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08/04/2017 09:27:59 AM


Rabbi Yaakov Feitman

We have a kabalah – a strong tradition – from many Gedolim (see Sefas Emes 5656; Bais Yisrael 5709, 5712, 5715), especially in the Gerrer dynasty, that Parshas Vaeschanan mirrors the nechamah – the consolation – of Shabbos Nachamu. For this reason, this Parshah includes the Aseres Hadibros, which indicates that despite the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, we will always have our Torah. It also includes Shma Yisrael, which reminds us that Am Yisrael can always accept the yoke of heaven – Ol Malchus Shamayim – and become close to Hashem, even without the Bais Hamikdash. The beginning of the Parshah, which is about tefilah, is our reminder that Hashem always hears our prayers, even without the Bais Hamikdash, wherever we are, as long as we daven with kavanah and sincerity. Even concerning Moshe Rabbeinu’s own request to enter Eretz Yisrael, it’s not that he was not answered. It was in Klal Yisrael’s best interests that Moshe Rabbeinu not enter into Eretz Yisrael, but had he actually davened one more tefilah ( number 516) he would have received permission. Since Hashem has not asked any of us to refrain from davening, this should console us that if we keep davening, Hashem is always listening and carefully considering every request.

I would like to suggest another nechamah – consolation – inherent in our Parshah. The posuk (5:19) tells us that “These words Hashem spoke…never to be repeated.” However, the Targum Unkelus translates velo yosaf as “velo pesak [the words] never ceased.” Rashi adds the key word “l’olam – forever.” Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l, the Rov of Yerushalayim, explains extraordinarily that this means that is we wish, we all have the ability of hearing the voice of Sinai any time. It has never stopped and it is available to us constantly. This should be a source of great nechamah for all of us. Just as the voice of Hashem at Har Sinai cured everyone of whatever illness or limitation they had, if we make the effort to listen carefully to Hashem’s eternal voice, we, too, can achieve all that happened at Mattan Torah. Furthermore, if there is something about the Torah which we do not understand or find difficult to totally accept, we have the ability to hear the same voice our ancestors heard 3329 years ago.

How do we know that we have actually heard that voice? Rav Frank gives us an amazing criterion. He says that at Har Sinai, the voice of Hashem, accompanied by the lightening, thunder, smoke and mountain up in the air, entered every one of our limbs and organs. It permeated our bodies and souls, making us one with Hashem and the Torah. If we do not feel that the Torah has done so now, then we have not listened carefully enough. But if learn Torah and say Krias Shma, which is also in the Parshah, properly, we will feel as if we have truly identified ourselves with those holy words. He goes on to explain that the sin of the slave whose ear must be pierced when he does not want to go free is that “the ear that heard on Mount Sinai that we must be servants of Hashem and not slaves to a human being,” did not obey (Kiddushin 2b). He heard what Hashem said but only with his ear. Even at Sinai there were people who listened only with their ears not with every fiber of their being. We can have our nechamah but our Shma must be a total body/soul experience.


Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784