Friday, February 22, 2013

Getting Sashy With The Gerim

Parashas Tetzaveh
Torat Moshe: A Journey With The Ger [Toshav / Tzedek / Shaar]
 Rabbi David Katz

In Parashas Tetzaveh we become acquainted with the sublime beauty latent within the priesthood; from the Breastplate and her exquisite stones, Aaron and sons, along with their unique sanctity, all the way to the Priestly garments and their mystical flare that captures one’s imagination of how a day in the Temple may appear. With obvious overtones of the Priesthood and its innate beauty, one must not however, lose sight of the inherent Torah within the articles of the Parsha, and the Priesthood in particular. The Priests as we find out, are garmented with many adornments, with the least of them being a “sash”; yet we are about to see how the humble sash will serve to be the impetus of revealing the Torah of Moses in a Parsha of Torah that contains “Torah” to the exclusion of Moses! [Moses’ name is left out of the Parsha] The sash of the Priesthood will not only reinstate Moses, but it will provide the vehicle of the Torah journey of the Ger from Sinai, well into the Messianic Age.

Parashas Tetzaveh 29:9 makes a simple and subtle statement along the lines that Aaron and his sons are to wear sashes. Notice that the verse does not clarify any more on this point; not the color, fabric type, “who” etc., we are simply told that they adorn a sash. We find a very similar scenario in Ezekiel 44:17, as it states that the Priests shall wear a sash that is not made of wool, rather linen. One can say that this is where the journey of the Ger and his Torah begin, even if in its infancy.

The Bible Commentator “Radak” makes a commentary of this Ezekiel verse while referencing the Talmud in conjunction with our Parsha verse. He simply states, that due to the nature of the predicament of the “priests” [as opposed to High Priest he points out] in our Ezekiel verse, one must conclude that the Prophet is giving a new Torah Law for the future based on apparent contradictions concerning the sash. The Radak states that “Torat Moshe” clearly states that the sash is made of wool, while the Prophet states that it is linen. Thus we have a known Law for this World and a prophetic new reality for the World to Come in God’s Third Temple. Only we have one problem – the Torah never made mention of either linen or wool!

The Radak is in fact referencing the Talmudic discourse on the matter that illustrates various opinions of the Rabbi’s as to the ultimate reality of the sash. The minority opinion claims that we are to render all situations as told over by the Prophet, and thus no contradiction is raised, and matters shall remain simple and unchanged. The preferred Law however goes not like Ezekiel, the old custom was to wear wool, and thus in the future a new law  condition will be rendered as such that the priests will wear linen. This general premise is rather unalarming and somewhat benign, that is until he calls the view from the Talmud under the pretense of Torat Moshe, and we have well established that the Torah written by Moses lacks description on this matter.

The answer to resolve this difficulty, we can turn to the Radak in another location, this time Malachi, where he defines the term “Torat Moshe” as per the Prophet’s words there.
The Radak there in two distinct parts categorizes Torat Moshe as the Book that contains written components that we are to do, along with the following statement: [paraphrased] “Just Like” “That” he was commanded on Mt. Sinai…is not like those that say, “this sounds like the time it was given”; [the true nature of Torat Moses] comes with explicit commentary and/as a mystical section – this is a sufficient answer [to those who misunderstand Torat Moses to be only the Chumash, to the exclusion of Torah over time that continues until the Coming of the Messiah (which is the literal theme of Malachi on this point); thus the Talmud’s view of the sash can properly be justified as Torat Moses, as it was rendered along these guidelines. * The superfluous word “that” in the Hebrew, serves for the Radak to freely associate the Hebrew equivalent of “Just Like”; this allows for the Radak to have the grounds to properly define Torat Moses, a gesture given by the Torah by its additional word “that”, which stands for analysis]

Through the Radak’s difficulty in Ezekiel and clarification in Malachi, along with his methodology, we can begin to understand the Ger and his journey in a surreal new way.
Now that the Torah was commanded at Chorev/Sinai, the Radak explains that time and its extension, when realized as a spiritually aided mechanism into Torah, essentially stretches the command session practically until the Coming of the Messiah. The Radak justifies by saying “just like” – the commentaries and their mystical nature, are just like the actual coming of the command. From this we see two introductions to the Ger, and interestingly enough, by association, the tools from the Ger helps understand the Prophetic definition of Torat Moshe!

When we analyze the phrase “just like” [commanded at Sinai] is a subject of pilpul, the spice of Torah, the understanding a matter within a matter. Phraseology, fill in words, etc. are all Oral traits that began with Shem, and are implemented as purely Oral terms/phrases, that are a natural pilpul [node] that contain multiple and numerous mental pathways to encapsulate a highly complex idea with a rather simple phrase that barely has a pulse to beat to! This is the beauty of the Torah of Shem [and consequently the Ger – by inheritance], that a simple everyday tongue and one that is totally Oral [and rather difficult to define], provides the backbone of the Oral Torah, and therefore Torat Moshe!

To provide insight into this concept, and clarity on this point [“just like”] – try to think of all of the different permutations and different ways of constructing “just like” quietly in the mind. [Using creative pathways in simple Oral speech as pilpul/spice is called Amrei Binah – words of understanding; the Torah is filled with them much like Dark Matter to Matter.] The words just like can contain north of 5-7 different and unique intentions that provide unique definitions to the Radak; put them together, and we have a viable platform for explaining how Torat Moshe extends beyond just the moment he stood at Mt. Sinai – for the extended Torah is Just Like he was commanded.

  •      Just – Righteous; Like – [and] similar to

  •         Just Like - practically the same

  •         Just Like – New avenues of command just like the old

  •        Just like – as if….they were commanded then

  •         Etc.

With a soft mind, we can hear that as laws are explained ongoing, they may become clearer to the time that is most relevant [like a Ger today who stands just before the prophesied Third Temple], and therefore are just like the original [moment and] command given to Moses at Sinai.

For the Ger this is most important, for he is only a Noahide based on his Faith that reaches the moment that Moses was commanded – literally. Based on that fact alone, the words of the Radak may resonate the most loudly with the Gerim! As the Ger must reach Sinai in the command form, if we are to say that he has no portion beyond the Written Law and a strict adherence to Moses’ command on Sinai only, is a contradiction to the Radak. Thus when we take the Radak to form, the Ger relies on the extension of Torah as a command unfolding, for the path that the Ger walks is still being clarified, and therefore commanded – Just Like it was commanded to Moses. For the Ger, this is the only way he may walk a path of righteousness, and the Radak has stood to validate the Torah Learning for the Ger.

The Even HaEzra commentary to Devarim 31:12 makes a fascinating discovery, as he elaborates that the Ger has a unique ability and method to learn the entire Torah, when learned through the unfolding of Time, particularly with the inclusion of Shabbat, and with intent of making Jewish, [as opposed to Judaism] the parts of his soul that still may need to turn to God, through the study of Torat Moshe not surprisingly enough. The Ger is unique in that he receives Kindness from God in this way, when ingested from a culture of Wisdom; the Torah therefore enters the Ger only through Wisdom, and not through a base indulgence, i.e. he has and uses time to absorb Torat Moshe [which is how Torat Moshe is defined by the Radak]. 

The Even HaEzra gives a special distinction status to the Ger, in that he says a hybrid Ger Tzedek/Toshav exists – one that is Toshav and open to Tzedek; he shall have the ability to learn the whole Torah over time with Wisdom, as opposed to a closed Ger Toshav, of whom only once every seven years and in only in the Land shall he learn Torah beyond the basic command – by his own volition of having rejected a semblance of Tzedek.

Thus the more the Ger adheres to the essence of Torat Moshe, he becomes what the Torah has in mind for Mankind in a unique way. He has the opportunity to sanctify Torat Moshe in a way that is a Blessing to him specifically, and as we have pointed out earlier, the Ger and his journey in Torah provides the world with the vessels of grasping the essence of Torat Moshe [even if only by association; for through the sash, we find a simultaneous track of the Ger, and all parties culminate equally to reveal the true nature of the Torah].

It is absolutely established that there shall be one Torah for Mankind, and the Ger and the Jew share in this Torah, the Torat Moshe. However one can make notice, that Moses’ name is left out of the Parsha, for having told Hashem “take me out of your Book” – to which the Arizal says was the portion of Moses’ soul that was a reincarnation of Shem. One can equally recall that there is no Parsha “Shem” [from Noah to Lech Lecha], and thus the Torah of Shem remains obscure because of this. The message is that even though the Ger inherits his Torah genes from Shem [and Noah, who were one spiritually], he takes his roots in Torat Moshe. 

Torat Moshe is the one Torah that we can all take part in , one that includes the pilpul, the commands of the Ger [post literal Sinai, in alignment to the essence of Torat Moshe]; the Torah of Shem is absolutely absorbed into Torat Moshe, and ironically is most easily expressed through vessels of the Ger.

A Ger who learns Torah [Torat Moshe] is likened to the High Priest, how much more fitting are these words now, that we have begun with a lowly and ordinary sash, only to find the beauty of Torah through the Gadlus [high mentality] of the Ger! Parashas Tezaveh is truly the Torah of the Priestly garments, and just as a sash made the Torah of Moses come back to life in a Parsha that seemed to have forgotten him, how much more wonderful is the Torah of Hashem that did not forget the other, just like the High Priest, the Ger, the remnant of Shem’s Torah, one who can fully come to life, through the Torat Moshe. How fitting, for it is The Ger who extends to see the Coming of the Messiah, a Redemption that we all yearn for, and perhaps no one yearns more for Ezekiel’s sash, than the Ger, who simply seeks for his journey to bring him home and grant him his priestly life, that dates way back to Shem and shall eternally come from the Torah of Moshe.

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