Ever since I returned to New York less than a month ago, I feel like I have been constantly busy, especially during the hectic weekdays filled with classes, assignments, work and extracurriculars. It's difficult sometimes to take a step back and appreciate the ups and downs of life, form the bad cold I have almost succeeded in fighting to the rewarding labor of being a leader in the wonderful Hillel community. One of the greatest joys in a hectic week, as I've mentioned previously, is taking time out to study Torah. Besides for my Seminary classes, which all incorporate intensive text study, I have had the pleasure each Tuesday during my Mashgiach shift to join a Chavurah, an informal study group in the teachings of the S'fat Emet, the Hassidic Rebbe of Ger on the weekly Parasha (Rabbi Yehuda Areyeh leib Alter, 1847-1905, Poland). These lessons are transcriptions of his sermons that the Rebbe gave to his community on Shabbat, and were transcribed afterwards, explaining the use of much shorthand in the Hebrew text. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did, as we prepare to relive the revelation at Sinai this Shabbat.
שפת אמת שמות פרשת יתרו
גבורי כח עושי דברו לשמוע בקול דברו. שהקדימו נעשה לנשמע. אם כי בוודאי יש לבטוח ולהאמין כי לא יצוה הש"י רק אשר יהי' בכחם. אך כי קבלו על עצמם לזכות לשמוע ע"י המעשה. וזה הקדמת נעשה לנשמע. וזהו עושי דברו. כי הנה בכל מעשה יש כח דבר ה'. כמ"ש בדבר ה' שמים נעשו כו' כל צבאם. וכשעושין המעשים כראוי זוכין לשמוע הקול שהוא למעלה מהדיבור. כמ"ש בזוה"ק. ומובן גם לכל אדם כי הקול בפנימיות מהדיבור. שמתחלק לפרטי דברים. והנה בנ"י זכו במעשיהם וקבלת מלכותו. לשמוע קול הש"י. וזה ג"כ זכור ושמור בדיבור אחד. ומי שישנו בשמירה ישנו בזכירה. כי שמירה צריך בבחי' דיבור הנ"ל שנעלם תוך מעשה בראשית. וכפי השמירה זוכין לזכירה הוא מקום שא"צ שמירה כנ"ל:
"Valorous heroes, follwing His word, to hear the voice of His word." (Psalms 103:20). Here, just as in The Torah, 'doing' precedes 'hearing'. If this is so, then we should surely trust and believe that God would only command what is within their (the Jewish people's) ability. But thus, the people of Israele took upon themselves the merit of to 'hear' from within their actions; and this is the meaning of 'we will do' preceding 'we will hear' (Exodus 24:8), just as in Psalms it is written 'follwing his word.' For in each action is the voice of God's word, as it is written, "through God's word the heavens were created, and through the spirit of His mouth all of its creations" (Psalm 33). And when we act in the appropriate manner, we merit to hear the inner voice, which is more special than simly hearing God's word...
In the hectic nature of our lives, with work and school, friends and obligations, it is sometimes difficult to hear that inner voice. But as the peace and solace of Shabbat arrive, we should look for the deeper beauty and meaning in our actions and its holiness, and exercise that can surely be continued into the 'chol', the everyday bustle. Furthermore, these teachings do not only apply to those who feel the obligation of mitzvot and the halakhic system. There is an inner, divine voice that can be felt in any action done selflessly, with the needs of of those we love, the community and those far away in our minds and hearts.