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קל אמונה ואין עול

G-d of faith without iniquity. (32:4)

Rashi explains that Hashem’s judgment is exact and fair. Everyone receives his due reward – the righteous might wait a bit, but it will arrive in due time; the wicked who have acted meritoriously will also be rewarded in kind. Life is a harmonious whole, which we, as mere mortals with limited perception, are unable to perceive. Nonetheless, we believe that it all comes together: good fortune with failure; joy in contrast to sadness, celebrating milestones, both joyous and tragic. A human being cannot fathom how the pieces of the human puzzle of life fit together, but they do. Shortly…

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עם נבל ולא חכם

O’ base and unwise people. (32:6)

The Torah is criticizing Klal Yisrael for being an am naval, base people, and v’lo chacham, unwise. Ramban quotes Rashi who comments that they forgot the good that Hashem had done for them. They were unwise in realizing the good and bad, the consequences of their ingratitude. He then quotes Targum Onkeles who renders the phrase (critique) in a manner which begs elucidation. Naval – ama d’kablu Oraisa, “A nation that received the Torah.” Ramban explains that Onkeles translates naval as being related to navol tibul, “You will surely become weary” (Shemos 18:18). Thus, the Torah is intimating that Klal…

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שאל אביך ויגדך זקניך ויאמרו לך

Ask your father and he will relate it to you, and your elders and they will tell you. (32:7)

Issues arise; questions abound; to whom do we turn for sage advice, intelligent counsel? The Torah enjoins us to turn to “your father,” whom Rashi interprets as the Navi, prophet, Torah leader of the generation, and “your elders,” who are the chachamim, Torah scholars. After a lifetime of Torah study and devotion, these Torah scholars have honed their minds through the daas, wisdom, of the Torah which they have cultivated. Horav Avraham Yaakov Teitelbaum, zl, quotes a novel homiletic exposition of this pasuk rendered by his Rebbe, the venerable Horav Meir Arik, zl, which is practical and timeless in its…

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אם שנותי ברק חרבי ותאחז במשפט ידי

That I shall sharpen the shine of My sword and My hand shall grasp judgment. (32:41)

“My hand shall grasp judgment.” Chazal (quoted by Rashi) derive from the language of this pasuk (concerning the concept of “grasping” judgment), “Not like the attributes of flesh and blood (mortals) is the attribute of Hashem. Once a human being shoots an arrow, once he releases the bow, he is unable to take it back. Hashem, however, shoots His arrows and has the power to retrieve them (before they hit their intended target). It is as if He holds them in His hand (ochazon b’yado).” Rashi is teaching us is that no restrictions limit Hashem’s power. He is not restricted…

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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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