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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Parshas Bereishis


Ch. 33, v. 4: "Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe" - Moshe commanded us the Torah - The Torah has four levels, whose mnemonic is "PaRDeiS," "p'shat, remez, drush," and "sode," straight-forward explanation, allusion, exegesic, and hidden. The holiest level, "sode," is called "Toras emes." This is because the other levels can be fathomed to an extent by anyone, even if he has no great character qualities. However, to merit understanding the Holy Torah on the level of "sode," one must have acquired the trait of humility. This is called EMeS, Alef-Mem-Tof, which is an acronym for humility. Avrohom said that he is "Eifer," ash. Moshe said "nachnu Moh," of what value are we. King Dovid said, "v'onochi Solaas," I am but a worm. (Heard from Rabbi Ben Tzion Feldman shlit"a, R"M in Yeshivas Satmar)

Ch. 33, v. 4: "ToraH tzivoH lonU MosheH moroshoH k'hilaS YaakoV" - Moshe commanded us the Torah it is the inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov - The final letters of these words has the numerical value of 428, the same as the word "ChaTaCH, Ches-Tof-Chof. This the name invoked for livelihood, taken from the final letters of the words "Posei'aCH eS Yo'deCHo" (T'hilim 145:16). Perhaps this allusion is placed here and specifically in FINAL letters to teach us the maxim of the mishnoh Kidushin 82a, "I leave over teaching my son all crafts, livelihoods, and will teach him only Torah." This is the "moroshoh," the inheritance we should give our children "while we are still alive," as indicated by "moroshoh," more of a present form, as in "morish," than the word "y'rushoh," a future form. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 33, v. 5: "Va'y'hi vIshurun melech b'hisa'seif roshei om yachad shivtei Yisroel" - And there was in Yeshurun a king when the leaders of the nation assembled in unity the tribes of Yisroel - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on Breishis 49:1-2 says that when Yaakov had his sons assemble before him to receive his blessings, in unison they said the verse "Shma Yisroel .." (Dvorim 6:4). This is the verse of acceptance of Hashem's kingship over us. We can thus say that our verse refers to this happening. There was "with Yeshurun" (an exulted name of Yaakov) acceptance of the King, when the leaders of the nation assembled. This was when the tribes of Yisroel were in unison. (Da'mesek Eliezer)

This verse coming on the heels of the previous verse, "Torah tzivoh .." is explained by the Mahari"l Diskin as follows: Countries are ruled in one of three manners. Either there is one despot who rules, and absolutely everyone must comply with his every wish and whim. Another system is that the country is run by a very limited group of people who make up its constitution. Lastly, there is a system (at least theoretically) where everyone is equal, and the leaders are put into their positions through an open and fair vote. No matter which system one lives under, the rules of the Holy Torah are immutable.

This is "Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe." It is a permanent set of rules whether we live under "Va'y'hi vIshurun melech," a king who rules single-handedly, or "b'hisa'seif roshei om," we have the country run by a select few who have taken this position by themselves, or "yachad shivtei Yisroel," where everyone is equal.

Ch. 33, v. 19: "V'liZvulun omar smach Zvulun" - And to Zvulun he said rejoice Zvulun - Rashi explains the repetition of the noun of direct address by Zvulun, as well as by Gad, Don, Naftoli, and Osher. They were the weakest of the tribes and this repetition of their names gave them vigour. This seems most puzzling. Rashi on the next verse d.h. "k'lovi" states that only "giborim" can live at the border, and that is why Gad had a border allotment. Rashi on Dvorim 3:18 d.h. "lifnei" clearly states that the tribes of Reuvein and Gad were the strongest and they were at the head of the army. Mosaf Rashi d.h. "v'toraf" (verse 20) also states that the people of Gad were "giborim."

Perhaps we can differentiate between the strength of the tribe as a whole in the desert and afterwards and their ancestor Gad. Rashi might actually give us a hint to this by stating that these 5 were the weakest as shown by Yoseif's sending them as the family's representatives. From this we cannot conclude that the descendants of this tribe were also weak. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 34, v. 5: "Va'yomos shom Moshe" - And Moshe died there - The gemara B.B. 15a asks how Moshe was able to write that he died, as at the time of writing it would not be true. Rabbi Nechemioh answers that until this verse Hashem would dictate, Moshe would verbalize and write. From this verse on Hashem would dictate and Moshe would write "b'dema," commonly translated as with tears. Why did Moshe verbalize before he wrote the previous section of the Torah, and only write without verbalizing from this verse on, as indicated by the gemara not mentioning his verbalizing the last eight verses? (Actually, on the gemara M'nochos 30a, Tosfos d.h. "u'Moshe" has another text in the gemara where the word "v'omar" is not present.) This is because these verses contain the most powerful accolades and heap honour upon Moshe. He had no choice but to write these words, but did not want to also verbalize them. (Shaa'rei Simchoh) Alternatively, the above-mentioned Tosfos on the gemara M'nochos says that if the correct text includes "v'omar," halacha would require the scribe to verbalize each word of the Torah before it is written. The GR"A explains "b'dema" differently. Based on the words of the Ramban in his preface to Breishis, he says that the Torah existed in the heavens in a different form, (either having all its words run on as per the Ramban), or although containing all the letters that our Torah contains, it had them assembled differently, creating different words. This in turn gave the Torah a different meaning. (The Radbaz says that this was the Torah that the angels wanted should remain in the heavens, as mentioned in the gemara Shabbos 88b.) Moshe writing "b'dema" means he wrote these last eight verses "mixed," i.e. in an order that had a different meaning. "B'dema" is sourced from the word form "dimua." Perhaps the requirement to verbalize the holy words of the Torah before they are written is limited to writing them in the form that was transmitted to us humans, hence the requirement for a human to say the words before they are written. Moshe, however, wrote these verses in a heavenly order, thus not necessitating his verbalizing them. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 34, v. 7: "U'Moshe ben mei'oh v'esrim shonoh b'moso lo chohasoh eino v'lo nos leichoh" - And Moshe was 120 years old at his death his eye did not fade and his moisture/youth did not depart - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that "v'lo nos leichoh" means that he did not lose his teeth in his old age. Targumim Onkelos and Yerushalmi both say that it means that the shine of his face did not leave him.

Rashi adds that the verse's intention is not only during his lifetime, but even after death he was not subject to the normal deterioration of the sparkle of one's eyes leaving and having a sallow facial appearance.

The gemara B.B. 17a goes beyond this and says that Moshe was one of 7 people whose bodies did not decompose, nor were they subject to attack by maggots. They are Avrohom, Yitzchok, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Miriam, and Binyomin ben Yaakov. The gemara adds an opinion that there was an 8th person as well, King Dovid.

Rabbeinu Bachyei says that all this is alluded to in the words "V'lo hivish v'rimoh lo hoysoh bo" (Shmos 16:24). "V'lo hivish" can be read as "v'lo Hei-Beis ish," and not 5+2 (=7) man, "v'rimoh lo hoysoh," there was no maggot infestation. As well, the opinion that there was an 8th person who merited this miracle is alluded to as well. "V'rimoh lo hoysoh Beis-Vov," and there was no infestation of worms in 2+6 (=8).

Ch. 34, v. 9: "Va'yishmu eilov bnei Yisroel va'yaasu kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe" - And they listened to him and they did as Hashem commanded Moshe - The gemara Megiloh 2b says that we derive from the words "ei'leh hamitzvos" (Vayikra 27:34) that no prophet may give us new mitzvos based on hearing them from Hashem, as did Moshe, "ein novi r'sho'i l'cha'deish dovor mei'atoh."

This is the intention of our verse. Although the bnei Yisroel accepted all that Yehoshua told them, they did this only as per the commands of Hashem to Moshe, not al new commands from Hashem transmitted through Yehoshua. (The Holy Alshich)




See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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