Points to Ponder

Eikev 5774


And it will be when you hear the Mishpatim and observe them so Hashem will all observe the Bris and the Chessed that he promised your forefathers (7:12) – Why does one need to rely on the Bris, the Chessed and Zechus Avos if we are already listening to the word of Hashem? Rav Schlessinger Shlita explains that sometimes one cannot rely on his merits alone. Perhaps it is due to the fact that s/he has racked up many, many Avairos or isn’t among those who listen to Hashem regularly. In these cases the turn toward listening to Hashem can perhaps be utilized as a recognition that the “real” person is the new one who is following the word of Hashem as did the forefathers, and in return perhaps Hashem can consider the Bris and the Chessed of the forefathers in helping the present generation.


The entire Mitzva that I am commanding you today, you should be diligent to follow (8:1) – Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. would often note that the primary desire of Hashem is that each Jew not do a mitzvah for ulterior motives but rather for the idea that it is a Mitzva which will allow him to keep it even when he (the person) does not totally grasp the purpose of doing the Mitzva. This will guarantee that he performs the entire Mitzva – not just the parts that he fully grasps.


And I stayed in the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. I didn’t eat bread or drink water (9: 9) – The Midrash Tanchuma (Beshalach 10) notes that this is how the Torah became Torah Moshe – by dedicated himself as described here. But why is the lack of eating and drinking assumed to be the means of displaying dedication worthy of receiving the Torah? Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi Shlita explains that Moshe did not eat or drink because that is the style in Shomyaim. Moshe displayed Mesirus Nefesh in keeping with the local custom – and Derech Eretz Kadma L’Torah so really Moshe acquired the Torah by Mesirus Nefesh in the keeping of Derech Eretz.



And I wrote on the Luchos the ten things that were on the first luchos that you broke (10:2) – When the Talmud refers to the Luchos that Moshe broke, the Talmud adds “Yashar Kochacha She’Shibata” You should have strength that you broke them. Rav Pinchas Teitz ztl. noted that the only time we find the Yashar Kochacha being expressed is when the rebuilding process is undertaken. He adds that destruction alone is never a reason to say Yashar Koach. Only then in the rebuild can one say Yashar Kochacha – that there was a purpose.


And now Yisrael what does Hashem ask from you except for Yirah (10:12) – The gemara (Shabbos 31b) notes that Hashem’s only demand in this world is for Yirah. This leads the gemara (Menachos 43b) to conclude that one must make 100 Berachos each day. What is the connection between making 100 Berachos and Yiras Shomayim? Rav Zaidel Epstein ztl. explains that Chazal were trying to teach us how to acquire a sense of Yiras Shomayim. One learns to acquire an awareness by constantly reviewing it. This happens with Yiras Shomayim by constantly reciting Berachos – Baruch Ata, Melech HaOlam etc.


To follow all of his ways and stick to him (11:22) – How does one “stick” to Hashem if he is an all consuming fire? Rashi answers that we need to stick to the Talmidim and the Chachamim and that will be considered as if we stuck to Hashem himself.  Rav Shlomo Fisher Shlita notes that the same issue could have been raised earlier (10:20) but is not. Why? Rav Fisher answers that this Parsha appears right after the section of V’Haya Im Shamoa which deals with the regular person who goes to work every day and needs to connect to Hashem perhaps by connecting to the Talmidei Chachamim.


So that our days and the days of our children shall be extended on the land that Hashem promised (11:21) – The gemara notes that there are old people in Baval as well because they come to Shul early and leave late (Berachos 8a). Why is it that the Gemara knows that in Chutz L’Aretz the secret to long life is being associated with Shul attendance? Rav Nissan Alpert ztl. suggests one of 2 possibilities: either that we are close to Hashem in his place we merit long life or when we give time to Avodas Hashem so Hashem gives us extended life to expand the time we donated to Him. Thus, the reward (in the second case) is apparent everywhere in the world because of the dedication to Kavod Shomayim there.


Haftorah:  Does a women forget her child these also you should forget by I will not forget you (Yeshaya  49:15) – The Midrash notes that while Hashem may forget these (Eileh) he will never forget “I” (Anochi). In other words, Hashem can forgive the Eileh of the Cheit HaEigel but not the Anochee of the ten commandments. Rav Schachter Shlita notes that selective memory is critical for our existence and survival. We generally rely on the basic level of our relationships and use that to forgive the transgressions of that relationship when the particular violation of the basic understanding of the relationship does not match up.  Hence, Hashem can forgive the aberrations but not the core.