(משיחת י״ט כסליו ה׳תשכ״ז)
A. Guardians of the City
In this week’s Torah reading we learn the mitzvah of appointing judges and law enforcement officials (Source 1), as well as the laws of warfare (Source 2).
(Background on Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi)
Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi sent two of his students to visit different cities in Israel and strengthen their educational institutions.When they arrived in a place without a Jewish school, they explained to the city leaders that although guards and law enforcement are important, the true guardians of a city are the teachers who teach children Torah.
What does this mean?
B. Spiritual and Material Synthesis
Keeping the city safe and keeping our bodies healthy must be done in accordance with the laws of nature. However, the messengers explained that if the focus is primarily on physical safety without consideration of spiritual health, that would lead to destruction. In order for the guards to do their job ethically and protect the city properly – and not the opposite – they need to be educated to be good people. The same applies for physical health: in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we must first be taught to be good, ethical people.
When the caesar asked Rabbi Yehudah why the dish he was served was different from last time, he answered him innocently that Shabbat food has a different taste; the holiness of Shabbat affects the taste of the food. The spiritual affects the material (Source 3). When the king asked rabbi Yehudahfor an expensive gift, he gave him a mezuzah and explained that this spiritual object would protect his physical life (Source 4). In Rabbi Yehudah’s own life, the connection between his physical health and spiritual leadership was direct. When he showed compassion to animals, he was physically healed (Source 5).
The Rebbe also bridged both worlds, and when Chassidim would turn to him with physical problems, he would answer that improved observance of a given mitzvah would improve their physical issues.
Following are some examples: Livelihood – Torah study, charity and marital harmony (Sources 6-7); Schizophrenia – putting on tefillin (Source 10); Eyesight – looking at others with a positive eye and being careful with havdalah and blessing the new moon; Health – kosher food and drink.