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לא טוב היות האדם לבדו

It is not good that man be alone. (2:18)

Chazal (Berachos 17a) ask: “Through what deeds do women merit eternal life? [Since they do not have the mitzvah of limud haTorah, to study Torah, they are unable to earn the merit that is ancillary to it]. Through going through the trouble of bringing their children to the synagogue to study Torah, and through sending their husbands to the bais hamedrash to study Torah, and for waiting for their husbands until they return home from the bais hamedrash.” Chazal (Yevamos 63a) “If the man is worthy, the woman will be an eizer, helper; if he is unworthy, she will be…

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ומפרי העץ אשר בתוך הגן... לא תאכלו ממנו ולא תגעו בו פן תמתון

Of the fruit of the tree which is in the center of the garden… you shall not eat of it and you shall not touch it lest you die. (3:3)

Rashi comments: Hosifah al ha’tzivai, “She added to the commandment; therefore, she came to detract from it.” Hashem had only prohibited them from eating the fruit – not touching it. The serpent saw an opportunity literally begging for him to cause an incursion. The serpent “complied” by pushing Chavah against the tree. Lo and behold, she did not die. “I told you so,” the serpent said to Chavah. “You touched the tree, and nothing happened. It will be likewise when you eat from it. You have nothing to be concerned about.” The Sifsei Chachamim wonders why Chavah could not have…

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ויקרא ד' אלקים אל האדם ויאמר לו איכה

Hashem Elokim called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (3:9)

Interestingly, in the first dialogue that ensued between Hashem and man, the question was one word: Ayeca? “Where are you?” Clearly, this was more of a statement than a question, which is obvious from the word va’yomer, “And (He) said to him.” Hashem did not ask – He said. Hashem wanted to begin a conversation with Adam HaRishon concerning his sin. Rather than immediately assert: “You are guilty!” or “Why did you do it?” Hashem began, “Where are you?” Hashem used this as a conversation opener to soothe Adam and allow him to open up with what he had to…

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וימת שם משה עבד ד'

And Moshe, the servant of Hashem, died there. (34:5)

A debate in Tosfos commentary (Menachos 30a) addresses when Moshe Rabbeinu died. Rav Sholom Gaon posits that Moshe died on Shabbos Kodesh. Thus, we recite Tzidkascha tzedek, affirming and accepting Hashem’s decree. Tosfos contends that Moshe died on Erev Shabbos, since his yahrzeit is on Adar 7, which that year (based on calculations) occurred on Friday. Furthermore, Moshe could not write the conclusion of the Torah on the day of his death if it was, in fact, Shabbos. As a compromise, the commentators suggest that Moshe’s death began on Erev Shabbos, and his burial took place on Shabbos. For our…

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ולא ידע איש את קבורתו עד היום הזה

And no one knows his burial place to this day. (34:6)

In his commentary to Sotah 14a, the Bach amends the Talmud’s narrative to include an additional passage which is found in the Ein Yaakov. Rav Chama bar Chanina said: Why is it that the gravesite of Moshe Rabbeinu is hidden from the eyes of flesh and blood? For it was revealed and known to the Almighty that the Holy Temple was destined to be destroyed and that the Jewish People were destined to be exiled from their Land. Thus, the grave had to be hidden, lest the Jews come crying to Moshe’s gravesite at that time and beseech Moshe, saying,…

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ולא קם נביא עוד בישראל כמשה

Never again has there arisen in Yisrael a prophet like Moshe. (34:10)

Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 14:32) note the Torah’s statement concerning Moshe Rabbeinu that Klal Yisrael would never produce a Navi of the stature of Moshe. This does not preclude the gentile nations from producing a prophet whose gift of prophecy would parallel that of Moshe. This prophet was Bilaam. Ramban explains that, under no terms, was Bilaam comparable to Moshe. No prophet approached Moshe’s level of nevuah. Bilaam achieved his communication with Hashem only after exhausting preparation and only concerning the specific subject that he had selected. Moshe, however, could be summoned at any time to discuss anything. The fact that…

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ולכל המורא הגדול אשר עשה משה לעיני כל ישראל...בראשית ברא אלקים

And awesome power that Moshe performed before the eyes of all Yisrael…In the beginning of G-d’s creations. (1:1)

The first letter of the Torah is the bais. The last letter of the Torah is the lamed. Considering that the Torah is of Divine origin, the choice of these two letters is clearly not happenstance. Hashem teaches us, conveys a message to us, with the selection of these two words. The commentators, each in his own inimitable manner, address this selection. The Kli Yakar presents an inspiring thought. The bais and the lamed are the only two letters of the entire Hebrew Alphabet to which, if one were to attach any letter of Hashem’s Name, Yud Kay Vov Kay…

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האזינו השמים ואדברה ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי

Give ear, O’ Heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth. (32:1)

Moshe Rabbeinu is characterized as the anav mikol adam, most humble man on earth. Thus, it appears audacious and out of character for him to make a declaration asking heaven and earth to listen to him. This is inconsistent with his humility. The Kotzker Rebbe, zl, explains that, indeed, one who is by nature humble does not speak and certainly does not call attention to himself. Therefore, when such an unpretentious person makes a declaration, it is heard. Such an individual who never speaks may posit that he has merited (by being silent thus far) that he should now be…

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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)

Rashi defines naval as vile as a result of our lack of gratitude to Hashem Who has done everything for us. An ingrate is both an abominable person and unwise, because, when people see his lack of human decency, they will distance themselves from him. Targum Onkeles offers a novel exposition in which he translates am naval as ama d’kablu Oraysa, the nation that received the Torah. This translation begs elucidation. Why should the nation that accepted the Torah be described as naval (which is normally defined as abomination or another uncomplimentary term)? Horav Eliyahu Schlessinger, Shlita, offers an innovative…

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זכור ימות עולם בינו שנות דור ודור

Remember the days of old/world history, study the generational epochs. (32:7)

Remember the days of old to incorporate their lessons into the present. Traditionally, following a major collective tragedy Rabbanim yirei Shomayim, G-d-fearing scholars, have authored Sefarim which portray events that occurred as being part of our history and demonstrating Hashem’s Divine Hand in conducting these events. When the Jews were expelled from Spain following the Tach v’Tat pogroms, this was the case. Following Churban Europa, many articles and sefarim were written to depict the Divine Hand manipulating events. I write this because the further in time that we are removed from these events, the easier it is to fall into…

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