CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHIOS V'ZOSE
HABROCHOH 5767 - BS"D
1) Ch. 33, v. 9: "Ho'omeir l'oviv u'l'imo lo r'isiv v'es echov lo hikir v'es
bonov lo yodo" - Rashi (Sifri and Yalkut Shimoni remez #955) says that when
the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf Moshe announced "Mi laShem eiloy"
(Shmos 32:26). The complete tribe of Levi assembled and Moshe told them to kill
the sinners even if they were the person's own father, meaning his mother's
father (one calls his grandfather "father"), his maternal brothers, and his
daughter's sons (one calls his grandchild his child). Rashi adds that it
impossible to explain "father" literally, or "brothers" as paternal brothers, nor
"sons" literally, since the sinners would then be members of the tribe of Levi and
this cannot be since the same verse says "Va'yei'osfu eilov KOL bnei Levi,"
that not even one person of the tribe of Levi sinned.
Why does Rashi not point this out in parshas Ki Siso on the words "v'hirgu
ish es ochiv" (32:27)?
2) Ch. 33, v. 20: "V'toraf zro'a AF kodkode" - When Gad slew the enemy with
his sword, he not only decapitated him, but also severed the enemy's arm in one
swing of his sword. Why doesn't the verse simply say "kodkode uzroa" leaving
out the word AF and mention "kodkode" first, as one goes after the enemy's
3) Ch. 34, v. 5: "Va'yomos shom Moshe" - And Moshe died there - The gemara
B.B. 15a asks how Moshe was able to write that he died, as at the time of
writing it would not be true. Rabbi Nechemioh answers that until this verse Hashem
would dictate, Moshe would verbalize and write. From this verse on Hashem would
dictate and Moshe would write "b'dema," commonly translated as with tears.
Why did Moshe verbalize before he wrote the previous section of the Torah,
and only write without verbalizing from this verse on, as indicated by the
gemara not mentioning his verbalizing the last eight verses?
4) Ch. 34, v. 12: "Asher ossoh Moshe l'einei kol Yisroel" - By proof of a
cross-reference from our word "L'EINEI" to the term "va'ashabreim L"EINEIchem"
(Dvorim 9:17), Rashi says that this refers to Moshe's shattering the tablets
which contained the Ten Commandments. Considering all the awesome accomplishments
of Moshe that this verse and the previous verse list, why does the Torah
deliver as the grand finale Moshe's shattering the tablets?
5) Ch. 34, v. 12: "Asher ossoh Moshe l'einei kol Yisroel" - The Holy Zohar is
quoted in the Pnei Yehoshua on gemara Kedushin 30a as saying that there are
600,000 letters in the Torah. An early commentator says that this is hinted at
in the first word (BREiSHiS)as well as the last word (YiSRoEL) of the Torah.
Torah Yeish Boh Shishim Ribo Osios - Yeish Shishim Ribo Osios LaTorah.
Rabbi Saadioh Gaon counted and gave us a total of under 800,000. Sefer
Hamesorres written by Rabbi Eliyohu Habochur claims it includes the letters of
Nach. Our text of Nach makes this an impossible answer, as including Nach brings
the total to well over 1,000,000 letters. Our count gives us 304,805 for the
Torah alone. This is about half of the 600,000 mentioned in numerous sources.
How do we answer this discrepancy?
CHAZAK CHAZAK V'NIS'CHA'ZEIK!
Answer to questions on parshas Haazinu:
1) Ch. 32, v. 2: "Yaarofe kamottor likchi tizal katal imrosi" - Rashi points
out that "mottor," rain, is not beneficial for everyone. For one who has his
wine stored in a pit that has no cover and for one who is traveling, rain is a
major inconvenience. However, "tal," dew, is beneficial for all. The Torah is
comparing the words of the Torah to both rain and dew. Since Rashi says that
dew is always of benefit and always appreciated, why does the Torah find it
necessary to also use the analogy of rain to the words of the Torah?
1) The Ksav Sofer answers that to understand the Torah properly there are
two levels. The first basic level of understanding is that one must
single-mindedly and diligently study and toil to understanding the Torah. (Even after all
the toil the knowledge acquired is a present from Hashem, as we find in the
words of our daily blessings to study the Torah, "Asher bochar bonu mikol
ho'amim v'NOSAN lonu es Toroso." He has GIVEN us His Torah. The Holy Admor of Kotzk
says on the words of the gemara Megiloh 6b and the Medrash Tanchuma in our
parsha 3:8 "Yogati umotzosi taamin," "We see from these words that after all the
toil, understanding the Torah is compared to a FIND, something that is gotten
not as a direct result of one's efforts, just as a found object is not usually
gotten directly through one's efforts."
This level is compared to rain. Although rain comes from the heavens, it is
not a product of the heavens. The bodies of water on the earth experience some
evaporation, and this moisture ascends skyward. Upon condensation the rain
descends. So too with Torah study, first we must make an effort, the diligent
study of the Torah down here on earth, and then, and only then, does Hashem
respond with a downpour of Torah knowledge into our minds. This level of Torah
knowledge is exactly like rain.
There is a second level of Torah knowledge called, "laasukei shmai't'so alibo
d'hilch'so," to conclude with a proper halachic understanding of the Torah
that was studied. The gemara Bovo Kamo 92a says that this is dependent upon
"siyato dishmaya," heavenly intervention. This level of Torah knowledge is totally
from above, similar to dew which comes from the heavens and does not start
out on the earth, hence the need to mention both comparisons.
2) The GR"A says that the comparison of Torah study to rain teaches us a
startling lesson. Do not assume that Torah study guarantees that the one who
pursues it will become a refined person. Just as one who plants something
beneficial, as wheat or another grain, has his crops develop thanks to the rainfall,
similarly one who plants poisonous plants will have them thrive from the rain
as well. It all depends upon what one plants. The Torah only makes it thrive
but does not change what the plant is. This is why the verse compares Torah
study to rain. Only one who undertakes to study the Torah as a guiding light to
change his negative traits will benefit from it in a manner where he will become
a different and improved person.
2) Ch. 32, v. 6: "Ha'lo hu ovicho KO'NECHO" - What is the translation of
Rashi offers three interpretations:
1) He has purchased you. (Kinyan)
2) He has placed you into the safety nest of boulders. (Kein)
3) He has rectified you with all manners of improvements. (Tikun)
The Moshav Z'keinim asks according to the translation that "He has purchased
you," - Who was the vendor? He answers in the name of Rabbi Elozor of Vermeiza
that when Hashem divided humanity into 70 nations he gave each nation over to
an administering angel. This included the bnei Yisroel, whose angel was
Micho'el. Hashem purchased the right to administer the Jewish nation in exchange
for giving Michoel the position of head angel and to be the Kohein in the
heavens. Clarification of this latter point can be found in gemara M'nochos 110a
Tosfos d.h. "U'Michoel sar."
3) Ch. 32, v. 39: "Mochatzti vaani erpo" - In the Amidoh prayer
(shmonoh-esrei) we say "R'fo'einu Hashem v'neiro'fei ...... ki s'hiloseinu ottoh." The
words "ki s'hiloseinu ottoh" are most puzzling. Why do we mention that because
Hashem will heal us He is our praise? Why not say this by any of the other middle
blessings, i.e. because You give us wisdom, forgive us, give us sustenance,
Rabbi Yechezkeil Abramski answers that it specifically because Hashem allows
us to avail ourselves of doctors in pursuit of healing (Shmos 21:19) that
there is the fear of attributing our healing only to the doctor and ch"v
forgetting that it is truly Hashem Who has sent us our r'fuoh. We therefore beseech
Hashem to send us healing because we will remember that "You are our praise" and
we will attribute it to Hashem.
4) Ch. 32, v. 43: "Harninu goyim amo" - This verse ends the 43 verses of
"Shiras Haazinu," the Song of Haazinu. It is written in a unique format. The first
half of each verse is written on the right side and a large space is left in
the middle. The second half of each verse is then written on the left half,
each verse ending at the far left end. This leaves us with two narrow vertical
columns of writing in one outer column, encased in rectangular embossed
(m'surtot) lines. This configuration is called "ariach al gebei ariach u'l'veinoh al
ga'bei l'veinoh," a half-brick upon a half-brick of writing and a full brick
upon a full brick of blank space.
These 43 verses comprise the first six of the seven weekly "Aliyos laTorah."
The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 31a and the Talmud Yerushalmi Megiloh 3:7 say that
the chant of the L'viim for the Shabbos Mussof offering was Shiras Haazinu.
Rabbi Chonon (Onon) bar Rovo in the name of Rav said that it was divided into six
sections. The acronym for the first words of these six sections is "HaZIV
L'CHo," Hei-Zayin-Yud-Vov-Lamed-Kof. The gemara goes on to say that the same
applies to the synagogue. Rashi explains that this means that when parshas Haazinu
is read in shul on Shabbos, Shiras Haazinu is split into six "aliyos," each
starting with the same verse as the chant of the the L'viim in the Beis
Hamikdosh during the Shabbos Mussof sacrifice procedure. Which are the six verses of
There are numerous opinions as to which verses this acronym refers. Everyone
agrees that the Hei stands for Haazinu (v. 1), as that is the first verse of
our parsha. As well they also all agree that the second "aliyoh" begins with
"Z'chor y'mose olom" (v. 7). A list of differing opinions follows, starting from
the third "aliyoh."
1) Yarkiveihu (v. 13), Va'yishman (v. 15), Lu (v. 29), Ki yodin (v. 36).
(Ma'seches Sofrim 12:8)
2) Yarkiveihu (v. 13), Va'yar (v. 19), Lulei (v. 27), Ki yodin (v. 36).
(Rashi on gemara Rosh Hashonoh 31a d.h. "Haziv")
3) Yarkiveihu (v. 13), Va'yar (v. 19), Lu (v. 29), Ki essoh (v. 40). (Rambam
hilchos t'filoh 3:5, RI"F on gemara Megiloh 3rd chapter, Rav Paltoi Gaon,
Moshav Z'keinim, and Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. #428:5)
4) Yimtzo'eihu (v. 10), Va'yishman (v. 15), Lulei (v. 27), Ki essoh (v. 40).
(Rav Hai Gaon brought in Sefer Ho'eshkol end of #21)
5) Yarkiveihu (v. 13), Va'yar (v. 19), Lu (v. 29), Ki yodin (v. 36).
(Rabbeinu Chananel on gemara R.H. 31a and also mentioned in margin of gemara as a
correction to the text of Ma'seches Sofrim, replacing Va'yishman (v. 15) with
Va'yar (v. 19), brought in Tosfos d.h. "Haziv")
6) Yarkiveihu (v. 13), Va'yar (v. 19), Lu (v. 29), Ki mi'gefen (v. 32).
(Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel in his commentary on verse 40, in the name of Rabbeinu
5) Ch. 32, 44: "V'Hoshei'a bin Nun" - Why have we reverted back to Yehoshua's
The Rebbi Reb Heshel of Cracow in Chanukas haTorah answers that the gemara
Sanhedrin 107a says that when Sorai's name was changed to Soroh, the letter yud
complained to Hashem that it is not in use. Hashem responded that not only
would it be used, but previously it was at the end of a name and now it would be
at the beginning of Hoshei'a's name which will be changed to Yehoshua. Sorai
was eighty-nine years old when her name was changed to Soroh and she lived a
total of 127 years, hence the yud was inactive for 38 years. Hoshei'a's name
was changed to Yehoshua by Moshe Rabbeinu at the time when the m'raglim,
spies, were sent (B'midbar 13:16). This took place in the second year that the bnei
Yisroel were in the desert. Now that we are in the end of the fortieth year
in the desert, the yud has been in use for thirty-eight years, so there is no
further need to call him Yehoshua. A question can be raised on this: Why do
we find the name Yehoshua later in Ch. 34, v. 9?
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