Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 19   No. 42

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Pesach ben Ephraim Shimon z"l
t.n.tz.v.h.

Parshas Devarim
(Shabbos Chazon)

Losing Interest in Eretz Yisrael
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

"Hashem our G-d spoke to us at Chorev saying 'You have stayed long enough at this mountain (Har Sinai). Turn and travel until you come to the Mountain of the Emori and to all its neighbours " (1:6/7).

Here we already have the first rebuke of the Parshah - that the people hated Eretz Yisrael. They had settled down to a comfortable lifestyle at Har Sinai and showed no interest in fulfilling what not long before, had been K'lal Yisrael's dream of entering the Promised Land, the land of their fathers. It was meant to be the climax of the Exodus from Egypt, as is evident from G-d's promise to Moshe at the burning bush when He initially informed him of the imminent redemption (see Sh'mos 3:8), and from the fact that G-d's promise to take them there comprised the fifth expression of redemption ("I will take you out from under the burdens of Egypt and I will bring you to the land " [Ibid. 6:5-8]). Indeed, had they not sinned after leaving Egypt, particularly regarding the sin of the Golden Calf, they would long have entered Eretz Yisrael, without having to raise a finger to capture it.

Consequently, one would have expected them to have become restless during their yearlong stay at Har Sinai, to have shown some sort of longing to be on their way, to re-enter the homeland that they had never seen but that had been promised to them. But this did not happen. They showed no sign of even wanting to leave their current location (and this was not due to the numerous Mitzvos and attachment to the Shechinah, as we shall see shortly).

Hence Moshe rebuked them "Rav lachem sheves ", just as he rebuked Korach "Rav lachem B'nei Levi". You have spent a long, long time here, and it is time to move on and make your way to the loftier destination of Eretz Yisrael.

That is why he said to them "Turn and travel ".

Later on (in Pasuk 19) when the Torah records "And we travelled from Chorev", the Torah does not insert the word 'and we turned', as Moshe instructed them. Moshe commanded them to leave Sinai, where they had learned Torah, and turn towards Eretz Yisrael, where they would be able to put all their learning into practice (for it is not the learning which is important, but putting it into practice).

But that is not what they did. The Torah relates how they "travelled from Chorev and went into the desert", without a thought of entering Eretz Yisrael. That is why the spies had the nerve to suggest that they should return to Egypt. The longing to finally enter the land did return - but only after the episode with the spies, and after G-d had decreed that they would all die in the desert. There the Torah reports that the people "turned and travelled to the desert" (with the hope that they would go to Eretz Yisrael). But by then it was too late!

*

The K'li Yakar also cites the Medrash they left Har Sinai 'like a child who runs away from Cheder'. When Ya'akov spent seven long years working for Rachel, the author explains, the Torah records how, due to Ya'akov's love for Rachel, those seven years flew by as if they were only a few days. And if Yisrael felt that they had been a long time at Har Sinai, it was because their love for Eretz Yisrael was lacking. Indeed, according to this Medrash, their stay at Har Sinai was long and painful - Too much Torah! Too many Mitzvos. Consequently, they were only too pleased to leave that burdensome environment and to be free to continue roaming the desert.

In any event, they departed from Har Sinai with negative thoughts, full of resentment, rather than on a happy note, overflowing with the excitement and the anticipation of finally entering the land that their fathers had so longed for. The stage was set for the series of rumblings and complaints that would culminate in the people's fateful request to send spies and the terrible events that followed - which in fact served as the prelude to the Churban Beis-Hamikdash!

* * *

More about Tzidkiyahu ha'Melech
(the last king before
the Churban Beis-Hamikdash)
(Adapted from 'Otzar Ishei ha'T'nach')

The last four kings of Malchus Beis-David were: Yeho'achaz, Yehoyakim, Yechonyah and Tzidkiyahu.

Tzidkiyah had four names Shalum, Tzidkiyahu, Yochanan and Yeho'achaz. Tzidkiyahu - because he acknowledged G-d's Midas ha'Din (when He punished him [see also next entry]); Shalum - because Malchus Beis David terminated in his days; his real name was Matanyah.

Matanyah thought to himself that he would change his name to Tzidkiyah in order that a line of Tzadikim would come from him. Little did he know that G-d was destined to recite 'Tziduk ha'Din' over the destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash.

Others say that Nevuchadnetzar changed his name to Tzidkiyahu after making him swear that he would not rebel against him, as a warning that he would acknowledge G-d's Midas ha'Din when He would punish him if he dared to break his oath.

The Pasuk in Yirmiyah (35:7) refers to Tzidkiyahu as 'Eved, King of ha'Kushi'.

Why, asks the Gemara in Mo'ed Katan (16:b) does the Pasuk call him Kushi, when really his name was Tzidkiyahu?

It is to teach, answers the Gemara, that just as a Kushi is different regarding the colour of his skin, so too was Tzidkiyahu ha'Melech different in his (righteous) deeds.

Five people were created with an angelic (outstanding) feature, which ultimately led to his downfall: Shimshon with superhuman strength, Sha'ul with a good-looking neck; Avshalom with a magnificent shock of hair, Tzidkiyahu with beautiful eyes, and Asa with beautiful legs.

"And he (Tzidkiyahu) did evil in the eyes of G-d" Divrei Hayamim 1, 36:12). This is because he had the power to object, but failed to do so (Sanhedrin (1013a).

G-d intended to revert the world to null and void because of the (evil ways of) the generation of Tzidkiyahu. But when he saw Tzidkiyahu, he was appeased (and changed His mind.).

A certain set of Mishnayos was written by five great Tzadikim: Shimur ha'Levi, Chizkiyahu ha'Melech, Tzidkiyahu ha'Melech, Chagai ha'Navi and Zecharyah ben Ido (ha'Navi).

After the death of Nevuchadnetzar, Tzidkiyah was freed from prison. The following day he died and received a royal burial.

*

Tzidkiyahu's Capture

When Tzidkiyahu saw the Beis-Hamikdash burning, he fled via a tunnel that led to Yericho.

As he and his family emerged, Nevuzraden saw him. Seizing him and his ten sons, he sent them in chains to Rivlah, where Nevuchadnetzer was residing.

Nevuchadnetzar asked him why he rebelled against him, and informed him that he deserved the death sentence both at the hand of his G-d for swearing by His name falsely, and at his hand for having rebelled against him.

Tzidkiyahu asked to be slain first so that he should not witness the blood of his sons being spilt. His sons begged the king to kill them first so they should not witness their father's blood being spilt. Nevuchadnetzar accepted their request and slaughtered them before their father's eyes.

Following that, he poked out Tzidkiyahu's eyes and threw them into the furnace, before leading him to exile to Bavel.

Upon arrival, he cried out to the people to come and give testimony as to the veracity of the words of Yirmiyah ha'Navi, who prophesied that he would go to Bavel and that he would die in Bavel, yet he would not see Bavel.

'At the time' he concluded, 'I took no notice. But now I am in Bavel, but I cannot see it!

* * *

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