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

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Vol. 16   No. 47

This issue is sponsored l’Iluy Nishmas
Kalman David ben Avraham z.l.

Parshas Nitzavim/Vayeilech

The Second Covenant
(Adapted from R. Bachye)

When Yisrael announced by the Golden Calf "These are your gods, they effectively broke the covenant that G-d had made with them at the time. And that explains why, at the beginning of the Parshah, Moshe Rabeinu gathered all the people together, to initiate the current generation into a new covenant with Hashem, there in the Plains of Mo'ov, before they entered Eretz Yisrael. And that is why he said to them "You are all standing today before Hashem your G-d" - just as their fathers had done at Har Sinai, when they entered into the first covenant. Only this time, R. Bachye points out, unlike the initial B'ris, he reinforced it with an Oloh and a Shevu'ah (a curse and an oath), which they accepted. This would ensure that they would not abrogate the new covenant, like they did the old one.

The implications of the covenant, R. Bachye explains, are twofold, both inherent in the first Pasuk in the Parshah: One, that Yisrael will endure forever in this world, despite the heavy threat of extermination that loomed over them following the Tochahah in Ki Savo. The other, that on the merit of keeping the Torah, they will inherit the World to Come. Hence, the Torah writes "You are *standing* … ", implying eternal existence (as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim 119:89 "Forever, Hashem, Your word *stands* firm in the Heaven"). In that case, the terrible punishments contained in the Tochachah serves to atone for Yisrael's sins and to cleanse them, to enable them to inherit the World to Come. This in turn, is hinted in the words "before Hashem Your G-d" (as the Pasuk writes in Va'eschanan 6:25, "and it will be a merit for us, if we are careful to perform all these Mitzvos *before Hashem out G-d* … " (which refers to the reward in the World to Come).

And it is from the word "Kulchem" (all of you) that Chazal derive the well-known dictum 'All Yisrael have a portion in Olom ha'Bo').

The author concludes with the Medrash, which commenting on the word "ha'yom" (today), explains 'like the day, where darkness precedes light, so too, so too, will the darkness that surrounds K'lal Yisrael, soon turn into light. Indeed, that is the secret of the suffering of Yisrael in this world, as we just explained.


"His Oath" - Whose Oath?
(Adapted from R. Bachye)

Initially, it seems that, when the Torah speaks about "His oath" ("To pass you into the covenant of Hashem your G-d and His oath") it is referring to the curse that Yisrael accepted up[on themselves should they abrogate the covenant that G-d made with them at Har Sinai. It could also refer to the 'dread oath' that Hashem made with K'lal Yisrael, with reference to the continuation of the Pasuk "in order to establish you for Him today as a nation and He will be for you a G-d".

And this is supported by the next words in the Pasuk "like He spoke to you and like He swore to your fathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov". Indeed, the Pasuk in Shmuel (1, 12:22) specifically writes "because G-d swore (ho'il) to make you His nation" (even though many commentaries there translate the word "ho'il" as 'wanted'. And this is clearly written in a Medrash, which, commenting on the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim "King who is bound (by an oath) by Rehatim" - 'I have already sworn to your fathers that I will not exchange you and your children forever and that I will not swap you for any other nation'. And 'Rehatim' refers to the Avos. The word appears specifically with regard to Ya'akov Avinu, who placed the sticks that he had peeled in the 'rehatim' (pools) of the water-troughs (Bereishis 18:6). 'Rahat' is also Targum Unklus' translation of 'ran', and that is how he translates the word "and to the cattle Avraham ran" (Ibid. 30:38).

In any event, G-d's Hands (Kevayachol) are tied; He has sworn to retain Yisrael as His nation, come what may, and is can never give them up.

When the elders of Yisrael approached the Navi Yechezkel and asked him that seeing as a Kohen who purchased an Eved Cana'ani may feed him Terumah, what would be the Halachah if he sold him?

When he replied that having sold him, he was no longer under his jurisdiction and was therefore forbidden to eat Terumah, they replied that, in that case, seeing as Hashem had sold Yisrael to the nations, they were no longer under His jurisdiction, and were permitted to join the ranks of the gentile nations under whose jurisdiction they found themselves. Back came the Navi's reply "As for enters your mind, it will not be! For you are saying 'Let us be like the nations … to worship wood and stone! As I live, says the Lord G-d that with a strong Hand, an outstretched Arm and with outpoured wrath will I rule over you!" As long as you have not been sold, He aid to them, you belong to Me, and you have not been sold for money, as it is written in Zecharyah (3:7) "You were sold free of charge, and you will (therefore) not be redeemed with money!"

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)


The Root and the Branches

"And not with you alone am I making this covenant … and with those who are not here" (29:13).

In other words, R. Bachye explains, the covenant would extend to future generations too. To understand how the fathers can accept a covenant under oath, on behalf of their descendants in their absence, he compares the fathers to a root, and the children to the branches that will grow from it. And as we know, the total potential of the branches lies in the roots (whether they like it or not).


Furthermore, he explains, citing a Medrash, by "those who are there today" the Torah is referring to all the Souls that were created at the time of the creation, whereas "those are not there" refers to the bodies that had not yet been created. According to the Medrash, he continues, "Those that are not here pertains to the bodies, and "with us today", to the Souls (referring back to those who "are standing with us today"). And the Torah uses the word "standing" in connection with the Souls, like it does in Zecharyah (3:7), in connection with the angels.


The Ten Tribes

"And G-d moved them away from their land … and He cast them to another land like this day" (29:26).

This Parshah, says R. Bachye, refers to the first Beis-Hamikdash, since (the Pasuk stresses the sin of idolatry, and) it was during the period of the first Beis-Hamikdash that they worshipped idols.

It also refers to the ten tribes, he explains, who never returned to their land, like Yehudah and Binyamin did. And they fall under the category of 'Nidachim', which means exiled to one place, which also described Yisrael in the Desert, who had not yet arrived in Eretz Yisrael. And that is what the Pasuk means when it writes here "and he cast them to another land (one land) like this day" (just like the generation which Moshe was addressing, who had "not yet arrived at the Menuchah and the Nachalah").At the same time, "like this day" has connotations of up until today (since they are still gathered in the same place to they were exiled by Sancheriv).



"And Moshe went and he spoke these words to all of Yisrael" (31:1).

Just before this, at the end of Parshas Ki Savo, the Torah wrote " … to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Ya'akov".

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Moshe went to the Avos too, to inform them that G-d had kept His promise and had brought Yisrael into the promised land (seeing that the East Bank of the Jordan River is considered part of Eretz Yisrael).

Furthermore, he adds, Chazal learn from here that the deceased communicate with one another.


"When all Yisrael come (be'vo kol Yisrael) to be seen before Hashem … " (31:11).

The word "be'vo", comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, is written with a 'Vav'. This is because there were six categories of people who were obligated to fulfil the Mitzvah of 'Hakheil' - the Kohanim, the Zekeinim, the men, the women, the children and the Geirim, as the Torah lists in the next Pasuk. Perhaps it omitted the Kohanim, because, since Hakheil took place on Sucos, the entire tribe was in Yerushalayim already.


"Behold (Hein) your days are approaching to die" (31:14).

'Ribono shel Olam', Moshe complained, 'Did I not praise you using the same word 'Hein', when I said 'Behold (Hein) the Heaven and the Heavens of the Heaven belongs to Hashem'.

'Indeed you did!', Hashem answered. 'But did you not also wrongly accuse Yisrael using the very same word, when you said "Behold (Hein) they will not *believe* me!".

And when G-d informed Moshe why he was punished (when he struck the rock), He said "Because you did not *believe* Me!"

* * *

Highlights from …

… Targum Yonasan


'To love Hashem … to obey His commands and to come close to fearing Him; for the Torah that you study is your life in this world, the length of your days in the world to come and you will be gathered at the end of the exile and you will dwell in the land … ' (30:20).


… the Ba'al ha'Turim


"You are all standing today before Hashem your G-d, the heads of your tribes … " (29:9).

The Torah compares the heads of your tribes to Hashem (by juxtaposing them) says the Ba'al ha'Turim, a hint at what Chazal say in Pirkei Avos "the fear of one's Rebbi should be on a par with the fear of Heaven'.

"And the later generation, your children who will arise after you (asher yokumu me'achareichem) … " (29:21)

The first letters of the words 'Asher Yokumu Me'achareichem' are equivalent to the first letters of 'Achav', 'Yeravam' and 'Menasheh', the three most wicked kings of Yisrael.

"And Hashem exiled them from their land with anger, wrath and with great fury (be'af, u've'cheimah u've'ketzef gadol)" 29:27.

The Gematriyah of 'be'af, u've'cheimah u've'ketzef', says the Ba'al ha'Turim equals 'shiv'im' (seventy), corresponding to the length of Galus Bavel.

"The hidden things belong to Hashem our G-d, but the revealed ones belong to us and our children forever (ad olom)" 29:28. This Pasuk refers to our undertaking to accept responsibility for one another's revealed sins, say Chazal, to get punished for not having prevented them from performing them. Rashi commenting on the dots on the words ""lonu u'levoneinu", explains that this undertaking only came into effect after Yisrael crossed the Yarden and accepted the oath at Har Gerizim and Har Eival.

The Ba'al ha'Turim adds that there is also a dot on the letter 'Ayin' of "ad". This, he explains is because from the time that Moshe began to expound the Torah at Arvos Mo'av until they crossed the Yarden seventy days ('Ayin') days. Alternatively, it hints at the seventy years Galus, the collective punishment that all of Yisrael had to suffer for the sins of those who were guilty.



"And Moshe went … " (31:1).

In the Pasuk before, the Torah mentions "to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Ya'akov". This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Mosheh went to the Avos to inform them that G-d had kept His promise and brought them to Eretz Yisrael. Chazal derive from here, he says, that there is such a thing as communication among the dead.

"When all Yisrael come (be'vo kol Yisrael) to be seen before Hashem" (31:11).

The word "be'vo", is spelt (uncharacteristically) with a 'Vav'. Says the Ba'al ha'Turim, because there were six types of people who came to hear the Torah being read - Kohanim, Zekeinim (elders), men, women, children and Geirim.

"Behold, your days are approaching to die" (31:14).

Moshe complained to Hashem for using the word "behold (hein), in such a negative context, when he (Moshe) had used it to praise Him, when he said "Behold (Hein) the Heaven … belongs to Hashem!".

In reply, Hashem reminded him that he had also queried Him using the same word when he said "ve'Hein lo ya'aminu li?", which is also the reason why Hashem had initially declared his punishment using the words "Ya'an lo *he'emantem* Bi!"

* * *

The Seven Haftarahs

Between Tish'ah be'Av and Rosh Hashanah (Va'eschanan - Nitzavim), we read the seven Haftarahs of comfort (the shiv'ah di'Nechemta): 1. "Nachamu, nachamu Ami"; .

2. "Vatomer Tziyon 'Azovani Hashem … ' "; 3. "Aniyoh so'aroh lo nuchomoh"; 4. "Onochi Onochi He Menachemchem"; 5. "Roni akarah lo yolodoh"; 6. "Kumi ori ki vo orech"; 7. "Sos osis ba'Hashem".

The Avudraham explains the sequence of the Haftarahs (tongue in cheek) like this …

"Nachamu, nachamu Ami" - This was Hakadosh Baruch Hu instructing the prophets to console Yisrael … to which Yisrael responded …

"Vatomer Tziyon 'Azovani Hashem … ' " - They are not satisfied with the consolation of the prophets (after all, it wasn't the prophets who destroyed the Beis-Hamikdash and sent them into exile!). So the prophets reported back to Hakadosh Baruch Hu -

"Aniyoh so'aroh lo nuchomoh" - (the poor storm-tossed one) Yisrael are not appeased with our consolation. Hakadosh Baruch Hu therefore acquiesces to their request and announces -

"Onochi Onochi He Menachemchem". And he gegins to consoled them …

"Rani akoroh lo yolodoh" (Jubilate, o barren one who could not have children) and "Kumi ori ki vo orech" (Arise, shine, for your light has come!" [a double consolation]). At that point, Yisrael declare

"Sos osis ba'Hashem, togeil Nafshi b'Elokia" (I will rejoice in Hashem, I will exult in my G-d" [a double rejoicing]).

* * *

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