Jewish Soul Journey





                   As we move further into the
month of Teves  and find ourselves
engulfed by the dark cold winter, it seems difficult to hold onto the imprint (reshima)
of the glow of the inspiring lights of  Chanukah.  Nonetheless, we must not allow ourselves to
succumb to the illusion that the world has fallen prey to the physical and
spiritual forces of darkness.  After all,
Teves is a month in the holy Jewish calendar even as are the months of Nissan
and Tishre.   Teves and in fact all of
the winter months are   also imbued with
sanctity and filled with treasures for us to discover.  But how can we find anything without
light?  In a seemingly paradoxical manner,
the answer lies hidden within that very darkness.

               Historically, these days were
blemished by a spiritual darkness caused by events that weakened respect for
the Torah in the eyes and hearts of the nations. The Greeks forced our
Sages  to translate the Torah into their
language.  This translation was only of
the written part of the Torah (she’bichtav) and was in accordance with the
deliberate alterations purposefully incorporated by the seventy Sages who
simultaneously translated it.  It could
not and was not intended to convey the depth and breath of Torah which is elucidated
by the oral part of the Torah (sh-b’al peh). 

 Why should this be an occasion for spiritual
blemish?  We know that we are not
permitted to reveal the secrets of Torah to pagans and in fact G-d (Hashem)
created a miracle (nes) allowing the Sages who were kept apart  as they made their translations to
simultaneously provide the same alterations of the words of Torah so as to
preserve and protect the Torah from misinterpretation.  Yes, on the one hand, the translation of the
Sages accomplished its purpose and the Torah was protected, however, on the
other hand, the Torah in translation lost the aspect of reverence and awe that
attached to it when it was read and interpreted in the holy tongue by G-d
fearing Jews and respectful non-Jews who had made a commitment to come within
the congregation (k’lal) of Yisrael. 

In the eyes of the
non-Jews the Torah in translation lost its Divine  majesty and became ordinary. The Torah became
available to the masses and perhaps even more disastrously to the  bible critics who labored long and hard to
eradicate our Torah’s Divine sanctity. 

Non-Jews were not the
only people who were affected. 
Tragically,   some Jews were
affected as well.   The ideology that
motivated this translation  has continued
to affect the spiritually vulnerable within the Jewish Nation throughout the
generations and to this day.   Sadly, we
can observe the many unlearned Jews who know the Torah only at its most superficial
level, if at all, and who cannot fathom its depths and its import.

                In demanding a translation of
the Torah, the Greeks intended for it to weaken our holy tradition. Through forcing
us to display the words of the Torah without its commentaries and rules of
derivation,  they  attempted to transform it into a one
dimensional mindset as hinted to through the letters (osios) within the name of
Yavan:  yud-vov-nun. All three of these
letters are externally made up of  a unidirectional
line implying that their beauty and essence only exists on the surface. The
truth is that as descendants of Yaphet, one of the sons of Noach, they were
ideally meant to enhance, not detract from the Torah, by dwelling within the
tents of Shem. The name Yaphet comes from the root of yofe – meaning  beauty.   We can see that Yavan  inherited  this trait because the letters of Yavan when
reversed spell out the word nun-vov-yud – noi–which means attractive. Had they
fulfilled their role properly they would have used their G-d given talents to
enhance the Torah by dwelling within our tents.  This has not as of yet happened.  Instead they attempted to capture our Torah
bringing it into their tents of Hellenism.

                However, fortunately, even the
plans of the evil minded are also under the control and only instrumentalities
of the Creator ( Hashem Yisbarach). They are sometimes sent our way, if we
caused through our inactions or wrong actions to be tested, (us) in order to give
us the opportunity to change and grow. The Greek empire (Yavan): yud-vov-nun
attempted to lower the yud through the vov down to the depths of the nun,
whereas our role is to raise up and reveal the beauty within those hidden lights of holiness
found in the Torah as seen through the letters spelling noi: nun-vov-yud.

                      Indeed, the miracle (nes) imbedded in the
uniformity of the Torah’s simultaneous translations is a word that has three
meanings: It means miracle; it also means a test (nision) and finally it means
banner.  The nes of this translation
becomes a test for us – a test of our own beliefs and of our own ability to
help ourselves and our less learned brothers by revealing the great spiritual
treasures lying hidden beneath the surface 
of our holy Torah.  Because the
challenge is so great and the need for illumination is so palpable – when  we make this effort all important and use our
strengths to this end then  when we are
victorious  we will have the privilege of
being able to raise our Torah to new and even greater levels of appreciation in
this world.

 Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from
 long exile (galus) is that we
cannot be content with the levels we have currently reached in Torah.  Even many of us who learn our holy Torah
written and oral with its holy commentaries every day cannot yet say to
ourselves, “Ah but we have plumbed the depths of her potential.”  We should take these days that are both
physically and spiritually dark and bring illumination into them.  We should take our spiritual scuba gear and
dive deep into the sea
of  Torah.  By going far beneath the surface – meaning by
learning each subject with great profundity and sincerity we will then merit
just like the deep sea diver to uncover valuable treasures from the depths of
our efforts. This will help to restore the  honor of Torah 
in the eyes of the world. May we together merit to achieve this
admirable goal of transforming this darkness into light as we usher in the
advent of our long awaited final redemption (geula).

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

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