Points to Ponder

V’Zos HaBeracha 5778

From his right hand there was for them fire-become law (33:2) – Rav Pinchas Mordechai Teitz ztl. quoted the author of Ksav V’Hakabbalah who noted the choice of comparison of Torah to fire is based on the fact that both can be weapons that burn unless properly protected and contained in appropriate Keilim.

It is the heritage of Yaakov (33:2) – There is a difference between Yirusha that means inheritance and Morasha that refers to heritage. Rav Schachter Shlita pointed out that there are 2 things that are Morasha – Torah and Eretz Yisrael. One cannot sign away either one. Signing it away is signing away that which does not belong to us.

It became king in Yeshurun as the heads of the people gathered around it the tribes of Israel became united (33:5)Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl. explained that the uniqueness of Am Yisrael is that they are a nation that dwells in unity while preserving each Shevet’s uniqueness. This is the success brought on by being Yachad under Hashem.

Reuven should live and shall not die (33:6) – Rashi explains that Reuven shall live in this world and not die in the next one. Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explained that sometimes even when one lives to Torah standards but does not inspire other around him accordingly, the Torah life dies with him. However, one who lives a life of Torah and raises children afterward and they follow through on his lessons, this adds to his own Zechusim, Hence his loins – referring to the children – help him live on.

You are praiseworthy Yisrael who is like you (33:29) – Rav Nisson Alpert ztl. noted that when we say Melech Ozer U’Mosheea U’Mogen  we build those praises off of the possuk here as we state Mi Kamocha Am NOSHA B’Hashem, MOGEN EZREICHA. All three phrases are present.

There was no other prophet within the Jewish nation like Moshe (34:10) – Why does the Torah choose to focus on the distinctiveness of Moshe in its final few Possukim? Rav Haim Sabato Shlita explained that by propping up Moshe, the Torah is also giving its own words strength. Moreover, by describing the Panim El Panim relationship, the Torah is also telling us that what we need to aspire to in life is a complete devotion to Torah as Moshe did. Only then can we achieve the levels of understanding in the way that Moshe did.

That Moshe did in front the eyes of Bnei Yisrael (34:12) – Rashi explains that this refers to the fact that the people forced him to break the Luchos. Rav Nosson Tzvi Wachtfogel ztl. explains that the breaking of the Luchos was not a punishment but rather a part of the reparative process. When Moshe came off Har Sinai and saw the tablets that had been left by the letters which had run away, he broke the luchos, and according to a Midrash, could not even speak. Tana D’Bei Eliyahu adds that from that moment it was determined that the Jewish people would study Torah through the process of enduring hard work and service. Learning in hardship and enslavement makes one worthy of even greater reward.

Haftorah: Just be strong and have internal fortitude to follow the Torah (Yehoshua 1:7) – The Talmud (Berachos 32b) notes that the idea of Chazak refers to strength in Torah and Imutz refers to good deeds. How did the Gemara know which one referred to which? Maharil Diskin (Vayeilech) suggested that Chizuk refers to strength that comes from a hidden source and becomes apparent. Imutz comes afterward as the strength is then fortified outwardly so that the structure never becomes weakened again. Maasim Tovim have a limit and Imutz is the strength not to fall from it. But it is the Torah study that  always invigorates and will always bring forward new heights in each of us.