July 20, 2021 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm #1993231MaivinParticipant
RAV AVRAHAM CHAIM TANZER SPEAKS
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.
MOISHE THE ORATOR?!
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
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
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
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-
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.July 21, 2021 12:26 am at 12:26 am #1993384Reb EliezerParticipant
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.July 21, 2021 8:01 pm at 8:01 pm #1993616MaivinParticipant
According to this, how could Moshe have spoken to the rock if the Shechina disappeared?
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