by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VO'ESCHANAN 5775 BS"D
Ch. 3, v. 23: "Vo'eschanan el Hashem bo'eis hahee" - And I beseeched Hashem at that time - "That time" was right after Moshe's wrongdoing. One should not tarry with his repentance and remorse. This explains why when one has a dream that frightens him he should fast immediately even of it took place on Shabbos. The frightening dream is a message from Above that he has sinned. The fasting immediately is a measure of contrition that is most effective. (Shal"oh Hakodosh citing the Tzror Hamor)
Ch. 3, v. 23: "Vo'eschanan el Hashem bo'eis hahee" - And I beseeched Hashem at that time - The Ra"n in his "droshos" #9 explains that Moshe's intention was not to admonish the bnei Yisroel, even though it seems so given that he mentions numerous of their sins in this and the previous parshios, but rather, to tell them of how greatly they were loved by Hashem. Moshe told them that in spite of his exalted level, he did not merit to enter Eretz Yisroel because of one sin, and they would merit entering Eretz Yisroel in spite of having sinned numerous times.
Ch. 3, v. 23: "Vo'es'chanan el Hashem Bo'eis hahee leimore" - The numeric value of these words equals that of "Ki imcho haslichoh l'maan tivo'rei (T'hilim 130:4). (Rabbeinu Avigdor)
Ch. 3, v. 24: "Es god'l'cho v'es yodcho hachazokoh" - Your greatness and Your strong hand - Your greatness refers to the splitting of Yam Suf and Your strong hand refers to destroying the Egyptians at Yam Suf. Both of these acts, one of being a savior and one of being a destroyer, were done simultaneously. (Eitz Hadaas Tov)
Ch. 4, v. 2,3: "Lo sosifu, Asher holach acha'rei baal p'ore" - The Trumas Hadeshen explains the juxtaposition of these two verses in a most marvelous manner. The Torah exhorts us to not add on of our own volition any mitzvos, nor to diminish from the mitzvos. The gemara Sanhedrin 63b says that it is a mitzvoh to ridicule a false god, an avodoh zoroh. The gemara Avodoh Zoroh 45b says that one is only liable for punishment for transgressing the sin of idol worship when worshipping it in its proper manner. If the ritual is an act of honour, then one must do that prescribed act. (Bowing, sacrificing, bringing libations, or incense for an avodoh zoroh is always liable.) The manner of properly serving the avodoh zoroh of baal p'ore was through defecating in front of it. Even though this is a most demeaning act, nonetheless for baal p'ore, this is its proper ritual.
One might say that he intends to embarrass baal p'ore by doing as mentioned above, in keeping with the dictum of the gemara Sanhedrin, that it is a mitzvoh to demean idols. However, one should not undertake to add onto the mitzvos of the Torah, as we see by baal p'ore, where doing so is considered properly serving b.p. and one is liable for the death penalty. The P'ninim Mishulchan haGR"A says the same. The GR"A obviously did not see the Trumas Hadeshen. However, the Tosfos on gemara Sanhedrin 64a says that if one serves b.p. in its prescribed manner, but has the intention of demeaning it, he receives no punishment.
I read somewhere in the name of a Godol b'Yisroel that eating only for the intention of enjoying food is somewhat akin to serving baal p'ore.
Ch. 4, v. 15: "V'nishmartem m'ode l'nafsho'seichem" - This is the mitzvoh of caring for one's health. Why is this expressed as guarding one's SOUL rather than one's BODY? Perhaps it is an indication that if one is ill it reflects a spiritual malady as well. Possibly the spiritual malady is the underlying cause for the physical disorder, and rectifying it can be helpful in the physical healing process.
We have a strong corroboration for this from the text of the prayer for the well-being of a sick person, "mi shebeirach l'choleh," in which we pray that the sick person should have a healing of his SOUL and his BODY, "r'fuas haNEFESH u'r'fuas haGUF." As well, we see that the prayer for the spiritual healing is mentioned first, indicating its being the underlying cause for the physical disorder.
Ch. 6, v. 8: "U'kshartom l'ose al yo'decho v'hoyu l'totofose bein einecho" - The gemara Sotoh 44a says that only righteous men may join the Jewish army. The gemara gives an example of a transgression which would disqualify someone from joining the ranks of the men enlisted in the army. If someone were to talk between placing his arm tefillin and his head tefillin upon himself he would be sent back from his battalion. The gemara says that "a'veiroh hi b'YODO," this is a sin IN HIS HAND, and he is sent back.
This only causes him to make an extra blessing which would have been unnecessary had he not spoken in between. See Rashi and Tosfos as to how many blessings are required. In any case this doesn't seem like a very grave transgression. Why does the gemara give specifically this case as an example? Secondly, what is the intention of the expression, "a'veiroh hi b'YODO?"
I heard or read that the gemara is teaching us a profound lesson. One might have the attitude that although Hashem is an active presence in our daily lives, however when it comes to warfare all is dependent upon might. This is symbolized by the arm, the foremost organ of physical strength. The spiritual factor, one's merits by virtue of adherence to Torah and mitzvos is symbolized by the head, the thinking component of the human. One who speaks between the placing of the HAND tefillin and the HEAD tefillin symbolizes one who thinks that at the time of war we must separate the ARM, the physical, from the HEAD, the spiritual. Therefore the gemara says that a person with such an attitude should be sent back from the army. This is a sin "IN HIS HAND," thinking that the outcome of the war is totally IN HIS HAND and not connected to spiritual merit. Indeed, Hashem plays a very active role in war, as is stated in Shmos 15:3, "Hashem Ish milchomoh."
It is well known that the tribe of GAD was considered the most courageous warriors and led the advance of the Jewish army, as is stated in the end of last week's parsha, "Chalutzim taavru lifnei acheichem" (3:18). Gad had the spiritual merit to lead the Jewish army, as its tribe was very focused on the spiritual component necessary in winning the war. They were connected to the tefillin of the head, symbolizing the connection to Hashem during a time of war. The name GAD is spelled Gimmel-Dalet, numerically THREE and FOUR. The head tefillin have two letters Shin on them, one with THREE strokes and one with FOUR.
As well they connected the arm and head concept and in war physically demonstrated this by slaying their enemies in a unique manner, "V'toraf zro'a af kodkode" (Dvorim 33:20). They killed the enemy not by the standard manner of decapitation by sword, but rather by cutting the head off at an angle, so that an arm would also be cut off at the same time, still being attached to the head, a physical demonstration of the arm-head connection.
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