פ’ דברים תשע”ח
Volume 25, Issue 1
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.
“These are the words…” (1:1)
The second, third and fourth Books of the Torah are connected to Sefer Bereshit and to each other by the conjunctive vav: ואלה שמות, ויקרא, וידבר. The fifth Book, however, begins differently, with the word אלה alone, as if to say that it is separate from the others. This is because its content is so different from the other Books. It is replete with reproof and admonition. Moreover, in Devarim, Moshe clarifies many mitzvot which have already been stated in the previous Books of the Torah. This is why the Book of Devarim is called Mishneh Torah, “a review of the Torah.”
Nonetheless, every word in it was spoken by Hashem, as verse 3 tells us: “…When Moshe spoke to the Children of Israel, according to everything that Hashem commanded him to them.” This Book preserves a connection with the rest of the Torah, as a later verse tells us: “So it was that when Moshe finished writing the words of this Torah onto a book, until their conclusion” (31:24).
These are the words which Moshe spoke…Everything that Moshe said to Bnei Yisrael was done in the 36 days before his demise, beginning in the first of Shevat in the fortieth year after leaving Egypt until the seventh day of Adar. The gematria for the word Eichah is 36. (Oznaim L’Torah)
דבר משה אל בני ישראל
“Moshe spoke unto the Children of Israel…” (1:3)
QUESTION: Rashi explains that Moshe rebuked them only when he was close to death in order to avoid rebuking them again and again. How does this reconcile with the statement of the Gemara (Bava Metzia 31a) that the Torah command of “Hochei’ach tochiach” – “You shall reprove your fellow” (Vayikra 19:17) – means even 100 times?
ANSWER: There are two kinds of rebuke: 1) direct confrontation: specifying the wrongdoing and admonishing the perpetrator from committing the act. 2) A more subtle method: not mentioning the iniquity directly, but reproving the person and encouraging him to improve his conduct. The advantage of the latter is that the erring individual is spared embarrassment.
When the Torah says “Hochei’ach tocheach” it concludes, “velo tisa alav cheit” – And do not bear a sin because of him” – which can also be explained literally to mean, “Do not bring up the sin to him” – i.e. be careful not to mention the particular sin, and thus he will not be embarrassed. This type of rebuke may and should be repeated, even 100 times. However, since Moshe’s rebuke consisted of specifying through veiled references the sins committed, he waited until immediately before his death so that his words would be accepted and they would not have to face him constantly and be embarrassed. (Divrei Shaul)
אחרי הכתו את סיחן מלך האמרי…ואת עוג מלך הבשן…
“After he had smitten Sichon, King of the Amorites…and Og, King of Bashan…” (1:4)
QUESTION: Why did Moshe wait to deliver his rebuke until after he conquered Sichon and Og?
ANSWER: Moshe, the first leader of Klal Yisrael, was conveying a message to leaders of future generations. It is human nature to balk at a rebuke. Therefore if an individual wants his words to be accepted, he should try not only to rebuke but also do positive things to benefit the erring community or individual. Once he becomes recognized as a good friend, then his words of admonishment will also be accepted favorably.
Sichon and Og posed a serious threat to the Jewish people. After Moshe risked his life to defeat the Jews’ enemies, he earned their respect and thus considered the time appropriate to reprimand them. (Matamim)
הבו לכם אנשים חכמים ונבנים וידעים לשבטיכם ואשימם בראשיכם
“Choose for yourselves wise and understanding men…and I will make them heads over you.” (1:13)
The terms for wisdom (chochmah) and understanding (binah) are not synonymous. As discussed numerous times in the Talmud, wisdom is knowledge acquired through studying, observing, and/or learning (and it is approximately equivalent to the term da’at), while understanding is the ability to use this knowledge for further expansion, applications, and development. This is why whenever these terms are mentioned together, wisdom always precedes understanding. One who has understanding is always presumed to have wisdom, but not necessarily vice versa.
An exception to this is found with Yosef to whom Pharaoh said (Bereshit 41:39), “There is none as understanding and wise as you.” Since Yosef had the ability to understand the meaning of the symbols in the dream, this is a high level of understanding not based on studies or observations. His immediate advice to the king on how to act, of course, reflected exceptional wisdom. (Rabbeinu Yochanan Luria, Meshivat Nefesh)
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