Yokes of Heaven, Yokes of Man


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

7 Tammuz 5767/22-23 June 2007


“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron, saying: This is the decree of the Torah which Hashem has commanded saying: Speak to the children of Israel and they shall take to you a completely red cow which is without blemish and upon which a yoke has not come.”

The commentaries teach us that this is a decree without meaning or understanding. For from here, the nations of the world come and taunt Israel, saying: What is the nature of this commandment, what is its reason? We say it is a decree before Hashem and you have no right to question it. We see that the nations do not answer back after hearing this rebuke. Why? Why does this answer stop them in their tracks?

To answer this question, we first have to go back to last week’s parsha with Korach and Co. and see why the two parshas are place next to each other. Korach's main dispute with Moshe was: “Why is Aharon the head priest? Why am I not the head of the tribe of Levi? For the entire nation is holy, we are all equal.” But the answer that came back was that everyone has his or her place, position, and job to do in this world. There can only be one High Priest, only one Levi tribe. This is G-d's decree, this is what Hashem in His ultimate wisdom saw fit to perfect His world. Either one accepts this, or ends up like Korach and Co. This is accepting G-d's yoke of Heaven.

When the nations joke and question us about the law of the red heifer, we answer that it’s a decree from G-d: “Ol Malchut Shamayim” - the yoke of Heaven. It is a decree, we don’t understand why but we do it anyway, because Hashem so commanded us. This shuts them up. Why? Because before G-d gave the Jewish people the Torah at Mount Sinai, He first went to every nation and asked them if they wanted to accept the Torah. Each and every nation asked: What’s in it? When they heard, they all rejected it because they were unable and unwilling to accept the yoke of Heaven upon themselves.

Now, when we answer them that we, the Jewish people are not like them, we have accepted upon ourselves the yoke! It is for that reason that they are stopped in their tracks, when they see their weakness and our strength. For that reason, both parshiot are placed next to each other - to teach us this important lesson. Neither Korach nor the nations have the yoke. And when you are without the yoke of Heaven, you can only be left with the yoke of man – the yoke of materialism and desires.

This is the source of the nations' jealousy for the Jewish people. They cannot bear to see that there was one nation that did take upon itself the great task in this world, and accepted G-d's commandments lovingly, as our Rabbis teach us: “The world was created only for the sake of the Jewish people”. Hence, the world’s existence was dependent on the fact that Israel accepted the Torah, as we learn: “If Israel accepts the Torah, fine, and if not, the world will go back to chaos”. It was for this reason that we find the giant Goliath coming out to taunt the Jewish people twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, at the same time that the Jewish people are saying “Kriat Shma” - Hear of Israel, the L-rd is our G-d the L-rd is One – which, of course, is the ultimate source of "Ol Malchut Shamayim' - the yoke of Heaven - all this in order to remove from us our G-dly yoke in this world.

Throughout the ages, this has been the battle, this is the heart of our struggle that we have with the nations of the world. The two major players - Ishmael and Esav - have always claimed that G-d had abandoned the Jews and picked them instead, that it is they who now have the "Ol Malchut Shamayim", and even as our leaders desperately run to try to form a covenant with the heads of Esav, it will all be in vain! For when the dust settles, all the world - and Israel - will see and finally understand that it was Israel - and Israel alone - that Hashem has chosen, and the words of Isaiah will ring true (Isaiah 53): "Who would believe what we have heard? For whom has the arm of Hashem been revealed?”

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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