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ובערת הרע מקרבך וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו

And you shall destroy the evil from your midst; and all of Yisrael shall hear, and they shall fear. (21:21)

Rashi comments: A ben sorer u’moreh, wayward and rebellious son, is put to death due to his end. The Torah foresaw the culmination of his way of thinking. He will eventually exhaust his father’s money, and, in order to maintain his habit, will be compelled to steal. A time will come when stealing will not come easily. At this point, he will resort to murder. Chazal teach: Let him die as an innocent person (before he kills someone) and not die as a guilty person. This refers to an inconsistency in a prior episode in the Torah, when the infant…

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השב תשיבם לאחיך

You shall surely return them to you brother. (22:1)

Horav Shmuel Hominer, zl (Eved HaMelech), writes that included in the mitzvah of Hasheiv teshiveim, the obligation to return a lost article to its rightful owner, likewise applies with regard to the spiritual sphere. One Jew is responsible for the other. Therefore, if my brother is plagued with a spiritual shortcoming, my attitude should not be: “How does this involve me? He is responsible for his life. I am responsible for mine.” It does not work that way. We are responsible for one another. One should not ignore his fellow’s plight by turning a blind eye to his spiritual failings….

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לא יבא עמוני ומואבי בקהל ד'... על דבר אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ומים... ואשר שכר עליך את בלעם בן בעור... לקללך

Neither an Amoni nor a Moavi may enter the congregation of Hashem… because they did not greet you with bread and water… and because he hired Bilaam ben Be’or… to curse you. (23:4,5)

An Amoni or Moavi, even after he has fully converted to Judaism, is forever barred from marrying a Jewish woman. The reason for this exclusion: A) They did not greet us nicely when we were journeying towards Eretz Yisrael; B) They hired Bilaam to curse us. Their lack of chesed, acting kindly, appears to be more of a character flaw than a sin. Clearly, such a moral stain should disappear over time. We have been persecuted, hounded and murdered by so many nations. Yet, their character flaws do not seem to present a hindrance to their acceptance as converts. Why…

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כי יקח איש אשה חדשה... נקי יהיה לביתו... ושימח את אשתו

When a man marries a new wife… he shall be free for his home for one year, and he shall gladden his wife. (24:5)

In one of the sheva brachos, seven nuptial blessings, we recite the following: Asher bara sasson v’simchah, chassan v’kallah, gilah, rinah, ditzah, v’chedvah, ahavah, v’achavah, v’shalom v’reius; “Who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace and companionship.” Why do the words chassan v’kallah, groom and bride, precede all of the wonderful, varied expressions of joy? Horav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, zl, explains that the unique love, harmony and sense of brotherhood that reigns in a marriage, is a spiritual blessing from Hashem which He grants to the young couple following their commencement of…

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לא תזבח לד' אלקיך שור ושה אשר יהיה בו מום

You shall not slaughter for Hashem, your G-d, an ox or a lamb or kid in which there will be a blemish. (17:1)

The animal that is brought up as an offering to Hashem must be without blemish. Chazal (Sifri) detail a variety of disqualifications which invalidate a sacrifice. The shoresh, root, of this mitzvah is quite understandable. A person who brings a korban, sacrifice, is to focus his thoughts towards Hashem. A human being is affected by the strength of his actions. Hence, it is only proper that the sacrifice he offers be without blemish. This reflects the idea that the intentions of a man neither rest – nor become focused – upon a lesser sacrifice as they would upon a more…

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ולא ירבה לו נשים

And he shall not have too many wives. (17:17)

Shlomo Hamelech thought that his superior wisdom would protect him from the pitfalls which the Torah specifies await the king who transgresses its limitations on horses, wives and wealth. Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Shemos 6:1) teach that when Shlomo violated the mitzvah of Lo yarbeh lo nashim, “He shall not have too many wives,” the letter yud of the word yarbeh (too many) came before the Almighty, bowed and said, “Ribon HaOlomim, Master of the Universe, Did You not say that no letter of the Torah will ever be abrogated? Yet Shlomo stands here and has nullified me. Perhaps today he…

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והוא ינוס אל אחת הערים האלה וחי

He shall flee to one of these cities and live. (19:5)

The law providing the rotzeach b’shogeg, unintentional murderer, with a city of refuge to protect his life both physically and emotionally is a lesson for us regarding the Torah’s sensitivity to a person’s emotional well-being. Someone who causes the death of a fellow Jew is laden with awful guilt. Veritably, it was not premeditated, but, at the end of the day, a life was taken; a family was left bereft of an important member. This tragic episode affected many lives. The unintentional murderer cannot change what happened; he cannot make it right. He is down, depressed, disgraced. Now he has…

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מי האיש הירא ורך הלבב ילך וישב לביתו

Who is the man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house. (20:8)

Torah is our source of life. The individual who commits himself to a life of Torah is assured that his observance of Torah and mitzvos will never be the cause of anything negative happening to him. On the contrary, his observance of Torah and mitzvos will protect him. This is why Rabbi Yossi HaGalili contends that one who fears that he might have sinned does not go to war. Without the spiritual fortitude engendered by mitzvah observance, one does not feel secure. While this does not mean that one who is observant should stand in harm’s way, it does posit…

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והיה כי יבאך ד' אלקיך אל ארץ אשר אתה בא שמה לרשתה ונתתה את הברכה על הר גריזים ואת הקללה על הר עיבל

It shall be when Hashem, your G-d, brings you to the Land to which you come to possess it, then you shall deliver the blessing on Har Gerizim and the curse on Har Eival. (11:29)

As the nation prepared to enter the Land, Hashem instructed them to initiate a new covenant upon entering Eretz Yisrael. One does not enter Eretz Yisrael unless he first prepares himself with the appropriate sense of submission born of awe. Kabbolas haTorah, receiving the Torah forty years earlier, carried them along their journey through the wilderness. A new generation was preparing to enter the Land. In the Plains of Moav this new generation also received an induction into kabbolas ol Malchus Shomayim, accepting upon themselves the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom. The covenant into which the nation was now entering…

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ונצתם את מזבחתם... ואבדתם את שמם... לא תעשון כן לד' אלקיכם

You shall break apart their altars… You shall obliterate their names… You shall not do this to Hashem, your G-d. (12:3,4)

A remembrance of the idols that once dotted the country should not remain in the Land. Chazal understood that Moshe Rabbeinu had no need to admonish the nation not to destroy the Bais HaMikdash or the mikdash me’at, smaller representation of the Temple, the shuls;   rather, he was exhorting the people not to burn incense whenever they so desired. This was a Canaanite practice. Alternatively, Jews are prohibited from erasing Hashem’s Name or destroying a stone from the Mizbayach, Altar. Last, we are enjoined to act appropriately, so that our sins not catalyze the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash.    The…

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