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Matan Torah: A Father Does Not Give His Son a Poisoned Gift

Published on Thursday June 6th, 2019

Why did the Bnei Yisrael say "Naasseh Venishma" when they didn’t know anything about the Torah that they were being offered?

Fifty days after leaving Egypt, G-d addressed the Bnei Yisrael and asked them the crucial question: "Are you ready to accept the Torah?" And the children of Israel responded immediately and determinedly: "Naasseh Venishma" ("We will do and we will hear"). They said this although they did not see what was written in the Torah that was offered to them.

It is important to understand the logic behind this statement. Indeed, who buys a horse without looking at its teeth? If someone is told, "Take this book and do what it says," will he agree to do it?

It is known that the nations of the world have always mocked the behavior of the Jewish people in this regard. The Gemara Shabbat (88, 75) speaks about this.

A heretic once remarked that Rabbah was so busy learning so diligently, that blood was spurting out of his finger [that he was squeezing under his foot without realizing it when he was learning while sitting on the floor].

The heretic said to him: How excited are you! You allow your mouths to get ahead of your ears [You have said "Naaseh" before "Nishma"], and you continue with your imprudence.

You would have done better to listen first and then ask yourself if you could accept it or not.

Rabba answered him:

We are upright and honest. It is about us that it is written, "the integrity of the righteous directs them" [Proverbs 11, 3]. And it is about those who walk in the path of evil that it is written: "But the detours of the wicked cause their ruin".

Indeed, one can legitimately ask whether the Bnei Yisrael's commitment was not too reckless, too hasty, or too docile. When they came out of Egypt, they were plunged to the 49th degree of impurity, and so were far from knowing what Emuna was. Their way of life was very similar to that of the Egyptians. How could they rely so much on G-d that they had just come to recognize?

However, we ask these questions because we live in a generation in which G-d "hides" from us, and we do not feel Him, unlike that generation of Bnei Israel who clearly perceived Hashem.

Take the example of a father who offers a gift to his son, and whose son knows and recognizes that his father only wants his good. Will the son refuse the package as he does not know in advance its content and if it interests him? Of course not! He will accept with joy and gratitude the gift of his loving father, without asking any questions. On the contrary, if he asked his father about the value of the gift, he would be a fool.

In the case of the Bnei Israel, Hashem Himself descended from His heights to give His people the precious Torah. How could it have occurred to them that this present was not good for them?

Of course, it is true that the Bnei Israel had only left Egypt 50 days earlier, and that before that they did not know what the Emuna was. But during this short time, and even before that, they not only heard about G-d, they could also "feel" Him in a tangible and obvious way. It began with the ten plagues, for which each one of them clearly demonstrated Divine Providence. Then there was the coming out of Egypt, when a whole nation came out within a day from a country where they had been slaves for years, without anyone stopping them. Finally, the peak was clearly revealed to them at the splitting of the Red Sea, where a simple servant could see what even the prophets could not perceive (see Rashi in Parshat Shemot, 15,2).

In other words, the people of Israel had reached a very high degree of prophecy in their relationship with G-d. Their connection was direct and intimate, and there was no need for any other motivator to give credit to the divine word. It is this link that the nations do not understand, like the heretic who made fun of Rabba.

It is now incumbent on us to value the gift we received from our Father...

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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