Points to Ponder
Listen Heavens and I Shall Speak (32:1) – Rav Elchanan Wasserman ztl. once began a Shabbos Shuva Derasha with the question of How could Moshe, the great Anav speak with such seeming arrogance? He explained that the answer is in the next Possuk – Ki Shem Hashem Ekra – when I offer Dvar Hashem it is not my words but rather those of Hashem – and therefore worthy of being heeded to even by Shomayim and Aretz.
May my teaching drip down like the rain ..like storm winds on vegetation (32:2) – The Sifrei deduces the responsibility for us to assemble our words of Torah into principles and details instead of seeing Torah as a bunch of minute details. Travellers do not take small bills with them on trips. They take large bills which can be exchanged for smaller bills as needed. Ramchal adds that when something is organized it helps make each detail more pleasant to learn.
Hashem guides us alone (32:12)- The Gemara (Chagigah 3a) notes that when we say Shema, we note the Echad – unique nature of Hashem. Similarly, when we declare Mi K’Amcha Yisrael Goy Echad, we are noting that we too, are a unique nation. While we live in isolation, it is precisely BECAUSE of our uniqueness. Rav Schachter Shlita would often comment that while the nations of the world are created in the image of Hashem, only Bnei Yisrael are referred to as Banim. It is the reason our take on world events is often different than those of the rest of the world. We are Badad – unique.
Hashem saw and turned away in disdain from the anger of his children (32:19) – Later it says Harninu Goyim Amo Kee Dam AVADAV Yikom. Yet, the Talmud notes that when we follow the words of Hashem, we are called Banim and when we do not, we are called Avadim. Why here does it seem to be the opposite? Rav Asher Weiss Shlita explains that there is a powerful lesson here – when Hashem gets angry with us, he is doubly hurt in that we are also his children (so how could we sin so terribly). At the same time, while moving back into the position of strength, Hashem remembers even the Eved and will avenge even the distance between us.
Hashem told Moshe in the middle of this day (32:48) – Rashi comments that in the middle of the day is a comment that appears 3 times and this is one of them because the people said that they were not going to let him go. What were the people thinking? How would they keep him from passing on? Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. explains that the people were davening so hard to Hashem that He not take Moshe. The Brisker Rav ztl. states that there is an easier explanation. Hashem had told Moshe that he was to die on Har HaAvarim. All the people would have to do is keep Moshe from ascending the mountain.
As Aharon your brother passed (32:50) – Rashi describes the death of Aharon and explains that Moshe desired the same death. What was it about Aharon’s death that Moshe desired? The Ponovitzer Rav ztl. explains that normally when one lives he lives by the word of Hashem and when he dies s/he can no longer keep Mitzvos and the word of Hashem. Aharon’s death was entirely a fulfillment of the word of Hashem. Moshe too, desired to go out of this world Al Pi Hashem – fulfilling Mitzvos.
Haftorah: On the surface, the song of the Haftorah which is a song of praise is wildly different from the song of prophesy that is Haazinu. Why then is it chosen as the appropriate one for the Haftorah this week? Rav Gideon Weitzman Shlita suggested that the song of praise and the song of prophesy need each other. Mundane praise is raised as a result of the prophesy. Yet prophesy is connected to the people who use it to direct their awareness and sing praise. The prophesy takes the word of Hashem to us, the praise song, allows us to reconnect to Him.