by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VO'ES'CHANAN 5763 BS"D
Ch. 4, v. 23: "Hishomru lochem pen .. vaasi'sem lochem pessel tmunas kole asher tzivcho Hashem" - Guard yourselves lest .. you will make a form a picture of anything that Hashem has commanded you - Rashi explains that there is a self-understood phrase missing from the end of the verse, "that Hashem has commanded you" - TO NOT DO.
A number of explanations that take these words more literally:
1) There is a weakness in people to fulfill a mitzvoh in a superficial external manner, in form only. This is the Torah's warning: Guard yourselves .. lest you will make a form a picture, i.e. involve yourselves only in the externals, of anything that Hashem has commanded you to do. (The holy Admor of Kotzk)
2) This is a warning against not literally fulfilling the mitzvos and satisfying oneself with a symbolic gesture. Do not fulfill the mitzvos in a symbolic manner only. (Dvash V'cholov)
3) This is a warning against replicating the forms of the cherubs that were formed from the cover of the Holy Ark, which was commanded to do in the parsha of creating the Mishkon's vessels. (Haksav V'hakaboloh)
Ch. 4, v. 23: "T'munas kole" - A picture of anything - This can be understood as a prohibition against making a human form, which is called "kole," - anything, because it is human nature to change one's attitude, so a person can be one thing one day and another the next day. (Yalkut haGershuni)
Ch. 4, v. 34: "O hanisoh elohim" - Or has a power attempted - The Baal Haturim (Yalkut Shimoni remez #273) points out that every letter of the Alef-Beis is present in this verse. The Yalkut Shimoni says that this teaches us that although Hashem wanted to give the Torah, written with the 22 holy letters of the Alef-Beis, to the bnei Yisroel in Egypt, the ruling of stringency requested that Hashem wait until after they were tested, "hanisoh."
There is only one other verse in the Torah that contains all the letters of the Alef-Beis, and that is Shmos 16:16. In Nach we have another 24, giving us a total of 26 verses that contain all the letters. They are: Yehoshua 23:13, M'lochim 2:4:39, 2:6:32, 2:7:8, Yeshayohu 5:25, 66:17, Yirmiyohu 22:3, 32:29, Yechezkeil 17:9, 38:12, Hoshei'a 10:8,
13:2, Omose 9:13, Tzefanioh 3:8, Zecharioh 6:11, Ezra 7:28, Nechemioh 3:7, Divrei Ha'yomim 2:26:11, Megilas Koheles 4:8, Megilas Esther 3:13, Daniel 2:45, 3:22, 4:20, and 7:19.
Of these 26 verses there is only one that has all 22 letters plus all 5 final letters, MaNTZPaCH. That is the verse in Tzefanioh 3:8. This verse discusses the final redemption. This is most appropriate as the 5 final letters allude to the final redemption as explained in M.R. Bmidbar chapter #18 and Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #48. (B'eir Moshe of Ozhrov)
The recitation of these verses has special "segulos," powers. Rabbi Chaim Palagi in Refuoh V'chaim chapter #12 writes that if a person is faced with a severe difficulty and is unable to learn Torah as a merit, he should recite these 26 verses and it is equated to having read the complete Torah. Rabbi Yoseif Chaim in L'shone Chachomim 2:9 writes that one should recite these verses with their cantellations daily from Rosh Hashonoh until Shmini Atzerres and on every Rosh Chodesh. (Alim Litrufoh Belz)
Ch. 5, v. 4: "Ponim b'fonim di'ber Hashem imochem" - Face to face Hashem spoke with you -This means that each person had a different level of comprehension of the Sinai experience, each person according to his preparation, as is mentioned in the M.R. parshas Yisro. (Haa'meik Dovor)
Ch. 5, v. 18: "V'lo sachmode" - And you shall not lust - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel writes that as a result of lusting others' possessions the government likewise lusts to take away people's possessions and issues high taxation rates and the like.
Ch. 6, v. 13: "Es Hashem Elokecho tiro" - Hashem your G-d fear - Rabbi Akiva says that the word "es" teaches us that we should not only fear Hashem, but also a Torah scholar (gemara Psochim 22b). This only applies to a Torah scholar who is "ES Hashem," WITH Hashem. One who amasses Torah knowledge only to be a show-off is not included. (Toldos Yaakov Yoseif on parshas Shoftim)
Ch. 6, v. 13: "Es Hashem Elokecho tiro" - Hashem your G-d fear - The gemara Yerushalmi Sotoh 5:5 asks that this seems to contradict the words in "Shma" "v'ohavto eis Hashem Elokecho" (Dvorim 6:5). The gemara answers that both traits are required. One must serve Hashem with love so that if a time comes when a person feels a weakening of love and is leaning towards the other end of the spectrum of human emotion, to hate, a lover does not hate. As well ,one must serve Hashem with fear because if one has feelings to kick, to lash out, one who serves with fear will not do this. Obviously, these words require interpretation.
Ch. 6, v. 20: "Ki yisholcho bincho mochor" - When/if your son will ask you in the future - Rashi (Mechilta Shmos 13:14) says that sometimes "mochor" means in the future (and not literally tomorrow). We are discussing a child born in Eretz Yisroel who sees his father fulfilling the laws of Pesach. This child has a straightforward question. Why do you put in so much effort to reenact/memorialize/commemorate what took place in Egypt and do nothing to show awareness of an even greater miracle, that of the bnei Yisroel's overpowering 31 kings who occupied Eretz Yisroel? The father answers that the more recent war against the 31 kings was fought by righteous people, so it is no wonder that Hashem came to their aid. In Egypt we were slaves to Paroh (verse 21) and not to Hashem. In spite of this Hashem redeemed us. For this it is surely worth commemorating and giving thanks. (Alshich Hakodosh)
Ch. 7, v. 1: "Vaatzumim mi'meko" - And stronger than you - Translates these words as "and stronger FROM you." Had you not sinned by sending the spies all these seven nations would have feared you so greatly that they would have simply run away. Because of your sin they gathered strength and courage, and you will have to combat them. (The Holy Admor Reb Yitzchok Eizik of Kamarna in Heichal Habrochoh)
Ch. 7, v. 2: "V'lo s'cho'neim" - And do not favour them - The gemara A.Z. 20a derives 3 prohibitions from these words. It is prohibited to speak favourably about them, to give/sell them land in Eretz Yisroel, and to give them gifts. Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that these 3 concepts, "chane, chanioh" and "chinom" are derived from these words by changing the vowelization of the word "s'ch'neim." When spelled with a "tzeirei" it means favouring, with a "pasach" it means a resting place, and with a "chirik" it means gratis. This is why Torah may not be written with vowels, to allow for numerous interpretations. The letters are the body of the Torah (that which we physically see), while the vowels are its soul (that which we do not see). Rabbeinu Bachyei expands on this theme in Breishis 18:3.
Ch. 7, v. 3: "V'lo sis'cha'tein bom" - And you shall not enter into marriage with them - Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that this is a prohibition even after they convert. The Torah was more stringent with these seven nations than with others because they were the most depraved, degenerate, and immoral nations upon the face of the world.
Ch. 7, v. 6: "B'cho bochar Hashem Elokecho li'h'yos lo l'am seguloh" - In you Hashem your G-d has chosen to be to Him a treasured nation - Just as a king has many ministers who are caretakers for almost all of his matters and possessions, but does not appoint ministers for his uniquely beloved jewels and the like, so too, Hashem has ministers for almost all worldly matters and for all the nations, save the bnei Yisroel. This is because the bnei Yisroel are Hashem's "seguloh." (Ramban)
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