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Parshas Devorim – Torah Gems ~ Torah Gems

Devorim*

I. Hearing the heavenly voice

1. ‘The matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me and I shall hear it.’ (Devorim 1.17) There are a number of questions with regards to this verse. First, the verse should have said ‘the matter that is difficult you shall bring to me’. What is the meaning of ‘for you.’ [These words do not add anything to the verse.] Also it should have said, ‘I will make it known.’ Why does it say, ‘I shall hear it.’ It appears to me that this verse is trying to teach us something that is very difficult for us to believe. [That is:] is it possible for us to hear the call from Above that is announced to inspire the hearts of Israel to do tshuva*, as Chazal* have taught many times with regards to this voice in the Talmud* and the Zohar*. With regards to this announcement the verse says ‘The matter that is difficult.’ [Meaning] that it is an obstruction ‘for you.’ This refers to that announcement, which is called [this] ‘matter.’ It is difficult for you to believe that this announcement can be heard by people. The obstruction is from ‘you.’ [You are the one who finds it hard to believe that it is possible.] A persons preoccupation with his physical desires will cause a wall of separation, causing him to be unable to hear this voice. This is what the verse means when it says, ‘you shall bring to me.’ They should approach to the level of Moshe. As it says [with regards to Moshe] ‘Take off the shoes from your feet’. This refers to his removing from himself all of his physical desires, in order to purify them. Then, ‘I shall hear it.’ Through attaining this level of Moshe, [separating from his physical nature,] he is able to hear [this voice.] That is the meaning ‘I will hear it.’ [Through the level of Moshe he will be able to hear this voice.] (p. 495 sefer

Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)

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II. Blessings 2. ‘May HaShem* the G-d of your fathers add to you a thousand times yourselves and bless you as he promised.’ (Devorim 1.11) Rashi* explains that [Moshe] said to them, [‘This blessing] is from me, but He [HaShem] should bless you as He has promised’. There is a well known [and obvious] question about Rashi’s explanation. Why did Moshe have to bless them when HaShem had already given them a limitless blessing? Is it possible to add to a blessing that has no limit? We can explain this according to what I have heard from my holy Uncle, the holy grandfather Rebbe* Meshulim Zushya ZTvK’L* [of Anapoli.] He explained the verse in Tehillim*, ‘May HaShem increase you, increase you and your children.’ The question with this verse is also well known [and obvious.] If HaShem is increasing the person, then his children and grandchildren are also included. Why does the verse add ‘and your children?’ He explained this to mean that HaShem should increase ‘HaShem’ to you. The meaning being that HaShem should increase his holiness upon you and bestow upon you prophecy, Ruach HaKodesh* and the knowledge of the Torah. This blessing should also be upon your children. With this we can explain our verse. When our ancestors stood before Moshe each of them received of Moshe from his understanding [of the Torah] according to his level and the source of his soul. Moshe was the ‘power’ of HaShem to Israel. [He was in HaShem’s place and was the conduit for all of HaShem’s blessings both physical and spiritual.] This is the meaning of ‘May HaShem the G-d of your fathers add to you.’ He should add understanding, the portion of HaShem, upon them a thousand times more then they have received today. Because of this it is easy to understand how our ancestors could think that Moshe was talking about physical blessings. For this reason they asked him, ‘Why have you put a limit on the blessings from HaShem?’ [They first had no limit and now he was saying 1000 times.] Moshe answered them that they had misunderstood his intention. He was only blessing them from [what was] ‘his own’ [to give.] That means his level of understanding that he could bestow upon them. They had thought he meant the physical blessings, but Moshe’s intention was for spiritual blessings. (p. 108 sefer Menoras Zahav teachings of

Rebbe Meshulim Zushya of Anapoli.)

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III. The results of ones actions 3. ‘HaShem your G-d has multiplied you and your are like the stars of heaven in greatness.’ (Devorim 1.10) The Midrash* says, “Moshe asked [of HaShem] ‘Why do you not compare them to the sun and the moon which [appear] larger then the stars?’ HaShem told him, ‘The sun and the moon will in the future be ashamed. Where do we see this? The verse says, “The moon will be humiliated and the sun will be ashamed.” But the stars will have no shame. Where do we see this? The verse says, “I am in the midst of Israel, I am HaShem your G-d and there is none other.”‘” [This Midrash is very difficult to understand. The second verse doesn’t seem to relate at all to what the Midrash is trying to teach.] The sun and the moon refer to those actions that a person does with his wisdom and his understanding. [Wisdom {Heb. Chochmah} is compared to the sun. Just as the sun has it’s own light, wisdom is a thing which comes of itself. Understanding {Heb. Binah} is compared to the moon because just as the moon has no light of it’s own, understanding involves taking one thing and seeing the consequences of it.] All those things that are based on a man’s knowledge will eventually be nullified. The stars refer to those things in which HaShem has enlightened a man, and he follows according to the light of HaShem. These will never be nullified. [This is the meaning of the second verse of the Midrash. The stars refers to that level when HaShem is among them, which can never be nullified.] (p. 173 sefer Mi HaShiloach teachings of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza.) * 4. ‘HaShem your G-d has multiplied you and your are like the stars of heaven in greatness. May HaShem the G-d of your fathers add to you a thousand times yourselves and bless you as he promised.’ (Devorim 1.10-11) It is explained in sefer Mi HaShiloach that the stars refer to those mitzvos* where HaShem has enlightened the person [in his performance of them. They are not done through his own knowledge, but through an enlightenment from HaShem.] This is what the Midrash say, ‘The stars will not ever be ashamed.’ [See the teaching #3] [We can further explain these verses.] With regards to the stars it says ‘Your G-d.’ This is because this enlightenment that comes upon a person is due to the merit of his actions. However with regards to the blessing of HaShem it says ‘The G-d of your fathers.’ This is the additional blessings which come from the choice that HaShem made to choose the Jewish people [from all the nations. This is not something which depends on a person’s own actions.] For this the merit of the patriarchs has to be added. (p. 52 sefer Beis Yakov teachings of Rebbe Yakov of Izbitza-Radzyn the son of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza.) * * * IV. Purpose of Prayer 5. ‘Enough of your circling this mountain, turn yourselves north.’ (Devorim 2.3) We can explain this verse as teaching us musar*. The main function and purpose of our prayers and service to HaShem, in this bitter exile that we find ourselves in and in which we have suffered almost 2000 years, is for His holy Shechina* which is with us in exile. As the verse says, ‘In all their sufferings He suffered.’ We need to pour out our supplications before HaShem that He should reveal the glory of His Kingship upon us immediately. And there should come a redemption [from exile] for the Shechina. And all the sins that occurred during the exile should be rectified. We should not pray in order that we should have good things [but the main prayers should be for the Shechina.] This is what the Torah wants to teach us. ‘Enough of your circling this mountain.’ The word ‘mountain’ [Heb. har] is the same gematria* as the Hebrew words for ‘Medea’, ‘Greece’, ‘Babylonia’ and ‘Rome.’ [The four exiles.] The meaning of this verse is that it has certainly been a long time that they have been going around and around in exile. [It is time that it be ended.] (p. 51b sefer Or Mala teachings of Rebbe Yisroel Tzvi of Kason HY’D. He was murdered by the Nazis on 3 Sivan 5704 – May 25 1944) ———————————————————————

Glossary:

Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Bamidbar:
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

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Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

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