Is Torah Everything … OR is Everything Torah II

Why is the Zodiac sign of the month of Sivan the twins?
Why are we often frustrated by failure despite having put forth our very best efforts?
Conversely, why does unanticipated success sometimes come our way, relatively effortlessly?

… Similarly the Holy One, blessed be He, say to [the Children of] Israel: ‘My children! I created the inclination to evil but I [also] created the Torah, as its antidote [lit. seasoning]; if you busy yourselves with the Torah, you will not be delivered to your inclinations to evil.

— Kidushin 30B

Our Rabbis taught: There are two kidneys within Man, one of which counsels him to good, [while] the other counsels him to evil; and it is reasonable to suppose that the good one is on his right side and the bad one on his left, as it is written, “A wise man’s heart /insight is at his right side, but a fool’s heart/ insight is at his left.” (Koheles10:2)

— Brachos 61A

I considered my ways, and retraced my footsteps towards your testimonies.

—Tehillim 119:59

If you will “walk/go in” My statutes (Vayikra 26:3)” This alludes to what is written in Tehillim “I considered my ways, and retraced my footsteps towards your testimonies” [King] David was [really] saying “L-rd of the Universe every day I used to think ‘I plan on going to a certain place, and to a certain dwelling’ yet my feet walked me [as if of their own accord] to synagogues and Yeshivos.  Thus ‘[I] retraced my footsteps towards your testimonies’ “

—Vayikra Rabbah 35:1

He enthroned the letter Zayin as king over motion and he bound a crown to it and he combined one with another and with them he formed Gemini (i.e. the zodiacal constellation sign of twins) in the Universe (Space), Sivan in Year (Time) and the left foot in Soul of male and female.

— Sefer Yetzirah 5:7

In the above excerpt cited above from Sefer Yetzirah we find an example of, the kabbalistic– teaching that we’ve learned about in recent weeks; that all that HaShem created exists on the three parallel planes of olam/shanah/nefesh-world/year/soul i.e. in the realms of space, time and spirit.

For Rav Tzadok, the Lubliner Kohen, the parallel between motion, feet and Sivan are all fairly self-evident.  Sivan is the month of Mattan Torah-the Revelation at Sinai; when Torah was brought from Heaven to earth and the all-encompassing system of Torah observance is known as Halachah; a conjugation of the Hebrew verb translated as “walking” or “going”. In Parshas Bechukosai we analyzed passages of the Mei HaShiloach in which the kinetic nature of Torah, i.e. how Torah transforms “standers” and “sitters” into “goers” and “walkers” was explored at length.

What is less self-evident is why the motion of the Torah-of-Sivan relates specifically to the souls left foot rather than to the souls right foot. After all, the wisest of all men taught that mans inclination to evil is associated with the left side of his being (heart/ kidney) why should the Torah-of-Sivan, the source of all that is good and the antidote to the yetzer hara-the inclination to evil; parallel the foot that is on man’s “bad” side?

The Lubliner Kohen taught that the “foolish” counsel of the left kidney is towards external, superficial pursuits, not necessarily purely evil recreations but diversions that lack the obvious positive moral/ ethical charge of an overt mitzvah. The Sefer Yetzirah parallels Sivan — the month of the Gift of Torah — with the souls left foot to showcase Torah’s transformative, ameliorating power. The soul’s right side is intrinsically good and constitutionally in synch with Torah.  It is the souls left side and, in particular, the left foot that “needs” the Torah more, as it were, to “season” it into something worthy that is a kinetic force for good.  Torah is the antidote for the infirmity of left-footedness.  When one walks with Torah his feet — even his left foot — as if on autopilot, walk him to good destinations. Through the power of walking in the Torah’s statutes Dovid the King became as unconscious as a sleepwalker, relentlessly moving towards Batei Knesiyos u’Batei Midrashos-synagogues and Yeshivos.

Yet this effortless, autopilot movement towards good seems to challenge the Talmudic axiom: Rav Yitzchok also said: If a man says to you, “I have made an effort but have not found”, do not believe him. If he says, “I have made no effort but still have found”, do not believe him. [Only] If he says, “I have made an effort and found”, you may believe him. (Megillah 6B)  The royal feet, even the left foot, of Dovid the King which automatically walked him to Batei Knesiyos u’Batei Midrashos seem to be a classic manifestation of “I have made no effort … but (still) have found.”

The Izhbitzer points out that when our sages taught us about those people claiming that all of their efforts had been exercises in futility and  those that boasted that things had come their way effortlessly; that the Talmud was not quoting immature fools incapable of assessing what real toil and effort means. In other words, even if the one claiming to have “found” nothing really did invest tremendous toil and exertion in the search … do NOT believe him and even if the one claiming to have “found” much without effort, really did achieve great things effortlessly… do NOT believe him either.

Fleshing out his Rebbe’s near-rhetorical “question” the Lubliner Kohen contends that these two incompatible and incredible claims may even be made by the very same person who, at times, feels frustrated by apparent exercises in futility and at other times exults in his seemingly effortless and serendipitous “finds”.  The key to understanding Rav Yitzchok’s teaching is in A. realizing that yegiah-efforts; and metzios-finds are antithetical to one another. By definition; finds are by coincidence, one labors and earns one does not labor and hit upon. B. acknowledging that instantaneous causality is often an illusion.  We cannot always “connect-the-dots” leading from cause to effect.  The cause of yegiah exerted at one time and in a particular place may yield effortless and unintentional effects, metzios, at another time and in a distant place.

Rav Yitzchok’s teaching resolves an apparent grammatical inaccuracy in the pasuk-verse; “I considered my ways, and retraced my footsteps towards your testimonies.”  For if, as our sages interpreted the pasuk, the King’s feet walked him to Batei Knesiyos u’Batei Midrashos on their own why is Dovid claiming that “I considered my ways” and that “I retraced my footsteps” when he had nothing to do with it? But, if in fact, we do not lend credibility to the claim of “I have made no effort but still have found” and so, we understand that it was only through Dovid the King’s enormous prior efforts, the prodigious sweat-equity that he invested in his Torah study and mitzvah performance, that turned his left leg rightward so that he serendipitously “found” himself in the treasure-troves of Batei Knesiyos u’Batei Midrashos.

While no empirical experiments have proven it absolutely, there is strong anecdotal evidence that a kind of “sympathetic resonance” exists between identical twins; that they feel one another’s pain and pleasure and that they are almost telepathically in-tune with one another’s thoughts. The second Izhbitzer, the Bais Yaakov, goes so far as to say that the paralleling of Gemini / twins in Space with Sivan in Time speaks to the identity of intent and purpose that informs the relationship between HaShem and Klal Yisrael-the Jewish People; through the vehicle of the month-of-Sivan-revealed-Torah. HaShem and Klal Yisrael are kivyachol-as it were; identical twins.

It is worth noting that the first twins ever discussed in Torah lore were conjoined (AKA Siamese) twins; Adam and Chavah who were joined at the back before the nesirah-separation. In this first expression of “twinning” they actually were one being, presumably with a integrated will and purpose.   It is also noteworthy that the patriarch of the messianic line in Torah thought was a twin, Peretz ben Yehudah.

With this in mind the Bais Yaakov relates the tziruf haShem-the sequenced arrangement of the Tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letter Theonym) associated with the month of Sivan to the month’s zodiacal sign.  Sivan’s tziruf haShem arises from the pesukim הַמִּשְׁכָּן הַשֵּׁנִית  וּלְצֶלַע .יְדֹתָיו – “it’s pegs (to insert into the sockets) … and for the Mishakans second side.”(Shemos 26:19-20) Just as the pegs at the bottom of each individual beam filled the void within the sockets entirely such that there was not even a millimeter of space empty of the peg, so too, teaches the Bais Yaakov, the Divine Will completely fills and informs the deeds of every Jew, even the unconscious and unintentional ones. No tiny space of a Jews thought, speech and deed are devoid of HaShems will.  This is the ultimate in “twinning.” In the end … everything is Torah.

~adapted from Pri Tzadik Rosh Chodesh Sivan 1
Bais Yaakov onTorah and Moadim Rosh Chodesh Sivan
Mei HaShiloach I Vayetzay D”H Vatomer

NOTE: the title of this post is Is Torah Everything … OR is Everything Torah II.  To see the first post with this title click.