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August 15, 1998 23 Ab 5758

Pop Quiz: What was unique about B'nei Yisrael's clothing in the desert?

by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The entire commandment that I command you that you may live and increase" (Debarim 8:1)
In the perashah this week Moshe continues speaking to his people at the end of his life. In the above pasuk Moshe says: "Kol hamisvah - the entire commandment". A singular version is being used to refer to all of the misvot. Moshe stressed that no Jew could pick and choose among commandments of the Torah. The blessings promised by Hashem were contingent on Israel's acceptance of the entire Torah as if all of it, in its entirety, is a single command. This is how Rashi learns this pasuk. If we want to live a life of pleasure and to multiply as our pasuk concludes, it comes from being part of Hashem's program.

The Be'er Mayim Hayim illustrates: A king once had a special wellspring of pure water on his castle grounds. Since he wanted all of his subjects to enjoy this wonderful water, he issued an order that everyone should attach a pipeline to the well and draw the water directly into their own homes. Those who were wise and respectful laid new clean pipes to guard the purity of the water. They genuinely enjoyed the water and loved the king for giving them this gracious gift. The lazy foolish people, however, took old rusty and leaky pipes. Naturally, the few drops that they received were foul smelling and repulsive. Their reaction was, "The king is terrible and gives us horrible water." The King, Hashem, has a life-sustaining well of blessing. All He asks of us is to connect a clean "pipe," Torah, misvot and good deeds, to His well. Those that construct a clean, pure conduit without foreign thoughts and objectives, that don't leak, will drink of these waters and love Hashem for it.

The outside world thinks that it is easier to be a partial Jew by doing partial misvot or some misvot. However, the opposite is true. It is more difficult to be a partial Jew than to be a complete Jew. Being a complete Jew is easier because of the sweet water that comes flowing into our lives. Shabbat Shalom.


"And what was done to Datan and the earth opened up her mouth and swallowed them up" (Debarim 11:6)
The punishment meted out to these two wicked individuals for their participation in Korah's quarrel is alluded to in this pasuk. It seems puzzling that the Torah would mention Datan and Abiram and not mention Korah, who was the central figure and chief antagonist in this quarrel. We may derive from this apparent exclusion a lesson in the proper approach when rebuking someone. It is extremely important that one be aware of the feelings of the one who is being reprimanded, not to cause him any embarrassment and discomfort.

Korah's sons, once they repented, were spared from Hashem's punishment. They were standing there as Moshe recounted the various incursions and transgressions of Klal Yisrael. In order not to embarrass them, their father's name is not publicly mentioned. Datan and Abiram, however, who were swallowed up leaving no lasting trace, are mentioned, since no shame or disgrace can befall others with this statement. (Peninim on the Torah)


"You shall teach them to your children to discuss them" (Debarim 11:19)
The word "otam" could also be spelled with a "holam vav". Why is the vowel here without a "vav"?

The word "otam" without a "vav", which is translated to mean "them" can also be read as "atem", which means "you." The Torah is instructing that in order for a parent to succeed in teaching "otam, them" - Torah and misvot - to his children, it is imperative that it also be "atem" - you must be a living example to your children - i.e. they should see you learning Torah and observing misvot.

A non-observant father once sent his child to a Hebrew school. As the child's bar misvah was approaching, he took his son to the Hebrew bookstore and asked the salesman for a bar misvah set. The salesman opened the box and the boy saw in it a pair of tefillin and a tallit. Having no knowledge of theses strange items, he asked his father with a puzzled expression on his face, "What are these?" The father told him, "My son, this is what every Jew must have when he becomes bar misvah." The young boy looked up to his father and inquisitively asked, "So father, when are you becoming bar misvah?" (Vedibarta Bam)


"For if you will guard and continue guarding all this command" (Debarim 11:22)
It is not sufficient to study Torah. An individual must constantly review his Torah studies, so that they remain in his mind and become integrated into his personality. Indeed, the Sifri ascribes to this pasuk the admonition to repeat again and again that which we have learned. The Torah warns that, just as one has to be careful not to lose any penny that he has earned, he should likewise vigilantly guard against losing any Torah knowledge that he has acquired. In Iyob 28:7, Torah knowledge is compared to both gold and glass. Like gold, it is difficult to acquire, while like glass, it is easy to drop and lose.

We may suggest another reason for the analogy to glass. When glass falls and breaks, it splinters into sharp jagged pieces that are dangerous to anyone who touches them. Similarly, coming into contact with one who, due to a lack of dedication, has forgotten various aspects of his Torah wisdom is hazardous to one's spiritual health. Torah is not a secular subject that is studied merely to be remembered. Rather, it represents the lifeblood of our people and must constantly be reviewed so that its students become thoroughly imbued in its value. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: It never wore out and it grew along with the people.

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