Rabbi Mayer Twersky

Encountering Kedusha

Hashem said to Moshe, "Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow...let them be prepared for the third day, for on the third day Hashem shall descend in the sight of the entire people on Mount Sinai"

Kabolas HaTorah was a most singular event, the most singular event in history. Accordingly, the degree of preparation for Kabolas HaTorah was unique. The notion that one ought to prepare for an encounter with kedusha is, however, an eternal principle. Thus, the Gemara in Berachos (22a) reasons, "just as we stood before Hashem at Mount Sinai with awe, fear, trepidation and trembling, so too we must study Torah with awe, fear, trepidation and trembling". Obviously it is neither required nor recommended that one abstain from relations for forty eight hours before studying Torah. Moreover, an immersion in the mikveh after relations is not required before resuming the study of Torah because such a requirement would be too onerous. Nevertheless, preparation is warranted before an encounter with kedusha. Just as a painter in order to achieve maximum results first primes and then paints, so to we must prepare ourselves before an encounter with kedusha.

We are privileged to encounter kedusha daily, especially in the form of davening and Talmud Torah. Chassidim Harishonim devoted an hour to prepare for each tefillah. They would empty their minds of all distractions and focus on their impending audience with Hashem. In a similar vein, Rav Chaim Volozhiner recommends that one reflect upon the endeavor of talmud Torah before beginning to study. These moments of reflection ensure the appropriate awe. Too often we approach and encounter kedusha without preparation, and accordingly can not fully absorb the kedusha.

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