Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) It would seem logical to always have Nitzovim and Va'yeilech joined as they total only seventy verses. Why do we sometimes split them into two separate readings, even at the expense of joining Matos and Massei, which total over two-hundred verses?

2) Ch. 29, v. 18: "L'maan s'fos horovoh es hatzmei'oh" - What are "rovoh" and "Tzror Hamor'mei'oh?"


3) Ch. 31, v. 9: "HaKohanim bnei Levi HANOSIM es arone bris Hashem" - Compare this verse with 31:25 where it says "haL'viim NOSEI arone bris Hashem."

4) Ch. 31, v. 19: "V'atoh kisvu lochem es HASHIROH hazos" - Why is the feminine form SHIROH used rather than the masculine form SHIR?

5) Ch. 31, v. 27: "Hein b'o'de'ni chai" - This is one of the ten "kal v'chomers" in the Torah. If you were rebellious against Hashem during my life time, all the more so will you be rebellious after my death. The gemara Sanhedrin 37a relates that there were wayward people living in the neighbourhood of R' Zeira. When R' Zeira died, they repented, saying that as long as R' Zeira was alive his merits protected them against retribution. After his death, they discontinued their bad ways, fearing punishment from Heaven. According to this story, isn't Moshe's "kal v'chomer" refuted? During Moshe's lifetime people might have been rebellious against Hashem, with the hope that Moshe's merit would save them. However, after his death, they may not sin for fear of retribution.



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," admonition, with which we do not want to end the year. (See Tosfos Megiloh 31b and gemara B.B. 88b).


Rashi explains this to mean that a person who has removed from himself the yoke of Heaven, will be held responsible for an inadvertent sin just as an intentional one. "Horovoh" means imbibed with alchoholic drink and hatzmei'oh means sober, thirsty. When one is inebriated, he is in a state of doing things unintentionally and when sober, his actions are considered intentional. We translate the verse, "to add on the inebriated," the unintentional, the "shogeg," to the thirsty, to the acts that were done intentionally, while sober, and to be equally responsible for the "shogeg" since the yoke of heaven has been discarded.

The Ramban explains differently. "Horovoh" means satiated, symbolizes something for which one doesn't have an urge. "Hatzmei'oh," that for which one thirsts, symbolizes sins for which one does have a yearning. The verse says that one who removes from himself the yoke of Heaven, will end up expanding his lust for aveiros to include those for which he previously had no urge.


HANOSIM means "those who are now carrying," while NOSEI means "carriers," those who carry on a regular basis. The regular carriers were the L'viim, while the Kohanim carried the Holy Ark at this special occasion when Moshe was giving over the guidelines of the covenant and his farewell address. (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)

We find on two other occasions that the Kohanim carried the Holy Ark. One was when they crossed the Jordan River and entered Eretz Yisroel and when they circled the city of Jericho before capturing it. Perhaps a common thread can be drawn in these three occurrences. Each was a situation where a miracle took place. At the assembly of all the bnei Yisroel when Moshe said "A'tem nitzovim" the Ibn Ezra on the words "lifnei Hashem Elokeichem" says that "in front of Hashem" means that they all gathered in front of the Holy Ark. This was indeed a great miracle to have everyone be able to fit in front of the Holy Ark, again a case of "miut hamachazik es hamruboh." At the time of the crossing of the Jordan River the bnei Yisroel experienced the miracle of the river splitting (Yehoshua 3:3), and when the bnei Yisroel circled around the city of Jericho the miracle of its walls sinking into the ground took place (Yehoshua 6:6). Perhaps this is the intention of the Sforno d.h. "hanosim" where he points out that the Kohanim were the carriers of the Holy Ark in this instance rather than the L'viim because "Shenosu b'eis his'cha'deish NES bo," - they carried at the time that a miracle would be wrought through the Holy Ark.


This can possibly be explained with a Tosfos on the gemara P'sochim 116b, d.h. "v'nomar, or v'ne'emar." He says that shiroh, being a female form of song indicates that there will be a future song as well, similar to a woman who goes through difficulties in childbirth numerous times. So also shiroh connotes a song of praise of being saved from a difficulty, which is not the final difficulty. However, shir, the masculine form, connotes a song indicating a final redemption.

Similarly here, Hashem has commanded us to write the song of Ha'azinu, (or to write the complete Torah, see Ha'ameik Dovor by the N'tziv), yet He wants us to realize that the written Torah is not complete without the oral Torah. Hence, write this SHIROH, an expression of a song that has another song to follow, the Torah She'b'al Peh. Indeed, it is the custom when bringing a new sefer Torah to a shul or beis medrash, that a speaker discusses Torah She'b'al Peh to indicate that there is more to the Torah than just the written scroll.

Another explanation for SHIR being used for a final redemption and SHIROH being used for a temporary redemption can be found in the Medrash Shir Hashirim 1:37, on the words, "Sh'choroh ani v'novoh bnos Yerusholayim." The feminine word SHIROH connotes a song of praise for being rescued and able to reside in Eretz Yisroel, the land of the seven nations, a tenth of the seventy nations of the world. This is similar to a woman who receives a tenth of her father's properties upon his death, where there is no will stating otherwise. In the future, when the Jews will be exalted above the seventy nations of the world, they will give praise with SHIR, in the masculine form, similar to a man who inherits everything. There is also another very interesting explanation in the Eitz Yosef on this verse in Shir Hashirim. He says that all redemptions prior to the final one have a woman involved, so the feminine form, SHIROH, is used. The final redemption will be without the involvement of a woman, so the masculine form, SHIR, is used.


The Maharsh"o on the above-mentioned gemara asks this question. The Sefer Minchas Yehudah answers that we find by the incident of the golden calf, that some of the bnei Yisroel said (Shmos 32:1), "Ki zeh Moshe ho'ish......" Rashi explains that the soton showed them a vision of Moshe seemingly dead in the sky. They then produced a golden calf. We now understand the kal v'chomer. Moshe is saying, "When I was alive and you thought I was dead, you sinned with the golden calf. After I will truly be dead, you will surely be rebellious."

Another answer is offered by Rabbi Zvi Irenstein zt"l of Lvov. He says that there are two types of sinners. One denies the Torah completely, and casually transgresses its precepts without the slightest feeling of guilt. Another type of person creates all sorts of leniencies, and accusing the Rabbonim of not truly understanding Moshe's intent in the Torah. This latter sinner claims that if Moshe were alive, he would say that many of the things being forbidden by the Shulchan Oruch are actually permitted. The latter category of sinner could only function after Moshe's death. While Moshe was alive, he would have refuted this type of sinner's false claims. The first category of sinner could exist even during Moshe's lifetime. Now we understand the kal v'chomer. Moshe said, "During my lifetime, you were rebellious," referring to the total denier. "Surely after my death, the second category of sinner will come into being."



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

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