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ואתחנן אל ד' בעת ההיא

I implored Hashem at that time. (3:23)

In the Zera Kodesh, the Ropshitzer Rebbe, zl, observes that the pasuk neglects to identify “that time.” Was Moshe Rabbeinu referring to a specific time? The Ropshitzer explains that this omission is by design. The Torah is teaching us a critical lesson with regard to tefillah, prayer. No specific time is established for petitioning Hashem. We can approach the Almighty at any time. No “appointments” are necessary. A son need not have a special time to speak with his father. (If he does, both father and son have a problem.) Hashem is our Heavenly Father, Who waits for our entreaty…

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וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל

This is the Torah/teaching that Moshe placed before Bnei Yisrael. (4:44)

V’nasan lanu es Toraso, “And Hashem gave us His Torah” is the motif that should accompany each Torah learning session. When we study Torah, we are hearing the words of Hashem and carrying out His will. He gave us His Torah, so that we should learn it, learn from it, observe its precepts and lessons. It is from the Torah that we, as Jews, receive and accept our guidance concerning our derech ha’chaim, way of life. The Jew that lives his life with the Torah as his lodestar has the ability to navigate the murky, stormy waters of life, to…

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ושננתם לבניך

You shall teach them thoroughly to your children. (6:7)

Rashi comments that “children” is not an exclusive category. It applies, likewise, to one’s students, since the Torah considers students to be like children. We have a responsibility to reach out and teach, or see to it that all children are taught. If one has limited time, and he must decide between teaching his own children or someone else’s children, however, his children take precedence. Horav Yechezkel Sarna, zl, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron, and premier expositor of the Slabodka approach to gadlus ha’adam, the greatness of man, was a prime example of a Rosh Yeshivah/Rebbe to whom his talmidim, students, were…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל... בין פארן ובין תופל ולבן וחצרות ודי זהב

These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael… between Paran and Tophel, and Lavan, and Chatzeiros, and Di Zahav. (1:1)

Eileh ha’devarim is reference to Moshe Rabbeinu’s rebuke of Klal Yisrael for their past insurrections. In his attempt not to embarrass and offend his listeners, Moshe did not mention the sins in detail; rather, he made veiled references to the sins by using place names which alluded to the sins. Chazal (Tamid 28a) teach that one who rebukes his fellow l’shem Shomayim, for the sake of Heaven (solely to help and guide his fellow back to a path of appropriate behavior), will merit to dwell in the portion of Hashem… Moreover, the Heavenly Court extends over him a cord of…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל

These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael. (1:1)

Moshe Rabbeinu’s “words” were words of reproof, in which he lectured the nation for their past indiscretions. He did not censure; rather, he subtly alluded to their sins by mentioning places which intimated their sin: Why did he refer to the sins via the medium of place, rather than period/time during which the sin occurred? The Mei HaShiloach implies that since the place where they were encamped at the time of the sin’s occurrence was not their decision, they had some sort of excuse to mitigate their behavior by blaming the effects of the environment in which they were located,…

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ד' אלקינו דבר אלינו בחרב לאמר רב לכם שבת בהר הזה

Hashem, our G-d, spoke to us in Chorev, saying: Enough of your dwelling by this mountain. (1:6)

Rashi quotes the Midrash which defines rav, enough, as abundance. This refers to the abundance of reward and achievement that Klal Yisrael gained during their one-year layover at Sinai. At Sinai, they received the Torah, built the Mishkan with its accoutrements, and Hashem designated the Zekeinim, Elders, as the leaders of the nation. Now, it was time to move on. The Nesivos Shalom offers an alternate exposition, with a homiletic twist. Chorev may be translated as destruction, referring to the churban, destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. Does this mean that we as a nation in exile are finished? Do we…

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ויפנו ויעלו ההרה ויבאו עד נחל אשכל

They turned and ascended the mountain and came until the valley of Eshkol. (1:24)

“Never allow the sadness of the past and your anxiety concerning the future to cloud the happiness of the present moment.” Chazal teach that Eshkol was the name of one of Avraham Avinu’s three friends, whom he consulted when he was commanded to have a Bris Milah. Anar advised against the procedure, claiming that it was too dangerous to chance at his advanced age. Mamreh told him to follow Hashem’s command. Eshkol concurred with Anar and added his own negativity, suggesting that Avraham’s enemies would take advantage of his weakened state. Horav Elie Munk, zl, sees an analogy in the…

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וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות

Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes. (30:2)

It is good to digress once in a while to gain insight into the eminence of those individuals who have ascended the ladders of Torah erudition sufficiently to be called Roshei ha’mattos, heads of the tribes. Someone asked Horav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, how many times the word “Moshe” is mentioned in the Torah. He replied, “614 times.” The questioner countered that he had checked with a computer, and the total was 616. Rav Chaim disputed this, claiming that the computer had erred. “Moshe” appears in the Torah exactly 614 times. The man was shocked. How could the computer be wrong?…

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וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות... לא יחל דברו בכל היוצא מפיו יעשה

Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes… He shall not desecrate his words; according to whatever comes from his mouth shall he do. (30:2,3)

The Tiferes Shlomo suggests that the root of matos is yateh, to turn. The roshei ha’mattos are the leaders of the people who have the ability to turn the hearts of the people toward a positive trajectory. The Torah commands them to guard and commit to whatever exits their mouths. In other words, they should not speak from “both sides of their mouths,” saying one thing and personally doing another. They must be consistent in personally adhering to what they expect of the people. Only then will they earn the respect to have the ability to be mateh, turn, the…

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וד' יסלח לה כי הניא אביה אתה

And Hashem will forgive her, for her father had restrained her. (30:6)

The implication is that the girl sinned, and, as a result, she requires Hashem’s forgiveness; but if her father had revoked her nedarim, what prohibition did she transgress? This applies to a girl who was unaware that her nedarim had been revoked, and, despite being bound by neder (in her mind), she violated its terms. In actuality, she did not sin, but she certainly acted inappropriately, thus mandating for herself some form of repentance. Chazal compare this to one who meant to eat ham and instead ended up eating kosher meat. Technically, he did not sin, but his intention was…

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