During the Aseres Yemei Teshuva this year, Rabbi Haber Shlit”a advised me to read the writings of Rav Tzaddok HaCohen, particularly Takanas HaShovin. Generally speaking, I read the Hasidic mystics the way the Rivash advises one read the Kabbalists – even if it’s from a known Mekubal – it’s still only a maybe.
As I read through it, some of his ideas stuck, some of them sounded crazy and some of them needed some time to mature in my mind. As I’ve been studying Nazir recently, one concept sticks out in my mind.
Screenshots of the text are below, but the basic concept, as far as I’m concerned, is that, while there is a general Torah wisdom that applies broadly to all Jews at all times – there is another, deeper wisdom that applies to specific individuals at specific times and places. This wisdom is not perceivable to everyone. It is the wisdom of the heart to which the children of Issachar merited.
This type of wisdom is called הפלאה (haflaa) and the פרשה of the נזיר was given to such a person. (The root is פלא)
The idea that despite the fact there are general laws of the Torah – it’s not all “one size fits all” and that there is room for an individual to discover his or her own path that cures what ails their individual soul – is expressed in the Nazir who sees something specific that moves him to change his way of life (see Rashi Parshas Shelach – based on חז”ל at the beginning of מסכת סוטה).
I am reminded of the verse in Shoftim where Manoach asks for the name of the angel who has just told him that his son shall be a Nazir. The angel replies:
ויאמר לו מלאך י-הוה למה זה תשאל לשמי והוא פלאי
The angel of G-d replied: why do you ask for my name and it is felli.Judges 13:1
According to the commentators – פלאי is not the name of the angel – the angel is saying that his name is hidden and ever changing. It seems relevant that this is the angel sent to reveal to Manoach and his wife the specificity of their son’s life mission. The story of Samson is still bewildering to us all these years latter.
והוא פלאי – מכוסה תמיד הוא משתנה ואין ידוע למה משתנה היוםרש”י שם
May we all be zocheh to find the wisdom in our hearts and our own personal understanding of the Torah.