Parashas Yisro

The Gemara (Shabbos 88b-89b) records that when Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Shamayim to receive the Torah, the angels balked. They said: “This secret treasure that You hid away 974 generations before the world was created, You plan to give to flesh and blood? ‘What is a mortal, that You are mindful of him – a man, that You take note of him? O Hashem, our Master! How mighty is Your Name throughout the world, You Who has set Your glory [the Torah] within the Heavens!’ (Tehillim 8:5,2).” We have previously presented three reasons the Maggid offered to explain why the angels protested even though it is clear from a straightforward reading of the Torah that its mitzvos are relevant only to man and not to the angels. Here we elaborate on one of the reasons, presenting the parable that the Maggid used to bring out the point.
The parable runs as follows. A certain great Torah scholar served as the rabbi of a big city for a number of years. As he reached old age, he decided to retire from this hectic position, which required him to attend to the many needs of the city’s large community and to adjudicate their many thorny legal disputes. He planned to seek an alternate post as the rabbi of a nearby small town. Since the community there was small, he would be able to live restfully. He called in the big city’s leaders, and asked if they would assent to his plan. They told him: “Rabbi, do whatever you feel is best.” So the rabbi wrote to the leaders of the small town, asking if they would accept him as their rabbi. The town leaders met and decided to accept him. They chose some people to take wagons and travel to the big city to bring the rabbi over, along with his family and his belongings.
When the wagons arrived at the big city, the city leaders gathered together and tried to stop the rabbi from leaving. The rabbi said to them: “I asked you beforehand and you assented to my plan. Why are you now trying to hold me back?” They replied: “Rabbi, far be it from us to do such a thing. The wagons are here – go with them as you wish.” But, as the wagon drivers hitched up the coach, the city leaders began to beat them fiercely. They unhitched the coach and shouted: “You came to take our esteemed rabbi out to your town? Well, you came for nothing!” The wagon drivers went to the rabbi’s house and told him what happened. The rabbi called in the city leaders and said to them: “Tell me, why are you fighting with these men? They are innocent, for they came in good faith, after you assented to my plan.”
The leaders of the city replied: “Rabbi, we deliberately staged this scene for your benefit. You wrote to the leaders of the nearby town, asking them to accept you as their rabbi. Who knows what the people there are thinking about this. Maybe they imagine that we became disgusted with you for some reason and decided to throw you out of here. If so, they will have low regard for you. They will say among themselves: “Who is this who has come to live here and act as a judge over us?”  Therefore we decided to act as we did, so that the people of the other town will see how much we honor and cherish you. They will see that we would not let you leave us except with great difficulty. And then they will know how careful they must be to treat you with proper respect. They will realize that the only reason we are letting you go is because you need some relief from the many concerns of a large community.”
The Maggid explains that a similar process took place when Hashem decided the time had come to convey the holy Torah to the Earth below, and give it to humans beings constituted from a fusion of physicality and spirituality.  The angels knew that the Torah was meant all along to be given to the People of Israel. Nonetheless, in order to show how much they cherished the beauty of Torah, they decided to stage a protest against giving it to man.
They had an important goal in mind in doing this. The angels, who appreciate the precious value of Torah more than lowly humans, were concerned that after the Jewish People received the Torah, they would fail to regard it with the proper respect. They would treat it, so to speak, as the natives of a country treat a foreigner. They would say to themselves: “If the Torah is so great, why did the heavenly hosts allow it to be brought down here?” Indeed, all the great wonders that Hashem performed for the Jewish People in Egypt and at the Sea of Reeds were in order that the Jewish People would serve Him at Mt. Sinai and accept the Torah. There might be room to think: “If the Torah is such an obviously wondrous treasure, why was it necessary for Hashem to go to staggering lengths to impress the people who were supposed to receive it? Who would be foolish enough to turn away a princely treasure?”
Therefore, when Moses went up on high to receive the Torah, the angels attacked him and turned to Hashem with a heated argument against him: “Keep Your glory set within the Heavens! What is a mortal, that You are mindful of him – a man, that You take note of him?” The angels deliberately acted this way so that the Jewish People would know how much the Torah is cherished in the upper worlds, and that it was being passed on to the Earth below only so that the Jewish People could become purified. The Jewish People then would get the message that they must be careful to honor and glorify the Torah fittingly.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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