Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 8, v. 3: "Va'y'ancho va'yari'vecho va'yaachilcho es hamon" - And He caused you pain and He caused you to hunger and He fed you the manna. How do these three concepts flow?

2) Ch. 8, v. 4: "Simlos'cho lo volsoh mei'o'lecho" - Why didn't their clothes deteriorate?

3) Ch. 10, v. 21: "Hu s'hilos'cho" - He is your praise. What does this mean?

4) Ch. 11, v. 4: "Va'y'ab'deim Hashem ad ha'yom ha'zeh" - The Egyptians who were drowned are gone forever, not only until "this day," meaning forty years after the splitting of the Yam Suf.

5) Ch. 11, v. 6: "Va'asher ossoh l'Doson v'laAvirom .. asher potz'so ho'oretz es piho vativlo'eim" - Why does the verse mention the earth's swallowing Doson and Avirom, and not mention the swallowing of the leader of the revolt, Korach?

Answer to questions on parshas Vo'es'chanan:

1) Ch. 3, v. 23: "Vo'es'chanan" - Rashi says that Moshe said 515 prayers to Hashem, begging to be allowed entrance to Eretz Yisroel. The numerical value of the letters in the word, "vo'es'chanan" is 515.

Why did Moshe not pray for Aharon to live longer and enter Eretz Yisroel when he was advised of Aharon's imminent death?

1) The Rashbam says that Moshe waited approximately a year before davening to Hashem, hoping that with the passage of time, Hashem would be forgiving. By the time Moshe davened, Aharon was no longer living.

The Haf'lo'ah in his commentary on the Torah, "Ponim Yofos" gives numerous answers to this question in the parsha of Chukas, where Aharon's death is recorded.

2) In truth, Moshe would have accepted Hashem's edict and would have davened for neither Aharon or himself. The only reason he davened for himself was because he reasoned that once he was allowed entry into the territory of Sichon and Og, which were an inheritance for two and a half tribes, he thought that possibly Hashem had rescinded His vow.

3) Aharon died on the first day of Menachem Av. Moshe lived through another Yom Kippur. His hope was that through the cleansing effect of going through another Yom Kippur and his teshuvoh, his sin would be forgiven. However, this did not happen, as Yom Kippur does not fully atone for a Chilul Hashem(see mishnoh at end of meseches Yoma).

4) Moshe became angry at "Mei Merivoh." Anger causes a person to lose his better judgment. Aharon did not become angry. Moshe felt that his sin was perhaps mitigated by the fact that he was angry, thus bringing it into the realm of an accidental sin. However, this was not the case, as in situations of Chilul Hashem, even accidental sins are dealt with stringently. (See Pirkei Avos)

5) Hashem told Moshe that Aharon should ascend the mountain, where he would die, so Moshe felt that it would be futile to daven. Moshe was only told that he would not lead the nation into Eretz Yisroel. No mention was made of his death. He was therefore hopeful that he could enter Eretz Yisroel as a private citizen.

6) Moshe was apprised that Elozor would take over for his father. Once there is a prophecy that is beneficial for someone, it cannot be rescinded if transmitted through another prophet, in this case Moshe.

2) Ch. 4, v. 14: "Laasos'chem osom BO'ORETZ" - Aren't mitzvos to be kept outside of Eretz Yisroel as well?

1) Rabbi Shimshon R'fo'el Hirsch points out that the bnei Yisroel are responsible for all mitzvos outside of Eretz Yisroel as well, save the mitzvos that are land bound or Mikdosh connected. The intention of our verse is to say that we should do them in any location, as indicated by the cantellation of "zokeif koton" on "laasos'chem osom," indicating a stop in the phrase before the word "bo'oretz". This means that the mitzvos are to be fulfilled everywhere. Afterwards there is the add-on of "bo'oretz," where the mitzvos are done in the best manner (See Ramban Dvorim 11:18).

2) The Meshech Chochmoh explains these words by saying that "laasos'chem" means to FORCE you to comply, as we find in the gemara K'suvos 77a, "Ein M'ASIN ello lifsulos." On the basis of the words of the Rashb"o on the gemara Shabbos 88a the Meshech Chochmoh says that the rule of the religious courts forcing people to fulfill positive mitzvos (K'suvos 86a) only applies once the bnei Yisroel live in Eretz Yisroel. Thus, "laasos'chem osom," - to FORCE you to do them is only "bo'oretz."

3) Perhaps another explanation can be offered along the lines of the Meshech Chochmoh. In the desert when people did not comply with Hashem's mitzvos He furthered the manna from them and their portions required much preparation before being edible, as mentioned in the gemara Yoma 75a. However, Hashem always gave them manna even if they sinned greatly. However, upon entering Eretz Yisroel, the Torah says, "Hishomru lochem ...... v'sartem, v'otzar es hashomayim v'lo y'h'yeh mottor v'ho'adomoh lo si'tein es y'vuloh va'avadtem m'heiroh ......" (Dvorim 11:16,17). Hashem clearly tells us that when not complying in Eretz Yisroel He will force us to do the mitzvos under threat of otherwise being driven from the land through lack of sustenance. (Nirreh li)

3) Ch. 4, v. 23: "Hishomru lochem pen .. vaasi'sem lochem pessel tmunas kole asher tzivcho Hashem" - Guard yourselves lest .. you will make a form a picture of anything that Hashem has commanded you - It sounds as if ch"v Hashem has commanded to YES make a form of a deity. How are we to understand these words?

1) Rashi explains that there is a self-understood phrase missing from the end of the verse, "that Hashem has commanded you" - TO NOT DO. A number of explanations that take these words more literally:

1) There is a weakness in people to fulfill a mitzvoh in a superficial external manner, in form only. This is the Torah's warning: Guard yourselves .. lest you will make a form a picture, i.e. involve yourselves only in the externals, of anything that Hashem has commanded you to do. (The holy Admor of Kotzk)

2) This is a warning against not literally fulfilling the mitzvos and satisfying oneself with a symbolic gesture. Do not fulfill the mitzvos in a symbolic manner only. (Dvash V'cholov)

3) This is a warning against replicating the forms of the cherubs that were formed from the cover of the Holy Ark, which was commanded to do in the parsha of creating the Mishkon's vessels. (Haksav V'hakaboloh)

4) Ch. 5, v. 6,7 : "Onochi Hashem Elo'kecho, Lo yi'h'yeh l'cho elohim acheirim" - When the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf Moshe spoke in their defense. The M.R. Shmos 47:9 says that Moshe said that since our two verses which command that the bnei Yisoel believe only in Hashem and not in false gods is expressed in the singular form, "Elo'keCHO" and "Lo y'h'yeh L'CHO," perhaps the command was only given to Moshe and not to them. How is it possible for Moshe to use such a defense? Did he not tell the bnei Yisroel that in the merit of accepting the Torah after their deliverance from Egypt, they would be allowed to leave Egypt? Were they not told to prepare numerous days for the giving of the Torah? It is therefore impossible to say that all their preparation was only for being relegated spectator status!

1) In his essays on Shovuos, Rabbi Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer asks this in the name of his ancestor the Chasam Sofer, and answers that indeed we find that Moshe made no attempt to provide a defense for those who actually sinned by worshipping the golden calf. To the contrary, he preceded to assemble a small army of those who would kill the guilty people, and those who were not warned by witnesses were punished by Heavenly intervention and were killed by a plague. Finally, those who were not known to have sinned were tested by being given a brew of golden calf dust to drink, which brought about the death of those who were guilty (see Rashi on Shmos 32:20 d.h. "va'yashk"). We do not find that Moshe prayed or did anything else to stop this from happening. Moshe's defense, he posits, was to avoid having the bnei Yisroel being held responsible as "a'reivim," guarantors that others would not sin. Indeed, we find that the Torah was given only on the condition that the bnei Yisroel take responsibility one for another, as mentioned in the M.R. Shmos 27:9. He quotes a Medrash Tanchuma that the singular form used in the first two Commandments teaches that each person would take responsibility for the acts of his fellow ben Yisroel. However, Moshe claimed that only he was responsible for "arvus," "li tziviso v'lo lo'hem," understanding that the singular terms were directly only to him. This is why he said "m'cheini noh misif'r'cho" (Shmos 32:32). (I have found a Medrash Tanchuma in parshas Nitzovim ch. #2 that says that the leader has a unique "arvus" responsibility for the acts of all of the bnei Yisroel.) To this Hashem responded that even Moshe was not held responsible, as "arvus" would only begin later as mentioned in Rashi on parshas Nitzovim (29:28). Thus Hashem tells Moshe, "Leich n'chei es ho'om el asher di'barti loch." Lead the nation to the place that I have told you, i.e. Eretz Yisroel, because only there would "arvus" come into effect.

2) Possibly another explanation of this most enigmatic medrash can be given based on the words of the N'tzi"v. I feel it is appropriate to mention that the words of the N'tzi"v are most crucial to understand why the Torah oft-times tells us a ruling in a very direct forward manner, "pshuto shel mikro," and sometimes it is necessary to derive an understanding of the intention of the verse through one of the thirteen exegetical rules through which the Torah is explained, known as the "Breisa of Rebbi Yishmoel" at the beginning of the medrash on Vayikroh. In Vayikroh 21:5 the verse deals with three prohibitions for Kohanim. The first is against ripping out hair as a form of mourning. The N'tzi"v points out that the way it is expressed in this verse, "b'roshom," which when wearing a head covering is a hidden place, is stricter than the expression in Dvorim 14:1, the prohibition for all bnei Yisroel, "bein ei'neichem," indicating a restriction only in a prominent location. Similarly, regarding the prohibition against cutting one's beard with a razor which is mentioned next in the verse, it says "lo y'ga'leichu," even a minimal shaving, while by bnei Yisroel it says "v'lo sash'chis" (Vayikra 19:28), not to destroy by shaving, again a stricter expression by Kohanim. As well, regarding the prohibition against scraping one's flesh as an act of mourning, the final prohibition in the verse, he also points out in Vayikroh 19:28 that it is expressed more stringently by Kohanim, not mentioning "lo'nefesh," as it does by bnei Yisroel. He says that by way of "droshoh," exegetical rules, all that applies to a Kohein applies to the rest of bnei Yisroel as well, so their halochos are exactly the same. On Vayikroh 19:27 d.h. "lo sakifu" he says that although the halochos are the same for all, by virtue of the fact that the Torah OPENLY expresses stricter terms by Kohanim, they are liable to greater punishments that are meted out by the Heavenly court. His words: "D'b'mokome hamforosh baTorah ho'onesh bi'dei shomayim chomur mi'ma shenilmad b'kaboloh bigzeiroh shovoh u'chdomeh." He refers us to the words of Tosfos on the gemara Yoma 44a d.h. "mai lav," who ask why the Rabbis instituted a restriction as a safeguard against transgressing a Torah prohibition in one situation, and did not do so in another case that seems to have the same concern. Tosfos answers that the Rabbis were more concerned when the Torah prohibition is clearly spelled out in the Torah, as in the former case, than by the latter case, although also a Torah prohibition, because that prohibition is derived and not clearly stated. According to the words of the N'tzi"v, the seemingly enigmatic words of the Tosfos are readily understood. Given this most basic understanding of the difference between that which is derived and that which is explicitly spelled out by the Torah, perhaps we can say that Moshe's defense was that although it is well understood that the first two Commandments were directed to all the bnei Yisroel, nevertheless, they were not expressed as such, with the simple words seeming to be aimed at Moshe. If so, the bnei Yisroel do not deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

5) Ch. 7, v. 2: "V'lo s'cho'neim" - And do not favour them - The gemara A.Z. 20a derives 3 prohibitions from these words. It is prohibited to speak favourably about them, to give/sell them land in Eretz Yisroel, and to give them gifts. How do we derive these three seemingly disparate laws from these two words?

Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that these 3 concepts, "chein, chanioh" and "chinom" are derived from these words by changing the vowelization of the word "s'ch'neim." When spelled with a "tzeirei" it means favouring, with a "pasach" it means a resting place, and with a "chirik" it means gratis. This is why Torah may not be written with vowels, to allow for numerous interpretations. The letters are the body of the Torah (that which we physically see), while the vowels are its soul (that which we do not see). Rabbeinu Bachyei expands on this theme in Breishis 18:3.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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