Dvar Torah / Chesed Avraham – Parsha

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    Parsha favorites of Moreinu HaRav Avraham Chaim Tanzer zt’l. Including his uplifting and edifying teachings. Ideas and values with
    with he raised and educated 4 generations, including lessons gleaned from his great character.

    אֵ לֶּה הַ דְּ בָ רִ ים אֲשֶּ ר דִ בֶּ ר מֹשֶּ ה
    These are the words that Moshe spoke … (1, 1)
    Sefer Devarim begins the eloquent farewell address
    that Moshe Rabbenu delivered to Bnei Yisrael of his
    generation, and indeed to the Jewish People of all time.
    It was a great Sermon that lasted the last five weeks of
    his life, and was his last will and testament to his
    beloved people.
    The Sfas Emes, the great Gerer Rebbe, points out the
    following irony: Moshe himself attempted to finally
    recuse himself from delivering the Divine missive he
    was given by declaring (Shemos 4, 10), ‘Please my Lord,
    I am not a man of words, not since yesterday, nor since
    the day before yesterday, nor since You first spoke to
    Your servant, for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of
    speech’ – apparently Moshe was incapable of speaking
    before Paraoh, since he was a ‘kevad peh ukvad lashon’;
    yet here in Devarim, suddenly the gates of eloquence
    and fluent speech seem to have opened for Moshe, as
    he delivers this most momentous and memorable
    message to the ages.
    Abba shared the answer of the Sefas Emes, that
    indeed Moshe himself was a Kevad Peh and Kevad
    Lashon – he wasn’t an orator, he was a thinker; he even
    suffered from oratory challenges. However, that was
    only regarding his own ability to speak. Once, however,
    the Torah was given, Moshe was transformed by the
    words of the Torah themselves into a mighty torrent
    of unstoppable instruction and learning.
    Perhaps this means that as long as Moshe was
    attempting to iterate his own personal vision of the
    Divine experience that occurred to him at the burning
    bush, he was overcome and unable to turn this event
    into lucid speech.
    Yet, once the Torah was given at Har Sinai, it was not
    just his personal vision, it was now the Torah of Klal
    Yisrael. At this point, the dumb could speak and the
    blind could see. Moshe was healed.

    Abba taught that even if one does not have the
    superior gifts needed for teaching Torah and studying
    Torah at the highest levels, nevertheless, he very
    commitment to Torah will transform him. It’s part of
    the Koach of Torah; it will grant him every skill
    necessary and will embolden him, and people will find
    Chein in the words that he says.
    The Torah itself will develop you. You just need to
    commit to it.
    This is essentially the message that Hashem taught
    Moshe at the Burning Bush – don’t be limited by your
    past experiences, My Word will change you beyond
    recognition. You will develop all the Kochos you need.
    Yet Moshe hesitated, perhaps because it was still his
    personal revelation. But now that the Torah was the
    Nachalas Hakelal – the heritage of the Nation, he spoke
    out unabashed and unintimidated.

    Abba used to say that people think they are born a
    certain way and cannot become great if they were not
    born great, and therefore they shy away from great
    The truth, however, is that many times the moment
    makes you great. The fact that you seized the challenge
    of the moment, you grew into it. The events and your
    deeds indeed conspire to bring out the Gadlus that
    you yourself never knew you had.
    Abba even felt regarding himself, that even if he did
    have latent Kochos and talents, they might have
    remained hidden and undeveloped, had he and
    Mother not decided to seize the challenge of the
    decades of Torah development and community
    building that lay at their feet.
    Of course, he always took the humble view of himself,
    even in his innermost thinking, but the truth is that
    certainly he was regarded by his own Roshei Yeshiva,
    as indeed by all the Gedoley Torah he interacted with,
    as a Gadol himself. The message, however, is true: We

    grow greater by committing to greater achievement
    for Torah and for people. Setting the bar higher, and
    not shying away are the attitudes that will bring out
    our gifts.

    הֹואִ יל מֹשֶּ ה בֵ אֵ ר אֶּ ת הַ ּתֹורָ ה הַ זֹאת לֵאמֹר
    Moshe expounded this Torah saying (1, 5)
    Rashi explains, that Moshe expounded the Torah to
    Bnei Yisrael in ‘seventy languages. Why was this
    necessary? Surely the entire nation had been living
    together in Egypt for centuries and thus understood
    the same tongue?!
    The Chidushei HaRi’m, one of the outstanding giants of
    Chassidus, and a favourite of Abba z’l, explained, that
    indeed Klal Yisrael in their current form didn’t require
    this at all. Moshe, however, was aware that he needed
    to convey a Torah to Klal Yisrael that was capable of
    being relevant and engaging to Yidden – regardless of
    where they end up in Galus.
    Since every Galus, in different countries, challenge
    Torah values in distinct ways, due to the distinct
    character and culture of that particular environment,
    thus Moshe needed to ‘translate’ the Torah in seventy
    tongues – to highlight the relevance to each and every
    human condition that Klal Yisrael would find
    themselves in.
    It’s not surprising that Abba z’l was the figure who was
    zoche – heaven sent, to articulate Torah at the tip of
    Africa. South Africa of those days, was considered to
    be a place where the language of Torah could not be
    understood or spoken. History shows that even on the
    southern most tip of Africa, Torah can be articulated,
    both in a culture of Afrikaans, and also in a culture of
    the Zulu tongues. This is by dint of Moshe Rabbenu –
    who imbued the ‘seventy tongues’ of Torah with his
    own personal tradition of receiving and transmitting
    the Torah. Thus, when we learn Torah in South Africa
    today – we are learning in the most original authentic
    way – because it was Moshe himself who articulated
    the Torah in this language too.

    The Chiddush here is that you never have a ‘new’ Torah
    or a different Torah for any place in the world. Even in

    Siberia, the courageous exiles who kept hold of their
    Torah, were studying ‘Moshe’s Torah’.
    Abba had the learning and depth to be able to
    articulate the particular needs of this community at
    that time, in a way that was holly consistent and
    integrated with Toras Moshe.
    It’s never appropriate to cut and shape the Torah
    according to the needs of the ‘Ark’ or the needs of the
    time and place. Moshe ensured that the original Torah
    was transmitted in such a form that it would forever
    be alive, engaging, relevant, current, and binding to
    every single situation. Our job is simply to engage our
    Torah in an authentic and thoughtful way.

    וַּתִ קְּ רְּ בּון אֵ לַי כֻּלְּ כֶּם וַּתֹאמְּ רּו נִשְּ לְּ חָ ה אֲנָשִ ים לְּ פָנֵינּו וְּ יַחְּ פְּ רּו

    לָנּו אֶּ ת הָ אָ רֶּ ץ

    And you approached me- all of you, and you said: Let us
    send before us men who will seek out the land for us (1, 22)
    Rashi explains that Moshe remonstrated with the
    Nation for coming to demand sending spies to Eretz
    Yisrael in a disorderly fashion: ‘You approached me –
    all of you’. Why was this the essence of the crime?
    Surely the real Aveira was the very notion that we need
    to rely on our own spies rather than on the promise of
    Perhaps the actual request for spies could have been
    justified; in and of itself it was not inherently
    forbidden. Yet, Moshe castigates them, that since the
    form they took was a breach of ‘Derech Eretz’ – that
    showed that from its inception, it was never meant in
    a wholesome way; rather, they were cloaking a

    rebellious unfaithful attitude within a reasonable-
    sounding request.

    Even good ideas need to be pursued with Derech
    Eretz, with good order and ‘saychel’. Where there is
    breach of basic Derech Eretz, there is room for
    concern as to the real intent and outcome.
    Derech Eretz, is not just ‘best form’, nor is it simply
    presentation. Rather, Derech Eretz expresses an inner
    commitment to doing the right thing, in the right
    manner. It’s an indication that one is trying to do the
    best thing, not simply to get his way.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Daroshas Haran explains that Moshe Rabbenu was an aral sefasaim. hard speaker, in order people should not say that because of his glib tongue he was able to convince the Jews to do the mitzvos. When it was necessary, the schechina eminated from his throat. Moshe Rabbenu did not want to speak to the rock as the water had to be given through a sheliach not Hashem but once he got angry the shechina disappeared so he could have spoken and hitting the rock was not justified any more.


    According to this, how could Moshe have spoken to the rock if the Shechina disappeared?

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