by Daneal Weiner
is always read prior to Tisha b'Av. The parsha starts, Aileh hadvarim asher dibehr Moshe el kol Yisrael- These are the things that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael. Right now, as Dvarim opens, ALL Bnei Yisrael are gathered together to hear Moshe. A concept we’ve often spoke of is that just as there are 600,000 letters to the Torah, so too are there 600,000 Jewish souls. Each soul has it’s shoresh- root in one letter. YiSROeL stands for Yaish Shishim Ribui Osios Latorah- there are 600,000 letters to the Torah.. All the people/letters of Israel are now gathered before Moshe.
Most of Chazal- our Sages expound using a tool called s’muchim- adjacent subjects. They ask why are two topics in the Torah adjacent to each other? The root, samuch means 'lean' or ‘depend’. If one topic is leaning/depending on another topic, than some information from one is integral to the other.
There is one opinion in the Gemorah, Rabbi Yehuda, who does NOT expound by s’muchim for the first 4 books of the Torah. Only for Dvarim does Rabbi Yehudah use s’muchim. There must be something unique to Dvarim that makes it different than the other 4 books. Maybe that it opens el kol Yisrael, with all Yisrael s’muchim one to another?
Dvarim is also unique in that it is called the Mishnah Torah. The Torah Reviewed. Called as such because many mitsvot are repeated in it. Since we know nothing in the Torah is superfluous, Chazal compare the 'repeats' to the 'original' appearances and learn out more details of each mitsva. The name Mishnah Torah and the further elucidation of mitsvot are hints to the Oral Law. What is the relevance?
At the end of days, when Hashem hits the big ‘reset’ button in the sky, the Jewish calendar will be wiped clear except for two days. Purim and Tisha b'Av! An interesting pair. A day of utmost festivity and one of grief and mourning. In Megillas Esther, Haman's argument for permission to destroy the Jews was that we were 'scattered and dispersed.' The opposite of el kol Yisrael as Dvarim begins. After defeating Haman and our enemies, all the Jews were kimu v'kiblu, they upheld and accepted the yoke of Torah. If that was so, then, then what was the na'aseh v'nishma- we will do and we will learn that we declared at Mt. Sinai? Chazal say that at Mt. Sinai we committed to the Written Law and on Purim we committed to the Oral Law! This does not mean the Jews were not following the Oral Law since Sinai. But one thing it did mean is that in a moment when Hashem wanted to destroy us, Moshe was able to pray for our salvation saying "They never committed to the Oral law like they did to the Written law so they can't be punished to the letter of the law." (Of course, after Purim we no longer had that defense.) Point is, every Tisha b’Av is preceded with Shabbos Dvarim, Dvarim is an allusion to the Oral Law. A Chazal links Tisha b’Av to Purim. Purim is another allusion to Oral Law. (Everybody go, “Hmmm?”)
Two new mitsvos came out of Purim. Mitsvos, aside from their tikun- purifying effects, are a way we stay aware of our relationship to Hashem. They’re constant reminders that we are on His earth and need to play by His rules. If a mitsva is 'born' in to the Jewish people, it is to create an exercise, so to speak, for a new awareness in the area we’ve become weak (as well as creating a new reparation for the sin inevitably due to that weakness.) The mitsvos of Purim are giving mishloach manos ish l’rayayhu- food portions one to another and matanos l'evyonim- gifts to the poor. We take what is ours and give it to someone else. Mine becomes yours, yours becomes mine. And like everyone does on Purim, some of yours which became mine gets repackaged in a new mishloach manos and becomes theirs. Everyone becomes connected to everyone else. The sin was we were 'scattered and dispersed', the tikun is matanos l'evyonim and mishloach manos ish l’rayayhu. We become El kol Yisrael. Rav Wolfson points out that ish l'rayayhu- ‘one to another' = 622 = el kol Yisrael.
So Rav Yehudah learns from s’muchim in Sefer Dvarim, perhaps because all the Jews are standing side by side, being addressed by Moshe. Indeed an experience we should learn from. Rav Wolfson points out that the words eL koL YisraeL all end with the letter lamed. The word lamed means ‘learn’. El kol Yisrael- to all Yisrael Moshe reminded them of their trials and failings and warned them of the years ahead. Wanting to teach and not embarrass, Moshe only hints to the sins committed by mentioning only the names where they took place.
Aileh hadvarim asher dibehr Moshe el kol Yisrael b'aiver layarden, bamidbar ba'aravah, mol suf bein Paran ubein Tofel v'Lavan v'Chatseros v'Di Zahav. Rashi itemizes for us what happened in each place till he gets to Tofel v'Lavan. He says there are no such places in all Tanach! He explains Moshe is alluding to the mon. Tofel means 'denounce' and lavan means 'white.' Bnei Yisrael denounced the white stuff. They spoke against the mon while remembering the free fish in Egypt. Rav Wolfson asks, back in Shmos the mon is described as 'seedlike,' 'thin,' 'honey-tasting,' 'white,' etc. Why is it that Moshe picked 'white' as the code word? He answers, it's because Moshe wanted to impress upon Bnei Yisrael what it was that they were complaining about. They just saw the object rather than what was behind it. What ‘white’ was behind it?
The number 7 is no stranger to Judaism. There are 7 heavens, 7 seas, 7 days, we count 7x7 weeks for the Omer, 7 ushpizin, 7 sfiros and 7 nations conquered in claiming Israel. Not all these aforementioned 7's stand alone either. Some have ‘3 more’ waiting in the wings. 7 nations were conquered for the borders of Israel we had but ultimately 3 more will be conquered. Then, Jerusalem will reach all the way to Damascus. ( In Hebrew, Damesek, which is the same letters as Mikdash!) Regarding the sfiros there are also a total of 10. 7 have a prominence, of sorts, in our metaphysical interaction with the world now and the final 3 will show themselves more after the Mashiach comes. There are also 7 colors in the rainbow. Ultimately there will be 10! Each color corresponds to one of the 10 sfiros. The Tikun Zohar says white corresponds to the sfira of Chesed- loving kindness.
When Hashem threw mankind out of the Garden of Eden, He cursed man saying, "By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread." Work is a curse we have to contend with. There was a time when the Jews did not have to sweat for their food. We were fed out of pure loving kindness. When? In the desert! The mon from heaven was more than just free food. It was a direct expression of Hashem's loving kindness, suspending a curse which then plagued mankind for over 2400 years! Moshe let Bnei Yisrael know this is what they were complaining against. Oy!
There is another time, even after 5700 years, when we are fed out of pure loving kindness. As nursing infants! No rooms to straighten up, no finger nails to scrub, no vegetables to force down as the price of a meal. We are fed from pure loving kindness. Accordingly, milk manifests itself white. Rav Wolfson feels maybe this is why we eat dairy the 9 days prior to Tisha B'Av. To awaken in ourselves and in Hashem pure loving kindness. That we should all again become s’muchim to one another and that Hashem should permanently suspend all the curse of this exile. Just as the red blood turns to white milk, may these red days, red hot days, days red with the blood of our ancestors, may they be turned to days of pure loving kindness. Kein yehe ratsone!
While the men take on the responsibility of the mitsvos to counter-balance their egos, to exercise their awareness of Hashem, to hopefully purify Israel to the point of redemption- reflected in them thanking Hashem with shelo asani isha- Who has not made me a woman, the women, the intuitive ones with an more innate awareness of Hashem, they take on the parallel path to redemption through pure loving kindness. A path which more directly emulates Hashem, Him not being bound to mitsvos and spending His day keeping house, so to speak. They thank Hashem saying sheh’asani kirtsono- Who has made me according to His will. With both forces of Bnei Yisrael working s’muchim towards our one goal, may we all merit returning to the expanded Land of Milk and Honey. May Hashem not just care for us as he cared for the Jews in the desert but care for us as a mother cares for her nursing child: Without expectation, without rebuke, without punishment, with only pure loving kindness, Bimhayrah Biyamainu.
If we don’t merit the celebration of redemption and if there will be a fast this year, may it be a meaningful one. In the mean time, start practicing your celebrating by having a mitsvah filled and loving kindness felt Shabbot Shalom.