by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS HAAZINU 5762 BS"D
Ch. 32, v. 1: "Haazinu hashomayim vaada'beiroh v'sishma ho'oretz" - Rashi says that the heavens and earth are called as witnesses because they are eternal. The mishneh in Pirkei Ovos 4:22 says that Hashem is the judge and a witness. If so, why is it necessary to bring other witnesses? It seems that the prophet Yeshayohu answered this question when he said "Shimu shomayim v'haazini Eretz .. vonim gidalti v'romamti v'heim poshu vi" (Yeshayohu 1:2). How do these two thoughts in the same verse connect? The Asoroh Maamoros answers that the statement in Pirkei Ovos that Hashem is both the judge and the witness only applies regarding a sin that is between man and man. However, when one sins against Hashem, He is disqualified from judging because Hashem is the plaintiff, and as well, the bnei Yisroel are His children, as the gemara Avodoh Zoroh 3a says, "Can Hashem testify to the benefit of His children? May a father testify for his son?" Thus the verse says, "Heavens and earth, hear, as you will be needed as witnesses. The reason Hashem cannot be the witness is because "bonim gidalti," they are My children, and also because "v'heim poshu VI," I am the plaintiff. Thus the heavens and earth are called upon as witnesses in our verse for the same reasons. (Tiferes haGeirshuni)
The Ibn Ezra says in the name of the "Gaon" that "hashomayim" refers to the angels in heaven, and "ho'oretz" refers to the people, who live on the earth. He also offers Rashi's explanation.
Ch. 32, v. 1: "Haazinu hashomayim vaada'beiroh v'sishma ho'oretz" - The Ksav Sofer says that the heavens are called as witnesses regarding heavenly matters, "bein odom laMokome," and the earth is called to bear witness regarding earthly matters, "bein odom lacha'veiro." This theme carries on in the next verse, where Hashem's word is compared to both rain and dew. Rashi (Sifri 32:2) says that not everyone is pleased when it rains, while everyone is pleased with dew. Rain, which comes from the heavens, is compared to admonition regarding heavenly matters, while dew, which comes from the ground, is compared to rebuke regarding interpersonal matters. Thus, regarding heavenly matters not everyone is pleased to be rebuked, while regarding interpersonal matters, everyone is accepting, as the laws of interpersonal behaviour follow basic logic and are needed for the proper function of society.
Ch. 32, v. 2: "Yaarofe kamottor likchi" - Targum Onkeles says "Y'va'seim k'mitro ulponi," - may My teaching be sweet as rain. Similarly, Targum Onkeles says on "Va'yim't'ku hamayim" (Shmos 24:7), "uvsimu mayoh," - and the water was sweetened. How does Targum Onkeles derive the translation "sweet" from the word "yaarofe?" It seems that he switches the letter Fei for a Veis, as per the rule that letters that are pronounced from the same part of the vocal system are interchangeable. Pei/Fei and Beis/Veis are part of the Beis-Vov-Mem-Pei group. Thus we have the word "yaarove," as in our daily blessing "v'haa'rev noh," and "ye'erav olov sichi" (T'hilim 104:34). In which aspect is rain sweet? The evil inclination entices a person to follow on the path of his base inclinations. The road starts off pleasant, but after a short while it sours, often ending with very, very, bitter results. The path of the Torah has the opposite scenario. Although sometimes starting out has its challenges and is an uphill struggle, after a bit it becomes very pleasant and sweet. This is why the bnei Yisroel upon accepting the Torah said "kole asher di'ber Hashem naa'seh" (Shmos 19:8), while later they responded with "naa'she v'nishmo" (Shmos 24:7). This is because upon accepting the Torah they had increased passion to fulfill its commandments. This is like the sweetness of rain. When it falls it inconveniences some people, i.e. those who are travelling and those who have their wine stored in open pits (see Rashi). However, upon waiting to see the results of rain, all are pleased, as rain is needed for the sustenance of mankind. (Medrash Shmuel)
Ch. 32, v. 2: "Yaarofe kamottor likchi" - Just as rain brings about the result of growth, so also may the words of My Torah not only be informative, but also bring about spiritual growth in those who study and fulfill its precepts. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
Ch. 32, v. 3: "Ki sheim Hashem ekro hovu godel lEilokeinu" - Rabbi Yehudoh (gemara Brochos 21a) derives from these words that one is required to make a blessing before embarking on learning Torah. The Tosfos Yom Tov explains that the reason the BaHa"G brings the blessings on the learning of Torah as a preface to his work is because the gemara N'dorim 81a explains the verses "al moh ovdoh ho'oretz, al ozvom es Torosi" (Yirmiyohu 9:11,12) to mean that that they have forsaken the Torah by not reciting a blessing upon it before beginning to learn it. Thus the BaHa"G wrote the blessings to serve as a reminder to all who open his work to make a blessing if they have not already done so. This might also explain why ma'seches Brochos is the first volume of the Talmud.
The gemara N'dorim 38a says that when Moshe ascended to the heavens and learned the Torah from Hashem, he continuously learned and forgot. At the end of his forty day stay Hashem gave him the knowledge of everything that he learned as a present, as is written, "Va'yi'tein el Moshe k'chaloso l'da'beir ito b'Har Sinai" (Shmos 31:18). We see from this that when a person "owns" the Torah that he studies he does not forget it. The gemara Avodoh Zoroh 19a derives from "Ki im b'Toras Hashem cheftzo uv'Soroso yeh'geh yomom voloyloh" (T'hilim 1:2) that the Torah is first considered Hashem's and when a person diligently studies it, it becomes his (as per Rashi's explanation in d.h. "nikreis").
The Noda bIhudoh in his work Tzla"ch offers another explanation. The gemara Brochos 35a asks that two verses seem to contradict each other. One verse says "LaShem ho'oretz umlo'oh" (T'hilim 24:1), while another verse says "v'ho'oretz nosan livnei odom" (T'hilim 115:16). The gemara answers that before one makes a blessing on food it is Hashem's and after he makes the blessing it is considered his. If we apply this concept to Torah study as well, the intention of the gemara Avodoh Zoroh 19a might be that before one recites a blessing on learning Torah, the Torah is called Hashem's, and after he has recited the blessing then it is his. Once it is his he will remember what he has studied, as per the gemara N'dorim 38a. This might be the reason for the BaHa"G's writing the blessings for the study of Torah in his preface, so that whoever will study his work will retain the information.
Ch. 3, v. 4: "HaTzur tomim po'olo" - The gemara Brochos 7a discusses the subject of "tzadik v'ra lo," why seemingly bad things happen to good people. Hashem imparted of His wisdom to Moshe and allowed him to understand Hashem's ways of justice. Others do not comprehend this. This subject is on the minds of many. It is related that two people came to the Ibn Ezra with a monetary dispute, and once they were there they also asked this question, not only posing it as a question, but with their intonations indicating that they had a great complaint against Hashem for such seeming injustice. Their monetary question was as follows: They had been travelling together and sat down to eat. Another traveler came upon them and told them that he had no food with him and that he was starving. He told them that he did have money with him and would pay them for whatever they would give him. They agreed to his offer. One of these two had three loaves of bread, while the other had two. All loaves were the same size. They equally consumed all the bread. The man who had no food left them with five gold coins. The person who owned the three loaves felt that he deserved three coins, as he had started off with three loaves and that his friend deserved two coins, as he owned two loaves. His friend disagreed, stating that since the third party consumed an equal amount from both of their breads, he and his friend should each receive 2 ½ coins. The Ibn Ezra ruled that the owner of the three loaves deserves four coins, while the owner of the two loaves deserves only one coin. Both of the litigants responded that the Ibn Ezra does not know how to rule properly, as he awarded one of the men even more than he felt he deserved. The Ibn Ezra explained his position quite simply. Since each of the three people who had partaken of the breads ate an equal amount, let us calculate as follows: The five breads can be considered as 15 portions if we split each bread into three. Each of the three people ate five portions. The owner of the three breads owned 9 portions while the owner of the two breads owned 6 portions. The owner of the 9 portions ate five portions and gave away 4 portions, while the owner of the 6 portions ate 5 portions and gave away only 1 portion. It thus makes perfect sense to give 4 coins to the owner of the three breads and only 1 coin to the owner of the two breads. The Ibn Ezra ended by telling these two people that if they could not fathom the judgement of a mere flesh and blood human being whose judgement was actually quite simple to comprehend, how could they expect to understand the depth of Hashem's rightful judgement, let alone voice a complaint against Hashem. "Mish'p'tei Hashem emes tzodku yachdov" (T'hilim 19:10) (Yalkut Mei'am Lo'eiz)
Rabbi Shimon of Yarislov lived to a very old age. He was asked the question "Ba'meh he'erachto yomim" (see gemara Taanis 20b, Megiloh 27b, 28a, Sotoh 39a) - what did you do to deserve to live to such a ripe old age? He answered that he never once complained about anything that Hashem did to him. This was because he was absolutely convinced that all that Hashem did to him was deserved and calculated. He continued: "When a person questions Hashem's actions and complains, he is given an answer. However, to comprehend the answer he must be removed from this beclouded and confusing world to see the truth. This necessitates bringing him to heaven, i.e. dying, and showing him the fairness of all that has been meted out to him.
Ch. 32, v. 18: "Tzur y'lodcho teshi" - The Psikta and the Yalkut Shimoni on this verse say that when the bnei Yisroel fulfill Hashem's mitzvos they "kavyochol" add vigour to Hashem, as indicated in the words of the verse "V'atoh yigdal noh ko'ach Hashem" (Bmidbar 14:17). When they ch"v sin, they "kavyochol" weaken Hashem, as indicated by the words of our verse. See how far reaching are the actions of a human being. (Shal"oh Hakodosh)
Indeed, how is this to be understood? How can a person's actions impact upon HaKodosh Boruch Hu? Perhaps with the concept mentioned in the writings of the Holy Zohar (1:157a) and the gemara Brochos 58a that "malchuso d'aro mei'ein malchuso dirokia," that the kingdom of earth replicates the Kingdom of Heaven, this can be comprehended. Since we realize that when a king's subjects rebel against him his stature is weakened, so too, this must be the case in the heavenly spheres. This explanation is quite lacking but gives us a finger hold towards understand the words of the Psikta and the Yalkut Shimoni.
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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha
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