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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 29, v. 9: "A'tem nitzovim ha'yom" - You are standing today - Read the word "ha'yom" as Hei-yom, five days. This alludes to the five days that our judgment takes place in heaven. They are the two days of Rosh Hashonoh, yom Kipur, Hoshana Rabba, and Shmini Atzerres. (Aderres Eliyohu)

Ch. 29, v. 12: "L'maan hokim os'cho ha'yom lo l'om" - So as to establish you today for Him as a nation - The intention of these words is to counter a very negative reaction to hearing about "arvus," the responsibility that each of us carries for the actions of every ben and bas Yisroel. One might readily feel, "Isn't it enough of a burden for me to carry the responsibility of 613 mitzvos? How can I handle to added yoke of being responsible for the behaviour of my fellow ben Yisroel, something that is much harder to control?" The verse therefore tells us that the opposite is true. By having the interdependence of everyone being a supervisor over another's actions one will never stray far from the proper path. An unintentional sin done today becomes an intentional sin tomorrow, and so on. But when we have millions of "mashgichim" over us we more readily will do that which is correct. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 29, v. 18: "V'hoyoh b'shomo es divrei ho'oloh hazose v'hisboreich bilvovo leimore sholo-m yi'h'yeh li ki bishrirus libi eileich" - And it will take place that when he hears the words of this admonition and he will be self-reassuring in his heart saying peace will be upon me even though I will go as my heart sees fit - This seems most illogical. After hearing the searing admonition how could anyone think that he may do as he wishes and escape unscathed?

Yaalas Chein cites the Gaon Rabbi Aharon who answers our question based upon the insight of the Holy Alshich on the verse Shmos 32:14, "Va'yinocheim Hashem al horo'oh asher di'ber laasose l'amo." He explains that Hashem relented on all the bad, the severe punishment that He threatened, because He SPOKE to do to His nation. This is akin to a father who is extremely agitated over his son's bad deeds. He fears that he will punish him to an extreme, so he lets out a diatribe of threats. This alone calms the father down somewhat, so that he is in greater control and will not act too strictly. Here too, a person who hears the very foreboding admonitions might think that they are in themselves a cause for not fearing that much will happen in the way of actual punishment. (Incidentally, this is the explanation given by the Binoh L'itim for the limited words in the blessings for those who comply with the Torah, and the very extended admonitions for the sinner. The more threats Hashem expends verbally (written), the more He is calmed, and in turn, the less the actual punishment.)

If this is so, why indeed will Hashem lash out? It is because we can readily differentiate between a father letting loose a verbal lashing after the crime was committed, thus softening the actual punishment, and when he threatens before the crime has been committed. He has not been brought to anger yet, and still, he threatens with fire and brimstone. Then there is no reason to believe that the actual punishment will be softened. This is the intention of the following words, "Ki oz ye'eshan af Hashem," He has not yet been angered, so if there will be a sin in the future He might carry out His threats to the fullest extent of the law. (Divrei Sho'ul)

It should be noted that one should not misunderstand the gist of this offering being that Hashem actually "loses it" ch"v, and by "talking it out calms Himself. Rather, that this is the nature of people, and they relate to this sort of "therapy." Therefore Hashem has likewise been wordy.

Ch. 29, v. 18: "V'hisboreich bilvovo leimore sholo-m yi'h'yeh li ki bishrirus libi eileich" - And he will be self-reassuring in his heart saying peace will be upon me even though I will go as my heart sees fit - The question was just asked above: How can a person be so self-sure that all will be fine, after hearing such scary admonitions? Tzror Hamor says that this person has the attitude of being a good "cardiac Jew," that no matter what one's actions are, the main issue is if in one's heart he "feels Jewish." This is a very incorrect ideology. Torah-true Judaism is a religion of action, "NAA'SEH," we will DO, and also "v'nishma," we will hear the Torah ideals.

The Ksav Sofer adds that this is the intention of the words "bishrirus LIBI," as my HEART sees fit, but actions is of no importance. He relates that a person openly desecrated Shabbos, and upon being criticized, he responded that he would do more than make up for it after Shabbos. He donated a large sum of money for the local synagogue and said that he was sure that Hashem was happier overall with his behaviour, the desecration of Shabbos, but the large donation, over someone who kept Shabbos and gave no donation. This is the mistaken "v'hisbo'reich bilvovo," he will be proud of his magnanimous heart. Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam Admor of Bobov adds that this is the intention of the words that follow in the next verse, "Lo yoveh Hashem slo'ach lo." The sinner with the "big heart" says that he feels there is no need for Hashem to forgive him. This theme is also found in Rabbeinu Bachyei on 29:28, in the name of the Rambam.


Ch. 31, v. 2: "Ben mei'oh v'esrim shonoh onochi ha'yom" - I am today 120 years old - The Holy Zohar writes that when the Torah says "ha'yom" it means Rosh Hashonoh. We are hard-pressed to apply this here, as Moshe's death took place on the 7th of Ador. Kabalist say that on a person's birthday he has a sort of personal "day of judgment," when he should make a "cheshbon ha'nefesh," a spiritual accounting. This gives the day of one's birthday a quasi-Rosh Hashonoh status hence "ha'yom." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 31, v. 2: "Lo uchal ode lotzeis v'lovo" - I can no longer go out and come in - Rashi (gemara Sotoh 13b) says that this teaches us that on that day the wellsprings of wisdom that Moshe was accustomed to have, were blocked. The gemara Taanis 7a says that lesser Torah scholars sharpen greater ones. This is why Rabbi Chanina said that although he learned much Torah from his teachers, he learned even more from his peers, but he learned the most from his students. Since Moshe was unable to "go and come," meaning to go out and teach his students, he lacked the exposure to those who "sharpen" their teacher. This in itself is the blocking of the wellsprings of wisdom. (Rabbi Yoseif Zvi Dushinsky)

The Chasam Sofer explains Moshe's inability to "go and come" as follows: The very righteous do not stay on one level of spirituality. They strive for continuous growth. Thus they "go out" of one level and "come into" a higher level. On the final day of Moshe's life he told the bnei Yisroel that since he was about to die he could go no further.

Ch. 31, v. 12: "Hakheil es ho'om ho'anoshim v'hanoshim v'hataf" - Assemble the nation the men and the women and the children - The gemara Chagigoh 3a explains that the men come to learn the Torah which is read at the "hakheil" assembly, the women come to hear the words, and the children are brought as a mitzvoh that the Torah commands, thus offering reward to their parents for bringing them.

The gemara relates that Rabbi Yehoshua asked Rabbis Yochonon ben Broka and Elozor ben Chasma, who came to visit him in P'ki'in, to relate what was taught in their Beis Medrash. They responded with the above-mentioned insight into our verse. Rabbi Yehoshua, who only heard this from them by virtue of requesting that they relate what they learned, and otherwise they would have not told this to him, said to them, "You have this wonderful jewel in your hands (this insight) and you attempted to keep it from me!" What got Rabbi Yehoshua so excited? The gemara Yerushalmi at the end of the first chapter of Y'vomos tells of Rabbi Yehoshua's mother bringing him as an infant to the Beis Medrash. Not that he understood anything, but simply to have the sound of the words of Torah that were expounded enter his ears. He personally experienced his mother's bringing him although he understood nothing, but applied the "hakheil" concept to his mother's actions. (Meshech Chochmoh and others)



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

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