By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
You Shall Revere Your Mother and Father
Our Sages teach that the awe of your Torah master should be like that of the awe of Heaven. Indeed, our Sages learned from the extra word “et” used in the verse “et Hashem elokecha tira” – “you shall have awe of Hashem” that one should also have awe of Torah scholars. The method of this homiletic shows that the awe due to Torah scholars is directly attached to the awe before Hashem. This matter can be explained by the Torah scholar’s constant devotion to Hashem’s teachings. Therefore, having awe of a Torah scholar is tantamount to having awe of Hashem who manifests His Godly Light and teaching through this person. Similarly, just as Hashem is connected to the righteous, we are also commanded to support and involve ourselves with the righteous. The act of cleaving to the righteous is an act of cleaving to the Holy Presence, as the Torah commands, “to Him you shall cleave,” interpreted by our Sages to mean that one should cleave to the Godly righteous.
The Amoraic master Rava taught that one who loves Torah scholars will merit that his son will be a Torah scholar. One who honors Torah scholars will merit that his son-in-law will be a Torah scholar. One who has awe of Torah scholars will merit that he himself will be a Torah scholar (Shabbat 23b). The Maharal explains (Netivot Olam, Yirat Hashem 5) that the reason that having awe of a Torah scholar brings oneself to become a Torah scholar is due to the nature of awe which nullifies the feeling of self before whom one has awe. This nullification of self, causes one to receive the ideal traits of the Torah scholar before whom one has awe, thereby turning this person into a Torah scholar himself.
There are two types of people before whom the Torah commands that one must have awe: Torah scholars and one’s parents. The Maharal explains that, by principle, the attribute of awe should apply only to God. He explains that awe refers to superiority, and in truth the only Superior Being is Hashem. Giving any superiority to another being should be, so-to-speak, a “lowering” of Hashem’s Superiority, God forbid. However, there are beings that act as agents of Hashem’s Mastery of All Cause in the world, either as being spiritual “causes” toward the World to Come, i.e Torah scholars, or being “causes” of bringing souls into This World, i.e parents. In this way, these two types of people act as continuations of Hashem’s Mastery and Superiority, and therefore they too are to be revered.
In Hebron, both awe toward the Godly righteous and toward our parents is especially significant. It is here in Hebron that we come in contact with the source of all the Godly righteous: our holy Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Here too, we revere these holy parents of our People as the cause and source of our People in This World. Here too, we have awe before Hashem, before the Holy Presence which rests at Maarat Hamachpela.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #314
Around 5660 (1900): “When my father saw the dire state of the Jews (of Hebron) who many times were not allowed access to water, he decided to build a large cistern that would contain water for all the Jews of Hebron. My mother asked, “where will you find the money?” My father answered, “we’ll begin and the money will come.” Initially, there was a lot of excitement and many volunteers came to dig the cistern. However, after a few weeks the money had been exhausted and the cistern was incomplete. Then, tourists came to Hebron, and each tourist contributed as much as he was able. My father also continued to raise funds at every simcha of the community. After the cistern was finished my father continued to work on tiling the roofs adjacent to the cistern so that the water that flowed into the cistern would be clean enough for drinking. Then, just about a week after everything was finished there were strong rains that filled a good portion of the cistern!”
Source: Hana Yerushlami, Sefer Hebron p. 386
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