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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 31, v. 6: "Uvleiv kol chochom nosati chochmoh" - And into the heart of each wise man I have given wisdom - People are sometimes caught off-guard when they sometimes find themselves in a touchy situation which involves possibly transgressing the Torah's laws. It is in such situations that Hashem gives a blitz of wisdom to extricate themselves, leaving them free of sin and at the same time not being caught in a socially touchy situation. Rav Gershon Kalivansky worked together with goyim in Russia. One day they decided to give themselves a short break and socialize. One of the goyim pulled out a bottle of wine and said that each of them should take a large swig of the wine and bless the assemblage. They began this "ritual" and Rav Gershon was flustered, not knowing how to get out of this pleasantly. Suddenly he burst out when it was his turn, "You wimps! Is this a way to make 'freilich' and bestow a blessing? Get me a bottle of vodka and I'll show you how a proud Russian drinks!" A bottle of vodka appeared, to no one's surprise and he took a large shot of vodka, something he never before had done. (Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein in Borchi Nafshi)

Similarly, a woman donated generously to Rabbi Kahaneman zt"l for the Ponevezh Yeshiva. It happened that on an occasion she actually met him face to face and stuck ot her hand to him in a greeting. He immediately reacted by placing his hands on his temples and in an animated, loud voice showed excitement in meeting her, going on to praise her great generosity at length. Needless to say, her hands eventually went limp and fell to her sides.

Ch. 31, v. 13: "V'ATOH t'da'beir el bnei Yisroel leimore ACH es ShabbsoSAI tishmoru" - Why do we have the seemingly superfluous word V'ATOH, as we know that Hashem is commanding Moshe? What is the intention of predicating the command to safeguard the Shabbos with the word ACH, a word that connotes limitation (gemara Yerushalmi Brochos 9:7). What is meant by the suffix at the end of the word "ShabbsoSAI," MY Shabbosos?

On the words in parshas Shmos "Va'yar b'sivlosom" (2:11) the M.R. 1:28 says that Moshe said that the bnei Yisroel could no longer endure such harsh slavery. He went to Paroh and stated that he who drives his slave so harshly and does not give him a day of rest will grind him to death. Paroh agreed and said, "Tell the bnei Yisroel that they are granted a weekly day of rest." Moshe designated the day of Shabbos for this rest.

We now have an answer for all three questions. V'ATOH, specifically YOU, who once told the bnei Yisroel to not work on Shabbos so that they may rest their weary bodies, now tell them ACH, exclude the previous reason that Shabbos is for resting the body, but rather tell them a new reason for safeguarding; it is ONLY because the Shabbosos are MINE, a sign between Me and you, "ki ose hee beini u'veineichem." (Ari z"l brought in the Nachal K'dumim)

Ch. 32, v. 3: "Va'yisporku kol ho'om es nizmei hazohov asher b'ozneihem" - And all the nation unloaded themselves of the golden rings that were in their ears - The gemara Shkolim makes a startling remark: How can we read this verse and not be shocked? We find for the good that when the bnei Yisroel were asked to donate for the Mishkon and its accruements they were exceedingly generous. For the bad we find that when they were asked to donate gold for the calf they likewise were very generous. Rabbi Elozor bar Abba commented that it is most difficult to grasp the nature of this nation.

Ch. 32, v. 17: "Kol ho'om b'rei'o(h)" - The voice of the nation in its bad behaviour - This word ends with a letter Hei and is pronounced as if it were a Vov. The Hei alludes to five sins that were perpetrated, eating/drinking, frolicking, bowing, slaughtering offerings, and dancing to music. (Baal Haturim) An alternate explanation for the Hei: They blew a shofar with five assorted sounds for the golden calf, akin to the five shofar blasts before the golden idol of Nevuchadnetzar. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

Ch. 32, v. 18: "Ein kole anose gevuroh v'ein kole anose chalushoh, kole chalose onochi sho'mei'a" - There is not a voice of the strong and there is not a voice of the weak I hear a united voice of song - Had I heard the voice of the victorious and also the voice of woe of the conquered, those who fought against serving the golden calf, there would be hope that the few would save the many, as we find by S'dom. Hashem agreed to Avrohom to not destroy S'dom even if only ten righteous people would be found among them. (Mahari"l Diskin)

Ch. 32, v. 19: "Va'yar es ho'eigel umcholos" - And he saw the calf and the dancing in circles - A very Chasidic style vort: And he saw the calf and also the "forgiveness" that would come. Surprisingly this is from Rabbeinu Bachyei citing a medrash.

Ch. 32, v. 19: "Va'y'sh'bair osom tachas ho'hor" - And he shattered them at the foot of the mountain - The bnei Yisroel accepted the Torah with coercion, "b'sachtis horoh," which the gemara Shabbos 88 says means that they were under the mountain and were threatened that either they accept the Torah or the mountain would drop upon them and finish them off. Moshe shattered the tablets "tachas hohor," as he saw the result of coercion. (n.l.)

Ch. 34, v. 6: "Hashem Hashem" - The gemara R.H. 17b tells us that when the 13 attributes of mercy are invoked Hashem always responds positively. There is a disagreement among the commentaries on how the 13 attributes are apportioned among the words of this and the next verse. The gemara says that the double word Hashem refers to mercy for the sinner, once before he sins and once after he sins. The Riv"o asks, "Why is it necessary to have mercy before one has sinned?" He answers that since Hashem knows what the future will bring, even before the sin there is a need for mercy. This surely deserves an explanation. How does Hashem's knowledge beforehand create a need for mercy for a person who is free of all sin?

Perhaps this can be answered with the words of the Ramban on Dvorim 29:18. On the words "Pen yeish bochem shoresh poreh rosh v'laanoh" the Ramban writes that although a person has not sinned he sometimes does actions which will lead him or his descendants on the path of sin. This is called a "shoresh," a root of sin, which will later develop into a full-blown sin. He says that sometimes this takes place in the realm of thought only, but that is enough to get one started down the road to sin. This explains why sometimes a righteous person has a child who ch"v does not follow the path of the Torah. Perhaps this is the level of "before sinning" to which the Riv"o refers in his explanation of the gemara, when a person has laid the ground for sinning in the future.

The Holy Kotzker Rebbe says that forgiveness is required for one who feels that he is perfect and has not sinned.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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