Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 32, v. 2: "Kamottor, katal, kisirim, v'chirvivim" - As the rain, as the dew, as a wind driven rain, as droplets - We have four expressions of precipitation to which the Torah is likened in our verse. What are these four levels?

2) 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?

3) Ch. 32, v. 6: "*H*a laShem tig'm'lu zose" - To Hashem do you behave thusly - The letter Hei at the beginning of this verse is oversized. There is a diminutive letter Hei in the Torah as well. It is in the verse, "Eileh toldos hashomayim v'ho'oretz b'hiborom" (Breishis 2:4). What connection can we make between the enlarged and the diminished letters Hei?

4) Ch. 32, v. 26: "Omarti a'fei'hem" - How are we to translate "a'fei'hem?"

5) Ch. 32, v. 44: "Va'y'da'beir es kol divrei hashiroh hazose" - And he spoke all the words of this song - What is meant by "KOL divrei hashiroh"?



The Baal Haturim says that this alludes to the four traits of those who learn, mentioned in Pirkei Ovos 4:12. How they correspond remains to be explained. He also offers that the four expressions correspond to the four times Moshe taught each Torah law (gemara Eiruvin 54b).

The Sforno says that we have two levels of infusion of Torah into two types of people. "Yaarof kamottor" is the absorption of a vast amount of Torah knowledge that is received by those who dedicate themselves to it fully. "Tizal katal" is the grasping of a limited amount of knowledge, just as dew is a small amount of moisture, by those who devote a limited amount of time and effort into its study. Although limited, it is very beneficial, just like dew. The second group of terms again refers to the same two types of learners, indicating a great appreciation of the wisdom imparted by the Torah by one, and a limited grasp and appreciation by the other.


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.


Rashi (gemara Brochos) there explains that Hashem created this physical world with the letter Hei. This is expanded upon in the gemara Shabbos 104a. The letter Hei has no base, but rather, is fully open on the bottom, symbolic of the ease with which one can automatically fall downwards spiritually. At the same time near the top on the left side there is a small opening. This is symbolic of the need to work upwards for success, and the small opening shows that only a minority of people succeed.

Chazal tell us that the letters of "b'hiborom" spell "b'Avrohom," meaning that Avrohom was the one who recognized his Creator, even in a generation that thought to the contrary.

In a manner of allusion, derech remez, the letter Hei symbolizes the presence of Hashem in this physical world. In Breishis 2:4 it is diminutive, indicating that recognition of Hashem at the time of Avrohom would be very limited. In spite of this and of being the son of an idol worshipper and dealer, he recognized the truth. Compare this with the words of rebuke in our parsha. Hashem's presence, especially in the eyes of the bnei Yisroel, who witnessed tremendous miracles, was quite expanded, hence an oversized letter Hei. In spite of this, some do not recognize Hashem's power to punish and reward (see Rashi). (Nirreh li)


Rashi offers 4 translations for "a'fei'hem."

1) I will scatter them. Perhaps this is from the source word "pei'oh," a corner. Here it would mean to all corners of the world.

2) I will leave them ownerless, left to their own devices, sourced from the word "pei'oh," a corner of the field that is left for the poor to harvest.

3) I will pour my wrath upon them, sourced from the word "af."

4) Lastly, Rashi (Targum Onkelos, Sifri) interprets the whole word as a three component combination. I said in my anger, "af," that "ee," nothing, "heim," they are. I will make them negligible.

The Abarbanel says that some translate as #1 above, but he says that although the word source is "pei'oh," the intention is the exact opposite, not that I will scatter them to all CORNERS of the earth, but rather, I will place them all into ONE CORNER. The gemara P'sochim 87b in explanation of the verse in Shoftim 5:11, "tzidkas pizrono b'Yisroel," says that Hashem exhibited mercy by spreading the bnei Yisroel all over the world. Otherwise, ch"v a powerful enemy could have destroyed them to a man. He brings an historic example of this from the Greeks destroying the powerful and large nation, the Trojans. Likewise, almost all the bnei Yisroel were killed in England in the crusades by the blood-thirsty, merciless English, and likewise by the French in their land. Remnants of the bnei Yisroel remained by virtue of some of them living in other lands.

Hashem is saying in our verse that He considered placing them all into one corner, which would in turn ch"v bring to their total annihilation, "Lu'lei kaas oyeiv ogur," - if not for the anger of the enemy being restrained.


Ramban on verse 40 cites the words of the Sifri #43, "This song is great in that it encompasses the present, the past, the future, the present world, and the world-to-come." He expands upon this theme by saying that the intention is that all that has happened and will happen to each and every individual is somehow alluded to in "shiras Haazinu." He adds that this is the intention of the words "KOL divrei hashiroh." Moshe advised the bnei Yisroel of the words of the Sifri, that the "shiroh" contains every happening.

Based on this, Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Feinstein so eloquently explains why these verses are called "shiroh." Just as a song played by an orchestra is beautiful and enchanting only when we have a proper melding of numerous sounds emitted by totally different types of musical instruments, so too, to grasp the fairness and actual beauty of world events, requires seeing the past, present, and future in a panoramic view. Taking note of only a slice of our history and finding it seemingly unfair, brutal, etc., is like only hearing the banging or screeching of one component of a philharmonic orchestra.



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

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