תשע”ט פ’ דברים
Volume 30, Issue 1
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 Dov Furer, 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 Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
“These are the words…” (1:1)
Rashi points out that Moshe’s farewell address to Israel, which begins in this parsha, includes a review of all the times that Israel made G-d angry in the desert. Out of respect for the people, Moshe only alluded to these sins, although his purpose was rebuke, so that the people might improve their behavior.
Rav Michoel Weissmandel comments that if the people take these remonstrations to heart and faithfully observe the Torah and its mitzvot, the curses delineated in Parshat Ki Tavo, Vayelech and Ha’azinu will be transformed into blessings. If one counts 613 letters form the letter “ב” in the word דברים, one reaches the letter “ר”. Counting 613 letters from that point, one reaches the letter “כ”. Counting another 613 letters, one reaches the letter “ה”. The word ברכה – blessing – is thus spelled out by “jumps” of 613 letters, corresponding to the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. (Talellei Orot)
הואיל משה באר את התורה הזאת
“Moshe began to explain this law…” (1:5)
Rashi comments that Moshe expounded the Torah to Bnei Yisrael in the seventy primary languages of the world. Moshe wanted to repudiate the erroneous idea that Torah laws were designed only for life in the wilderness or in Eretz Yisrael, where the Jewish people lived as a homogeneous and isolated community, but these laws would have no validity for Jews among gentile nations.
By explaining the Torah in the seventy languages of the world, Moshe indicated that, quite the contrary, the Torah laws are universally binding, not limited to either space or time. They are to be observed by every Jewish person, regardless of location or historical period. (Kesav Sofer)
איכה אשא לבדי
“How can I alone carry…” (1:12)
The question Eichah, how, evokes man’s age-old tragedy, his sinful nature, which is the source of all his troubles. Thus, it is a reflection of Hashem’s call to Adam after the first sin, Ayeka – Where are you? (Breishit 3:9; see commentary there). The Zohar points out that the word is echoed again as the first word of the Book of Eicha – איכה ישבה בדד העיר, how the city lies desolate. That Book is read on Tisha B’Av and always in the same week when this parsha is read. Indeed, the great question in the week of Tisha B’Av is, where are you in life? (R’ Munk)
We are all charged with the same mission as Moshe: to educate and lead ourselves – as well as those over whom we have influence – in the ways of Torah. If we wonder how we can bear such a heavy responsibility, we should recall that when Moshe asked G-d the same question, G-d immediately provided him with a practical solution. Just as G-d gave Moshe the means to fulfill his mission, G-d gives us the means and resources to fulfill his mission, regardless of how difficult or overwhelming our responsibilities may appear to be. (Lubavitcher Rebbe)
“Men who are wise and knowledgeable….” (1:15)
Rashi observes that Moshe was unable to find נבנים – men with great understanding. Rav Shmuel Dovid Walkin wonders how this was possible, given that the generation of Jews who wandered in the desert are considered by Chazal to be a דור דעה – a knowing generation.
He explains that there is a fundamental difference between the quality of דעת – knowledge – and the quality of בינה – understanding. Moshe had already told the people that he felt that they were lacking this latter quality, for when he castigated them for participating in Korach’s rebellion, he faulted them for not having understood from his punishment meted out to Miriam how serious a crime it was to slander. (Talellei Orot)
לא תכירו פנים במשפט כקטן כגדל תשמעון
“You shall not recognize faces in judgment; the small and the great alike you shall hear.” (1:17)
You shall not judge a person by his looks. For looks do not always portray the soul. (Binah L’Itim) The meaning of small and great refers to rich and poor. The poor is not as small as we think and the rich is not as great as we think.