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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 29, v. 9: "Zikneichem v'shote'reichem" - Your elders and your officers - Rashi comments that the order is from the more important to the less important. On Shmos 12:35, where the Torah relates that the bnei Yisroel took vessels of silver, gold, and garments, Rashi comments that the order is from the less significant to the more significant, the opposite order of our verse. How is this reconciled?

Ch. 29, v. 9: "Kulchem .. kole ish" - All of you .. every person - "Kole ish" seems to be redundant. Rabbi Zvi Pesach Frank in Har Zvi answers, based on the words of the Ta"z on O.Ch. #582. He questions the seeming redundancy of the text in the Rosh Hashonoh prayers of, "M'loch al KOL ho'olom KULO," and answers that with only only KOL we might misinterpret it to mean "the majority," and not "the entirety," based on the axiom "rubo ch'kulo," the majority is considered the entirety. By repeating this, the intention is unequivocally, "in its entirety." Similarly here, without the repetition of "kole" we might think that the majority rather than the entirety of the nation was present.

Ch. 29, v. 10: "Meichoteiv eitzecho ad sho'eiv mei'mecho" - From your wood choppers to your water drawers - What sort of contrast is this? The Holy Zohar writes that the word "hayom" refers to Rosh Hashonoh. The previous verse tells us that "You all stand in front of Hashem "hayom." All stand in judgment on Rosh Hashonoh in front of Hashem. A wood-chopper is mentioned in one other place in the Torah ("Bikua eitzim" is not "chativas eitzim," as the former means chopping already cut wood into smaller pieces, while the latter means chopping wood off a tree or totally felling the tree.). This is in Dvorim 19:4, where the negative resulted, a person was accidentally killed. The places where drawing water was mentioned always resulted in kindness. Eliezer was given water for himself, his entourage, and his camels (Breishis 24:18). Yaakov removed the rock that sealed the well and drew water for Rochel (Breishis 29:10). Moshe stood up against the Midyanites who wanted to deny the daughters of Yisro access to the water of the well and he drew water for them (Shmos 2:17).

All stand in front of Hashem in judgment on Rosh Hashonoh, from those who are like water drawers, i.e. who do acts of kindness, to those who are like wood choppers, who do acts that are negative. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 29, v. 15: "Asher avartem" - That you have passed through - The verse begins with Moshe's relating that we have resided in the land Mitzrayim and we have passed through the nations (the lands of Amon and Moav). Why does the verse repeat "asher avartem," and why the change from "ovarnu," which includes Moshe himself to "avartem," which excludes himself?

Moshe is reprimanding the nation. True that we resided in Egypt, "ervas ho'oretz," the lewd country, and likewise the lands of Amon and Moav, but you have not only passes through, but also "avartem," have sinned. The next verse elaborates. You have taken note of their abominations and disgusting behaviour, albeit while only innocently passing through. This brings to the possibility of spiritual contamination and the planting of the seeds of even the greatest sin, idol worship, and then to a stoic heart, as mapped out by verses 17 and 18. (Rabbi Shneur Kotler zt"l)

Ch. 30, v. 2: "V'shavto ad Hashem" - And you shall return to Hashem - The Ramban posits that this is a positive mitzvoh of the Torah, to repent, "teshuvoh." There was a community that was comprised of bnei Yisroel of different backgrounds, but had a large number of Belzer Chasidim. The local Rov was not a Chosid and did not immerse himself in a mikvah regularly. The Chasidim relentlessly pressed him to immerse in the mikvah more often, a daily practice for them. He decided to travel to the Holy Admor of Belz, Rabbi Yisochor Dov. He told the Admor that his Chasidim pressed him about this matter. The Admor asked why he didn't follow the example of the Chasidim, to which he responded that there is no source in Shulchan Oruch for immersing oneself on a daily basis. The Holy Admor told him that indeed there is. In Pirkei Ovos 2:2 it says that a person should repent a day before his death. Obviously, the intention is to repent daily, since a person does not know when his time on this ephemeral world is drawing to a close. The Mogein Avrohom on O.Ch. 606:s.k.8 writes that before one repents he should immerse himself in a mikvah. (Kol Hator - Kanfei Yonoh #62)

Ch. 30, v. 12: "Lo vashomayim hee" - It is not in the heavens - The gemara B.M. 59b applies these words to the miraculous changes in nature that Rabbi Eliezer brought about to show that he was correct in his halachic ruling. Nevertheless, his opinion did not carry the day, as Torah rulings are decided here on earth and not in the heavens. The gemara Y'vomos relates that when Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel disagree the halacha follows Beis Hillel, based on a voice emanating from heaven, which announced that the halacha follows Beis Hillel. Tosfos asks, based on the above gmera B.M. 59b that we should pay no heed to a heavenly voice in these matters.

MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l answered that this was an exception. The gemara explains that the reason Beis Shamai stood their ground even though when they disagreed with Beis Hillel, Beis Shamai was smaller in number, and we should follow the majority opinion, is because they said that quality overweighs quantity, and they felt that those of their group were sharper than those of Beis Hillel. Now that a voice emanated from heaven, meaning that this was Hashem's opinion, even though it should not be decisive, as per the dictum "lo bashomayim hee," Beis Shamai's basis for not bowing to the majority is pulled out from under them. The opinion of heaven is surely sharper than their opinion.


Ch. 31, v. 2: "Lo uchal" - I am unable - Rashi explains that Moshe was able, but since Hashem told him to refrain, this made him unable, similar to "lo suchal le'echol bish'o'recho" (Dvorim 12:17). The Ibn Ezra says that Moshe was physically unable to go and come.

Ch. 31, v. 10: "B'mo'eid shnas hashmitoh" - At the set time of the year of shmitoh - These words seem to indicate that the requirement of "hakheil" hinges upon shmitoh being in effect. Indeed, this is the opinion of the M'iri in his commentary on the gemara Megiloh 5a and Sotoh 41b.

Ch. 31, v. 11: "Tikro es haTorah" - You should read the Torah - The gemara Sotoh 41a says that this mitzvoh is incumbent upon the king. The Minchas Chinuch mitzvoh #612 is in doubt if this mitzvoh can be fulfilled by anyone besides the king. However, the Ralba"g in his commentary on our verse clearly states that if there is no king the Kohein Godol should read the Torah.

Ch. 31, v. 11: "HaTorah hazose" - This Torah - What is added by "hazose"? Rashi on the gemara B.B. 14b writes that a specific Torah was read, the one written by Moshe that was stored in the "azoroh." He adds that it was also this Torah that was read by the Kohein Godol on Yom Kipur. Rabbi Meir Arik in Minchas K'no'os raises a question on this Rashi. It is understandable that the Kohein Godol was able to read from the Torah Moshe wrote, even though it was kept in the Holy of Holies, as per the above gemara B.B., since he entered to offer incense. He took it out with him on the way out and returned it when he again entered to remove the pan and the burnt remainder of the incense, but how could he enter at the time of "hakheil"?

Ch. 31, v. 12: "V'hataf" - And the children - The gemara Chagigoh 3a says that children are brought to give reward to those who brought them. This is explained in a novel way by Rabbi Moshe Raplovitz. A child is sent by his father to cheder to study Torah. He has no say in the matter. It is only when he brings his children along to hear the reading of the Torah at "hakheil" that he shows that he is likewise agreeable to his having gone to hear the words of Torah at a young age. This retroactively gives him reward for his Torah study when he was a child.

Although this can result from simply sending his child to cheder, it is nevertheless a wonderful insight.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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