(3:23) “V’eschanon el Hashem- And I prayed to Hashem.”
The Midrash explains that Moshe prayed 515 Tefilos the exact numerical value of the word “V’eschanon” Hashem told Moshe not to continue praying even one more tefilah. For if he prayed one more prayer Hashem would have had to acquiesce and if Moshe was permitted to enter the land of Israel he would have built the Beis Hamikdosh and when Yisroel would sin, Hashem could not take it out on the wood and stone because whatever Moshe built was eternal. Instead he would have to take it out on Klal Yisroel. It was therefore beneficial for Klal Yisroel that Moshe not be allowed to enter the land. The word V’eschanon is also equal to the word tefillah, meaning that this is the ultimate expression of beseeching Hashem. The names Yitzchok and Rivkah equal 515 as well. Their prayers for children on Har Moriah caused great change in the world and cost Avraham 5 years of his life. Avraham was promised a good life, to die without ever seeing his descendants stray off the path. But when Yitzchok and Rivkah prayed on Har Moriah Hashem allowed himself to be persuaded the result was Essav being born 5 years before his time. So if 515 is the ultimate in tefillah what is the 516th tefillah. If 515 equals the word Tefillah and the word V’eschanon what does 516 equal? It equals the words Yiboneh Hamikdosh-The building of the future eternal house of Hashem.
Why was now the time for Moshe to pray to Hashem, and didn’t we just read in last week's parsha (1:37) "Gam Bi Hisanef Hashem B'gelalchem-With me as well, Hashem was angry because of you." Moshe just said that Hashem didn’t let me in because of you? Why mention his prayers which weren’t answered? Moshe was giving Mussar to Klal Yisroel in the entire sefer Devarim. Here he is saying that I alone prayed to be let in to the land. The entire forty years in the Midbar whenever they made Hashem angry Moshe was there to pray for them. Even, at one point, to the extent of being willing to forfeit his life on their behalf. But here before his death he says “Ve’eschanon el Hashem I alone prayed to Hashem. No one else prayed for him. He did not pray at Mey Meriva where the decree was set in place because he had hoped that the entire community would protest on his behalf, but that was not to be the case.
This parsha is always read the Shabbos following Tisha B’av. As Klal Yisroel is exiled from the land, Moshe Rabeinu stands at the entrance of Eretz Yisroel and pleads to be able to cross over and see the "good land over the Jordan the good mountain and the Levanon." The good mountain is Jerusalem and the Levanon is the Beis Hamikdosh which whitens the sins of Yisroel. (Levanon is white)
The Gemarrah says that the fifteenth of Av was one of the greatest days because throughout the forty years in the Midbar on Tisha B’av, 15,000 Jews would dig their own graves, say good bye to their wives and children and sleep in their graves. In the morning those that remained alive would cover over the dead. In the fortieth year no one passed away. They thought that perhaps they had the wrong day and so continued to sleep in their graves until they saw the full moon on the 15th of the month. They then realized the decree of dying in the desert had ended. This is one of the reasons that it is considered a Yom Tov. In the Gemarah in Taanis (31:A) Rashi says that at this time of year the moon begins to dominate the 24 hour period. At times the moon is visible during the day. This could be why Moshe felt it was a good time to pray to Hashem.
The Benei Yissaschar writes that the fifteenth of Av is special because it is 40 days before the 25th of Elul the day of the creation of the world. We know that 40 days prior to the birth of a child a Bas Kol announces the soul mate for that child. Therefore 40 days before the creation of the world on the 15th of Av it was announced that the creation of Klal Yisroel would take place.
Alternatively the 15th of Av could be read as the 15th of Alef Beis. The fifteenth letter of the Alef Beis is Samach, which is a circle. The Seforim write that in the future Hashem will create a circle for all of the righteous people. This will eliminate all jealousy for in a circle everyone is in equal distance from the center. This is why there is no greater day than the 15th of Av.
So why then were his prayers not answered? The answer to this might be found in the posuk (3:26) “Vayisaber Hashem Bi Le’Manchem-Hashem grew angry with me because of you.” The word Lemanchem really means for your sake. Had Moshe been allowed to enter Eretz Yisroel and built the Beis Hamikdosh, it would have never been destroyed. And we know that when Klal Yisroel sinned Hashem was able to vent his anger on the wood and stones of the Mikdosh instead of Yisroel. Therefore the word Lemanchem is used here. Meaning that for your sake I was unable to have my prayers answered.
Yosef merited to be buried in the Eretz Yisroel because when he was in prison he acknowledged his origin even though he knew they would degrade him. Moshe on the other hand said he was an Egyptian when he fled to Midian. He did not acknowledge his origin and therefore was not permitted to be buried in Eretz Yisroel. As far as the mitzvos of Eretz Yisroel, Hashem credited him as if he had fulfilled all of them because he was the one who taught them to Benei Yisroel and because he had such a desire to complete them. When Dovid Hamelech heard that he would not be permitted to build the Beis Hamikdosh he still did all of the preparations he could for its eventual construction. He purchased the land and the material; he made sure the Kohanim studied all the Avodah. For that, the Beis Hamikdosh was always called in his name. Similarly because Moshe so desired to perform all the mitzvos he was credited as if he did them.
Hashem finally said to Moshe (3:26) “Rav Le’cha- you are asking too much!’ We find a similar statement in Parshas Korach when Korach accused Moshe of taking too much for himself with regard to the fact that Aharon was the Kohen Gadol. Moshe later replied back to Korach Rav Le’cha with regard to the fact that Korach headed the family of Leviim that carried the Aron which contained the Luchos. For this Hashem was angry at Moshe. On his level he should not have answered him this way. Therefore now on the last days of Moshe’s life, the same words are spoken to him. Rav Le’cha- you are asking too much! Hashem repays man for even the minutest digressions.
Why did Moshe wish to enter the land of Israel? It could not just be in order to enjoy the fruits of the land. Moshe knew that they were mitzvos that can only be done in the land. If so how do we understand Hashem's response? Hashem said to him (3:26) “Rav Le’cha- you are asking too much!’ Asend to the top of the cliff and raise your eyes westward, Northward, southward, and eastward, and see with your eyes, for you shall not cross this Jordan." How was this meant to appease Moshe? You can't enter the land but I will allow you to view it from afar? How with this satisfy Moshe's desire to fulfill those commandments that only apply to the land of Israel?
There are two aspects to Mitzvah rewards. One is that a person obeys Hashem's command. The second is that through Mitzvah performance a person becomes transformed. He can now have a closer relationship with Hashem. This is what Moshe desired. He felt that something was missing without those mitzvos pertaining to the land. Hashem responds by telling him to view the land. How would this appease Moshe? The Kli Yakar writes that there is a physical part of a mitzvah and a spiritual part. The physical part can be accomplished by the act of doing the mitzvah. The spiritual part may be achieved through sight. What Hashem was saying is that he would credit Moshe as if he had performed the Mitzvos physically merely by viewing the land.
Another explanation of the words Rav Lach is that when Moshe said to Hashem (3:25) “Ebrah-Nah V’ereh es Ha’aretz Hatovah- Let me go over I pray and see the good land.” The word Nah would seem to be extra. But we say in Tehillem (90:10) that a person’s life span is but 70 years. Moshe at the time was 120 years old. So what he was saying was please Hashem you have given me 50 extra years, let me have one more 51 (Nah=51) so I can see the land. Hashem replied Rav Lach. The word Lach equals 50, meaning you have too much with 50 extra years. As it says in Breishis (6:3) “Beshagam hu Basar -Man is but flesh” and will only live 120 years. (Beis Yakov)
(3:29) “V’neshev B’goi Mul Beis Peor-So we remained in the valley, opposite Beis Peor.”This provides us with the foundation for the custom of buying a grave site in our lifetime and to visit it from time to time. Moshe knew that he would die and be buried there opposite Peor and did not leave that place until the day he died.
In this week’s parsha we have the repetition of the Aseres Hadibros. Moshe recounts how Benei Yisroel pleaded with Moshe to be the intermediary for them so they would not die. When Benei Yisroel heard the first words spoken by Hashem the power of Hashem's word caused their neshama's to leave them. Why did Hashem have it happen this way? He could have made them be able to withstand the Dibros instead of resurrecting them? It says that the entire Torah is contained in the first words of the Dibros. Hashem wanted them to experience the entire Torah unencumbered by the impurities of the physical world. Through this all future generations would remain loyal to Hashem because at least for one time they had been free of such pollutants.
(4:4) “Ve'atem Devakim B'Hashem-And you who are attached to Hashem.” There are 247 words in Shema. They represent the 248 limbs of the human body which we complete when we add the word Emes to the end of the Shema. This is meant for the purpose of prolonging life through adherence to the Torah. The word Atem has the same letters as the word Emes. When we attach (Dovak) the word Emes to the name of Hashem then we can complete the limbs of the body and have life (Chaim).
(4:9) “Rak H’shomer Lecha U’Shmore Nafshecha M’ode Pen tishkach es-H’devorim Asher Rou Aynechah U’pen Yosuru M’levavecha Kol Yimey Chayecha, V’hodatom L’vonecha U’livinei Vonecha-Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligent, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life, but make them known to your children and your children’s children.” From here the Rambam learns that it is a Mitzvah to teach not only your children but your grandchildren as well.
(4:20) “Vayotzi Eschem Mekur Habarzel” Hashem took us out from this furnace of Mitzraim. Originally the Shevotim did not treat each other equally. Those Tribes that were born of the maidservants were considered inferior by those born from Yakov's wives. But when they began their servitude in Mitzraim they all became equal in the slavery. This is alluded to in the word Barzel the initial letters of which represent the matriarch's names. Rachel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpa.
(5:12) Shomor es Yom H’Shabbos L’Kadsho- Safeguard the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”In the first recorded version of the Ten Commandments this commandment was introduced with the word Zachor-to remember. According to R.Bachya the reason is to include women in the obligation to listen to Kiddush and Havdalah. Women are not obligated to perform positive commandments that are time bound. If the Torah had not written the word Shomor here, the laws of formal sanctification of Shabbos, Kiddush, and the formal termination of the Shabbos, Havdalah, would not have been applicable to women. This statement covers the Shabbos from beginning to end. This could be the meaning of the words “Shomor V’zachor B’dibur Echad- the words Remember and Guard were said in one utterance.”
In addition perhaps we can say that the reason Shabbos was given over to us in a miraculous way was to teach that Shabbos is above nature. R.Bechaya writes that we have both Shomor and Zochor because Hashem originally wanted to create a world with midas Ha’din but opted for both Midas Ha’din and Midas Ha’Rachamim.
The Zohar writes that Shomor represents night and Zachor represents day. For Hashem they constitute a single utterance representing two aspects of a single reality.
The question remains which of the two are written on the Luchos? Was it Zochor or Shomor? The Chasam Sofer answers that it must be Shomor as we read this n the Shachris Tefilos: "V'Kosuv Bohem Shmiras Shabbos"
(5:19) “Kol Gadol V’lo Yosof- A great voice that never ceased.” The Shelah writes that this means every future Chidush that would ever be said afterward all originate from Sinai.
(5:21) “ Roinu Ki Yidabaer Elokim es-Odom Vochoi-You saw that Hashem will speak to a person and he can live.” However they did die? Plus the next verse says that they complained and said “We should hear Hashem’s words from you Moshe, why should we all die?” But on closer inspection we find the word Odom used here. On the level of Odom they could withstand the direct communication with G-d. The next verse says “ Ki Mi Kol Basar-For is there any human” a person of mere flesh, not on that lofty level, cannot withstand such direct communication with G-D. This could also explain verse 5:25 which Hashem says “Vayishma Hashem es KOL Divreichem-Hashem heard the SOUND of their words.” He heard the meaning behind there words. They meant that standing at Sinai they lost their Bechira they had no choice but to obey, there was no room for doubt. However they said man is not placed in this world to be a blind follower, he was given free choice. This is the meaning of “it was good in the eyes of Hashem.”
(5:22) “V'atoh Lomah Nomus-But now why should we die?” Klal Yisroel wanted to hear the Torah from an intermediary rather than directly from Hashem because they feared dying if they heard directly from Hashem. The question is it should be the other way around? They just heard directly from Hashem and were still able to talk about it? Furthermore where did they get this from? When Hashem created man it says “Vayipach B'apo Nishmas Chaim-Hashem blew into man the breath of life.” Now if a mere breath can create life how much more can speech do? The Sefas Emes says that each one of the Dibros caused their neshamas to leave their bodies and be replaced by a higher one. Just as Techiyas Hamaisim needs death first, here too the neshamas needed to go through a similar process. They told Moshe to be their intermediary because he had perfected his body to the point where he could withstand the levels being thrust at them. They feared not being able to keep up with the elevated Neshamas speaking with Hashem would entail. We see that they were correct from the following verse. Hashem agreed with their request.
(5:25) “Vayishma Hashem es-Kol Divreichem…Vayomer Hashem Aylai Shomati es-Kol Divrei H’om-Hashem heard the sound of your words…and Hashem said to me I heard the sound of the words of this people.” What is the meaning of “the sound of the words” repeated twice in this posuk? In verse 22 Klal Yisroel said “if we continue to hear the voice of Hashem, our G-D, any longer we will die.” When exactly did they say this? Could it be possible that they would interrupt Hashem in the middle of the Aseres Hadibros? According to the Ramban this is the meaning of “the sound of the words.” Hashem understood what was in the hearts of the nation not what they actually said but their thoughts.
(5:28) “Vatoh Poh Amod Imodi Vadabrah Aylecha es Kol Ha’Mtivah-But as for you, stand here by me, and I will speak to you all the commandment.” Why is the singular word for Mitzvah used? What command does it speak of? The parsha begins with prayer then goes on to repeat the Ten Comandments and then this posuk in question. This concept of Moshe having his prayers rejected is not an easy one for us to understand. How can it be that Moshe, the father of all prophets, could not get his prayers answered?
In order to answer these questions, we must re-evaluate what prayer is and what are its spiritual dynamics. When a person is ill, he turns to Hashem in prayer. If the prayer is accepted by Hashem, then the person recovers. Superficially, it seems as if Hashem changed His mind, as if Hashem can be "sweet talked" into backing down from a previously stated position, so to speak. It also seems as if Hashem waits in heaven for our words of supplication, and, if they do not arrive, He wreaks His vengeance on us. Furthermore, we are aware that Hashem is an infinite Being who is by definition unchanging; if this is the case, then how can Hashem “change his mind?” The answer is subtle, yet simple. Hashem does not change. Man does. The man who fell ill was relatively alienated from Hashem. The man who prays is a man who is close to Hashem -- he is not the same man who fell ill. He has forged a new relationship with Hashem, but Hashem remains unchanged. Man often believes that the reason that he prays is that he is ill; what he does not understand is that the reason he is ill is because he has not prayed, or searched for a complete relationship with Hashem. Now that he has prayed he no longer needs to be ill. What about Moshe? Moshe was unlike other people, there was nothing lacking in Moshe’s spiritual makeup, therefore nothing needed to be healed. Moshe did not need to pray. Moshe’s remaining in exile was not due to a lack in him. It was caused by the relatively low spiritual level of his people. We have seen on other occasions that had Moshe’s entered into the Land of Israel, the Temple never would have been destroyed, and Moshe would have been the Messiah. The only problem was that the people were unworthy. What went wrong? They told Moshe that they cannot bear to hear the word of Hashem directly from Him. Instead they wished to hear it indirectly from Moshe. This is where they erred. Had they heard all Ten Commandments directly from Hashem they never would have made the Golden Calf. The Talmud teaches: Had the tablets not been broken, no nation nor language would have controlled them. (Eruvin 54a)
(4:35) “V’Atoh Horaisa L’Daas-You have been shown in order to know.” Moshe was just informed that his plea to enter Eretz Yisroel had been denied. All of the men between 20-40 years of age, most of the people who witnessed Mamid Har Sinai had died. He now speaks to the few who were between 10-20 years old when the revelation at Sinai took place.. He wants them to remember the event, to pass it on to future generations.
What does it mean “You have been shown in order to know?” Klal Yisroel has been Shown in the past? At the sin of the Golden Calf they were shown a vision of Moshe on his death bed being carried off to heaven? The spies were shown giant fruits and giant people when they entered Eretz Yisroel. They were shown funerals wherever they went? What is unique about this showing? The cause for the shattering of the tablets was, of course, the Golden Calf. Once the tablets were shattered the spiritual ability of the nation was handicapped. Things had changed; the people had become distanced from Hashem, from the Shechina. Now we can understand why the Ten Commandments are taught again in this week's Torah portion. Moshe wishes to turn back the clock, and take the nation to the spiritual strata, which they enjoyed while standing at Sinai, prior to the Golden Calf. What they needed was to reconnect to Hashem. This is the mitzvah that Hashem wishes to teach Moshe at this point. This is the mitzvah the posuk speaks of. The mitzvah to love Hashem found in the Shema. This is the only way to get back to the spiritual heights the nation briefly enjoyed. Love of Hashem is not something that comes directly to the heart of a person, but rather is something we cannot feel properly without development in learning and Mitzvos -- the Mitzvah is to do all the preparation, to heal ourselves of the things which block our hearts from love of Hashem, and thus to come to feel that love properly.
Only after learning Torah and doing Mitzvos can one hope to come to the appropriate level of love of Hashem. It's not something that happens overnight. So it is appropriate to teach this Mitzvah in Devarim, after teaching us the Torah, Mitzvos, all of the ways we can follow in His Pathways -- because these are the things which help us achieve love of Hashem.
In the end, Moshe’s efforts fell short, but the “lecture” which he left us remains. The people of Yisrael simply have to read this week's Torah portion in order to get an idea on how to reunite with Hashem, and to become one with the Shechina. Just like our teacher, Moshe.
The Sefas Emes questions how could we be commanded to love? It is in the nature of the person to love something or not. It can not be commanded? He answers that Hashem placed in every heart the love of Hashem, but it is buried deep inside. Only through doing the mitzvos can it come to the surface.
(6:4) “Shema Yisroel-Hear O Israel” The words of Israel’s profession of Faith has been with the Jewish people since their inception. This verse out of 4875 verses in the Torah, was chosen as our mantra for all time. The Shema has always been on the lips of Jewish martyrs as they entered the gas chambers to their deaths, for Israel and for Hashem.
The Talmud tells us that the episode of the spies was the cause of the destruction of both Temples, and all other calamities associated with the ninth day of Av. That’s on a Pshat level. On a Sod level, the source goes back even further.
According to Kabbalah, the source of the destruction of the temples was the breaking of the first set of tablets. After returning from on top of the mountain, and after seeing the golden calf in the camp below, Moshe Rabbeinu threw down the tablets he was carrying and broke them. He may have broken the First Tablets physically, but it caused a spiritual breaking with ramifications all through history.
If that is true then even the Luchos HaRishonos—the First Tablets—are not the source of the destruction of the temples. The golden calf which led to their breaking was. It was the handiwork of the Erev Rav that Moshe Rabbeinu “mistakenly” took out of Egypt along with the Jewish people, against the advice of God.
That being the case, then the Erev Rav was not the “source” of the disaster either. As the Arizal explains, the Erev Rav were the reincarnated souls that Adam HaRishon had produced during his 130 years of teshuvah (Eiruvin 18b; Sha’ar HaPesukim, Shemos).
Well, if you’re going to go that far back in time to track down the original cause that led eventually to Tisha B’Av, you might as well go all the way back to the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Had it not been for THAT sin, then Adam would not have needed to repent for 130 years and produce Erev Rav-grade souls.
The truth be told, even THAT sin was not the start of it all. Kabbalah further teaches that the only reason the sin of eating took place was because Adom had already committed the sin of “looking.” Apparently, the Leshem explains, had Adom HaRishon not looked at the Aitz HaDa’as, which he did with the best of intentions, the snake would never have entered the Garden. This is what allowed the snake to entice Chava to eat in the first place.
When Adam HaRishon was first created, he had no internal yetzer hara. He was perfectly balanced between good and evil and had no idea what it was like to disobey God. He also had no intention to violate the command of God, just to fulfill his role as the one to rectify Creation. He knew that path lay through the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra, and studied it to figure out how. It was the right idea, but at the wrong time. As the Leshem explains, Adam had not been spiritually capable of carrying out his mission at that time, and should have done nothing but wait for Shabbos. Shabbos would have transformed everything, and then it would have been the right idea AND the right time.
(4:35) “V’Atoh Horaisa L’Daas-You have been shown in order to know.” You have been shown the Daas - the Eitz Hadaas the very word Horaisa is equal to Adom H’Rishone.
Tisha B’Av is just one VERY painful reminder that Adam HaRishon jumped the gun on personally carrying out world rectification. It is also a teacher of one of the most important lessons about life, about what it means to build rather than to destroy. It is a message that permeates every syllable of Megillas Eichah.