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Parshas Re'eh

Rabbi Pesach Siegel

Parshat Re'eh

Oct 21, 2009

 

Moshe Rabeinu, while taking his leave of the Bnei Yisroel prior to his passing, speaks to them. He tells them, "SEE, I am placing before you today blessing and curse." He foretells of the time when they would enter the Land of Israel and gives them detailed directions to enable them to reach the area where two mountains are situated, Har Gerizim and Har Eival. Upon those two mountains the Bnei Yisroel would stand and pronounce a series of blessings and curses. (1)

A number of points arise and beg to be explained.

Why is this introduction necessary? This seems to be a task placed upon Yehoshua when he assumes leadership. Why is Moshe Rabeinu involving himself in this future event in advance?

What was the need for the directions he gave them? The mountains were located in a well known area. They didn't need Moshe Rabeinu's directions in order to find their way. Why must they be directed to the site specifically by the words of Moshe Rabeinu? (2)

Furthermore, what did Moshe Rabeinu want the Bnei Yisroel to "see"? The expression "to see" denotes attaining a certain level of clarity. In what?

The answer lies in the understanding of what "bracha" and "klala" are.

The "brachos" and the "klalos" in the Torah are called a "bris" - a covenant between Klal Yisroel and Hashem. (3) The nation of Israel can bond with Hashem in the form of "bracha" or in the form of "klala", but either way is a bond.

When the Torah describes the "bracha" aspect of the relationship it goes to the extreme. Klal Yisroel will be Hashem's treasured nation above and beyond all other nations. (4) The "klala" that we are warned against is also unparalleled. (5) Only the nation of Israel has endured such depths of "klala" throughout the ages.

This serves as evidence of Hashem's relationship with His people. Just as He is limitless and beyond constraints, so is His people. The nation of Israel transcends nature therefore their blessing or, G-d forbid, their curse is not confined to mortal limits. Klal Yisroel has no place in creation when not performing G-d's will. (6)

The Talmud relates that Rabban Yochanon Ben Zakai, upon seeing the (formerly wealthy) daughter of Nakdimon Ben Gurion searching for kernels of barley amidst the dung of the animals of Arabs, praised Hashem . "Fortunate is Israel. When they perform the will of their creator no nation has power over them, when they fail to do so they are delivered over to the animals of a lowly nation." (7) The extreme sort of retribution meted out against the family of Nakdimon Ben Gurion, delivered over to lowly animals of the lowliest nation, is a source of praise. It demonstrates that Klal Yisroel has no place within the confines of nature. Their destiny is to sanctify G-d's name forever, without limit.

It is this relationship that ensures the survival of Klal Yisroel. Hashem has bound and committed himself to "Klal Yisroel" attaining completion. (8)

In Parshas Nitzavim the Torah says, "I call upon the heavens and the earth to testify that I have placed before you life and death blessing and curse. Choose life in order that you and your offspring shall live." (9) The redundancy in this phrase is apparent. Is the Torah advising us to choose life in order that we may live? The Shem MiShmuel understands this as a statement of fact rather than advice, "You will unavoidably choose life". Hashem will see to it, either one way or the other. (10)

The root of the word "bris" - covenant, stems from the word "briah" - creation. (11) The goal and purpose of the bris that has been forged between Hashem and His people is to affect a recreation. The bond with Hashem alters the very being of the Bnei Yisroel. Through the "bris" perfection is attained.

Man in his present state appears finite. This is a false representation of what a Ben Adam is to be. This appearance is a consequence of the sin of Adam HaRishon. What enables a Ben Yisroel to transcend his limitations and return the the level of Adam HaRishon prior to his sin? The fulfillment of the "bris" with Hashem.

One who views himself as being inseparable from Hashem in all matters and acts accordingly, transforms his very self.

The Medrash Tanchuma has an interesting interpretation of the beginning words of this week's parsha. "Re'eh anochi nosen lifneichem hayom" - (See, I am placing before you today). Re'eh anochi - Look at me. I chose "tova" - good. See how different I am from all of creation. (12)

Moshe was one who, on some level, truly rose to the level of Adam HaRishon before the sin. Moshe is above all in creation. He was exhorting the nation to look at him. See what he has become by way of choosing everlasting life. The Bnei Yisroel are also capable of rising to this level. (13)

Adam HaRishon was created and placed in Gan Eden. He was tested and ate from the forbidden fruit. All is not lost, there is still hope for the world. He fathered a nation that has the capability of correcting the flaw in the universe. They are poised to enter Eretz Yisroel. Eretz Yisroel is to the Bnei Yisroel what Gan Eden was to Adam HaRishon. It is our Gan Eden. (14)

Moshe Rabeinu is not privileged to enter the land personally. But in order for Klal Yisroel to succeed, their entering has to be Moshe Rabeinu's entering. Every step they take is because Moshe showed them the way in advance. Even though Moshe no longer walks among them, he is a presence. They are emulating him. He is able to raise up the nation even after his passing. Those who are bound with Moshe Rabeinu are not just entering a homeland. They are returning to Gan Eden. The Talmud tells us that "techiyas hamesim" - rescusitation of the dead, will take place in Eretz Yisroel. (15) In Eretz Yisroel life continues forever.

This why Moshe took a direct role in this future event. He directed them and showed them the way. This is what he wanted them to see.

(1) Devarim 11:26-30
(2) Kli Yakar 11:30
(3) Devarim 28:69
(4) Devarim 26:19
(5) Devarim 28:15-69
(6) Rav Moshe Shapiro Shlita
(7) Meseches Kesubos 66b, Maharsha and Maharal
(8) Rashi Devarim 29:12
(9) Devarim 30:19
(10) Shem Mishmuel, Parshas Re'eh, Year 5675
(11) Ramban Breishis 6:18
(12) Medrash Tanchuma, Parshas Re'eh, Os daled
(13) Sefas Emes, Parshas Re'eh, Year 5643
(14) Sefer HaShalah, Meseches Taanis, Maamar: Ohr Torah sod hataanis vehavoda
(15) Meseches Kesubos 111b

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