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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Haazinu

Show Hashem's Majesty

"When I call out the name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our G-d" (Devarim 32:3). This verse seems a bit puzzling. Can I bring greatness to Hashem just by calling out His name? Firstly, how does calling out a name bring greatness? Perhaps describing Hashem's awesome deeds can bring greatness. But what can merely calling out His name do? Furthermore, how can one bring greatness to the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He? He is the Creator of the Universe. All of the awesome glory and splendor are His. What can be added to that? Lastly, even if it is possible to ascribe greatness to Hashem in some way, who am I to do that? I am nothing but a creature of flesh and blood.

The Malbim has a deep and novel explanation of this verse. The "name of Hashem" refers to the Torah. Whenever the Torah uses the phrase, "calling out," it is referring to publicizing. Therefore "calling out Hashem's name" is publicizing the Torah.

How do the Jewish people publicize the Torah? By learning and keeping its mitzvos. We conduct ourselves differently than the rest of the world. We keep Hashem's Holy Torah. The world sees this and realizes that we live a different life; a life of holiness and purity according to the Torah. This is the Torah's best publicity. What happens next?

"Ascribe greatness to our G-d." The Malbim explains that if Klal Yisrael will keep the Torah, then Hashem will dwell among them. This concept requires some explanation. How can the Almighty dwell amongst a people of flesh and blood down here on this physical world? The answer is that Hashem's hashgacha - His personal supervision - will be upon Klal Yisrael. It will be visible to all. Everyone will see with their eyes and realize that the Almighty is personally taking care of His holy nation. His Presence will be revealed in this world through His deeds.

When the Jewish people properly keep the mitzvos, the receive Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance) above and beyond the "laws of nature." They are protected from all kinds of natural dangers and disasters, and succeed in their spiritual and physical efforts in spectacular fashion. However, when the holy nation does not do what is required of them, the "laws of nature" that protect the other nations do not apply to them. They are tormented and defeated by the nations with a cruelty that is unknown on the face of this earth.

And so, when the world studies Jewish history they see that the "laws of nature" are in Hashem's Hand. When His chosen people please Him, He lifts them above nature. When they anger Him, even nature cannot help them. The world realizes that even nature is under the control of the Almighty. He is The Only Power in heaven and earth. This is Hashem's greatness. This brings untold majesty to His Name.

Therefore, all of the questions are answered. "When I call out the name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our G-d." I call out the name of Hashem by keeping His mitzvos. This causes His Divine Presence to dwell among Klal Yisrael. The world sees His Hashgacha on His holy nation, above and beyond the laws of nature. This is the expression of His true greatness, that He is the Almighty, All Powerful, Creator, and Ruler of the universe.

Kinderlach . . .

We can do something very special; very wonderful, we can show Hashem's greatness. We can demonstrate to the world that the Almighty, and not the "laws of nature" rule the universe. How? By keeping the mitzvos. When we keep the mitzvos, the Shechina (Divine Presence) dwells amongst us. Hashem's hashgacha guides us above the laws of nature. The world sees and realizes that the Creator of the universe created nature, and controls it with His guiding hand. How great is the Being who controls the sun and stars, the wind and rain, the rivers and seas! He feeds the billions and trillions of living creatures every day! His awesome might and unfathomable wisdom are the ultimate greatness! "When I call out the name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our G-d!"


"Look out of the window, Abba. It is raining!"

"Wonderful, kinderlach. I'll be right back."

"Where are you going, Abba?"

"I'll tell you when I come back."

The Abba grabs his raincoat, boots and hurries outside. He returns in a few minutes, sopping wet.

"Abba, why did you go out and get all wet?"

"I opened up the underground water tank, kinderlach."

"What is that Abba?"

"We have a series of troughs and pipes on our land which collect rain water. They flow into a big tank. I open that tank when the rain comes. It fills up with water. Then in the summertime, when there is no rain, I turn on the pumping system, and irrigate the fields with the stored rain water."

"I never realized that, Abba. Do you know that our water system is a parable for learning and teaching Torah?"

"What a vivid imagination you have, Chaim. Please share the parable with me."

"It is actually found in the Sifrei (2:2) on this week's parasha. The verse states, 'May My teaching drop like rain' (Devarim 32:2). Rebbe Dostoi the son of Rebbe Yehuda says, 'If you gather in the words of Torah, just as the irrigators gather water into the tank, in the end you will flow (with words of Torah), and give to others.' As the verse states, 'Drink water from your own cistern, and flowing water from your own well. Then your springs will spread outwards' (Mishlei 5:15). Rashi explains that the cistern is the vessel that the Almighty gave us - the Torah. You will reach the point where the words of Torah flow like water from a well. Finally, you will teach others, and your Torah will spread out to the world like a spring."

"That is beautiful, Chaim. May our humble watering system inspire you to become a wellspring of Torah, teaching students far and wide."


Kinderlach . . .

Now is the time to gather in the water. Your years in Talmud Torah and Yeshiva are times of heavy rain (so to speak). Words of Torah are there to be taken. Your teachers are anxious to teach you; your parents and study partners are all there to help you learn. Open the valves wide and fill up the tank with Torah, Torah, Torah. Kinderlach, B'ezrat Hashem you will become a wellsprings of Torah, overflowing with wisdom and seichel (common sense). Others will come to hear you, and drink thirstily your words of Torah. About you the verse will say, "Your springs will spread outwards!"

Parasha Questions:

How did Hashem care for us in the midbar? (Rashi 32:12)

Why does the Torah call Yehoshua by his original name - Hoshea bin Nun? (32:44 and Rashi)

In which three places does the Torah use the expression "on that very day" and why? (Rashi 32:48)

Kinder Torah Copyright 2008 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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