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ואתה קח לך מכל מאכל אשר יאכל ואספת אליך

And as for you, take yourself of every food that is eaten and gather it into yourself. (6:21)

If the animals walked into the Ark on their own without having to be herded in, why could their food not, likewise, arrive on its own? Why did Noach have to go out and gather food for all the animals – enough to last them a year? The Brisker Rav, zl, explains that Noach required a special command to gather food, for, otherwise, he may very well have thought that just as the animals came of their own volition, their food should have “arrived” in the same manner. Thus, Hashem informed Noach that the animals would come on their own;…

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ויאמר אלקים אל נח זאת אות הברית אשר הקמתי ביני ובין כל בשר על הארץ

And Hashem said to Noach, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.” (9:17)

Sforno comments that the bow is a sign for the righteous Jews to commence praying for the generation. The mere fact that the bow appears is a Heavenly message that something is amiss. The people have subverted their spiritual dimension, with punishment being the Heavenly response – unless the righteous pray for Heavenly compassion. The rainbow is the sign of the covenant which Hashem made with mankind: “It is incumbent upon you (Noach), and those like you, to bestir yourselves when you see it, to rouse the people to repent and understand that they must better themselves.” (Sforno) The rainbow…

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בראשית ברא אלקים את השמים ואת הארץ

In the beginning of G-d’s creating the heavens and the earth. (1:1)

Rashi comments, “All the potentials of heaven and earth were created on Day One, but Hashem commanded each to actualize on a designated day. The heavens had been created on the first day, but they were still in a state of flux. On the second day, when Hashem said, ‘Let there be a rakia, firmament,’ the heavens solidified, thereby creating a separation between the waters above (clouds) and the waters below.” We wonder why there had to be a process whereby the heavens required a day to congeal. Also, Hashem created light on the first day, but He did not…

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ויאמר אלקים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו

And Elokim said, “Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness.” (1:26)

Chazal (Midrash) teach, “When Moshe Rabbeinu wrote the Torah (as dictated to him by Hashem), he came to this pasuk, “Let Us make…” which is written in the plural, thus implying the notion that there might chas v’shalom, Heaven forbid, be more than one Creator. Ribbono Shel Olam! Why did You give the heretics a pretext to suggest a plural of divinities?” Hashem replied, “Write… whoever wishes to err will do so regardless. Rather, let them learn from their Creator, Who (although He) created all, still consulted with the Ministering Angels.” Thus, Hashem taught us that, regardless of one’s greatness,…

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ומעץ הדעת טוב ורע לא תאכל ממנו כי ביום אכלך ממנו מות תמות

But the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad you must not eat thereof; for on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die. (2:17)

Hashem established life as we know it following the sin which Adam HaRishon committed. Hashem warned him not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He ate and was punished with death (which did not occur for another 930 years). Otherwise, he would have lived forever. Horav Yaakov Moshe Charlap, zl, expands on the change that took place as a consequence of Adam transgressing Hashem’s command. Prior to the sin, life was idyllic; man was to live morally, justly, and perform only positive acts of pure good. We were to create and build – everything was positive…

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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)

Hashem certainly knew the location of Adam’s hiding place; rather, He wanted to determine if Adam knew where he (himself) was. One must know where he is with regard to fulfilling his potential. We often sell ourselves short, settling for mediocre success, because we (or others) have convinced (us) ourselves that this is all that we are capable of achieving. One day, we will stand before the Heavenly Tribunal and will be presented with a Heavenly image of who we could have been. Hashem asked Adam, Ayeca, “Where are you,” in comparison to where you should be? This is a…

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ויאמר ד' מסיני בא... ממינו אש דת למו

He said: Hashem came from Sinai… from His right hand. He presented the fiery Torah to them. (33:2)

The Baal HaTurim comments that this pasuk begins with the letter vov (Va’yomer) and ends with the letter vov (lamo). This is by design, to allude that Moshe Rabbeinu blessed all twelve shevatim, tribes. (The numerical value of vov is six. Two vovim equal twelve.) The commentators question why the Baal HaTurim did not note this in the earlier pasuk, which also begins and ends with vov. This pasuk addresses Moshe’s blessing the Jewish People. It would have been more appropriate to underscore the dual vovim in a pasuk which speaks about blessing. The Zera Shimshon explains that the main…

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כי שם חלקת מחקק ספון ויתא ראשי עם צדקת ד' עשה ומשפטיו עם ישראל

For it is where the lawgiver’s plot is hidden; he came at the head of the nation, carrying out Hashem’s justice and His ordinances with Yisrael. (33:21)

Shevet Gad, the tribe of Gad, selected the area where Moshe Rabbeinu was (to be) buried as their portion in Eretz Yisrael. The tribe of Gad was among the first to march into battle. The closing words of the pasuk, Tziddkas Hashem asah u’mishpatav im Yisrael, “Carrying out Hashem’s justice and His ordinances with Yisrael,” are a tribute to our quintessential leader, the Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael, Moshe Rabbeinu. Chazal (Avos 5:22) derive from here that Moshe was the paradigmatic mezakeh es ha’rabim, influenced the masses to become meritorious. His antithesis was the wicked Yaravam ben Nevat who was the…

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וימת שם משה עבד ד' בארץ מואב על פי ד'

So, Moshe, servant of Hashem, died there, in the land of Moav, by the mouth of Hashem. (34:5)

Moshe Rabbeinu spent the most significant years of his life (the remaining forty years) as the quintessential leader of Klal Yisrael. He was always in the limelight – never alone – except when he died. Moshe left this world alone, without family, students, friends – even Yehoshua, his successor, was not with him. it was just he and, of course, Hashem. As such, he was really never alone. He, as we all, are with Hashem. I think we can glean a powerful message from here. Hashem accompanies every Jew on his final journey. He may be alone in the hospital…

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יערף כמטר לקחי תזל כטל אמרתי... כשעירים עלי דשא וכרביבים עלי עשב

May my teaching drop like the rain… like storm winds upon vegetation, and like raindrops upon blades of grass. (32:2)

The choice of vegetation and grass as metaphors for accepting the Heavenly message begs elucidation. A shirah, song (the song of Haazinu which commences with above pesukim), conveys a message employing the medium of prose/poetry. As such, it uses verses/terms that bespeak significance, that captivate the mind and penetrate the heart and soul. Who does not like a nice lawn? Nonetheless, grass does not play an important role in our lives. Clearly, when seeking to convey an eloquent message, the imagery of grass as the vehicle to communicate the depth of the message leaves somewhat to be desired. The metaphor…

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