22 May 2015 In Every Time and In Every Place
Chag Ha’Shavuos, Zman Matan Tora’sainu… “And Hashem said to Moshe: And now, if you will listen to My voice, and keep My covenant, and you will be for Me a treasure from all the nations, ki Li kol ha’aretz – for all the earth is Mine (Ex.19:5).”
What does it mean, “The entire earth is Mine”?
R’ Soloveitchik zt’l writes: “Interesting is that when G-d reveals Himself to Moshe and told him that he should prepare the people for kabalas haTorah, He told him ‘and you shall be unto Me a priestly kingdom and holy nation’, ‘ki li kol ha’aretz (Ex.19:5)’ – because the earth is Mine. What’s it got to do with the election of the Jewish people as the priestly nation? (The answer is that) It says I am electing you as a priestly nation, not only here at Mt. Sinai, not only the Promised Land where I will bring you, but wherever you will be, even on the moon or Mars, it doesn’t matter. Ki Li kol ha’aretz. The (entire) universe is Mine…
“I have said it many times. If I were permitted, I would add a 14th Ani Ma’amin – don’t get scared! What would the content of the 14th Ani Ma’amin be?
“Ani ma’amin be’emunah sh’leimah she’kol ha’Torah kulah y’cholah l’hiskayeim b’chol makom u’v’chol zman. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah can be kept in every place and in every time. If you don’t accept that Ani Maamin, what’s the use of the (other) thirteen? If the Ani Maamin is dependent upon geography and chronology, then when the Jews are scattered all over the world… You mean to the moon? Yes. If you want to know about Mars, I can tell you that Mars, too.” (The Rav Thinking Aloud on the Parsha, Bereishis, p.274-278)
R’ Yisrael Meir Lau writes of his childhood experiences in Buchenwald… “As Passover approached, Naphtali (his older brother) and his friends were determined to do anything to avoid eating leavened foods during the holiday… Months in advance, at the beginning of January, they began to collect potatoes… Three potatoes were worth the daily bread ration…
“I did not keep Passover then, mainly because I did not know anything about it. One day, a feeble Naphtali dragged his feet toward Block 8 and stood next to the barbed-wire fence. Hearing his weak voice calling my name, I rushed out to him. He pulled a few potatoes from his pockets, and explained that he could not carry them because they hindered him while working with the bodies in the crematorium, so he was bringing to me the goods he had set aside for Passover. He asked me to guard them carefully. Then he explained to me, for the first time, why potatoes were so important, adding a few words about the prohibition against eating leavened foods. I guarded those potatoes with my life.” (Out of the Depths, p.57)
Ki Li kol ha’aretz – The entire earth is His, and the entire earth is filled with His glory. When we accepted the Torah upon ourselves, it was not an acceptance for a month, a year, a decade, or a century. It was not only an acceptance for the foothills of Sinai or the hills of Jerusalem. It was an acceptance for all times and for all places. To be to Him a treasured nation wherever we are: home or away, the earth or the moon, in joyous times and in painful times. Ki Li kol ha’aretz.
With the greatest gift comes great responsibility: the responsibility to uphold The Covenant b’chol makom u’v’chol zman. HKB”H is ready to give us the Torah, we must prepare ourselves so that we are ready to accept the Torah.
May He find us worthy, ready and waiting this Shavuos, as we once again declare, “All that G-d has spoken, we will do and we will listen” (Ex.24:7).
Wishing you all a wonderful Shabos and a beautiful, meaningful Yom Tov.