Points to Ponder

Eikev 5776 (Sorry for the short version)

Because this land that you are going to, isn’t like the land of Egypt () – Why does Moshe compare Eretz Yisrael to Egypt? Isn’t he interested in praising Eretz Yisrael? After all, when the JEWS spoke of the Egyptian diet they were punished – Why would Moshe use the dame tact? Rav Sabato Shlita quoted Rashi who notes that the comparison is based on the availability and effort in irrigation. Ramban disagrees and explains that the comparison is not really a comparison but rather a warning about how Eretz Yisrael works. Rav Sabato adds that the beauty of the land is precisely in that aspect that Hashem’s hand is always apparent on it. Physical and mundane are easily seen as spiritual in the land of Israel. It makes the prayer there more meaningful and easier to focus.

And I sat on the mountain for 40 days () – The Gemara in Megillah notes that there is a debate as to whether Moshe stood or sat on the mountain. The Rosh in Sukkah explains that Teishvu means to dwell. But really Moshe stood. The Gemara  suggests that he stood part time and sat part time. When the Shechina stood right before him so he stood, when he reviewed, he sat. The gemara added that for complicated matters he sat for – in order to help his concentration. Rav Schachter Shlita noted that Rav Chaim of Volozhin would point out that when Kavod HaTorah and Talmud Torah conflict so Talmud Torah takes precedence   

Guard yourselves lest your hearts end you astray and you worship foreign idols (11:16) – Sifrei notes that there is a progression here in that one who stops his association with Torah can quickly succumb to idol worship. Rav Dovid Povarsky ztl. explains that there is a progression here – either one is careful not to succumb to stopping his Torah learning or one is one step away from Avoda Zara. When we ae easily swayed from learning, in Shul or Beis HaMedrash, it is a weakness that leads us off the proper path. It doesn’t just set one back, it sets us on the wrong course entirely.