by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS DVORIM 5759 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Eileh hadvorim" - The GR"A in his likutim in Evven Shlomo points out that in the first five verses of Dvorim we have a prelude to the complete sefer of Dvorim. We have Moshe's relating the Torah to the bnei Yisroel expressed three times in these five verses.
1) 1:1 - "Eileh hadvorim asher DIBEIR Moshe"
2) 1:3 - "DIBER Moshe el bnei Yisroel"
3) 1:5 - "Ho'il Moshe BEI'EIR"
These three expressions correspond to the three sections of the sefer of Dvorim.
1) 1:1 until 5:1 - Starting with the word EILEH, this is the beginning of Dvorim until the prelude to the Ten Commandments. It contains Moshe's ethical admonishments (mussor).
2) 5:1 until 27:9 - Starting with the word VAYIKROH, this section contains many mitzvos, as is prefaced in 4:45, "Eileh ho'eidos v'hachukim v'hamishpotim asher DIBER Moshe." We have the same expression as in 1:3, "DIBER MOSHE."
3) 27:9 until the end of Dvorim - Starting with the word "VA'Y'DA'BEIR, this section contains the blessings and admonitions inherent in fulfilling or ch"v transgressing the Torah. It is prefaced by a similar expression as in 1:5, "BA'EIR heiteiv."
Not only do these three expressions encompass the complete book of Dvorim, they also encompass the three books of Shmos, Vayikroh and Bmidbar. Breishis is considered the basis for belief in Hashem and in His Torah, and the four other books are the details of the Torah.
As mentioned above, the three sections of Dvorim start with EILEH (1:), VAYIKROH (5:1), and VA'Y'DA'BEIR (27:8). Shmos begins with the word V'EILEH (See Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on Shmos 1:1 for an explanation for the Vov at the beginning of this word.); Vayikroh begins with the word VAYIKROH; Bmidbar begins with the word VA'Y'DA'BEIR; Dvorim begins with the word EILEH. With this insight we have a much deeper understanding of Sefer Dvorim being called Mishneh Torah (Dvorim 17:18).
The GR"A adds that the ten parshios of Dvorim (He considers Nitzovim and Va'yeilech as one parsha.) correspond to the ten centuries of the final millenium, "elef hashishis," with each parsha hinting at what would take place in that century.
Ch. 1, v. 6: "B'Choreiv" - The Ibn Ezra says that the name Choreiv is synonymous with Har Sinai. The Ramban disagrees and says that Choreiv is the name of the area where Har Sinai is located. When the Torah says that the bnei Yisroel removed their jewellery from Har Choreiv (Shmos 33:6), the intention is the mountain located in Choreiv.
Ch. 1, v. 7: "U'v'CHOFE ha'yom" - Rabbeinu Yonah says that the source for the word CHOFE, meaning seashore, is from the term CHAFIFOH, abrasion. The seashore is called CHOFE because the waves rub against the sand at the seashore.
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Hanohor haGODOL n'har Pros" - Rashi says that although the River Pros is the smallest of the four rivers mentioned in Breishis 2:14, it is nonetheless called the LARGE river because it is used to clarify the location of Eretz Yisroel.
It would seem that Rashi's translation of the word haGODOL in this verse would be "the IMPORTANT" river, rather than the LARGE river. Rashi says the same in Breishis 21:8 on "Va'yaas Avrohom mishteh GODOL b'yom higo'meil es Yitzchok b'no." Rather than translating "mishteh GODOL" as a LARGE feast, Rashi says that it means a feast at which there were in attendance PRESTIGIOUS IMPORTANT people, the leaders of the generation.
Ch. 1, v. 11: "KOCHEM elef p'omim" - Although a thousand times the population of adult males from the age of 20 to 60 would bring the population from 600,000 to 600,000,000, how is this the fulfillment of Breishis 16:10, "V'lo yisofeir meirove," and of Breishis 32:12, "Asher lo yisofeir meirove?" We are able to count the number of people living in China, who number in the area of 600,000,000.
Rabbi Akiva Eiger answers that the verse does not mean multiplying the population a thousand-fold. The key word to properly understanding this blessing is KOCHEM. Kochem, equal to you, means the amount of bnei Yisroel should be doubled. Perhaps a proof to this would be the interpretation of the gemara Sanhedrin 21a of the words in the verse in Shmuel 2:12:8. The Prophet Noson admonishes King Dovid and says that if King Dovid does not have a sufficient number of wives then, "V'osifoh l'cho KO'HEINOH," I can increase the number of your wives by DOUBLING them.
Getting back to our verse, this would mean that Moshe's blessing was that the 600,000 bnei Yisroel should multiply by 2 to the 1,000th power, indeed a phenomenally large number.
Ch. 1, v. 11: "Elef p'omim" - Why was Moshe's blessing an increase of a thousand-fold? The gemara M'nochos 43b says that Rabbi Meir says that a person must recite 100 blessings a day as the verse says, "V'atoh Yisroel MOH Hashem Elokechoh Sho'eil Mei'imoch" (Dvorim 10:12). There are numerous interpretations as to how this is derived from these words. An elaboration on this will bl"n appear in parshas Eikev. As well, there are other sources for the requirement to make 100 blessings a day. An allusion specifically connected to Moshe is in the beginning of parshas V'zos Habrochoh, "V'zos habrochoh asher beirach MoshE ISH Ho'ElokiM" (Dvorim 33:1). The first letters of the words "MoshE ISH Ho'Elokim" are Mem-Aleph-Hei, which spell "MEI'OH," one hundred. The last letters of these same three words spell "MOSHE," alluding to Moshe's instituting 100 blessings a day. (As well, there is a source for Dovid Hamelech instituting the recital of 100 blessings a day as an antidote to a plague that killed 100 people daily.)
In Bmidbar 7:14 through 7:80 the words "KaF achas ASOROH" appear twelve times. KaF is spelled Kof-Fei, which has a numerical value of 100. This also alludes to the daily 100 blessings. Regarding these blessings the verse says "ASOROH," that for each one there are ten reciprocating blessings, totaling 1,000 blessings. (Baal Haturim)
Ch. 1, v. 13: "Chachomim" - Rashi comments, "K'SUFIM." What does this word mean?
1) The Gur Aryeh and the N'tzi"v both say that they are unclear as to Rashi's intention. (Although they surely are able to translate K'SUFIM, perhaps they don't grasp how it would be a desirable characteristic trait for a tribal elder.)
2) The Divrei Dovid (Taz) translates it as pleasant and desirable, as in "nichsof nichsafti" (Breishis 31:30). However, the Ibn Ezra on the above verse says that "nichsof nichsafti" means "I have lusted." It is difficult to see why this is a trait that is preferable for an elder to have.
3) The Chasam Sofer says that it means they are lustful for knowledge of the words of the Torah.
4) Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his commentary on the Sifri and the Sifsei Chachomim say that this word means that they are people who are easily shamed. This has the advantage that they carefully calculate their actions and avoid sinning so that they are not put to shame by their actions.
5) The Kerem Shlomo 17:7:9 says in the name of Rabbi Zanvil of Poznan that it means that they are willing to shame themselves by seeking counsel even from those less scholarly than themselves, in keeping with the dictum, "Eizehu chochom? Holomeid mikol odom" (Pirkei Ovos 4:1).
6) The Imrei Shamai says that it means that they have great riches (kesef). This is an attribute of an elder as the gemara K'subos 105b says, Rabbi Nachman bar Kohein says, 'What is the meaning of the verse, "Melech bamishpot yaamid oretz" (Mishlei 29:4)? If a judge (or leader) is as a king who has riches, his demands and guidance will be followed, since he is independent of public support.'"
Ch. 1, v. 13: "Va'asi'meim" - Rashi says that this word is spelled lacking a letter Yud between the letters Sin and Mem, allowing it to be read "V'oshmom." This teaches us that when the masses fall short of fulfilling their responsibilities the elders are held responsible, "v'oshmom b'rosheichem."
However, upon looking into many Torah Scrolls we find they all have the letter Yud between the Sin and the Mem. This is not surprising, as the Mesorres and the Medrash often don't match. Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his footnotes to Shas, called Gilyone haShas, on the gemara Shabbos 55b gives us a lengthy list of words where the gemara says that the word is spelled one way, and we find that in our Torah Scrolls it is spelled differently. Surprisingly, "va'asi'meim" is not included.
However, there are a few other ways of explaining the above-mentioned extrapolation while avoiding the problem that in reality "va'asi'meim" is spelled with a Yud.
1) The Sefer Hazikorone has a different text of Rashi which reads, "Don't read the word "va'asi'meim," but rather "v'oshmom." According to this text in Rashi there is no indication that a letter Yud is missing in the actual spelling of the word.
2) He also has a text of Rashi where the words "cho'seir Yud," lacking a letter Yud, do not appear. He explains that the point is derived from the choice of the word "vo'asi'meim" rather than "v'etneim" as we find further on in verse 15, "Vo'etein osom roshim a'leichem." This text in Rashi can be corroborated by the Yalkut Shimoni on Yechezkel #3 which says the same drush and does not mention that the word "va'asi'meim" is lacking a letter Yud.
3) The Chizkuni mentions a text in Rashi which says that a letter Alef is lacking. Although the Chizkuni does not accept this text and prefers the text of a letter Yud lacking, Rabbi Zev Volf Heidenheim explains the "chosseir Alef" text. Rashi is saying that this word can be understood as "vo'a'ashmom," and I will fault them. However it is spelled lacking a second letter Alef, as this is barely audible, and the verses often swallow (skip) such a letter. According to this explanation we again are not deriving the drush from the missing letter Yud.
Ch. 1, v. 28: "Orim g'dolos uv'tzuros BASHOMOYIM" - Rashi comments that the Torah expresses itself in unrealistic terms (as the fortified cities were not built into the heavens). These words of Rashi are taken from a Sifri which actually says: "Rabbi Shimone ben Gamliel says that the Torah expresses itself in unrealistic terms as is written, "Shma Yisroel ...... orim g'dolos uv'tzuros BASHOMEYIM" (Dvorim 9:1). The M.R. 3:8 and the gemara Chulin 90b derive the same point from the verse mentioned in the Sifri, Dvorim 9:1, and not from our verse where Rashi seems to derive this point.
Why indeed did the medroshim and the gemara not use our verse, which is earlier in the Torah, and wait for the later verse to derive this concept? The Pardes Yoseif offers that possibly the words of our verse are the terms used by the spies when they sinned by reporting negatively about the land of Canaan. We cannot derive from their words that are being quoted that the Torah itself would speak in unrealistic terms. However, the verse in Dvorim 9:1 is the actual language of the Torah not quoting others. This is an appropriate source. Rashi, wanting to explain the unusual terminology, uses this rule, which is actually derived from somewhere else. Note that Rashi does not say that this is the source, "mikan lomadnu etc."
This answer is ineffective according to the Nachalas Yaakov (Rabbi Yaakov mi'Lissa baal N'sivos Hamishpot) who explains Rashi as saying that these unrealistic terms is the manner in which the Torah expresses itself, but is not the actual words of the spies. He says that it is obvious that the spies would be careful to not say anything exaggerated, let alone unrealistic, as this would jeopardize their attempt to convince the bnei Yisroel that it was too hazardous to endeavour to conquer the land of Canaan. Therefore Rashi says that this is the way the Torah expresses itself, but definitely not the way the spies expressed themselves. According to this explanation we are back to square one. Why did the medroshim and the gemara skip over an earlier source to prove that the Torah expresses itself in unrealistic terms?
Ch. 1, v. 36: "Zulosi" - The Ibn Ezra says that this word should actually be "zulas" and the letter Yud is extra. (See T'hilim 116:7 where there are three words in one verse which have an extra Yud, possibly a poetic form of expression.)
Perhaps this alludes to the fact that only Koleiv and Yehoshua will enter the land and not the TEN other spies who were sent.
Answer to last week's question:
Ch. 35, v. 11: "V'nos shomoh ROTZEI'ACH" - The word ROTZEI'ACH appears 17 times in the chapter dealing with the cities of refuge. Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a says that this corresponds to the 17 murderers mentioned in Tanach. This count does not include someone who killed a person because of a war or as an act of a court or a king halachically meting out punishment. How many of these 17 people can you name and whom did they kill?
1) Kayin killed Hevel.
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