1:3 The Eternal Faith of the Jewish People

Part 1: Faith, Truth, and Trust

Para. 3: The Eternal Faith of the Jewish People


Reb Tzadok declares that “It was (only) at Mattan Torah (i.e., at Mount Sinai) that the Light that the Jewish People perceived at Kriat Yam Suf (i.e., at the Red Sea) was (truly) affixed in them”[1]. And he characterizes that “Light” as the “firm pin-point of faith that’s found in the depth of each and every Jew’s heart”, which “can never be budged or removed” regardless of any exigencies, it’s that firm and sure.

But how fixed is that faith, in fact? Very much so, Reb Tzadok avers, for “even if he’s a sinner, that individual is still and all a Jew in each and every way” [2], hence his faith is part of his inner-core. Besides, the only reason he sins anyway is “because of ‘the yeast in the dough’”, i.e., the yetzer hara [3] -– his sins aren’t motivated by anything in “the actual center-point of his heart”.

What is it, though, that so instilled the belief of God in us that even if we deny it, we can’t deny it [4] — even those of us who discount that belief as well as the entire Torah just for spite [5]? It’s the fact that we came to embrace a sure and immortal faith in God at Mattan Torah [6] [7].


(From PriTzaddik, Kedushat Shabbat 7)



[1]         The point seems to be that even though we came to truly and firmly believe in God at Kriat Yam Suf (and to a large degree before that, too), our experiencing God’s presence up close at Mattan Torah instilled that faith in us inexorably.

For, while God Himself was acknowledged to have been the impetus behind the crossing of the Red Sea (and the Ten Plagues before that), Moses was in the foreground then, and the people only believed in God because of him. As it’s put, “The people feared God and believed in him and in Moses his servant” (Exodus 14:19). But when God manifested His presence at Mount Sinai the people were stunned, flummoxed – and convinced.

[2]         “A Jew, even though he has sinned, is still a Jew” – Sanhedrin 44a.

[3]         See Berachot 17a: “As You well know (God), we really want to comply with Your wishes, but we’re held back us back by ‘the yeast in the dough’”.

[4]         Reb Tzadok cites Rambam’s well-known dictum that we can force someone to say “I want to” grant his wife a Get even when he ostensibly doesn’t want to, simply because deep within him, he, like every other Jew, truly wants to abide by the Torah’s dictates, despite appearances, and notwithstanding declarations he might make otherwise (Hilchot Gerushin, Ch. 2).  Also see Mishna Erchin 5:6 and Gittin 9:8.

[5]         L’hachais in Hebrew, literally “angrily” or “huffily” – for spite, which is the most willful and obstinate form of denial and confrontation.

[6]         Reb Tzadok uses the legal term of possession here, kinyan, meaning to say that we came to “own”, i.e., internalize, a belief in God thanks to Mattan Torah (when we wholeheartedly said “We will do (everything God wants us to, even before fully grasping it) and (then) we will hear (the details)” [Exodus 24:7]) that is sure and can never be undone.

[7]         The idea here that God often makes “takes the first step” which then enables us to follow through on it and to solidify something or another in our beings will prove to be a theme throughout Reb Tzadok’s works, as we’ll see in the section entitled “(Human) Effort and the Help of Heaven” below.

This all comes to say that our faith is deep, whether we acknowledge it or deny it, because it was dramatically initiated at Kriat Yam Suf, affirmed at Mattan Torah, then internalized. So deep is that faith, in fact, that whatever we do to countervail it comes from elsewhere rather than from ourselves.


(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.



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