Weekly Dvar Torah: Witnesses that Verify and Witnesses that Establish
In this week’s Parsha the Torah teaches that on the word of two witnesses we establish the facts.
In Halacha there are two types of witnesses (Eidus), one is called Eidei Birur = witnesses that ‘verify’ a fact, like two witnesses who confirm that Reuven borrowed money from Shimon.
Then there are Eidei Kiyum = witnesses that ‘establish’ the fact, like the two witnesses who are present at the Chupah when Avraham betrothed Sarah to be his wife, they establish the marriage, if there were no witnesses there is no marriage.
Like in Halacha, these principles apply spiritually.
The prophet Yeshaya says in the name of Hashem: “You are my witnesses, says G-d.”
The Zohar brings two ways to explain who these witnesses are.
1) The Jewish people.
2) Heaven and earth.
The Alter Rebbe explains that witnesses are necessary to establish and verify that which is beyond the reach of our vision, meaning that witnesses confirm something that we have no other way of finding out, something that is ultimately going to be revealed does not need witnesses.
To know that there is a creator we don’t need any witnesses, anybody with a brain understands that there is a superior being who created such a complicated world, and He keeps it running forever.
When we see miracles, they reveal to us the presence of the omnipresent G-d.
For this we need no witnesses.
However, to comprehend that there is the eternal all-encompassing infinite supreme-being which is unlimited in any which way, and who is able to relate to us finite mortals, for that we need testimony.
Heaven and the earth are these two witnesses that confirm this fact.
In the heaven we have the sun, the moon, the stars and all the orbits which have been in existence since creation, they exist in person, no death, no expiration, no replacements, they are sort of eternal, and they testify to G-d’s eternity, if a creature can be eternal, how much more so the creator Himself.
On earth, we have all the species that although they expire and die, yet they exist in kind, they keep replenishing and rebirthing to eternity, so the earth testifies to the eternity of the one who created all these everlasting species, the creator Himself.
But this does not yet tell the entire story.
When Hashem created the world, He conditioned it on the Jews accepting the Torah thousands of years later, and when G-d gave the Torah at Sinai the world relaxed, the condition has been met.
So, until the Torah was given and accepted, the world was in jeopardy of returning to naught, only at Sinai did the world get a permanent lease on life.
And since that for the omnipresent, past, present and future are of no consequence, it could have been as if the world never existed.
So, the testimony of heaven and the earth to the existence of G-d, could only apply to what is, but which may have not been if the condition was not met.
But when the Jewish people accept the Torah, and they go on to fulfil the purpose of the existence of heaven and the earth, then they establish the permanent existence of the world, and they testify to its creator which is beyond anything the finite world can attest to.
The Jewish people do not just attest to what is, they establish what is, if not for them the entire thing wouldn’t even be a faint memory, because they attest to a G-d who is the omnipresent, infinite being, and to Him past present and future are of no consequence.
The conditional world is no longer, thanks to the ‘establishing’ witnesses, the Jews, the world is a real existence in which G-d’s will is being acted out.
This comes from the essence of the soul which is a part of the essence of G-d.
When we come to the end of the year, we reflect upon our mission and how far we went to uphold the mission, and we get ready for the new mission which will be assigned to us with the new lease on existence that the world will get on Rosh Hashana 5783.
Have a testimonial of a Shabbos,
Rabbi Yosef Katzman