by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VO'ES'CHANAN 5771 BS"D
Ch. 5, v. 11: "Lo siso es sheim Hashem Elokecho lashov" - Do not invoke the name of Hashem your G-d for naught - in a community near Pressburg counterfeit money was found in one of the buildings belonging to the Jewish community. A very thorough investigation, which involved searching many homes, other community buildings, etc., yielded the catch. A printing press which produced the false money was found, but it was unfortunately a deserted building that also belonged to the Jewish community. Great danger lay in store for the community leaders, and they were placed into jail under very harsh conditions. The Chasam Sofer knew that these community leaders were not guilty of such wrongdoing and he came to the authorities with his plea of their innocence and added that likely the guilty parties took advantage of an abandoned building, feeling safe that they would not be caught, and even if someone came upon the incriminating evidence in a building belonging to the Jews, as long as they were not present when it would be discovered, the Jews would surely be blamed. The Chasam Sofer added that he was ready to swear to their innocence.
The head of the police responded that albeit that the reputation of the Chasam Sofer was known far and wide it would serve no purpose, as the Chasam Sofer did not even live in the community. He said that if the Rov of the city would swear to the innocence of the incarcerated communal leaders, he would release them immediately. The Chasam Sofer immediately headed to the home of the Rov and told him what had just transpired. The Rov responded that he was likewise totally convinced of their complete innocence, but to his great chagrin, he had never before in his life made a vow and was not ready to do so now. The Chasam Sofer stood up to his full height and with a raised voice chastised the Rov. "Yidden are incarcerated in the most retched conditions! Their arms and legs are shackled, their families likely have no food as the head of each family is locked up. They likely will be sentenced to exceedingly long terms in jail in deplorable conditions, and all you can say is "I have never made a vow before and am not ready to do so now! What is the worst case scenario that you are worried about? Is it your Olom Habo? Believe me, Hashem cares much more for their being released than your perceived elevated position in Olom Habo!" The Rov was caught off-guard by the words and in particular the harsh tone of the Chasam Sofer and relented. He immediately went to the police authorities, swore to the innocence of the incarcerated people, and they were immediately released. (Hagodas Chasam Sofer) The prohibition of swearing in Hashem's Name is only when it is in vain and for naught. If you want to be extra frum and not make a vow, that is fine when it is on your own skin, but not when it involves another.
Ch. 5, v. 16: "Ka'beid es ovicho" - Honour your father - The gemara Yerushalmi Pei'oh chapter 1 relates that a son can feed his father fattened fowl and reap Gehinom as his reward, while a son can work his father to the bone and reap Gan Eden as his reward. The gemara then relates these two scenarios. A son had a generous income and fed his father well. In essence he did not really treat him with respect and had no close emotional connection with him. The father wondered how the son was able to afford such good food in such abundance and voiced his query to his son. The son responded with a gruff, "Just eat the food I offer you and don't pester me with any of your questions!" the other situation was where the official in charge of the area conscripted men of all ages into his army. This meant untold misery, as he ill-treated them and even meant there was the risk of dying by way of the terrible treatment. A man purchased a loom or the like for the purpose of having his father produce cloth. It was demanding work for the elderly father and he had difficulty keeping it up. Nevertheless, the son kept on pushing him to be very productive. One day the official came to their town and came upon the elderly father working assiduously at the loom. The officer said, "I will not draft you since you are so productive." Thus the son saved his father from a fate much worse than hard work.
Ch. 5, v. 16: "L'maan yaarichun yo'mecho" - So that they may lengthen your days - Note that our verse does not say, "V'haarachto yomim" as it says by the reward for "shiluach hakan" (Dvorim 22:7). The words of our verse mean that your parents will lengthen your days, through their praying to Hashem that you remain alive. They will surely pray to Hashem for this because you are not going your merry way in their old age, but rather, are involved in honouring them and seeking their welfare. This insight was offered in a previous edition. A new insight: Your parents will be the cause of your days being lengthened. This is because when your children will see that you spend your time attending to your parents' needs they will learn to emulate you. When a person enters his old age no matter how much support he has through dedicated care-takers, it is only children who will go the extra mile/kilometer to tend to his parents' needs fully. This leads to the elderly parents living longer. This will repeat itself by the next generation and the son who honours his parents, even in their old age, will be the recipient of similar treatment, and thus his parents are the cause for his living longer. (n.l.)
Ch. 5, v. 27,28: "Shuvu lochem l'oho'leichem, V'atoh po amode imodi" - Return for yourselves fsto your tents, And you stand here with me - In verse 27 it states in the plural that the people, husbands and wives, should return to their tents, to return to even the most physical activities. However, at the same time, "V'atoh," each single one of you, even though you are returning to your normal daily activities, remember that you are standing with Me, as per the verse, "Shivisi Hashem l'negdi somid" (T'hilim 16:8). (Ahavas Sholo-m of Kosov)
Ch. 6, v. 7: "V'shinantom l'vo'necho v'dibarto bom" - And you shall teach them to your sons and you shall speak in them - Rashi says that "to your sons" means "to your students." We can expand on this and say that "v'dibarto bom" means that when we teach our students we should speak INTO them, i.e. structure our teachings in a manner that they penetrate the depths of the students. (n.l.)
In Pirkei Ovos 1:1 it says, "V'haamidu salmidim harbeh." Note that the mishnoh does not say, "V'lamdu," but rather, "V'haamidu." It is incumbent upon the teacher to teach in such a manner that his students will be upright, standing and able to function properly. This includes the responsibility to see that they have sufficient physical needs and the means to function normally. This expression of the mishnoh is the basis for the responsibility to support Torah scholars. (Chosid Yaavetz)
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