Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Devarim

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I have continued with my usual summer practice of substituting a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

R' Mansour quoted a gemara which asks why does the parsha begin with the phrase these are the words that Moshe spoke to the Jews? Are these the first words that Moshe spoke? Moshe had been speaking to the Jews for thirty nine years! Rather the gemara explains that when Moshe spoke previously, Hashem spoke through Moshe's throat. Now, Moshe was speaking on his own (albeit inspired through ru'ach hakodesh).

R' Mansour noted that previously Moshe had spoken with a lisp, but the meforshim write that Moshe's speech impediment was cured now. This was because Hashem decided that since Moshe was now going to speaking on his own, the lisp was no longer needed to remind people of the source of the statements. Therefore the pasuk states that since Moshe spoke on his own for the first time, Hashem could heal his tongue.

These first statements that Moshe made were a rebuke. Moshe learned this from Ya'akov who waited until he was on his deathbed in Parshas Vayechi to tell his sons what they had been doing wrong. While a person is still alive and well, such statements could engender harsh feelings. Ya'akov's lesson which Moshe learned, is that when a person gives tochacha at the end of his life, it will generally be much better received.

R' Mansour noted that Moshe's rebuke to the Jews was very "pareve", meaning that it was mild and not meant to embarrass anyone in particular. The first pasuk of the parsha contains numerous places or landmarks which on the surface are meant to identify where the speech took place. However, if one were to review Parshas Matos, it would become evident that none of these places exist. The pasuk identifies places such as Lavan, Chatzeiros, Di Zahav and Mul Soof, but these locations are not found elsewhere in Chumash.

R' Mansour explained that Lavan was meant to remind the Jews about their complaints about the manna which was white. Rather than lacing into the Jews and telling them in detail about how wrong they were to complain about the manna, Moshe just says "white."

The use of the term Di Zahav (enough gold) was also meant to be a subtle reminder of sin. The Jews had enough gold, but they did not save it for a positive purpose. Instead, the Jews used the gold to construct the egel - the golden calf.

Another term used by Moshe was Mul Soof - you were by the splitting of the sea. However, this was meant to remind the Jews that they cried and complained and wanted to go back to Egypt before the sea was split.

From here one sees the importance to retain respect for people. Even when giving a rebuke,a person must be careful not to make it personal and to allow the recipient a measure of self respect.

R' Mansour then hypothesized that Moshe's respectful manner of rebuking the Jews might be the reason that Devarim is read before Tisha B'Av. The second temple was destroyed for not treating fellow Jews with respect. Moshe's lesson to the Jews is to not publicly rebuke others in a way that will embarrass them.

Rabbi Mansour then tied this to the Kamtza/Bar Kamtza story. The victim in the story was a malshin - a person who would turn over Jews to the government. Yet the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because this malshin was not given a measure of self respect and was forcibly removed from the party.

R' Mansour also related this concept to the story of Korach. After Korach and his followers challenged Aharon with their own attempts at offering Ketores, two hundred and fifty people were killed. After the story ended, Hashem commanded Elazar to clean up the mess. R' Mansour asked - why Elazar and not Aharon? R' Mansour answered that if Aharon had cleaned up the mess, it would have looked like he was gloating - I lived and you died! Therefore, Elazar was commanded to clean up after the others were killed.

Another vort that R' Mansour said had to do with a pasuk from Moshe's speech to the Jews where Moshe says that Hashem has caused the Jews to multiply "Larov". R' Mansour noted that the cholam is missing from this word and it appears to be read "Larav."

R' Mansour quoted the Ben Ish Chai who explains that every night a person's soul goes up to heaven and recounts the aveirot which were performed that day. The soul is damaged by any sins committed that day and the soul tells Hashem about the acts. While a person may have performed mitzvos that day as well, the good angels created by the mitzvos don't get to speak at night as they can only testify before a Beis Din which will not open until the next day.

R' Mansour then quoted a gemara which states that if a person comes and voluntarily admits that he is liable to pay a fine, he is exempt from paying the fine. As such, when the soul testifies that the acts occurred, it exempts the person from the fine. Who is the author of this opinion in the gemara? Rav. However, Shmuel says that if the person admits the act which causes the fine and then witnesses later come, he is still responsible to pay the fine.

R' Mansour, quoting the Ben Ish Chai tied this into a statement by Bilaam where he says "mi yichyeh mi sumo (k)el." This can also be read as - who can live if Shmuel is correct. B'H, the halacha is like Rav.

R' Mansour also quoted the pasuk from Tehillim, "v'slachta lavonoseinu ki rav hu" - Hashem will forgive us because he is rav. This can also be read as we will be forgiven because the halacha is like Rav.

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