by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS V'ES'CHANAN 5759 BS"D
Ch. 3, v. 23: "V'es'chanan" - The numeric value of this word, 515, equals that of "SHIROH," Shin- Yud-Reish-Hei (Baal Haturim, and also the numeric value of "T'FILLOH," Tof-Fei-Yud-Lamed-Hei (Paa'nei'ach Rozo).
Ch. 3, v. 23: "V'es'chanan el Hashem Bo'eis hahi 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. 23: "Leimore" - Rashi comments that this is one of THREE places where Moshe requested a response from Hashem. However, we recently discussed Rashi on Bmidbar 12:13 who mentioned that Moshe requested a response in FOUR places. As well, a question was raised on Rashi from Shmos 17:4, where Moshe also asked Hashem for a response to his question. Why didn't Rashi add this FIFTH place to his list? Actually, the Sifri says that Moshe requested a response from Hashem in FIVE places. An answer to why Rashi left out Shmos 17:4 was given at the end of Parshios Matos-Massei. It is repeated here: The Eimek HaN'tzi"v answers that Rabbi Elozor ben Azarioh only lists the places where LEIMORE covertly indicates that Moshe asked for a response. His direct statement was not a question, but by virtue of his saying LEIMORE, "to say," there is an indication that Moshe requested a response. From the context of the subject matter we derive what his question was. The verse in Shmos 17:4 is an overt question to Hashem. Therefore, Rabbi Elozor ben Azarioh does not include it in his list.
How do we explain Rashi's only mentioning THREE places here? Answer next week.
Ch. 3, v. 24: "Atoh hachilosoh" - The M.R. Dvorim Ch. 2 says that when Moshe beseeched Hashem for permission to enter Eretz Yisroel, Hashem responded with "Rav loch" (3:26), meaning that you Moshe have a master, Yehoshua. Since it was destined for Yehoshua to become the leader at a certain time, Moshe could no longer continue as the leader, as this would encroach upon Yehoshua's reign. Moshe then requested to enter the land as a common man. To this Hashem responded with "Al asher m'altem bi" (Dvorim 32:51) - You may not enter since you have disobeyed Me.
Why didn't Hashem immediately respond with the second remark, which pre-empts Moshe's second request?
The P'ninim Y'korim answers that we find the Medrash Tanchumoh Dvorim #6 relates the following dialogue: Moshe, upon hearing that his sin would not be forgiven and that he would in turn not be allowed entry into Eretz Yisroel, asked Hashem, "Behold the bnei Yisroel have sinned numerous times and You decreed negatively upon them, and yet You have forgiven them. If so, why won't You forgive me as well, and retract the edict that I may not enter the land? Hashem responded that one cannot equate an edict issued against a lone person to an edict issued against a congregation. The edict issued against a congregation is more readily rescinded.
The gemara Taanis 9a says that Moshe is equated to a congregation since he is needed by them. If so, Moshe, as their leader, rightfully claimed that he should be forgiven, as is the precedent when dealing with a congregation. To this Hashem responded that upon entry to the land Yehoshua will be bnei Yisroel's leader, and Moshe will no longer have the status of being needed by the congregation, "rabim tzrichim lo." Therefore the sin of "Asher m'altem bi" will not be forgiven, and Moshe rightfully will not merit to enter the land.
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.
Ch. 4, v. 4: "V'a'tem hadveikim baShem Elokeichem chaim kulchem ha'yom" - There are 248 words in the three chapters of Krias Shma including the added word EMES after the two final words "Hashem Elokeichem." These 248 words correspond to the 248 positive Torah precepts. The spiritual life source of a person's 248 organs comes from the 248 positive mitzvos. By attaching the word EMES, the same letters as ATTEM, "v'ATTEM hadveikim," to the words "Hashem Elokeichem" which are the final words of Krias Shma, all 248 organs receive their spiritual life source, "chaim kulchem." (Degel Macha'neh Efraim)
Ch. 4, v. 5: "Laasose kein b'kerev ho'oretz" - The Arvei Nachal says that the Torah is teaching us that it is Hashem's will that we fulfill the mitzvos in a down to earth, physical manner, "b'kerev ho'oretz," and not by being removed from this world.
Ch. 4, v. 15: "V'nishmartem m'ode l'nafshoseichem" - 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 to 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. 4, v. 23: "Hishomru lochem ...... va'asisem lochem t'munas kol ASHER TZIVCHO Hashem Elokecho" - Shouldn't the verse say "asher LO tzivcho?" The Kotzker Rebbe answers that the verse is telling us that when we do a mitzvoh which Hashem has indeed commanded us, we should not fulfill it in a "picture" form. A picture is a copy of an original. If the motivation to do a mitzvoh is only by being a copy of someone else's doing it, we lack the proper approach.
Ch. 4, v. 39: "Bashomayim mimaal v'al ho'oretz mitochas" - The Chid"oh interprets these words to mean that regarding HEAVENLY matters, "bashomayim," we should look upwards, "mimaal." We should not rest on our laurels, but rather realize that there is upward room for improvement. However regarding physical matters, "v'al ho'oretz," we should be satisfied, saying that there is always a situation that could be lower or worse, "mitochas." The Orchos Chaim authored by the Rosh lists many moral directives. In #59 he says that regarding the physical one should always see that there is someone below him. In #81 he says that regarding the spiritual one should always realize that there is someone above him.
Ch. 5, v. 12,15: "SHOMORE, V'zocharto ki e'ved hoyiso b'eretz Mitzrayim" - Compare to Shmos 20:8,11: "ZOCHOR es yom haShabbos ...... Ki sheishes yomim - Remember the Sabbath day ...... Because in six days Hashem made the heavens and the earth and He rested on the seventh day." The Torah commands us to keep the Shabbos in these Ten Commandments with very different reasoning from that found in the second time in Dvorim 5:12,15, "Shomor es yom haShabbos ...... V'zocharto ki e'ved ho'yiso ...... va'yotziacho Hashem - "Guard the Sabbath day... And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Hashem, your G-d, has taken you out from there." "Zochor - remember" is explained to differentiate Sabbath from the six weekdays.
"Shomor - guard" is explained to express our holy covenant, forged by our leaving Egypt [and accepting Torah at Har Sinai]. Why are two different explanations used for these two commandments? "Remember the Shabbos," commands us to remember one specific day each week. Its explanation must focus on why that particular day is unique. Therefore, the Torah explains, "Because in six days Hashem has created the heavens and the earth ...... and Hashem rested on the seventh day." Remembering Shabbos differentiates it from the other days.
"Guard the Sabbath" commands us to not do creative work on Shabbos. Refraining from creative work does not differentiate Shabbos from other workdays, as one can refrain from creative work on any other day of the week as well. Rather, "Guard the Shabbos" expresses a more intimate connection with Hashem, Who created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The explanation leads to another question. If all human beings were created by Hashem, why don't they all share the mitzvah of Shabbos? To this the Torah says, "You were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Hashem has taken YOU out ......"
The bnei Yisroel have a special connection to Hashem, which was forged upon their leaving Egypt and having accepted their unique spiritual mission at Har Sinai through their "kabolas haTorah." Thus, only they are commanded to keep this special, intimate, and divine connection. (Mahara"l of Prague in Tiferes Yisroel, chapter #44)
Ch. 5, v. 15: "V'zocharto ki e'ved hoyiso b'eretz Mitzrayim" - In the first listing of the Ten Commandments the Torah says regarding the Shabbos that you should remember that Hashem created the heavens and earth and ceased from creating on the seventh day (Shmos 20:11). My friend Y.R. explained these two reasons for keeping the Shabbos, as a remembrance of the cessation from work and that Hashem redeemed us from Egypt as follows: A poor man and a rich man both have challenges in refraining from desecrating the holy Shabbos. The rich man has a large multi-branched business which is very productive. For him to grind this massive business to a halt is quite a formidable task. Hashem addresses him by saying, "Do you run a greater business than Mine? I was actively creating the world, with sweeping developments taking place worldwide, effecting even the furthest galaxies. Yet, I have closed down shop for the sanctity of Shabbos. You can surely do so as well."
The poor man has the situation of barely being able to put a piece of dry stale bread into his mouth. He has the challenge of refraining from work on Shabbos and not having anything to eat, etc. Hashem addresses him by saying, "Remember that I took you and your nation out of Egypt. There you were even more downtrodden than you are in your present situation. Even the lowest level of destitution as a free man is preferable to the enslavement in Egypt. Since I redeemed you, you have the responsibility to adhere to my command of refraining from desecrating the holy Shabbos.
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 invalidate 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 they 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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