Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Devarim, Shabbos Chazon. Guest Post by Rabbi Pinches Friedman, the Shvilei Pinches

Rabbi Pinches Friedman
Parshas Devorim - Shabbos Chazon 5771
Translation by Dr. Baruch Fox

(Formatting changes resulted in some missing spaces, but it's easy enough to read.  Please see my end  note.)

This upcoming Shabbos, on which we read parshas Devorim, is referred to as “Shabbos Chazon.” This name derives from the fact that the haftarah designated for this special Shabbos is taken from the words ofthe prophet Yeshayah, who prophesied about the destruction of the Beis HaMikdosh (Yeshayah 1, 1): ”חזון— ישעיהו בן אמוץ אשר חזה על יהודה ועל ירושלים”the vision of Yeshayahu the son of Amotz, whichhe saw concerning Yehudah and Yerushalayim. This parsha and this haftarah are always read, without exception, on the Shabbos before Tisha B’Av — or on the actual Shabbos of Tisha B’Av, in which case the fast is postponed to the following day, Sunday.

It is a well-known fact that the parshas we read on Shabbos, were arranged specifically by Ezra HaSofer to conform to an annual cycle (Megillah 31:). It is worthwhile, therefore, to investigate why Ezra HaSofer saw fit to institute the recitation of parshas Devorim on the Shabbos before Tisha B’Av.

Addressing this issue, the Levush (O.C. 428, 4) cites the words of the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch(ibid.): " תשעה באב קודם ]פרשת[ ואתחנן “ — TishaB’Av precedes parshas Voeschanan; then he adds: “כדי שיקראו פרשת דברים שמתחלת תוכחותיו של משה קודם ט’ באב, כדי להפטיר בה בחזון שהיא תוכחת על חורבן”— so that Moshe’s rebuke of the people, which begins in parshas Devorim, will be read before Tisha B’Av along with the haftarah of “Chazon,” which is a rebuke concerning the destruction of the Temple.In other words, we wish to connect these two rebukes— Moshe’s rebuke of Yisroel before his death with the prophet Yeshayah’s rebuke of Yisroel concerning the destruction of the Temple. Since we read Yeshayah’s rebuke on the Shabbos before Tisha B’Av, it was arranged that parshas Devorim would coincide with thereading of this haftarah.איכה אשא לבדי” “ Is a Rectification for“איכה ישבה בדד”  Let us begin our journey by following the Levush’s  lead. What is the deeper connection between MosheRabeinu’s rebuke in parshas Devorim and Yeshayah’s rebuke concerning the destruction of the Temple?

Let us refer to the following Midrash (Eichah Rabbah; Intro.”אילו זכיתם הייתם קוראים בתורה איכה אשא לבדי,:( 11ועכשיו שלא זכיתם הרי אתם קוראים )איכה א א( איכהישבה בדד" — had you been meritorious, you would have recited from the Torah, “How can I carry alone?”;now that you were not meritorious, you are required to recite, “How is it that she sits alone?”The following requires explanation: (a) clearly, both rebukes employ the term ” איכה “; nevertheless, why would the recitation of ” איכה אשא לבדי “--“How can I carry alone?” preclude the necessity of reciting “איכהישבה בדד” --“How is it that she sits alone?” (b)Today, in our times, although we recite from the Torah:איכה אשא לבדי” “--“How can I carry alone?”, due to our multitudinous sins, we still mourn the destruction of the Temple, on the night of Tisha B’Av, by reciting:איכה ישבה בדד” “--“How is it that she sits alone?”To clarify our sages’ riddle and deeper message, let us examine the following words of rebuke uttered by Moshe,in our parsha:, ”איכה אשא לבדי טרחכם ומשאכם וריבכםהבו לכם אנשים חכמים ונבונים וידועים לשבטיכם ואשימםבראשיכם” — how can I alone carry your trouble, your burden, and your quarrels? Provide for yourselves distinguished men, who are wise, understanding, and well known to your tribes, and I shall appoint themas your heads. Rashi comments: ”ואשמם, חסר יו”ד לומר שאשמותיהם של ישראל תלויות בראשי דייניהם, שהיהלהם למחות ולכוון אותם לדרך הישרה” — the word ואשמם" “ is written without the letter “yod” (changing the meaning of the word from “I will appoint” to “their guilt”) to teach us that the sins of Yisroel hang on the heads of their judges; for they should have protested and directed them to the proper path. Why, according to Rashi’s insight, did Moshe Rabeinu emphasize this point here — that the judges bore responsibility forthe people’s sins?

First, let us recall what we have learned in the Gemoreh (Yoma 9:):, ”מקדש ראשון מפני מה חרב מפני שלשה דברים שהיו בו עבודה זרה וגלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים... אבל מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ומצוות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב, מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם, ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם כנגד שלש עבירות עבודה זרה גלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים” — the first Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed because of the commission of the three cardinal sins — idol-worship, immorality and murder. During the period of the second Beis HaMikdosh, however, the people engaged in Torah study, the performance of mitzvot and acts of kindness. It was destroyed because of baseless hatred,“sinas chinam” — this teaches us that “sinas chinam”carries as much weight as the three cardinal sins. The Gemoreh proceeds to prove, from a possuk in Yechezkel(1, 27), that even during the period of the first Beis HaMikdosh, “sinas chinam” already existed among the leaders of Yisroel.“Sinas chinam” among the Leaders of Yisroel Led to “Sinas chinam” among the People of Yisroel We must note the alarming commentary of the Kli Yoker on our parsha (Devorim 1, 1). He states that the baseless hatred that existed among the leaders of Yisroel during the period of the first Beis HaMikdosh led to the baseless hatred that developed among the Parshas Devorim 5771 | 2people of Yisroel during the period of the second Beis HaMikdosh. Here are his sacred words:“ובט’ באב היה מעשה המרגלים, בו ביום נולדה מדת שנאת חנם בישראל, כמו שכתוב )דברים א כז ( ותאמרו בשנאת ה' אותנו הוציאנו וגו', פירש רש"י ]והוא היה אוהב אתכם אבל אתם שונאים אותו, משל הדיוט אומר [מה דבלבך על רחמך מה דבלביה עליך. כי המה סברו מאחר שכל אחד מהם שונא את חבירו, כך מסתמא שונא אותם גם הקב"ה... ותהר צרה זו ותלד מדה רעה זו אשר החריבה בית ראשון ושני, כי בבית ראשון היה שנאת חנם בין נשיאי ישראל, ובבית שני פשתה הנגע בין כל ישראל כדאיתא ביומא".The incident with the spies, the “meraglim,” occurred on Tisha B’Av. That very day, the negative characteristic of “sinas chinam” emerged amongst the people of Yisroel.They accused Hashem of hating them (Devorim 1, 27),although He truly loved them. This was an indication that they hated each other and, therefore, assumed that HKB”H hated them, as well. This incident gave birth to the negative characteristic that caused the destruction of the two Temples. During the period of the first Beis HaMikdosh, “sinas chinam” existed among the leaders of Yisroel; during the period of the second Beis HaMikdosh, this defect spread among the people themselves — as stated in the Gemoreh in Yoma.

Additionally, in light of the fact that the first Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed because the people were guilty of committing the three cardinal sins, where were their leaders? Why didn’t they take steps to prevent the people from committing these transgressions? The answer, sadly enough, is that there was a lack of unity among the leaders of Yisroel.

Due to their quarreling amongst themselves, they were incapable of presenting a united front and no longer represented a positive influence on the people.Furthermore, as we learned from the Gemoreh: ”ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם כנגד שלש עבירות עבודה זרה גלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים” — “sinas chinam” carries the same weight and gravity as the three cardinal sins.Consequently, the “sinas chinam” that prevailed among the leaders of Yisroel was just as serious a transgression as the three cardinal sins. Seeing as they were not free of guilt, and their offense was just as great, they were incapable of steering the people away from the sins of idolatry, immorality and murder.

As we discussed at length in our essay on parshas Masei,citing the Sefas Emes (5659), this is the reason thatHKB”H arranged for Aharon HaKohen to depart from this world on Rosh Chodesh Av — the commencement of the nine days on which we mourn the loss of the Beis HaMikdosh, which was destroyed because of “sinaschinam.” It is HKB”H’s wish that Aharon will influence usfrom above to follow in his ways and to love our fellow Jew. As we learned in the Mishnah (Ovos 1, 12), the disciples of Aharon were characterized as: ”אוהב שלום ורודף שלום, אוהב את הבריות ומקרבן לתורה” — loving peace, pursuing peace, loving all creatures and bringing them nearer to Torah.Moshe Rabeinu the Future Redeemer Yearned to Hasten the Redemption.

Let us now introduce an idea from the Megaleh Amukos(20). Moshe Rabeinu wanted to enter Eretz Yisroel so that he could build the Beis HaMikdosh. HKB”H told him that that was not possible; for, if he were to build theBeis HaMikdosh, it would be impossible for our enemies to conquer it or destroy it. The Gemoreh (Soteh 9.)explains that our enemies never captured the Mishkan,because it was the result of Moshe’s handiwork. Thisis evident from what we have learned: “משנבנה מקדש ראשון נגנז אהל מועד קרשיו קרסיו ובריחיו ועמודיו ואדניו” — once the first Beis HaMikdosh was built, the Ohel Moed (the Mishkan) was stored, including all of its structural components.The Midrash explains (Eichah Rabbah 4, 14) that in the process of the destruction of the Temple,HKB”H visited his wrath on the wood and stones of the structure rather than on Yisroel. This is implied inHKB”H’s response to Moshe: ” רב לך “ — you are on toohigh a level and your handiwork is beyond the realm and capacity of Yisroel’s enemies to conquer. Therefore,Moshe’s request to cross the Yarden and build the Beis HaMikdosh was denied; so that HKB”H would not be Parshas Devorim 5771 | 3forced to visit his wrath, chas v’shalom, on the people of Yisroel. This is what we learned from the Megaleh Amukos.

In fact, Moshe Rabeinu also knew that Yisroel’senemies had no power or control over his handiwork. Yet,according to the Megaleh Amukos (252), he prayed to enter Eretz Yisroel and build the Beis HaMikdosh in the hope of realizing the final and complete redemption —hageulah hasheleimah. As the Zohar hakadosh teaches us (Bereishit 25:), Moshe Rabeinu, himself, is destined to be the Melech HaMashiach. This is alluded to in the possuk (Bereishit 49, 10): “לא יסור שבט מיהודה, דא משיח בן דוד, ומחוקק מבין רגליו, דא משיח בן יוסף,עד כי יבא שיל”ה דא מש”ה” The possuk states thatthe royal scepter will not depart from the tribe ofYehudah — this is an allusion to Moshiach ben David;next it states that a lawgiver will not depart from his descendants — this is an allusion to Mashiach benYosef; until the arrival of Shiloh — this is an allusion to Moshe; the numerical value of שיל”ה is the same as the numerical value of the name מש”ה — both equal 345.Moshe’s entreaty to enter the land in order to build a Beis HaMikdosh that would endure forever is now easy to comprehend. For, at the time of the future redemption, HKB”H will slaughter the yetzer hara and exterminate it from the world, once and for all. In that event, there will be no need for HKB”H to pour out his wrath upon the wood and stones of the Temple’sstructure. Nonetheless, HKB”H informed Moshe that Yisroel were not yet worthy and the time for the future redemption had not yet arrived.Additionally, let us recall the words of the Tikunei Zohar (69, 112.): ”ואתפשטותיה דמשה בכל דרא ודראובכל צדיק וצדיק” — in other words, there is an extension of Moshe Rabeinu’s neshamah in every generation andin every tzaddik.

The Megaleh Amukos on Voeschanan(45) finds an allusion to this phenomenon in Moshe’sproclamation to Yisroel (Devorim 3, 26): “ויתעבר ה’ בי למענכם” — the word ” ויתעבר “ derives from the word“ibur,” which is a form of reincarnation. Thus, Moshe is telling the people that due to their transgressions and unworthiness, he will have to reincarnate in every generation and into every tzaddik--instead of bringing in the redemption himself, during his lifetime.“How Will I Be Able to Bear the Burden Alone”after My Brother Aharon’s Decease. We can now begin to comprehend, to some small degree, Moshe Rabeinu’s heartfelt outpouring and open rebuke of Yisroel: “איכה אשא לבדי טרחכם ומשאכם וריבכם” — how can I bear your trouble and your burden and your quarrels alone? In other words, so long as my brother Aharon — the ultimate peacemaker —was alive, he assisted me by promoting peace between the members of Yisroel.Now, however, that Aharon has passed away onHor HaHar, I have been left alone; how am I to bear this burden alone? I am not capable of eradicating the “sinas chinam” and resolving the disputes alone.Notwithstanding, I will not abandon you, but rather:“הבו לכם אנשים חכמים ונבונים וידועים לשבטיכם”— appoint for yourselves wise, capable men, i.e. the tzaddikim and leaders of each and every generation;ואשימם בראשיכם” “ — and I will reincarnate into them.Through them, I will teach you the ways of Hashem and how to overcome the nasty attribute of “sinas chinam,”senseless hatred.By means of his faculty of divine inspiration —“ruach hakodesh” — Moshe foresaw the causes ofthe destruction of the two Temples. He realized that“sinas chinam” would prevail among the leaders of Yisroel during the period of the first Beis HaMikdosh;outwardly, they acted friendly toward one another,but, in reality, they did not hesitate to stab each other in the back. This “sinas chinam” among the leaders of Yisroel led to the prevalence of “sinas chinam”among the people of Yisroel during the period of the Parshas Devorim 5771 | 4second Beis HaMikdosh.

Therefore, Moshe cried out from the depths of his being: ” “ואשימם בראשיכם— the blame for the people’s tragic failure, their baseless hatred, lies with the leaders; the leaders failed to guide the masses properly due to their own shortcomings in this matter.We can now shed light on the meaning of the Midrash: ”אילו זכיתם הייתם קוראים בתורה איכה אשא לבדי” — had you been meritorious, it would have sufficed for you to recite from the Torah the possuk relatingMoshe’s rebuke of the people concerning quarrels and“sinas chinam”; had you taken the message to heart,by putting aside your differences and learning to love and appreciate one another, the Beis HaMikdosh would not have been destroyed. ” ועכשיו שלא זכיתם “ — now,however, that you were not meritorious and did not heedMoshe’s words of rebuke: “הרי אתם קוראים איכה ישבהבדד” — you are forced to recite the lamentations of Eichah, in the aftermath of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdosh due to baseless hatred, “sinas chinam.”

Alas, we can also understand why parshas Devorimis always read on the Shabbos before Tisha B’Av.This parsha contains Moshe’s Rabeinu’s rebuke ofYisroel:” — ”איכה אשא לבדי טרחכם משאכם וריבכם how will I carry alone your trouble, your burden and your quarrels? Reading and hearing this rebuke, is intended to convey the lesson of the Midrash. Had we heeded Moshe’s words of rebuke: ” ,“איכה אשא לבדיwe would not have to recite on Tisha B’Av: “איכה ישבה בדד” . In the final analysis, we must comprehend the tragic consequences of “sinas chinam” and be motivated to perform teshuvah fully to eradicate “sinas chinam”from our midst. In this merit, we will realize the final and complete redemption and will no longer need to recite the lamentation of: איכה ישבה בדד .

I posted this because Dr. Fox is a good friend, a yarei shamayim who is both highly intelligent and very well educated, and I am certain that it is valuable and deeply meaningful.  I personally cannot express an opinion about it, because it is of a area of Torah that I never learned and for which I have not yet developed any understanding or patience or appreciation.  If you have comments, they will have to be discussed among yourselves without my participation.

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