Points to Ponder
And I prayed to Hashem at that time – Why did Moshe Daven at THAT time? Why not daven earlier? And why did Moshe think that his Tefillah would help? The Brisker Rav ztl. explains that while Tefillah can work even after a Gzar Din, it cannot undo the Din once Hashem attaches an oath to it. Thus, Moshe was told that Hashem swore that Bnei Yisrael in the Midbar were not to go into the land. Thus he did not Daven for them for it was already decreed. However, when it came to him, and he entered the land of Sichon and Og, he thought that perhaps the promise was batel and that Tefillah might help – but only after assuming that the Shvua of Hashem was Battel.
And you should guard and do since it is your wisdom and understanding (4:6) – Rashi notes that U’Shmartem refers to the Mishna. Why does the Torah refer to the word Shmirah in context of the study of Torah? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that when one does not study by a Rebbe or study Torah extensively, there is no way that one can observe the Torah correctly. Hence Torah is called Shmira. Even the best intentions of the generations of Enosh went off the Derech and introduced Avoda Zara because they went with their gut (feeling) instead of researching and learning from Adam and Shes.
They were correct in that which they said (5:25) – The Kli Yakar notes that Moshe was not happy that the people decided to have him act as an intermediary as it demonstrated their desire to relate to Hashem out of Yirah instead of out of Ahava. Rav Sabato Shlita explains that a Jew has two ways to relate to Hashem – from Yirah which implies distance and from Ahava which implies closeness. Moshe could not understand why one would want to be distanced from Hashem. Thus, Hashem told him that both Yirah and Ahava and a balance between them are necessary in the service and relationship with Hashem.
Shema Yisrael (6:4) – The Yirushalmi (Berachos 3:3) determines that an Eved must be exempt since he has another Adon. But isn’t it also a Mitzvas Aseh She’HaZman Grama? Shouldn’t he be Patur already? Rav Dov Weiss Shlita suggests that the reading of Shema may be a Zman Grama but the Mitzva of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim is applicable all the time. Accordingly, it needed special mention in order to exempt Avadim as others are still commanded to keep it.
And you should teach them to your children and speak them too (6:7) – Isn’t the opposite the correct order? Shouldn’t we first speak the words and then teach them to the children? The Brisker Rav ztl. suggests that the Torah hints to that which the gemara writes that when he and his son need to learn he comes first but Rabbi Yehuda argues that if the son was precocious so the son would come first. The Torah is telling us that if the teaching of your children is like review so the son comes first before the v’dibarta.
Hashem, your God you must fear (6:13) – The Talmud (Bava Kama 41b) notes that the word “ES” comes to include the Talmidei Chachamim. But just whom is included in the term “Talmid chacham”? Tosafos notes it is only one’s primary Rebbe. Rav Hershel Schachter Shlita adds that the Gedolei HaDor are included in the title Rebbe Muvhak even when the person has never been an actual student. He adds that the Sanhedrin may not appoint someone into its ranks who does not deserve, nor can command, the respect of the entire Tzibbur for otherwise, it would put the entire Tzibbur at risk.
It is not because of your multitudes that Hashem desired and selected you for you are the smallest of all the nations (7:7) – Could one assume that Bnei Yisrael really believed that they were the most populous nation? Didn’t they know of the numbers of the nations in Eretz Yisrael from the reports of the Miraglim? Rav Bernard Weinberger Shlita (Shemen HaTov) explains that the concepts of Rov and Miut refer not to quantity but rather quality. It is not due to the great ones among us alone that made Hashem desirous of us. Rather it is the fact that from the Rav to the Miat – all want to be a part of Hashem’s plan for us.
Haftorah Nachamu Ami – Speak onto the heart of Jerusalem (Yeshayahu 40:1-2) – Rav Shimon Schwab ztl. highlights the difference between speaking to the heart of Yirushalayim and Nechama. The former is easier – it involves merely speaking words at the time of the Geulah. The words will be easily understood. However, Nechama involves a changing of mind – that which Rav Schwab sees as referring to the intellectual – being able to sense a change that the totality of Jewish history including the suffering of the Galus and Churban were necessary. That process is harder.