In just a few days we will welcome the beautiful holiday of Shavuous, the holiday which celebrates the giving of the Torah. It has been 3,329 years since that great day when HaKadosh baruch Hu literally introduced Himself to us in a manner which we have no way of articulating because the very nature of HaShem’s existence transcends every human experience.
Although we already knew of His existence beyond any question or doubt from everything that He did in Egypt and at the Red Sea, nevertheless, He wanted us to experience His existence first-hand so that we would have no question to the veracity of the Torah as being His explicit Will. Anyone who understands what transpired 3,329 years ago on the day of Shavuous could never dismiss a single word of Torah as being anything but the very word of HaKadosh baruch Hu.
This brings us to the following conundrum. If the Torah is the explicit Word of HaShem how can there be differing opinions on the meaning of a Torah verse or differing opinions of a Torah law. What did HaKadosh baruch Hu say? What is His Will? How can His Torah support contradictions?
In addition to the Five Books of Moshe, HaShem gave us the Oral Law which includes explanations and details of the Five Books as well as instructions how to extrapolate and unfold layers of Torah that were articulated. When these instructions are used by scholars who meet certain standards they can draw from Torah seemingly contradictory conclusions. Even though we cannot reconcile the the multiple conclusions, nevertheless, if the they were reached by using the instructions in a faithful manner using information that was based on our tradition then all opinions are valid. Naturally, we must decide which one will be followed. However, even though we do not practice the other opinions they are nonetheless valid interpretations. The Talmud teaches regarding seemingly opposing opinions “ Both positions are the Word of the Living G.D”
So as we celebrate HaKadosh baruch Hu’s gift of the Torah, the joy should go beyond the experience of the giving of the Torah. It should go beyond the actual learning and understanding the Torah. It should go beyond HaKadosh baruch Hu’s choosing us to be the carriers of His Torah. Our joy should reflect the recognition that HaKadosh baruch Hu elevated us to be worthy of determining what the meaning of the Torah should be. He placed us on equal footing with Himself! He empowered us to be the creators of His Torah!
When it comes to dealing with our everyday questions and dilemmas we must take them to a reputable Torah scholar. He will reach the right conclusion even if it contradicts the conclusion of another reputable scholar.
In dealing with TableTalk’s dilemmas, Reb Yitzi and I feel that it is not our place to decide which answer should be the one that we will publish. Instead we will leave the dilemma unanswered and you, the reader, can develop your opinion if you are a reputable Torah scholar, or present the dilemma to your reputable Rabbi and he will give his decision. In any case we welcome your answers and ask you to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I did, however, promise in last week’s edition to get an answer to the double menu dilemma. (That was the dilemma where the owner of a restaurant offered two menus, one in English and one in Hebrew. The Hebrew menu presented a cheaper price than the same item on the English menu.) I spoke to a reputable Torah scholar who explained that from the strict technical position of the law the owner may give discounts to anybody he wishes. He may offer discounts to people with blue eyes or people who are related to him. However, he pointed out the words of Rambam “ The value of peace is so great that the entire Torah was given to generate peace in this world…” So, while the strict letter of the law allows the double menu, it would nevertheless engender ill will between his patrons. The owner should therefore create a single menu to achieve the peace that is do dear to HaKadosh baruch Hu.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and happy Shavuous.