CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VO'ES'CHANAN 5766 - BS"D
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?
2) Ch. 4, v. 14: "Laasos'chem osom BO'ORETZ" - Aren't mitzvos to be kept
outside of Eretz Yisroel as well?
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?
4) Ch. 5, v. 6,7 : "Onochi Hashem Elo'kecho, Lo y'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!
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?
Answer to questions on parshas Dvorim:
1) Ch. 1, v. 3: "Va'y'hi b'arbo'im shonoh" Rashi explains that Moshe waited
to rebuke bnei Yisroel until it was close to the time of his death. How was
Moshe allowed to wait to fulfill the mitzvoh of rebuking one's neighbor"
1) The Baalei Tosfos in sefer Moshav Z'keinim ask this. They answer that
when one sees his fellow Jew actively doing a sin, he must respond immediately.
However, after the sin has already been perpetrated, one is not required to
respond at the first opportunity.
2) The Rambam hilcos dei'os 6:6 says that the mitzvoh of rebuking applies in
an equal manner even after one has sinned. To answer the previous question
according to the Rambam, Rabbi D. Mandlebaum differentiates between rebuking a
group and rebuking an individual. When rebuking a group, one need not respond
immediately, but to an individual's sin, "amisecha" (singular form), one must
3) The Mahara"m Schiff in his commentary Drushim Nechmodim at the end of
gemara Chulin differentiates between rebuke that is given in a subtle, hinting
form, which he gave at the time of their sins, and rebuke which is open and
straight forward, which he gave close to his death.
2) Ch. 1, v. 13: "Chachomim" - Rashi comments, "K'SUFIM." What does this word
1) The Gur Aryeh and the N'tzi"v both say that they are unclear as to
Rashi's intention. (Although they surely are able to translate K'SUFIM, perhaps they
don't grasp how it would be a desirable characteristic trait for a tribal
2) The Divrei Dovid (Taz) translates it as pleasant and desirable, as in
"nichsof nichsafti" (Breishis 31:30). However, the Ibn Ezra on the above verse
says that "nichsof nichsafti" means "I have lusted." It is difficult to see why
this is a trait that is preferable for an elder to have.
3) The Chasam Sofer says that it means they are lustful for knowledge of the
words of the Torah.
4) Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his commentary on the Sifri and the Sifsei Chachomim
say that this word means that they are people who are easily shamed. This has
the advantage that they carefully calculate their actions and avoid sinning
so that they are not put to shame by their actions.
5) The Kerem Shlomo 17:7:9 says in the name of Rabbi Zanvil of Poznan that
it means that they are willing to shame themselves by seeking counsel even from
those less scholarly than themselves, in keeping with the dictum, "Eizehu
chochom? Holomeid mikol odom" (Pirkei Ovos 4:1).
6) The Imrei Shamai says that it means that they have great riches (kesef).
This is an attribute of an elder as the gemara K'subos 105b says, Rabbi
Nachman bar Kohein says, 'What is the meaning of the verse, "Melech bamishpot yaamid
oretz" (Mishlei 29:4)? If a judge (or leader) is as a king who has riches,
his demands and guidance will be followed, since he is independent of public
3) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Vo'atza'veh es shofteichem bo'eis ha'hee leimore" - The
Sifri #16 says that even if a similar case has come in front of the judges
numerous times, they should not be hasty to judge, but rather, they should
investigate the details meticulously. Perhaps there are factors that could change the
ruling that only come to light after in-depth investigation. How is this
concept derived from these words?
1) "Bo'eis ha'hee leimore" is seemingly superfluous. These words teach that
one should judge the case as if he has for the first time, "bo'eis ha'hee,"
heard the words of the two litigants. (Shach)
2) The word "vo'atza'veh" indicates being enthusiastic, as if this type of
case has come to him for the very first time, as per the gemara Kidushin 29a,
that the word "tzav" indicates eagerness and enthusiasm, both in the present
and in the future. Similarly here, one should approach each case as a new one,
not only when it is indeed new, but even a seemingly repetitive situation
should be dealt with as if it were new. (Maskil l'Dovid)
3) The words "shomo'a bein acheichem" are seemingly superfluous. These words
teach us that every time you hear the words of the litigants you should
fulfill "ushfat'tem tzedek," meaning to deeply investigate their words, and not
rely on the ruling you gave in a previous similar case. (N'tzi"v)
4) Ch. 1, v. 23: "Vayitav b'einai hadovor" - If Moshe was amenable to
sending the spies, why is this included in the admonition?"
1) Rashi answers with a parable of a person attempting to sell a donkey. The
prospective buyer raises numerous concerns about its ability to function
under different difficult circumstances. The vendor says, "You may test it under
each circumstance before you buy it." The willingness of the vendor to allow
the buyer to test it under all circumstances should be sufficient to bolster the
confidence of the buyer, and it should not be necessary to actually test the
animal. Similarly, Moshe's saying that it is a good idea, to send the spies
as he feels their findings will not deter their pursuit of the conquest of
Canaan, should be sufficient to allay their concerns. Thus, their insistence on
proceeding with the spy mission was inappropriate.
2) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers Rashi's question differently. We find
that in v. 22, Moshe quotes the bnei Yisroel as requesting a spy mission with
the purpose of "v'yach'piru" (and they will spy). However, when he relates what
happened, the word used for spying is "va'yi'raglu"(v. 24). The Ohr Hachaim
Hakodosh explains that "v'yach'piru" comes from the source word meaning "to
dig" (chafiroh). They requested spying for the purpose of finding out where the
inhabitants were digging to hide their possessions. Spying for this purpose was
acceptable to Moshe. However, "va'yi'raglu" means to spy out the condition of
the land, and the nature and strength of its inhabitants. This spying
demonstrated a lack of trust in Hashem, and was therefore deemed inappropriate.
3) The Sfas Emes answers that Moshe rebuked them for the suggested mission
finding favour in his own eyes. They were so forceful in promoting their agenda
that that they even influenced Moshe to the point that the idea appealed to
5) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Bo'eis ha'hee" - What is being pointed out with the words
"at that time?"
1) See Shach in previous offering.
2) Once you are appointed as a judge you may not back out of this
responsibility to the public. (Maskil l'Dovid's commentary on Rashi)
3) Every judge in every generation, "bo'eis ha'hee," should be venerated as
Moshe was. (Baal Haturim)
4) Only at that time, during the years before the coming of Moshiach, is
"shomo'a bein acheichem" required. Once Moshiach will come, he will have the
ability to judge through his sense of smell, ferreting out the truth by sense
alone, as is stated in Yeshayohu 11:3, "V'hiricho b'yiras Hashem .. v'lo l'mishma
oznov yochiach," - he will not need to judge by what he hears. (Kedushas Levi)
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH. FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY.
FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, KINDLY SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@AOL.COM
See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh
V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights