by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS NITZOVIM 5775 BS"D
The only time we separate Nitzovim from Va'yeilech is when there is a Shabbos between Yom Kippur and Succos of the upcoming year. It would seem logical to always have Nitzovim and Va'yeilech joined as they total only seventy verses. However, if we were to join Nitzovim and Va'yeilech and split two larger parshios earlier in the year, our final Shabbos reading of the year would be Ki Sovo, which contains the tochochoh, admonitions, with which we do not want to end the year. (See Tosfos Megiloh 31b and Bovo Basro 88b).
Ch. 29, v. 9: "A'tem nitzovim" - The gemara N'dorim 64b says that wherever the Torah uses the word "nitzovim" or "nitzim" it refers to Doson and Avirom standing confrontationally against Moshe's authority. Since Doson and Avirom died in the episode of Korach (Bmidbar 26:10), why is the word "nitzovim" used in our verse? The Holy Admor of Mogelnitza answers that with the use of the word "nitzovim" in our verse, Moshe alludes to everyone coming close to Hashem, even people who are as rebellious as Doson and Avirom.
Ch. 29, v. 9: "Rosheichem shivteichem" - Rashi explains that these two words are one phrase, "your heads of your tribes." Haksav V'hakaboloh says that this phrase means "your heads shall be your prodding rods," from the word form "sheivet" meaning a staff or stick. The heads of the nation are responsible to see that the people abide by the laws decided upon by the courts. Rashi attributes this responsibility to the "sho'treichem" mentioned later in this verse.
Ch. 29, v. 18: "L'maan s'fose horovoh es hatz'mei'oh" - Rashi says that this means that an intentional sinner will have his unintentional sins judged with the same stringency as intentional sins. The Ramban says that this means that one who continually sins because of an urge to do so, will broaden the horizon of his lusts and bring a desire for that for which he previously had no desire.
The Rokeach cites a gematria allusion to the explanation of Rashi. "S'fose horovoh es hatz'mei'oh" equals "Hazdonos im hashgogos."
Ch. 30, v. 11: "Ki hamitzvoh hazose" - The Ramban says that these words teach us that it is a mitzvoh to repent, to do teshuvoh, for our sins. However the Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 1:1 says that when one repents he is required to also confess verbally that he has sinned. In his Sefer Hamitzvos, positive commandment #73, the Rambam likewise says that when one repents etc. The Minchas Chinuch in mitzvoh #364 derives from the manner in which the Rambam explains teshuvoh, that there is no mitzvoh to repent, but rather, if one is repenting he is required to verbally confess his sin(s) to effect an acceptable teshuvoh.
The Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Va'yeilech d.h. "V'omar" gives us a wonderful insight into the logic behind the Rambam's position, "ayin shom."
The Chidushei hoRI"M explains a mishnoh dealing with teshuvoh, which is brought in the gemara Yoma 85b, according to the Ramban and the Ramban. The mishneh says that one who says, "I will sin and repent, I will sin and repent," is not afforded the opportunity to repent. (The reason for this seems to be that since the person relied upon the opportunity to repent to sin in the first place, the instrument which helped bring about his sinning, namely the opportunity to repent, cannot be used as an instrument to cleanse the sin.) If one says, "I will sin and Yom Kippur will cleanse my sin," Yom Kippur is ineffective.
The Chidushei hoRI"M asks why in the case of repentance is "I will sin" mentioned twice, while in the case of Yom Kippur it is only mentioned once. He answers according to the Ramban who posits that there is a mitzvoh to repent, there is a possibility that a person who has never sinned will sin in order to have the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvoh of repentance. This only holds true by the first sin. However, if a person sins a second time, relying upon the cleansing powers of repentance, it is obvious that the second time he is misusing this power, hence rendering it ineffective.
However, since the cleansing process of Yom Kippur is not the fulfillment of a mitzvoh but rather a gift, relying on Yom Kippur to bring about forgiveness renders the power of Yom Kippur ineffective even when sinning the first time.
How do we explain this mishnoh according to the Rambam? Since the Rambam does not consider repenting a mitzvoh, why does the mishneh mention it twice? In hilchos teshuvoh 4:1, the Rambam quotes our mishneh verbatim except that "I will sin and repent" is mentioned only once. This is in keeping with his opinion that there is no mitzvoh to repent, hence a person renders teshuvoh ineffective even when sinning and relying on teshuvoh the first time. Most likely, this was also his text of the mishnoh.
Commentaries raise a serious question on the position of the Ramban. Our verse, "Ki hamitzvoh hazose," refers to the mitzvoh of learning Torah according to the gemara Eiruvin 55a, so how can the Ramban apply this verse to teshuvoh? Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner in Nefesh Hachaim answers that this gemara is not contradictory to the Ramban. He says that Talmud Torah itself cleanses sin just as repentance does. This is why in Shmoneh Esrei in the blessing of repentance we say, "Hashiveinu ovinu l'sorosecho ...... v'hachazireinu bis'shuvoh shleimoh l'fo'necho." Why is returning to the Torah mentioned here? We see that the study of Torah is also a form of repentance.
Similarly, the Sefer Oros Y'mei Rachamim, page 143, says in the name of Rav Aharon Kotler zt'l, that the learning of Torah is a component of the teshuvoh process. We can see this from the continuation of the theme of teshuvoh as mentioned in the verses that follow. Verse 14 says, "Ki korove eilecho hadovor m'ode B'FICHO," which refers to verbal confession, "U'VILVOVCHO la'asoso," which refers to regretting the past and committing to do that which is proper in the future. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says on these words, "A'rei koriv l'chone pisgomo b'veis mid'r'sheichone" - the word of the Torah is close to you in your study halls. We see that the study of Torah is a component of the teshuvoh process.
Perhaps another proof can be brought for the correlation between the study of Torah and teshuvoh. Verses 12 and 13 say, "Lo vashomayim hee, v'lo mei'eiver layom hee." The Targum Yerushalmi says on "Lo vashomayim hee," do not say that you need someone like Moshe who ascended to the heavens, to bring you the Torah; "v'lo mei'eiver layom hee," do not say that you need someone like Yonah who traveled the ocean, to awaken your heart to repentance.
Since our verse is discussing repentance, why would it enter one's mind that it necessary to have someone like Moshe to bring us the Torah, since that is not part of the teshuvoh process? Indeed, we see from here that Torah learning is integral to the teshuvoh process.
Although the Rambam does not count teshuvoh as a mitzvoh min haTorah, he also discusses the attitude and approach to limud haTorah in the final chapter of hilchos teshuvoh. Why does he place these matters in hilchos teshuvoh? This also seems to indicate that the learning of Torah is a component of teshuvoh.
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