Vort from the Rav: Tetzaveh

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Ex. 28:4

an ephod

Rashi writes: “I have not heard nor have I found a baraisa which explains [the ephod’s] design. However, my heart tells me that it is belted around its back…” Rashi then continues with a description of how he believed the ephod was designed. How could Rashi provide such a detailed picture based simply on his intuition?

The answer can be inferred from a passage from Avos Derav Nassan 41:1: “Israel was crowned with three crowns: the Crown of priesthood (Keser Kehunah), the Crown of kingship (Keser Malchus), and the Crown of Torah (Keser Torah).” Keser Torah does not merely signify gaining Torah knowledge, but elevation and personal purification. Talmud Torah engenders a refinement of the personality. Depth of understanding replaces superficiality as the individual undergoes a total transformation. One who is crowned with the Keser Torah gains a new sensitivity and weltanschauung, a different view of the world.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik would compare his approach to resolving a difficult passage in Maimonides with a traveler who must reach his destination in the darkness of night. In the distance, he sees the flashing of a dim light that signals his ultimate destination, pointing him in the proper direction. Even if Reb Chaim was only in the initial stages of formulating his ideas to resolve the difficulty, he intuitively knew the approach to take. He had the sensitivity and perception to the underlying message and theme of a sugya, to look beyond the simple words on the page and to be able to uncover the treasure that lies within. One must perceive the faint blinking light and instinctively move in its direction.

Keser Torah means that the individual is entirely enveloped and gains a certain intimacy with Torah. He is elevated; he has absorbed an inner holiness. He gains a special intuition and insight, he has the ability to feel the Torah’s pulse and infer its thought processes. (Nefesh Harav, p. 43, Derashot Harav, pp. 207, 211)

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

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