Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shouldering the Burden

The Panim Yafos, zt”l, once explained proper gratitude. “The verse states in Tehilim, 'מה אשיב לה' כל תגמולהי עלי'—‘What can I repay Hashem? All of His kindnesses are עלי.’ The word עלי can be understood in context of designating a sacrifice where one who says הרי עלי is like one carries a weight on his shoulders.
“This means that he should feel obligated to repay Hashem for all the kindnesses He has bestowed. He bears such a heavy weight since he feels as though he has not begun to repay for even one kindness that he has received. This is also the meaning of Yaakov’s astonishing statement, 'קטנתי מכל החסדים'—‘I am unworthy of all of the kindnesses.’ He says this since he felt as though he had not managed to even repay one kindness to Hashem...”
But the Imrei Emes, zt”l, learns a different lesson from this. “We can explain by understanding the symbolism of tefillin. The head tefillin allude to holy thoughts, that is, accepting the yoke of heaven, while the tefillin on one’s arm represent holy actions. This is the meaning of the Talmudic statement of the meaning of טטפות: טט is two in Katfi. The word כתפי alludes to the shoulders, the כתפיים. Through this we understand the statement of our sages in Zevachim 4 that one who says הרי עלי is like one carries s a weight on his shoulders. Wearing tefillin is just like saying, הרי עלי, since it alludes to accepting the yoke of heaven in thought and deed.
“Hashem took us out of Egypt, even though we did nothing to deserve it and the ultimate redemption will also be due to undeserved kindness. Obviously we are obligated to do whatever we can to accept upon ourselves the yoke of heaven!”

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