Friday, August 8, 2008

The Keys of the Mikdash

The Brisker Rav, zt”l, would often receive inquiries from askonim and others who sought leniencies on the pretext that circumstances made them necessary to ensure the Jewish people’s survival. He would answer that even if it appears as though compromising the Torah’s integrity could safeguard its ultimate “survival,” we are still not permitted to “play G-d” and make changes that are not sanctioned by the straightforward halachah.
To better explain his uncompromising stance, he would make use of a proof from the following Gemara in Ta’anis: “During the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash, the young kohanim took the keys to the sanctuary, climbed up to the roof, and threw them up toward heaven. They said that since they were no longer able to serve as faithful trustees, Hashem should assume the responsibility for the Mikdash. Something that appeared to have the form of a hand descended and took the keys, and the kohanim leapt into the flames.”
The Brisker Rav continued, “This teaches us a powerful lesson. The Torah is not our personal business concern over which we have independent control. In our own enterprise, we have the authority to sell off a product for a song in order to ensure that we have a good turnover until we build up the business and can sell at a profit. But the Torah is not something that we own, something that we can decide to alter by sacrificing certain halachos, to ensure that it will ‘sell’ for the time being until the ‘market’ is better!”
He concluded, “If we cannot accomplish our aims in accordance with the halachah, we accept that our hands are tied and do not act. We are only gizborim, trustees. We are not owners of the Torah with the latitude to alter it and do with it as we wish!”

3 comments:

Spiritual Dan said...

1) how do you reconcile this with Parsha Matos? There we learn that a person can create Torah obligations upon himself with the power of speech/nedarim. In other words, a person has within him a Torah! He OWNS an aspect of Torah.

2) How do you reconcile this with Rabbeinu's words, where he says that there are times when in order for Torah to survive, we must hid it.

Spiritual Dan said...

I meant "hide it", in the present, not hid in the past tense. Sorry.
Perhaps my Yetzer Hatov is telling me that the hiding is only in the past, but now we cannot understand such concepts? Query.

Micha Golshevsky said...

1) You can create an obligation but it is clearly forbidden to make a vow to remove or diminish an existing prohibition or commandment. Yes you own it (in a sense) but only to strengthen it.
2)The concept you are reffering to: "The nullification of Torah is what sustains it" is a gemara in Menachos that clearly may only be applied in a halachic manner similar to it's context and the meaning (in depth.)
One example of a halachic application the Chazon Ish taught: one may teach a group of immodestly dressed woman Torah in the hopes of drawing them closer. This gemara is not a blanket permission slip to sell Torah short. There are many sources throughout the ages which discuss what one may or may not do to make torah more palatable for another; there are many things which simply may not be compromised.
Rebbe Nachman said something very similar to the Brisker Rav actually: "You can explain my words any way you wish but do not apply them to change even a small detail of Shulchan Aruch." (as an aside: If you meet anyone who claims otherwise they are not the "real deal.")
I think the answer to your query is in part of the first piece I wrote for my friend "A Simple Jew:" "...Rebbe Nachman teaches that we should take hints to come closer to Hashem from every experience, word, and thought that we meet in life. Reb Nosson adds that even if you don't see the remez, you should believe that everything is a remez from Hashem...Reb Nosson writes, everything we go through is solely to get us to turn to Hashem. Does that mean that I am correct if I have a feeling that the lesson to learn is from a certain part.. and not another aspect of the experience? Only if I have the humility to realize that very likely I am not correct but I should use whatever comes to mind since that seems compelling to me. It is likely that if it appeals to me, something in that area truly needs fixing even if I haven't reached the depths of truth."
Hashem should help us see His hints at all times and truly connect to Him heart and soul!