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Parsha Pearls Archives
THE LAST WORD
Rashi states that Moshe (Moses) intentionally chose to reprove
the Children of Israel shortly before his death. There are several advantages for one to
give rebuke specifically at the end of one's life. One advantage which Rashi mentions is
that rebuking at the end of one's life preludes the necessity of repeating the rebuke.
This statement raises some questions. First of all, why is it unnecessary to repeat
reproach if it is given at the end of one's life? It may be impossible for the message to
be repeated, but how is the necessity to repeat the reproach precluded? Another
question which arises is as follows: Why is it so important to avoid the need to repeat
When someone is censured, he usually tries to rationalize his
behavior. The one giving the rebuke is then faced with a dilemma. If he repeats the
reprimand, and shows that the excuses given do not justify the behavior in question, a
quarrel may ensue. On the other hand, if he does not respond to the justifications that
are being offered it may seem that he accepts the other person's excuses even if he does
not. Both of these problems are avoided if one gives rebuke at the end of his life . The
recipient of the rebuke will have no opportunity to interpret the rebuker's silence as an
acceptance of his excuses. Thus, one who rebukes towards the end of his life precludes the
need to repeat the rebuke and refute the excuses. The fact that he does not have to repeat
his rebuke is beneficial because he thereby avoids a heated exchange which can lead to a
(Chasam Sofer - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
Hoe'il Moshe Ba'er Ess HaTorah HaZos
"Moshe began explaining the Torah."
Rashi states that this verse means that Moshe translated the
Torah into all the world's languages. This indicates a vital lesson. Although the Torah
was given to the Jews when they first became a nation, and were about to enter their own
homeland, its guiding principles are equally relevant in any situation. The fact that the
Torah was given in all languages illustrates that the Torah is a Jew's guide no matter
which country he finds himself in, and no matter which culture he is surrounded by.
(K'sav Sofer - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
WISDOM FOR ALL
"Aileh Hadvorim Asher Diber Moshe Ell Kol Bnei Yisrael"
"These are the words that Moshe spoke to the Children Of Israel"
Moshe addressed his words and teachings "to all of the Children of
Israel". Moshe intended that each and every member of Israel should be able to absorb
the Torah's teachings. He therefore transmitted the Torah in a manner so that it could be
understood on many levels. Each Jew from the simplest to the greatest can relate to the
Torah on his own individual level.
(R' Simcha Bunim of P'shicha)
"V'gam yad Hashem Hoysah Bom L'Hoomom M'kerev HaMachaneh Ad Tumom"
"And also the hand of Hashem was upon them to rush them from among the
camp until their completion (their end or death)"
Hashem decreed that the generation who sinned in the desert would not merit to
enter the Land of Israel. They would die in the desert upon reaching the age of 60 and the
surviving generation would be the ones to enter the Promised Land.
This verse relates that Hashem purged the sinners from the camp in a relatively
short amount of time.
It is interesting to note that the name of Hashem is used in this verse. Hashem
has many names e.g. - Hashem, E-L Sha'aki. Each name represents a particular Divine
attribute. The name Hashem represents the attribute of mercy. The question arises: Why
does the verse use a title of Hashem that signifies mercy?
When Hashem purged the sinners from among the Children of Israel, it benefited
the Jewish People as a whole. From the punishment, the Jews learned to fear Hashem and
they became more pious.
The verse states that the sinners were rushed from among the camp "until
their completion". This phrase can be understood to mean that the sinners were purged
until the Jewish people as a whole reached their completion, spiritual perfection achieved
by witnessing Hashem's judgment. Consequently, the verse uses a title for Hashem that
expresses the attribute of mercy. Hashem in his infinite mercy provided the Jews with a
Compilers note: The sinners' punishment atoned for their misdeeds, purifying
their souls. They would thus be able to merit a share in the World to Come. Thus, in a
sense even the sinners could be considered beneficiaries of Hashem's mercy.
DON'T GET IN THE WAY
Anochi Omed Bein Hashem U'Veineichem
"I stood between you and Hashem."
In its literal meaning, this verse states that Moshe (Moses)
related to the Jews how he acted as an intermediary between them and Hashem at the Giving
of the Torah. The verse can also be interpreted in a homiletic manner to indicate an
Often, a person's ability to perceive Hashem's greatness, and
accept upon himself the yoke of the mitzvos is clouded by his own overinflated ego. A
person who is too self- centered usually takes credit for his successes and does not
realize that Hashem is the source of all his blessings. Such a person will not be able to
develop spiritually and will not get close to Hashem. This is indicated in the above
verse. The term "Anochi" meaning "I" can refer to a person's own ego.
Thus, the verse "I stand between you and Hashem" can mean that your own
"I" - meaning excessive ego - can stand between you and Hashem and prevent you
from coming closer to Hashem.
(Maharam M'Kobrin - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
V'Hoyu HaD'vorim HoEileh Asher Anochi Mitzavcho Hayom Al
L'vovecha V'Shinantom L'Vonecha
"And these words which I command you today should be on
your hearts and you shall impart them to your children."
These verses direct us to absorb the Torah's teachings and to
impart them to our children. Our Sages teach us "That which issues forth from the
heart penetrates the heart." Sincere words have the greatest impact upon the
listener. This is indicated by the above verses. In order to be able to fully "impart
them (the Torah's lessons) to our children, we must fulfill the directive that these
lessons "should be on your hearts" and absorb them fully. Thus, we are commanded
to absorb the Torah's lessons ourselves, and afterwards to convey them to our children.
(Alshich - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
TORAH: HERE AND EVERYWHERE, THEN AND NOW
"Rech Limadti Esschem Chukim Umishpotim Ka'asher Tzivani Hashem Elo-kai
La'asos Ken B'kerev Ho'oretz Asher Atem Baim Shomah L'Rishtoh"
"See: I (Moshe) taught you laws and statutes like that which Hashem my G-d
commanded me to do within the land that you are coming there to inherit"
When a country is first settled, it usually cannot draft its laws right away.
Rather, its lawmakers need to wait and see how the people interact under unique conditions
of that particular land. Once they see the problems that affect their civilization they
can make laws to improve the situation. However, before the land is settled, no one can
anticipate the social problems that will arise and which laws will be needed to remedy
The Torah is an exception to this rule. It was authored by Hashem He is able to
write laws that are applicable to any and every situation. It was thus possible to set
forth the Torah's rules for living in the Land of Israel before the Jews actually entered
This is indicated in the above verse. The verse states that Moshe taught the
Jews the Laws of the Torah "within the land that you are coming there". The Jews
were just about to be coming there to inherit it".
The phrase "within the land" refers to the fact that Moshe taught
these laws and statutes as a guide for life for when the Jews would be "within the
Indeed only the Torah, of Divine origin, is able to guide the people through
each and every circumstance.
The Torah continues to maintain its relevance and guide us throughout all of
(R' S. R. Hirsch)
IN G-D WE TRUST
Ki Somar B'L'vovecha Rabim HaGoyim HoEileh Mimeni Eichah Uchal
"If you say in your hearts, 'These nations are
greater than me; how will I be able to inherit them? Do not be frightened of
When someone places his trust fully in Hashem, rather than in
his own actions, he can rest assured that Hashem will help him. This is indicated by the
The verse states that "If you say in your hearts, 'these
nations are greater than me; how will we be able to inherit them?" This can mean that
the people realize that on their own, there was no way that they could overcome the
people who were then occupying the Land of Israel. They could rely only upon Hashem.
Consequently, the Torah continues "Do not be frightened of them". If one truly
realizes that his salvation can come only from Hashem then he indeed has nothing to fear.
(Ma'asei Hashem - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
MIRACLES AND FREE CHOICE
Lo Suchal Kalosem Maher Pen Tirbeh Olecha Chayas Hasodeh
"You can not destroy them quickly, lest the creatures of
the field become too great upon you."
This verse states that the Children of Israel would not be able
to vanquish the people who were occupying the Land of Israel quickly, for if they did, the
barren land would be overrun by the creatures of the field. The question arises: Since
Hashem is capable of doing anything, why didn't He simply enable the Jews to rid the Land
of Israel of their enemies without allowing the land to be overrun by animals even when it
Hashem wants all people to have free choice whether to do good
deeds or evil. For this reason, Hashem does not always respond immediately to the needs of
righteous people in this world. If the needs of righteous people were immediately met, no
one would have free choice whether to be righteous or not, because the advantages of being
righteous would be too obvious.
The fact that humans have free will whether to do good or evil
is the reason that the commandments of the Torah were given to them. When Moshe went up to
Heaven to receive the Torah, the angels protested that they wished to receive the
holy Torah. Moshe pointed out that the angels had no fee will whether to keep the Torah or
not. Consequently, it would be preferable for humans to receive the Torah - since keeping
the Torah out of one's own free will is more meritorious.
With this in mind, we can understand why Hashem would not allow
the Jews to vanquish their enemies too quickly. If it were too obvious that Hashem helped
the Jews miraculously, people would not have free choice whether to do good or evil.
Moshe's reply to the angels as to why the Jews should get the Torah would then lose its
validity. Thus the Torah says "You cannot destroy them quickly" for then,
witnessing the miracles would preclude free choice. If that would happen , then indeed
"the creatures of the field" - meaning the Heavenly creatures - would become too
great for you - because they would then have a legitimate claim over us to get the Torah.
(Ohr Tzaddikim - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
APPRECIATION AND REALIZATION
V'Zocharto Ess Kol Haderech Asher Holichecha Hashem
Elokecha...Simloscho Lo Volsoh MeiOlecha V'Raglecho Lo Botzeika Zeh Arbo'im Shonoh.
V'Yoda'ato Im L'vovecha Ki Ka'asher Yiyaser Ish Ess B'no, Hashem Elokecha Miyaserecka.
"And you shall remember all the way that Hashem your g-d
brought you... Your clothes did not wither from upon you and your feet did not swell these
forty years. And you shall know with your heart that just as a man chastises his son,
Hashem your G-d chastises you."
The sequence of these verses teaches us an important lesson. It
is important to realize that Hashem does not punish people out of revenge. Rather, Hashem
punishes a person out of love for him - hoping that he will improve. One can understand
this better if he thinks about all the kindness that Hashem bestows upon him. He would
then realize, that it follows logically, that even his suffering - since it comes from
Hashem who is so kind - must be a form of disguised kindness.
This is indicated by the sequence of the above verses. If
people remember all the goodness that Hashem has bestowed upon them as indicated by the
verse "Remember all the way that Hashem your g-d has brought you" which includes
the kindness of "Your clothes did not wither from upon you and your feet did not
swell these forty years", then it will be easier to "know with your heart that
just as a man chastises his son, (out of love and a desire for his son's improvement)
Hashem your g-d chastises you."
Ess Hashem Elokecha Tira
"Hashem your G-d you shall revere."
The article "Ess" implies that another item is to be
included in the statement. The Talmud states that the word "Ess" implies the
inclusion of Torah scholars. Torah scholars must be revered - of course not with the same
reverence with which one is obligated to revere Hashem - but with reverence nonetheless.
The question arises: Why does the Torah teach the lesson that one must revere Torah
scholars by inference from the commandment to revere Hashem? Why doesn't the Torah teach
it by inference of the commandment to revere one's parents? After all, the level of
reverence due as Torah scholar is definitely closer to the reverence that one accords
parents than to the level which one must accord Hashem!
The answer can be explained with a parable. A blind man,
accompanied by his guide, wished to cross a border. He had a pass, but his guide had none.
Consequently, the border guard allowed the blind man passage, but not his guide. The blind
man protested "My pass is good for my guide as well." The puzzled guard asked
"How so?" The blind man answered "My pass mentions my handicap. It is
obvious that a blind man cannot travel without a guide. Therefore, it is implicit in the
permission that I received to travel that a guide may accompany me. My pass thus includes
my guide, as well.
Simple people are also included in the directive "Hashem,
your g-d , you shall revere." In order for them to achieve piety, they must have
Torah scholars to guide them. They must revere these scholars in order to be able to
absorb their teachings properly. Revering Torah scholars is thus essential to their
fulfilling the commandment of revering Hashem. The commandment to revere Torah scholars is
thus a corollary of the commandment to revere Hashem, just as permission for the blind
man's guide to pass is indicated by the permission for the blind man's own passage. The
necessary prerequisites for a directive are implicit in the directive itself . Since the
precept of revering Torah scholars is a corollary of the commandment to revere Hashem, it
is indicated here rather than where the Torah discusses the precept of revering one's
THE APPROACH TO MITZVOS
"V'Hoyoh im shamoa tismeu ell mitzvosai "
"And it will be if listen(ing) you shall listen to my commandments"
This verse marks the beginning of the Torah's discussion of the concept of
accepting upon oneself to fulfill all of HaShem's mitzvos (commandments). In
the preceding weekly portion, the concept of accepting the Yoke of the Heavenly Kingship
is discussed. It would seem at first that a commitment to fulfill all of the mitzvos is
included in the acceptance of HaShem's rulership. After all, if one accepts HaShem's
dominion over oneself, it automatically follows that one is obligated to fulfill HaShem's
laws - the mitzvos. Why, then, is the idea of accepting the mitzvos discussed as a
There is an important aspect to the concept of accepting the mitzvos that is
not included in the idea of accepting HaShem's dominion. This aspect is the importance of
fulfilling the mitzvos out of love for HaShem, and not only because HaShem is the Ruler of
the Universe. This significant aspect of fulfilling the mitzvos out of love for Hashem is
not necessarily included in an acceptance of HaShem's dominion. Consequently, it is
appropriate to accept upon oneself the yoke of miktzvos out of love for HaShem,
independently of one's acceptance of the dominion of HaShem.
NO MIDDLE GROUND
Re'eh Anochi Nosen Lifneichem Hayom B'rocho U'Kloloh Ess HaBrocho Asher
Tishmoun V'Ess HaKloloh Asher Lo Tishmoun
"Behold, I have placed before you today a
blessing and a curse; the blessing that you shall listen and the curse if you will not
The Torah presents two options in this verse: a blessing that comes from
listening to the Torah's precepts or a curse that comes from not listening to the Torah.
It is noteworthy that these are the only two alternatives presented, that there
is no middle ground between "listening" and "not listening" to the
Once someone veers away slightly from "the blessing that you shall
listen", he has already placed himself under "the curse if you will not
(Sforni - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND
L'Shichno TiD'rshu U'Va'asem Shomoh
"Towards His dwelling place you shall seek and you will come there."
Our Sages teach, "Who comes to purify himself is helped." When
someone strives to do good, he receives a special measure of Divine assistance. This is
indicated in the above verse.
The term " Towards His dwelling place you shall seek " represents any
quest towards spiritual greatness and holiness. If a person truly fulfills the first part
of the verse, then it will follow "and you will come there." That is, the person
(Toras Moshe - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
WHOSE MONEY IS IT ANYWAY?
Nason Titen Lo
"Give, you shall give to him."
Why does the Torah uses redundant language to instructs us to give charity?
The phrase "Give, you shall give" indicates that whatever one gives
to charity is actually given twice.
All that a person owns really belongs to Hashem. Some of that which is given to
a person is meant for the person's own use, and some is meant for the person to distribute
Thus when one gives charity, he is not actually not giving from his own assets.
Rather, he is giving money that was destined to somehow reach its recipient. When one
gives charity, he is actually giving money that has already been "given" by
Hashem to the recipient.
(Haflo'oh - Itturei Torah)
SPOTLIGHT ON THE POOR MAN'S NEEDS
Ki Pasoach Tiftach Ess Yodcho Lo V'Ha'avet Ta'avitenu Dey Machsoro Asher
"For open you shall open your hand and lend you shall lend him enough for
his lacking that he is lacking."
The author of the K'sav Sofer taught, "When one gives charity he should
not allow himself to be distracted by ulterior motives. Rather, he should focus upon
satisfying the needs of the poor man."
The K'sav Sofer pointed out that this verse stresses the needs of the poor
person. The verse states that one should give the pauper whatever is "enough for his
lacking." The torah emphasizes that one should give charity according to the needs of
the pauper, not according to the giver's own desires for glory or other considerations.
BLESSING WITH A PURPOSE
Re'eh Anochi Nosain Lifneichem Hayom B'rocha V'Kloloh, Ess HaBrocha Asher Tishmoun
"See, I placed before you today a blessing and a curse, The blessing - that you shall
As the transient pleasures of this world are insignificant compared to the great value
of a mitzva (commandment), the primary place for reward is in the World To Come. The
promises of material goodness that are mentioned in the Torah are not intended for reward.
Rather, material bounty is given to the righteous as a resource so that they be able to do
more good deeds. It provides more opportunities to do good deeds.
This concept is alluded to in the above verse. The Torah states "See I placed
before you today a blessing and a curse." The word "today" indicates that
the blessing discussed here pertains to the present world. The words that follow,
"the blessing that you shall listen" can be understood to mean that the blessing
will enable us to listen and perform the commandments.
- (R'Noach Mindes - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
DOING YOUR BEST
Acharei Hashem Elokeichem Teileichu V'Oso Tirau V'Ess Mitzvosav Tishmoru U'V'Kolo
Tishmou V'Oso Ta'avodu U'Bo Sidbukun
"You shall follow after Hashem your G-d, revere Him, keep His commandments, listen to
His voice, serve Him, and cleave to Him."
The term "Acherei" - which means "after" - connotes following at a
distance. This is as opposed to the term "Acher" which also means
"after" but implies following closely. Why does the Torah use the term
"Acherei?" Does the Torah want us to follow G-d from a distance?
The answer is that this verse is speaking to those who feel that they are distant from
G-d. The Torah is telling them not to despair. The Torah recognizes the significance of
every attempt to follow G-d, even from a distance. From even a low spiritual level, a
person can still uphold the continuation of the verse, " revere Him, keep His
commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cleave to Him."
- (Chofetz Chayim - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
Shoftim V'Shotrim Titen Lcho L'Chol Sha'arecha
"Judges and police you shall place for you in all your
The term "all your gates" can also refer to those parts of
the body which act as "gates" to the outside world. These include the sensory
organs such as the eyes, and the organs of speech which express the person's words to the
outside world. The verse would then indicate that one should "place judges and
police" - meaning take exceedingly great care - at his personal portals to the world.
He should make sure that forbidden sights do not pass his eyes, and that forbidden speech
does not pass his lips.
(ShaLoH - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
V'Kora Bo Kol Yimey Chayov
"And he (the king) should read in it (the Torah) all the days of
The king of the Jews had a special Torah scroll which he kept with him
at all times in order to read from it constantly. The verse also has another meaning. The
king should read "all the days of his life" in the Torah - meaning he should
consult the Torah for every aspect of his life, so that indeed "all the days of his
life" can be read in the Torah"
(Toras Moshe - Itturei Torah)
BLOW TO SELF ESTEEM
"V'Onu V'Omru Yodeinu Lo Shufchu Ess Hadom Hazeh V'Einaynu Lo Raoo"
"And they (the elders) shall answer and say "Our hands did not spill this blood,
and our eyes did not see"
If a corpse is found and the murderer cannot be located, then the elders (Torah
leaders) of the nearest town must perform the rite called Eglah Arufah. A calf is
slaughtered in a special method. Afterwards the town elders wash their hands and recite
"Our hands did not spill this blood and our eyes did not see."
Rashi notes that it is unfathomable to suspect the elders of the murder. Hence
Rashi interprets the statement "Our hands did not spill this blood" to mean:
"We did not see this man off without an escort."
A question arises. Why does the Torah imply that one who allows a traveller to
leave without an escort is a participant in the murder?
The answer is that a traveler may feel demeaned if no one bothers to escort him
when he leaves. If his self-esteem suffers then he may have less courage to ward off an
attacker. Hence, if one does not accord his fellow man the proper recognition by providing
him with an escort then he is not just an innocent bystander. Rather, he may have actually
contributed to the circumstances surrounding his fellow man's death. Thus the elders must
proclaim "Our hands did not spill this blood" - "We did not see him off
without an escort."
- (Saba of kelm - P'ninim Mishulchan Govoha)
Another reason why the elders could be held responsible if they failed to
provide an escort is based on a statement by the famed Rabbi Yisroel of Salant.
Rabbi Yisroel said, "When a scholar in Mir studies well it prevents a
professor in Berlin from abandoning his faith." He meant that when people engage in
spiritual pursuits, it produces a spirit of holiness in the world that affects everyone.
The actions of a very lofty person generates the greatest amount of holiness. Thus the
Torah scholar, who is a member of the spiritual elite, can produce enough holiness to
affect the soul of a professor in far-off Berlin.
Thus the elders would have to accept some responsibility if they
neglected to provide the traveler with an escort. As spiritual leaders, they stand
as the generators of holiness throughout their area. Had they been more careful
about the needs of others, the holiness generated may have been able to touch the
soul of even the lowest criminal and perhaps the murderer would not have killed
the victim. Therefore, they must proclaim that they were not lax in any way
towards their fellow man.
- (Rabbi Yaakov Neiman-Pininim Mishulchan Govoha)
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR
"Shoftim V'Shotrim Titen L'cho"
"Judges and officers you shall give (appoint) to you"
The usage in this verse is unusual. In standard usage in Hebrew the verse would
state "Judges and officers you shall give (appoint) them". Why then, does the
verse state "you shall give to you?"
In this verse the pronoun "you" is referring to the people who are
responsible to appoint judges in the proper manner - as prescribed by the Torah. They are
described as giving the judges to themselves. This indicates that they are the prime
beneficiaries of the judges' appointment. When worthy judges and officers are appointed it
is the public who stands to gain the most.
PROPER MEANS TO THE END
"Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof"
"Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue"
The redundant form of this verse alludes to an important lesson. The phrase
"Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue" can be interpreted to mean that
one shall pursue righteousness - with righteousness. One should employ only means of
righteousness - not of falsehood - to achieve righteousness.
(R' Simcha Bunim of Pshischa)
LEARNING THE HARD WAY
V'Lokachto L'cho L'Isho
"And take her for yourself as a wife."
The Torah states that if a warrior finds a female captive to be irresistible,
he may marry her after performing certain ritual procedures. Our Sages say that the
Torah's reason permitting this unusual union is to help the soldier combat his Evil
One interpretation of this teaching is as follows:
First, as background, the laws about a rebellious son are adjacent to this
section. From the Oral Torah, we know that this provides an indication that the family
that results from taking a captive will include a rebellious son.
Now, the Torah does not restrict anything that is truly beneficial for people.
Rather, whatever the Torah forbids is truly detrimental to a persons spiritual
well-being. However, the Evil Inclination always tries to convince us that the
commandments are unnecessarily restrictive.
The Torah therefore gives special permission under certain circumstances for
someone to do that which the Torah normally forbids so. In this manner, he can see for
himself the devastating effects of sin. So. if a warrior feels that he cannot control
himself and he must use this loophole, he will learn (the hard way) a lesson important for
combating the Evil Inclination, that the Torah's restrictions are in fact beneficial for a
(Note: On our own, we are not permitted to experiment with sinning.)
(Ohel Ya'akov - Itturei Torah)
WORKING FROM WITHIN
U'Biarto HaRo MiKirbecha
"And you shall eradicate the evil from within you"
Sometimes evil befalls us. Especially then, the best thing to do is to work
upon self-improvement so that we may merit Heavenly deliverance.
This is indicated in the above verse.
If you wish to "eradicate the evil," the evil which befalls us, one
should do so "from within you," through self-improvement.
(Divrei Sha'arei Chayim - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
NEVER SAY CAN'T
Under certain circumstances, the Torah permits the Jewish soldier to marry a gentile
captive woman that he felt strongly attracted to during battle. She must first complete a
month-long waiting period.
Rashi states that the reason for the Torah permitting this is because of the
soldiers Evil Inclination. G-d knew that the temptation presented by a beautiful
captive would be too great for a battle-weary soldier. G-d therefore provided a
permissible manner to marry the captive - rather than subject the soldier to sin as a
result of the stress and passions of battle.
From the fact that the Torah allowed leniency in this unique situation, where
temptation is too great for a person to bear, it can be deduced that G-d never demands too
much of a person. If one is faced by temptation, this means that G-d has determined that
this person has the power to withstand the test - if he really wants to.
(Rabbi Yecheskel Abramsky - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
TORAH - ITS OWN REWARD
The Torah discusses the laws of the Ben Sorer U'Moreh - a wayward and rebellious youth.
Under very specific circumstances, such a youth must be executed in order to save him from
causing himself and society further harm.
Our Sages state that the guidelines for a youth to become a Ben Sorer U'Moreh are so
narrow, they preclude the possibility of a person ever becoming one.
The only reason that the Torah discusses the issue of the Ben Sorer U'Moreh is so that
we can gain the reward for Torah study by learning it.
This statement seems puzzling. The Torah is so vast and deep, that even without this
portion its study would more than occupy one's entire lifetime.
The answer is that the concept of "learning about Ben Sorer U'Moreh to earn reward
thereby" does not only refer to the volume of Torah added by the inclusion of Ben
Sorer U'Moreh. The fact that the Torah included a set of laws that have no practical
applications demonstrates a vital principle. That is, studying Torah is not only for one
to know how to keep the commandments of G-d. Learning Torah is in itself the loftiest
pursuit of all, for when one studies Torah, he connects himself to the Word of G-d, the
highest means of connecting oneself to Him. The Torah's primary purpose is to serve as a
vehicle towards holiness.
This is the meaning of the statement that the portion of Ben Sorer U'Moreh was included
in the Torah so that one may earn reward by studying it. One who absorbs the lesson of
this "extra" portion and studies Torah for its own intrinsic value will thereby
gain the greatest reward for Torah study.
(Rav Yisroel Salanter - P'ninim, MiShulchan Govoha)
A "Ben Sorer Umoreh" is a wayward son who steals from his parents and
spends the money to gorge himself. He incurs the penalty of stoning, for his deeds.
Although his present sins (thievery and gluttony) are not severe enough to warrant the
death penalty, he is executed to prevent him from developing into an even greater sinner.
No good is expected from a youth who begins his adult life by stealing to support his
gluttonous habits. If he would be allowed to live, he would stoop to greater and greater
sins in order to continue his lifestyle. The Torah thus directs us to nip this wicked
youth's career in the bud - for his own good as well as the good of society.
The Ben Sorer U'Moreh is in effect punished for his future sins. This would
seem to counter a Midrash regarding Yishmael's (Ishmael) rescue from thirst as a youth.
The Midrash relates that Hashem judged Yishmael as worthy of being saved based upon his
spiritual level of that time. Hashem foresaw that Yishmael would grow to be an evil
person. Even so, he was not held liable at that time for his future sins. Why, then, is
the Ben Sorer U'Moreh held liable for his future misdeeds?
The Ben Sorer U'Moreh's case differs from that of Yishmael in the fact that the
evil roots of his potential criminal career are already present. He has already begun his
slide toward total depravity. He is executed for beginning his slide, before he sinks
totally into a spiritual quagmire. However, Yishmael, at the time of his rescue had not
even developed the roots of his future evil behavior. He was thus judged according to his
present situation - and merited salvation.
REJOICING WITH THE GIVER
V'Somachta B'Chol HaTov Asher Nasan L'Cho Hashem
"And you shall rejoice with all the good that Hashem gave
When a person receives a gift from an important individual, the
quality of the gift is not what gives him the greatest pleasure. Rather, the fact that
someone so important thought to give him a gift is the source of the recipient's greatest
enjoyment. The Torah therefore tells "And you shall rejoice with all the good that
Hashem gave you". We should rejoice not only for the good that we have, but also for
the fact that it is "the good that Hashem gave you". We rejoice that the
goodness which we have comes from none other than Hashem.
(Tiferes Shlomo - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
"Arur Asher Lo Yokim Ess Diverei HaTorah La'asos
"Accursed is whoever does not uphold the words of the
Torah to do them"
The seeming repetition in this verse "uphold the words of
the Torah to do them" indicates an important lesson. The only way to properly uphold
the principles of the Torah is to do them - to actively perform the commandments of
the Torah. It is a misconception that one can "act Jewish" merely by having a
"Jewish heart" and attempting to maintain a "feeling of the spirit of the
law". One whose approach to his Judaism does not extend to active performance of all
the Mitzvos (commandments) sadly places himself under the curse of "Accursed is
whoever does not uphold the words of the Torah to do them."
(Ksav Sofer - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
FOR YOU HASHEM
Bikkurim is a mitzva (commandment) that is applicable when the Jewish people
are settled in Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel). This mitzva entails bringing the first
fruits of one's field to the Kohen (priest) in the Mikdash (sanctuary).
It is remarkable that the Torah commands the farmer to give away to the Kohen
his very first fruits - fruits which give him special joy and pride. After all, it makes
no difference to the Kohen if he receives the farmer's first fruits or his second fruits.
Why then does the Torah command the grower to take fruit that is dear to him and give it
to a recipient who would just as soon receive any other fruit?
It is appropriate that as one enjoys the bounty of his harvest, he should bear
in mind that all the blessings that he enjoys come from Hashem. By bringing Bikkurim, one
demonstrates and internalizes this by celebrating his new harvest with the real owner of
his fields - Hashem. So to speak, by bringing Bikkurim to the Mikdash one
"shares" the joy of the first fruits with Hashem.
We can now understand why Bikkurim had to be brought from the first fruits.
While the Kohanim had the privilege of partaking of these fruits, the focus of Bikkurim
was to heighten the people's awareness of Hashem's role in their lives. The benefit was
for the giver not the recipient.
"Hayom Hazeh Nihyayso L'om LaHashem Elokecha"
"This day you became a nation for Hashem, your G-d"
This verse refers to the time that the Jews were in the desert, before they
actually entered Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel). What was it that made the Jews into a
nation if they did not yet have a common homeland?
Now, this verse follows the account of a covenant that the Jews made with
Hashem. It bound them to keep the laws of the Torah. Thus, the Torah way of life is the
bond that unites all Jews. Torah is the reason that the Jews were able to preserve a
strong national identity throughout the millennia in exile - despite their lack of a
(R' S. R. Hirsch)
KEEPING YOUR PRIDE
"And you shall place it [bikkurim-first fruits that were brought as an offering] in a
Wealthy people brought their bikkurim to the Temple in golden baskets. Poor people used
baskets of straw.
The golden baskets were returned to their owners, while the straw baskets remained in
the Temple with the bikkurim and they became the property of the priests.
Given that the poor have limited resources, shouldnt it be the reverse?
Now, it is possible that the fruits from some of the poor people were minimal and of
inferior quality, reflecting the quality of their farm land. So, if their baskets were
returned then they would have to be emptied on the spot and a needy person may become
embarrassed when the inferior fruits are exposed.
(Harav Aharon Bakst - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
DO IT TODAY!
Hayom Hazeh Hashem Elokecha Mitzavcho La'asos Ess HaChukim HoEilah
"On this day , Hashem your G-d commands you to perform these laws."
Moshe (Moses) said this verse to the Jewish people over thirty-three centuries ago.
We can interpret this verse to have a message for us, "On this day."
We are sometimes provided with an opportunity to do a good deed but we lack the
enthusiasm to do it "On this day."
Perhaps the Torah is coaching us to set overcome the lethargy and seize every
opportunity to do good.
We are thus admonished not to put off a good deed until the next day.
(Chofetz Chayim - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
V'Hoyoh Ki Yavou Olecha Ess HaBrocho V'Ess HaKloloh Asher Nosati Lifonecha VaHasheivosa
"And it will be when it will come upon you all these things, the blessing and the
curse that I put before you, and you will reconsider within your hearts."
After suffering the misfortunes that are destined to befall those who stray from the
commandments, the Torah promises that the Jews will redirect their hearts to G-d.
The question arises: If the primary impetus for repentance is the suffering,
represented by the curse, why does the Torah mention that both the blessing and the curse
will occur? It seems that the blessing will also prod people to repent. How?
Throughout the millennia, countless haters have tried to destroy the Jewish people.
G-d's "hand" (so to speak) in guiding world affairs is evident from the fact
that despite their efforts, the Jewish nation continues to survive. When one realizes that
G-d is constantly watches over us and managing history to insure our existence as a
people, this can inspire a person to return to Torah observance. The blessing of
G-ds watching over us throughout the exile is as much a cause for repentance as the
misfortunes of the exile themselves.
(Ohel Ya'akov - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
When tragedy strikes, people tend to ascribe it to natural causes. However, when only
certain people are affected, it becomes clear that the misfortune is not a product of
accident but rather, it is a message from G-d.
When the Jewish people experience "the blessing and the curse," when
misfortune occurs to them while others appear to be blessed, then they are most likely to
" reconsider" within their hearts and return to G-d.
(K'sav Sofer - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
U'Motzouhu Raos Rabos V'Tzoros V'Omar Bayom Hahu Al Ki Ain Elokay B'Kirbi Motzouni
"And many evils and dire straits will befall it (the Jewish Nation), and (the
Jewish Nation) will say on that day, "Is it not because my G-d is not within me that
these evils have befallen me."
The first part of the verse mentions "evils" and "dire straits" but
the latter part but omits the "dire " straits. What is the reason for this
"Evils" refer to unpleasant events that cause suffering. "Dire
straits" refer a state of mind, a feeling of being trapped and confined which results
One who lives with the belief that G-d controls human events may endure suffering but
he/she will not feel lost. Rather, the person will feel secure from the knowledge that G-d
is controlling events in the best possible way for him/her. This person may experience
"evils" but not "dire straits".
The second part of the verse describes the Jewish people of the future as a people who
have come to the realization that their suffering was caused by their distancing
themselves from G-d. They have returned to their source of strength and they are now above
the "dire straits."
(HaRav HaGaon R' Elazar Schach Shlita - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
Devarim 29;28 : "Hanistaros laHashem elokeinu vehaniglos lonu
ulvoneinu ad olam laasos ess kol hatorah hazos"
That which is hidden is for Hashem our G-d, and that which is revealed is for
ourselves and our children forever to perform the particulars of this Torah.
This verse can be interpreted as referring to the time of the future
redemption. Apparently, there is a hidden time of Redemption, referred to in the verse as
"that which is hidden." There is also a revealed time, referred to in the verse
as "that which is revealed." In accord with this interpretation, this verse
tells us that the hidden time was not revealed to any entity except for Hashem, Himself.
This is the meaning of the verse "That which is hidden is for Hashem our G-d."
The verse also tells us that the revealed time of Redemption is a date which is
dependent upon us. That is, we have the ability to bring the date closer through our own
actions. Thus the verse tells us: "That which is revealed" (i.e. the revealed
time of the Redemption) is for ourselves and our children forever. How so? By seeing fit,
"to perform all the particulars of this Torah.
Devarim 30;15,19 : "Reeh nosati lifanecha hayom ess hachayim
See, I have placed before you today the life and the goodness
shall choose life"
In these verses, Moshe is advising the children of Israel on the way that they
should lead their lives once he leaves them.
It appears that this is meant to be a map of how to lead ones life on a
It is interesting to note the word "today" in this verse.
On a daily basis we must consciously and actively choose a proper course for
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE NOT SEEING
VaTiru Ess Shikutzeihem
"And you saw their detestable things (their idols)."
Rashi states that the Torah calls idols "detestable things" because the Jews
felt an aversion towards idols.
We find several expressions of caution against paganism. If the Jews felt an aversion
towards idolatry then why did the Torah take extra measures to warn against it?
The answer is that the Torah is teaching us that a feeling of revulsion is not a
guarantee that one will not later succumb to sin. Once exposed to sin, even after seeing
its loathsome aspects, a person can be negatively affected by the exposure. Hence, the
Torah gives an extra admonishment to the Jews to guard themselves against the sin of idol
worship, especially after seeing the idols of Egypt, even though they were repulsive.
(Rav of Brisk - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
Ki Karov Ailecho Hadovor Meod B'Ficho U'V'Lvovcha La'asoso
"For this (the Torah) is very close to you, it is in your mouth and your heart to
G-d filled the Earth with resources for physical life. We note that the more vital a
resource is to human life, the more plentiful and accessible it is to Mankind. For
example, a person can live for a few moments without air and the earth is totally
surrounded by air. Water is the next most vital element and water is found all over the
world, but not as commonly as air. Food is quite plentiful but less so than water because
man can live longer without food than without water. Luxuries are relatively rare.
Torah is extremely vital to our very spiritual existence. One must have a constant
connection to Torah. For this reason, G-d planted the essence of Torah into every Jewish
heart, which is as close to the person as it could possibly be. One needs only a sincere
desire to unlock the spiritual potential that is within himself.
(HaMeir LaOlam - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
Devarim 32;3 : "Kee Shem Hashem Ekra, Havu Godel Lelokeinu"
Give praise to our G-d as I call out the name of Hashem.
The Gemara learns from this verse that one is obligated to recite a blessing
before studying Torah (Berachos 21).
We must understand why Moshe is first reciting the blessing now, after teaching
the Torah to the Jewish people for close to forty years.
The purpose of reciting a blessing is to acknowledge that everything comes from
Until now, Moshe acted as an intermediary when he taught the Torah. So to speak, Hashem
was speaking to the Jewish people through him. Thus, there had been no need to relate
Moshes Torah to Hashem by making a blessing since it was as if Hashem Himself were
However, now in Parshas Haazinu Moshe was speaking for himself. He
therefore needed to recite the blessing.
Devarin 32;52 : "Kee Minegdo Tireh Ess Haaretz, Vshama
Lo Savo Ell Haaretz Asher Asher Ani Nosain Lvnei Yisroel
You will view the land from far off, and (to) there you will not come, to the
land that I am giving to the Children of Israel.
The Torah has already told us that Hashem is giving the Land of Israel to the
Jewish people. Why is it repeated here?
The Zohar says that although Moshe was prevented from entering the land at this
time, he will ultimately enter Israel during the time of the Final Redemption, when many
of the dead will be revived.
This is indicated in the verse by linking the ban to a present-tense reference
of the land, "the land that I am giving to the Children of Israel."
PRECISION IN JUSTICE
HaTzur Tomim P'olo Ki Chol D'rochov Mishpot Kail Emunah V'Ain Ovel
"The Rock (G-d), perfect is His work, for all his ways are just. G-d who is
faithful, there is no injustice"
Given that G-d is perfect in all His ways, it follows that He does no injustice. The
words, "there is no injustice" seem superfluous.
This can be understood in the light that G-d's judgment is calculated down to the last
When a criminal is sentenced in our court system, his/her close family and friends
endure great suffering. The sentencing rarely takes this into consideration.
However, when G-d passes judgment, "there is no injustice." G-d formulates
the punishment so that no one will endure even incidental pain or anguish unless they
deserve to have it for themselves. Thus, only of G-d's judgment can it truly be said
"there is no injustice"
(R' Yisroel Salanter - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
B'Goy Novol Achisaym
"With a vulgar nation I will anger them"
Rashi explains that "a vulgar nation" is one that does not believe in G-d.
The question arises: Why is such a nation referred to as vulgar? Can't a nation consist of
atheists and still be a polished and cultured?
The answer is that one who does not believe in G-d violates a basic principle of
manners - that of gratitude. Even a small child is scolded if he takes something and does
not say "thank you."
Thus, one who chooses not to believe in G-d is showing that he is ready to dissociate
G-d with all of His blessings, such as health, sustenance, etc.
Vulgar is therefore an apt description of such a people.
(R' Moshe Rosenstein - P'ninim MiShulchan Govoha)
ISRAEL'S UNITY : THE KEY TO TRADITION
Torah Tziva Lonu Moshe Morasha Kehillas Ya'akov
The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of
There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Many of the commandments apply only to
specific groups of Jews (e.g. only for Kohanim or only for Israelites [non-Kohanim]). No
single individual fits into all of the groups - some of which are mutually exclusive of
each other. Thus, a single individual is not capable of fulfilling all 613 of the Torah's
commandments. The Torah can only be upheld in its entirety by the union of Jews from all
This concept is alluded to in the above verse - "Torah tziva lanu
Moshe" - the Torah that Moshe commanded us. How can any one person uphold the a
Torah? The second part of the verse provides the answer: Morasha Kehillas
Yaakov" - is the heritage of the Congregation of Yaakov. The Jews as a
congregation, as a collective unit, can together uphold this inheritance.
(K'sav Sofer- Ma'ayana Shel Torah)
A PROOF OF VERACITY
V'Lo Yoda Ish Ess K'vuroso Ad Hayom Hazeh
"And no man knew his (Moshe's) burial place until this very day."
It is remarkable that the Torah makes a statement that does not seem to offer
any information. If the Torah is not offering any information regarding the whereabouts of
Moshe's burial, why does it discuss the matter at all?
The Torah makes an important point by mentioning the fact that the burial place
of Moshe remains forever unknown. Moshe transcribed the Divine words of the Torah - even
the account of his own death. He did not change one iota of the Divine meaning. This is
apparent from account of his own death. Had he wished to tamper with the Torah for his own
interests, he surely would have glorified his own end. He could have said that he ascended
to heaven while still alive -a claim not unfeasible for a man with the supernatural powers
of Moshe. And, as this verse indicates, he had the opportunity to make such a claim
because no one was able to point to his body and prove that he had actually died -
"no man knew his burial place."
Thus, although this verse does not provide any information about Moshe's burial
site, it teaches an important lesson. Even when Moshe had a motive and an opportunity to
change details of the Torah, he did not do so. He transcribed the Divine words 100%
(Koheles Yitzchok - Ma'ayanah Shel Torah)
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
V'Zos HaBrocho Asher Beirach Moshe Ish HoElokim Ess B'nei Yisroel Lifnei Moso
"And this is the blessing that Moshe (Moses), the Man of G-d blessed the Children
of Israel before his death."
This is the only place in the Torah where Moshe is referred to as "the Man of
G-d." Why is this title conferred upon Moshe specifically just before his death?
The fact that Moshe reached a higher level of prophecy than any other prophet - before
or after him - is a fundamental tenet of Judaism . It is for this reason that no prophet
can ever contradict Moshe's teachings. It is therefore vital that the Torah emphasizes
Moshe's status - by calling him "the Man of G-d."
However, Moshe in his great humility, did not wish such a title to be bestowed upon
him. Hashem honored his wishes and give him this title until just before his death, the
last available opportunity.
(Admor MiGur - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
ARMS AND HEADS
V'Toraf Z'roa Af Kudkod
"And he (the Tribe of Gad) mauls (the) arm also (the) head."
Rashi explains this verse by saying that the warriors of Gad had the unique ability to
kill their enemies by severing their arms and heads in a single blow. What is the Torah
trying to teach us by telling us this fact?
The Talmud states that only totally righteous people were allowed in the army of the
Jews. They relied completely on G-d, not on their own strength. In the Torah army, merit
is more important than might.
The Talmud states that a relatively minor infraction of the Torahs guidelines can
disqualify a soldier from battle. The Talmud provides the example of interrupting with
speech between placing the tefilin (phylacteries) of the arm and that of the head.
The entire tribe of Gad was pure from any such infractions. They were therefore
bestowed with a strength to sever their enemies arms and heads without interruption -
measure for measure for their merit of placing their arm tefillin and head tefillin
(Vilna Gaon - Ma'ayana shel Torah)
In Loving Memory Of Our Father, Mr. Joseph Black (Yosef Ben Zelig) O"H
In Loving Memory Of Our Mother, Mrs. Norma Black (Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh) O"H
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