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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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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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והיו הדברים האלה אשר מצוך היום על לבבך ושננתם לבניך

And these matters that I command you today shall be upon our heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children. (6:6,7)

The Alshich HaKadosh writes: “If these matters will penetrate deep into your heart and not simply be superficial, then your words will be able to penetrate into the hearts of your children/students.” The Sefer HaYashar (Rabbi Zerachyah or Rabbeinu Tam), expresses a similar thought, “Anything that emanates from the heart will enter into the heart (of the listener).” Whatever the mouth simply expresses will not get past the ear. In other words, only one who accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah, who makes it a part of himself, can effectively transmit that Torah to others. Horav Shraga Grossbard, zl,…

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שמע ישראל ד' אלקינו ד' אחד

Hear, O’ Yisrael: Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is the One and Only. (6:4)

Judaism’s seminal verse, the pasuk that accompanies us as we end our sojourn in this world is: Shema Yisrael: Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad; “Hear, O’ Yisrael, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One.” The Tur Orach Chaim 61 rules that one places his hand over his eyes when he recites the Shema. What is the significance of Shema, and why does one cover his eyes upon reciting it? In his preface, the Kol Arye observes that two of Hashem’s Sheimos, Names, are seemingly contrary to one another. The name Elokim/Elokeinu is the Name that represents the Almighty’s, middah, attribute, of…

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ראה למדתי אתכם חוקים ומשפטים כאשר צוני ד' אלקיך

See, I have taught you decrees and ordinances, as Hashem, my G-d, has commanded me. (4:5)

Chazal derive an interesting halachah from this pasuk. Moshe Rabbeinu enjoins the nation to observe his manner of teaching the law to the nation. Just as he performed his mission gratis, likewise, when a Jew teaches Torah to his fellow Jew, he should not do so for remuneration. Does that mean that the thousands of rebbeim, moros, roshei yeshivah, rabbanim, roshei kollel, menahalim, anybody who teaches and disseminates Torah, should relinquish payment? Does this indicate that their profession is a “non-profession”? You get what you pay for. The salary one commands indicates the significance and value of the position. If…

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ויאמר ד' אלי רב לך אל תוסף דבר אלי בדבר הזה

Hashem said to me, “It is too much for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further about this matter.” (3:26)

The Midrash Tanchuma (Va’eschanan 4) relates that Moshe Rabbeinu said to Hashem, “Ribon HaOlamim, You referred to me as Moshe, My servant (Bamidbar 12:7). I truly am Your servant. You also wrote in Your Torah (Shemos 21:5) that the eved Ivri, Hebrew bondsman who refuses to leave servitude after the prescribed six years goes through a process and avado l’olam, he remains in servitude until Yovel. Thus, Hashem, I ask to be allowed to remain in my position as an eved and continue serving You.” Hashem replied, “Rav lach, it is too much for you. It has already been decreed…

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ואתחנן אל ד' ... אעברה נא ואראה ... ויתעבר ד' בי למענכם

I implored Hashem at that time… Let me now cross and see… But Hashem became angry with me because of you. (3:23,25,26)

Moshe Rabbeinu prayed and prayed. Chazal say that the word, va’eschanan, I implored, implies that Moshe prayed 515 times, which its numerical equivalent. The word, va’eschanan, is derived from chinam, free, alluding to the nature of this prayer. Being one of the ten terms of prayer, it is used when one seeks an undeserved favor from Hashem. Why did Moshe use this term? Surely he was deserving. The righteous never feel that they have a claim on Hashem’s favor. His mercy is reserved for those who feel “worthy” of it. The righteous and the humble feel that Hashem owes them…

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ויתעבר ד' בי למענכם

But Hashem became angry with me, because of you. (3:26)

Moshe Rabbeinu’s address to Klal Yisrael is enigmatic. Our quintessential leader was not one to share with the people what appear to be his personal issues concerning not being allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael. He erred, and Hashem did not forgive him. Indeed, why did Hashem not forgive Moshe? Incredibly, according to the Midrash, he offered five hundred and fifteen supplications to Hashem! Moshe knew how to pray. Yet, his prayers were not accepted. Moshe said to Hashem: “I spent so much time and trouble to inspire Klal Yisrael to be faithful, to believe and to observe. It was not…

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אנכי ד' אלקיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים

I am Hashem, your G-d, Who took you out of Egypt. (5:6)

In his Bais Elokim (Shaar Hayesodos 12), the Mabit observes that the first five Dibros/Commandments, which were on the right side of the Luchos, address mitzvos which are bein adam laMakom, between man and Hashem. The five commandments on the left side address mitzvos bein adam la’chaveiro, between man and fellow man. Interestingly, the commandments which relate to mitzvos between man and G-d are textually much longer than those which are bein adam la’chaveiro. Three of these are comprised of two words. He explains that, while each letter of the commandments has great cosmic significance [there are 620 letters in…

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כבד את אביך ואת אמך

Honor your father and your mother. (5:16)

The Luchos, Ten Commandments, are divided into two parts: bein adam la’Makom, between man and G-d; bein adam la’chaveiro, between man and fellowman. The fifth commandment, the mitzvah to honor one’s parents, almost appears misplaced, since it is included among the dibros bein adam la’Makom, when, in fact, one may argue that respect for parents, according them pleasure and satisfaction, belongs among the dibros bein adam la’chaveiro. Upon perusing the commentary of the Rishonim, we note that this is actually the case. The Sefer HaChinuch writes that among the shoroshei hamitzvah, root/origin of the mitzvah, is to teach a person…

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