Torah Teaser – Parshat Devarim Questions & Answers – August 12 2116-5776

Moshe Rebukes B’nei Yisroel for Pushing and ShovingWhen Moshe before his death gives mussar to Bnei Yisrael for all they have done wrong in the Midbar, he includes the episode of the Meraglim. “Vatikrivun Eilai Kulchem; Everyone approached me to send Miraglim to Eretz Yisrael.” (Devarim 1:21) Rashi says that they came “B’arvuvia” in a charging crowd, with the young pushing the old and the old pushing the leaders. In the last moments of Moshe’s life where he rebukes Bnei Yisrael for major history changing aveiros, was it necessary to nitpick and complain about the pushing? The Netziv brings from his father-in-law, Rav Itzele Volozhin, that for the Chait of the Meraglim Bnei Yisrael claimed that they had the best of intentions. It was only after that, that the Meraglim themselves ruined everything with their evil intentions. Moshe tells them that it is clear from the way they came pushing and shoving that their intentions were not kosher and the end will turn sour. People who are running L’Shem Shamayim do not push and shove along the way. For good things, you proceed with Derech Eretz.

Taking Your Father-In-Law to Court “UShifatitem Tzedek Bein Ish U’Bein Achiv U’Bein Geiro; You shall judge righteously between a man and his brother and his Ger.” (Devarim 1:16) In one pshat Rashi says that the word “Geiro” does not mean convert, but rather his opponent. The Sifri says that it means his father-in-law. Where does a father-in-law come into the picture and why does the Torah need to tell us this? Rav Chaim Kanievsky answers that the Taz paskens (YD 241:2) that a son cannot take his father to court because it may cause his father to be cursed if he needs to swear. “What the son should do,” suggests the Taz, “is to sell his claim to someone else who is halachacally free and clear to sue his father. Since the halacha is that when it comes to kavod, one is obligated to honor his father-in-law just like his father, you might think that you cannot sue your father-in-law either, therefore, the Sifri tells us that unlike your father, you are free to litigate against your father-in-law and there is no problem of the issur klala. Interestingly there was a famous court case where the Taz sued his father-in-law, the Bach.

The Novelty of Many Men Moshe Rabbeinu retells how he told Hashem that the burden of leading Bnei Yisrael alone was too much for him. Moshe then tells Klal Yisroel (Devarim 1:13), “Havu Lachem Anashim…”, Provide yourselves men, wise and understanding and renowned to your tribes… Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky points out that the plural for men is Anashim instead of the more logical “Ishim” which would be plural for the singular for of the word man “Ish”. What is Anashim and what is the basis for this word that has no root in the singular? He answers that one individual man and a group of men are two non-related concepts. A group of men is not multiple individuals. It is a new concept that is totally unrelated. This is why the Torah uses a word that is not related to the singular form. He also adds that we find this in other languages as well including Russian, German, and Lithuanian.

The Heavy Weight of Apikursos “Eicha Esa Livadi Tarchachem U’Masachem V’Rivchem; How can I carry you alone, your bother, your load, and your quarrels (Devorim 1:12).’ Rashi says that Tarchachem means that they were nudnicks, and Masachem means they were Apikursim. Tarchachem clearly means Tircha, bothersome, but how does Masachem or heavy load come to Apikursis? Rav Nachman of Breslov answers that while intellectuals may consider people with emuna simple and naive, in a sense they are right. With emuna life becomes easier, as not everything must be explained and rationalized. Emuna is a great tool to lift the weight from you. However, an Apikores is constantly plagued by doubt and questions that nag him endlessly, leaving him no peace. This constant state of turmoil eats at him and becomes a huge burden on his own shoulders. This explains why Rashi says that Masachem means Apikursis, as there is no greater burden around.

Created By Rov Avrohom Sherman
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