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Our design is God’s will.

Failure to use intelligence


violates that will and leads to a life of problems.
Conviction must precede accepting any idea.
Only then are our beliefs truly our merits.

5757 Dedicated to Scriptural and Rabbinic Verification


5770 of Authentic Jewish Beliefs and Practices

YEARS

Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.mesora.org/jewishtimes Download and Print Free

0U;OPZ0ZZ\e Weekly Parsha Fundamentals


Parsha: ekev 1-3
Parsha: satiation 1,7
Think 1,4,5 V’achalta
Parsha: god’s chosen
Parsha: 40 days & nights 8-10
6 V’savata:
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State of
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Satiation God Demands We


JHUKSLSPNO[PUN7/30
Boston
Chicago
Cleveland
Detroit
Houston
Jerusalem
Johannesburg
Los Angeles
London
7:48
7:54
8:29
8:37
7:58
7:19
5:22
7:38
8:34
Moscow
New York
Paris
Philadelphia
Phoenix
Pittsburgh
Seattle
Sydney
Tokyo
8:25
7:56
9:15
7:59
7:12
8:19
8:30
4:58
6:29
YHIIPKYKHYYLSNPUZILYN

One of the more popular Ameri-


can summer pastimes is the
barbeque, bringing
friends and family, a common
together

bond emerging from hot dogs and


hamburgers (and for those vegans
out there, the meat substitute).
THINK for Ourselves
Miami 7:50 Toronto 8:26
After this feast is over, the partici-
Montreal 8:07 Washington DC 8:04 pants settle back in their easy
chairs, their consumption
Weekly Parsha

Ekev
complete. They are satiated, full, in
a state of seviya–feeling full. It is
the natural result of such a meal.
And it is a concept that is actually a
focus of this week’s parsha.
Towards the end of Parshas
Eikev, in the second section of
kriyas shema, God explains that if YHIIPTVZOLILUJOHPT
we follow His commandments, we
YHIIPILYUPLMV_ will be rewarded with plentiful rain Reader: Shalom. This following question was triggered by your article,
and abundant food. God then tells "Gentiles following Reason, and thus Torah". Here is the question: What is
Obedience to the Torah us (Devarim 11:15): to be said about a Noahide who wishes to know Torah for enlightenment,
Protects Us from Sickness “And I will provide grass in your and not to become a Torah Authority and/or teacher etc.?
And Hashem will remove from field for your animals, and you will Rabbi: A gentile may not study areas of Torah that he does not observe.
you all sickness. And all the eat and be full. (v’achalta However, if he wishes to observe laws in addition to his Noahide laws,
terrible afflictions experienced by v’savata).” Maimonides teaches he may observe, and obviously, he must study those
(continued on next page) (continued on page 7) (continued on page 4)
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(Ekev cont. from pg. 1) Weekly Parsha
the Egyptians – that you knew – He will not ing terrible afflictions to strike the nation!
place upon you. And He will direct them against Assurance of the nation’s protection from such
your enemies. (Devarim 7:15) calamity seems superfluous.
Weekly Journal on Jewish Thought
In Parshat Ekev, Moshe continues his final The commentaries offer a number of answers
address to Bnai Yisrael. He describes the to these questions. Rabbaynu Ovadia Sforno
rewards the people will experience if they are suggests that the problem is partially based upon
scrupulous in their observance of the mitzvot. a misunderstanding of the pasuk. We have
Bnai Yisrael will be blessed among the nations. assumed that the afflictions to which the passage
The nation will grow – its people will become refers are the ten plagues. Sforno suggests that
numerous. The Land of Israel will be fertile and this is a misinterpretation. He explains that the
blessed with abundance. Moshe even assures afflictions to which the pasuk refers are
the people that their animals will not be barren epidemic diseases that struck the Egyptians.
or sterile. Then, Moshe When did the Egyp-
adds the above pasuk. tians experience these
Hashem will remove all diseases? Sforno
sicknesses. Bnai explains that at the
Yisrael will not experi- Reed Sea the Egyptians
ence any of the afflic- who pursued Bnai
tions visited upon the Yisrael into the sea
Egyptians. Instead, drowned as the waters
Bnai Yisrael’s enemies collapsed upon them.
will suffer these afflic- Others died from
The JewishTimes is tions. terrible diseases with
published every Friday which Hashem afflicted
and delivered by email. Our passage is them.
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To subscribe, send any Moshe’s reference to Based on this reinter-
email message to: “the terrible afflictions pretation of afflictions
experienced by the to which our pasuk
subscribe@mesora.org Egyptians” is appar- refers, Sforno answers
Subscribers will also receive our ently an allusion to the our questions. Sforno
advertisers' emails and our regular
email announcements. plagues that Hashem observes that the
brought upon the Egyp- passage is not merely
tians. Moshe is telling assuring Bnai Yisrael
Contacts: Bnai Yisrael that that they will not
We invite feedback or any questions at
this address: office@mesora.org Hashem will not punish experience these
Ph(516)569-8888 Fx(516)569-0404 them with these diseases. Viewed in its
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JewishTimes Archives: ing the reward for In other words, terrible,
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observing the highly contagious
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rewards is that Bnai Yisrael will not experience enemies. Bnai Yisrael will be close by, but the
Weekly Parsha Archives: the terrible plagues brought upon the Egyptians. epidemic will not affect Bnai Yisrael. They will
http://www.Mesora.org/WeeklyParsha
It is difficult to regard such an assurance as a be miraculously protected.[1]
Audio Archives: reward. These plagues were punishments! A
http://www.Mesora.org/Audio
righteous nation should expect to be exempt Geshonides offers a completely different
Interactive, Live, Audible Sessions: from terrible punishment! explanation of our pasuk. He contends that the
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passage can only be understood in the context of
Database Search: Second, Moshe has already told the nation that the popular religious beliefs of the time. The
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their adherence to the Torah will be rewarded idolatrous cultures of that time had many beliefs
with abundance and wealth. It seems obvious that now seem strange to us. Modern humanity
Articles may be reprinted without consent of the
JewishTimes or the authors, provided the content that if Hashem will reward the nation, He will may dismiss their ideas as primitive and
is not altered, and credits are given. not nullify the effect of these blessings by allow- childish. However, Moshe addressed Bnai
(continued on next page)
2
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(Ekev continued from previous page) Weekly Parsha
Yisrael at a time in which the world was domi- Gershonides’ answer to our questions. Moshe universe. His existence is not dependent upon
nated by these ideas. He introduced a new could not merely assure Bnai Yisrael that their any external entity or force. He is the cause of
perspective. He demanded that Bnai Yisrael obedience to the Torah would be rewarded with His own existence or – more properly – it is His
abandon familiar, prevalent religious doctrines. blessings of abundance. This might imply that nature to exist.
We must understand his statements in this the idolaters were correct - Hashem has the
context. power to bestow good, but He does not have The term “mighty” describes the power to
control over evil. Moshe added that Hashem influence others. In reference to Hashem this
Geshonides explains that the idolaters will protect you from all evil. Not only does He describes His influence over all creation. The
struggled with the existence of good and evil. control good; He also has complete control over universe came into existence as a consequence
How can a single deity preside over these two evil. Moshe further emphasized this point by of His will. He created it. But not only is the
opposite forces – good and evil? Some idolaters reminding Bnai Yisrael of the evidence they universe’s initial creation an expression of the
responded that, in fact, there is no conflict observed at the time of redemption. Hashem Divine will but its continued existence is
because there are two deities. One deity rules struck the Egyptians with terrible plagues. This sustained by His will. As explained above, it is
over good, and the other has power over evil. demonstrates his dominion over evil.[2] not the nature of a created thing to exist. It
The Torah rejected this response. The Torah requires a cause to come into existence and its
introduced the concept of a single omnipotent existence must be sustained through an external
deity with power and dominion over every cause. The rock discussed in the previous
element of the universe. Hashem only does example came into existence through a series of
good. However, we may not always appreciate causes. We imagine that it is sustained by the
the goodness of His acts. principles and laws that govern the behavior of
Hashem, your L-rd, is the ultimate Supreme atomic and sub-atomic particles. But these
What is the connection between this theologi- Being and the highest possible Authority. He is principles and laws are also creations. What
cal debate and Moshe’s address? Gershonides the great, mighty, and awesome G-d, who does sustains these laws and principles? Ultimately,
explains that these blessings are more than a not give special consideration or take bribes. their sustained existence is an expression of
reward for observance of the Torah. These (Devarim 10:17) Hashem’s will.
blessings are also evidence of Hashem’s
omnipotence. Through these blessings, Hashem Moshe describes Hashem as great, mighty, and The term “awesome” describes the manner in
would demonstrate His dominion over ever awesome. This phase was incorporated by the which something or someone is perceived.
aspect of the universe. We can now understand Sages into the opening benediction of the Specifically, it refers to the feeling of awe
Amidah prayer. Although, inspired in the observer. This is a reference to
through regularly reciting the Hashem’s relationship with humankind. He
Amidah, we are accustomed to rewards, punishes and exercises providence.
referring to Hashem as “great, This relationship results in our fear of
mighty, and awesome” we may Hashem.[3]
not understand the specific
meaning of these three terms In summary, the first term “great” refers to the
and each one’s unique message. unique nature of Hashem’s existence. The next
term – “mighty” describes His relationship with
In his commentary on this the universe. The final term – “awesome” –
passage, Rabbaynu Ovaida describes our response or cognizance of these
Sforno explains the meaning of first two terms. When we encounter Hashem as
each of these terms. The term a unique existence, who exercises complete
“great” describes something as dominion over all other aspects of the universe
being different from, and we are overcome with a sense of awe. Q
superior to other entities or

NYDesign.com
powers. Sforno explains that
this refers to Hashem’s unique
existence. Every other thing
requires a cause – external to
itself – in order to exist. Even a
Corporate Identity Website Design Marketing simple rock only exists as a
Advertising Fund Raising Package Design consequence of a complicated
series of causes the can be
Presentations Flash Animations Business Plans traced back ultimately to the [1] Rabbaynu Ovadia Sforno, Commentary
beginnings of the universe. on Sefer Devarim 7:15.
Developers of Mesora & the JewishTimes The same dependence upon an [2] Rabbaynu Levi ben Gershon
external cause applies to every (Ralbag/Gershonides), Commentary on the
516.569.8888 info@NYDesign.com element in the universe. Torah, p 414.
Hashem’s existence is different [3] Rabbaynu Ovadia Sforno, Commentary on
from all other elements of the Sefer Devarim, 10:17.
3
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(Think continued from page 1) Fundamentals
laws so as to know their performance. This of you are my Rabbi”. In halacha, yes: we must
course excludes holidays, as we have discussed. follow our Rabbis, as this is concerning how we
But in Torah areas of perfection and philosophy – “act”, not how we think. But in philosophy, an
not halacha – he may study fully. area not subject to a psak or ruling, if even our
Rabbi tells us an idea that we do not comprehend,
Reader: Concerning the scriptures, do the my saying “I agree with you” is a meaningless
Rabbis give "their" opinions or are they God-given statement. I cannot “agree” with that which my
revelations? I find it very disconcerting when mind does not grasp. So if someone – even your
different Rabbis argue. It makes me wonder if Rabbi – says any idea about God, an idea I do not
they're relying on their brain and opinions more see clearly as true with my mind, any agreement
than on getting a revelation from God, the Source. or belief is worthless. Furthermore, I have not
Is it assumed by the Jews that the comments of the performed any mitzvah with my agreement, my
Rabbis automatically become part of the Torah, agreement is also a lie, as I have not increased my
without testing or verifying to see if the comments knowledge; nor have I become any more devout
are of God? After all, Rabbis are/were human and to God. The converse is true: I have rejected
prone to error like all of us. How does the whole reason and allowed myself to be fooled that I
thing work? know something, which I do not. Torah is about
truth. To say I agree with that, which I do not
Rabbi: Rabbis use their intellects, just like any understand, is a lie.
person. Be mindful that before they were Rabbis,
they were like anyone, and nothing changes in his I am glad you raised this issue. Today, Jewish
function or human design when one becomes a communities are raising another generation of
Rabbi. This title "Rabbi" refers to the permission crippled-minded Jews. Schools, parents, and
and endorsement of another Rabbi, that he might Rabbis teach something that God does not:
rule on certain areas of Jewish law. And as each "Rabbis are infallible". Certain Hassidic move-
Rabbi uses his own imperfect intellect, he is concerned if we do not match God's absolute ments were founded on such foolishness,
subject to errors. This is why we see one Rabbi knowledge. We accept that we cannot, and we maintaining at their core the notion of the "Rebbe"
disputing another. Even Aaron disputed his accept God's command that we follow the Rabbis. – a man whose every word is absolute truth. A
brother Moses, regardless of the fact that Moses sinless saint. Of course this is diametrically
was his superior. Moses was wrong, and conceded However, all this applies to law, not to philoso- opposed to the true Judaism where God is at the
that he erred. phy. core, a Judaism that exposes Moses' sins and the
In areas of halacha, we must follow the Rabbis, flaws of all prophets and leaders.
regardless of whether they truly arrive at the "abso- As we discussed last week ("What You Must Today, many Rabbis and their flock are to blame
lute truth". For the system of halacha – Jewish law Know" July 23, 2010), Torah does not – and for sustaining such misleading views by repeating
– relies on the Rabbis' human intelligence. This is cannot – mandate that we "believe" what any unproven stories of miracle-performing Rabbis.
God's law to us, "In accordance with the Torah person or Rabbi says, if in fact we do not believe it. But a thinking Jew should ask himself this: "If I
they teach you, and according to the statutes they God does not decree what is impossible. If one accept stories of a Rabbi's miracle without proof
tell you, you shall do; do not veer from the matter Rabbi says reincarnation is real, and another Rabbi of witnesses, why should I not also believe Jesus'
that they tell you right or left." (Deut. 17:11) Thus, rejects it – namely Saadia Gaon – both opinions supposed miracles?" And he would be right to ask
the Rabbis actually determine what is halacha. A cannot be true. A phenomenon is, or isn't a reality. this, but Jews don't "go there". Jesus has a place in
Rabbi is not mandated to arrive at God's absolute It cannot exist and not exist simultaneously. To say the Jew's mind that is absolutely false, and Rabbis
truth in any area, for no man can do this. Not even "I agree with my Rabbi regarding reincarnation" is are absolutely true. Herein, the Jew fails, for
Moses. Rashi comments on this verse, "Even of meaningless statement, if in fact, my mind does he/she does not define the matter. Jews are taught
they tell you your right hand is your left... [you not truly grasp his words. to be attached to "personalities", instead of
must accept them]." Rashi does not mean to say Worth repeating is what we said last week. Let thinking about the underlying "principles". Thus,
that you intellectually deny right from left. For the us assume a friend tells us that inside a closed box, the person Jesus is false, while the person of the
Torah commands to "stay far from falsehood". there rests an item called “X”. Now, as I do not Rebbe is always right. But this isn't Judaism –
(Exod. 23:7) Rather, Rashi means that we must know what X is, does my agreement with him that Rebbe's aren't flawless. We accept Judaism as it
accept the Rabbis' "halachik definitions" and X is inside, have any meaning? Is it of any worth offers what all other religions do not: "proof" – of
rulings. An example is, that although in reality, if at all, if I “agree”? Well, what do I mean that I a Divine event. That being mass witnesses a Sinai.
an animal was slaughtered incorrectly and is non- “agree”? It cannot mean that I have ascertained
kosher, if the presiding Rabbi at that slaughter- proof, since the box is closed, and I have not Why are Rebbe's appealing? The Jew's human
house used his intellect to his best abilities and witnessed what this X is. I can “trust” my friend insecurities compel them to seek some rock, some
ruled this animal as kosher, we are allowed to eat isn’t lying, but that trust offers me no knowledge impregnable refuge that offers comfort, success
it. Halacha follows the ruling of man, not "absolute whatsoever. I am still blind to what X is, regardless and the feeling of being "right", thereby releasing
reality". Yes, God knows that in fact, the animal of my verbal statements. them from the burden of thinking for themselves.
was not properly slaughtered. But, "Torah is not in Similarly, if my Rabbi were to tell me any idea, This was the precise corruption of the Gold Calf:
heaven". Meaning, Jewish law is determined by an idea that I have no way of proving, I am again "For this Moses, the man that took us up from
human intellect. Strange as it sounds, we are not no more informed if I say “I agree with you, since Egypt..." (Exod. 32:1) Of course Moses is a
(continued on next page)
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Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(Think continued from page 4) Fundamentals

"man", but in this verse, God wished to underline But he must not be viewed as beyond reproach, and Maimonides' son and King Solomon, that the
their sin: the Jews' over-attachment to a human. he is not excused for his failure to seek the proof that Rabbis and Talmudic Aggadot (concerning
God demands for all truths. He is your leader – he "miracles") are not to be understood literally. These
In truth, God told us that our means of accepting should be teaching truth, not fantasy. A concerned are not accounts found in Torah, where God
Him and Moses was through mass revelation. Jew must approach him, privately, requesting that he performed miracles. As a wise Rabbi taught:
(Exod. 19:9) Thus, all purported events lacking such adhere to the Torah's formula of when to accept truth
mass witnesses must be rejected, as is God's will, – only when mass witnesses exist in the story's "To paraphrase Shmuel Hanagid(1), the
including all these lies of Rabbis who heal, offer context. We must insist he cease from claiming value of Aggadah (allegory) is found only in
success and perform miracles. The masses buy into miraculous stories where mass witnesses were not the gems of wisdom one derives from it. If one
these stories because it attracts the emotions...not present. If he follows God's Torah, he must confess derives nonsense, it has no value. Very few
because they have been presented with proof. Had a his error. If he fails to uphold Torah, you and other people are capable of 'diving into the deep
person's limb been severed, he or she would not run paying members must remove him and commence a water and coming up with pearls'. [Ramban
to a Rebbe to miraculously have him reattach it. search for a truthful and intelligent leader. For if you metaphor] Other individuals have no business
When reality smacks a person in the face, they wake allow him to remain, you encourage the spread of delving into Aggadah. They would do better
up. So we must ask why in other matters they do in corrupt thinking in others, including your children, refraining from trying to interpret that which is
fact presume Rebbe's perform miracles. that allows any miraculous story to be accepted as beyond them. "Bmufrosh mimcha al tidrosh".
It is clear that "thinking" has become too difficult truth, including Christianity. Such people cannot discern between
these days. The same emotion that generates something literal or metaphorical."
laziness, also gravitates one towards fantasy stories. So what are the lessons we must learn?
Lesson 1: Do not fear your peers. Lesson 7: Abandon the need for a "holy man" to
To move forward and collectively strive to Lesson 2: Think for yourself. remove your insecurities. Follow God and "Cast
remedy this problem, let's isolate some issues and Lesson 3: Popularity and authorship do not onto God your burden, and He will sustain you..."
hopefully share truth – and not fables – with others. translate as truth. Many popular people have corrupt (Psalms 55:23)
notions, and when they write books, these same Focus on, and pray to God. Cannot He do more
Congregants don't oppose their Rebbe, for fear of notions must still be corrupt. Therefore, than a human? Q
being ostracized by others. Such silence enables the Lesson 5: Do not buy books written for children
Rebbe to continue spreading his unproven notions. or adults that make claims of miracles occurring
He thereby trains his congregants that proof – as in after the Torah and Prophets. Why? Because... (1) See "Mavo HaTalmud" (Intro to the Talmud)
Revelation at Sinai – is not the only method to Lesson 6: We must follow the truths spoken by found at the end of Tractate Brachos
accept stories: any amazing story is acceptable,
opening the door for unsuspecting Jewish youth to
follow Jesus.
I am sure, many reading these last few sentences
will say to yourselves, "How can I suggest that
Rabbis today violate Torah principles? He's a great
Rabbi, with many followers, and many books!" My
response: this is the crippled mind to which I refer.
You fail to think for yourselves, despite God's gift to
you of an intellect. Had God desired we all parrot a
Rabbi when it comes to philosophy, we would not
need an intellect. And again as we said last week,
our greatest teachers urged our independent thinking
and not merely follow whatever every Rabbi says:

“If however, you possess intelligence and


insight, and through these faculties your are
capable of verifying the fundamentals of the
religion and the foundations of the command-
ments which you have received from the sages
in the name of the prophets, then it is your duty
to use these faculties until you understand the
subject so that you are certain of it – both by
tradition and force of reasoning. If you
disregard and neglect this duty, you fall short
in the fulfillment of what you owe your
Creator”. (Duties of the Heart)
I am sure that many times, the Rebbe too believes
these stories. Unfortunately, he too has been raised
in a Christian culture of blind faith and belief,
following his misguided Rebbes just like all others.
5
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
Weekly Parsha

YHIIPYL\]LUTHUU

who has
God
chosen?
One of the most basic doctrines of
Judaism is that the Jews are the
then proceeds to review the major
sins of the Jews which confirm his
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Moshe Rabbenu certainly did not
subscribe to the notion of the superi- Zip-searchable gas prices
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work on them. However, we must
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The irony is that both Jews and "only your forefathers did Hashem Above-right: widget in closed state Below: widget when launched
gentiles have seriously misunder- cherish to love them and He chose
stood the reasons behind Hashem's their offspring after them,
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take it as a sign of Jewish superiority nations, as this day." The patriarchs
and feel proud that they are endowed and matriarchs who discovered the
with special spiritual qualities. At true idea of G-d and the appropriate
first glance this interpretation seems way to serve Him had genuine merit
plausible. Why would God choose and found favor with Hashem. He
us to be His people if we were not chose us only because we happen to
somehow "better" than the rest of be their descendents and are most
mankind? However, this week's likely to identify with these great
parsha, Eikev, makes it clear that this personalities and emulate their
is not the case. Moshe warns the unique religion and way of life. We
Jews not to feel superior when must, therefore, renounce any
Hashem drives out the inhabitants of suggestion of innate superiority. It is
Canaan for the Jews to inherit their vital for us to acknowledge that we
land. Moshe says: "Do not say have flaws and a long way to go until
because of my righteousness does we reach the level of our forefathers
Hashem give me this land...It is not and become worthy of the special
because of your righteousness or love that Hashem bestowed upon
straightness of heart...because you them.
are a stiff necked people." Moshe Shabbat Shalom. Q
6
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(Satiation continued from page 1) Weekly Parsha

Immediately after (ibid 16), God warns us: plies. And your pride increases, and you forget
“Look out for yourselves lest your heart be Hashem, your God, Who took you out of the land
misled and you turn away and serve other gods of Egypt, from the house of slavery;”
and bow to them”
There is a progression here that requires an
Rashi (ibid) notes the juxtaposition of these explanation. The Torah tells us that one will “eat
two verses: and be full,” which leads to more houses, cattle,
“Since you will eat and be full, look out for and treasures - culminating with the statement of
yourselves, so that you are not insubordinate, for “everything you own multiplies.” It is at that
a man does not rebel against the Holy One, may point that the person turns away from God, the
He be blessed, except when satiated, as it is said, rebellion alluded to by Rashi.
‘Lest you eat and become full (pen tochal How does this all happen from a few big
v’savata), and your cattle and flocks multiply.’ meals?
What is said afterward? ‘You shall become Eating, as everyone knows, is one of the
arrogant and forget.’” primary appetitive drives, whereby a person
consumes to remove the physiological state of
Rashi seems to be introducing a new concept – hunger. Yet there is a different type of eating
satiation brings someone to rebel against God. experience, that which leads to satiation. This
What type of causal relationship is this? outcome is, in actuality, beyond fulfilling any
However, there is a more fundamental impli- such physiological need - it brings about a
cation from Rashi’s words. He is clearly positive psychological state, the “feeling of
explaining that the state of satiation is fraught being full,” a perceived sensation of complete
with danger, leading to Bnai Yisrael turning and utter satisfaction. This is the state that the
away from God. Torah focuses on.
And yet...in the beginning of this same parsha, There are two possible results that emerge
the Torah (ibid 8:10) tells us: from being soveah. Normally, the physical
“You will eat and be full, and you will bless world serves to assist man in his routine daily
(v’achalta v’savata u’verachta) Hashem, your life; but to enter the state of satiation goes
G-d, for the good land He has given you” beyond the standard. When a person views the there as an end in and of itself. Rather, the physi-
physical world benefiting him in this way, cal world serves as a means, a vehicle to help us
The Talmud explains (Berachot 21a) that this beyond simply fulfilling a requirement, a in our understanding of God and perfection of
is the source of the obligation to recite birkas possible danger emerges. The nature of his the self. When this world is functioning beyond
hamazon: dependency on this world for survival changes the “need” realm, shifting into the psychological
“Rab Judah said: Where do we find that the and the objective of the physical world becomes satisfaction, a unique opportunity emerges.
grace after meals (birkas hamazon) is ordained a means to serve his needs. It is there to make When someone can direct that state towards
in the Torah? Because it says: And you will eat him happy, to create the sense of satisfaction. To yediyas Hashem, he is utilizing the benefit of the
and be full, and you will bless” view the physical world in such a manner leads physical world towards its true objective. This is
man down the path the Torah warns us against. what makes birkas hamazon so pivotal - it is
The common deduction from this that it is the He looks to acquire more and more, trying to more than the recognition of God as the source
state of seviya that requires one to recite birkas satisfy his endless needs and does so in line with of all. It is the personification of man’s proper
hamazon. And if this is the case, it would seem his thinking that the world exists for his benefit. relationship to the physical world. So he has the
the state of satiation, rather than bring one to If the world is there to serve man’s desires, man big meal – and when he is soveah, he recites
idolatry, is an opportunity for a greater under- becomes all important. And the culmination of birkas hamzon, turning to God.
standing of God. (It is important to note that all this is the “rebellion” against God. It is man’s We see from this a fascinating theme that is not
within halacha, bread is the food that by defini- outsized view of the self that leads to this result. isolated to the phenomenon of satiation.
tion brings about this result). It is more than a big meal; it is a distorted and Throughout the Torah, we are taught not to
How do we resolve this contradiction? self-serving attitude. That is not to say that being repress or shun the physical world around us, but
satiated directly results in this. It is more how to enjoy it and take pleasure from it. On the other
Let’s first take a broader look at the verses one, over a period of time, reflects while in this hand, the lure of the psychological pleasures of
Rashi quotes in his interpretation. Moshe relays state, and how he begins to direct his energies. our surrounding world can ultimately lead
the following to Bnai Yisrael (ibid 8:11-14): When the physical world serves mankind mankind to reject God. God lays out for us a
“Look out for yourself lest you forget Hashem, beyond that which is necessary, mankind judges road to properly enjoy this world, and how to tie
your God, to not guard His commandments, His himself as the epitome of greatness. Based on that enjoyment to the ultimate objective. After
laws, and His statutes that I am commanding this, one might conclude to become satiated is downing that last hot dog and reclining back in
you today. Lest you eat and be full, and build inherently a problem. However, there is another that chair, view the state of satiation not simply
good houses and live [in them.] And your cattle approach that man turns to, with the guidance of as a means of self satisfaction, but as an opportu-
and your sheep multiply, and silver and gold the Torah. The Torah teaches us that the world nity to engage in yediyas Hashem – knowledge
multiply for you, and everything you own multi- we live in, and that which we benefit from, is not of God. Q

7
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
Weekly Parsha
descends, breaks the first set of commence with the rebuke “And I
Tablets, punishes the wicked Jews, beseeched God like at first”? What
and ascends to pray for the Jews. does Moses mean by the words
He prays for 40 days and night, “like at first”? We are surprised to
until the 29th of Av: although God read this, since we already proved
rescinded His initial decree to kill that Moses first ascent was not for
the nation, the Jews still bore the any sin of the Jews, but to receive
sin[7] of the Golden Calf which the original Tablets at God’s
Moses wished to remove during command. This ascent predated the
this second 40-day period. At Golden Calf. So what is Moses’
God’s command to receive a equation between his second ascent

40
days &
replacement set of Tablets, Moses
descends and quarries a new set of
sapphire Tablets on which God will
inscribe the original 10 Command-
ments. He then ascends for a final
40-day period dwelling on the
mountain, and received complete
atonement for the Jews on Yom
Kippur, forty days after the 29th of
Av. (Rashi)
to gain forgiveness, and his first
ascent? We are forced to say that
Moses’ abstinence during his first
40 days is somehow akin to his
subsequent ascension and prayer
for another 40 days after the Jews
sinned, where he again did not
require any nourishment. What is
the equation?

nights YHIIPTVZOLILUJOHPT
When describing the actual
events at Sinai in Exodus, the Torah
omits any mention of Moses’
abstinence from food or drink,
“…and it was that Moses was in the
mountain 40 days and 40 nights.”
Abstinence:
Moses’ Lesson
What was Moses responding to
with his second ascension on
Sinai? The answer: the Golden
“And the glory of God dwelt on teach them”[3]. What difference Not a word of his abstinence. Why Calf, the Jews’ sin of idolatry. What
Mt. Sinai, and the cloud covered it would it make, had Moses received then does Moses tell the Jews about is this sin?
six days, and He called unto Moses the Tablets, without fasting? his fasting when he rebukes the Idolatry is man’s attempt to gain
on the seventh day from the cloud. Let us review the order of Moses’ Jews in Deuteronomy? The Torah goodness in his life, but does so
And the appearance of the glory of ascensions on Sinai. Moses first is silent about his fast until this through the misconception that
God was like a devouring fire at the received and wrote the Torah, point: animals, man, inanimate, or imagi-
summit of the mountain in the eyes commencing with Genesis and nary objects possess powers and
of the Children of Israel. And concluding with his present-day, “And in Horeb you angered God, can offer goodness. Humans are
Moses came in the midst of the the event of Revelation on Sinai and God was angered with you to indeed dependent beings: we
cloud, and he ascended the moun- located in Parsha Yisro. This means destroy you. When I ascended the require food, clothing and shelter
tain, and it was that Moses was in that all of the Torah subsequent to mountain, to receive the Tablets of and have a myriad of insecurities.
the mountain 40 days and 40 Sinai (Parshas Yisro) was not yet stone, the Tablets of the Treaty We sometimes become feeble,
nights.” [1] given to Moses at Sinai.[4] Moses which God forged with you; and I unsure that we can provide for
then descends Sinai and informs dwelled on the mountain 40 days ourselves, also in doubt about our
What is the importance of Moses’ the Jews of this Torah, which they and 40 nights; bread I did not eat, future. Therefore, we succumb to
40-day stay on Sinai? In Deuter- accept. On the 7th of Sivan, Moses and water I did not drink.”[8] hearsay regarding “powers” that
onomy, Moses tells the Jews that he ascends Sinai for his first of three can guarantee our needs. We create
fasted during these first 40 days on 40-day periods on the mountain, to During those first 40 days to idols; seek out palm readers, even
Sinai. (The omission here is of receive the first Tablets. On his last receive the first Tablets, the Jews those as great as King Saul sought
interest) Ibn Ezra states that Moses’ day – 17th of Tammuz – Moses had not yet sinned. Why then did to resolve insecurities by inquiring
fast of 40 days and 40 nights is a learns of the Jews sinning with the Moses include this ascent in his of the dead[10]. Unless we arm
“great, unprecedented wonder”.[2] Golden Calf. He remains there on rebuke? Additionally, why now ourselves with truths, we will be no
But we must learn whether this the mountain that last day, prays for does he mention his abstinence different. Today’s Parshas Shoftim
fasting was Moses’ idea, God’s the Jews not to be destroyed, and from food? clearly prohibits all such false
command…or did it just happen? receives a favorable reply from Moses continues his rebuke, practices, as Ibn Ezra says, “the
And what would be lost, had Moses God[5]. But keep in mind that “And I beseeched God like at first; Torah prohibits that which is
not fasted? He would still have during these 40 days until the Jews 40 days and 40 nights, bread I did false.”[11]
received the Torah, as it says sinned, Moses’ abstinence from not eat and water I did not This very need expressed in
“Ascend the mountain to Me and food was not on account of any sin, drink.”[9] Here, Moses refers to his idolatry, is precisely what Moses
remain there and I will give you the since no sin was revealed to him second ascent upon Sinai to obtain emphasized, and desired to
Tablets of stone, and the Torah and until day 40[6]. On this 40th day – forgiveness for the Jews’ sin. But address. Moses teaches that we can
the Mitzvah which I have written to the 17th of Tammuz – Moses we wonder, why did Moses obtain not only our needs, but so
(continued on next page)
8
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(40 Days continued from page 8) Weekly Parsha
much more…but only with adher- completely overrode my very toms normally met with those who controls are unknowable, but His
ence to God. He tells the Jews that needs. In this manner, Moses traveled for so long. words are clear: He will provide, if
God “did one better” by removing wished the Jews might realize their Moses’ message is not that we we live the life He commands, for
any of his human needs. Idolatry falsehoods, and abandon them. In should abandon natural law and our own good. So if we are
attempts to secure the needs one this manner, they can truly repent. rely on nature, for Moses himself convinced that God exists, and that
has according to his natural dispo- Informing the Jews that God would not do so. Moses’ entire life He does in fact control all, and that
sition, that of an organism in need removed his need to eat, Moses was spent educating the Jews about He promises to care for our needs if
of food, clothing and shelter. And contrasted their idolatrous motiva- a land that would provide we follow Him, then other consid-
these, an idol cannot accomplish. In tions, which never succeeded, to sustenance, for the very reason that erations must not take priority in
stark contrast, not only can God God’s manifest proof of His we must live in accord with our our minds. Creating Golden Calves
deliver those needs, but also, He complete control over all. This natural need for sustenance. So we assume will protect us, is an
can sustain man without needing to should make an impression on what was Moses’ goal in mention- extreme illustration of the same
satisfy these natures…God can those seeking security, that it could ing all God’s miracles, and his falsehoods we harbor today: we
override nature. This is why Moses only come from God. endurance with no food for 40 days work tirelessly, assuming every-
tells the Jews that he did not eat or Earlier in Deuteronomy[12] and nights? thing we earn, is a result only of
drink, even during his first ascent, Moses states, “And He afflicted Moses’ lesson is that while we how much we work. God is not in
which had nothing to do with the you and hungered you and fed you witness natural law to be constant, our equations, just as God was not
Jews’ sin. During that first stay on the Manna that you and your we must have greater conviction in in the equation when the Jews
Sinai, Moses attachment to God forefathers did not know, in order He who created and guides this created the Calf.
and His system procured such to make known that not on bread law. If God says that Torah adher- God addresses this insecurity in
Divine Providence, that his normal alone does man live, but on all that ence will earn us all our needs, we Malachi[13], where He says that
needs were obviated. Revealing comes forth from God’s mouth must not abandon Torah because we may test Him when giving our
this great wonder to the Jews, does man live. Your clothing did we feel this loss of work hours will charity: “...and test Me please with
Moses wished to awaken the sinful not become worn from upon you, lessen our income. We don’t know this, says the Master of Hosts, (see)
Jews to the exact foolishness of and your feet did not swell these how God will assure our needs are if I do not open up the storehouses
their sin. As an educator, Moses forty years.” Again, Moses teaches met, and truthfully, we don’t need of heaven, and empty out (for you)
decided to unveil the Jews’ under- the Jews how God sustained them to know, nor can we know. God a blessing until you have more than
lying notions that led to their sin: with a miraculous food, how their created this universe…do you enough”. God is guaranteeing that
“You sought protection from gold clothing miraculously never wore, know ‘how’ He did so? No man
which is inanimate, while God nor did they show physical symp- ever did. God’s knowledge and (continued on next page)

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9
Volume IX, No. 29...July 30, 2010 www.Mesora.org/JewishTimes
(40 Days continued from page 9) Weekly Parsha
by giving tzedaka, we assure for [3] Exod. 24:12
ourselves financial security, and [4] Rashi, Exod. 24:4,7. This is
not an average income, but “until reasonable, since all subsequent
we have more than enough”. Our events recorded in our Torah from
normal disposition is that when we Yisro through Deuteronomy had
part with money, we have less. But not yet transpired. And even if God
God teaches the opposite. had included these future events
So what will you follow: human comprising the Jews’ future sins in
thinking based on natural law, or this version of the Torah, free will
God, who created and controls would be affected, which violates
those very laws? God’s will.
Moses had no plan to abstain [5] Exod. 32:14 Open positions on the OU Job Board:
from natural law while on Mount [6] Deut. 9:11
Sinai. It happened that while there, [7] Deut. 9:18 states that Moses
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study, God suspended natural law since he already obtained pardon DC - SchaefferE@ajc.org - TeacherSearch2010TI@gmail.com
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[12] Deut. 8:3,4
[1] Exod. 24:16-18 [13] Malachi 3:10
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