As described in my previous article, when learning Chumash we need to be aware of the purpose of the text. It is clearly not intended to be a rulebook for living a halachic life, since many of the most important halachos: Shabbos, tefillin, shechita, marriage and divorce are referenced without any explicit instructions as to how they should be performed, indeed they are referenced as if the reader already knows the detailed “how to”. This demonstrates how the oral law was given simultaneously with the written law. But then how are we to understand the purpose of the written Torah?
Failure to properly observe Shabbos carries a death penalty, yet nowhere in Chumash are the 39 melachos explicitly described. By contrast, many Biblical stories are peppered with details that at first glance seem superfluous. In my forthcoming Sefer “I Can’t Read and Learn” I delineate 8 steps to learning Chumash. The eighth step is that learning Chumash requires a teacher and a connection to the Mesorah. Even if you have the right translation of the words, the reasons for the text including certain words and missing out others requires examination of all the commentaries, including those which hint at the mystical side of the literal sense of the verses. These interpretations were handed down from generation to generation. Their source is Moshe on Har Sinai as directly communicated from Hashem. In essence, this, just like the halachic details of Torah laws forms part of תורה שבעל פה – the oral Torah taught from the mouth of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Surprisingly many Talmidim that I see in my practice struggle with the authenticity of Torah as directly authored by Hashem. Despite being raised frum their whole lives and educated in yeshivos, these ikkarei emunah have not been successfully transmitted or absorbed. A deeper look at Chumash, however, reveals clues as to the Divine authorship of Torah. With these students I often share examples of Torah Codes such as the following.
When discussing the 10 Makkos which Hashem inflicted on the Mitzrayim, the Torah goes into great detail to describe what each one was and the significance it played. It may have sufficed to say Hashem afflicted the Mitzrayim with 10 Makkos. In Shemos 11:21 when describing the Makkah of Darkness חשך, the Torah uses an interesting phrase: וימש חשך literally meaning “and the Darkness was felt”. The question is “how can one feel Darkness”? Ramban (Bereishis 12:6) describes his famous principle:
כל מה שאירע לאבות סימן לבנים (Everything that occurred to our forefathers is a sign for the children.)
In other words the details of all the narratives which take place in the Chumash are hints regarding what will happen to Klal Yisroel in the future. With this in mind we may ask what does the phrase וימש חשך “and darkness was felt” mean to teach us for the future?
Feeling darkness can be interpreted as a dark period of time in history. Which type of calamities in our history could be considered similar to Klal Yisroel’s suffering in Egypt? We need to look no further than the Holocaust where Hitler (yemach shemo) orchestrated his evil plan to annihilate Klal Yisroel. Indeed if we start with the word וימש in the text of the Chumash work backwards from each of the letters of וימש making each letter correspond to the letter immediately preceding it, we end up with הטלר=וימש Hitler.
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Rabbi Dovid Abenson can be contacted at: Tel. 15147393629, Cell/Whatsapp 15149935300, Email: [email protected] Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with Roshei HaYeshiva and Menahelim to improve students’ underdeveloped learning and textual skills.