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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)

Chazal (Pirkei Avos 4:B) teach that one should be meticulous in his Torah study because shigigas Talmud oleh zadon, a careless misinterpretation is considered tantamount to willful transgression. However, one who is sincere in his study but errs, is making a sincere mistake. In his commentary to Berachos 29b, the Yismach Moshe offers a homiletic rendering of Chazal which goes to the core of the consequences that result from failed leadership. A talmid chacham, Torah scholar, must be meticulous in his behavior, his every action must be the product of forethought and introspection. Indeed, he must guard himself much more…

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כי שם ד' אקרא הבו גדל לאלקינו

When I call out the Name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our G-d. (32:3)

The mention of Hashem’s Name should evoke feelings of awe, as well as pride. The mere fact that we merit the He count us as His children, representing Him in the world as His nation, should generate joy and excitement. His Name should resonate throughout our very being, to the point that we want to shout out His Name and declare our allegiance to Him. We must give honor to His Name and all that it represents. The Torah, which is Hashem’s blueprint for our lives, must be an integral part of our life’s endeavor. When we study Torah, the…

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הצור תמים פעלו

The deeds of the Rock are perfect. (32:4)

We are unable to fathom Hashem’s ways. It is impossible to come to grips with sadness and tragedy unless one has perfect faith that incorporates all of Hashem’s actions under the rubric of one harmonious whole. All actions are good – even if the “good” eludes us. All come from Hashem Who is the essence of good. He is perfect. We, however, as mortals, are imperfect; thus we are unable to grasp Hashem’s perfection. We can only believe with consummate faith in everything that he does. Chazal (Koheles Rabbah 20:15) teach that the word tzur, rock, a term which connotes…

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זכור ימות עולם בינו שנות דור ודור

Remember the days of yore, understand the years of generation after generation. (32:7)

Moshe Rabbeinu pleads with the Jewish nation to wake up from its self-imposed slumber and ponder the lessons to be gleaned from the past. A refusal to delve into the occurrences of the past and what preceded various adversities, a lack of perspective, has become the basis of much human error. We are blessed with gedolei Torah, Torah sages, whose perspective on the past is honed by a wisdom borne of penetrating analysis of Torah and the wisdom and Divine Assistance that results from such immersion in it. Furthermore, as has been noted by many, we have no Hebrew word…

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כי דור תהפוכות המה בנים לא אמון בם

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

Horav Tzvi Hirsch Ferber, zl, adds a practical, sadly common, insight concerning the dor tahapuchos, generation of reversals, when everything is topsy turvy. Veritably, the way of the world should be that a father teaches/sees to his son’s Torah-learning development and focuses on his spiritual growth. Conversely, the son is responsible for the support of his father. As a parent ages, daily work becomes a greater challenge. It is up to the son to arrange for his father’s sustenance and wellbeing. Today, however, it is the other way around. Fathers no longer involve themselves or care about the son’s Jewish…

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אתם נצבים היום כלכם

You are standing today, all of you. (29:9)

Rashi (quoting from the Midrash) explains the juxtaposition of Atem nitzavim, “You are standing” upon the previous parshah, Ki Savo, which detailed ninety-eight kelalos, imprecations, that would impact the nation if they do not listen to Hashem’s word. When Klal Yisrael heard the curses that would befall them for stepping out of line, they said, “Who can bear these?” Moshe Rabbeinu consoled them; “You are (still) standing today. Although you have catalyzed Hashem’s intense anger, He has not totally destroyed you, and you exist (standing) before Him today.” The Midrash begs elucidation. If the purpose of the kelalos was to…

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לא בשמים היא... כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד בפיך ובלבבך לעשותו

It is not in Heaven… rather, the matter is very near to you – in your mouth and your heart – to perform it. (30:12,14)

The Tanna D’vei Eliyahu Zuta (14:1) relates the following vignette. “Once I (Eliyahu HaNavi) was traveling from place to place when I chanced upon an unlearned Jew. He knew neither Chumash nor Mishnah. He spoke cynically and disparagingly. I asked him, ‘My son, what will you respond to your Father in Heaven on the Day of Judgment?’ He replied, ‘Rebbe, I have an answer for my lack of Torah knowledge. Heaven did not endow me with the knowledge and ability to understand Torah.’ I then asked him, ‘Who taught you how to fashion and tie the nets made from flax…

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ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת

So now, write this song for yourselves. (31:19)

Hashem commands each and every Jew to write his own Sefer Torah. One would think that being born and raised in a frum, observant, Torah-guided home would be sufficient. Why is it necessary to write/commission the writing of a personal Sefer Torah? The Melitzer Rebbe, Shlita, explains that, while it is certainly laudable for someone born into and raised in a Torah-oriented environment to continue along the lines of his upbringing by perpetrating and adhering to the lessons and guidelines of the education he received, it is not the same as taking one’s own initiative and forging a path of…

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והיה כי תמצאן אתו רעות רבות וצרות וענתה השירה הזאת לפניו לעד כי לא תשכח מפי זרעו

It will be, when they will encounter many evils and troubles, this song will bear witness against them, for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of their offspring. (31:21)

The Ponovezher Rav, zl, once commented to Horav Yaakov Galinsky, zl, that the level of siyata d’Shmaya, Divine assistance, today (fifty years ago) superseded that of earlier generations. He based this on the words of the Meiri in his commentary (preface) to Pirkei Avos, where he writes that there were thousands of Tannaim. Proof positive, Rabbi Akiva (who was one Rosh Yeshivah) had 24,000 talmidim, students. Concerning those times, we apply the statement of Shlomo Hamelech (Koheles 7:28), Adam echad mei’elef matzasi, “I have found one man in a thousand.” The Midrash (Koheles Rabbah 7:40) explains that the chinuch, Torah…

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ויצו משה את הלוים... לקח את ספר התורה הזה ושמתם אותו מצד ארון ברית ד' אלקיכם והיה שם בך לעד

Moshe commanded the Leviim… take the Book of the Torah and place it at the side of the Aron of the Covenant of Hashem, Your G-d, and it shall be there for you as a witness. (31:25,26)

Why were the Leviim the ones commanded to place the Sefer Torah next to/or inside the Aron? While it may be true that a Yisrael was not permitted entry into the Kodesh HaKodoshim, Holy of Holies, where the Aron was situated, neither were the Kohanim and Leviim permitted entry. Indeed, the only one who was allowed into the Kodesh HaKodoshim was the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. Otherwise, it was off-limits to everyone. As such, why were the Leviim singled out? Obviously, this was a one-time dispensation. If so, our question still stands. Why was Shevet Levi chosen above anyone…

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