 1, 2014.
PA Demands Nov 2016 Deadline for UN to Force Israeli Surrender
Latest Judaism Stories
Duxvielfalt_2011

Contrary to popular belief, the Talmud never explicitly limits the ban on footwear to leather shoes.

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

More Articles from Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim
PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

PTI-082214

Who does not want to get close to Hashem? Yet, how do we do that?

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Life is what you make of it. And if our lives are defined by Torah, then these weeks of Sefira are all about making the most of it.

Eretz Yisroel’s resting during the shmittah year proclaims Hashem as the Creator of the world just as Shabbos does, for the init of time – seven – is solely connected to the creation of the world.

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

The battle on Purim was our war with Amalek; we know that Haman was a descendent of Amalek and we are commanded to annihilate that entire nation.

The Satan waits for opportunities to undo kedusha, particularly on erev Shabbos, when the potential to bring the Shechina into the world is great.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-gift-of-life-3/2014/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: