Vol 21.03 - Shmot 3 Spanish French Audio Video
"Yisroel is my son, my firstborn" - referring to greatness (4:22 cf, Rashi): "For Yisroel is a child and I love him" - Bnei Yisroel are small children. Siyum Tratate Berachot. (5742)
The first time the Jewish people are referred to as "G-d's children" is in the Torah portion of Shmos, where the verse states: "Israel is My son, My firstborn." The term "firstborn," as Rashi explains, denotes maturity. In many other instances, however, we find that Jews are considered G-d's children because of their extreme youthfulness. Thus we find the verse, "For Israel is but a lad and therefore I love him." This is further explained by our Sages, who offer the parable of a king who had many children, but loved the youngest most of all. Since the love for a young child is more palpable than the love for an older one, why does the verse in Shmos imply that Jews are older children?
What, exactly, causes a parent to manifest a greater degree of love for a young child than for an older one? An older child, who has already matured intellectually and emotionally, will not always be loved by his parents merely because he is their child. The parents may also come to love the older child because of his wisdom or fine character. This kind of love is grounded in logic. The love of a parent for a very young child, however, is an elemental love - one that transcends reason - since an extremely young child does not display any particular qualities for which he should be loved; the love that emanates from parents to young children derives entirely from the fact that the parents and the child are essentially one.
The love for a grown child, although also an essential love, is intermingled with feelings that have a basis in logic. This logical foundation conceals the elemental love between parent and child. Just as this is so regarding the love of human parents, so too with regard to G-d's love for His children, the Jewish people. Here too, there exist two manners and degrees: When Jews serve G-d and thus reveal their sterling qualities, His ever-present love for us is mingled with a love dictated by logic - similar to the love felt by parents for an older child. However, G-d also shows His elemental love for the Jewish people - a love that springs from the fact that every Jew is "truly a part of G-d above." This love - similar to that felt by parents for a very small child - does not depend at all on the quality of the Jews' spiritual service.
This elemental love is revealed when Jews serve G-d in the manner of a small child; when they feel small and humble in G-d's presence, and obey Him as a small child obeys his parents - out of a sense of inherent loyalty, even when they fail to understand G-d's reasoning. This, however, does not mean to imply that when Jews serve G-d intellectually and emotionally His intrinsic love for them is not revealed, for a Jew's intellectual and spiritual state is intricately connected to his degree of self-nullification. A Jew realizes the necessity of intellectual toil to understand Torah, and that his emotions must be permeated with enjoyment of Torah and mitzvos. This realization is a direct result of the fact that such enjoyment is G-d's desire. The reason the verse states "Israel is My son, My firstborn" will be understood accordingly: When seeking to indicate G-d's essential love for the Jewish people in and of itself, the metaphor used is that of a very small child, for in that instance the elemental love is felt naturally. When, however, one seeks to convey the essential qualities of the Jewish people, then the term "Israel is My son, My firstborn" is used, for it indicates that the Jews' essentially childlike nature permeates even their intellect and emotions. (From: Wellsprings, Based on the teachings and talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson on the weekly Torah Portion Redacted in this format by Rabbi Sholom Wineberg, Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXI, pp. 20-26)
1. The first time, the Jewish people are referred to as G-d's “children" is in our Torah portion, where the verse states:
"Israel is My son, My firstborn" (בני בכורי ישראל)
And as Rashi explains, the term "firstborn," denotes maturity (לשון גדולה).
In many statements of the Sages, however, we find that the virtue of Yidden, as “children” is because of their youth (הקטנות). In other words it is that Yidden are like a small child, as the verse states:
"For Israel is but a lad (and therefore) I love him."
The Sages, explain this with the parable of a king who “had many children, but loved the youngest more than all”
One must understand:
Since the love for a young child is “more than all”, it means that the virtue of a “son” is more (revealed) in a child versus that of an adult son. Why therefore does this verse (which is speaking of the virtue of the Yidden as sons) emphasize that "Israel is My son, My firstborn" - is a term of maturity (גדולה)?
2. One could explain this by prefacing the explanation why the love for a young child is more than for an older one – (as it states) “more than all”?
An older child, who has already matured intellectually and emotionally etc., will not always be loved by his parents merely because he is their child. The parents may also come to love the older child because of his wisdom and intellectual conduct, or because of his fine character, or because the son is scrupulous in honoring his parents. This kind of love is based on reason.
However, the love of a parent for a young child, is an elemental love (אהבה עצמית) - one that transcends reason. For an extremely young child does not possess the completeness of intellect or Middot.
Moreover, even the child’s obeying his parents (and honoring them) is not because of the virtue of the child, but rather since this is an essential aspect of a child – for the child feels that this is his father. Therefore the love of a father to his son is not because of (due to his –) son’s qualities, but rather because this is an essential love. Since he is his child, and ‘a father and his son are essentially one’, therefore he loves the child.
Regarding a grown child, he is also essentially one with his father. However, the father’s love is intermingled with feelings that have a basis in logic. This foundation conceals the elemental love between parent and child.
However, regarding a child, where the love is not based on reason, the elemental love is revealed, and therefore the father “loved the youngest more than all”.
3. Just as this is so regarding the love of a father and son, here, so too, as it were, is it with regard to G-d's love (“Our Father in Heaven/ אבינו שבשמים”) and the Yidden (“children of G-d/ בנים למקום) .
And on the contrary, the elemental love of parents to children is drawn (נשתלשל) from the elemental love of G-d to the Yidden.
(and therefore it, indeed, is a metaphor in the Torah of truth (בתורת אמת) for G-d’s love to Yisroel).
There exists two manners (degrees) in G-d’s love to Yisroel:
When Yidden serve G-d, and one visibly sees their qualities versus that of the other nations, then G-d’s love for Yisroel is (also) a love dictated by logic - similar to the love of a father to his older son.
[and therefore we find that the Midrash ties the verse "Israel is My son, My firstborn" to the good deeds of Yidden, as the Midrash states that – “He preferred the good deeds before (G-d on) Har Sinai“ (שבכרו מעשים טובים לפני (הקב״ה על) הר סיני) – since “My firstborn“ (a term of greatness) depicts this (revealed) virtue of Yidden].
However, there is also here, the elemental love of G-d for the Yidden who are “truly a part of G-d above" (חלק אלוקה ממעל ממש /A part of G-d’s essence) - similar to the love of a father for his small son – since the son is his child. This love is not dependent on the Avodah of the Yidden.
[As it states in the Midrash that “just as with a person’s son when he is a child, if he sins, his father does not banish him, since he is small . . so too is it with Yisroel, that even if they inadvertently sin, it is considered as if they were a small child“].
And this love is revealed when Yidden are (in their Avodah) like a small child.
When one feels that he is an accomplished person (בעל מעלה) who has an understanding of G-dliness, (as well as) the love and fear of G-d - and this feeling is visible in the person, then G-d’s love to him is also a love that is based on reason, and this conceals the elemental love.
Specifically, when one feels small, meaning that notwithstanding the great accomplishments that he has achieved (מ׳פארמאגט ), he nevertheless (feels that he) is “small” (קליין), so much so that he is like a small child that does not possess any (revealed) virtues. Therefore his Avodah (is not due to reason and logic – satisfaction (געשמאק,), but rather) with Kaballat Ol (קבלת עול) ("acceptance of the yoke"; unequivocal commitment to G-d) -
Just like a small child literally, that among his qualities, naturally possesses, the characteristic of ‘one who obeys’ (a Kaballat-Olnik/ קבלת־עול׳ניק), namely that he obeys his parents (albeit/חאטש), even when he fails to understand the concept in his mind –
it evokes the revelation of the elemental love of G-d to Yidden.
4. One still requires an explanation for this:
According to the aforementioned, it comes out that when one remains (in his spiritual Avodah) in a level of “smallness” (קטנות), it evokes the revelation of the elemental love.
Yet on the other hand, (how can it be that) the Avodah of Yidden in Torah and Mitzvot, in a manner that evokes the revealed virtue of Yidden in intellect and Middot etc., (and therefore, also evokes the Supernal love that is based on reason) is completely a concealment of the elemental love!
Indeed it is true that when one is in a state of bitul and smallness, that the revealed virtues of Yidden do not conceal the elemental love, as aforementioned. Yet this is not a direct purpose (מסובב ישר) of the Avodah of bitul, namely that the bitul accomplishes the receiving of elemental love. It is only that, notwithstanding one’s revealed virtues, the elemental love which exist, at the very onset, can remain revealed (due to that which the bitul affects the aspect of the concealment of the revealed virtues).
However, since G-d implanted in man that one should grow from smallness to greatness,
where the property of greatness is (not bitul and smallness, but rather) – the growth of the person in intellect and Middot etc. – and the intent is certainly not that the elemental love should be concealed –
it is understood that the Avodat HaShem which is a result of the property of maturity, itself, evokes (when it is according to G-d’s Will) to an addition (and increase) also in the revelation of the elemental love.
5. The explanation of this is:
The Avodah of a Yid in intellect and Middot is not, G-d Forbid, a contradiction of his bitul to G-d. on the contrary, this is an outcome and result. The reason that one must strive, in order that his intellect should understand G-d’s wisdom (the Torah) and that his Middot should have a vitality and satisfaction (א חיות און געשמאק) in Torah and Mitzvot, is because this is the Supernal Will - and he is bitul to the Supernal Will, in everything (that he does).
This is similar to that which is explained regarding the division of the Mitzvot into the Laws, Testimonies, and Statutes (משפטים עדות און חוקים) (which is a division that the Torah made). For even if one were to say that they are divided not just in their reasoning, but also in the manner of their observance, namely that:
this itself, that intellectual Mitzvot, are (also) fulfilled because of reason, one must do this because of Kaballat Ol. This means that it is because G-d decreed that the fulfillment of these very Mitzvot should (also) be because of reason.
It therefore comes out that, the spiritual virtues of a Yid (in his intellect and Middot) do not cover and do not weaken his smallness, and bitul and Kaballat Ol. But it is the opposite: When a Yid uses his intellect and Middot in Avodat HaShem because this is what G-d instructed, it shows that his Kaballat Ol has “grown” (געוואקסן). There has not remained any aspect that is separated from his bitul. But rather it has permeated him completely with all of his powers.
Therefore, not only do his virtues, not conceal the elemental love, but on the contrary, this “increases” (מגדיל) the revelation of the elemental love, that it should permeate the person completely.
6. This aforementioned point, that the Avodah of a Yid with his intellect and Middot must be a result and continuation of his Kaballat Ol – is also alluded to in the conclusion of this first tractate of the Talmud – tractate Berachot - which speaks of the virtue of a Talmid Chacham.
The Talmud states:
“Talmidei Chachamim have no rest . . as it says, They go from strength to strength . . Talmidei Chachamim increase peace in the world, as it says, And all your children shall be taught of the L-rd (and great shall be the peace of your children”.
ת״ח אין להם מנוחה כו׳ ילכו מחיל אל חילי׳. . ת״ח מרבים שלום בעולם שנא׳ וכל בניך למודי ה׳ כוי״
The first tractate of the Talmud depicts the beginning of Avodah (ראשית העבודה) – which is Kaballat Ol. This is as the Sages state that the beginning of the Talmud, is tractate Berachot, since “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of G-d“ (ראשית חכמה יראת ה׳). And in this tractate it speaks of (Kriat Shema which is the) “Unification of G-d and to accept the yoke of Heaven and the yoke of Torah and Mitzvot etc.”
However, the conclusion of the tractate – and following the dictum that “everything follows the conclusion” (הכל הולך אחר החיתום) it speaks entirely regarding the virtue of Talmidei Chachamim, the study of Torah (intellect).
Their virtue is in that which they “have no rest . . They go from strength to strength“ which is the opposite of the concept of Kaballat Ol, which must not contain any changes.
The hint in this is that the (completeness of the) conclusion of this “tractate” (מסכתא) – Avodah – of Kaballat Ol is – when it also permeates the intellect of the person, even the completeness of intellect (namely the intellect of Torah). When one’s aspects as a Talmid Chacham are a part of the tractate of (Berachot – which is) fear of G-d, and outcome of his Kaballat Ol.
7. This unification between Kaballat Ol (which evokes the essential virtue of Yidden as being G-d’s children, as aforementioned par 3) with the revealed virtue (intellect and Middot etc.) is also alluded to in the (statement in the) conclusion of the tractate itself, where it states:
“And all ‘banayich/your children’ shall be taught of the L-rd and great shall be the peace of ‘banayich/your children’”.
The Talmud then expounds:
“Read not ‘banayich/your children’ but ‘bonayich/your builders’”
(“״וכל בניך למודי ה׳ ורב שלום בניך אל תקרי בניך אלא בוניך).
This verse states two aspects:
In simplicity, the reason that the Talmud cites the beginning of the verse, is just to show, that:
One can say on a deeper level that these words: “And all ‘banayich/your children’ shall be taught of the L-rd “ are (also) an explanation on the homily of “Read not ‘banayich/your children’ but ‘bonayich/your builders’“:
There is a well-known maxim regarding the phrase “Read not .. but” (אל תקרי . . אלא..) - that it does not come to negate the “Read not“, but rather to add to it.
The same is in our case:
Even after the teaching “Read not ‘banayich/your children’ but ‘bonayich/your builders’“, the simple explanation of “banayich“ remains.
In Avodat HaAdam this means:
The reason that the Talmidei Chachamim are “bonayich/builders” – (that they) “increase peace in the world“ is specifically when their study is like a “son” (banayich) – where the virtue of a son is mainly with that of a small child (as aforementioned) . This means that when the study is with smallness and bitul.
What relation does bitul have with study? They are seemingly two opposites!
To answer this the verse states “And all your banayich/children shall be taught of the L-rd“:
The aspect of “taught of the L-rd“ is not a separate virtue of Yidden, but this comes together with “banayich”, meaning that they are the “sons” of G-d. The essence of Yidden is also one thing with G-dliness. It therefore comes out that all one’s aspects are one with G-d
[His intellect is to be “taught of the L-rd“ (to learn Torah), his Middot – are on loving G-d and fearing G-d etc.). Therefore it states: “And all your banayich/children shall be taught of the L-rd“. ‘Banayich/your children’ is synonymous with “taught of the L-rd“.
Therefore, even when one is occupied with Torah study – which at that time it states explicitly
(not “Banayich/your children“ but rather)
the aspect of “bonayich/your builders“ -
(as it states: “Read not ‘banayich/your children’ but ‘bonayich/your builders’“,) –
it is based on their being “banayich/your children“ meaning that one is a son to G-d, which manifests itself in smallness (humility) and bitul, as aforementioned.
8. One could say that one sees a wondrous thing in this:
Just as one is given to understand the essential virtue of a Yid as a “son” of G-d, with a physical metaphor of the connection between a father and small son -
Since the elemental love of the parents to children is derived from the elemental love of G-d (our Father) to Yidden (sons), as aforementioned Par. 3 –
so too is it also in the detail of “And all your banayich/children shall be taught of the L-rd“ – that "banayich/your children" includes the virtue of “taught of the L-rd“.
From the way the aspect is by Yidden (and G-d , the sons of G-d), it comes down (ווערט נשתלשל) also into an actual small child, that a child possesses not just the property of smallness and bitul (as aforementioned end of par 3) but also – of study:
One sees in actuality that a child asks and questions all that is around him. He is constantly questions “what” and “why”. And if he is not answered in a way that satisfies him, he questions it again and again.
Even this virtue of Talmidei Chachamim, which is cited in the (first) statement of the conclusion of tractate Berachot - “Talmidei Chachamim have no rest . . They go from strength to strength” – is visibly seen in a child (a toddler/ תינוק קטן)/ For we actually see, that a child (in a healthy condition) is not idle (רוט ניט). He does not stay, for long, in one place. He is constantly in motion (באוועגן זיך), looking for something to do etc.
These properties are present in much greater measure, in children, than in adults. With children it is natural, which is not so with adults.
And one could say the inner reason is:
Since “And all your banayich/children“ (of G-d) automatically includes the “taught of the L-rd”, therefore there also exists the properties of “study “ also in “children”, literally. And since, the aspect of “banayich/your children" is more visible in a child, therefore also the properties of “study“ is more revealed.
(And since this exists within Jewish children, it afterwards, descends in the world, that it is also the nature of every child).
9. According to all the aforementioned, one can also understand why the verse states: “Israel is My son, My firstborn“ - even though that this virtue of a “son” is more revealed in a small son
(which is why the Yidden, in many places, are compared to a small child, as aforementioned Par 1).
The revealed virtues of Yidden, because of which they are called "firstborn," denoting maturity (לשון גדולה)“ are not a separate aspect from their essential virtue as “children” (of G-d). But on the contrary, the completeness of the essential virtue of a Yid, as a son to G-d, is when this is manifested also in his revealed virtues, as aforementioned, at length.
When one wants to evoke the elemental love of G-d to Yisroel, in and of itself, it uses the metaphor of the love of a father to his small son. For regarding a small son, the elemental love is revealed due to nature. For a small son, who has no revealed virtues, the father’s love to him is just an elemental love. Whereas by a grown son, who has revealed virtues which evoke the father’s rational love, this is according to nature, a concealment of the elemental love.
(Only through struggle and effort, can one accomplish, notwithstanding this, that the elemental love should remain revealed, so much so that the revealed virtues, only strengthen the elemental love, as aforementioned).
However, when one wants to evoke the essence (מהות) of the Jewish people – then the description is “Israel is My son, My firstborn“
(similar to: “And all your banayich/children shall be taught of the L-rd“),
which shows that the essential virtue of Yidden, as children, permeate them and becomes the entire entity (מציאות) of Yidden, in all details.
M’sichas Shabbat Parshat Balak, and Chof Menachem Av, 5741
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