Friday, July 26, 2013

Which Ger Are You?

 Parashas Eikev
 Torat Moshe In Motion – Understanding [The Mitzvah] Chok
 Rabbi David Katz

*Sefer Devarim has reached the Chazakah [est. pattern] of truly being “Mishna Torah" [repetition of entire Torah]; with that in mind, we will now resume and accentuate Torat Moshe within context of Chok – Shem – and Ger, following the mystical name of Moses, “בשג''ם” – Bereishit, Shem, Ger, Moshe-Moshiach. The Oral shiur will emphasize Torat Moshe in motion with the impetus of the Ger. In plain terms we will explore and introduce [in class] the negative and positive concepts that weigh into Torat Moshe – with direct implications of the Ger, and his naturally objective view of the Universe. Ultimately in this Parsha, the roles of the Jew and Ger in the negative and positive are defined; the results are Tachlis Geulah and Hedvah of achieving the Victory of God in completing the “Mitzvah” – the command given that takes place on the Land and liberates Mankind.

**Special Note, the article employs the terms negative [in relation to positive]; think in magnetic terms, as opposed to emotional state. The negative is that which is there, but not seen or heard, it can only be felt, and is therefore truly the most positive and most poured out from the heart of God. This should be realized as the highest term of endearment, to speak that which can’t be spoken, it is just understood, and praiseworthy is he who need no longer be told in these matters, for his heart is inclined to listen even before being called upon. Welcome to the Torah of Shem finding its way into Torat Moshe derech HaGer.

In Parashas Eikev we encounter an old theme of the Love the Ger / Don’t Taunt the Ger; only this time we are ready to take it to the next level, and fully understand how it relates to the Ger– non convert as well, this time in the negative. As we render its meaning with absolute certainty that the Torat Moshe speaks here not only of the convert, a truly deeper and appreciative Simple Understanding jumps off of the page, and leaves us with the Chassidut of the Mitzvah [The sweet understanding, i.e. the mysterious 5th level that emerges from “Pardes,” (4 levels of exegesis) as begun with its latest incarnation from the Baal Shem Tov, yet extends as far back as the Ancient Days as well.] that is astoundingly simple, in that it was there staring at us the entire time. The amazing revelation is that Torat Moshe is littered amongst the writings of the last 2000 years [of Moshiach]; the final generations’ task is to gather and unify once ready for “public reading.”

To paraphrase 10:18-19: “Love the Ger – to give him garment and bread….love him and do not taunt him [a blemish in you, to him, do not raise issue] – for you were Gerim in Egypt” - once thought to be specific to the convert, the Ramban [combined with Rashi] comes to illuminate that this was true to the Ger non-convert [expressed/included in the “negative” (non-revealed)] as well, a tradition that dates back to the beginning. The amazing aspect to the Torat HaGer, is that when God speaks, there are those that listen [which the parsha stresses, when we hearken to his Voice, the initiative of the Torah is met (9:23)], and our Parsha is no exception with the Commentary of the Ramban, who takes up the plight of the Ger, explaining in revealed terms that match the will of God, proving that God’s Word is indeed victorious despite attempts of perceived sabotage. The Torah of Moses knows not of something truly foreign to God, thus making it truly reminiscent of the Torah of Shem before him.

Ramban makes special emphasis of the phrase “for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt” as the impetus in understanding the core issue latent within Loving the Ger. One should keep in mind, that the words of the Ramban, as they are illuminated, have been protected from seizure, for the negative nature of the Ger has safeguarded the Light upon the Ger, as none realize the dual nature of the context within. However once the negative turns into a revelation [revealed positive; the Ger non-convert DOES EXIST], the verse must be explained in a way that meets his standards to qualify as an eternally true teaching, one worthy of Torat Moshe. Perhaps the ingredients that make Ramban and Rashi two of the greatest Commentators of all time, is their combined efforts in expressing Torat Moshe in terms of this opportunity to Love the Ger, even in a non-convert arena.

To begin matters in the simplest way possible, it should be noted that the Ramban directs the reader to his commentary in Shemos 22:20 which he renders as identical in terms of explanation; this happens to be Parashas Mishpatim, where the Ramban is also on record as issuing that the 7th Noahide Mitzvah of establishing Courts. He states that this is also 100% a command incumbent upon Israel, and that the Gerim are to work in partnership in these matters, while making learning appropriate Torah the highest priority for both parties, each for his own way. [Our Parsha says that learning is the essence of the path of Israel to secure victory in the Command, and the Ger only develops his commitments from developed scholarship beyond the traditional scope of his return process.] Once the Ramban gives the background [revealed negative to magnify the positive], his law-based explanation yields to tremendous Chassidut; sweet Torah from the heart of God that develops one into a devout adherent to God’s Will.

To make matters simple, I will outline the thought process to understand the Mitzvah in clear terms [of Loving the Ger]:

Rashi: To Love the Ger is to not make known your blemish that is within him for the sake making ill of him [the Ger].
Ramban: 1st acknowledges Rashi [which is the basis for the Chassidut – Torah of piety that comes from the heart and is developed from the deepest channels of Torah’s Hedva where one is One with God.]
Ramban explains the nature of “you were strangers in Egypt”; this was a temporary condition as Gerim.
·        The loaded issue with Ramban is always in mind, ”don’t taunt the Ger.”
God saw Israel [as Gerim] had no salvation in sight.
Every Ger only has Hashem to turn to, and every Ger is a part of the Job program, i.e. it isn’t easy to be a Ger.
The Ger will and does cry out to God whenever God desires to hear from the Ger, David said, “I am a Ger.”
God always will then have Mercy on the Ger and redeem him.
Redemption and Gerim come in several ways: some are permanent Gerim, some aren’t, and some are redeemed only from Mercy, while some are redeemed with an additional merit; in Israel’s case that was the case [merit] as having merit of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the literal sense.

The Mitzvah of Loving the Ger is thus, “Love the Ger” – “do not raise issue with his ‘blemish’ i.e. his Ger-ness”; that is to say, “I was redeemed by my merit and God’s Mercy” whereas you were redeemed by Mercy. This is taunting the Ger, and for that God states 46 times, “Love the Ger, for I love the Ger, and thus you should too.” [the 46 references are in similar warnings throughout Torah]

The Ramban has now explained in the clearest terms that the Ger non-convert in here in the negative, and finally explained in the positive. With understanding the proper reading of the text [i.e. Egypt in context], we see that God has many types of Gerim, Loves them all, redeems them all, etc. All Gerim are unique and are Loved by God and we are commanded to join in this Mitzvah, as it is a major part of the Mitzvah that contains the essential message of the Torat Moshe that brings redemption to the World.

The Ramban shows how learning the appropriate Torah is a major step in that direction and brings one’s heart to commitment and Hedvah in doing His will. Now like never before, do we see Torat Moshe in action, witness the Light of Chok [hard to grasp law], and are finally able to participate in Moshe’s message of how to come into the Land, possess it, and build His Temple for Universal Hedvah. Suddenly the Book of Law has found itself as a source of Philosophy and Chassidut by the basic task of Torah, in the nudge from above to tighten up learning skills, and encourage Learning the proper mechanics, tools, and intentions. In short, one could summarize that Torat Shem brings one to Torat Moshe, and allows us to know Torah Hashem Temimah [perfect].

From this angle, the Chassidut is off the charts, from the negative of Hashem’s “taunt” of the Jew in reminding him of his Ger status [We said not to taunt! – God warns in the negative, as he does with all Gerim, i.e. don’t become apostate and go back to Egypt! This is the focus of the entire Parsha in hindsight, thus turning the negative into a positive. One could say that is yet another fractal of the entire Torah.], ranging to the warning of not to compare one’s Ger status as a competition. The Ger in all of us is our definition of our relationship with God, whether in times of exile or redemption. For every negative there is a positive – yet another fractal of Torah, on every level of spiritual DNA [male female, etc.]

From Torat Moshe Law – in Light, the heart can be eternally warmed by the Light of Chassidut, especially the Chassidut that comes from the Ger out of the heart of God. The Ger here truly serves as the path of piety, warmth, and to the definition of Good, for it is simply Good to Love the Ger [and in the negative we audibly hear God’s caution of what it is to taunt] and bad to hate him; being ambivalent however may be the biggest crime of all, as that is the Parsha’s most staunch warning in a Parsha that loathes [going back to] Egypt.

The Ramban delivers perhaps the most positive illumination of the Ger in his negative state [i.e. non-revealed] that we have encountered in the entire Torah, and it is fitting that only in Sefer Devarim, one would be encouraged to re-learn that which came earlier, when false expectations still ruled over the heart; our Parsha fittingly states how to circumcise the heart of flesh. The path to Hashem is actually quite easy, based on the devout inner message sent from God by way of the Ramban; To Love the Ger is to not taunt the Ger, and yet still realize that all is One. In a Parsha that seals the Shema, it is about time that we all pay attention, and head to the beckoning call that pours from the heart of every Ger, “Shem[a] Yisrael..” The only befitting response would be to proclaim “Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuto LeOlam Vaed.“ In a Book of Law, we should take pride in declaring Her Statutes, and allowing the heart to fill in Hedvah of the Chassidut that emanates as far back as the Chassidim Rishonim, as in the Days of David, may they reign again, in our days as well. Amen Amen.

Motzie Shabbos Audio Shiur 11:00 P.M. [Israel Time] Parasha Shavua In-Depth

Click Here For Class Link!

*class sponsored by Rosh Amanah


Joe said...

A shepherd led his flock to the fields in the morning and gathered it into the stable at night.
One day a deer appeared from the forest , joined the flock and stayed among the sheep, it grazed with them and at night entered the stable.
The shepherd took special delight in the deer. He selected choice grazing land for it, and ordered all those who handled the animals to be especially gentle with the deer. At night, when the flocks returned, the shepherd made sure that the deer was given water to drink.
“Why do you fuss only over that deer?” the peasants asked him. “Why don’t you give the same attention to your sheep?”
“There is a difference,” replied the shepherd. “The sheep follow me naturally.However, the deer by nature avoids people and prefers to roam in uninhabited forests and open fields. I value that it submitted itself to the confines of a stable.”
HaShem similarly said,”Shall we not appreciate the Ger, who has left his family and people , who chose the Truth and rejected falsehood? He came to take shelter under the wings of the Shechina, is he not deserving of our special regard and kindness?!…………from the Midrash.

Actually Rav Katz, your mission to Mitzpe Ramon on Tisha b’Av has yielded its first fruits (pun intended). I genuinely believe that your “Chorev” experience has generated the perfect platform for the redemption of Torat Moshe. The original language of Yehoshua Ben Nun and Calev was dripping with chassidut. This shiur has changed the course in understanding the Ger.

“HaShem loves the Ger to give him a garment and bread.” Devarim 10v18.
Bread is a metaphor for ‘Torah’ and a garment refers to the garment of distinction worn by Torah scholars. Similarly, HaShem assures a Ger that he will have a portion in the ‘Bread of Torah’ and that he will achieve high levels of Torah scholarship. Moreover, ‘bread’ refers to the Lechem h’Panim and a garment to the priestly garments. Hence, the Ger who studies the Torah is likened to the Kohen ha Gadol.

Todah rabbah Rav Katz from the bottom of my heart for your relentless pursuit of truth and your dedication to the cause………ultimately leading to ultimate Chedva, Baruch HaShem !!!!

Shavua Tov

Leah said...

Dear Rabbi Katz,
It is truly a pleasure to read and learn from your Torah that you possess and give over so eloquently. It is also unique that you write/ speak on the ger. I have not come across anything so in depth on this subject.
Kol tov.

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