GATEWAY TO SELECTED TEACHINGS

Beyond a Choice

“The Jews received [the Torah] ‘underneath the mountain’, i.e… A voice came from Heaven and said ‘If you are going to accept the Torah it’s fine, but if not, here will be your burial site.’…

 

However, when Hashem offered the Jews the Torah they said ‘Na’aseh v’nishma – ‘we shall perform and we shall listen.’?… They accepted it and were ready to do it… Why would there be a need for any coercion?

 

…The Maharal of Prague says that accepting the Torah cannot be a matter of volition; it’s too great, it must come through coercion.

 

What does this mean?… Scientifically, the difference between eating and breathing, which are both primary needs of a human being, are categorized differently. Eating is a voluntary response to hunger. Breathing is an involuntary response… If we give up breathing for a short time, we are in a danger zone. Hashem trusts us in our eating, [but He] doesn’t trust us with our breathing, He takes the choice out of our hands; it’s involuntary.

 

[It’s like Hashem is telling us, ‘Just as] your breathing, your heart rate is not up to you… Kabbalat HaTorah is [not your choice]… The Torah to you is like food, primary, essential, you can’t live without it ultimately. But what about this minute? What about every day, every hour? I can’t leave it up to you [to decide] “Not today, today is not a Torah day,… maybe tomorrow.” I can’t let you make such a decision…’ Na’aseh v’nishma raised it up to the level of primary food needs…Hashem raised it up to the level of respiration… [He said] ‘You have to see that you have no choice… Na’aseh v’nishma is beautiful but not enough.’”