Vol 21.15 - Yitro 2                            Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5743) (Ex 19:2) "And Yisroel camped". "Every place where it states: "they journeyed", "they camped" - they journeyed in strife and and camped in strife but here they were considered one heart" (Mechilta).

The connection of Torah to the number three  



Achieving Unity in Mind, Heart and Deed

We read in the Torah portion Yisro that "In the third month after the Exodus of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on that day, they came to the wilderness of Sinai... and Israel encamped there before the mountain."1
The Mechilta comments:2 "Everywhere else it is written 'They traveled... they encamped' in the plural. That is to say 'they traveled' with dissenting opinions and 'they encamped' with dissenting opinions. Here, however, it is written 'and Israel encamped,' in the singular, for all were equally of one heart."

The Mechilta thus informs us that although it is entirely natural for the members of a multitude to have dissenting opinions, when the Jews encamped in preparation to receive the Torah, all were "of one heart."

This was a result of the Torah's ability to bring complete peace and unity, as the Rambam states:3 "The entire Torah was given in order to bring peace into the world." Therefore the Jews' encampment before Mt. Sinai brought complete unity; they stopped bickering.

What property does Torah possess that enables it to bring about such peace and unity that all are "of one heart"? In fact, the argument could be made that Torah fosters dissonance, for it is replete with dissenting and disparate opinions with regard to various points of Jewish law, etc.

And while it is true that once a definitive judgment is rendered all parties must act strictly in accordance with the halacha, it would seem that private intellectual disagreement must remain.

How then can Torah be said to cause all Jews to be "of one heart," which implies that it unites Jews not only in action but also in understanding and feeling?

The Torah stresses that the Jewish people's encampment "with one heart" took place during "the third month after the Exodus." Evidently the people's unity resulted not only from their location "opposite the mount," but also from the fact that this took place during the third month.

What is so special about three, and how does it foster unity; if anything, unity seems more directly related to the number one.

The difference between the numbers one, two and three are as follows: "One" stresses that from the very outset there exists but one thing; "two" is indicative of divisiveness - the antitheses of unity. "Three," however, sees a uniting of disparate entities - making "one" out of "two."

This aspect of "three" is similar to the statement of our Sages4 that "When two Biblical passages contradict each other, the meaning can be determined by a third Biblical text, which reconciles them."

We see here the remarkable quality of the "third." Without the third verse the two verses indeed contradict each other. Then the third reconciles the seemingly irreconcilable. Moreover, it does so not by "taking sides," i.e., agreeing with one verse and disagreeing with the other, but by showing that the first two verses are actually in consonance.

Since Torah is inextricably bound up with the concept of "three," as our Sages state:5 "Blessed is G-d who gave the three-part Torah to the three-part Nation... in the third month," it is understandable that Torah as a whole has characteristics similar to those of the number three.

This results in the fact that even when Torah law is seemingly arrived at not through a reconciling view, but by agreeing with one opinion and disagreeing with another, those initially opposed agree not only with the adjudication but also with the logic that resulted in the verdict - all are peacefully united "with one heart."

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXI, pp. 108-112.


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http://www.sichos-in-english.org/books/chassidic-dimension-2/17.htm(external link)

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