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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 7, v. 14: "Boruch ti'h'yeh mikol ho'amim lo yi'h'yeh v'cho okor vaakoroh" - You will be blessed by all the nations there will be no sterile man nor woman among you - Breishis Raboh 60:13 says that the reason Rivkoh did not conceive for many years was because if she were to conceive shortly after marriage, it might be attributed to the blessing of her brother Lovon, "Achoseinu at heyi l'alfei r'vovoh." This is then the intention of our verse. Even if you will be blessed by all the nations, and this could well be a reason for you to be barren, as above, nevertheless, Hashem promises you that you will be fruitful. (Nachal K'dumim on parshas Nosso #8)

Tzuf Dvash asks why it was necessary to give this blessing, as it seems redundant. The previous verse just stated, "u'veirach pri vit'n'cho ufri admo'secho." One of his answers is that our verse adds that this blessing applies even to those living outside Eretz Yisroel. According to the Nachal K'dumim the question seems to be answered in a simple manner. Not only will you be blessed under normal circumstances, but even when you are blessed by the nations, and might fear that this would result in your being barren, nevertheless, Hashem promises that you will be fruitful.

Ch. 7, v. 14: "Lo yi'h'yeh v'cho okor vaakoroh" - There will be no sterile man nor woman among you - The gemara B'choros 44b says that this applies to students and Torah study. The Rokei'ach writes that these words of our verse have the same numerical value as "b'divrei haTorah." Sefer Hachaim, brother of the Mahara"l of Prague writes that just as there is a mitzvoh to reproduce physically there is also a mitzvoh to reproduce spiritually, and this is by producing Torah "chidushim."

Ch. 11, v. 13: "Ul'ovdo b'chol l'vavchem" - And to serve Him with all your heart - Rashi says that serving Hashem with all one's heart refers to prayer. The Rambam in hilchos tefiloh and in Sefer Hamitzvos, mitzvas a'sei #5 says that this is a Torah level mitzvoh. He goes on to say that this mitzvoh has no required set number of times per day, nor a set time of the day on a Torah level, but it is a daily requirement. Therefore this is not a time-bound positive precept, and is incumbent upon women and slaves as well. From the days of Moshe onwards it was common practice to pray facing the (future) Beis Hamikdosh site. With many people exiled and speaking the local tongue, Loshon Hakodesh was either compromised or totally lost (use it or lose it). Therefore Ezra instituted a set text for prayers in the Holy Tongue. Our Rabbis instituted three daily prayers, which correspond to the timing of sacrificial services of the "tomid," one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and at night to correspond to the burning of the "tomid."

Ch. 11, v. 18: "Al l'vavchem .. ukshartem" - Upon your heart .. and you shall bind - We derive from the juxtaposition of these words that the "shel yad" tefillin should be placed on the left arm so that it be close to the heart, which is not dead centre in the body, but rather, tilted somewhat to the left. Responsa Eretz Zvi, a student of the Avnei Nezer, was asked about a right-handed boy whose heart was positioned towards the right in his body. Should he therefore wear his "shel yad" on his right arm? He responded that he should wear the tefillin on his left arm, as does any other right-handed person, because the gemara, when dealing with the proof for wearing the tefillin on the left arm, does not cite the "close to the heart" concept. The Tchebiner Rav in Doveiv Meishorim 2:46 also deals with this question.

Ch. 11, v. 18: "Ukshartem osom l'ose al yedchem" - And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand - In a previous issue we cited the Rashba's commentary on the gemara M'nochos 34a, where he raises this question: When did the bnei Yisroel begin wearing tefillin? Although this mitzvoh is mentioned twice in the two final chapters of parshas Bo, the other two chapters that mention tefillin, in parshas Vo'es'chanan and here, were only taught later. The Rashba answers that there is no chronological order to the Torah, "Ein mukdam um'uchor baTorah," meaning that the mitzvoh was not given until after all four chapters were taught and they were taught in unison here, or alternatively, that along with the two chapters at the end of Bo the bnei Yisroel were also taught these two. In his commentary on the gemara Gitin 60a he cites the Raavad, whom he says posits just as he does, that some chapters of the Torah were taught to the bnei Yisroel earlier than when the Torah mentions them.

Medrash Dvorim 2:35 says that parshios "shma" and "v'hoyoh im shomo'a" were introduced when Yaakov's sons gathered around him at his deathbed (see Targum Yonoson ben Uziel there).

The Mabit in Beis Elokim shaar ha'y'sodos chapter #37 writes that it is obvious that the bnei Yisroel did not wear tefillin in the desert until after parshios "shma" and "v'hoyoh im shomo'a" were taught.

The Mahari"l Diskin explains the words of our Shabbos "hoshana" prayers, "Y'korcho amcho maavirim" to mean that the bnei Yisroel brought along their tefillin with them when they went through Yam Suf. This is based on the translation of "y'kor" as tefillin, as per the gemara Megiloh 16b. This seems to be in agreement with the comment of the Daas Z'keinim on parshas B'shalach on the words "V'hamayim lohem chomoh miminom umismolom" (Shmos 14:22). He says that the merit for the Yam Suf not flooding them from the left was the tefillin shel yad, worn on the left arm. Although we can say that this is the merit of a future mitzvoh, it is much more straightforward to say that they had already actually worn tefillin, albeit before "matan Torah."

Ch. 11, v. 18: "Ukshartem osom l'ose al yedchem v'hoyu l'totofos bein eineichem" - And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand and they shall be as jewellery between your eyes - Halacha requires one to first bind his arm tefillin and only then to place his head tefillin. This is derived from the word "v'hoyU," - and THEY shall be - indicating that whenever one has tefillin upon his head he should be wearing two tefillin, i.e. already having a "shel yad" on his arm. The gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 6:6 relates that a young student died and did not merit a proper eulogy because he once donned his tefillin "shel rosh" ahead of his "shel yad."

Ch. 11, v. 18: "L'totofos" - As jewellery - Rashi in his commentary on Dvorim 6:8 says that "tat" means two in Kaspi language and "pas" means two in the African language. Based on "pas" meaning two, Rimzei Torah explains the words in Breishis 18:5, "Vo'ekchoh PAS lechem v'saadu libchem achar taavoru" to mean: And I will take two "lechem," two Toros, as the Torah is equated with "lechem" as per the verse "L'chu lachamu b'lachmi" (Mishlei 9:5), the written and the oral Torah. V'saadu," and this will be a support, "libchem," for your positive inclination ("l'vavchem" refers to both inclinations, but "libchem" to only one), "achar," the other one, the evil inclination, "taavoru," you will cause to pass away and leave you.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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