CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS EIKEV 5766 - BS"D
1) Ch. 8, v. 3: "Va'y'ancho va'yari'vecho va'yaachilcho es hamon" - And He
caused you pain and He caused you to hunger and He fed you the manna. How do
these three concepts flow?
2) Ch. 8, v. 4: "Simlos'cho lo volsoh mei'o'lecho" - Why didn't their clothes
3) Ch. 10, v. 21: "Hu s'hilos'cho" - He is your praise. What does this mean?
4) Ch. 11, v. 4: "Va'y'ab'deim Hashem ad ha'yom ha'zeh" - The Egyptians who
were drowned are gone forever, not only until "this day," meaning forty years
after the splitting of the Yam Suf.
5) Ch. 11, v. 6: "Va'asher ossoh l'Doson v'laAvirom .. asher potz'so ho'oretz
es piho vativlo'eim" - Why does the verse mention the earth's swallowing
Doson and Avirom, and not mention the swallowing of the leader of the revolt,
Answer to questions on parshas Vo'es'chanan:
1) Ch. 3, v. 23: "Vo'es'chanan" - Rashi says that Moshe said 515 prayers to
Hashem, begging to be allowed entrance to Eretz Yisroel. The numerical value
of the letters in the word, "vo'es'chanan" is 515.
Why did Moshe not pray for Aharon to live longer and enter Eretz Yisroel when
he was advised of Aharon's imminent death?
1) The Rashbam says that Moshe waited approximately a year before davening
to Hashem, hoping that with the passage of time, Hashem would be forgiving. By
the time Moshe davened, Aharon was no longer living.
The Haf'lo'ah in his commentary on the Torah, "Ponim Yofos" gives numerous
answers to this question in the parsha of Chukas, where Aharon's death is
2) In truth, Moshe would have accepted Hashem's edict and would have davened
for neither Aharon or himself. The only reason he davened for himself was
because he reasoned that once he was allowed entry into the territory of Sichon
and Og, which were an inheritance for two and a half tribes, he thought that
possibly Hashem had rescinded His vow.
3) Aharon died on the first day of Menachem Av. Moshe lived through another
Yom Kippur. His hope was that through the cleansing effect of going through
another Yom Kippur and his teshuvoh, his sin would be forgiven. However, this
did not happen, as Yom Kippur does not fully atone for a Chilul Hashem(see
mishnoh at end of meseches Yoma).
4) Moshe became angry at "Mei Merivoh." Anger causes a person to lose his
better judgment. Aharon did not become angry. Moshe felt that his sin was
perhaps mitigated by the fact that he was angry, thus bringing it into the realm
of an accidental sin. However, this was not the case, as in situations of
Chilul Hashem, even accidental sins are dealt with stringently. (See Pirkei Avos)
5) Hashem told Moshe that Aharon should ascend the mountain, where he would
die, so Moshe felt that it would be futile to daven. Moshe was only told that
he would not lead the nation into Eretz Yisroel. No mention was made of his
death. He was therefore hopeful that he could enter Eretz Yisroel as a
6) Moshe was apprised that Elozor would take over for his father. Once there
is a prophecy that is beneficial for someone, it cannot be rescinded if
transmitted through another prophet, in this case Moshe.
2) Ch. 4, v. 14: "Laasos'chem osom BO'ORETZ" - Aren't mitzvos to be kept
outside of Eretz Yisroel as well?
1) Rabbi Shimshon R'fo'el Hirsch points out that the bnei Yisroel are
responsible for all mitzvos outside of Eretz Yisroel as well, save the mitzvos that
are land bound or Mikdosh connected. The intention of our verse is to say that
we should do them in any location, as indicated by the cantellation of
"zokeif koton" on "laasos'chem osom," indicating a stop in the phrase before the
word "bo'oretz". This means that the mitzvos are to be fulfilled everywhere.
Afterwards there is the add-on of "bo'oretz," where the mitzvos are done in the
best manner (See Ramban Dvorim 11:18).
2) The Meshech Chochmoh explains these words by saying that "laasos'chem"
means to FORCE you to comply, as we find in the gemara K'suvos 77a, "Ein M'ASIN
ello lifsulos." On the basis of the words of the Rashb"o on the gemara Shabbos
88a the Meshech Chochmoh says that the rule of the religious courts forcing
people to fulfill positive mitzvos (K'suvos 86a) only applies once the bnei
Yisroel live in Eretz Yisroel. Thus, "laasos'chem osom," - to FORCE you to do
them is only "bo'oretz."
3) Perhaps another explanation can be offered along the lines of the Meshech
Chochmoh. In the desert when people did not comply with Hashem's mitzvos He
furthered the manna from them and their portions required much preparation
before being edible, as mentioned in the gemara Yoma 75a. However, Hashem always
gave them manna even if they sinned greatly. However, upon entering Eretz
Yisroel, the Torah says, "Hishomru lochem ...... v'sartem, v'otzar es hashomayim
v'lo y'h'yeh mottor v'ho'adomoh lo si'tein es y'vuloh va'avadtem m'heiroh
......" (Dvorim 11:16,17). Hashem clearly tells us that when not complying in Eretz
Yisroel He will force us to do the mitzvos under threat of otherwise being
driven from the land through lack of sustenance. (Nirreh li)
3) 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 - It sounds as if ch"v Hashem has
commanded to YES make a form of a deity. How are we to understand these words?
1) 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)
4) Ch. 5, v. 6,7 : "Onochi Hashem Elo'kecho, Lo yi'h'yeh l'cho elohim
acheirim" - When the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf Moshe spoke in their
defense. The M.R. Shmos 47:9 says that Moshe said that since our two verses
which command that the bnei Yisoel believe only in Hashem and not in false gods is
expressed in the singular form, "Elo'keCHO" and "Lo y'h'yeh L'CHO," perhaps
the command was only given to Moshe and not to them. How is it possible for
Moshe to use such a defense? Did he not tell the bnei Yisroel that in the merit
of accepting the Torah after their deliverance from Egypt, they would be
allowed to leave Egypt? Were they not told to prepare numerous days for the giving
of the Torah? It is therefore impossible to say that all their preparation was
only for being relegated spectator status!
1) In his essays on Shovuos, Rabbi Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer asks this in
the name of his ancestor the Chasam Sofer, and answers that indeed we find that
Moshe made no attempt to provide a defense for those who actually sinned by
worshipping the golden calf. To the contrary, he preceded to assemble a small
army of those who would kill the guilty people, and those who were not warned
by witnesses were punished by Heavenly intervention and were killed by a
plague. Finally, those who were not known to have sinned were tested by being given
a brew of golden calf dust to drink, which brought about the death of those
who were guilty (see Rashi on Shmos 32:20 d.h. "va'yashk"). We do not find that
Moshe prayed or did anything else to stop this from happening. Moshe's
defense, he posits, was to avoid having the bnei Yisroel being held responsible as
"a'reivim," guarantors that others would not sin. Indeed, we find that the Torah
was given only on the condition that the bnei Yisroel take responsibility one
for another, as mentioned in the M.R. Shmos 27:9. He quotes a Medrash
Tanchuma that the singular form used in the first two Commandments teaches that each
person would take responsibility for the acts of his fellow ben Yisroel.
However, Moshe claimed that only he was responsible for "arvus," "li tziviso v'lo
lo'hem," understanding that the singular terms were directly only to him. This
is why he said "m'cheini noh misif'r'cho" (Shmos 32:32). (I have found a
Medrash Tanchuma in parshas Nitzovim ch. #2 that says that the leader has a unique
"arvus" responsibility for the acts of all of the bnei Yisroel.) To this
Hashem responded that even Moshe was not held responsible, as "arvus" would only
begin later as mentioned in Rashi on parshas Nitzovim (29:28). Thus Hashem tells
Moshe, "Leich n'chei es ho'om el asher di'barti loch." Lead the nation to the
place that I have told you, i.e. Eretz Yisroel, because only there would
"arvus" come into effect.
2) Possibly another explanation of this most enigmatic medrash can be given
based on the words of the N'tzi"v. I feel it is appropriate to mention that
the words of the N'tzi"v are most crucial to understand why the Torah oft-times
tells us a ruling in a very direct forward manner, "pshuto shel mikro," and
sometimes it is necessary to derive an understanding of the intention of the
verse through one of the thirteen exegetical rules through which the Torah is
explained, known as the "Breisa of Rebbi Yishmoel" at the beginning of the
medrash on Vayikroh. In Vayikroh 21:5 the verse deals with three prohibitions for
Kohanim. The first is against ripping out hair as a form of mourning. The
N'tzi"v points out that the way it is expressed in this verse, "b'roshom," which
when wearing a head covering is a hidden place, is stricter than the expression
in Dvorim 14:1, the prohibition for all bnei Yisroel, "bein ei'neichem,"
indicating a restriction only in a prominent location. Similarly, regarding the
prohibition against cutting one's beard with a razor which is mentioned next in
the verse, it says "lo y'ga'leichu," even a minimal shaving, while by bnei
Yisroel it says "v'lo sash'chis" (Vayikra 19:28), not to destroy by shaving, again
a stricter expression by Kohanim. As well, regarding the prohibition against
scraping one's flesh as an act of mourning, the final prohibition in the verse,
he also points out in Vayikroh 19:28 that it is expressed more stringently by
Kohanim, not mentioning "lo'nefesh," as it does by bnei Yisroel. He says that
by way of "droshoh," exegetical rules, all that applies to a Kohein applies
to the rest of bnei Yisroel as well, so their halochos are exactly the same.
On Vayikroh 19:27 d.h. "lo sakifu" he says that although the halochos are the
same for all, by virtue of the fact that the Torah OPENLY expresses stricter
terms by Kohanim, they are liable to greater punishments that are meted out by
the Heavenly court. His words: "D'b'mokome hamforosh baTorah ho'onesh bi'dei
shomayim chomur mi'ma shenilmad b'kaboloh bigzeiroh shovoh u'chdomeh." He refers
us to the words of Tosfos on the gemara Yoma 44a d.h. "mai lav," who ask why
the Rabbis instituted a restriction as a safeguard against transgressing a
Torah prohibition in one situation, and did not do so in another case that seems
to have the same concern. Tosfos answers that the Rabbis were more concerned
when the Torah prohibition is clearly spelled out in the Torah, as in the
former case, than by the latter case, although also a Torah prohibition, because
that prohibition is derived and not clearly stated. According to the words of
the N'tzi"v, the seemingly enigmatic words of the Tosfos are readily understood.
Given this most basic understanding of the difference between that which is
derived and that which is explicitly spelled out by the Torah, perhaps we can
say that Moshe's defense was that although it is well understood that the first
two Commandments were directed to all the bnei Yisroel, nevertheless, they
were not expressed as such, with the simple words seeming to be aimed at Moshe.
If so, the bnei Yisroel do not deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent
of the law.
5) 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. How do we derive these three seemingly disparate laws from these two words?
Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that these 3 concepts, "chein, 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.
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH. FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY.
FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, KINDLY SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@AOL.COM
See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh
V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights