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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Yirmiyohu - Ch. 2, v. 6: "B'eretz lo ovar boh ish v'lo yoshav odom shom" - In a land that no man has passed and no person has resided there - This seems out of order. If no one has even passed through this land, surely no one has resided there. The Radak answers that the verse changes from ISH to ODOM. ODOM refers to primary man. Wherever Odom Horishon had decreed that it be inhabited, it eventually became inhabited. "V'lo yoshav Odom shom" means that Odom decided that no one will live there. (Our verse is saying that the land is so desolate that no one has passed through until now and it will never be inhabited, even in the future. Read "lo yoshav" as "lo yeisheiv.")

Ch. 2, v. 11: "V'ami heimir kvodo b'l*O* yo'il" - And My nation has exchanged its Honour for a useless object" - "B'l*O*" is spelled in a most unusual manner, "mollei Vov."

We find "LO," meaning NO, in 3 forms, the common Lamed-Alef, Lamed-Vov-Alef, as in our verse, and again Lamed-Alef, but with a Lamed-Vov "kri," as in Vayikra 11,21, and 25:30.

It seems logical to say that when we have the standard Lamed-Alef the intention of the word is totally NO. When it is a "ksiv" and a "kri" we have both intentions, as is the case with "bo'tei o'rei chomoh," the city presently has NO wall, but once there was TO IT a wall. When we have Lamed-Vov-Alef, a combination of Lamed-Alef and Lamed-Vov, the stress is in the main NO, with a secondary underlying TO IT.

The verse in Dvorim 18:14 says "Ki hagoyim ho'ei'leh asher atoh yoreish osom el m'on'nim v'el kosmim yishmo'u v'atoh lo chein nosan l'cho Hashem Elokecho." The nations that you will vanquish hearken to occult practices, while for you Hashem has not given this." Rashi says that Hashem has rested His Holy Spirit upon prophets and the "Urim" and "Tumim." As explained by MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l, this means that Hashem has invested some supernatural powers in occult practices, and they truly function, even though gentiles should not turn to them. For us there is the power of the prophet and the "Urim" and "Tumim." For us these occult pursuits are useless.

We can thus say that this is the intention of "b'l*O* yo'il." LO spelled Lamed-Vov-Alef means primarily NO, but secondary Lamed-Vov, means that for us the perceived powers that the nation has pursued and exchanged for Hashem is totally useless, "Lamed-Alef yo'il," but is still spelled with a Vov to indicate that for the idol worshippers it functions, "Lamed-Vov yo'il."

(Nirreh li)

Ch. 2, v. 13: "Ki shtayim ro'ose ossoh ami" - Because two wrongs has My nation done - The verse goes on to describe these two wrongdoings, that they have forsaken Me, the reliable source of existence, as is a well-spring, and they have exchanged Me for the wells they have dug, which do not even momentarily retain water.

This is dramatized in a most beautiful manner through the power of the Dubner Magid's parable:

A businessman took a son-in-law and supported him, allowing him to totally immerse himself in Torah study. With the passage of time the son-in-law's family, and the cost of its being sustained, grew. The father-in-law felt that the time had come for his son-in-law to enter the field of commerce and become self-sustaining.

Knowing that his son-in-law had absolutely no prior experience in this field, he gave him a short course in business 101. "Simply put, buy an item in extreme bulk. This will allow you to buy it at the best wholesale rate. Then sell it piecemeal at a much higher price per unit." He gave his son-in-law a tidy sum and after blessing his endeavours, sent him off.

The son-in-law took the advice very seriously, and turned down numerous good offerings. He knew the retail price of the items and felt that the spread wasn't extremely broad. One day he came upon someone who had a truckload (my wording) of "shofros" at an unbelievably low price. He grabbed the bargain and had it trucked back home.

When his father-in-law saw him back home with a tractor-trailer he was very excited. "What did you purchase," he asked with excitement. "A real bargain! The spread between wholesale and retail is unbelievable!" When the father-in-law saw the goods he nearly had a heart attack. "Why, there are enough 'shofros' here for every congregation in the world to buy a new one each year and even well after Moshiach will have come, being heralded by all these 'shofros.' Don't you realize that this is simply too many?"

To make a long story slightly shorter, the distraught father-in-law purchased storage space for the 'shofros,' hoping to find an opportunity to dump these goods and recoup some of his outlay, and advised his son-in-law to quickly get back to fulltime studying.

A number of years and children later he again had his son-in-law try his hand at wholesale-retail commerce, but warned him to not purchase anything like a "shofar," an item that is only used during one season of the year and is usually only purchased by a congregation. "Buy something that most everyone uses, and uses it daily."

This time he came back with an eighteen-wheeler packed with ivory toothpicks, an item that one would use and reuse, not like today's disposable wooden toothpicks. There were enough toothpicks for every person in China to have a toothpick "yomi" for 2,711 days. These were also stored, at a cost of course, and the son-in-law was back at the books post-haste.

After a while the father-in-law felt that he was throwing good money after bad by paying for storage space. He hired a peddler and told him to sell the "shofros" for any amount he could get, and he would be paid for his trouble. A short while later, when his patience and some hard-earned money came to an end with paying for storage for the toothpicks, he likewise found another peddler and offered him the same deal.

Quite a bit of tome passed, but eventually the first peddler came back with good news and a tractor-trailer. "I got rid of the 'shofros,'" he proudly announced. "And why the tractor-trailer? Is it filled with the money you received for the goods?" "No, not at all. I could not find anyone who wanted the 'shofros.' This went on for quite a while and I was very discouraged. I was ready to get rid of them to anyone for any offer. I met a fellow who had a truckload of ivory toothpicks, so we made a barter." The father-in-law was not sure if Hatzoloh or Halotzoh should be called, and once he calmed down he paid the peddler the agreed upon amount of money and had the toothpicks put into storage again.

Not surprisingly, a bit later the second peddler came with a tractor-trailer, just as the first had. The father-in-law greeted him. "Let me guess what you have. Is it a truckload of 'shofros' perhaps?" The peddler was amazed at the supernatural powers of our barely surviving father-in-law, and as expected, responded, "Right on! How in the world did you know?" (Obviously he had not read the parables of the Dubner Magid.) He likewise paid the second peddler, and had the opportunity to again rent some commercial storage space.

The twice-retired businessman, the son-in-law, was witness to the payments to both peddlers, and now came to his father-in-law with a complaint. "Why were you so angry with me when I purchased 'shofros' and toothpicks, and yet, not only did you not scream at them, but you paid each peddler, even though they likewise brought you those exact goods?"

"NAAR EINER, how can you compare what you did to their exchange? I sent you off with the best commercial item, CASH. You had the opportunity to purchase good items. You had the ability to turn a handsome profit! I gave each of the peddlers a truckload of very problematic articles. How displeased can I be with them when they trade such goods for others of the same nature?"

The application to our verse is very obvious.

When the Holy Admor of Kotzk heard this parable, he said that in the heavens it was said that the Dubner Magid hit upon the most accurate interpretation of these words though his parable.

Ch. 2, v. 13: "Lachatzove lohem borose borose nishborim asher lo yochilu hamoyim - To dig for themselves wells wells that will not retain the water - The first word "boros" is spelled "mollei Vov," while the second is spelled "cho'seir Vov." When they dug them they first had great faith in these wells, hence "mollei," but even they who believed in their new gods soon realized that they are broken and cannot retain water, hence "cho'seir." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 2, v. 28: "Ki mispar orecho hoyu elohecho" - Because as many as the number of your cities were your gods - This is a rebuke, that they had many, many gods, and/or that they had gods in every community. This can also be explained as follows: Having many built-up cities has become your god. (Shomati)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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