By Rabbi Yosef Landa
we know, was given on Mount Sinai. Our Sages discuss why Mount Sinai,
in particular, was chosen. But a more fundamental question can be
raised, why did HaShem choose to give the Torah on a mountain?
Why did He not just give it in a fenced in level area?
was to teach us the following lesson. Many people have a misconception
as to the nature of a Tzaddik, a person on a high spiritual
level. Their understanding is, that a Tzaddik is someone who has
succeeded in the past and continues struggling to subdue his baser
nature. They assume that the reason that a Tzaddik does not
succumb to jealousy and other negative character traits, and is
instead truly humble, loves his fellow Jew, studies Torah at every
opportunity and is unassuming etc. is due to this constant struggle.
The rest of us, on the other hand, are the way we are because
we do not force ourselves constantly to act like a Tzaddik.
is a misconception and can lead a person down a potentially destructive
path. A Tzaddik is someone who actually truly desires to benefit
other people and all the other positive qualities aforementioned.
He is someone who has actualized the good character traits all of
us have buried within us. Surely it was a mighty struggle for the
Tzaddik to change from the natural character of his childhood, to
grow and change into what he is today. But now, overcoming those
traits is no longer difficult or forced, rather he truly desires
to do those actions, for now they come naturally. His struggle is
to purify more refined desires.
a mountain is an elevated region that is high above the ground below.
Yet, those who stand upon the mountain are standing on solid ground.
They're not suspended in the air. If the mountain range is large
enough they may not even realize how high up they really are. (As
those in the Catskill Mountains [NY] can attest to.) They may even
consider the ground below to be a canyon or a deep crater and that
the mountain is the normal altitude, while those at sea level will
consider those on top as being elevated.
But being on
a mountain at 3000 feet is surely different than being at the same
height in a helicopter. While to an observer on the ground they
are both 3000 ft high, there is a marked difference. The helicopter
needs to constantly expend energy to whirl its propellers to prevent
it from crashing, for it is not at its natural height. Those on
the mountain, however, are at their true level. A Tzaddik
is at a higher point on the mountain than most of us. His natural
goodness is more developed and alive. His struggle is to improve
himself yet further.
the Torah on a mountain, HaShem teaches us this lesson. The
service of G-d is similar to climbing a mountain, it is a difficult
and lifelong struggle. However, as a result, we change habits and
character traits so that at each accomplishment, we find it increasingly
less difficult and more natural to do good. We stand on higher ground,
we are elevated, and the very ground beneath us supports us. Our
positive actions and good deeds become that much easier as more
of what we do becomes natural.
As the Psalmist
says, "Who will ascend the mountain of G-d? Who will merit
to stand by His holy abode?" (Psalms 24:3)
© Jan 29, 1997 by the Chicago Community Kollel