The Parsha begins with the words “ Im Bechukosaye Teilech. If you will go in my ways.” We read this portion of the Torah every year before Matan Torah. This is in order to put the curses that are contained in this weeks Parsha behind us before the new year. In fact they are read twice. Once before Rosh Hashana and once before Matan Torah. The question is what is the connection of these curses to Matan Torah?
We know that whenever a person sins he creates a Malach Rah, a bad Angel, that causes bad things to occur to him. Every time something bad happens to a person it's for a reason. Even the smallest thing such as pulling the wrong coin out of one’s pocket is a form of punishment for some transgression, or if a person were to stub his toe. All of these things are considered paying off the debts of sin. Except in the case where a person says all of these things are just happening by accident. They are not part of any master plan but just plain bad luck. If a person doesn't attribute these happenings to Hashem then Hashem say's I will leave you to your random luck. I won't play a hand in your fate. Then any misfortunes that occur are not removed as payment for the debt of his sins. This is born out by the verse (26:21) "V'Im Teilchu Imi Keri-If you will behave with me casually." The word "Keri" has the same numerical value as the words "Derech HaTeva. (She'ris Yisroel)
This is why we read from this portion prior to Matan Torah. We want the curses to come in the meaning full way. So that they can reduce our debts and we can enter the New Year with a fresh beginning.
(26:5) “V’achaltem Lachmacha L’Sova-You will eat your bread and be satisfied.” Rashi says that the blessing will be inside of you. Whatever amount you have will satisfy you. However the verse before says that Hashem will bless your crops to be abundant. If there is abundant food why do we need the blessing of “V’achaltem Lachmacha L’Sova-You will eat your bread and be saisfied.”? There is an additional blessing here. There are times when a person can have abundance and still not be satisfied. The blessing here is two fold. There will be plenty and you will be satisfied.
(26:13) “V’ani Hashem Asher Hotzaisi M’Eretz Mitzrayim-I am Hashem who took you out of Egypt.” Why not proclaim the G-d who created the world? The previous verse mentions that Hashem will walk with us and we will be His people. What is the connection here? How can we reach such a level as to walk along side of Hashem? Because Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, out from being mere slaves.
“V’Olech Eschem Komimyus-And you will walk upright.”You will be able to go into Eretz Yisroel not horizontal as in a box. But rather upright.
(26:31) “V’Lo Areyach B’Reiach Nichoach-I will not savor the fragrance of your sweet odors.” This phrase “Reiach Nichoach” is found frequently in the Torah. It is explained by Rashi to mean that Hashem is pleased that He commands and Yisrael follows. But if there is no temple and no sacrifices being brought, of course Hashem will not savor their sweet smells? The Ohr Hachaim explains this to mean that Hashem will not even be pleased with the good deeds of the Jewish people at that time.
(26:40) "V'Hisvadu es Avonom ...B'Maalom Asher Mo'alu Bi Vaf Asher Holchu Imi Keri-You will confess your sins...for the unfaithfulness with which they betrayed me and also for walking contrary to me." What is the difference between being unfaithful and walking contrary to Hashem? In Posuk 43 it gives two reasons for the curses. Shmita and not learning Torah. Perhaps this is referring to these two sins. Waking contrary to Hashem is not learning Torah as in the beginning of this Parsha "I'm Bechukosai Teylechu." Shmitah refers to being unfaithful, not believing that Hashem will provide during the Shmita year.
(26:42) “V’zocharty es Bris Yakov V’af es Brisi Yitzchok V’af es Brisi Avraham Ezkor V’Haaretz Ezkor- I will remember my covenant with Yakov and also my covenant with Yitzchok and also my covenant with Avraham I will remember, and I will remember the land.” There are several difficulties that present themselves with this Posuk. 1. Why are the Avos mentioned in reverse order? 2. Why is the land mentioned? 3. Why is there no mention of remembrance by Yizchok? And why is Yakov’s name spelled full with the “Vav”?
The Ramban develops a theme that the two Tochachot refer to two different time periods. The first, in this Parsha, refers to the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdosh. The second in Parshas KiSavo, predicts the conditions of the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh. The Ramban proves this theme by bringing many examples from the Posukim in the Tochacha. For example “Az Tirtzeh Ha’aretz es Shabsoseha-Then the land shall make up for it’s Shabosos” (26:34) in the first Tochacha refers to the Golus Bavel, the seventy years of Golus between the first and second Temples paralleled the seventy Shmita years that were not kept during the first Beis Hamikdosh. By contrast, in the second Tochacha it states “V’hefitzcha Hashem B’chol H’Amim Miktzei H’aretz V’ad K’tzei H’aretz- Hashem will scatter you among all the peoples from one end of the Earth to the other end of the Earth” (28:64) This occurred when Titus took captives from Eretz Yisroel and spread them across many countries. He took the younger captives and left their parents weeping as it says. “Bonecha U’binosecha Nosnim L’am Acher V’einechah R’ous Vein Lel Yodechah-Your sons and daughters shall be given to another people, your eyes shall see and your hands will be powerless.” (28:32)
If we take the Ramban’s theme a step further we can suggest that there is a third Tochacha, which Rashi states was the harshest curse of them all. (31:18) “V’anochi Haster Aster Ponai-I will surely hide my face.” This is what Moshe Rabbeinu said, near the end of the Torah, before giving over the leadership to Yehoshua. The most often asked question about the Shoah was “How could Hashem let such unimaginable suffering befall his people?” In other words how could Hashem hide his face, as it were, from his people?
If we now look at the Posuk, the order of the Avos makes sense. Each covenant refers to the three periods we discussed and in that order. Yakov represents the Midah of Emes. The first Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because of Avodah Zorah, false Gods which is the opposite of truth. The second Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because of groundless hatred.
Yitzchok’s Midah was Gevura-strength. That generation had individual strength but they channeled it only towards themselves like Essav who took that Midah of strength and used it to conquer anyone who stood in his path. This could be why the punishment of the second Beis Hamikdosh, was carried out by the descendants of Essav namely Rome.
Avraham had the Midah of Chessed. He was able to spread that Chessed to his surrounding nations without himself becoming assimilated. The European Jewry experienced tremendous freedoms to express their Yiddishkeit, but unlike Avraham, many who became involved with the building of their host nations became assimilated.
This then explains the order of the Avos in this Posuk. But with regard to the mentioning of the land perhaps we can say that as we see today, the entire world is involved with the Mid-East. This tiny piece of land is the basis of conflict around the world. The fact that Klal Yisroel is connected to the land and will never again give it up, could be what the end of the Posuk is referring to. “V’Haaretz Ezkor- I will remember the land.” I will remember the sacrifice that Klal Yisroel makes to keep the land and perhaps through this the redemption will come.
We now are left with two questions. Why the “Vav” in Yakov’s name? And why is there no mention of remembering by Yitzchok? Rashi explains both of these questions as follows. Yitzchok needs no remembering because his ashes from the Akeidah remain gathered before Hashem constantly. Secondly this is one of five places that Yakov took the letter “Vav” from Eliyahu Hanavi's name as collateral in order to insure the eventual redemption of his descendants. The question remains though regarding Yitzchok as to why? Why was this act of the Akeidah different than so many acts of Kiddush Hashem that are recorded in the Torah? So different that it remains a constant reminder before Hashem? Was not Avraham’s self sacrifice at Ur Kasdim as great? The image of Yakov is said to be on the very throne of Hashem. Is that not enough of a reminder?
The Maharal answers that Yitzchok so negated his physical existence that his soul actually left his body. He became the first case of Techiyas Hamaisim in the Torah. Yitzchok, the first Jew born of two Jewish parents, was the paradigm of all future Jews to follow. All of his R’mach Avarim were given over to the service of Hashem. This possibility of reincarnation had to be instilled into Klal Yisroel from the start.
According to what we have said, that Yakov’s name is spelled with a “Vav” to insure the eventual redemption of his descendants. We may suggest that this Posuk hints to when that eventual redemption will take place. “V’zocharty es Bris Yakov-- I will remember my covenant with Yakov.” When will He remember? The Goan of Vilna writes that for every Posuk in the Torah there is a corresponding year in history. The world as we know it is predicted to remain for six thousand years. However there aren’t six thousand Posukim in the Torah. There are only 5846 according to the Bible Scholar. What does this mean? We have a principal that says Acharis K'Reishis-The last is like the first. Just as the first redemption, Yetzias Mitzraim was shortened by 190 years,(Originally we were destined to serve in Egypt for 400 years but we were redeemed after 210 years) so too perhaps the final redemption will be shortened as well. If we calculate the Gematria of this Posuk (26:42) “V’zocharty es Bris Yakov V’af es Brisi Yitzchok V’af es Brisi Avraham Ezkor V’Haaretz Ezkor” it equals 5288. What is missing to bring Moshiach is the Zechira of Yitzchok’s Mesiras Nefesh. The difference between 5846 (the amount of Posukim in the Torah) and 5288 (the Gematria of this Posuk) is 558 which equals Kol Ramach H’avarim –All 248 limbs. This represents the essence of who Yitzchak was. His willingness to sacrifice himself totally to Hashem. This willingness of Klal Yisroel to sacrifice their entire being, that Mesiras Nefesh is what is needed to bring the final Geula.
(26:45) “Vzocharty Lochem Bris Reshonim Asher Hotzaisi Osom M’Ertez Mitzrayim L’Aynei H’Goyim Lihiyos Lochem L’Elokim- And I will remember for them the covenant of the First ones, those who I have taken out of Egypt before the eyes of the nations to be G-d unto them.” This verse needs expounding. Who is the remembering connected to? Rashi says it is the Tribes. But the Posuk says “who I have taken out of Mitzrayim”? The twelve tribes never left there, but rather died there. It can’t mean Bnei Yisroel because that is who is being spoken to? This occurs before the sin of the spies and the decree of death for that generation!
The Meshech Chochma writes that it refers to the bones of the tribes that were taken out of Egypt as a reminder that we belong in Eretz Yisroel. We should not think that Hashem will allow us to assimilate totally. Whenever we came close to assimilation, Hashem would cause us to be exiled. The Meshech Chochma wrote that Berlin is not Jerusalem and thus predicted the Holocaust years before.
And Yakov left Baer Sheva and went to Charan.” At the end of last week’s parsha we read that Yitzchok sent Yakov to Padan Aram. (28:2) Now we learn that he left Baer Sheva and went to Charan? Padan Aram is no longer mentioned. Also why is the word Choronah used? It should read L’Charan-To Charan. The Ohr Hachaim says that the word refers to Charan as in anger. Meaning that Yakov left the anger of Beer Sheva, the anger of Essav.
(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.
This is the only Sefer that begins with “Kol Yisroel” and ends with “Kol Yisroel”We begin the fifth Sefer of the Torah in the fifth month of the year. This corresponds to the fifth level of the Neshama. There are five levels of the soul. Nefesh Ruach, Neshama, Chaye & Yichidah. Yichidah, the final level, is oneness with Hashem. It is the most hidden of all the five levels and is the level that will be revealed in the future. After each of the four exiles another level was revealed. We are now in the final exile, that of Yishmael, and what will be revealed, will be revealed to Kol Yisrael-To all of Israel. Every member of Israel will experience his own redemption. The long exile of Edom that we have endured, was only endured in the merit of Torah. However the final exile will require Tefillah-Prayer to combat the strength of Yishmael’s prayers. Perhaps this is why the Sefer is called Devarim-words. Because in the final days it is the words of our Tefillos that will be most desired by Hashem.
(33:1) “Ayleh MasseyBenei Yisroel-These are the journeys of the children of Israel.”
Why is the name of this weeks Parsha called Massey, which refers to the traveling, when what the Torah really describes here isthe camps that were set up? Also in the very second posuk (33:2) it says “Vayichtov Moshe es-Moitzaeyhem Le’MaseyhemAl-Pi Hashem V’Ayleh Maseyhem L’Motzaeyhem- And Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashemand these were thejourneys according to the goings fourth.” Why is the order of their travels reversed from the way it appears in the beginning? The Ohr Hachaimwrites that the going fourth was for a purpose. It was meant for Yisroel to seek out sparks of Kiddusha that are trapped in a shell of tumeh that make their home in the Midbar. It is the mission of Klal Yisroel to release them from this source by traveling through such places and acting as a magnet of Kiddusah to bring them back to their rightful place. According to the Zohar these sparks could be captured only while actively journeying not while they were encamped. Therefore it was the travels that the Torah mentions not the stops.
(30:3) Eish Ki Yidor Nedar L’Hashem-When a man pledges a vow.”
The parsha begins with the mitzvos of Nedarim. Since the last parsha dealt with korbonos of Yom Tov the connection between the two is that when a person vows to bring his korbon he is obligated to fulfill his promise on the coming Yom Tov, when he visits the Bais Hamikdosh.
The Sefas Emes writesthrough a vow Yisroel were given the power to endow an object with Holiness by mere words. This is one of the most elevated powers that man is capable of and is why it was placed near the end of the Torah.
Regarding the chet of the Eigel, Hashem swore to destroy whoever worships powers other than Hashem. Moshe in defense of Klal Yisroel reminded Hashem of the laws of annulling vows that he had taught him on Har Sinai. Moshe was described as “Ish Ha'elokim” he was privileged to be able to annul vows made by Hashem like an “ish”/husband.