The Power of Our Eyes
By: Rav David Zahtz
At the end of this week’s parsha in Chutz La’aretz, Parshat Shelach, we are told of the story of an individual who gathered wood, the mekosheish, on Shabbat violating the capital crime of the Desecration of Shabbat. Immediately following the event, the Torah relates to us the obligation of wearing Tzitzit. What is the connection between these two segments?
Tosfot in Menachot 36b raises the question why are these two segments juxtaposed to one another. Tosfot answers that when the mekosheish was desecrating Shabbat, Moshe looked to Hashem and said if only we were told to wear tefillin on Shabbat as well, the individual would have seen the tefillin and remembered it was Shabbat. He would have refrained from desecrating Shabbat. In response, Hashem tells Moshe that, He will establish a mitzvah that will also remind everyone about the mitzvot and it will be worn on Shabbat: Tzitzit.
Rav Simcha Zisl Broide zt”l gleans a wonderful and powerful point from this chazal. Rashi and others explain that this mekosheish was warned and knew fully well what he was about to do. Not only did he understand the magnitude and severity of the crime he also knew that Moshe would follow through with the capital punishment as well. Even assuming all of that, if he would have had a mitzvah that in its essence was to remind him of all the mitzvot, he would have stopped immediately and restrained himself from desecrating Shabbat.
The juxtaposition of these two sections is coming to show that no matter how adamant and intentional an individual is to violate the Torah, there is still a way out through certain mitzvot including tzitzit.
Maybe we can suggest this as an additional explanation to the gemara later in Menachot 44a, where the gemara tells a story of an individual who was very careful with the mitzvah of Tzitzit. He heard that there was a prostitute in a far off land that was impossible to resist. After making all of the arrangements, he goes with the full intention to utilize her services but upon seeing his tzitzit at the last minute he refrains.
Our eyes are the gates to our souls and so we must protect them from what we see but additionally we must recognize that which our eyes do see can revitalize ourselves to defeat the challenges that we may face.
Shiur ID: 9277