“Since the day that the temple was destroyed, Hakodosh Baruch Hu has nothing in His world but the four amos of halacha.” (Berachos 8a)
This week the character of the Five Books of Moses changes from a narrative about the creation of the Jewish People to a presentation of the halacha (the laws) by which we live and through which the world is sustained.
Now we enter the bais medrash (the place where Jews study Torah).
Here the yetzer hara, the Evil Inclination, begins its war. It is significant that, in the Torah, Amalek attacks us just before we reach Mount Sinai. The yetzer hara has no more central mission than to try to defeat our attempt to learn Torah, for Torah is “aitz chaim … a tree of life to those who grasp it!” (Proverbs 3:18)
The Chofetz Chaim used to say, The evil inclination does not mind if a Jew fasts, weeps, and prays all day long, provided he does not study Torah! (See Artscroll Bereishis, overview to Vayishlach, p. 1400)
Why is Torah the supreme object of the Evil Inclination’s attention? Obviously, if our most tenacious enemy wants nothing more than to keep us away from Torah, this in itself indicates the centrality of Torah. In the words of our Rabbis, “Torah protects forever….” (Sotah 21a)
In Biblical Egypt, the necromancers thought they could replicate and control the first plagues. But quickly, Hashem made it clear that they were powerless. Their sense of powerlessness increased with each plague, until the plague of the firstborn made it clear that the world is orchestrated from Above by a Power which manifests obvious will and intention.
Thus, Pharaoh’s servants said to their master, “Send out the men that they may serve Hashem, their G-d! Do you not yet know that Egypt is lost?” (Exodus 10:7)
Today, a similar realization is coming over the world. The plagues we are experiencing in this generation are becoming so powerful that mankind cannot help acknowledging the Existence of Hashem. When the Industrial Revolution began, man felt that he was going to rule the world. Now, like Pharaoh’s advisors, many people are coming to believe that the world is beyond man’s control.
Witness recent events:
Recently, a Michigan hunter told us that deer are dying by the hundreds because of unseasonably warm weather causing an unprecedented infestation of ticks and fleas. Cold-water fish are sick and inedible.
Many people are despairing, but we know the Final Redemption is near, and we are holding tightly to the Tree of Life. To the Ancient Egyptians, the plagues were the sign of death; to the Children of Israel, however, they were the door to Mount Sinai, where we received the Torah which we studied under our Rebbe, Moses, as we traveled through Sinai Desert.
May our Father and King soon rescue us and lead us in peace to the Land of Israel, where we will dwell eternally in the presence of the Holy Temple and our redeemer, Moshiach ben Dovid!
The Bais Medrash