"Every day a bat kol1 emerges from Mount Choreb [Sinai] and proclaims, Woe to mankind for the insult to the Torah. . . " [Avot 6:2]

...what is the purpose of this proclamation?

The Baal Shem Tov asked:2

If no one hears this proclamation, what is the use to proclaim it? And how can anyone say that he does hear it, since sensory reality contradicts him? For who can say that he actually hears the proclamations made in Heaven? And even if someone does say that he has heard it, what fool would believe him rather than judge him as a false prophet? Therefore, what is the purpose of this proclamation?

The answer can be found in the following story:3

While Rabbi Yehoshua son of Chananiah was standing in front of the Caesar, an apostate pantomimed to him, "A people whose G‑d has turned His face away from them." Rabbi Yehoshua answered him in pantomime, "His hand is still outstretched to protect us."

But why did they talk in pantomime rather than in verbal words? And why does the Talmud mention this?
...there are no words and no speech in the spiritual worlds...
From here we can learn a lesson about the proclamation made in Heaven. That, too, is not a verbal sound, for there are no words and no speech in the spiritual worlds, which are worlds of thought. Speech, on the other hand, is a physical phenomenon. For the procedures of kingdom on earth reflect the procedures of kingdom on High, and it is improper that a king should speak directly to his nobles, counselors and servants other than in pantomime or allusion. And indeed, this is how things are conducted in Arabian royal courts even today.

The Talmudic story is thus teaching us that the proclamations made by the King of the world are also in "pantomime,"4and one must be able to "read" the "signals" of the proclamation that are taking place in one's thoughts - the pangs of remorse that enter one's mind everyday are the effects of the proclamation.

The message can also come in other ways, as is known to anyone who has "eyes to understand," and is not among those about whom the verse says, "Don't be like a horse or a mule that don't understand." [Psalms 32:9]

Thus, whenever we are aroused in this world with some fear, we must realize that we are being called upon from Above to connect with the Source of this fear. Similarly, when we are aroused to rejoicing, we must connect with the joy of serving G‑d.
Let the wise one hear and increase wisdom.
The same is true in other instances. Let the wise one hear and increase wisdom.


Translation (from Kesser Shem Tov Hashalem 145a) and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett; first posted on //baalshemtov.com.