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

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Vol. 16   No. 49

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Yisrael Moshe ben Tzvi Dov z"l niftar erev Rosh Hashana 5714
and Yitzchok Mordechai ben Avraham z"l
niftar Yom Kippur 5682

Parshas Ha'azinu
Shabbos Shuvah

History in a Nutshell
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye,
based on the Gemara in Zevachim,
Rashi & the Rambam)

Commenting on the opening words in the Torah "Bereishis boro Elokim es ha'Shamayim ve'es ho'oretz", Chazal explain that G-d created the world bi'sh'vil Yisrael - because of Yisrael, who are called 'Reishis'.

Presumably, it is with this Chazal in mind that R. Bachye points out how, in this Parshah, Moshe related to Yisrael their history, beginning with the word "Bereishis". And he presents them with a brief summary of that history right up to the time of Mashi'ach.


Hence the Torah writes (32:7) "Remember the days of yore, comprehend the years of generation after generation". And it continues

"When the High One gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of Adam (into their respective languages) For Hashem's portion is His people ". That is why, all of them, He selected for Himself only Yisrael (see also Rashi).

"He discovered them on their journey in the Desert, a desolate place where snakes breed and hyenas howl; And he encircled them and He guarded them like the pupil of His Eye". There follows a detailed list of the various provisions with which G-d later sustained them when they entered Eretz Yisrael. All these kindnesses He performed with them, yet they soon forgot Him and angered Him, so the Pasuk continues

"You forgot the Rock who bore you "; and the Torah (speaking in the past, even though it is referring to events that have yet to occur) informs them how they aroused His zealousy with strange gods, and angered Him with their abominations. They were ungrateful, estranging themselves from Him in spite of all the goodness and tranquillity that they enjoyed, as the Torah writes

"And Yeshurun waxed fat and they lashed out". They gave up the worship of the G-d who had done them all that good, and took to worshipping entities that had done nothing for them and whom they had never seen demonstrate Divine power, as the Torah writes

"And they went and worshipped other gods, gods whom they did not know".

And it is precisely due to that blatant lack of gratitude, that Yisrael are worthy of the punishment of Golus and of becoming subservient to their enemies, more than any other nation. In fact, they deserve to be annihilated. And the reason that G-d spared them that fate is only because of their enemies, who G-d knew, would have reacted by attributing the victory to their own gods, and not to Him, as the Torah specifically writes

"Lest their enemies falsely declare that 'Our hand is victorious ' ". For they don't have the common sense to think

'How it is possible for one (of them) to chase a thousand of Yisrael, and two, two thousand, unless their (Yisrael's) G-d delivered them into their hands, for having forsaken His Torah?'


But the time will come, the Pasuk continues, when G-d will avenge what these Resha'im did to His people, and will pay them their just desert for the evil that they perpetrated

"To Me belongs vengeance and retribution at the time when their foot slips " (Pasuk 35). When that time arrives

" G-d will judge His people and relent regarding His servants". He now refers to them as "His people" and "His servants", since prior to that, they had been subservient to the nations.

"See now that I am He and there is no god with Me" (Pasuk 39). Up to now, Moshe was speaking; From this point on it is the words of G-d, who is issuing a personal promise that the redemption will take place; hence the Pasuk continues

"For I raise My Hand to the Heaven that I will sharpen the blade of My sword ".

And Moshe concludes

"Nations, sing the praises of His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants ". Indeed, all the nations will laud us and praise us, and will want to cleave to our faith, when they see G-d's revenge of our adversaries

" and He will atone for His land and for His people who will then be living on it."

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Toeing the Line

"Pay attention, Heaven and let the earth hear " (32:1).

The Medrash (cited also by Rashi) explains how Hakodosh-Boruch-Hu instructed Moshe to tell Yisrael to look at the Heaven and at the earth that He created to serve them, and to see whether they ever deviated from the laws of nature that G-d set for them. Ask them whether they ever saw the sun or the moon refuse to shine, or the earth refuse to produce what man sowed, or whether it produced barley, after man sowed wheat. Ask them whether they ever witnessed a cow refuse to plough or to thresh, or a donkey refuse to carry a load.

Now the above, all of which G-d created to serve us, and all of which neither receive reward for doing what is right nor punishment for doing what is wrong, yet they obey instructions and do what is expected of them; how much more so is it expected of us, who are subject to reward for doing the right thing and punishment for doing the wrong thing, to do what G-d wants us to do!

The reason that G-d mentioned the Heaven and the earth, says R. Bachye, because they keep guard over all that inhabit them, enabling the world to run smoothly. For example, he explains, the sea keeps to its boundries, and does not overrun the sand on the sea-shore, because, as the Medrash explain, if it did, it would destroy the world! (See also Rashi).


What the Medrash means is that G-d has set us a precedent by way of the things that are governed by nature and by instinct. Because if they abide by the rules by which they are bound, even though there is nothing in it for them, whether they obey or not; then we, who possess wisdom and understanding, and who will be deeply affected, one way or the other, by abiding by the rules that G-d has issued to us (Torah and Mitzvos) or by ignoring them, ought certainly to take our cue from them, and work hard to ensure that we toe the line and do what is expected of us.


The Torah that Moshe Taught

"Let my Torah drop like rain, let my words flow like dew, like storm-winds (ki'se'irim) on the vegetation, and like rain-drops on the blades of grass" (32:2).

Moshe is praying here, that the words of Torah that he received at Har Sinai and passed on to K'lal Yisrael, should leave their mark on the people like the storm winds (which strengthen the grass) and like the rain which comes after them. According to this explanation, the word "ki'se'irim" derives from "ru'ach se'oroh" (a storm-wind [and this is how Unklus translates it]).

Alternatively, R. Bachye explains, "ki'se'irim" means 'light rain', which sets the growth of the crops in motion, in which case, "Se'irim" is like "Tze'irim"(seeing as a 'Siyn' and a 'Tzadey are interchangeable) . Whereas "Revivim" refers to the heavy rain which comes later and which enables the drops to reach their full potential.


Moshe's Last Day

"Pay attention o Heaven, and I will speak, and let the earth hear my words!" (32:1).

Notice, R. Bachye observes, how Moshe addresses the Heaven directly, but the earth, indirectly. This is because, being the day of his death, he had distanced himself from the earth and was now closer to the Heaven.

As a matter of fact, beginning with Nitzavim, where he gathered all of Yisrael and announced "You are standing today before Hashem ", all the subsequent Parshiyos were said on that day. Vayeilech, where he informed them "I am a hundred and twenty years old today"; this Parshah, where the Torah writes "On this very day he ascended Har ha'Avarim", and Ve'zos ha'B'rachah, where it writes " before his death", were all said on the seventh of Adar, the day that Moshe Rabeinu died.

These Parshiyos, says Rabeinu Bachye, are all inter-connected. They contain a variety of wondrous and major issues, which really ought to have been spread out over a far longer time-period, and the fact that they were all said/performed on one day was a remarkable miracle, one of the numerous miracles that Moshe wrought during his lifetime.


The Four Worlds (1)

"The Rock whose work is perfect, for all His ways are justice, a faithful G-d on whose part there is no injustice, He is righteous, and it is correct to say so" (32:4).

In his final explanation, R. Bachye attributes this Pasuk to the fact that this was Moshe Rabeinu's last day on earth. Consequently, it comprises the 'Tziduk ha'Din' (the acceptance of G-d's judgement) that one generally says at a person's burial, but which Moshe was saying here for himself prior to his death. This is how he goes on to explain the Pasuk "The Rock whose work is perfect, for all His ways are justice" - even death is not meted out unless it is fully deserved; "He is a faithful G-d" - to pay the reward that a person deserves in the world of the Souls (the Olam ha'Neshamos where one goes after death).

"and there is no injustice", there where G-d deems fit to punish a person for his misdeeds.

"He is righteous" - in the world of Techi'as ha'Meisim

"and fair" - in the world that follows it.


The Four Worlds (2)

"See now that I am He, I kill and bring back to life I live forever" (32:39/40).

Both the word "Ani" and the word "Hu", R. Bachye remarks, are Names of Hashem (like we say on Succos, during the Hosha'anos 'Ani ve'Ho, hosha'a no'); What's more, these are Names of love. They bring together the scattered ones from Galus. That is why Moshe Rabeinu deliberately ends the current Shirah with these two Names, signifying a promise that the Galus will end with the ingathering of the exiles. Hence, the Pasuk writes

"See now that I am He" - I am the G-d who will return the exiles and bring on the Ge'ulah.

"I kill and bring back to life" - with reference to Techi'as ha'Meisim, which will follow shortly after the Ge'ulah.

"I live forever" - hinting at the World to Come which will follow Techi'as ha'Meisim, since all those who will arise at Techi'as ha'Meisim will live forever, as Chazal have said ...

'The dead that G-d will revive will never again return to dust. Rather they will be moved from the World of Techi'as ha'Meisim to Olom ha'Bo, with both body and Soul. Indeed, it is in connection with the world that follows that of Techi'as ha'Meisim that Chazal always say 'So-and-so is ready to enter Olom ha'Bo'; and that is the 'abundant good that is set aside for those who fear Him', the ultimate reward and pleasure to which Yisrael can look forward, a pleasure which, as the Navi testifies, "no eye has ever perceived!"

* * *


'You forgot the fear of the G-d who created you, and you forgot the commands of the G-d who made you full of 'holes and pipes' (32:18).


'I said that I would abolish from them My Holy Spirit, I would leave over only a little, like a man who harvests his field and leaves over one piece of land, I would negate their memory from the annals of mankind' (32:26).


'If they (Yisrael) were wise, they would look in the Torah and see what will become of them in the end' (32:29) .


'For the gods of the nations are not like the Mighty G-d of Yisrael! Because when they are guilty, the Mighty G-d of Yisrael brings on them retribution, and when they spread out their hands in prayer before the Mighty G-d of Yisrael, He answers their prayers and saves them; whereas the gods of the foreign nations are helpless; and because you failed to come back to Me, your enemies became your witnesses and your judges' (32:31).


'Because the deeds of this nation (the enemy) are like the deeds of S'dom, and their evil counsel is like the counsel of Amorah, their bad thoughts are comparable to those of poisonous snakes; and so will be their retribution, which will bereave them and embitter them' (32:32).


'Are their deeds which they do in secret all not revealed to me, sealed and ready to claim like an "Apotikey (a field that is designated for claiming one's debt)?" ' (32:34).

* * *

(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

The Aseres Yemei Teshuvah

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (18a) comments on the apparent contradiction between the two Pesukim " like Hashem our G-d (who answers) whenever we call out to him" (Devarim 4:7) and "Seek Hashem when He is to be found" (Yeshayah 55:6). The Gemara concludes that the former pertains to the community, whose Teshuvah and prayers G-d will always accept, whereas the latter refers to the individual, who, under normal circumstances, is only answered during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom-Kipur.


The Medrash ascribes those ten days (known as the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah) to

1. the ten trials which Avraham Avinu passed with flying colours;

2. the Ten Commandments, which Yisrael accepted at Har Sinai.

3. the Musaf Korban of Yom Kipur, comprising ten animals - one bull, one ram, seven lambs and one goat.

4. the ten 'midos' listed in Yeshayah 1:16) - (1) "Wash yourselves, (2) purify yourselves, (3) remove your evil deeds from before My eyes, (4) cease doing evil; (5) Learn to do good, (6) seek justice, (7) vindicate the victim, (8) render justice to the orphan, (9) take up the grievance of the widow, (10) Come now, let us reason together" - a reference to doing Teshuvah, in that even if you are guilty of many sins, if you will achieve all this, come Yom Kipur, Hashem will purify you like snow.

5. Corresponding to the ten commands with which G-d created the world. The word "Yom" appears ten times in the Parshah of creation (between "Bereishis" and "Yom ha'Shishi") - a hint to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. Magid Meisharim.


The Ten Sefiros

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur are a hint to the ten Sefiros. On Yom Kipur itself, G-d is most elevated, "and the Lord of Hosts is lofty in judgement", representing (I assume) the Sefirah of Keser (Ramban). In addition, he comments, the Mazel of this month is 'Moznayim' (scales), because that is when He judges the world, weighing up their good deeds and their bad ones.


Avraham Avinu & the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah

The reason that, when praying for the salvation of S'dom, Avraham Avinu only went down to ten Tzadikim (and no further), says the Yalkut Chadash, is because the number 'ten' corresponds to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.


Recitifying Each Day of the Year

It is written in Sefarim that on each day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur) it is possible to rectify that day of the week for the entire year. By perfecting one's deeds on Sunday, for example, a person will rectify all the Sundays of the year, and so with each day of that week.

And this is what the Pasuk in Eichah (3:40) is referring to when it writes "Let us search and examine our ways, and return to Hashem".

* * *

This section is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Chaya bas Uziel Alecsander Ziskind z"l
whose Yahrzeit is 29 Ellul

Vol. 16 No. 50

Yom Kipur Supplement

Yom Kipur Pearls

(Based on the Ramban in Parshas Emor)

Yom Kipur without Teshuvah

"But on the tenth of this seventh month is the day of atonement" (23:27).

Rashi citing the well-known principle 'All Achin' and 'Rakin' come to exclude something, explains that Yom Kipur only atones for those who do Teshuvah, but not for those who don't. This is the opinion of the Rabbanan.

The Gemara in Shevu'os (13a), cites Rebbi, who maintains that Yom Kipur atones even for those who don't do Teshuvah.

But how can that be, one may well ask? How is it possible to attain forgiveness for sins that one is still perpetrating?


It seems to me that Rebbi is not speaking about sins that one is still perpetrating, but about past sins that one has stopped committing, but on which one has not fulfilled the Torah's specifications of Teshuvah - Viduy, Charatah al ha'Avar and Kabalah al ha'Asid (confession, remorse on the past and undertaking not to repeat the sin in the future).

The Rabbanan (whose opinion is Halachah) maintain that even if one is no longer committing those sin, unless one fulfils all the required specifications of Teshuvah, Yom Kipur will not atone.


The Ramban elaborates on Rashi's explanation. Rosh Hashanah, he explains, is the Day of Judgement for everybody alike. Everyone is judged by Hashem; There are no exceptions. The Torah therefore, inserts "Ach" by Yom Kipur, he explains, to teach us that unlike Rosh Hashanah it does not apply to everybody, but to those who do Teshuvah exclusively.


On This Very Day

"And all (kinds of) work you shall not do on this very day (be'etzem ha'hom ha'zeh), for it is a Day of Atonement " (23:28).

The Torah does not use the expression "be'etzem ha'yom ha'zeh" regarding Shabbos or regarding any Yom-Tov other than Shavu'os and Yom Kipur.

The reason for this, says the Ramban, is due to the fact that by Shavu'os, the Torah writes "from the day that you bring the Omer you shall count fifty days, then you shall bring a fire-offering to Hashem", and then dwells at length on the Korbanos in question. Likewise, by Yom Kipur the Torah writes "and you shall afflict yourselves, and you shall bring a fire-offering to Hashem". Perhaps, we might think, the sanctity of Yom-Tov of the former depends on the Omer and on its Korbanos, and the sanctity of the latter on its respective Korbanos. Therefore the Torah needs to add "be'etzem ha'yom ha'zeh", to teach us that notwithstanding the importance of the Omer and the Korbanos, both days are intrinsically holy, and must be observed as such, even when the Korbanos and Omer cannot be brought.

The Gemara in Yuma (81a) learns from "be'Etzem ha'yom ha'zeh" that it is only contravening Yom Kipur itself that is subject to Kareis, but not Tosfos Yom ha'Kipurim (the time that one adds on to Yom Kipur before 'Kol Nidrei' and after 'Ne'ilah' ) despite the fact that one is obligated to observe them min ha'Torah. But that is from the next Pasuk (29), which contains the same words and which concludes "and he will be cut off from his people".

* * *


(Adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

On the Pasuk " and in front of the Kapores (the lid), he shall sprinkle seven times from the blood, with his finger", Chazal say that the Kohen Gadol actually sprinkled once above (i.e. towards the lid) and seven below (in the direction of the Aron itself).

The Ba'al ha'Turim, who interprets "above" as symbolizing the upper worlds, and "below" comments that the ratio of seven to one is appropriate. 'It suffices for the lower worlds to be one seventh of the upper world. And so David said in Tehilim (in chapter 158) "Praise Hashem from the Heaven, praise Him in the high places mentioning seven aspects of Heaven seven times before concluding "Praise Hashem from the earth". Also Moshe, in Parshas Ha'azinu mentioned the Name of Hashem after twenty-one words, because, he said, he wanted to be one seventh of the angels, who mention it after three words - "Kodosh, Kodosh Kodosh Hashem ".


The Three Covenants

Furthermore, he writes, the Kohen Gadol sprinkles a total of sixteen times on the lid of the Aron (eight times with the blood of the bull and eight times with the blood of the goat), sixteen times towards the Paroches (the curtain diving between the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodshim); and sixteen times on the inner Mizbei'ach, including the pouring of the remainder of the blood on the Yesod of the Mizbei'ach ho'Oloh. These corresponded respectively to the sixteen covenants that G-d entered into with Yisrael at Har Sinai, then again in the Ohel Mo'ed and again at Arvos Mo'av. And this is "the blood of the covenant" that the Pasuk mentions in Mishpatim (24:8).


Five Tevilos and Ten Kidushin

In the course of the Avodah on Yom Kipur, the Kohen Gadol Toveled five times and washed his hands from the Kiyor (Kidushin) ten times, corresponding to the five Avodos, during which he would change from the golden clothes to the white ones and back. Each change of clothes required one Tvilah and two Kidushin. They also corresponded to the five Tefilos, the five times that "Melech ha'Kovod" is mentioned in Tehilim, in Kapitel (24) "le'Dovid Mizmor", and they come to atone for the Soul, which has five Names (Nefesh, Ru'ach, Neshamah, Chayah and Yechidah).

Whilst the ten Kidushin correspond to the ten times that the Kohen Gadol mentions the Name of Hashem during the course of the Avodah. And ten times the Name of Hashem is mentioned in this Parshah up until "Lifnei Hashem Titharu" (Pasuk 30).


Twenty-Four Kaporos

And twenty-four times the Pasuk mentions Kaporoh in one form or another in connection with Yom-Kipur, incorporating the Parshiyos of Tezaveh, B'har, this Parshah, Emor and Pinchas, to atone for the twenty-four sins listed in Yechezkel, in the Parshah of "Hoda es Yerushalayim" and the twenty-four sins of Arayos listed in this Parshah.

* * *



"And Hashem said to Moshe 'Speak to Aharon ha'Kohen and he shall not come at all times to the holy, within the Curtain ' " (16:2).

The previous Pasuk began with the words "And Hashem spoke to Moshe ", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. Why, he asks, does is see fit to add "And Hashem said to Moshe", which is very much a repetition?

The first 'Dibur', he replies, comes to teach us that the Kohen who prepared the Parah Adumah, just like the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kipur, had to separate from Tum'ah for the seven days prior to the event.


" and he shall bathe his flesh in water and wear them (u'leveishom" [with reference to the four white garments which the Kohen Gadol wore for Avodas P'nim on Yom Kipur]).

The word "u'leveishom", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, contains the same letters as 'bolu shom' (and they shall become worn out there), a reference to the ruling that at the termination of the Avodas P'nim on Yom Kipur, he had to leave the four garments in the Ohel Mo'ed (see Pasuk 23, and Rashi there).


" and he shall atone (ve'Chiper) on behalf of himself and on behalf of his household" (16:6).

This atonement took on the form of confession, as Rashi explains. And this is hinted in the Gematriyah of the word "ve'Chiper" - 'zeh Viduy Devarim'.


" and his cupped hands-full of finely-ground incense-spices (16:12).

In fact, Chazal teach us, the incense on Yom Kipur, was not just ground finely (as it was during the rest of the year, but very finely ['dakah min ha'dakah'] as we say every day in the Parshah of Ketores). This too, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is hinted in the Gematriyah of the words "Samim Dakah" - 'dakah mi'dakah'.


... EMOR

"But, on the tenth of this seventh month is the day of atonement and you shall afflict yourselves" (23:24).

There are five Inuyim (afflictions) that are forbidden on Yom Kipur - eating & drinking, washing, anointing, wearing shoes and marital relations. These correspond, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to the five times that the word "Nefesh" appears in this Parshah, the five names of the Neshamah (as listed above), the five times that the Kohen Gadol Toveled on Yom Kipur and the five Tefilos that one Davens on Yom Kipur.

* * *

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