Torah Mi’Sinai: A Continuum of Chiyus

V’eileh toldos Aharon v’Moshe b’yom diber Hashem es Moshe b’Har Sinai”.  The next pasuk only mentions the sons of Aharon which Chazal explain shows that teaching someone Torah is like fathering him.  And when did the sons of Aharon become the toldos of Moshe?  On the day that Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai – the day of Matan Torah – because he taught them what he learned mi’pi ha’Gevurah.

unbroken-chain-judaismEven on the superficial level, this is an incredible idea.  The Gaon says that k’ilu yaldo is not just a mashal or way of talking, it is literal.  The pshat is that just as there is a birth in the gashmiyus sense, so too is there a holadah in ruchniyus.  In Bava Metzia we find the din that aveidas raboh comes before aveidas aviv because a father brings him to Olam Ha’zeh and his Rebbi brings him to Olam Ha’Bah.  What this shows is that just as one’s entire existence, his entire kiyum and physical being in Olam Ha’zeh is only by dint of his parents who brought him into the world, so too is existence in Olam Ha’Bah only possible because of Torah.  The Torah is mechayeh him.  And this comes about through his Rebbi.

Now that Torah sheh’b’al peh is written down, it is possible to get this, to a certain extent, by learning from a seifer, and access thereto is not as critically limited to getting it from a Rebbi as was in the time when Torah sheh’b’al peh was oral.

In addition, there is a deep point here.

The whole idea of biological offspring is essentially an escape hatch from the curse of “on the day that you eat from eat you shall surely die”.  The yom is yomo shel Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.  But still, mos tamus really should be a dead-end in this world.  However, the ability to produce offspring means that a part of Adam Ha’Rishon survived and continues to survive.  So too, every person in the world.  The curse applies to everyone.  But there is an escape hatch.  A person’s offspring provide him with a continuity.  What this means is that all of human existence is one chain of life.  One link.  It’s not the same body, it’s in a different form, but it is nevertheless literally a link of one continuity of life.

In that sense, k’ilu yaldo by Torah means that in the spiritual sense as well it is one chain of life.  Not going back to Adam Ha’Rishon, but to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai.  It means that there is no absolute break at any point.  A portion of the spiritual vitality of each Rebbi is passed on to the next generation.

It says in the Chassidisheh Sefarim that a person can have two Rebbeim: a Rebbi that he learns from in person in Olam Ha’zeh, and a Himmeldikeh Rebbeh, even if he did not live in that Chacham’s lifetime at all.  By learning his divrei Torah, one can become his talmid.  That means that we can all be talmidim of Rashi.  And you can also be a talmid of the Rambam, Rabi Akiva Eiger…anyone you want; who not?!  Of course, this is only to the extent that we make ourselves their talmidim by investing the appropriate effort to understand and absorb what they say.

The most direct way, though, that one connects to this chain of spiritual chiyus going all the way back to those who heard Anochi Hashem Elokecha mi’pi ha’Gevurah is from the leibidikeh masores, by learning and being mekabeil from a Rebbi directly.  As Rabbeinu Yonah says (Avos 1:1) that even after chasimas ha’Talmud, there still is a necessity of mesoras Ha’Torah in every generation from Rebbi to talmid.

This is a new way of understanding “kol gadol v’lo yasaf – the kol of Torah that was sounded at Har Sinai never ceases,” because the Rebbi to talmid connection in every generation perpetuates it as one continuum of chiyus.

Ultimately, this means that we are all talmidim of Moshe Rabbeinu.  There’s a Gemara in Menachos that says “Talmidim of Moshe Rabbeinu” is coming l’afukei tzedukim.  The Medrash (Tikunei Zohar 114a) says “ispashtusei d’Moshe b’chol dor v’dor”.  The influence of Moshe Rabbeinu is in every generation.  This link of Rebbi to talmid means that we have an unbroken chain of spiritual vitality going all the way back to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai, and within every generation’s Torah transmission exists a part of that hashpaah of Moshe Rabbeinu.

What we see from all this is that learning Torah is not just a serious business.  It is a serious business – ki heim chayeinu v’orech yameinu, and without it, chalila, the opposite.  But it is not just a serious business, it is also a tremendous, glorious endeavor.  And it is only Torah that has this incredible maalah.  Someone who is moser nefesh to be involved in avodah or chesed the whole day, even though his zechus may be very great, he does not necessarily have this.  Torah gives us this!  This glorious inyan of one, unbroken continuum of chiyus that connects all the way back to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai.

(Audio recording available here)