Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 8   No. 41

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Elka bas Ya'kov a.h.
whose third Yohrzeit is on the 19th Av

Parshas Eikev

Only to Fear Hashem

Moshe, exhorting Yisrael to fear G-d, says to them "And now Yisrael, what does Hashem ask of you other than to fear Him!" (10:12) The Gemara in B'rachos (33b), is puzzled by this expression, which implies that Yir'as Shamayim is very easily attained, whereas in real life, we all know how difficult it really is.

And the Gemara replies 'In, le'gabei Moshe ('Yes, as far as Moshe was concerned), the fear of G-d was really a small matter'.


Considering that Moshe was talking to K'lal Yisrael, and not to himself, this answer appears inadequate.

The K'li Yakar however, explains it in the context of the Pesukim that follow (11:2-7) "And you should know today that Hashem is not speaking to your children, who will not know and will not have seen the Musar of Hashem your G-d, His greatness, His strong Hand and His outstretched Arm ... . It is with you who saw all the great deeds that Hashem performed, that He speaks".

Had Hashem been speaking to their children, and had it been from them that He was making such demands, then He would have indeed been asking for great things. But seeing as He is asking it from you, who witnessed all the miracles listed there, it is no big deal. And this is what the Gemara means when it says 'In, le'gabei Moshe, the fear of G-d is really a small matter'. For the generation that accompanied Moshe through the desert, and who witnessed an endless stream of miracles (that were the hallmark of Moshe's leadership), it really was a small matter.

And this, adds the K'li Yakar, also explains the opening word "ve'Ata" (and now), which enhances this idea. Because it was only at that moment, when Moshe was addressing that particular generation, that Moshe could say such a thing. He could not have said it to the following generation, as we just explained.


The difficulty remains however, that the Torah was given for all generations, and not just for the generation that left Egypt. In that case, what point was there in telling them that Yir'as Shamayim was easily within their reach, if for subsequent generations, it would prove a mammoth task?


The answer lies in the fact that when Yir'as Shamayim was initially ordained, it was ordained to a generation that could easily cope with it. That in itself, renders it more easily attainable to later generations. And this is really what Moshe was telling the people then. Had he preached Yir'as Shamayim to any other generation, it would have been expecting too much of them (and 'Hashem does not demand the impossible of his creatures'). But now that he was preaching it to that generation, it was not only easy for them, but also entered the realm of attainability for future generations too, because they would now have the tradition to follow and the example to emulate.

And we find this concept regarding Mesiras Nefesh and other supreme characteristics, which we learn from the Avos, and which would perhaps have been impossible for us to attain had the Avos not given us the necessary precedent. This prompts Rabbi Desler to interpret 'Z'chus Avos' (the merits of the Fathers) as 'Zakus Avos' (the purity of the Avos), because we really inherited their refined character-traits, enabling us to go in their footsteps and to reach the highest levels of spiritual achievement.


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Peninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro)
Reward for One's Children

"And it shall be as a reward for listening to these judgements and you will observe and do them". (7:12).

Chazal have said in Kidushin (39b) that there is no reward for the performance of Mitzvos in this world. What they mean is that it is not gives in a way that the performer will appreciate. The reward is placed on hold however, for his descendents, and should Hashem find among them, a Tzadik whom He loves, then he will receive the reward for the good deeds of his grandfather. And for this, Hashem will wait as long as a thousand generations, as the Torah writes at the end of Va'eschanan (7:9) " ... the faithful G-d, who keeps the covenant ... to those whom He loves and who keep His Mitzvos, for (as long as) a thousand generations".

And this explains the connection between the two Parshiyos, because the opening Pasuk in Eikev continues "Then Hashem will fulfill for you the covenant and the kindness that he swore to your fathers. And He will love you ... on the land which He swore to your fathers, to give to you." You will be rewarded for what your fathers did.


Greater than Moshe

"Because I was afraid of the anger and the fury, that Hashem was angry with you" (9"19).

Rebbi Elazar said that someone who gives Tzedakah in secret is greater than Moshe, since by the latter, the Torah writes "Because I was afraid of the anger ... ", whereas with regard to the former, it is written "Someone who gives in secret quashes anger" (Mishlei 21:14) Bava Basra 9b.


By someone who gives a Tzadik in secret, Rebbi Elazar is referring to people nowadays, who give Tzedakah, even though Hashem deals with us from a hidden vantage point (with hester ponim), and their reward is not immediately evident.

These people are greater than the most pious of those who lived in the times of Moshe Rabeinu. Because the people who lived then, witnessed G-d's revealed Hashgachah (Supervision), as the Torah writes "Because I was afraid of the anger", which refers to G-d's custom then to punish immediately and swiftly, the moment Yisrael sinned. No wonder, says the G'ro, that they performed Tzedakah and adhered to the Mitzvos.

But today, the words of the Torah "And I will hide My Face from them" have come true, and the Divine Providence that interacts with us is invisible. We witness Resha'im who perform all manner of sin, yet they continue to live tranquil lives and to flourish. Someone who is able to follow the path of Mitzvos and Tzedakah, in spite of not the least indication of reward, and in addition, he can turn a blind eye to the tranquility of the Resha'im, is indeed assured of a great reward.


Those Who Survived

"And what He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots, when he drowned them in the water of the Reed Sea, when they chased after them, and Hashem detroyed them up to this day" (11:4).

Chazal in Megilah (16b) comment that all the Songs in T'nach are written overlapping (like a half-brick on top of a whole one), except for 'this one' (i.e. the ten sons of Haman) and that of the kings of Cana'an. And the reason for this they say, is so that they should not merit a revival after their downfall.

Someone once asked the G'ro on Purim why Chazal said this in the future 'So that they should not merit a revival'. Why did they not say 'because they did not merit a revival', in the past tense.


The G'ro's custom was to speak only briefly regarding any matter that was not straightforward P'shat. Consequently, he replied that if the questioner would understand our Pasuk in Eikev, he would know the answer to his question, bearing in mind the Ramban's question on the words "until this day", seeing as anyone who drowned at sea inevitably perishes forever.

The Chayei Adam, who was present at the time, told the G'ro that he did not understand what he meant, so the G'ro added that the Torah mentions here "his horses and chariots". At that point, the Chayei Adam understood what the G'ro meant, and when he repeated to the G'ro what he thought he had meant, he indicated that he was right ...

... The G'ro was hinting that the word 'chariots' (which is actually written in the singular ("Richbo") refers to the Guardian Angel of Egypt, as the Medrash explains, based on the Pasuk "And Yisrael saw Egypt dead ("meis" in the singular) by the sea-shore. This refers, the Zohar explains, to the upper sea, meaning that the spiritual sea covered over them, drowning any holy sparks that they had absorbed. This is why the Torah writes there "and He destroyed them up until this day," because they became like the depths of the sea where there are no fish, and no holy spark will ever descend from them in the future. With this, the Ramban's problem is resolved, too.


But that is not the case with the sons of Haman and the sons of the Kings of Cana'an, some of whose children Yisrael left alive, and did not destroy totally, and whose guardian angels Hashem did not therefore destroy.

Which explains why the Pasuk writes "And they will not have a revival" (in the future), because in the past, due to the souls that Yisrael let live, and their guardian angel whom Hashem did not destroy, they did have a revival.


An Unnatural Occurance

"And I will give the rain of your land in its right time, the early rain and the latter rain" (11:14).

Rav Yosef said that it is because the power of rain is comparable to Techi'as ha'Meisim, that is why they fixed it (the recital of 'Mashiv ha'Ru'ach ... ') in the B'rachah of Techiyas ha'Meisim (Ta'anis 7a).

The simple explanation of the comparison between rain and Techi'as ha'Meisim of course, that without rain, all living things would die. Consequently, when it rains, the rain literally brings them back to life - just like Techi'as ha'Meisim.


The G'ro however, bases it the philosophers, who maintain that everything in this world, such as the shining of the sun, is a natural phenomenon, because it takes place every day with regular monotony. Rain is the exception. Rain, they concede, is not a natural phenomenon, and the proof of this is that rain does not have a fixed regimen; sometimes it does not rain for days on end, and sometimes it rains for days at a time.

In fact, that is why rain is called 'the power of rain', because it demonstrates the Divine ability more than any natural force possibly can.

And Techi'as ha'Meisim is not a natural phenomenon either, since it is anything but natural for the dead to come to life.


On the Haftarah
(adapted from the Mayanah shel Torah)
Get! Which Get?

"So says Hashem: Which Get (divorce document) did I give you?" (Yeshayah 50:1).

But did Yirmiyah ha'Navi not say "I sent her (K'lal Yisrael) away and I gave her a Get" (3:8)?


Chazal however, have taught that a Shotah cannot be divorced, because she goes away and comes back (and a Get by definition must create a permanent break between husband and wife).

K'lal Yisrael too, are like a Shotah. It doesn't matter how far away they stray from Hashem, they will always come back to Him. They just cannot live without Him, because in their heart of hearts they know that He is the source of life.

And that is precisely what Yeshayah meant - "Which Get did I give you". Because any Get that I gave you is invalid anyway! (Chidushei ha'Rim)


Now I Won't Comfort You, Now I Will

Look at Avraham your father, and at Sarah who bore you, for I called him one, yet I blessed him and increased him. Because Hashem has comforted Tziyon" (51:2/3).

Having declared "Ein Lah Menachem" (that Tziyon has no-one to comfort her, Eichah 1:17), how can Hashem then say "I will comfort you" (Yeshayah 51:12)?


It is to answer this question that the Navi writes here "Look at Avraham your father ... ". There too, the Torah first writes "And Sarah was barren, she did not have a womb" (Bereishis 11:29). How can the Torah then write "And Hashem remembered Sarah ..." (ibid 21:1)?

The answer is that when the Torah uses the expression "Ein Lah ... ", it always means temporarily, and that a change is bound to occur.

Sarah could have no children then ("Ein Lah Valad"), but she would later.

Here too, the Torah wrote "Ein Lah Menachem", so it comes as no surprise if later, Hashem Himself would comfort it.


And in the same vein, the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (30:17) writes "Tziyon Hi, Doresh Ein Lah" (nobody seeks Tziyon - at that time), but they will later, as the Navi Yeshayah writes (59:20) "And the redeemer will come to Tziyon" - may it take place soon. (Tzavrei Shalal)


The Amidah

(based largely on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
(Part X)
... and the G-d of Ya'akov

The reason that Chazal added a 'vav' before 'Elokei Ya'akov' is to indicate Ya'akov's superiority over Avraham and Yitzchak (he is after all, known as 'the chosen of the Avos'). The Alshich explains that whereas Hashem linked His Name with Avraham only after his death (Bereishis 28:13), and with Yitzchak, after he became blind (ibid., see Rashi), with Ya'akov, the Torah refers to the G-d of Yisrael, when Ya'akov was not only alive, but in a state of good health (ibid. 34:18&20). The reason for this, he explains, is because, unlike Avraham and Yitzchak, all his children were righteous.


According to the Dover Shalom, the additional 'vav' by Ya'akov indicates that whereas Avraham's and Yitzchak's Midos were individualistic, Ya'akov combined the Midos. We know that Tif'eres, Ya'akov's Midah, was a combination of the Chesed and the Gevurah of Avraham and Yitzchak; and 'vav' after all, is a joining letter.


The Great, Mighty and Fearful G-d

The popular explanation of this phrase is that these three attributes reflect the characteristics of the Avos, 'Godol' (which corresponds to the midah of chesed) corresponding to Avraham, 'Gibor', to Yitzchak, and 'Noro', to Ya'akov (for he is the one who said "How fearful is this place!").

But the Avudraham explains that they correspond to the three worlds: 'ha'Gadol' - the upper world (of the angels), because Hashem is greater than all of them; 'ha'Gibor' - the middle world (of the planets), because G-d revolves them with great strength; and 'ha'Noro' - the lower world (the world of action), because it is through His interaction with us that He demonstrates His Awesomeness. And we conclude 'Keil Elyon', to indicate that He rules supreme over all of them.


And he Remembers the Kind Deeds of the Fathers

'The kind deeds of the fathers', explains the Dover Shalom, refers to the fact that the Avos volunteered to observe Torah and Mitzvos, although they had not actually been commanded to do so. The Ge'ulah, he says, will come either through the Midas ha'Din, (if we are worthy), or Lifnim mi'Shuras ha'Din (with the Midas ha'Chesed [if we are not]). And it is when we conduct ourselves with Chesed (going beyond the letter of the law), that Hashem responds with Chesed. That is why we say here that Hashem will bring the redemption, not because we are worthy, but 'for the sake of His Name' - and He will do this by remembering the kind deeds of the Avos, how they went Lifnim mi'Shuras ha'Din.

It is interesting to note that the B'rochoh concludes with the redemption, reflecting the juxtaposing of redemption to Tefilah with which the Tefilah began. Clearly then, the Avos will have more than a casual hand in the coming of the Mashi'ach.


The Avudraham points out that this entire section of Tefilah (from 'who performs good kind deeds' until 'for the sake of His Name in love') speaks in the present tense, because it refers to an ongoing process. Every day, Hashem performs with us acts of kindness, every day He remembers the kind deeds of the Avos, and every day, He redeems us from our troubles, like He did in Egypt. And this process will continue until the ultimate redemption (the Ge'ulah) in the days of Mashi'ach.


For the Sake of His Name with Love

Even though Yisrael will be totally undeserving of the Ge'ulah, and it is neither for their sake that the Ge'ulah will come about, nor due to their merits, the Iyun Tefilah explains, but for the sake of His Name, when it does happen, Hashem will bring it with love. That is the Midah with which Hashem chose His people Yisrael (as we recite each day immediately prior to the Shema) and that is how He blesses his people via the Kohanim (as the Kohanim specifically state each day in the B'rachah before they Duchen).

Indeed, that is the way to give, irrespective of how worthy the recipient is or isn't, not with reluctance, but with love.


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