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Parshas Devarim/Chazon 5770

Rabbi Pesach Siegel

Parshat Devarim

Jul 18, 2010

This week’s Parsha is one of hidden rebuke. Moshe Rabeinu, out of sensitivity for the honor of the Bnei Yisroel couches his rebuke in names of places. He chastises them for what they did between Paran and Tofel. Paran refers to the sin of the Meraglim and Tofel to the sin of the Golden Calf.


What message does the word “bein Paran u’vein Tofel” (between Paran and Tofel) convey?
The sin of the Meraglim and the one of the Golden Calf are, seemingly, two separate sins. Why are they joined together?
What is meant by the sins being “between”, as if we are, so to speak, surrounded by these two aveiros? 

Background/Deeper Understanding

Every month has a corresponding sign of the Zodiac. The sign for the month of Tammuz is Sartan (Cancer = A Crab). The one for the month of Av is Ari (Aries = A Lion). The Kli Yakar explains that there are two ways to emerge unscathed from danger. One is to merit hashgacha pratis (divine providence). Even a feeble people who are complete in their love of Hashem Yisborach will merit divine assistance. They cling to Him and he saves them. The other way is by derech hateva, natural means. Those who fulfill “Ve’Ahavta lirayacha kamocha”, they are complete in their relationship with their fellow man, have the protection of fellowship. If they come under attack by a superior force, they can rely on assistance from their allies. Even those who are distant from Hashem can be saved by this approach. 

A Crab is a creature that walks backward. The month of Tammuz is when the Jewish nation backed out of their relationship with Hashem by worshipping the Golden Calf, thus imitating a crab. This is alluded to in the name of the place, Tofel, which means “emptiness”. The stones of the Luchos HaBris were broken and so too the stones of the walls surrounding Yerushalayim were broken. 

The second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed due to needless hatred (sinas chinam). The Bnei Yisroel are rachmanim and gomlei chasadim (compassionate and benevolent). From whence did this foreign character trait emerge? 

The Kli Yakar explains based on the following verse, “And you spoke evilly in your tents and you said it was due to G-d’s hatred of us that he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us over in the hands of the Emori and destroy us”. 

Where is the sense in this? Why would G-d do such a thing? Is it justified? Due to their miscalculations, they came to the mistaken conclusion that there does not have to be any sense. He hates us because He hates us, for no apparent reason. And thus, was born into the nation of Israel the malady of sinas chinam, baseless hatred. And if G-d can do it, chas veshalom, then so can they. And the acquired the nature of a predator, as the lion, ripping each other’s heart out. The malady spread until it caused the destruction of the second Holy Temple. 


If we lost our divine assistance, by backing away from our relationship with Hashem, and we forfeited the ability to be rescued by our friends and allies, on who is there left to rely? Even the weakest of our enemies has the liberty of choosing the time and place of his unerring attack. 

Thus, we are literally “stuck” between Tofel and Lavan, the two aveiros of the Meraglim and the Eigel HaZahav.

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