Points to Ponder

 Eikev 5775

And you will eat and be full and bentsch (8:10) – Rav Mordechai Greenberg Shlita noted that the order of Berachos in Bentsching follow Rav Kook’s description of how to build a nation. First, one needs to take care of the material needs of the individual (hence Moshe wrote HaZon at the time the Mana fell) Then one worries about the physical needs of the masses (Hence Yehoshua wrote Al HaAretz which focuses on the needs of the collective), then Dovid worried about the spiritual needs of the people and thus wrote Rachem – because Yirushalayim spiritually connects us all together. Shlomo added the Beis HaMikdash in, because it is the spiritual home of the world. Why mention all of this at bentsching time? Rav Motti suggested that  when one is eating, he is focused totally on himself at a coarse physical level. At that time especially it is important for a person to realize that there is so much more for him to achieve.

And I sat at the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights (9:9) – The Gemara (Megillah 21b) notes that at a different point Moshe notes that he was standing for 40 days and 40 nights. The Gemara debates the apparent contradiction. One of the explanations of this issue is that when Moshe was learning something difficult he sat but the easier ones he stood for.  Harav Hershel Schachter Shlita explained in the name of Rav Chaim of Volozhin that there are 2 different concepts – that of Kavod HaTorah and that of Talmud Torah.  When they can both be fulfilled then Kavod Hatorah must be displayed. However, when one would need to divert his attention from Talmud Torah in order to demonstrate Kavod Hatorah, this ought not be done. Hence for difficult things, Moshe sat.

At that time Hashem told me to make new stone tablets like the first ones and come to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood for yourself (10:1) – Rashi notes that Moshe’s Aron noted here was different than the one that he made and placed in the Kodesh Kodashim. This one was the one that would go off to war with him. Rav Belsky Shlita notes that it is interesting that the Gemara (Bava Basra 14b) notes that both sets of Luchos were kept in the Aron in the mishkan. What then was the purpose of taking an empty Aron to war? He answers that the broken luchos were taken out of the main aron and placed here for the Jews to take with them into battle. Rav Belsky explains that this is a major lesson in humility – Jews going to war experience tremendous miracles – either in victory or in crushing defeat. The Shivrei Luchos joined them on the battlefield to remind them not to become too haughty on the home front – that Hashem saves us in perilous times not because of our own righteous rights but rather as a result of Zechus Avos, the great name of Hashem and His love of Bnei Yisrael.

And now Yisrael what does Hashem ask of you except a bit of Yirah (10:12) – The Midrash (Berashis Rabba 21) comments that the word “V’Ata (now)” is a hint to the mitzvah of Teshuva based on our Possuk. How does one see the connection to Teshuva in this Possuk? The Chofetz Chaim ztl. suggested that when one wants to do Teshuvah, often his Yetzer Hara will drag him down by suggesting that he remember his past and how Teshuva is now futile. That’s why the Torah changes its tune to remind us not to think about the past – focus on the present – become a person filled with Yirah NOW – thereafter the proper Kappara for the past can be sought after.

And you shall circumcise the orlah of your hearts (10:16) – What is the meaning of these Possukim in context to choosing the fathers? Rav Moshe Wolfson Shlita explains that there are 2 aspects to a Milah – Priah and Milah. Milah reveals the Bris while Priah makes sure that the Orlah does not extend and cover it over  (similar to Zachor and Shamor by Shabbos – See Ramban in Parshas Lech Lecha). The main Milah was done by the Avos. At this point our job is to remove the cover that often blocks the heart from seeing things properly.

Hashem your God you should fear (10:20) – The Talmud tells the story of Shimon HaAmsunee who used to explain each time it said “Es” in the Torah. When he got to Es Hashem Tirah he stopped… Until rabbi Akiva explained – that it came to add Talmidei Chachamim. Rav Moshe Chaim Lau ztl HyK, offered a novel interpretation to this gemara. He noted that when Shimon got to Es Hashem Elokeicha Tirah he realized he reached the pinnacle of personal achievement. That’s when rabbi Akiva explained that there is more room – L’Rabos Talmidei Chachamim – not to rest on one’s own personal achievements but to create more Talmidei Chachamim too. (At the time, he was being Maspid Rav Meir Shapiro ztl. who lived his life L’Rabos Talmidei Chachamim.)

And you shall teach your children to speak them (11:19) –Why do we say “Es” Bneichem instead of the simpler and shorter “LBneichem”? Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner ztl. suggested that the Torah speaks to the Mitzvah of Chinuch three times: in VaEschanan twice (V’Shinantam, V’Hodatam and this time). Each time contains a deeper meaning: The mitzvah of V’shinantam speaks to making the words of Torah strong and clear, the mitzvah of V’Hodata speaks to the responsibility of how the Torah was acquired experientially while the possuk here speaks to acquiring a Derech which requires a back and forth face to face meeting.

Haftorah: For Hashem has already consoled Tzion and its ramparts and he took its midbar and turned it into Eden and its desolation into the garden of Hashem (Yeshayahu 51:3) – Rav Avraham Rivlin Shlita noted that the double description of the desolation and the rebuilding process further continues the theme of the double Nechama that will be found at the time of the coming of Moshiach. He adds that there is an intense comparison between the improvement of the quality of Jewish life in the future and that of the improvement in the land quality – somehow the regeneration and growth of the botany of the land of Israel is intensely tied to the growth potential of the people who have the rights to her land. Hence, Moshiach is also referred to in Novi as Tzemach.