The taste of Shabbat – Netzavim 5777

The taste of Shabbat – Netzavim 5777

Rav Mordechai Elon

The Torah tells us in our parsha

לֹ֥א בַשָּׁמַ֖יִם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַֽעֲלֶה לָּ֤נוּ הַשָּׁמַ֨יְמָה֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַֽעֲשֶֽׂנָּה.

It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"

"It" Rashi explains, is the Torah. Why does the Torah use such vivid imagery – "Not in Heaven" and "it is not over th seas" ? Does anyone think that the Torah is in heaven, and that it is possible for human beings to go there and take it?

"It is not in heaven" is one of foundations of the oral Torah, as R`Yehushua says in the famous story of the Oven of Achnai –

יצאתה בת קול ואמרה: מה לכם אצל רבי אליעזר שהלכה כמותו בכל מקום. עמד רבי יהושע על רגליו ואמר – לא בשמים היא. מאי לא בשמים היא? אמר רבי ירמיה – שכבר נתנה תורה מהר סיני, אין אנו משגיחין בבת קול, שכבר כתבת בהר סיני בתורה: 'אחרי רבים להטות'.

Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out: 'Why do ye dispute with R. Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the halachah agrees with him!' But R. Joshua arose and exclaimed: 'It is not in heaven.' What did he mean by this? — Said R. Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because You have long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, "one must incline after the majority "

There is a deep message here – The parsha isn’t just talking about The Torah, but (according to the Ramban), "it isn’t in heaven" relates to the mitzvah of teshuva too

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