פ’ וילך תשע”ח
Volume 25, Issue 9
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.
וילך משה וידבר את הדברים האלה אל כל ישראל
“Moshe went and spoke these words to all of Israel…” (31:1)
Where was Moshe going? Woe that Moshe was going to leave this world! Bnei Yisrael merited having the spring of water in the desert in Miriam’s merit. When Miriam died, the be’er stopped. Bnei Yisrael merited having the ananei hakavod travel with them and protect them in the desert. When Aharon died, the ananei hakavod left. In Moshe’s merit, both the be’er and the ananei hakavod returned to Bnei Yisrael. Bnei Yisrael received the mann in the desert also in Moshe’s merit. When Moshe died, it was as if Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam all died then. Bnei Yisrael lost the be’er, the ananei hakavod, and the mann. (Siftei Kohen)
“Be strong and courageous…” (31:7)
Moshe did not give his successor specific objectives to achieve. Instead, he repeatedly urged Yehoshua to be strong and courageous. Moshe apparently feared for the nation’s future if the jews were not led stringently and firmly. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that the Talmud (Berachot 32b) teaches that four mitzvoth need stricter discipline than others to be carried out properly: Torah study, good deeds, prayer and derech eretz. (Vedebarta Bam)
ויקרא מהש ליהושע ויאמר אליו…אתה תבוא את העם הזה אל הארץ אשר נשבע ה’ לאבתם
“Moshe summoned Yehoshua and said to him, ‘You must come with this people into the land that G-d swore to their forefathers…’” (31:7)
G-d’s Torah and His commandments are eternal and unchanging, but the way they must be made relevant and applied in each generation changes as time progresses. In order to ensure that we live life in accordance with G-d’s wishes, G-d Himself has authorized the rabbinic leaders of each generation to apply the Torah’s teachings to the unique circumstances of their generation.
Therefore, when today’s rabbinic authorities apply the Torah’s teachings in innovative ways, we cannot try to live in the past, complaining that the leadership of previous generations did not see the need for such innovations. On the contrary: only by reading the Torah through the eyes of our “Yehoshua” – today’s Moshe – can we be certain that the Torah will provide us with the inspiration to fulfill our Divine mission and live our lives to the fullest. (Likutei Sichot)
ואכל ושבע ודשן ופנה אל אלהים אחרים ועבדום
“They will eat, be satisfied, and grow fat and turn to gods of others and serve them…” (31:20)
This verse presents a puzzling inconsistency: it begins in the singular form, ve’achal ve’sava ve’dashen u’fana – “he will eat, he will be satisfied, and he will live in luxury and he will turn to…” but ends in the plural form, va’avadum ve’niatzuni – “they will worship them and they will provoke My anger.” What is the reason for this change from the singular to the plural?
The example of one lone individual is emulated by many. If a person, as a result of living in luxury renounces Hashem and turns to foreign gods, he induces many to do likewise. He need not verbally persuade them; it is his corrupt actions that teach others to follow suit. By means of u’fanah “he turns to foreign gods,” he will motivate many others to va’avadum, – “they will worship.”
If this attitude of “follow the leader” prevails for sinful behavior, then surely, by doing beneficial deeds an individual can create a momentum for good in countless others.
Analogous with the above, Rav Moshe Feinstein remarked that we say in our daily prayers, ve’sen be’libeinu binah le’havin u’lehaskil lishmoa lilmod u’lelamed, – “Instill in our hearts to understand and comprehend, to listen, learn and teach…” Is every Jew capable of teaching? However, when the Jew reaches the stage of “listening and learning,” his entire life will be exemplary. Others will observe him and emulate his way of life. Thus, by living righteously, he is, in fact, teaching. (Rav Moshe Feinstein)
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