פ’ כי תבוא תשע”ח
Volume 25, Issue 7
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ 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 Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ארור האיש אשר יעשה פסל ומסכה
“Accursed is the man who will make a graven or molten image…” (27:15)
In the list of curses, all the acts that bring upon their doers a curse are mentioned in present tense [e.g. “Accursed is the one who moves the boundary of his fellow”]. This case is the one exception as it is expressed in future tense [“Accursed is the man who will make a graven or molten image”]. Why is this so?
The Gemara infers that idol worship is the one sin for which one is punished for mere intent (Kiddushin 40a). If so, one who even thinks of making an idol in the future deserves to be cursed. Therefore, the words are written in future tense, implying that the verse is discussing one who thought about making it in the future. (MiShulchan Gavoha)
והיה אם שמוע תשמע בקול ה’
“It shall be that if you hearken to the voice of Hashem…” (28:1)
Historians commonly interpret the successes or failures of nations in terms of such factors as geography, economics, and social structures. However, Judaism sees the fate of Israel differently; it is directed by Hashem in response to our own ethical and spiritual behavior. The Torah clearly tells us what we may expect, in the form of blessings when we are deserving of them, and curses when we are unworthy. (Kol Torah)
ובאו כל הברכות האלה והשיגוך
“All of the blessings will pursue you and overtake you…” (28:2)
We are taught that on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, G-d decrees our livelihood and health for the coming year. And yet, we pray every day for health, sustenance, and many other Divine blessings. Is this daily prayer necessary, in that all has already been decreed on Rosh Hashana?
This verse provides the answer to this question: G-d’s blessings both “pursue” us and “overtake” us. On Rosh Hashana, all the blessings necessary for their respective purposes descend (pursue us) to a certain level of reality where they wait in storage to be drawn down further (overtake us) into our physical world. The vehicle for bringing blessings down to us is our daily prayer and devotion to G-d. (Likutei Sichot)
וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה’ נקרא עליך ויראו ממך
“All the nations of the world will see that the Name of Hashem is upon you and they will be in awe of you…” (28:10)
It is a Jew’s mission in the world to emulate the attributes of Hashem, as our Sages state, “Mah hu rachum af atah rachum”, “Hashem is compassionate; you be compassionate. Hashem is kind; you too should be kind.” Thus, a Jew, in his conduct, reflects Hashem’s qualities and he is, in fact, a living “image” of Hashem. The Jewish people, by their example, thus will open the eyes of mankind, illuminate them to the reality of the pure faith in G-d and the refined character traits contained in the holy Torah.
This then is the message conveyed by this verse: “All the nations of the world will see that the Name of Hashem is upon you,” and as a result, “ve’yerau,” “they will be in awe.” The degree to which the gentiles have come to recognize Hashem as the Supreme Being, is “mimeka,” “from you.” [Indeed, both Christianity and Islam, both monotheistic religions, have their root in Judaism. (Vilna Gaon)
והיה אם לא תשמע בקול ה’ אלקיך לשמר לעשות את כל מצותיו וחקתיו אשר אנכי מצוך היום ובאו כל הקללות האלה והשיגוך
“But it will be that if you do not hearken to the voice of Hashem , your G-d, to observe, to perform all His commandments and all His decrees that I command you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…” (28:15)
These curses are written in two places in the Torah – here and in Parshat Bechukotai. There is a noticeable difference between the two. Here they are written in singular form, as though addressing the individual, and earlier it is written in plural form. Why the change in wording?
The first time the curses were told to them was before their arrival at Arvos Moav. Prior to that there was no concept of arvus, responsibility of one Jew toward another. Therefore, the curses were said in plural, implying that they apply to all individual Jews. The curses in this week’s parsha were said after their arrival in Arvos Moav and their acceptance of responsibility for each other’s sins. Thus they all were collectively considered as one person. Therefore, they were spoken to in singular form. (Shabbos Delights)
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