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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Eikev
Candle Lighting 7:30 PM 8/19/11 NYC DST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel – Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com

 

 

The Heart – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)

“Circumcise the foreskins of your hearts and you no longer will stiffen your necks.” Deuteronomy 10:16

“Circumcise the foreskins of your hearts” – Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman of Girona, Spain; 1194 – 1270) explains that Moses was advising the new generation entering the Land Israel to keep their hearts clear in order to know and understand the absolute truth of Torah.

However, Nahmanides implicitly asks, wouldn’t the wording have been better had Moses said: “Circumcise the foreskins of your minds so that you no longer stiffen your necks.” Meaning, the mind should be open and clear to understand the Torah so that it would not be unduly influenced by the ways of the world.

Nahmanides answers his question by saying Moses was referencing the primary cause for the previous generation’s rebellious ways. They rebelled because they grew up in Egypt and lived Egyptian lifestyles. It was difficult for the Children of Israel to make a complete break and change to an absolute Torah lifestyle. And, because it was difficult to change, Israel was often looking for excuses, hence their rebellious ways. Even though the Israelites intellectually understood Torah to be the absolute truth, their heart was in Egypt.

These feelings remained despite witnessing the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, the revelation at Mt. Sinai, the daily miracles in the desert, and the greatest spiritual leaders in Jewish history.

Yet, Moses was not simply advising the new generation to not be influenced by worldly lifestyles. If another lifestyle would contradict the Torah there would no need for a warning. It would be obvious.

Rather, Moses was warning at something much more profound. If we examine the verse, it says to “circumcise your heart”. This is an imperative preventive measure to keep one from becoming “stiffed neck”. Moses is telling us to keep our hearts clear of other lifestyles. Meaning, once we fall to the influence of other lifestyles, no matter our intellectual understanding of Torah’s truths, our climb back toward Torah living is that much more difficult.

Torah observance is not easy. Once one is exposed to a contradictory lifestyle, he will instinctively look for excuses to relinquish the yoke of Torah. Hence, Moses’ admonition – ““Circumcise the foreskins of your hearts and you no longer will stiffen your necks.”

Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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