Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
on the Weekly Parsha

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS VO'ES'CHANAN BS"D

Ch. 4, v. 14: "Laasos'chem osom BO'ORETZ" - 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).

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." 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 distanced 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.

Ch. 5, v. 14,15: "V'shorcho vachamorcho v'chol b'hemtecho , V'zocharto ki evved hoyiso b'eretz Mitzrayim" - In the version of the Ten Commandments in Shmos, when the command of remembering Shabbos is mentioned (20:10), there is no mention of refraining from having one's ox and donkey work. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that in the earlier version the Torah gives the reason for keeping Shabbos as a remembrance of the creation of the world (verse 21). Since all animals were included in the creation, a ben Yisroel is commanded to have his animals refrain from working, and there is no reason to point out any particular species. However, in our verse the Torah gives a second reason for keeping Shabbos, as a remembrance of our having been enslaved to Egypt and being redeemed by Hashem. This is of such great importance that Hashem has given us the mitzvos of tefillin (Shmos 13:16) as a remembrance on one's body, tzitzis (Bmidbar 15:41) on one's garments, and Shabbos and the Yom Tov of Pesach in the realm of time, as continual, repetitive reminders of the central event of the exodus from Egypt. Since the first-born of an ox and of a donkey have been sanctified as a remembrance of what transpired in Egypt and upon the bnei Yisroel's exodus (Shmos 13:12,13), one might think that there is no further need to exemplify this with an ox or a donkey. Therefore there is a need to specifically mention these two species as still falling under the rule of refraining from work on Shabbos.

I don't fully understand the words of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH. Although it is understood why the verse would not mention species whose first-born require no redemption, i.e. a horse, but there are others that do, such as a goat or a sheep. If so, why does the Torah specifically mention an ox?

Ch. 5, v. 16: "Ka'beid es ovicho v'es i'mecho kaasher tzivcho Hashem Elokecho" - Honour your father and your mother as Hashem has commanded you - Has Hashem not commanded us to fulfill all the mitzvos? If so, why is this stressed here? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the gemara Yerushalmi Kidushin 1:7 says that the mitzvoh of honouring one's parents comes quite easily to a person because his conscience tells him that it is the morally correct thing to do, since his parents have invested much emotional and financial effort in bringing him up.

However, Hashem wants us to bestow honour upon our parents even when they are totally not involved in our upbringing, just simply because they are our parents. This is most apply brought out by telling the generation of the desert to honour their parents even though almost all parental duties were dispensed with miraculously. Parents had no need to pursue a livelihood to sustain their children as they had manna. Clothes grew with the children and were cleaned and pressed by the Clouds of Glory, etc. This is why the Torah stresses "kaasher tzivcho Hashem Elokecho," to fulfill this mitzvoh solely because Hashem has commanded us to do so.

This also explains why these words do not appear in the earlier Ten Commandments which were told to the generation that left Egypt, as they brought up their children in Egypt with extreme difficulty.

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