Monday, May 21, 2012

“Go and See…”

The Sifsei Tzaddik, zt”l, offered a profound explanation of a famous statement of our sages. “We often find in the gemara the statement, פוק חזי מאי עמא דבר—‘Go and see what people are doing.’ Yet we may well wonder what this means. Should we then look to the simple and uneducated or those without much yiras shamayim to learn how we should act? “The answer is that this refers to looking at the actions of those who are above the simple folk. They are called עם to show that they are cherished, as we find in the verse, 'עמי זכור נא מה יעץ'—‘My people, please remember what he advised.’ He continued, “This is also the meaning of the mishnah in Avos, 'איזהו דרך ישרה שיבור לו האדם כל שהוא תפארת לעושיה ותפארת לו מן האדם'. This seems very difficult. Should we then keep Torah to impress others? The meaning of this mishnah is that if one is unsure what to do he should follow what is accepted practice since this is a sign that this is the way of Hashem. Conversely, the way that is not agreeable to the informed klal is generally the path which leads to sin. The reason why what the opinion of the majority do is so important is because the rabim do not err, as we find in the masores recorded by the Teshuvos HaRan and brought in the Beis Yosef. This is why the verse writes, 'אחרי רבים להטות'. In every place the halachah is like the majority since it is highly unlikely that they err. He concluded, “This is also why we find thatמנהג ישראל תורה הוא . This means that through looking at the custom of the faithful Jewish people we can lean to fear Hashem just as we do from looking at the Torah—the custom is one with the Torah.”

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