Points to Ponder

VaYeilech 5776

And Moshe went (31:1) – Rashi points out that he went to bring Tochacha. The Midrash that Rashi cites does not mention the Tochacha’s content but Rav Mordechai Elon ztl. offers an insight based on a midrash which notes that in the past, Moshe was able to rise to the heavens and today he cannot even cross a river. The reason? It is all the will of Hashem. What He wants, man will be able to accomplish – and nothing more.

Hakhel (31:12) – Rav Dr. Benny Lau Shlita pointed out that Hakhel was a unique mitzvah because it brought the entirety of the people together to surround a single mitzvah—Limmud HaTorah. EVERYONE – came for Hakhel. Rav Lau called for a new Hakhel which would bring the people together – not around physical commonalities like the needs for vacation spots or malls to shop --- rather around spiritual ideals that would further enhance the spirit of Am Yisrael like Hakhel.

Gather the nation – men women and children (31:12) – The Talmud notes that the children were brought to give Sachar to those who brought them. When Rav Yehoshua heard this idea, he noted that the idea was so ideal that any generation which has the support of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah cannot be an orphaned generation. What was so great about the message? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. suggested that left to their own devices, there would be parents who might decide that their children are not able or capable of Torah study. As a result the children might not ever get a chance to study and experience the wonders of the Torah. However, as a result of Hakhel which makes the issue relevant to merely “being there” to experience – it denied the parents the ability to withhold  child’s chance to experience public Torah study.  Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztl. offered a different answer: He thought that this is why at times, we offer Sachar for things we would have done anyway – this is a fulfillment of Lifeechach Hirbea LaHem Torh U’Mitzvos.


Hakhel Es HaAm (31:12) – How would this be possible? How could the whole nation hear the Melech at one time? Rav Schachter Shlita would often quote from Rav Schwab ztl. who thought that the people passed though the Azara in order to hear the king but no one heard the whole thing in order to give everyone a chance.

Because there is no God within me these troubles have found me (31:17) – Rav Shabsi Rosenthal Shlita explained that one only sins when he does not see Hashem as HIS – close to him personally. Yet, merely looking around would show the individual otherwise.

And now write this Shirah and teach it to Bnei Yisrael (31:19) – Rav Shach ztl. commented that there would be a time when the Torah would be called upon to defend the people and the only way it would be able to protect us is if it is left unadulterated. If it will be altered to the people it will not be able to testify on behalf of the people.

It shall not be forgotten from his children (31:21) – Rashi comments that this is a promise from Hashem that Torah shall not be forgotten from the children entirely. The Ponevizher Rav ztl. commented that Rashi’s words can be interpreted in 2 ways – either that the Torah will never be forgotten from the entire nation or that no child will ever fully forget Torah values for they will strive to have some connection to the Torah.