I said the following speech at N’elas HaChag Shevous 2019. The Sefer, Siach Sarfei Koddush, Volume 1, page 235 (Bnei Brak 1989) brings down the following Kotzker Vort on Shevous.
In his second explanation, the Kotzker explains that we say that Shevous is Zman Matan Torasnu (the day of giving the Torah), and not Zman Kabblas Torsanu (the day of receiving the Torah), because God gave one Torah equally to everyone. But the receiving of the Torah was not equal. It was received differently by each person based on that individual’s level of understanding, his references in life, and his background.
What is the deep meaning of the Kotzker’s Vort? The Kotzker is saying what Rabbi Shochet said, and Boruch Hashem, I explained. There is only one Torah that is understood differently by everyone – similar to a diamond that shines differently based on where you are standing. The Kotzker is saying that every Jew’s understanding is directly connected back to the truth of Torah, one Torah. The Torah has threads that lead outwards into millions of explanations. Knowing this idea and understanding this not only intellectual, but also in your gut, brings internal peace to Israel, because everyone is part of the Emes – Truth of Torah. This is the message of Shavous, as Rashi says that at Har Sinai: the Jewish people camped around the mountain of Sinai like one man with one heart.
As I have said above, Hashkafah, way to live life, and theology are all debatable and there are tremendous fights. Arguing these points leads to bitter disagreement and fighting among Jews Only recognizing their own truth of the Torah when it is just part of the truth. Whether the Torah is from Har Etzion, Ger, Mir, Aterat Cohanim, the Torah is all Emes.
The most recent time I was in Israel was in 2015. I was on a bus headed back to Jerusalem from Ranana. A teenage boy, about 17, was sitting near me and I engaged him in conversation. He was wearing dungarees, a T-Shirt, and running shoes. He was wearing the uniform of Jewish youngsters in Israel: his Tzitzits were out. His parents are from England and we talked. He told me that he is headed back to Yeshiva, which I recall being in Kiryat Arba. He told me that first Seder he is learning Alleu Mitzzius Sh’Lo and second Seder, another Perek in Baba Metzia. I asked him when he will go into the army. He said that he loves learning and that is his priority at this time. I said Mi Kamcha Yisroel – how great are the Jewish people that this boy dressed with a T-Shirt is no different than the boy learning in Mir, and perhaps greater because he will likely join the army and put his life on the line for Klal Yisroel. This is the Kotzker’s and Ahavas Yisroel’s Pshat.
The following is a translation of the Ahavas Shaul’s Maamer on “Tzion our Holy City and the Founding of Mizrachi.”:
The blue is the translation and the black are my comments.
Brcohos 3B mentions King David’s harp that hung over his bed.
“David had a sign indicating when it was midnight. As Rav Aḥa bar Bizna said that Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida said: A (Kinor) harp – lyre hung over David’s bed, and once midnight arrived, the northern midnight wind would come and cause the lyre to play on its own. David would immediately rise from his bed and study Torah until the first rays of dawn.”
The Ahavas Shaul questions – how can a northern wind play a harp. A harp (lyre) is played only with a pick and by a person. It must be that this Gemoro is like golden apples hidden in a regular money bag – meaning that contained in this Gemoro there is hidden a beautiful message.
(This is such a Litvishe question. The Chassidim and many others explain the Gemara at its basic meaning, that Dovid’s harp was miraculous.)
Rabbi Shochet continues:
We find by Elisha the prophet that when he got angry and the divine presence departed from him, he would ask for music to be played and the divine presence would return. The harp represents ‘Hashrashas Hashcina”.
Exile is called night.
Morning references redemption.
In Shir HaShirim it says that King Solomon had sixty warriors surrounding his bed, each holding a sword knowledgeable in battle with his sword at his side.
The bed of a person references his children.
Using these ideas we can understand the hidden meaning in Dovid Hamelech’s harp in the Gemora of Brcohos
The כנור of David which we see by Elisha brings the divine presence, represents Torah learned at a higher level with the Divine Presence. These thoughts of Torah of Dovid HaMelech, were above the bed of his children, of King Solomon who had 60 warriors surrounding him. The sixty warriors represent 60 Volumes of Talmud Bavli and all of them were knowledgeable in the battle of Torah. Their main thoughts were to learn our holy Torah.
However, the bed of King David; his Torah and divine inspiration contained more than just Torah. David was on a higher level, the combination of Torah and Kinor, Torah and divine inspiration What happened to David during his lifetime happened to the Jewish people throughout history. David was at death’s door numerous times;
- The time that Shaul the king chased after David and King Shaul was encamped on one side of the mountain with 10,000 men, while David only had 300 men on the other side of the mountain,
- So too with the people of K’elah, and
- When David had to flee from Avsholem.
It all these times he was closer to death than life.
What did King David do at the times when life was at its darkest, at midnight and the northern (evil) wind blew, threatening to topple Dovid Hamelech? Dovid would not only learn Torah, but he delved into Torah and he worked on the Torah (guided by the Kinor) as we say in the second Bracha of morning Krias Shma – God should place in our hearts to understand and be knowledgeable . . . to learn and to teach, to guard, and to establish all the ideas contained within the Torah. David delved into Torah to bring out the potential which is hidden in the Torah into action, meaning how to act and how to respond to his enemies. In this way when it was midnight, he used his divine inspiration to bring the morning from the darkness, to go from exile to redemption.
This Gemara is telling us in Brcohos that even when it is the darkest at midnight, when our eyes are darkened and our ears our blocked due to hearing of all the oppression and troubles of our brothers, the Jewish people, from the land of death which is Russia, which lies to the north of Israel – we have to do what Dovid Hamelech did. We have to play the Kinor – meaning we have to be guided by divine inspiration, that is not enough to just learn but we must delve into Torah to find the answers to our darkness, and to bring to reality what we pray for at the beginning of davening, that a new light should shine of Zion, and as we say as we stand up in prayer in the Shemonah Esra, that with mercy should we return to our city, Jerusalem. And in Bentching, God should have mercy on Jerusalem.
Our main purpose is to learn from Dovid Hamelech; whose actions where definitely guided by Torah and do just like him. Meaning to fight and find ideas and work towards bringing the Jews back to Israel and Jerusalem.
- The Ahavas Shaul said this in the first part of the 20 century, when the drive to go back to Israel was picking up momentum and this seemed to be the best, and perhaps the only, solution for the troubles of the Jewish people.
- The Ahavas Shaul’s ideas were felt and put into action each on their own level by many great leaders, including my great-great- grandfather, the Pilaver-Kotzker Rebbe, the Netziv, the Meshech Chochmo, Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok HaCohen Kook, the Ger Rebbe, the Slabodka Yeshiva, and many others.
The Ahavas Shaul continues:
And therefore the Rov, the Goan, Rabbi Yitzchok Reines TZL established Mizrachi to show that even though we are Zionists, we still follow the dictates of our holy Torah, and not like the Zionist radicals who place a priority on uprooting our faith, like one radical spoke at the Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland and said:
“ What do you think that when we take over our land, we will build a Bais Hamikdash and offer cows and lambs in it. A (Bais Hamikdash) was needed two thousand years ago when the world was not yet civilized. But now this is nonsense that cannot be.”
Immediately when Rabbi Reines heard this speech, he separated himself from them and established Mizrachi. Therefore we have to not only pray, but also to be occupied with activities of Torah. And God should bring upon us quickly the sunrise, which is our redemption quickly in our days. Amen.
The radical said that the world in 1900 was civilized. The 20th century was the bloodiest ever, with estimates as high as 200,000,000 people killed by Stalin, Hitler, the communists and the Japanese. I recall a book written on the horrors of the entire 20th century.
- Picture in your mind’s eye who was at the original Basel Zionist Congresses. You had Theodore Herzl, Dr. Max Nordau, Usishkin, Ahad Ha-am and other founders of Zionism, many wearing formal wear.