by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS HAAZINU 5768 BS"D
Ch. 32, v. 3: "Ki sheim Hashem ekra hovu godel lEilokeinu" - When I declare the name of Hashem offer greatness to our G-d - From these words of our verse the gemara Brochos 21a derives the halacha that before one embarks on Torah study he must first make a blessing. The bnei Yisroel heard much Torah from Moshe until now. Why was this important mitzvoh, so relevant from the day Moshe started teaching the bnei Yisroel Torah, delayed until now?
The N'tzi"v answers that Moshe's divrei Torah communication to the bnei Yisroel was on the level of "Sh'chinoh m'da'berres mitoch grono," Hashem's transmitting the Torah through the conduit of Moshe's throat was a miracle. This is not a natural occurrence, and as such requires no blessing. (This answers why the mitzvoh of reciting grace after meals was also delayed until parshas Eikev, as the manna was a miracle.)
Here, just before Moshe's passing, his wellsprings of wisdom were blocked (see Rashi on 31:2 d.h. "lo"). Shiras Haazinu that he was transmitting was not on the level of "Sh'chinoh m'da'berres ……" Before hearing Torah on this level, a "birkas haTorah" was required, hence the introduction of this mitzvoh at this juncture.
This also explains why the poetry is so complicated and hard to translate, let alone fathom. Torah as heard directly from Hashem has the phenomenal nature of being understood by an entry-level "cheder yingel" and the greatest scholar. If one were to ask why the rest of our parsha after the "shiroh" and parshas V'zose Habrochoh revert to a very understandable level, it is because, once again, the level of "Sh'chinoh m'da'berres ……" has been returned to Moshe. This is because he was extremely close to his death and we have the maxim of "Lifnei shever g'one" (Mishlei 16:18), just before destruction there is a surge, just as a flame flickers and grows larger just before it self-extinguishes.
Ch. 32, v. 5: "Shicheis lo lo bonov moomom" - He has acted destructively to Him no his sons is their flaw - This translation is a sort of mumbo-jumbo when rendered literally. Rashi and Baa'lei Tosfos explain that when Hashem's sons sin and act destructively, "lo lo," it is not destructive to Him. Rather the flaw is that of His sons, the perpetrators of the sin. Rabbi Moshe of Fantaisa, another Baal Tosfos, is not satisfied with this explanation, as the "lo" spelled Lamed-Alef should precede the "lo" spelled Lamed-Vov, since they translate these two words as "Not to Him." He therefore explains that the intention of these words is that when Hashem's children sin, "shicheis," then they distance themselves from Hashem and He says that they are no longer His sons, "Not to Him," and this is their flaw, as per the verse in Hoshei'a 2:4, "Ki hee lo ishti v'onochi lo ishoh."
It could well be that Rashi was very reluctant to explain the verse this way, as Tanach is replete with statements to the contrary, that even when His children sin, they are still His children.
Ch. 32, v. 6: "Am novol v'lo chochom" - A nation that is repulsive and not wise - Targum Onkelos renders these words as: A nation that has received the Torah and is not wise. This is explained by Rabbi Yoseif Sho'ul Natanson, based on the words of the Ramban at the beginning of parshas K'doshim. He explains that the command to be holy means that one behave in a befitting manner as a member of the Holy Nation, and not binge with permitted matters, "novol birshus haTorah." This is likewise the intention here. They have received the Torah and technically comply with it, yet they are still "novol."
Ch. 32, v.9: "Ki cheilek Hashem amo Yaakov chevel nachaloso" - Because Hashem's portion is His nation Yaakov is the allotment of His heritage - The M.R. parshas Toldos connects "cheilek" of our verse with the word "cholok" (Breishis 27:11), where Yaakov describes his brother Eisov as "ish so'ir" and himself as, "v'onochi ish cholok, spelled exactly the same as "cheilek." The M.R. expounds with a parable. Two people, one who was very hairy and one whose skin was almost hairless, were standing next to a haystack. A most powerful wind blew the hay in their direction, and it landed all over them. The one who was not follicly challenged just wiped his skin and was totally disengaged from the hay, while the hairy individual, even with much effort was left with much hay entangled in his hair.
Similarly, the bnei Yisroel and l'havdil the bnei Eisov both get entangled in sin. However, the descendants of the "ish cholok" easily rid themselves of their sins, as Hashem is eager to forgive them. This is "cheilek-cholok Hashem amo."
Ch. 32, v. 28: "Ki goy oveid eitzos heimoh v'ein bo'hem t'vunoh" - Because a nation at a loss for counsel are they and there is no wisdom in them - The gemara Chagigoh 5b relates that when Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananioh was on his death bed he was asked by his colleagues who would stand up against the heretics who pestered the sages with their questions in an attempt to undermine the veracity of the Torah. They raised this question to him because he had always rebutted their attacks. He answered that once he would pass on they would not have as much wisdom and would not ask any difficult questions in the future.
This is alluded to in these words of our verse. "Ki goy oveid eitzos heimoh," - when the (Jewish) nation loses its counsel to combat the heretics in a debate, "v'ein bo'hem t'vunoh," at that time, - there will be no further wisdom in them. The numerical value of "eitzos" is the same as Yehoshua ben Chananioh. (Adaptation of Avnei Shoham)
Ch. 32, v. 29: "Lu chochmu yaskilu zose yovinu l'acharisom" - If they were wise they would understand this they would comprehend to their end - The gemara Yoma 38b says that if a person has lived the majority of his years righteously, he will most likely also live out the rest of his years righteously, as per the verse, "Raglei chasidov yishmor" (Shmuel 1:2:9). In T'hilim 90:10 the verse says, "Y'mei shno'seinu shivim shonoh," the days of a person's life are 70 years. Thus, if a person has lived the first 35+ years of his life righteously …… This is "LU chochmu," if they have lived 36 years, the numeric value of LU wisely, they will comprehend "to their end," the final 34 years of their lives. (Rabbi Boruch Avrohom Manni)
Ch. 32, v. 46: "Simu l'vavchem l'chol hadvorim asher onochi mei'id bochem ha'yom …… lishmor laasose es kol divrei haTorah hazose" - Pay close attention to all the matters that I set as testimony for you today …… to safeguard to do all the words of this Torah - On a simple level, Moshe is reiterating that he has the heavens and earth as witnesses that the good that Hashem has promised would be delivered if the bnei Yisroel comply with the dictates of the Torah. On a deeper level, the GR"A points out that there are 613 words in parshas Haazinu, each corresponding to a different mitzvoh. He is therefore exhorting them to investigate each and every word told them today, as they encompass "es kol divrei haTorah hazose." (M'lo Horo'im)
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