by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS NITZOVIM 5772 BS"D
Ch. 29, v. 9: "A'tem nitzovim ha'yom" - You are standing upright today - "Ha'yom" can be split into two parts, Hei-yom, five days. There are five days that one is standing in front of Hashem in judgment. They are the two days of Rosh Hashonoh, Yom Kippur, Hoshanoh Raboh, and Shmini Atzerres. Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur are days of judgment, Hoshanoh Raboh is the day of sealing the judgment, and Shmini Atzerres is the day of "delivering the judgment notes." (Aderres Eliyohu)
Ch. 29, v. 9,10: "Rosheichem, V'geircho" - Your heads, And your convert - These two verses enumerate numerous strata of hierarchy of the bnei Yisroel. In most circumstances there is a priority of those in the higher echelons, but when it comes to being judged for our actions there is no protektzia, all are equal.
There is another situation where all are treated equally. An African king came to Yerusholayim when the Beis Hamikdosh was standing and it was the eve of Pesach. He wrote an account of what he witnessed, the details of the crowds coming, the sacrifice service, etc., to the best of his limited knowledge of the rituals. He however took great note, and this made a powerful impression on him, of the seeming equality of young and old, and what seemed to him as the venerable and the common folk. Notwithstanding that there were these obvious differences, when the people entered the Beis Hamikdosh campus all behaved equally. An elderly person did not request special priority treatment, etc. Once again, when we are directly in front of Hashem, we are all equal.
Ch. 29, v. 18,19: "V'hisboreich bilvovo, Lo yoveh Hashem slo'ach lo ki oz ye'eshan af Hashem" - And he will bless himself in his heart, Hashem will not be willing to forgive him rather then Hashem's anger will smoke - These words can be interpreted as: And he will bless himself with his good heart. He will have the attitude that keeping the mitzvos, both positive and negative, is of no importance. All that is needed is to have a good, warm, caring heart, to be kind and merciful. He adds on that "Lo yoveh Hashem slo'ach lo," Hashem will not have to forgive him his sins as his "good heart" eradicates all wrongdoings. Hashem's response will be "Ki oz ye'eshan af Hashem v'kinoso bo'ish hahu." (Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam in Marbitzei haTorah Mei'olom haChasidus)
Ch. 29, v. 22: "Gofris vo'melach sreifoh chol artzoh …… k'mahpeichas S'dom vaAmoroh" - Sulfur and salt all her land …… as the upheaval of S'dom and Amoroh - In parshas Va'yeiro Avrohom prayed for the cities of S'dom and Amoroh and three other communities to be saved in the merit of fifty righteous people who ARE there, "L'maan chamishim hatzadikim asher b'kirboh" (Breishis 18:24). Hashem responded that He would not destroy them "Im EMTZO viSdom chamishim tzadikim" (verse 26). Note the difference of present tense in Avrohom's words and the future tense in Hashem's words.
It seems as if Avrohom's numerous entreaties were in vain, as Hashem destroyed them all. However, our verse says that at the end of days there would be a repeat of what happened in S'dom and Amoroh. This is why Hashem expressed Himself in parshas Va'yeiro in the future tense. If in the future when the situation arises that cities deserve to be destroyed in the manner of S'dom and Amoroh, "Im EMTZO viSdom chamishim tzadikim," if I will then find in a city that is evil like S'dom at least fifty righteous men, it would be spared, and thus Avrohom's beseeching Hashem had a positive affect at the end of days. No true prayer to Hashem for mercy is in vain. (Holy Admor of Satmar zt"l)
Another explanation for the change from present to future tense is offered by Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznayim laTorah. Avrohom asked for the communities to be saved if there would presently be fifty righteous people among the five cities. Hashem responded in a more lenient manner. Even if upon "coming" to the cities, bringing with Him a powerful spirit of sanctity, and only then some more people would become righteous, bringing it up to fifty, that would also be sufficient. Avrohom, taking note of this leniency, from this point on also included this detail, and we no longer find him speaking in the present, "if there ARE," but rather, in the future, "yimotzun."
We might add that he also asked for more lenient terms, as we find that by asking for clemency in the merit of fifty people, Avrohom added "b'soch ho'ir," meaning involved with the city. Once he asked for leniency even if less than fifty righteous people would be there, he no longer added "b'soch ho'ir."
Ch. 30, v. 10: "Ki sishma b'kole Hashem Elokecho …… haksuvoh b'sefer haTorah ha'zeh …… ki soshuv el Hashem Elokecho" - If you will hearken to the voice of Hashem your G-d …… that is written in this scroll of the Torah …… if you will turn to Hashem your G-d - A person can look into the written Torah and see its words, but because of preexisting desires and attitudes he can twist and misinterpret the Holy Torah's words and its intention. It is only when one hearkens to Hashem and turns to him that he will properly understand the written words of the Torah. (Meshech Chochmoh who says that this insight is similar to the comment made by the Ibn Ezra)
Ch. 30, v. 12: "MI YaaleH LonU HashomaimoH" - Who will ascend for us to the heavens - The Baal Haturim comments that the first letters of these words form "miloh," and the final letters form the Holy Name Y-H-V-H. To be able to ascend to Hashem one needs to be circumcised.
Rishonim take note of the word "miloh" appearing in the first letters, while Hashem appears in the final letters. This shows how beloved it is to Hashem to be circumcised.
The Holy Alshich comments that the letters left over in between have the numeric value of 541, the same as Yisroel. We thus begin with "miloh" which brings the child spiritually into the congregation Yisroel, and then Hashem's Holy Spirit then rests upon him.
Ch. 30, v. 19: "Uvocharto bachaim l'maan tichyeh atoh v'zar'echo" - And you shall choose life so that you and your offspring will live - What kind of choice is this between life and death that the Torah has to advise you to choose life? Secondly how does this impact on your descendants?
The intention is not to choose between life and death, between blessing and curse, as this is not a choice given that it is so obvious. The intention of these words is to either choose to serve Hashem through life and joy in serving him or through fear of punishment and being continuously scared to step out of line. Either way the person would do that which is proper. The Torah advises to choose the attitude of serving Hashem with joy, as a privilege. This will bring the result that one's children will more likely follow in his footsteps. (ro'isi)
"Sose osis baShem" - I am happy that through my behaviour I bring happiness to Hashem. (Toldos Yitzchok)
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