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by Daneal Weiner
From the Orchards of Jerusalem
There is newness in the air! That, according to Rabbi Osher Zelig Rubenstein is what this time of year is all about. Even the Goyishe Velt feels the forces of renewal. They don't know why but they role with the flow none-the-less; the new school year, the new fiscal year, new rental season and next years model cars hit the showroom floor...and all because the Holy One, injected into this time of year a feeling of newness so that in the upcoming days of Awe we may come before Him as a new nation, committed to cleanse ourselves of our past sins and ready to serve Him in new ways. The astrological sign is Virgo, the virgin, a symbol reflecting of this new found innocence.
Not only is this week the double parsha
but I also planned on starting off with a few words from last weeks Ki Savo as well. Last week was the Tochacha and the curses. I did not want to talk about them till this weeks Netsavim. I'll try to be brief which, unfortunately, does not do the topic justice. The following I heard from a Rabbi Hillel David and again from Rabbi Rubenstein.
The Gaon of Vilna (The Grah) who lived approximately 300 years ago said that although the Chumash is not a history book, all of history is in it. All of humanity is in it. (The codes are beginning to reveal what the Grah was talking about.) The Gra also said that the book of Devarim alone parallels the final milenia. Although we have it devided into 11 parshas, the Grah says that two parshas are joined as one and each of these now 10 parshas correspond to a century of this final milenia.
Last week's parsha, Ki Savo, corresponded to the century which enveloped and ended with the Holocaust. The parsha which lists the worst of the curses of the Torah was indeed testimony to the worst period in late Jewish history. When the Torah warned what would happen when Jews turn from the ways of G-d to run after the ways of the Gentiles, when it said how it would happen, by whom it would happen and, as we're learning now, when it would happen, it was accurate to its last bitter detail. The Torah doesn't end there, though.
The Gemorah tells an incident of some Rabbis going up to the Temple mount shortly after it's destruction. When they saw a fox coming out from what was the Holy of Holies, the Rabbis wept but Rabbi Akivah laughed. They asked why he was laughing? He said he knew the verses from the prophets warning that foxes would roam the Temple Mount. He never knew if they were metaphoric or literal. Now that he knows it is literal, this means that all the verses which describe the glorious rebuilding and grandeur of the 3rd temple are also to be taken literally as well! The Rabbis said, "You have comforted us Akivah, you have comforted us."
Rashi describes that after hearing all the curses the faces of Bnei Yisrael were green with fright. Who could possibly with stand such tragedies? Who could survive such horrors? This weeks parsha answers as it begins, "YOU are all standing here today..." Netsavim means not just standing but implies standing firm, implanted. Just as KiSavo literally described the Holocaust, so does Netsavim literally describe the growing and flourishing Jewish communities which are blossoming the world over. Jews, young and old, are returning to their roots. Implanting themselves, as the parsha says, before G-d.
Some people ask, "How many do you need learning in Yeshivas and Seminaries?" "Haven't you learned enough? When are you going to get a job?" These people must have been born yesterday because they seem to know nothing about what went on the day before. When it was decreed from on High that European Jewery could no longer be the bedrock of the Jewish nation it was uprooted including its very foundation. Not only did all those who ran from Judaism die just because they were Jewish- al kiddush Hashem, but nearly all the Torah giants, their talmidim and communities were gathered to the Creator. Every single Jew who survived Hitler's, y'sh, quest for world dominion was hand pickedby G-d to be the new foundation, the new building blocks of the new Jewish Nation. And the definition of a survivor is not living through the camps. Even if you, your parents or your grandparents escaped 50 years before the war, if they were on the other side of the planet...if you are alive today you have been hand-picked to save the Jewish people.
Imagine working on a building site erecting a skyscraper and hearing people ask, "What do you need all those columns for?" "Is so much cement necessary?" Or visitors at the Golden Gate Bridge asking, "Does there have to be so many cables? And they're so thick! Couldn't the material be used for something else?" What foolish questions.
In the merits of all the Ba'alai Tshuva the world over may we soon see the coming of the Mashiach and the building of the 3rd and final Temple, speedily in our day. Amen, kain yehe ratsone.
Speaking of learning Torah, I hope this helps.
30:11/14 "For this commandment that I command you today - it is not far from you and it is not distant. It is not in heaven foryou to say, 'Who can ascend to the heaven for us and take it forus, so that we can listen to it and perform it?' Nor is it acrossthe sea for you to say, 'Who can cross to the other side of the sea for us and take it for us so that we may listen and perform it?' Rather the matter is very near to you - in your mouth and your heart - to perform it."
The commentaries say the 'it' is the Torah. `This commandment.'means all of them- Rashi says it's both the Written and Oral Torah. Sforno says re: `in your mouth and your heart' that the mitsvos requiring actions are inspired by the mouth (ie; walk your talk) and the mitsvot of the mouth are inspired by the heart. Rabbi Yoseph Dov Soloveitchik brings a Gemorah which says that everyone was taught the Torah in the womb and it was forgotten at birth. This is why no matter what the age, if someone learns Torah it will seem 'very near' to them. Like an old forgotten friend.
I heard from a Rabbi Akivah Hominick 2 related medrishes. The first, I'll just say it describes an very lazy man. The kind that if he sat in front of a plate of food he'd complain he's too tired to lift the fork. To him Moshe Rabbeinu is telling us it is already "in your mouth"! [This is no doubt related to the aforementioned Gemorah about learning all Torah in the womb because the way we forget it at birth is by an angel striking us on the MOUTH! If I would want someone to forget something, I'd figure a good wack in the back of the head would do it. But the angel hits us in the mouth and Moshe Rabbeinu tells us that'swhere the Torah is!? Hmmm? Food for thought. (Thank you, thankyou.) Chew on it a while. (Please stop, you flatter me.)
Medrish #2: A loaf of bread is suspended up in the air. A simple man passes underneath and stares up at it. A Talmid Chacham passes by. The simple man says to him, "Look at it up there. It's out of reach, impossible to get." The Talmid Chacham says back."If someone put it up there than it can be taken down." He went and got a ladder and brought down the bread. The medrish says the message is that this is the way to achieve Torah, one verse at a time. One chapter at a time.
I hear your question already. What kind of a message is that from this medrish? If the bread was 1000 stairs up and the man said I'll never make it so the Talmid Chacham climbed one stair at atime till he got to the bread, that makes sense. But he gets a ladder? That's one verse at a time? How do we explain this Medrash?
To do so Rabbi Hominick uses a Gemorah which says, the vessels of G-d are not like the vessels of mankind. By mankind, only an empty vessel can hold the most but as it is filled it can holdless and less. By Hashem, it is His empty vessels which can holdless but the ones which fill themselves can hold more and more.The greater the spiritual attainment Gİd's vessel, man, the more G-d will give him to hold. An example might be a balloon. When it is empty, it's volume is little. As it begins to be filled it's capacity to hold grows as well.
To the simple man it was impossible to reach the bread. To the Talmid Chacham, he knew exactly what TOOL he needed to reach it. The ladder is learning. The Talmid Chacham said, If Someone putit there, [Someone -capital S] then we have a way to reach it.All that Hashem puts out for us is within our reach. Even if it is in the heavens or across the sea. The higher we climb the ladder of learning, the higher the top of the ladder reaches.
Or you can look at it the way Rashi does. (30:12) "It is not in heaven" This is a good thing because Rashi says, "Even if it were in the heavens, ie: incomprehensible, we would still be responsible to try and learn it!" G-d gives us the invaluablegift of understanding.
Verse 30:20, "...to love Hashem, your G-d, to listen to His voice and to cleave to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days..." A while back, in a bordering village that was also the frontline, a curfew was enacted by the invading army. Any activity inthe dark of night would be interpreted as spying. I think thetown was...Tavrig. Yes it was, because every night the TavrigerRav lit a candle and sat in his room learning. One night thelight was spotted and a team of soldiers came bursting threw hisdoor. In a heartbeat he was sentenced to death. He was asked ifhe had any last requests. He said, "You caught me in the middleof a very difficult Rambam. I would like a few minutes to try and get clarity in it. In those passing minutes the noise of national army was heard in the distance and the enemy soldiers fled. For some, a few minutes of life means a few more minutes of learning. For all, a few more minutes of learning means life. Every once in a while we get to see it clearly.
If one is to live one has to learn Torah. Otherwise one may breath, but it's not life. Some dead people walk around for years before they are buried.
Lets be real for a moment. Can we puny little Jews who are approaching the end of our 2nd milenia in exile, who have fallen to the 50th level of Tuma, can we really understand the depths of the Torah? Across the sea is more like across the universe! Havewe got a chance? Thats why Netsavim is doubled up with Parshas Vayelech!
Deut. 31:1, "Vayelech Moshe..." "And Moshe went (and spoke these things to all Israel...)" Rav Wolfson asks why this parsha opens with "And Moshe went and spoke..." and not the usual, "And Moshe spoke"? (31:2) "...I (Moshe) am no longer able to go out or come in..."Rashi comments, "This teaches that the wellsprings of wisdom were closed up from Moshe." Commentaries ask on this Rashi because it is a contradiction to the end of parsha Zoes HaBracha, (34:7)"His (Moshe's) eyes had not dimmed nor his vigor diminished." WasMoshe cut off or was he strong to the finish? How do we reconcilethese two statements of our sages?
Rabbi Moshe Midner, zt'l, came before the Admo"r of Tchortkov, zt'l, and said, "I am of one of those fitting for the Admo"r to come after but I did not want to trouble him." The Admo"r asked him to explain. He said, "It says in the Zohar Hakadosh, "TheTsaddikim are obligated to run after the wicked to get them to dotshuva." It is therefore fitting that the Ardmo'r come after me for I am of the wicked and need to do tshuva but I did not wantto trouble the Rav so I came to him." We can not go to Moshe Rabbeinu but he already came to us. There are 600,000 letters in the Torah. This is also the number of all the souls of all the generations of the Jews, from thefirst to the last, from the great leaders of the generation of the desert to the last generation of the footsteps of the Mashiach. Each soul is rooted in one of the letters of the Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu, on the day he was gathered wrote 13 Sifrai Torah.By way of his writing the letters of the Torah he injected into them, ie: into all their corresponding souls of B"Y, from his own life force. His influence made possible our complete reparation.
Moshe passed through every generation from the first 'B' in Braishis to the last days, the generation of the footsteps of the Mashiach. Parallel to the final souls of the final days are the final chapters of the Torah. As Moshe Rabbeinu came to thesechapters, as he reached the lower generations, he had to restricthis influence- limit it to a level suitable for the people of thetime. We are not capable of handling the intensity of effectMoshe had enacted on the previous generations.
And so, "Vayelech Moshe..." "And Moshe went", went from his present intensity, went from his level of spirituality, and he lowered himself to be able to reach the lower generations just as the Tsaddik is supposed to go after the 'wicked' to get them todo tshuva. This was the intention of Rashi who wrote, "The Wellsprings of wisdom were closed up from him." And even though his eyes were not dim or his vigor diminished. The blocked wellsprings of wisdom were for the good of the those generations who would now be able to receive according to their capabilities.
Speaking of capabilities, have a Moshe Rabbeinu inspired Shabbot Shalom!
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