by the Reisha Rav, HaGoan Rav Aaron Levine
Elucidated and Adapted by Efraim Levine
Dedicated L'zeicher Nishmas my grandfather,
Hagaon Rav Shmuel Dovid Warshavchik zt"l
upon his eighteenth yarzeit
The Talmud (Rosh Hashana 10b) relates a dispute between Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua as to when the world was created. Rebbi Eliezer is of the opinion that the world was created in the month of Tishrei and Rebbi Yehoshua is of the opinion that it was created in the month of Nisan.
The commentators explain that there is really no dispute between the two. Rebbi Eliezer is referring to when Hashem (G-D) conceived of the idea to create the world and Rebbi Yehoshua refers to the actual physical creation. Furthermore, the commentators explain that when Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yeshosha discuss the creation of the world taking place in either Tishrei or Nissan, they refer specifically to the creation of man which occurred on the sixth day of creation. The first day of creation was five days before, either on the twenty-fifth of Elul or the twenty-fifth of Adar. Thus, according to Rebbi Yehoshua man was created on the first day of Nissan.
The Talmud (Sotah 2b) tells us that forty days before the formation of a child a bas kol (heavenly voice) goes forth and declares three things; 1) the daughter of so and so is destined to marry this person. 2) A specific house is destined to become the home of this person and 3) a specific field is destined to become the property of this person. These three things correspond to chazal's (our sages of blessed memory) list of the three basic necessities and goals in life. Children, life, and food. This bas kol represents a person's natural predisposition in this world as he fulfills his mission in life. The "daughter of so and so," corresponds to his children. The "house" corresponds to the quality and length of his life and the "field" is symbolic of his occupation, i.e., food.
This Shabbos (5766) is the twentieth day of Shevat. It is exactly forty days before the anniversary of man's creation. Thus, this Shabbos is the anniversary of the bas kol that preceded the creation of Adam Ha'rishon (the first man). Certainly, we can find guidance and insight by listening carefully to this voice. After all, we are all descendents of Adam Ha'rishon. Although we do not actually hear the voice we have faith that our spiritual essence hears it.
On this Shabbos we also read the Ten Commandments, which the Torah describes as "a great voice which did not stop" (Devarim 5:19). Thus, on this Shabbos we listen to two voices. However, the nature of each one is very different. The bas kol is all about man and his natural predisposition in life, in other words, what is good for us. The voice of the Ten Commandments is all about Hashem and the Torah.
We have a problem! Chazal tell us that we cannot listen to two voices at the same time (Rosh Hashanah 27a). For example, in ancient times it was customary to translate the Torah into Aramaic as it was read. Chazal warn us not to allow two people to translate the same time because it is not possible for us to listen to them both at the same time. How then can we on this Shabbos listen to the voice of the bas kol and the voice of Ten Commandments at the same time?
There is an exception to the rule. If the subject is chaviv, i.e., precious, we can listen to two voices at the same time. For example, if even ten people are reading together Megillas Esther or reciting Hallel we can fulfill our obligation by listening to them because the megillah and hallel are precious to us.
This Shabbos presents a special challenge to us. There are two voices speaking to us simultaneously. One concerns what is good for us and the other concerns Hashem and the Torah. Both voices threaten to cancel each other out. The only way we can hear both is if we appreciate how precious and cherished they both are. Indeed, chazal tell us that both Man and the Torah are precious and cherished. "Man is precious for he was created in the image of Hashem… Beloved are the Jewish people before Hashem, for a cherished utensil (Torah) was given to them (Avos 3:14).
The lesson of this Shabbos is one for our whole life. If we appreciate the value of both life and Torah we will have the best of both. However, if we only value life but not Torah or vice versa we risk loosing everything.
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