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The words "Torah Tavlin" are best known from a phrase in the Gemara in the tractate Kiddushin: "בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין" - "I created  the Yetzer Hara, and I've also the Torah Tavlin" - as an antidote; it is only in this passage that the context compels this translation. The word “Tavlin” has many understandings in the teachings of Chazal, but it is literally translated as “Spices.” Just as a master chef will employ a refreshing blend of spices and ingredients to make his culinary creation into a masterpiece, so too, does Hashem blend together a Divine brand of seasoning - “Tavlin” - into His Living Torah for us to absorb, each according to our individual understanding. Through the countless pages of our commentators, from thousands of years ago up to the present day, we “taste” these spices in every word and posuk in the Torah, and our intellectual senses are overloaded. It is the “Sam Hachaim” - the elixir of life, and the truest manner to experience the Torah.


Parshas Behar

"If a resident alien among you has prospered ..."

     Rashi comments that the גר תושב - foreign resident, became wealthy because he associated with Jews, learned from their good deeds and emulated their practices. The Jew who was sold into slavery, however, grew impoverished because he associated with non-jews. But why should this be so? Should the Jewish person not have retained, in the least, his basic Jewish characteristics? Why must he be considered as if he was a heathen and be punished with poverty and worse, slavery?

     Answers the Netziv, R' Naftoli Tzvi Yehudah Berlin zt"l that when we observe society, we know that when a creature dies, it does not recede to the level below it, rather it eventually disintegrates entirely. If an animal dies, it does not descend to the level of a plant - it decomposes. So too, with spiritual matters. When a person on a lofty plane loses his greatness, he crashes way down to a very low level. A non-jew is expected to live a decent and upright life. However, a Jew, being an עובד ה' - servant of Hashem, has a much higher existence. Ifhe destroys this, he plunges to an entirely lower level. This spiritual descent affects his behavior and leads him to poverty and becoming a slave to a גר תושב.

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