The passuk says (Shmos 24,7) כל אשר דבר ה’ נעשה ונשמע Whatever Hashem spoke to us we accepted upon ourselves to do and to listen. We could interpret this to mean that Yisrael accepted upon themselves, not only to fulfill the law, but also the unspoken law or as it is called the spirit of the law. This commitment is inferred from the word נשמע we will place an inner ear. To this inner hearing, the Torah alludes to in the beginning of the second parsha of Shemah והיה אם שמוע תשמעו אל מצוותי by using a double term of listening. When Hashem speaks and we listen to His words, that is called שמוע. However, when after hearing the word of Hashem we place an inner ear to what we just heard then that is called תשמעו.

This interpretation of an inner hearing is hinted to in the very passuk ofנעשה ונשמע . The passuk says (Shmos 24,3) ויאמרו כל הדברים אשר דבר ה’ נעשה. The passuk only mentions the commitment of Yisrael in the terms of נעשה . However after Moshe read to Yisrael the Torah from Bereishis until Matan Torah, the declaration of Yisrael changed toנעשה ונשמע (7). I would suggest that Moshe Rabbeinu’s reading of the Torah had such an effect on Yisrael that they heard with his reading the spirit of the law as well. That is why the passuk describes his reading of the Torah as ויקרא באזני העם he read in the ears of the people. באזני  in the ears alludes to the fact that he transmitted to them the necessity of an inner hearing. For this reason they responded with נעשה ונשמע adding on the commitment of נשמע  which symbolizes reading and accepting between the lines besides the face value meaning.

With this interpretation we can answer the question of the Rishonim of how can the Torah prescribe reward for the fulfillment of the mitzvos in this world והיה אם שמעו תשמעו אל מצוותי ונתתי מטר ארצכם ואספת דגניך ונתתי עשב. Chazal tell us (Kiddushin 39b) עלמא ליכא שכר מצוה בהאי  that it is impossible to reward someone in this world for one’s mitzvos? The answer is that for the mitzvos themselves there cannot be payment in this world. However, for one’s inner hearing of the mitzvos שמוע תשמעו and their fulfillment, there is payment even in this world.

The Medrash tells us on the passuk ה’ מסיני בא וזרח משעיר למו הופיע מהר פארן  that when Hashem was about to give the Torah He went to the nations of the world and inquired if they were interested to accept the Torah. Hashem went to Esav and they responded with the question what is written inside? Hashem answered לא תרצח murder is prohibited. They said if so we cannot accept the Torah for we were given the beracha of על חרבך תחיה. Hashem then went to Yishmael with the same inquiry and they also asked what are its contents. Hashem responded לא תגנוב with the prohibition to steal. Yishmael responded that if so they cannot accept the Torah because they were blessed with ידו בכל ידך בעורף אויביך. The Meforshim ask that these prohibitions of murder and stealing are also part the Seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach. So by putting the Torah aside, they still were required to keep these prohibitions from the aspect of the Seven Mitzvos. If so why did they refuse to accept the Torah because of them?

The answer is that the commandments of the Torah require a double hearing, the spirit of the law and not just the face value of the law. לא תרצחhas many layers of meanings in the realm of the spirit of the law such as not to embarrass or shame someone publicly for it is tantamount to killing him. In fact the Chazal advise that one should throw himself in a furnace rather than to embarrass another person. Wow! This derivation originates from the inner hearing of Hashem’s word. The more one purifies himself and becomes spiritual, the deeper one is able to hear the words of the spirit, the unspoken command, found in the exact words of the superficial interpretation.

Of course the nations of the world already were required to preserve their mitzvah of לא תרצח They refused only the לא תרצח  of the Torah which demands tikkun hamidos and sensitivities as well. This was in contrast to Am Yisrael who answered Hashem’s inquiry with the declaration of נעשה ונשמע. Not only will we fulfill what You said, but also we will hear what we heard in a deeper way in order to fulfill Your will as well.

Don’t steal. Let us bring a few examples of what is deemed stealing through lack of sensitivities even when an actual act of theft did not take place. The inner ear tells us that גניבת דעתmisrepresentation is also called stealing. If one goes to his competitor to find out his prices in the guise of a customer, this is called stealing his daas.

This week I was told a story from an individual who heard it from the Baal Maaseh himself. There was a butcher who was known to be a yirash shamayim. One Sunday his six year old son went to visit his father in the butcher store. He noticed a bag full of chicken bones. The customers would buy whole weighed chickens and then he would trim it close to the bone for different cuts of chicken, and then he would throw away the bones. His son reached for the bag and started to eat the chicken from the bones. When the father noticed what he was doing, he asked his son to please not eat them. His son protested that they are going in the garbage anyway so why not? His father responded that once he knows that he wants to nosh on the bones, he may unconsciously cut the chicken less closer to the bones so his son will have more to nosh on. This would be stealing from the customer who purchased the entire chicken but was willing to forgo the bones.

Rav Shach ztl related a story that when he was young he would accompany his uncle Rav Issur Zalman Meltzer ztl on the walk home. One day as he arrived by the steps leading up to his house. Rav Meltzer ascended the steps and then immediately he came down. He waited a very short time and he ascended once again only to immediately come down. Rav Shach asked for an explanation of his actions. Rav Meltzer answered that as I came to my door I realized that she cleaning lady was singing as she worked and that if I would enter then she would immediately stop. Inadvertently I might cause her tzaar. Therefore I waited to see when she would finish the work and the singing.

I might add here that there was another consideration in Rav Meltzer’s reluctance to stop the lady’s singing.  His sensitivity was that by making her stop singing it would be tantamount not only to stealing her singing but also he would be removing the tool that might have made her task that much lighter and bearable.

My Rebbi Rav Shlomo Freifeld ztl related to us more than once the story of a Rebbi and his married talmid who were on a trip together and they stopped in an inn to eat. The Balabusta of the inn was so thrilled to have two Rabbanim as her company she told them that the kovod is hers and they can eat free of charge. She quickly brought them food and they began eating. She was so honored to be graced with their presence that she took advantage of the opportunity and started to talk to them about her inn and some of the challenges she encounters. As she was talking one of the talmid was engrossed learning a sefer. The owner excused herself and left for a moment to serve other customers. As soon as she left the Rebbi reprimanded his talmid with the derogatory title ofגנב . The talmid all puzzled, responded with the obvious question How am I a ganav? The Rav answered back because you do not intend to pay for your meal. Once again the talmid responded I don’t have too since the owner said the kovod was on her and she was mochail. In this case, the chesed is to take. And by the way is the Rebbi intending to pay? The Rebbi answered in the negative. So how is the Rebbi different from me asked the talmid? The Rebbi responded that the difference is, the owner is willing to forgo the payment as long as she can talk to us even if it means listening to small talk and trivia. That’s her kovod. You paid no attention to her. The transgression here is not just about middos, hakaras tova and being rude by ignoring her. It is about genaiva mamesh.

Using this story as a platform, my Rebbi zt”l. would then talk about guests who attend chasunahs and they sit and learn at their designated tables without getting up even once to participate in the dancing. If the chasan wanted people to learn during his chasunah he would have hired a minyan of learners less than what the meal and the band costs. Putting aside the question of כל הנהנה מסעודת חתן ואינו משמחם(Berachos 6b), there might exist a shailah of gezialah as well.

I would like to add my own sensitivity to the list. The Medrash states that the day of Shabbos is the wedding (chuppah) between Am Yisrael and Shabbos. This is the reason why every Shemoneh Esari of Shabbos contains seven berachos which corresponds to the שבע ברכות recited under theChuppah. Imagine that at your special chasunahthe day you anticipated for, at the chupah there was no music and the entire line of relatives walked down to the chuppah silently without even the Mezamrim singing achapella. Likewise, music and singing were totally absent from the dancing during the seudah and Kaitzad Merakdim Lifnei Hakallah, where only the sounds of feet hitting the floor could be heard.  It was your responsibility to take care of the band.  Imagine how the kallahfeels that you didn’t celebrate her coming into your life to the max. In fact she probably feels gipped and that you stole from her that potential enjoyment of the chasunah. So too, when one is too lazy or tired to sing Zemiros at the Shabbos Seudas, you are removing from the kallah and your family your personal display of joy and elation upon the occasion of marrying her.

Gut Shabbos,

                                         Rav Brazil