| Seeing G-D In Nature
Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 12:40:41 PM
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The Yeshiva students are now on vacation touring the Holy Land. Is this considered BITUL TORAH-neglecting Torah study? In Parashat Lech Lecha, G-D tells Avraham, "Get up and tour the Land". The Torah is not ancient history, it is G-D's GPS (G-D's Personal System). G-D was not just speaking to Avraham, but to every Jew.
G-D is commanding us to explore his Precious Holy Land. At the very dawn of Creation G-D commands Adam, "From all the trees of My garden you shall enjoy". By tasting all of the delicious fruits and vegetables, we gain a deeper appreciation of G-D and His marvelous Creation. And that is why the Rabbis created Brachot for every food and also for the wondrous phenomenon of nature, such as Niagara Falls, the Swiss Alps and the Grand Canyon. Rabbi S.R. Hirsch ZT'L one day announced to his students, "I am off to see the Alps!" The disciples were amazed because the Holy Rabbi never left his Torah studies. So he explained to them, "When I pass on and meet the Creator, He may ask me 'Shimshon My child, so what did you think of My wonderful Alps?' And I must be able to tell him just how marvelous they truly are!"
The Mishana in Avot 3 states, "if one is walking on the road, studying Torah as he goes, and suddenly stops his Torah study to exclaim, 'What a beautiful orchard. What a magnificent valley!'-that person has endangered his soul." Now the simple meaning of this Mishna seems to say that we must never interrupt Torah study, even to admire the glory of nature. But the Rambam tells us that in order to truly and fully love G-D, we must be nature lovers!
There seems to be a contradiction here. But the Vilna Gaon explains this Mishna as follows, if one is studying Torah and sees the wonders of nature and disconnects it from his Torah study, that is a grievous error! Because he so to speak, is putting G-D in a box. Judaism teaches that the same G-D that is found in a profound Tosafot on a challenging piece of Talmud, is the same G-D found in beautiful mountains and majestic waterfalls. With the right prospective, a Jew NEVER stops his Torah study, even on a nature hike.
This is what the Pesach Hagada means when it says, "Go out and learn!" Go out and admire G-D's beautiful, wondrous, and marvelous world. Thus, the Hebrew word for nature HATEVA, has the same numerical value as the word ELOKIM (G-D).