Parshas Eikev – Always New Clothes

In this week’s Parsha we are told again about many of the miracles that HaShem did for Klal Yisroel in the desert. Aside from the major miracles, the Manna, the well, and the Clouds of Glory; there were others. As the Pasuk says : Your clothes did not get ruined from upon you, and your feet did not blister. Rashi explains that the miracle of the clothes was similar to the way a snail grows, whose shell grows along with him. What was special about these ‘minor’ miracles that we received them?
Rashi tells us that there were two parts to the miracle of the clothes. First, the Clouds of Glory would polish the clothes that they did not need to be cleaned. Secondly, they wore the same clothes throughout the entire time, as the clothes grew with them. What is special about these two aspects of the miracle of the clothes and where do we see them in the Pasuk?
The Maharal in the Gur Aryeh explains . Since the Pasuk does not just say, “Your clothes did not get ruined”, but added the word “on you”; that shows that the clothes always stayed on them. In order for that to happen, two things needed to take place. Firstly, that the clothes were cleaned while still upon them. Secondly, that even as they grew they did not need to change their clothes. But the Maharal is still bothered by the comparison to the snail, what is added by that.
A snail has its shell with itself from the beginning of its creation. But if these were the clothes the Jews were wearing as they left Egypt, then they were just random clothes. Was there something special about these clothes from the beginning? The Maharal brings a Midrash that says that these were special clothes that the angels gave to Klal Yisroel at Har Sinai when they accepted the Torah . Therefore they were from the beginning a miraculous clothing that was a special gift . But that raises a whole different group of questions.
At Har Sinai the Jews received a number of gifts. In the Pasuk it says that they each received two crowns, and here we learn that they got special clothing. What was different between these gifts, that when they sinned, the crowns were removed, but the clothing remained? Also, the crowns they removed after the sin of the Eigel . The things discussed here in Eikav, remained with them as they traveled through the desert. I would assume that they lost the clothes from Matan Torah when they entered Eretz Yisroel. But since it is a gift from Matan Torah, and the sin of the Eigel does not affect it, then why did it ever disappear? Also, why should those born after Matan Torah get this gift?
There is a Gemarra that the Klei Yakar brings in the context of this Pasuk . The Gemarra is discussing Sheidim (for want of a better word – demons) and what they do in the world. “Those clothes of the Talmidei Chachamim which are ruined are from the rubbing of the Sheidim against them. The knees of the Talmidei Chachamim which stumble are from the Sheidim.” Explains the Klei Yakar, that this is parallel to the Pasuk here. The clothing and the legs of the Talmidei Chachamim are affected, but in the desert they were not, but even kept in perfect condition. What is the connection?
To understand this we need to clarify at least minimally what Sheidim are. They are not demons as we are prone to picture them in our mind. They are an incomplete being created as the first Shabbos began, and therefore created after the sin of Adam . So they are incomplete and represent all the forces in the world that desire to remain incomplete in the spiritual sense. Any way that they can diminish Ruchniyus in the world is their Tafkid.
The fact that the Sheidim rub against and ruin the clothes of the Talmidei Chachamim, is because this is one of the focal points of the battle between the Yetzer HaTov and the Yetzter HaRa. Even though we usually are taught that Adam HaRishon was unclothed as the Pasuk says in its Pshat understanding ; there is a type of clothing that Adam did wear. As Chazal teach us, Adam wore a shirt of light , rather than a shirt of leather. I think we can understand this that before the sin the clothing illuminated and enhanced the person. After the sin, there is shame and clothing is to cover what is incorrect and prone to falling. That is why part of the battle between Yakov and Eisav is about the clothing of Adam. The snake took the illuminated clothes of Adam. They end up by Eisav, and Yakov gets them back and once again they shine .
The clothing of a Talmid Chacham is a continuation of the original clothing of Adam, received through Yakov when he wore Eisav’s clothes to get the Brachos. Just as the Nachash and Eisav desire to take that clothing of Adam and make it theirs, so too every Talmid Chochcom is attacked in the same way, and the forces of the Nachash- the Sheidim, desire to ruin his clothing.
When Klal Yisroel gets the Torah, the Pasuk says , “I said you are as Elokim and the sons of the angels.” Meaning that they returned to the level of Adam before the sin. Therefore their clothes that they received then from the angels were like the original clothes of Adam. That is what is learnt by the Midrash from the Pasuk in Yechezkel about the clothes. If you look at the Perek in Yechezkel, it is about the events from when HaShem decides to take us out of Egypt as unclothed with no Mitzvot, till we get the Torah and receive royal clothes. The Perek then continues how we take the tremendous gifts that HaShem gave us and misuse them to serve even Avoda Zara. So the clothes that we are referring here in the Pasuk that remained with them from Matan Torah, are part of the attainments of getting the Torah.
It would seem that even though the sin of the Eigel caused a tremendous fall, similar to what happened to Adam after his sin, the clothes remained. In one source it says that within the Clouds of Glory there were no Sheidim. Therefore the clothes were unaffected. Since we learn in the Gemarra and in many other sources about the “clothes of the Talmid Chacham” so all the Jewish people were on that level in the desert, and they all had the clothes of Matan Torah. The special miracle that they remained clean were a subsidiary of the general miracle of the clouds. This even fits since the clouds were in the merit of Aharon HaKohen, and he also receives the special clothes of the Kohanim.
The idea that the clothes grew with them is that even those clothes which we received at Matan Torah from angels, there is a place for our growth. We still need to expand and reach higher levels even more than that which is given to us by angels. We are those who walk where angels are stationary.
It also seems that when we enter Eretz Yisroel, there is a whole different approach, and therefore those clothes are lost, and we then strive to grow on our own, without the help of the angels.


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