Parshas Nitzavim ~ Torah Gems


I. Hiding

1. ‘I will hide my face from them and they will become prey…’ (Devorim* 31.17) I heard a parable that explains the idea of this verse in the name of the Baal Shem Tov. A king once commanded that his son should be beaten and made to suffer because he acted wrong. All the time this was being done the king observed his son. The servant was afraid to hit and cause suffering to the son of the king while the king was watching. [This was true] even though the king had commanded him.  What did the king do? He covered his face so as not to see what was happening. Then the servant was able to beat the son of the king, until the son did tshuva* and called to his father. The meaning is simple. As long as HaShem* is watching and guiding the Jewish people it is not possible for any evil to happen to them, or any enemy to oppress them. This is because [in the Torah*] we are called ‘sons’ of HaShem. Therefore the Torah says that ‘I will hide my face and they will become prey.’ [When they will sin HaShem needs to hide his face from the Jewish people in order that they could be punished.] (p. 596 sefer Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)                                 * * * II. Actions 2. ‘Moshe went and spoke…’ (Devorim 31.1) The Or HaChaim* asked about this verse, ‘Where did he go?’ We also need to understand why it mentions at all that he went. What do we learn from that? The idea is as follows. Each year has it’s own midah* [to serve HaShem with] which is renewed on Rosh HaShanah*. The same is the true with each generation that they have a special midah to serve HaShem with. This service is bestowed upon the generation by the Tzaddikim* who are the head of that generation. The generation of Moshe was a ‘generation of understanding.’ This means that they served HaShem with ‘understanding’, on the level of ‘thought’ which is higher then actions. For that reason HaShem bestowed upon them from levels that are above the natural order of things in all areas. Besides all the miracles, we see that their clothes and shoes did not wear out and they ate bread from heaven. That they did not bring this understanding into action is the reason why they sinned. The generation of Yehoshua was not on that high of a level, that of understanding. They were on the level of action. Therefore they were able to maintain that level and did not sin. As the verse says, ‘They served HaShem all the days of Yehoshua.’ Moshe before he died wanted to start them on the level of service of the generation of Yehoshua, the level of action. This was so that he should also have a portion in the service of those in the generations to come. Therefore he did an action, i.e. ‘And Moshe went.’ [The verse says later,] ‘He was not able to go out or come in.’ That means with his level, that of thought. He was not able to use that level any more. ‘And HaShem said to me… Yehoshua should go before you.’  That is because he [Yehoshua] is on the level of ‘action’ and with this they will be able to go into the land [of Israel.] (p. 131 sefer Toras Avos teachings of the Rebbes of Lechovitz, Kobrin and Solonim. This is a teaching from Rebbe* Avraham of Solonim.)                                 * * * III. Unity and love 3. ‘At the end of seven years, at the time of the Shamitta, in the holiday of Sukkos… And you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears. Gather together the people, men women and children… in order that they should hear.’ (Devorim 31.10-12) I have previously explained why this was done specifically during the year of Shamitta and on the holiday of Sukkos. Now I would like to add to this and explain why it was that the verse says first that they read the Torah and then gather the people. Don’t they need to first gather them and then read in their ears? It seems to me that this is a remez*. The main principle of the principles of the service of HaShem is that the Jewish people should love one another. From the smallest to the greatest. Even those people who have strayed from the good way, you should love those good things that are found in them. You should desire that good things happen to them. And pray that anything they are lacking should be given to them. You should teach them that they should love one another. When you will find that all the children of Israel are loving one another like brothers, and friends, then there will be no chance of evil happening to them. Then they will develop the fear of HaShem. This is because [due to their love of one another] they will inspire each other to incline towards the correct path. This is what the verse says, ‘And you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears. Gather together the people.’ The meaning is that this thing and this Torah you shall read to them, in their ears.’ [That is] that they should gather together as one man to love one another, from the smallest to the greatest. That is the meaning of ‘men women and children.’ They should love one another. From this ‘they should hear.’ And they shall learn to fear HaShem. (p. 246b sefer M’Or V’Shamash teachings of Rebbe Kolonymus Kalmen of Krakow) ———————————————————————


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
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
HY’D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood.
Mishleh: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English Proverbs.
Mitzvah (mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
nashama: Hebrew word for soul.
peshat: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding the simple meaning in the Torah.
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Shabbos: Tractate in the Talmud
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
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

Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe.
Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at ‘war’ to see which of them the person will follow.
Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination
Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination.
ZT’L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik – Righteous person is a blessing.)
ZY’A: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechiso Yagan Aleinu (His merit should protect us.)
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

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