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כי יראה כי אזלת יד ואפס עצור ועזוב

When He sees that enemy power progresses, and none is saved or assisted. (32:36)

Hashem’s judgment determines the punishment which Klal Yisrael deserves. When the situation reaches the point decreed by His punishment, the punishment comes to an end. He shall relent his treatment of them, for He will recognize their utter helplessness and their complete dependency on Him. Concerning the last words of the pasuk, “and none is saved or assisted” [Which basically means that Hashem sees that we have thrown in the towel; we realize that ein lanu l’hishaein ela al Avinu she’ba’Shamayim, “we have no one upon Whom to rely other than our Father in Heaven.”], Chazal (Sanhedrin 97a) teach that…

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כי דור תהפכת המה בנים לא אמן בם

For they are a generation of reversals, children whose upbringing is not in them. (32:20)

When we note that a generation has reversed Hashem’s “mood” from benevolence to anger, we observe that Hashem has raised them to be good, but they have spurned His upbringing – something which is quite apparent in the manner in which they act. Moshe Rabbeinu rebukes the nation for rejecting the Torah, whose purpose it is to teach/educate them. From their actions, it is obvious that they are far from achieving this goal. This is difficult to understand, considering that the Torah is chinuch, educative, from beginning to end. How is it that the Torah did not achieve its mission?…

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הלה' תגמלו זאת עם נבל ולא חכם

Is it to Hashem that you do this, o vile and unwise people? (32:6)

How could Klal Yisrael have been so vile and unwise as to sin against Hashem? Rashi explains that they were vile in their lack of gratitude and unwise in not taking into consideration the dire consequences of their misbehavior and rebellion against Hashem. One would think that being considered vile is much worse than being called unwise. Why then does vile precede unwise? The Chafetz Chaim, zl, explains this with a mashal, parable, to a man who worked one month a year, during which he earned enough to sustain himself for the other eleven months. This arrangement worked out well…

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כנשר יעיר קינו על גוזליו ירחף יפרוש כנפיו יקחהו ישאהו על אברתו

He was like an eagle arousing its nest, hovering over its young, spreading its wings and taking them, carrying them on its pinions. (32:11)

In describing Hashem’s relationship with Klal Yisrael, the Torah uses the simile of an eagle. The eagle demonstrates incredible compassion for its young. It does not suddenly enter its nest, but rather, stirs the nest up, then spreads its wings – not under, but – above its nestlings, so that, with keen courageous eyes, they fly up to rest on the mother’s outspread wings awaiting them above. The eaglets, however, must make the first move, explains Horav S. R. Hirsch, zl. Their mother waits for them, but they must bravely and consciously make the decision to leave the safety and…

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לו חכמו ישכילו זאת יבינו לאחריתם

Were they wise they would comprehend this, they would discern it from their end. (32:29)

There are some things that we only seem to comprehend at the end, after we have had the bad experience, and everything good that we believed would occur does not materialize. Only then do we realize our foolishness for not listening to the voice of reason, to those who discourage us from making a bad choice. The worst part is that, even after we have supposedly learned our lesson, it does not serve as a deterrent from performing the same foolish acts over again. The Kaf HaChaim, zl, offers a powerful analogy to explain the pasuk. A man was married…

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שימו לבבכם לכל הדברים אשר אנכי מעיד בכם היום

Apply your hearts to all the words that I testify against you today. (32:46)

Are Klal Yisrael to apply themselves solely to that which Moshe Rabbeinu commanded them that day? What about all of the other days? Are they to be disregarded? Horav Nachman, zl, m’Breslov teaches that one’s avodas haKodesh, service to the Almighty, should focus on hayom, today. Yesterday is gone, over, finished. Tomorrow is the future. Who knows if there will even be a tomorrow? Our concern is for today. Rav Yitzchak makes the following statement (in the Talmud Kiddushin 30b): B’chol yom – “A person’s yetzer hora, evil inclination, renews itself against him (every Jew) every day.” Rabbi Shimon ben…

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וידבר ד' אל משה בעצם היום הזה

Hashem spoke to Moshe on that very day. (32:48)

The phrase, b’etzem hayom hazeh, on that very day, appears three times in the Torah, each time indicating that large masses of people were prepared to impede Hashem’s decree from being carried out. Thus, to demonstrate that He was in charge – and not the people – Hashem ordered that it be done in the middle of the day, in plain view of everyone. Let them see that no one – absolutely no one – has the power to prevent Hashem’s word from being carried out. The first time was when the people of the dor ha’mabul were bent on…

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הצור תמים פעלו... קל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא

The Rock! Perfect is His work… G-d of faith without iniquity, righteous and fair is He. (32:4)

Hashem created a perfect world in which every creation receives everything that is necessary, not only for it to subsist, but also for it to attain its maximum potential in this world.  Thus, if a person has not been granted certain qualities essential for success in a certain field or endeavor, this is a clear indication that he does not need them to achieve success.  On the other hand, if he has been blessed with certain abilities that exceed the average, it is proof that Hashem wants him to use these gifts to serve Him. The custom in Radin on…

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הלד' תגמלו זאת עם נבל ולא חכם

Is it to Hashem that you do this, O vile and unwise people? (32:6)

Moshe Rabbeinu wonders how Klal Yisrael could have been so vile and unwise as to sin against Hashem.  The words, Am naval v’lo chacham, “A vile and unwise people,” is translated by Targum Onkelos as, Ama d’kabila oraisa v’lo chakimu, “A nation that received the Torah who is unwise.”  Thus, Onkelos defines naval, which normally means vile or abominable, as, “who accepted /received the Torah.”  Should it not be quite the opposite?  One who rejects Torah should be considered vile, not one who receives it. The Kotzker Rebbe, zl, explains that the definition is relative, with the reality of our…

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כי דור תהפכת המה בנים לא אמן בם וירא ד' וינאץ מכעס בניו ובנתיו

Hashem will see and be provoked by the anger of his sons and daughters. (32:19) – For they are a generation of reversals, children whose upbringing is not in them. (32:20)

In the preface to his Shev Shmaitsa, Horav Aryeh Leib Cohen, zl, quotes the Zohar HaKadosh who teaches that the term bas, girl/female, is used in connection to yiraas Shomayim, fear of Heaven, while ben, boy/male, is used to denote the Torah.  Thus, the Zohar explains the well-known statement in the Talmud, Bas techilah – siman yafeh l’banim, “If a daughter is born first, it is a good sign for the children to be born.”  This alludes to Chazal’s statement in Pirkei Avos, Perek 3:11 where the Tanna teaches, “He in whom the fear of sin takes precedence over his…

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