For the week ending 16 August 2008 / 15 Av 5768

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 10 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.



"And I beseeched G-d at that time, saying…" (3:23)

The phrase “At that time” hints to a prayer for generations unborn. Whenever the Jewish People will find themselves in times of anguish, unable to pray properly because of the oppression of exile, Moshe's prayer will arise for them.

Even in the most numbing unhappiness, when the cord of prayer to the lips has disconnected from the heart and all they will be able to do is merely utter the words, Moshe's prayer will arise for them. “At that time”, when all they will be able to do is “saying” and there will be no feeling in their words, this prayer of Moshe prayer will arise in front of G-d.

  • Source: HaRav MiAmshenov, zatzal

"With all your heart" (6:5)

A similar idea is hinted to in the phrase "With all your heart" in the Shema. Rashi explains the following phrase "With all your soul" to mean "even if He will take your soul." So, similarly,even if He will take your heart. Even when doubts gnaw away at your heart, even when it is confused and you don’t see the Hand of G-d, even then, serve Him — "With all your heart."

  • Source: Chidushei HaRim

Zushia’s Lesson

"And with all your resources" (6:5)

Reb Shmelke of Nicklesburg once asked his rebbe, The Maggid of Mezrich, "How can one possibly fulfill what our Sages teach us that we should bless G-d for the bad things that happen to us just as we bless Him for the good? How is such a thing possible?"

The Maggid replied to him, "If you wish to find the answer to your question, go to the Beit Midrash and there you will find my student, Reb Zushia. From him you will learn the meaning of the mishna’s teaching."

Reb Zushia, it was known, was a man terribly beset with every kind of trouble and affliction. He was poverty stricken and chronically ill.

When Reb Shmelke asked Reb Zushia how we can bless G-d for bad things the same way we bless Him for good he replied, "I can’t understand why the Rebbe should have sent you too me. Only someone who has had to endure hardship and affliction could possibly give you an answer, and, Baruch Hashem, everything in my life is good! How am I supposed to teach you how a person can accept bad things with simcha?

  • Source: Likutei Amaraim in Iturei Torah

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