This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Devarim is being co-sponsored by Akiva and Esther Rosenbaum Lilui Nishmas for his father Rav Arie ben Rav Yehuda HaLevy z”l whose Yahrtzeit is the 4th of Av, well as by Rafael and Shifra Goldmeier in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Tzvi Shalom ben Rafael Mordechai. Both families are from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Rosenbaum and Goldmeier families, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
A number of years ago, Rav Aba Wagensberg spoke out in a shiur that Sefer Devarim represents Moshe Rabbeinu’s Mussar to B’nai Yisrael as the time of his death drew near.
Rabbi Wagensberg gave over the thought that the B’nai Yisrael, after all of the rebellions, all of the contention, all of the failures which the rebellions and contention wrought, after the blatantly false accusations of nepotism hurled by segments of the Am at Moshe and Aaron HaKohen and more, Finally: came to the collective, unequivocal realization that Moshe Rabbeinu, now in his final days on earth, was indeed Hashem’s annointed — the undisputed leader and that his words are the words of Hashem.
We learned from the previous two Parshiyot, Matos and Masei that the B’nai Yisrael learns that Moshe would not be leading the B’nai Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. And this author asked if it was that this recognition sunk into the collective consciousness of B’nai Yisrael as they realized, as the oft-recorded 80s disco tune went, “You don’t know what you got ’til you lose it”? And what, if any, are comparable lessons to be learned in our contemporary generations?
Shem Mishmuel (Selections on the weekly parshiyot and festivals rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) writes (page 373):
This book is qualitatively different from the other four. Chazal tell us (in Megillah, page 31b) that the curses in Sefer Devarim were said by Moshe himself. We may assume… that the material in Devarim, while of course presented by Hashem to Moshe, contains more human input, however slight, than the previous four books. Perhaps it can be considered an in-between stage, bridging the gap between the main Written Torah… and the Oral Torah. Devarim contains elements of both — it is the written word of Hashem…, but with an element of human content, like [oral] Torah.
R’ Wagensberg explained that near the end of Sefer BaMidbar, we began to see indications, via the story of Zelafchad’s daughters, as well as the desire of Sh’vatim Reuven and Gad to settle east of the Jordan, and their offer to lead the B’nai Yisrael in combat, etc., that the B’nai Yisrael finally desired to accept Moshe Rabbeinu’s teachings and his Mussar which was meant to bring about the perfection of the Jewish people in emulation of the ways of Hashem as they were about to enter Eretz Yisrael.
R’ Wagensberg also made an analogy between the collective recognition of and desire for Moshe Rabbeinu’s leadership and mussar, and the sequence of donning and removing the tefillin shel yad and shel rosh. He noted that the shel yad is donned first before the shel rosh and then, after tefillahs, the shel rosh is removed first and only afterwords the shel yad. The tefillin sequence equates with a person’s active learning of Jewish law (Halacha) and Jewish history and then, receiving Mussar concerning the practical, day-to-day real-time, real-life applications of what has been learned.
So, in essence, the donning of the shel yad first, and the removal of it last equates with applying in the world outside what has been learned in Beit Knesset and/or the Beit Medrash.
Every believing Jew, whatever his level, must take on day-to-day real-time, real-life reality application of his learning, and translate it into his own righteous leadership mantle within the body of B’nai Yisrael, but without the contentiousness of a million generals.
Every Jew, every Israeli must look deep within himself and come to true, consistent answers as to why he’s here, why there is a divine connection of, and legacy between the Jews and their land — Eretz Yisrael and how he individually relates to the murderous hatred by the Arab, Islamic nation (in their “Palestinian
Every Jew, as his own leader, if he thinks deeply enough, must come to the inescapable conclusion that the Arab’s irrational lust for death to the Jew and destruction of the State of Israel emanates from Shemayim, as a form of what’s written in Parsha Toldos.
Yaakov Aveinu, in his remaining Bracha for Eisev said;
“…your brother you shall serve; yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40)
Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash) renders Rashi;
“When you are aggrieved” as meaning; “If Israel ever transgresses Torah, and is thus undeserving of dominion, you will have a right to be aggrieved that he has taken your blessing and you may cast off his yoke from your neck.” (Artscroll, Stone Chumash page 141: Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40)
The Chumash explanation of the posuk concludes in this way;
“This is in consonance with the prophecy given to Rifka while she was pregnant: Her two sons would not be able to coexist; when one ascended, the other would decline.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 23, as rendered in Stone Chumash, page 141)
Jews, whatever their level of emunah and observance, must of necessity come together, as the masses of the modern-day medinat Israel once were as when they fought the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War or when Israeli soldiers rescued the 100 hi-jacked Entebbe hostages. They must again, once and for always, shed or subvert sectorial disputes and jealousies in the interest of unity and toward the larger national interest of seeking and bringing to power a true Jewish Leadership. Such a true Jewish Leadership will enable us, in Unity to “take back Israel” rather than continuing to collectively tolerate and fall prey to the cancerous rot of divide-and-conquer, monetarily and morally corrupt, self-interested, self-enriching, weak and lame teflon/etrog governance.
Regarding Torah-based governance: a true, authentic Jewish leadership, based on the Moshe Rabbeinu model, is only as effective as our people’s unity with, recognition of and desire for the application of such leadership. It seems that real Jewish leadership flows from a unified people actively seeking such leadership — a leadership with the audacity to tare down, to deconstruct the entrenched, cancerous rot of present-day Israeli governance with its expedience, political-correctness, band-aids and political goaltenders. In other words, contrary to a Nixonian economic concept; the “trickle-down theory,” an effective, righteous Jewish leadership evolves upward with the Am actively recognizing, endorsing, seeking, demanding and encouraging Torah-based leadership and governance and it’s application thereof.
Our contemporary entrenched cancerous rot encompasses agendized governmental ministerial institutions as well as the university faculties and campuses, agendized courts and justice system, agendized intelligencia and media, the vast majority of Knesset members, as well as ministerial and local bureaucracies. And let us not forget about the consolidation of wealth within the hands of a relative handful of families who control Israel’s financial standing, as well as communal religious leadership which seems handcuffed and incapable of tzedek — justice when it comes to handling issues of business ethics, domestic and child abuse, fraud, criminality and more.
The reality seemingly is that without eradication of these cancers plaguing all sectors of Israeli society, including the religious sectors, even the evolvement of true Jewish leadership is subject to the slippery-slide of political compromise and/or attacks by the above described entrenched institutions which inevitably whittle down the credibility of a faith-based leadership, eventually dooming any attempt to invoke Torah values. We were seemingly witness to the perfect example of this slippery-slide when Menachem Begin, the closest of any modern-day Israeli prime ministers to possessing these true Jewish values, was ultimately unable to lead with any Torah integrity due to the pressure of subversion by the entrenched ministerial, institutional, political rot, as well as agendized media rot.
But maybe, that genuine Jewish leadership, the true Godol HaD’or, the Torah-true head of state is out there, obscured, hidden and waiting for the people to bring about the proper climate for his leadership. This proper climate can seemingly only come about through the deconstruction of the cancerous rot which is modern-day medinat Yisrael’s governance as well as the deconstruction of the rot of sectorial rivalries among the religious, as well as eliminating an atmosphere seemingly devoid of V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Kamocha on a one-to-one level.
B’Ezrat Hashem, as we pray and hope for each year, that this Tisha B’av FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos and Daven Hard, Fast Easy on Tisha B’av!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.