Torah Weekly

For the week ending 28 July 2018 / 16 Av 5778

Parshat Va'etchanan

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Although Moshe is content that Yehoshua will lead the nation, Moshe nevertheless prays to enter the Land of Israel in order to fulfill its special mitzvot. Hashem refuses. Moshe reminds Bnei Yisrael of the gathering at Sinai when they received the Torah that they saw no visual representation of the Divine, but only the sound of words. Moshe impresses on Bnei Yisrael that the Sinai revelation took place before an entire nation, not to a select elite, and that only the Jews will ever claim that Hashem spoke to their entire nation. Moshe specifically enjoins Bnei Yisrael to "pass over" the Sinai event to their children throughout all generations.

Moshe predicts, accurately, that when Bnei Yisrael dwell in Eretz Yisrael they will sin and be scattered among all the peoples. They will stay few in number but will eventually return to Hashem.

Moshe designates three "refuge cities" to which an inadvertent killer may flee. Moshe repeats the Ten Commandments and then teaches the Shema, the central credo of Judaism, that there is only One G-d. Moshe warns the people not to succumb to materialism and thus forget their purpose as a spiritual nation. The parsha ends with Moshe exhorting Bnei Yisrael not to intermarry when they enter Eretz Yisrael, as they cannot be a treasured and holy nation if they intermarry, and they will become indistinguishable from the other nations.


Lollipop Nachat

“…so that you will fear the L-rd, your G-d, to observe all His decrees and commandments that I command you — you, your child, and your grandchild — all the days of your life…” (6:2)

Nachat is something you only get from your grandchildren” runs the quip. Or, as Rabbi Simcha Auerbach jokingly put it, “Granchildren are the prize you get for not murdering your children.”

A few weeks ago I got a big nachat delivery. I was leaving a Kiddush and I bumped into an old friend who asked about one of my children, and he then told me this story:

“One of my kids was starting school and it was his first day on the tender (school bus). Of course he was nervous and overwhelmed with all the older boys on the bus and he started to cry. He told me that your son, who was a couple of years older, came over to him and gave him a lollipop and smiled at him. His whole first day at school was very different because of that lollipop.”

“Thank you so much for telling me that,” I said.

“No,” he said. “That’s not the end of the story. So now in our family, on the first day of school, my children go out, ‘armed’ with lollipops to give to the little ones on their first day.”

“Mitzvah goreret mitzvah.” One good deed doesn’t just deserve another, it causes another. Our actions echo down the years, through other people’s lives, on and on.

“So that you will fear the L-rd, your G-d, to observe all His decrees and commandments that I command you — you, your child, and your grandchild – all the days of your life…

How can the Torah command us to ensure that our grandchildren will fear G-d and keep the mitzvot? How much influence can a grandparent have over his grandchild? Unless the grandchild is brought up by the grandparents, the major influence must be the parents.

My father, a”h, used to say, “Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you!’ is ineffective parenting.” Like it or not, our children mimic us, for the good or the not-so-good.

Maybe the Torah is hinting here that we are responsible even for our grandchildren’s connection to Judaism because the example that we set as parents will passed down the generations — like a lollipop.

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