Shlomo Hamelech writes in Shir Hashirim according to the Ramban’s interpretation, that when one feels inspired to come closer to Hashem, he must place that inspiration in a vessel of a mitzvah in order to preserve it. Otherwise, it will be short lived and evaporate in thin air. The Ramban learns it from the passuk (Shir Hashirim 2,7) אם תעירו ואם תעוררו את האהבה עד שתחפץ if one experiences an arousal of love towards Hashem then עד שתחפץ one should place it in a cheifetz which means a vessel or object. We find such a method used by Avraham Avinu at the Akeidah. As Avraham was about to shecht his son, a malach appeared to him and said two commands, don’t shecht him and don’t do anything to him. The malach added don’t do anything to him because he saw that Avraham was about to at least make a cut on Yitzchak’s body. Why would Avraham do so when he was commanded only to shecht him and when that command terminated what was the purpose of cutting him at all?
The answer is that Avraham was so inspired with his love of Hashem that he was even willing to sacrifice his only son that he loved so dearly in order to demonstrate his love to Hashem. When this opportunity was suddenly taken away from him, Avraham was afraid that all his inspiration would be lost forever. He wanted to preserve it by putting it into an action towards Hashem. However Hashem showed him a ram and Avraham sacrificed the ram in place of cutting Yitzchak.
We just went through the Yom Tov of Shavuos which the Torah also called Atzeres. Chazal say that the reason Shavuos is called by this name Atzeresbecause it is different from other Yomim Tovim. Pesach and Succos have different mitzvos to perform on the Yom Tov. Pesach has matzah maror and korban pesasch to eat, and Succos has the Four Minim and the living in a Succah as its mitzvos. Shavuos has no particular mitzvah for us to fulfill on this Yom Tov except from refraining from work which is the meaning of the word Atzeres – to hold back.
The Kedushas Levi gives another reason for this name and that is with the explanation of the above Ramban. Where did Yisrael put all the inspiration and arousal that they experienced on the day that the Torah was given? The answer is that there was a mitzvah that Klal Yisrael were commanded to do and it was not to ascend the mountain and not to touch it. With such a revelation of אתה הראת לדעת כי ה’ הוא האלקים one would think that everybody would go out of their sanity in order to get closer towards the presence of the Shechina and therefore they would be unable to fulfill this mitzvah. But against all odds they did withstand the temptation and successfully refrained from going closer to Hashem and approaching the mountain. This restraint was the mitzvah in which they placed all their love and inspiration that they experienced at Matan Torah. That is why the Yom Tov is called Atzeres to refrain and hold back (from ascending the mountain).
In this week’s parsha we have the laws of Nazir, one who takes upon himself a vow to refrain from wine and wine products and not to defile himself with a corpse. The Torah describes the vow of the Nazir in these terms כי איש או אשה כי יפליא לנדור נדר לה’. The Iben Ezra gives this interpretation to the word יפליא, that it stems from the word פלא which means “wonder”. He explains that the potential Nazir thinks to himself that the whole world is drinking wine which makes them chilled. Being filled with inspiration, he says to himself I want to ascend higher to Hashem above those who live a chilled and relaxed life of rote and habit. This inspiration the Torah calls פלא a wonder, by the fact that he is willing to go against the style, the tide, and herd conformity of most people. But what does he do with his inspiration and how does he achieve his goal? He makes a vow which legally binds him to his words not to drink wine or wine products. He is called a נזיר which means a crown for he is the true king over his bodily cravings and lusts. By using a vow as your cheifetz and vessel to preserve your inspiration, you bottle that love to ascend to Hashem and you will become elevated from this result. A hint to this is עד חפץ with the two words equals נדר. By making a נדר you become bound to fulfill your words.
However this concept of עד שתחפץ is even stronger that we think. The Mishnahin Nazir, Perek 2 Mishna 4 states that if a person says the words behold I am a Nazir on the condition that I will be able to drink wine and to defile myself by contacting a corpse, he becomes a full fledged Nazir nevertheless, and is forbidden with all the Nazir’s prohibitions. But how does this work if he set the conditions that are the opposite of Nazir?
True that one who makes conditions on mitzvos, his condition are deemed non existent but he nevertheless explicitly states that he really doesn’t want to become a Nazir? The answer is because our Chazal crept into his mind and heart and realized that he truly seeks aliyah and a Hashem directed life. He possesses the inspiration but he is afraid of failure and that he might have remorse over his commitment and it is because of this that he adds in his vow the contradictory condition that would remove him from his inspiration. Chazaltherefore said that your words הריני נזיר already transformed you into a Nazirand the conditions that come afterwards are meaningless and cannot negate your Neziros. Chazal understood that once this individual will taste nezirus and its uplifting spirit he will have no regrets at all. Even if he fails and comes in contact with a dead person which cancels everything he did so far as a Nazir, and he must start to count the thirty days from scratch, there will be no remorse over his original neder. The reason being, that the taste of Neziroslasts forever since it is life changing. This is learned from the passuk that when the Nazir finishes his neziros the passuk says ואחר ישתה הנזיר יין now that his vow ended the Nazir can drink wine. But he is no longer a Nazir? What the passuk is alluding to is that the impression of being a Nazir is so impactful and uplifting, that after his Neziros he stills has vestiges remaining as a Nazir. Even when he now drinks wine, he drinks like a Nazir!
From here we see that even Hashem helps one to find the cheifetz into which he can preserve and actualize his inspiration. Hashem created the mitzvah of neder.
In Megillas Rus we find this concept again in a novel way. When Naomi was telling Rus all the Halachos of geirus and the punishments of aveiros, Rusnevertheless accepted everything. Rus was insistent and persistent in converting. Then the passuk says ותרא כי מתאמצת היא ותחדל לדבר אליה. Naomi saw that she was persistent, unrelenting and getting even stronger to her commitment to convert, and Naomi stopped speaking to her. There seems to be two superfluous words in the passuk. One is the first היא for we know that it is referring to Rus? Secondly the last word in the passuk אליה Naomi stopped speaking to her. It would have been sufficient to say and Naomi stopped speaking, since it was only to Rus that she was conversing with?
The first question is answered by the Imrei Emes of Gur who said that the היאwas inserted in order to inform us that the word מתאמצת is not going on Rus but on Naomi. Noami saw that she herself was becoming inspired from Rus’s commitment to become a Yid that she felt herself becoming contagious from Rus’s inspiration for aliya. It is then that she stopped conversing with Rus for she felt that if Rus can inspire her to become elevated with her own Yiddishkeitthen Rus for sure was a true candidate for geirus.
We would like to answer the question of the extra word אליה in the passukbased upon the pashat of the Imrei Emes. Now that Naomi was full of inspiration from Rus, into what cheifetz did she place all that inspiration so it would not be lost? The answer is in the last word of the passuk that “she stopped to speak to her to Rus” but her speaking did not stop for someone else who was Hashem. Naomi started davening with gratitude to Hashem for all the chesed that Rus did for her and that she is a true candidate for geirus, and that such a special individual will be part of Hashem’s nation. This daveningwas Naomi’s chefetz into where she placed her new found inspiration. Even if there is not mitzvah at hand, an inspired tefillah can always serve as a cheifetz.
My Rebbi ztl Rav Shlomo Freifeld went with a friend to see the Alps. As they stood at the top, the Rebbi was awe struck from its majestic humbling scenery. All of a sudden his friend starting saying a beracha on a candy that he pulled out of his pocket. When he finished the beracha, my Rebbi started admonishing him and said what are you meshuga? You have nothing else to think about while standing at this incredible awesome sight other than a sucking candy. He smiled at the Rebbi and quoted the Ramban and then the Rebbi smiled and nodded in approval. Do you have a spare candy?
– Rav Brazil