At the conclusion of the portion Vayeilech
, Moshe instructs the Levites to "Take this Sefer Torah
and place it at the side of the Ark ... so that it may serve there as a witness."
In commenting on this verse, our Sages note that Moshe wrote thirteen Sifrei Torah, twelve of which were for the twelve Tribes and one to be placed in the Ark. The reason it was placed there was so that if someone tried to falsify something in the Torah, it would be compared to the absolutely authentic one in the Ark.
Torah is eternal and its tales are eternal as well, serving as lessons for all the Jewish people throughout the generations. What lesson is derived from the above?
With regard to a very few specific laws differences exist in their adjudication between one place and another. This is more pronounced with regard to Jewish customs, where the differences between one place and another is can be even greater.
In both such instances one follows the codifiers and the prevailing Jewish custom of the place where the person finds himself, as "these as well as those are the words of the Living G-d."
The reason for this divergence in law and custom is that the Torah was given in a fashion that it is expounded upon "in a general manner, in a detailed manner, and a 'most detailed' manner."
For each particular Jewish soul is rooted in its particular detailed portion of Torah. Each Jew is to therefore conduct himself in accordance with that portion of Torah in which his soul is rooted.
If this is so with regard to mitzvos in general, how much more so with regard to those mitzvos that are termed "duties of the heart," i.e., love and awe of G-d. Here there surely exist differences between one person and the next, as these emotional mitzvos are dependent on the person's individual feelings, and no two people have the same feelings and emotions.
Thus, when it comes to the mitzvos of love and awe of G-d, each and every individual has his unique portal and gateway through which he elevates himself and connects himself to G-d.
However, all the above only relates to the most detailed aspects of mitzvos, and, here too, only to very few of these details. Herein we find a striking similarity to prayer:
There are quite a number of variant forms of the prescribed order and text of the prayers. There are, in fact, thirteen variant forms and "gates" of prayer. The first twelve correspond to the twelve Tribes of Israel; each Tribe's prayer ascended through its particular "gate." Then there is a thirteenth gate, a Shaar HaKolel, a general and all-inclusive form and order of prayer through which the prayer of any Jew can ascend.
This corresponds to the twelve gates in the Beis HaMikdash, where each tribal member entered the gate assigned to his particular Tribe. Then there was the "thirteenth gate," the gate through which any member of any Tribe could enter.
Certainly, it is preferable for one to enter through one's own gate and pray according to his own Tribe's order of prayer. Thus, during those times when it was known to all to which Tribe he belonged it was better that he enter through his Tribal "gate."
However, nowadays, when we do not know our Tribe, then it is better (even for Kohanim and Levites who do know their Tribe) that we enter prayer through the Shaar HaKolel, the general and all-inclusive form and order of prayer through which the prayers of all Jews can ascend. This is the order of prayer established by the AriZal (and further refined by the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur).
Just as this is so with regard to prayer, so too with regard to Torah, both with regard to the revealed portion of Torah as well as the inner portion of Torah. Since we don't know what detailed part of Torah our soul is rooted in, we are to go through the general and all-inclusive gate.
The Alter Rebbe was chosen to compose a Shulchan Aruch, to clarify the rules in the revealed part of Torah. He also established Toras Chassidus Chabad that deals with the inner portion of Torah and divine service. Additionally, he clarified the form and order of prayer -- culled from sixty different prayer books -- a general order appropriate for all Jews.
All three matters mentioned above are applicable and germane to each and every Jew; all Jews can thereby attain all the possible spiritual elevations that prayer can achieve and all Jews can draw down the divine beneficence that is achieved within Torah and through Torah.
Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. IV, pp. 1148-1149.
- (Back to text) Devarim 31:26.
- (Back to text) Devarim Rabbah 9:9; Shochar Tov 90 and additional sources cited there.
- (Back to text) Eiruvin 13b.
- (Back to text) Compiler's Foreword to Tanya.
- (Back to text) Ibid.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, ibid.
- (Back to text) Shaar HaKavanos, p. 50c; Pri Eitz Chayim, Introduction to Shaar HaTefillah. See also, Magein Avraham, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, section 68, as well as well as the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 86:2.
- (Back to text) See Maggid Devarav L'Yaakov (Likkutei Amarim), section 133.
- (Back to text) Zohar III, 170a.
- (Back to text) See Mishnah, Shekalim 6:3; Middos 2:6.
- (Back to text) Although the AriZal delineated the order of prayer that bears his name, he did not publish a Siddur, but transmitted it orally to his disciples.
- (Back to text) See introduction of the Alter Rebbe's sons to his Shulchan Aruch.
- (Back to text) See Beis Rebbe I, ch. 10