Points to Ponder

VaEschanan/Nachamu 5776

Allow me to cross and see the good land (3:25) – Rashi notes that the Har HaTov refers to Yirushalayim and the Levanon refers to the Beis Hamikdash. The Talmud (Sotah 14a) asks why Moshe desired to enter the land and it answers that he wanted to observe the Mitzvos Hatiluyos Baaretz. Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. Explains that Moshe did not merely want to see fruits of Israel nor of his own labors. Rather, he sensed that he was missing something from his personal Sheleimus – from his spiritual life. Here is the one who experienced Maamad Har Sinai and sensed that the ability to perform Mitzvos HaTiluyos Ba’Aretz would grant him a sense of spiritual ascent that he otherwise would be missing.

Don’t add onto the things I command and do not detract from them (4:2) – The Torah repeats this prohibition in Re’eh. The question needs to be asked as to why the Torah repeats these prohibitions? Rav Gifter ztl. explained that in  our Parsha, the prohibition is not really a prohibition but rather a condition to entering the land.  Only later does it become a full prohibition.

Just be careful and guard your soul lest you forget the things your eyes  saw (4:9) – Ramban counts this as a Mitzva by itself. What does the Ramban add to the Mitzva of Talmud Torah by including this as an independent Mitzvah? Rav Schachter Shlita would often quote Rav Soloveitchik ztl.who would explain that the Mitzva of Talmud Torah demands that we transmit the laws of the Torah. This Possuk demands that we also transmit the experience of Jewish life – Shabbos carries with it the excitement of Shabbos, the 10 days of awe carry with them a different experience, Pesach, the three weeks etc.  – and everyone must transmit the experience to the children so that they knew they were there.

And this is the Torah that Moshe placed before Bnei Yisrael (4:44) – Why is this the conclusion to the section of the Parsha that deals with Ir Miklat? Rav Yoel Teitelbaum ztl, Satmar Rebbe explained based on another question - Why does the person (the Rotzeiach) need to run to these cities specifically? Why not just tell him to go to exile? Rather, if he were to go to any city than his carelessness about life which led to the murder,  might rub off on that city’s inhabitants. By having him go to Ir Miklat, in the midst of the Leviim, we become sure that he will not influence those who by nature, are removed from caring about Inyanei Olam Hazeh and thus not careless. Separating from evil is the Torah’s goal.

Guard the Shabbos to sanctify it as Hashem commanded (5:12) – Rav Zalman Sorotzkin ztl. pointed out that in our times many desire a day off, perhaps to catch up on correspondence or to vacation. The Torah tells us that this is not the function of Shabbos. Shabbos is about creating a sense of holiness in your life. Our Shabbos is dedicated to Torah, Tefillah and contemplation. It is not merely a day to be “off.”

Bind them as a sign on  your hand (6:8) – The Talmud determines that one who is a “Bar Keshira” can write Tefillin and Mezuzos.  Thus a Mumar and a Katan cannot  write these. Yet, Tosafos (Gittin 22) notes that a Katan can write a Get since he can become an adult and a Shoteh can write a get since he can become clear. Rav Aharon Leib Steinman Shlita asks why a Mumar cannot write a Get – he too, can do Teshuva? He answers that the Shoteh and the Katan can fill their void though no action on their parts. The Mumar must engage the Teshuva process thus he is lacking while the others are merely waiting out a technicality.

And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house (6:9) – Why doesn’t one place his hand on the Mezuzah in the same way that he does the Tefillin when saying Shema? Rav Zilberstein Shlita quotes the Rivash who suggested that when one is not near the Doorpost, there is no need to go over to it explicitly. Alternatively, there is no obligation to kiss the Mezuzah unless one is leaving or entering the room. Rabbeinu Yonah suggests that the Mitzva of Mezuzah is achieved when it is placed. Ergo, rushing to it is unnecessary.

Haftorah: Nachamu Nachamu (Yeshaya 40:1) – The midrash famously comments that they sinned twice as much and punished twice as strong and therefore their Nechama would be twice as powerful. How does one sin twice as bad? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that the double sin is when one violates the word of Hashem and then think that it is  not even a sin but rather a Mitzvah! When one does what he thinks is right, it is even more unlikely that the person will do Teshuva. Therefore we say  Dabru Al Lev Yirushalayim – hope that they speak to Yirushalayim, a reference to the Torah leaders who will then instruct them as to the error of their ways and thereafter, they will do Teshuva.