Monday, August 31, 2015

487 - Devarim

Devarim opens with Moshe addressing Bnei Yisrael. The Torah describes the location of this speech with eight or nine different names of places. Rashi explains that the locations mentioned refer not to actual places; rather, they are allusions to the various transgressions Bnei Yisrael committed over the course of their travels through the desert. Moshe was admonishing Bnei YIsrael and, not wanting to embarrass them, he made veiled references to their sins.

When alluding to the golden calf, Moshe refers to this sin with the name "Di Zahav" translated as "more than enough gold." Rashi explains that Moshe was stating that it was the abundance of gold bestowed upon them at the time of the exodus from Mitzrayim that caused them to make the golden calf. Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) notes that the pasuk seems to imply that had they not had the gold they would not have sinned. This idea seems quite clear from Rashi in Shemos (32:31) where he writes that Moshe told Hashem that by blessing Bnei Yisrael with so much wealth He had in effect caused the sin of the golden calf! Bnei Yisrael's situation was analogous to a king who gives his son food and drink, beautifies him, hangs a pouch of money around his neck and places him at the harlot's door; what can you expect from the son? This being the case how could they be blamed for making the golden calf if they were basically forced into making it?

Although Bnei Yisrael were placed into a difficult situation, they certainly had the ability to overcome the test given to them. When Chazal tell us that their position caused them to sin, Chazal are conveying an important message to us. The Torah is teaching us the attitude that one should assume prior to placing himself into a situation of nisayon is that he will almost certainly fail the test. One cannot place himself into a situation and rely on his will power and past performance to enable him to prevail over the temptation to sin. Rather, it is always necessary to act with foresight. Before entering any possible problematic situation one must identify the potential issues and refrain from engaging in any questionable behavior.

This is a lesson we must heed for life. We cannot go away on vacation in the summer to a place that compromises our religious standards and wave away all concern with an assertion that "I won't be affected." When making your plans, take all possibilities into consideration. The same applies when choosing a job, a community, a school for your children and when choosing friends. Before entering into a questionable relationship, clarify your ideals and standards and act accordingly.

Additionally, Klal Yisrael has endured a great amount of suffering due to sinas chinam. The destruction of the second Bais Hamikdosh was caused by baseless hatred and thus the ensuing tragedies of the next nearly two thousand years can be attributed to this terrible trait. Moreover, how many marriages and other relationships have ended because of petty arguments? A little foresight - taking into account the possible ramifications before saying lashon hara or quarreling - will save a lot of physical and spiritual heartache. Moreover, it will also aid in the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdosh for which we so desperately yearn.

ובעזהי"ת צום החמישי יהפוך לנו לששון ולשמחה

No comments: