by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS NITZOVIM-VA'YEILECH 5759 BS"D
The only time we separate Nitzovim from Va'yeilech is when there is a Shabbos between Yom Kippur and Succos of the upcoming year. It would seem logical to always have Nitzovim and Va'yeilech joined as they total only seventy verses.
However, if we were to join Nitzovim and Va'yeilech and split two larger parshios earlier in the year, our final Shabbos reading of the year would be Ki Sovo, which contains the tochochoh, admonitions, with which we do not want to end the year. (See Tosfos Megiloh 31b and Bovo Basro 88b).
Ch. 29, v. 9: "A'tem nitzovim" - the gemara N'dorim 64b says that wherever the Torah uses the word "nitzovim" or "nitzim" it refers to Doson and Avirom standing confrontationally against Moshe's authority. Since Doson and Avirom died in the episode of Korach (Bmidbar 26:10), why is the word "nitzovim" used in our verse? The Holy Admor of Mogelnitza answers that with the use of the word "nitzovim" in our verse, Moshe alludes to everyone coming close to Hashem, even people who are as rebellious as Doson and Avirom.
Ch. 29, v. 9; Ch. 31, v. 1: "A'tem nitzovim; Va'yeilech Moshe" - During the lifetime and leadership of Gerrer chasidus by the Sfas Emes, his son the Imrei Emes interpreted the names of our parshios: "A'tem nitzovim," - You are standing still and are stagnant, but, "Va'yeilech Moshe," - your leader Moshe progresses in his servitude of Hashem. Learn from Moshe who is 120 years old and still continues to strengthen himself daily in serving Hashem.
When the Imrei Emes became the leader of the Gerrer chasidim he interpreted as follows: "A'tem nitzovim" - because you, the bnei Yisroel, are standing strong on your level, "Va'yeilech Moshe," - Moshe has the power to progress and go forward.
In this vein the Baal Shem Tov explained the words in Bmidbar 9:8, "Imdu v'esh'm'oh ma yitza'veh Hashem lochem." Only through your standing strong as a Torah abiding nation will I, as your leader, be able to hear Hashem's word. His son, the Beis Yisroel, interpreted: "A'tem nitzovim," - because you are standing strong and not faltering in your service of Hashem, "Va'yeilech Moshe," - Moshe is able to proceed without sin. If the nation is faulty its leaders will also slip, as is written, "Im haKohein hamoshiach yecheto l'ashmas ho'om" (Vayikro 4:3), which can be interpreted as, "If the anointed Kohein will sin, it is by virtue of the sin of the nation."
His son, the Pnei Menachem interpreted: "A'tem nitzovim," - You are able to sustain as a nation through the merit of, "Va'yeilech Moshe," - Moshe's continual going forward in his service of Hashem.
(Rosh Gulas Ariel vol. 2, 336:51)
Ch. 29, v. 18: "L'maan s'fose horovoh es hatz'mei'oh" - Rashi says that this means that an intentional sinner will have his unintentional sins judged with the same stringency as intentional sins. The Ramban says that this means that one who continually sins because of an urge to do so, will broaden the horizon of his lusts and bring a desire for that for which he previously had no desire.
The Rokeach brings a gematria allusion to the explanation of Rashi. "S'fose horovoh es hatz'mei'oh" equals "Hazdonos im hashgogos."
Ch. 30, v. 11: "Ki hamitzvoh hazose" - The Ramban says that these words teach us that it is a mitzvoh to repent, to do teshuvoh, for our sins. However the Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 1:1 says that when one repents he is required to also confess verbally that he has sinned. In his Sefer Hamitzvos, positive commandment #73, the Rambam likewise says that when one repents etc. The Minchas Chinuch in mitzvoh #364 derives from the manner in which the Rambam explains teshuvoh, that there is no mitzvoh to repent, but rather, if one is repenting he is required to verbally confess his sin(s) to effect an acceptable teshuvoh.
The Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Va'yeilech d.h. "V'omar" gives us a wonderful insight into the logic behind the Rambam's position.
The Chidushei hoRI"M explains a mishneh dealing with teshuvoh, which is brought in the gemara Yoma 85b, according to the Ramban and the Ramban. The mishneh says that one who says, "I will sin and repent, I will sin and repent," is not afforded the opportunity to repent. (The reason for this seems to be that since the person relied upon the opportunity to repent to sin in the first place, the instrument which helped bring about his sinning, namely the opportunity to repent, cannot be used as an instrument to cleanse the sin.) If one says, "I will sin and Yom Kippur will cleanse my sin," Yom Kippur is ineffective.
The Chidushei hoRI"M asks why in the case of repentance is "I will sin" mentioned twice, while in the case of Yom Kippur it is only mentioned once. He answers according to the Ramban who posits that there is a mitzvoh to repent, there is a possibility that a person who has never sinned will sin in order to have the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvoh of repentance. This only holds true by the first sin. However, if a person sins a second time, relying upon the cleansing powers of repentance, it is obvious that the second time he is misusing this power, hence rendering it ineffective. However, since the cleansing process of Yom Kippur is not the fulfillment of a mitzvoh but rather a gift, relying on Yom Kippur to bring about forgiveness renders the power of Yom Kippur ineffective even when sinning the first time.
How do we explain this mishneh according to the Rambam? Since the Rambam does not consider repenting a mitzvoh, why does the mishneh mention it twice? In hilchos teshuvoh 4:1, the Rambam quotes our mishneh verbatim except that "I will sin and repent" is mentioned only once. This is in keeping with his opinion that there is no mitzvoh to repent, hence a person renders teshuvoh ineffective even when sinning and relying on teshuvoh the first time. Most likely, this was also his text of the mishneh.
Commentaries raise a serious question on the position of the Ramban. Our verse, "Ki hamitzvoh hazose," refers to the mitzvoh of learning Torah according to the gemara Eiruvin 55a, so how can the Ramban apply this verse to teshuvoh? Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner in Nefesh Hachaim answers that this gemara is not contradictory to the Ramban. He says that Talmud Torah itself cleanses sin just as repentance does. This is why in Shmoneh Esrei in the blessing of repentance we say, "Hashiveinu ovinu l'sorosecho ......
v'hachazireinu bis'shuvoh shleimoh l'fo'necho." Why is returning to the Torah mentioned here? We see that the study of Torah is also a form of repentance.
Similarly, the Sefer Oros Y'mei Rachamim, page 143, says in the name of Rav Aharon Kotler zt'l, that the learning of Torah is a component of the teshuvoh process. We can see this from the continuation of the theme of teshuvoh as mentioned in the verses that follow. Verse 14 says, "Ki korov eilecho hadovor m'ode B'FICHO," which refers to verbal confession, "U'VILVOVCHO la'asoso," which refers to regretting the past and committing to do that which is proper in the future. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says on these words, "A'rei koriv l'chone pisgomo b'veis mid'r'sheichone" - the word of the Torah is close to you in your study halls. We see that the study of Torah is a component of the teshuvoh process.
Perhaps another proof can be brought for the correlation between the study of Torah and teshuvoh. Verses 12 and 13 say, "Lo vashomayim hee, v'lo mei'eiver layom hee." The Targum Yerushalmi says on "Lo vashomayim hee," do not say that you need someone like Moshe who ascended to the heavens, to bring you the Torah; "v'lo mei'eiver layom hee," do not say that you need someone like Yonah who traveled the ocean, to awaken your heart to repentance.
Since our verse is discussing repentance, why would it enter one's mind that it necessary to have someone like Moshe to bring us the Torah, since that is not part of the teshuvoh process? Indeed, we see from here that Torah learning is integral to the teshuvoh process.
Although the Rambam does not count teshuvoh as a mitzvoh min haTorah, he also discusses the attitude and approach to limud haTorah in the final chapter of hilchos teshuvoh. Why does he place these matters in hilchos teshuvoh? This also seems to indicate that the learning of Torah is a component of teshuvoh.
According to the Ramban why is there no brochoh instituted for the act of teshuvoh? The Beis Yitzchok Y.D. #168 s.k. 12 answers that a blessing is never instituted for a mitzvoh that can only come about through an aveiroh first being committed. An example for this would be the mitzvoh of "hashovas g'zeiloh," the returning of an object that one stole. The Bircas Aharon on Brochos maamar 308, answers that a mitzvoh which is done only by the mind and not in action requires no brochoh. An example for this would be "bitul chomeitz." Although a blessing is said prior to the search for chomeitz on the night of the 14th of Nison, nevertheless, no blessing is made at the time of bitul on the morning of the 14th.
Perhaps another answer might be that a person does make a blessing on the act of repenting. The mishneh in Pirkei Ovos 2:10 and the gemara Shabbos 153a say that a person should repent a day before his death. In practical terms this means that he should repent daily. We make a daily blessing (save Shabbos and Yom Tov) of "Horotze bis'shuvoh."
Is teshuvoh effective for non-Jews? The Medrash Tanchumoh in parshios Tzav and Haazinu derives from the words "Yiso Hashem ponov EILECHO" (Bmidbar 6:26), that teshuvoh only applies to the Jewish nation. There seem to be contradictions to this from the teshuvoh of Odom Horishon (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 20), Kayin (M.R. Breishis ch. 22, Targum Shir Hashirim 1:1), and from the story of the repentance of the people of the city of Ninveh, as related in the book of Yonah. There are numerous answers. I await your response. Hopefully, some will be listed next week. (Most of the material on teshuvoh was taken from the Pardes Yoseif Hechodosh.)
Ch. 30, v. 19: "U'vocharto bachayim" - It was mentioned in parshas Ki Seitzei that there is an opinion that the ruling "Sofeik d'Oreisoh l'chumro," that when in doubt if a Torah law applies, one must be stringent, is required by Torah law. Rabbi Shimon Shkop said that these words of our verse might well be the source for this opinion. (Heard from Rabbi A.Y. Shapiro zt"l)
Ch. 31, v. 19: "V'atoh kisvu lochem es hashiroh hazose" - Rashi says that the SHIROH is the verse from the beginning of parshas Haazinu until the words "V'chi'peir admoso amo" (31:1 - 31:43). Rabbi Yisochor Dov, the Holy Admor of Belz, asks why this is called a song, since these verses are full of admonitions. He answers that the gemara M'nochos 110a says that whoever engages himself in the study of the laws of the Oloh sacrifice, is considered as if he physically brought a Korban Oloh. According to this, one can study the "tochochoh," the admonitions, and learn the lessons brought out from the awesome words of the parsha of "tochochoh," and not have to physically experience its difficulties. The words of the "tochochoh" become a "shiroh" through "Simoh b'fihem." By placing the words of the "shiroh" into their mouths, through the bnei Yisroel's studying it and learning its moral lessons, they will circumvent having to go through suffering and the words indeed will serve as a "shiroh."
Ch. 31, v. 19: "Simoh b'fihem" - The Baal Haturim says that these words refer to the "Torah she'b'al peh" and that "simoh b'fihem" has the same numerical value as "Zeh Talmud," the verbally transmitted portion of the Torah.
Why do Ashkeneizim say "slichos" for a minimum of four days before Rosh Hashonoh? The Ateres Z'keinim on Shulchon Oruch O.Ch. #581 quotes a medrash in parshas Emor that says: "By all mussaf sacrifices it says "v'hikravtem," and you shall sacrifice (B'midbar 28:19,27 and 29:8,13), but by the mussaf of Rosh Hashonoh it says (29:2) va'asi'sem," and you shall MAKE. This teaches us that a person shall make himself like a sacrifice (that is only acceptable if it has no blemishes). The law of kor'b'nos tzibur requires four days of inspection of the animal prior to its being offered (Orchin 13b, Rambam hilchos t'midim u'musofim 1:9). Therefore, we also say slichos for a minimum of four days.
Another reason is that especially scrupulously people fast for ten days during the "a'seres y'mei teshuvoh." However, the two days of Rosh Hashonoh, Shabbos Shuvoh, and erev Yom Kippur cannot be fast days. To make up for these four days, fasting is done earlier during the days slichos are said. Since we need four days, we always have a minimum of four days of slichos.
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