“Va’Hashem he’emircha hayom lihyot lo l’am s’gulah ka’asher diber-lach v’lishmor kol-mitzvotav… — And Hashem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured people, as He spoke to you, and to observe all His commandments…”  {Devarim 26:18}

Good Shabbos All!

May our parsha learning for this week be a zechus for Divine Rachamim, protection, and Siyata Dishamaya for everyone in Florida.  May they all merit to perceive that beyond and within the
“eye of the storm” that will pass over the land, are “Ainay Hashem el-tzadikim v’aznav el-shavasam – The eyes of the Lord (that) are to the righteous, and His ears (that) are to their cry. {Tehillim 34:16}”  He is waiting to hear our tefillos.  Of course in addition to the necessary practical preparations, and arrangement of safety precautions, that is all we can do in the face of potential disaster:  Pray for the best.


The blessings and curses that Hashem vowed would be the result of our adherence or rejection of Torah, originally enumerated at Har Sinai, are reiterated in great length and verbal imagery in this week’s sidra, with the fearful Tochacha; the Admonition to us from Hashem to adhere stringently to Torah, because if we forsake it, our direction, anchor, and very source of vitality…  everything will crumble, from civilization to sanity of the mind.  This chazara (repetition) brought about a new commitment of wholehearted devotion, reminiscent of the revelation at Sinai, where the entire nation congregated at the foot of a holy mountain, to receive the word of Hashem.  We resolved to stick to it, upon our entrance to, and settlement of, the Holy Land…  and in all the lands of our dispersion.

“Vaydaber Moshe v’Kohanim haLevi’im el-kol-Yisrael laymor ‘haskeit u’shma Yisrael hayom hazeh nih’yayta l’am la’Hashem Elokecha.  V’shamata b’kol Hashem Elokecha v’asita et-mitzvotav v’et chukav asher anochi m’tzavcha hayom.’ – Moshe and the Levitic Kohanim spoke to all Israel, saying: ‘Be attentive and hear, O Israel:  This day you have become a people to Hashem your G-d.  You shall therefore obey the Lord, your God, and fulfill His commandments and His statutes, which I command you this day.‘”  {Devarim 27:9-10}

Once more, in correlation to the Matan Torah experience at Sinai, “Hayom hazeh nih’yayta l’am la’Hashem Elokecha/This day you have become a people to Hashem your G-d.”  Upon opening our hearts and minds to sincere acceptance of the Torah and its Mitzvos, we become in sync with Hashem, and profound blessing, growth, and protection will be forthcoming.  Klal Yisrael’s marriage with Him was given fresh vitality.  Perhaps on a more modern note, this was similar to “renewing our vows” with G-d, yet, Rashi teaches that this verse refers to daily Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim (acceptance of the yoke of Heaven), as if we are today and every day entering into a new Brit (Covenant) with G-d. 

There is a narrative given over, that at this time, Moshe presented the Torah scroll he had inscribed to Shevet Laivi, to safeguard.  Upon this event, the rest of the Bnei Yisroel spoke up in protest, inquiring as to why Laivi exclusively was given such a treasure– and voiced their concern that the tribe would, one day in the future, claim that the Torah was given just to them saying that the rest of the nation was unworthy of such a gift.  At this, Moshe Rabbeinu broke out into rejoicing over this ‘complaint’ (which we know the Bnei Yisroel were very good at), delighted that the whole people had such a high regard and desire for Torah, as they worried about any possibility that it would be expropriated from them, G-d forbid.  This is where, we are taught, Moshe cried out “This day you have become a people to Hashem your G-d!”  We proved our devotion to be true and intense, which qualified and fortified us to be an Am Segulah, a treasured people to Hashem.  

May this always be so; may our commitment and passion for all of the Torah never weaken…  but we can’t deny, that in the past it has in fact wavered, falling prey to distractions and temptations of numbing, harmful forces in the world around and within us.  On account of our lack of faithfulness, as the Torah warns after its blessings, all of the terrifying and unsettling klalos (curses) listed in the Tochacha, have come to pass, defining some of the darkest periods in Jewish History.  According to the Ramban, they were elements of the Churban of the Second Bais haMikdash, and ensuing Roman exile and torments.  More recently, we see the Holocaust as another inexpressibly accursed time.  Why Hashem allowed these to happen…  we can’t truly explain.  Hashem’s reasoning is beyond ours.  But we do see that many of our tzaaros, sufferings, succeeded times of spiritual and moral decline.  As the Torah forewarned…

Why, for our erroneous doings, do we face potential for such severe rebuke and suffering from G-d?  This is but another secret to our nationhood under Him:  Meforshim elucidate, that when Hashem led us on Yetzias Mitzrayim, we were like young children.  We were imperfect, constantly learning Torah anew, and many times acting rebellious while trying to follow our own grand plans instead of what was appropriate for us.  We didn’t always comprehend the bigger picture of our life mission, but Hashem was patient always, holding back His hand, so to speak, from full-fledged admonishment.  However, after 40 years traversing the Midbar, refining our characters, amassing Torah wisdom, and ‘toughening up’ from all the travelling for the future trials of building anew in the Promised Land ahead, we grew into “adults”.  And when one reaches adulthood, they are held to a higher standard of conduct; if this responsibility is transgressed, we are obligated in punishment and correction to the full letter of the law.   


We are greatly privileged to have a relationship with Hashem, that will only be a source of clarity, harmony, and elevation.  May our minds, hearts, and souls never lose sight of this, through rough and easy, light and dark, good and “bad”.  May we never again have to experience the agonizing times of suffering so many in our past have gone through.  Wishing you a Kesivah ve’Chasima Tovah, a good writing and sealing for the new year, and a Shana Tovah U’metukah– a year of revealed goodness and sweetness.

The Messenger Bird