Jewish Soul Journey

REFLECTIONS & CONNECTIONS – KABBALAS HA-TORAH

       

            As we approach
the time of the giving of our Torah, let us reflect that each and every Jew is
said to be connected to an os – a
letter – in the Sefer Torah, with
both our inner perception and the outer reality in which we live being spun
from its spiritual fabric. Since this week we are reading about the giving of
the Torah let us try to broaden our understanding what possible additional
insight can be culled from the halacas that there must be an adequate space
between each os; and yet, on the
other hand, all the letters of each word must be close enough so that they are
not perceived as separated and apart?

         These halachos can perhaps be seen as having
the following profound implications: ]

    
We should always strive to allow the next person the proper distance for
maintaining respect and independence, yet without sacrificing the closeness and
connectedness that makes us areivim
responsible for one another. This is perhaps alluded to in these halachos
between the Torah’s letters and spaces. Just as the letters must be close
enough so that meaningful ideas can be communicated, we also need to be close
enough to help and interact with one another; yet, just as the letters must be
separate enough so that the distinction between them is not blurred or
obliterated, so should we always respect our neighbors and acquaintances so as
not to diminish anyone’s unique personality and identity.

 

 

The Need for Attitudinal Distance

 

Perhaps the parchment between each letter is analogous to the
“attitudinal distance” that exists between each person. Just as the white
parchment has no perceivable value, yet is crucial, so also is the need to
respect the cultural and individual “space”/differences between people. This “territory” between us and others is
the space/ place of opportunity for learning mutual respect, thus allowing each
person to maintain his independent integrity.
Through this, we will avoid
our personal feelings and agendas spilling over into someone else’s borders,
thereby allowing us to emulate the halacha of mukafos gevul. (Every letter of a sefer Torah must be surrounded by an area of white parchment – (Menachos 29a) and certainly a Torah
scroll that is not in conformity with this requirement cannot be used until it
is rectified.)

    Moreover, through accomplishing this, we will
also be blessed with a greater appreciation of our own unique role and place in
this world.

Indeed, so essential is this “space” that the Gemara teaches that
Hashem gave Moshe the Torah as white
fire and black fire, with the black fire representing the written letters while
the white fire represented the spaces in between (Yerushalmi Shekalim 6:1). We can further see this aspect of the
importance of the surrounding area in the teaching that if one, chas veshalom, sees a sefer Torah burning, one must tear one’s
garments twice – one time in mourning for the written words and a second time
because of the parchment (Moeid Kattan
26a).

[[[In a different context, one commentator offered this profound
thought: “Consciousness is always surrounded by a border of unconscious
experience that itself gives shape to consciousness.” Perhaps this can be
recast as follows: Thought as expressed through the black letters of the Torah
is always surrounded by white borders of unconscious experience that helps to
give shape to our consciousness.]]]

             May this year’s Kabbalas Ha-Torah merit us
once again of the miracle of having enough “space” for everyone one of us to
prostrate ourselves in the holy Bais HaMigdash – may it be built soon in our
days.

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