תשע”טפ’ אחרי מות
Volume 28, Issue 8
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by DovFurer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
בחדש השביעי בעשור לחדש
“In the seventh month on the tenth of the month…” (16:29)
R’ Eliezer HaGadol teaches that the tenth day of Tishrei became the day of forgiveness when on that day Hashem forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf. At that time, Moshe descended from Har Sinai holding the second luchot and that day was bequeathed to Jews as the day of atonement for all time. Many of the practices observed on Yom Kippur, and in particular, the frequent recitation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, have this as their origin. Be that as it may, the sacrifices to be offered on this day are not the indispensable factor for atonement, as Ramban emphasizes (23:16). Since the destruction of the Temple, those sacrifices are replaced by fasting, prayer and the confession of our sins. (PirkeiD’Rabbi Eliezer)
“You must safeguard My rules and My ordinances, which a person must do to live by them.” (18:5)
The Hebrew phrase “to live by them” can also be read, “in order to imbue them with life-force.” This teaches us that not only do G-d’s commandments enhance our lives; by observing them, we bring them to life. For example, even the most carefully crafted tefillin cannot accomplish their purpose – thereby effecting a positive change in reality – until a Jewish man wears them.
Thus, we bring G-d’s plan for creation to fruition through fulfilling His commandments. Of course, in order to “enliven” G-d’s commandments, we ourselves must be “alive,” i.e., healthy, strong, happy, enthusiastic, and optimistic. (Something to Say)
The word אתם has the same letters as the word אמת – truth. Whoever will make truth the fundamental basis of his life, speaking truth, acknowledging truth, and behaving truthfully, וחי בהם, will earn a merit for long life. (DegelMachaneh Ephraim)
He shall live by them, his very life is dependent on the Torah. He shall not have any other life force other than the Torah and mitzvot as it is written: כי הם חיינו – for they are our life. That is why we make the bracha – אלקי נשמה – Who returns souls to dead bodies, right after the bracha on the Torah, to show that our very life is just from the Torah. (ChiddusheiHaRim)
The statement אני ה’, I am Hashem, is placed right before the list of immoral and forbidden practices, to tell us that these prohibitions do not run contrary top human nature, and therefore, are not too difficult to observe. Hashem tells us that is He Who created us and He knows our nature and what we are capable of. He assures us that we can refrain from these practices without harm to our bodies and if we keep these laws and decrees, we will live by them. (MeshechChochmah)
ושמרתם את חקתי ואת משפטי…וחי בהם
“You shall keep My statutes and My laws…and he shall live in them.” (18:5)
QUESTION: What does the Torah emphasize with the words “vechaibahem” – “he shall live in them”?
ANSWER: When a person is young and strong, Torah and mitzvot may not be his priority. He may be deeply involved in worldly matters and financial accomplishment. Upon becoming older and inactive, he may begin to study Torah and become occupied with the performance of mitzvot. Hashem negates such conduct and proclaims “These are My statutes and laws which a person should do while ‘vechaimbahem’ – when still full of life, young and vibrant.” (Sha’arei Simcha)
The phrase vechaibahem is rendered literally as “and he will live through them.” Train yourself to think that the main source of your life and vitality is the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvot. Thus, the rendering is vechai, “receive your life force,” bahem, “through them,” through Torah and mitzvot. (Chidushei Harim)
Rav Michel Berenbaumtz”lwould say: “Envy destroys peace of mind and a person’s happiness. An envious person’s life is full of suffering and resentment, for he is never happy with what he has. There are many people who could really enjoy life but they have a major problem; when they see others who are wealthier than them, they lose their piece of mind.”
A Wise Man would say: “The winner says: ‘It may be difficult but it’s possible.’ The loser says: ‘It might be possible but it’s too difficult!” (Torah Tavlin)F