The Weekly Parsha: A New Dimension

by Rabbi Heshy Grossman

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PARSHAS RE'EH

"Re'eh Anochi Nosein Lifneichem HaYom B'racha U'Klalla. Es HaB'racha, Asher Tishme'u El Mitzvos Elokeichem Asher Anochi Mitzaveh Eschem HaYom. V'HaKlalla, Im Lo Tishme'u El MItzvos Hashem Elokeichem.... (Devarim 11, 26-28)

Many commentaries point out the distinction between the Bracha and Klalla in these Pesukim. The Bracha is given "Asher Tishme'u", while the Klalla is only "Im Lo Tishme'u". The blessing is automatic, although its presence is conditional. The curse will not necessarily occur. However, if the Bnai Yisrael stray, the Tochacha will subsequently be activated.

The Maharal explains this difference.

The Gemara discusses a scenario where a man is Mikadesh a woman on condition that he give her two hundred zuz. One might believe that the marriage does not become effective until the money is transferred. Yet, Rav Huna rules that the woman is considered betrothed immediately, the pledge considered as a standard debt, payable at any time.

Why?

"...Amar Rav Huna Amar Rebbi: Kol HaOmer Al M'nas K'Omer MeiAchshav Dami" (Gittin 74a). The contractual relationship begins at once, the condition merely encumbers him with an additional obligation.

The Maharal explains that Hashem's promised blessings are granted in the same manner. G-d wishes to present the blessing immediately. Although conditions are attached, the blessing takes effect, becoming part of the natural relationship between Hashem and the Jewish People.

The curse, however, is not presented in the same way. The term "Im" implies that the Klalla will be activated only if and when Klal Yisrael chooses a different path, one that does not reflect the will of G-d.

Let us show this same lesson from a different angle.

Our parsha begins with a revelation. "Re'eh Anochi Nosein Lifneichem...". The term "Anochi" is the name which G-d revealed at Har Sinai, with the giving of the Torah.

Our Sages contrast the Torah given at Sinai with the act of Creation. While the world is created with the letter 'Bais', as in 'B'reishis', the Torah begins with 'Aleph' - "Anochi Hashem Elokeicha".

The Sfas Emes explains.

The world is created with the letter of 'Bracha'. It needs blessing in order to be maintained. This is because creation allows for the possibility of an 'other', removing the world from the permanent reality of Hashem.

The Torah, however, encompasses all of reality. Utilized properly, it can repair every transgression. The curse as well is transformed into a catalyst for self-improvement by the man who takes the Torah's warnings to heart. Hence, it begins with 'Aleph'. All of life falls under its domain.

It is this reality that is being revealed with the choice presented to the B'nai Yisrael. As we said, the blesing is automatic, reflecting the true existence of G-d's will. Curse is merely protecting that reality, and part of it, insuring that the Jewish People don't wander from the path of truth.

In this shiur we will expand upon this idea, showing how G-d's blessing alone is the true reality of life.

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"Banim Atem L'Hashem Elokeichem, Lo Sisgodedu V'Lo SaSimu Korchah Bein Eineichem LaMeis". (Devarim 14,1)

"Do not cut or scratch your flesh for the deceased, the way the Emorites do, because you are the children of Hashem, and it is appropriate that you be pleasant-looking, not scratched, or with hair torn out. (Rashi, ad. loc.)

The Rishonim explain, as the verse implies, that the status of B'nai Yisrael as "children of Hashem" is reason for this interdiction.

A son has inherent trust in his father's decisions, recognizing his superior reasoning. He understands that each decision was in his own best interest. So too, the B'nai Yisrael know that even the harshest of punishments is incurred for good purpose. It is therefore inappropriate to mourn excessively, beyond what Halacha mandates. Even the departed are destined to a life of eternity, why then bemoan the harm that has befallen him?

In addition to the simple meaning of the text, Chazal derive an additional prohibition from this verse.

" 'Lo Sisgodedu' - Lo Ta'asu Agudos Agudos - Do not band yourselves in groups....for example, one Bais Din where half the Dayanim teach according to Bais Shammai, and half teach according to Bais Hillel." (Yevamos 14a)

The Maharal questions the propriety of an interpretation so far removed from the basic prohibition of the Pasuk. Being that every Torah idea is expressed not by chance, but as a necessary offshoot of each particular verse, both pshat and drash must be inter-related.

(This is implied by the very word 'drasha', best translated as search, or inquiry. Each interpretation of Chazal is what the verse is 'doresh' - what is required, or demanded, by a careful and intense reading.)

In the Maharal's words: "Every man of wisdom and understanding will be amazed at the relationship of their [Chazal] words with the simple meaning of the text, at a depth that is truly awesome. Yet, the man who is a stranger to wisdom, will wonder at their unlikely reading of the verse, their words seeming implausible to him." (Be'er HaGolah, pg.44)

In fact, the Maharal explains, these two prohibitions of "Lo Sisgodedu" happen to be very connected.

"Just as a gash divides the body of man, so that his flesh is no longer one and unified, so too, when the Bais Din in one city, half teach as Bais Hillel and half as Bais Shammai. It is as a body of man divided." (Gur Aryeh)

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As we mentioned, the ban of 'Lo Sisgodedu' is a function of Klal Yisrael's status as "Banim L'Hashem". This needs an explanation. Are not all human beings 'childen of G-d'?

Let us return to the words of the Maharal.

"This prohibition is because Yisrael is the true reality, being that they emanate from G-d, as a result of which they are called 'Banim LaMakom'." (Maharal, Gur Aryeh)

"That which emanates from G-d is created essentially, meaning to say, having emanated for its own sake, not as a being created for the purpose of another. For, if something is not created for its own sake, but only to serve another, as the animals.... it would not be referred to as something that emanates from G-d.....(Gevuros Hashem, Ch. 47)

"Although all beings are referred to as 'the works of my hand'...there is a difference. They are not referred to as 'Banim LaMakom'. Though they [the nations] are 'Ma'asei Yadav', they are not essential 'Ma'asei Yadav', being that they were created only to service Yisrael...but Yisrael was created for their own sake...therefore, they have a permanent existence as well. (Chiddushei Aggados, vol. 3, pg. 176)

Philosophers have long questioned the possibility of One G-d as lone source of the world's multiplicity. Analysis of the Maharal's words solves this dilemma.

As G-d is One, so too, he brought One into existence. The plurality of items in creation does not contravene this idea, because life is divided into varied levels of existential reality. The essential creation is One: Klal Yisrael. All else are extraneous additions designed to enhance the vision of a unified Divinity that Klal Yisrael reveals.

Everything in life exists for a purpose.

Not Klal Yisrael.

Klal Yisrael exists because G-d exists.

Let us explain.

We generally view ourselves as small cogs in a boundless universe. One that allows us freedom to explore its vast expanse, experience varied adventures, and interpret its meaning as we see fit.

If we have chosen a path of Torah, we believe that Hashem has issued an instruction manual for man to follow, rewarding his obedient servants when they cross the finish line.

This is a very nice way of looking at life.

For a child.

In truth, the physical creation we inhabit is not defined by the varied and sundry peoples who populate the planet. The world is not the sum total of its parts. Existence is one. As reality is one. Because G-d is One. It is His reality.

A Jew lives in a different type of reality. It's not that he goes through life as all the rest, only that he follows the rules. His very world stands apart. His life is defined by the essential basis of all creation.

G-d is One and His Torah is One.

It cannot be divided.

It shouldn't be cut up in little pieces. Even when the world has fallen apart, when the death of a loved one has rent his life asunder, the Jew understands that reality cannot be split. He leaves the cutting of body parts for the nations, those who inhabit a world devoid of unity and purpose.

The Torah too, is not a mere set of rules. It is the reality of existence, translated into black on white. It is not subject to change, nor is it open to interpretation. It too, is indivisible.

Likewise, the Sages of Israel. It is they who are referred to as "Einei HaEdah", the 'eyes' that give insight to the body of Klal Yisrael. Division among Bais Din is akin to one eye disputing the other. Bais Din must remain One, as the body of Israel must be One.

As "Banim L'Hashem", every Jew must reflect this idea. It is G-dliness that he attempts to reveal, not the finite existence of a body cut to pieces. He has a unique role in life. It is not by force of his physical body that a Jew merits this position. Only by rising above his material self, unifying himself spiritually with all of Klal Yisrael in the formation of 'Agudah Achas', does the Neshama, the Breath of Hashem manifest itself in our world. It is then that they can truly be referred to as 'Banim LaMakom', in direct contrast to the divisiveness of 'Lo Sisgodedu'.

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The Maharal takes this one step further.

G-d as One encompasses the thirteen traits by which He directs the world. Whether confronted by Din or Rachamim, the Jew recognizes that only G-d is absolute. All of His traits are ultimately subsumed, only part of the eternal goal that underlines every occurence.

The man who would destroy his body in the face of death believes otherwise. He is oblivious to the guiding Hand that directs His wayward children. To him, death is final. His essential self has been torn from its roots, blind to the unified vision of eternal life.

"Lo Sisgodedu', therefore, is an Emorite practice, as Rashi explains. It is part of their world, one that can have no future B'Yom HaDin, the judgment that spells for them finality.

Let us return to the beginning of our Parsha and clarify this idea.

"Halacha: Is it permissible for a Jew to read the Tochacha in many readings? Thus our Sages taught: It is prohibited to split the [reading of the] Klallos, rather, one person should read them entirely."

"Amar Rav Chiya bar Gamda: For it is written, 'Mussar B'ni Al Tim'as, V'Al Tikotz B'Tochachto' - Al Ta'asu Es HaTochachos Kutzin Kutzin, Ela Echad Korei Es Kulan."

"....Do not take the rebuke bit by bit, but one person should read them entirely" (Midrash Rabbah, 4,1)

The sensitive reader should hear echoes of the Issur that we are discussing, 'Lo Sisgodedu'. Just as man should not cut up his body in the wake of death, so too, the Torah of suffering cannot be divided. It can be swallowed whole.

Suffering is not absolute. The sin that is its underlying cause can always be repaired. Even death itself is not finite, merely part of a much larger picture, an eternal presence with the One G-d. Every Jew has a portion for the world-to-come, he dare not separate His body, His Torah, His people.

Let us bring out one more related idea.

The opening verse of our Parsha alludes to the Mitzva of Bechira that makes all this feasible.

"Re'eh Anochi Nosein Lifneichem HaYom B'racha U'Klalla"

It is the freedom to choose, the one option left open as long as he lives, that allows man to rectify all wrong. No matter how far he has strayed, repentance is still possible. Bechira, therefore, puts all of eternity in the here and now, "HaYom". All of life is truly in his hands, at every moment of choice.

It is the possibility of evil that provides this freedom. Were it not for evil, man would have no choice at all. The totality of G-d's unified existence would obliterate all creation.

This is the answer to the question with which we began. The blessing begins now, while Klalla is a temporary manifestation of the sins of our world.

Evil, Klalla, and suffering all play a supporting role in the destiny of man. They exist not for themselves, but to bring out the best in man. They are conditional, designed to insure the B'racha that is the world's permanent state, the essence of creation.

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The non-Jew has one more custom.

"V'Lo Sasimu Korchah Bein Eineichem L'Meis" - "Do not create a bald spot between your eyes for the deceased"

The non-Jew has nothing to look towards in his dead-end world.

We, however, have something else to put between our eyes.

"V'Hayah Im Shamo'a Tishme'u El Mitzvosai Asher Anochi Mitzaveh Eschem HaYom........U'K'Shartem L'Os Al Yedchem V'Hayu L'Totafos Bein Eineichem"

The Tefilin serve as the constant reminder of 'Anochi'. Specifically, we remember what Hashem has commanded "HaYom". For despite our sins, and notwithstanding the suffering that our evil has wrought, we will never lose sight of "Anochi Hashem Elokeicha", the One G-d whose eternal blessing redeems our pain.

"Re'eh Anochi Nosein Lifneichem HaYom B'racha U'Klalla"

Have a good Shabbos!

Any questions or comments? Address them to: grossman@actcom.co.il


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