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

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Vol. 19   No. 51

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

Parshas Vayeilech

Good News After All
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"And Hashem said to Moshe, Behold you are going to lie with your fathers, and this nation will arise (ve'kom) and go astray after the gods of the foreign nations of the land in whose midst they are about to arrive, and they will forsake me and annul My covenant" (31:16).

The Medrash relates that when, two Pesukim earlier (31:14), G-d said to Moshe "Behold your death is approaching", Moshe objected. He 'reminded' G-d of the occasion when he declared "Behold (hein) the Heaven and the upper Heaven belongs to G-d" (Eikev 10:14), and it was inappropriate for G-d to use the same word to inform him of his impending death.

G-d responded with the reassurance that He would turn the same word into a source of deep contentment. And He followed this up (two Pesukim later) by appearing once again to Moshe and declaring "Behold (hin'cho) you are going to lie with your fathers". And the word "hin'cho" as opposed to "hein" has connotations of deep satisfaction. In fact, the Gemara in Sanhedrin (90b) learns Techi'as ha'Meisim from the juxtaposition of the word "ve'kom" next to the words "You are going to lie with your fathers", since this can now be translated as "And you will lie with your fathers and arise".

R. Bachye equates the deep contentment with the World to Come (which is synonymous with Techi'as ha'Meisim), based on the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (4:22), which states that "One moment of deep satisfaction in Olam ha'Bo is preferable to all the life in this world!"


G-d did not change His mind, R. Bachye explains. When He originally said "Behold your death is approaching", He was referring to Moshe's proximity to the World of the Neshamos, to which death is a transition, and which without death, is inaccessible. And when He now added the Pasuk "And you will lie with your fathers and arise", He was simply adding, that just as Moshe's Neshamah would pass from this world to the Olam ha'Ba that awaits the Souls after death, so too, was his body destined to come back to life, to experience the Olam ha'Bo that awaits the bodies when the time arrives.

Seen in this light, the announcement of Moshe's death was not a punishment, as Moshe initially thought, but a unique reward. If this was not so, it would have been a terrible injustice, as Moshe pointed out, comparable to a king taking the sword that he just received from his faithful minister, and using it to behead him. And so it would have been, had G-d used the very word used by Moshe Rabeinu to praise Him, and to announce his punishment with it. But G-d is a just King, and so, His statement can only be interpreted as a reward, as we explained.

Elaborating further, the author explains that the extra 'Kaf' in "Hin'cho" represents the Kisei ha'Kovod (the Divine Throne of Glory). Consequently, he says, the deep satisfaction that G-d promised Moshe, constituted his Soul being hidden beneath the Kisei ha'Kavod.


In a nutshell, Moshe Rabeinu was being promised here, that, when he died, his Soul was destined to bask (in the light of the Shechinah) in the vicinity of the Kisei ha'Kavod, and that ultimately, his body would arise at Techi'as ha'Meisim, from which it was destined to move, together with his Soul , to Olam ha'Bo - the ultimate reward (that awaits those who have earned it) - the Great Shabbos!'

* * *

(Part 2)

(Adapted from the Meshech Chochmah)

In the Rosh Hashanah issue we explained that not blowing the Shofar bodes no good for the remainder of the year, even if it is due to an oneis, and we attributed it to the fact that the Shofar reminds Hashem of our merits, which in turn, shields us from His wrath. Consequently, if that reminder is absent, there is no protection.


The question remains however, why in that case, the same theory does not apply when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos, as we explained there?

Before dealing with this question, let us elaborate further on the above reasoning (a brief summary of the Meshech Chochmah's explanation). As we know, the Shofar represents the Akeidas Yitzchak, who gave up his life (both the physical and the spiritual) in order to sanctify G-d's Name. It is this Midah, the ability to bind themselves together with all their desires and aspirations on the Mizbe'ach for the love of G-d and His Torah that Yitzchak passed on to his descendants, and it is this Midah which evokes G-d's Mercy when the Shofar is blown, reminding Him of the inherent greatness of Yitzchak's descendants, and prompts him to counter the Satan's claims.


Going one step further, the Shofar highlights the close relationship between G-d and ourselves, like two faithful lovers, who care only for one another, as Chazal intimate when they say 'Ani le'Dodi ve'Dodi li'. And they illustrate this further when they describe how G-d wears Tefilin, and how His Tefilin contain the Pasuk "And who is like you Yisrael, a unique nation in the land!" It is G-d's love for Yisrael that the Shofar evokes on Rosh Hashanah.


Now to answer the Kashya with which we began; Shabbos, the author explains, is not a matter of relationships between us and G-d. Shabbos is the sign that G-d created the world, and our observing Shabbos primarily demonstrates our acknowledgement that He did so.

Consequently, when we decline to blow the Shofar on Shabbos, we are in fact placing G-d's Honour over and above our own vital interests. We need the Shofar to earn G-d's compassion, in order to earn inscription in the Book of Life. Yet we willingly forgo that in order to defend G-d's Honour by not breaking the Shabbos (in case one comes to carry the Shofar four Amos in the street). This, in its own right, is reminiscent of the Akeidas Yitzchak (binding our own desires for G-d's sake, as we explained earlier). It is therefore befitting that not blowing the Shofar on Shabbos reminds G-d of our special qualities, creating the same effect as the Shofar would have done had we blown it!

* * *

Parshah Pearls

One Leader per Generation

"And Moshe called to Yehoshua, and he said to him in the presence of all of Yis-rael, 'Be strong and courageous, for you will come with this people to the land which Hashem your G-d swore to your fathers " (31:7)

Commenting on this Pasuk, Rashi, citing the Gemara in Sanhedrin (8a), states the following: 'Moshe told Yehoshua that the elders of the generation will back him, and that he should do everything in accordance with their opinions and their ad-vice. G-d on the other hand (in Pasuk 23) instructed Yehoshua to bring Yisrael to the land ." - 'Bring them, against their will. Take a stick', He was telling him, and (if necessary) beat them over the head! For a generation can have only one leader, not two!'

Perhaps it is possible to understand the 'dispute', based on the well-known Chazal that 'Moshe's face was like the sun, Yehoshua's, like the moon'. In other words, Yehoshua received his power of leadership from Moshe, like the moon re-ceives its light from the sun, as Rashi explains in Parshas Pinchas (27:20). From there Moshe understood that Yehoshua's powers of leadership were not on a par with his own, and that he would therefore need the help and assistance of the eld-ers of the generation when leading the people.

Moshe's assessment of his successor was not flawed. Yehoshua would have in-deed been unable to hold the reigns of leadership without the aid and assistance of the elders. He did not however, contend with the special Siyata di'Shemaya (Divine Assistance) that G-d would bestow upon him, and upon every subsequent Jewish leader. Hence the latter Pasuk concludes "And I will be with you!"


Who Said Seifer Devarim?

In the main article of volume 12, we discussed the Machlokes among the commentaries, as to who said Seifer Devarim.

We cited the Or ha'Chayim, who takes the opening Pasuk in Devarim "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Yisrael" literally. He maintains that Moshe is using his own words and expressing his own sentiments. Whereas according to the G'ro and many other commentaries, the entire Torah was taught by G-d, only, whereas the rest of the Torah was said by Him too, using Moshe as His mouthpiece, Seifer Devarim was said by Moshe, who repeated what G-d told him.

The Chazal we quoted in the previous article indicates that Seifer Devarim comprises the actual words of Moshe, in support of the Or ha'Chayim. Because if both commands were issued by G-d, then we will be faced with a situation whereby G-d (Kevayachol) is arguing with Himself, which of course makes no sense.

In similar vein, Rashi, in Parshas Nitzavim (28:23) explains that the Pasuk there, describing the Heaven as copper, and the earth as iron was said by Moshe, whereas the Pasuk in Bechukosai (in connection with the first curses) which re-verses them, was said by Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu (see Rashi there). There too, it seems clear that Moshe in Seifer Devarim was expressing his own opinion, and not that of G-d.

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