Pinchas: Chapter 16

All nations do not sway - just Yisrael


Rabbi Aba recounts Rabbi Shimon's explanation of why the children of Yisrael sway when they read the Torah. He learned that the spirit of man is the candle of God, and that light flickers and moves, swaying to and fro.


We are told that Israel sways back and forth when learning Torah, whereas idol worshipping nations are in constant repose, frozen still, with no flaming Light of Torah upon them. All of us are idol worshipping nations, to one degree or another. Idolatry does not pertain to manmade statues and icons before which we bow down. An idol is defined as any material possession or external situation that controls our emotions and behavior. Our negative tendencies lead us to become worshippers of wealth and disciples of decadence. We are adorers of images - the images and icons of our culture, and the self-image we feel we must project to others.

Should any of these determine or influence our degree of contentment and joy of life, then we have surrendered control and severed our connection to the Light of the Creator, our source and fountainhead for true fulfillment.

We remove the power and allure of the "idols" that control us by invoking the liberating Light of the Creator through the mystical insights of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

This great sage, we are told, cried as he revealed these hidden mysteries. His tears fall again, like fiery sparks of divinity that kindle the candle of the Creator - our souls - so that we flicker and sway, to and fro, with delight, as the secrets of the Torah radiate to the four corners of the world.