This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 23 No. 47
Sima bas Yitzchak Halevi z"l
and Dovid Betzalel ben Lipa Hakohen z"l
by the Shapiro Family of Woodland Hill, California
and the Braverman family of Givat Ze'ev
"And you shall remember all the journey in the desert, how Hashem your G-d led you these past forty years, in order to afflict you and test you, to know what is in your hearts, whether you will keep His Mitzvos or not" (8:2).
This comes to remind us that when we observe the Mitzvos, as our ancestors did in the desert, then G-d will respond by seeing to all our material needs - as we say at the end of bensching " … I have never seen a Tzadik forsaken and his children seeking bread" (Tehilim 37:25).
That explains why, in the previous Pasuk, the Torah instructed the people to keep all the Mitzvos carefully, so that they will merit life and children, and enter Eretz Yisrael.
Yet this very same Pasuk speaks of affliction and trials, about testing Yisrael to see what is in their hearts!
The Seforno explains that G-d provided that generation with all their needs in a miraculous manner that totally precluded their participation in attaining it. He did that, the Seforno explains, to test their reactions to gaining easy access to all their material needs. Indeed, the Torah warns later in this very chapter (Pasuk 12-14) "Lest you eat and are satiated, you construct fine houses and dwell in them … Then you will become vain and forget Hashem your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt."
It is unclear how the Seforno interprets the words "And He afflicted you", since he attributes the trial aspect of the Pasuk on the fact that they were given all their needs 'food and clothes in an unnatural way' as he puts it. Moreover, although they did not have to work to attain their basic requirements, they did not enjoy the luxuries described in the Pesukim to which we just referred, so they could hardly have forgotten who their supplier was.
Consequently, the term "trial" does not seem appropriate. In addition, the following Pasuk seems completely out of place, when it writes - "And He afflicted you and starved you, and fed you the Manna which neither you nor your fathers knew, in order to let you know that man does not subsist on bread alone, but on the word of G-d … ". Once again, if the Torah is coming to tell us how much we had, why the reference to affliction and starvation?
An alternative explanation to that of the Seforno is that of Rashi and the Ramban, who learn that G-d tested Yisrael by afflicting them. And this He did by withholding from them a supply of food at any given time. They stepped out of civilization into the desert without any lasting provisions, and subsequently, although they received their food on a daily basis, they began each day with an empty larder (except for Shabbos of course). It is as Chazal have said (in Yuma 18b),'One cannot compare someone who has bread in his basket to someone who does not!' This was a real test of faith, twofold, in that it would test their reaction a). when they ran out of the meager supplies that they took with them when they left Egypt, and b). when they went to bed each night with no provisions for the next day.
Earlier we quoted the next Pasuk (8:3), which focuses on the Manna exclusively. This Pasuk goes beyond being a trial, turning the desert experience into an object-lesson in Bitachon. Yisrael learned that G-d can and does, provide Yisrael's needs, irrespective of their material situation. As we wrote at the beginning of the article, when they go in His ways, He guarantees to fulfill all their needs. And it was towards this end, that He saw fit to initially afflict and starve them, so that when He responded to their cries and provided them with food, they would be left in no doubt as to where their sustenance came from. It was a prelude to their entry into Eretz Yisrael, where they would have to fend for themselves - "each man under his vine, each man under his fig-tree".
In fact, it serves as a fitting introduction - indeed, it is the perfect antidote - to the other Pasuk that we quoted earlier, warning Yisrael, when they attain financial success, not to forget, and become vain and believe that "My own strength and the might of my hands made for me this wealth".
And it is the lesson that we just discussed that prompted Yirmiyahu ha'Navi, many hundreds of years later, to take the bottle of Manna from the Kodesh Kodashim, and to hold it up to the people, who were claiming that their heavy workload did not leave them any time to study Torah. G-d sustained their ancestors for forty years without their raising a finger, he reminded them, and he would surely not fail to sustain them if they would set aside time to learn Torah every day.
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All About Yir'as Shamayim
Real Yir'as Shamayim
Based on the Pasuk "What does Hashem G-d ask of you other than to fear Him" (10:12), the Gemara in B'rachos (32b) comments that 'Everything is in Hashem's Hands except for the fear of G-d'.
The basic interpretation of Yir'as Shamayim is the fear of Divine retribution that is in store for sinning. To be sure, that is a vitally important Midah, as to the degree that a person possesses it, he will be free of sin.
Yet the Mesilas Yesharim and other Ba'alei Musar point out that that is the lowest form of Yir'as Hashem, and that one who has it should not disillusion himself into thinking that he is a true Yir'as Shamayim. True Yir'as Shamayim is to be afraid to sin because it hurts G-d (Kevayachol), and it is based, not one's personal interest, but on His well-being - much in the same way as a son will do anything to prevent his father from being hurt or offended.
The same Gemara also queries the Pasuk, which conveys the impression that Yir'as Shamayim is easy to attain, to which it answers 'Yes, for Moshe it was easy!'
What sort of answer is that, the commentaries ask? Moshe was talking to K'lal Yisrael. Did he really think that everybody was as G-d-fearing as he was? Yir'as Shamayim may have come to Moshe naturally, but for the B'nei Yisrael, it was something they had to work hard to achieve?
The Torah Temimah answers by reminding us that not for nothing, did the Torah bestow upon him the title of 'the humblest man on earth'; He honestly believed that Yir'as Shamayim was such an important commodity, that if he could attain it, so could anybody else.
Whereas the K'li Yakar explains that what the Gemara means is that Yir'as Shamayim was easily attainable for those who lived with Moshe, a). because of the sterling example they had in Moshe, and b). because of the high degree of Spirituality that Moshe's generation experienced due to G-d's Presence and the ongoing miracles that they witnessed.
Yir'as Shamayim is Unique
Based on the above Pasuk, the Gemara in Shabbos (31b) states that 'The only thing that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu has in this world is Yir'as Shamayim', and it further cites a Pasuk in Iyov (21) which, equating Yir'as Hashem with Chochmah, inserts the word 'Hein', which in Greek, the Gemara explains, means 'one'.
The use of that word, the Gemara is saying,, teaches us that, as opposed to all other attributes, Yir'as Hashem is outside of G-d's jurisdiction, as it were. And it is because Yir'as Hashem is initiated by us, that it is so precious to Hashem - as the Gemara there also states - 'It alone is stored in G-d's treasury' - which might also be because fear is the sole attribute that He (kevayachol) does not possess.
The significance of the word "Hein" lies in the fact that the letters 'Hey' and 'Nun', in the units and the tens, respectively, are the only two letters that have no partner (9+1, 8+2, 7+3, 6+4 = 10), 5 has no partner. And the same goes for the tens, where each digit has a partner except for '50' (the 'Nun').
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