Uplifting the Torah by Rabbi Yosef Adler


As Am Yisrael prepares to enter Eretz Yisrael, Moshe informs them that when they will reach Har Gerizim and Har Eival, a new covenant will be established between them and HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Six tribes would ascend Har Gerizim to hear the Berachot, and the other six would receive the Kelalot upon Har Eival. The Torah records only the Kelalot. Rashi, citing the Gemara (Sotah 36b), clarifies that the Leviim recited both the Berachot (blessings) and the Kelalot (Curses) as they faced Har Gerizim and Har Eival, respectively. There are eleven specific Aveirot mentioned which we are to avoid; amongst them are the Issurim to ridicule one's mother and father, to take a bribe, and to strike a friend. The issue of why specifically these eleven commandments were selected is subject to much discussion. However, the concluding Pasuk of the Kelalot reads (Devarim 27:26), "Arur Asher Lo Yakim Et Divrei HaTorah HaZot Laasot Otam, VeAmar Kol HaAm Amen," "'Cursed is he who does not Yakim the words of this Torah and perform them,' and the whole nation said Amen."

Rashi suggests that this broad, sweeping phrase is designed to remind everyone to observe the remaining 602 Mitzvot of the Torah. One who observes any Mitzvah will be blessed and one who violates any transgression will be cursed. “Yakim,” to Rashi, is then translated as "to observe". Ramban, however, in his second explanation of the Pasuk, cites a Yerushalmi in Sotah indicating that the word Yakim must be translated as "to uplift" and that this serves as a reference to our practice that after Keriat HaTorah (or before Keriah for Eidot HaMizrach), one should pick up the Torah and display it to all the people in the shul.

I interpret Ramban in the following manner. The Torah is effectively studied between a Rebbe and his student. There are teachers who are great scholars and orators and enjoy the ability to transmit the depths of the Torah to their students. But ultimately, a student learns his Rebbe's Torah, as he understands it. The real challenge of a teacher is to enable his student to reach the appropriate conclusion on his or her own, by having the teacher guide the student in the right direction. Through proper guidance, the student identifies the difficulty with the text of the Gemara or Rishonim that he or she learns, and then proceeds to suggest a resolution. The Torah then becomes his or her own, in fulfillment of the request we make thrice daily, "VeTain Chelkeinu BeToratecha" “and place our portion in your Torah.” The student is then lifting the Torah personally, and thereby fulfilling, the Pasuk“Baruch Asher Yakim Et Divrei HaTorah HaZot.”

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