Ki Savo 5781

1 – Topic – A thought on the Parsha

As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Ki Savo and on Motzoei Shabbos we will begin go to say Selichos and B’ezras Hashem Tefillos for a wonderful coming year. Let me share with you a thought on the beginning of the Parsha where of course we have the Parsha of Bikkurim. There, we find that a farmer brings his Bikkurim and takes it to the Beis Hamikdash and as it says in 26:3 (וּבָאתָ, אֶל-הַכֹּהֵן, אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה, בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם; וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו) and when he gets to the Kohen in the Beis Hamikdash he makes the following declaration. (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַירוָר אֱלֹריךָ, כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְרוָר לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ לָתֶת לָנוּ). That is the whole thing he says. He says, I have told G-d today that I came to the holy land which was promised to us. Then the Kohen takes the basket, puts it by the Mizbai’ach and then says (וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ) and a new recital takes place. What is Pshat in this first recital (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַירוָר אֱלֹריךָ)? He says interestingly enough in past tense (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַירוָר אֱלֹריךָ) I have told G-d today (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְרוָר) that I have arrived in the land that G-d promised. I have arrived, this could be centuries later but this is what he says.

The Kasha that a number of the Meforshim ask is that the words (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם) I have said today is in Lashon Avar, past tense. It seems to make no sense. This man walks into the Beis Hamikdash and hasn’t said a word and then says (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם) I have said to HKB”H that (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ) that I have arrived in Eretz Yisrael. The past tense seems to be inaccurate.

The Malbim and a number of Meforshim say the following. That when the farmer takes his first grown fruits and marches up to the Beis Hamikdash to bring them, that action itself really is a declaration saying that I recognize that everything came from HKB”H. (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם) He walks into the Beis Hamikdash and says, Kohen, I let it be known that I recognize that everything comes from HKB”H. As it says in Tehillim 19:2 (הַשָּׁמַיִם, מְסַפְּרִים כְּבוֹד- קל; וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו, מַגִּיד הָרָקִיעַ). The heavens they tell a story. They don’t speak, but they still tell a story. The same thing with this fellow who made his way up to the Beis Hamikdash with his first fruits is making a statement not with words but by his actions. That is Pshat.

The Yismach Moshe in Parshas Behaloscha adds to this something absolutely beautiful. There, the Yismach Moshe talks about the language (בָאתִי) I have come. As it says in Koheles 1:5 (וְזָרַח הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, וּבָא הַשָּׁמֶשׁ). Sunrise is called Zericha and sunset we call Shekiya, is called Bi’as HaShemesh. The Gemara in Berachos 2a says (ביאת השמש) the setting of the sun is called the Lashon of coming. It should be a Lashon of going or leaving, what is the language of (וּבָא).

The Gemara says in Sanhedrin 91b (מפני מה שוקעת במערב) what is the symbolization of the sun setting in the west? (כדי ליתן שלום לקונה). It is as if the sun is arriving at HKB”H. The west is the Kodesh Hakadoshim. When you are in the Beis Hamikdash and you look to the west that is the Kodesh Hakadoshim. As the sun sets to the west it is sort of arriving at the King’s palace and saying I have done what I had to do. I have done Your mission. I have risen in the east and set in the west. (וּבָא הַשָּׁמֶשׁ). The sun arrives. What does it mean arrives? Lavo Lifnei HaMelech.

Says the Yismach Moshe, (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַירוָר אֱלֹריךָ) I have let G-d know, (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ) that I have arrived in Eretz Yisrael. You have arrived in Eretz Yisrael? When did you arrive in Eretz Yisrael? Today? Yesterday? 100 years ago? (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ).

There are people who come to Eretz Yisrael and to them it is just a spot on the globe. This farmer says (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ). I have come Lifnei HaMelech. I have come (ליתן שלום לקונה). To say Sholom Aleichem to the Ribbono Shel Olam. I am in Eretz Yisrael. I am in the Makom of the utmost Kedusha in the Beis Hamikdash. (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ). Now suddenly it is an important declaration.

He walks up to the Beis Hamikdash and he says to the Kohen a separate declaration. Ich Bin Do. I am here. Shkoyach. What does it mean that you are here? You know what? I am here (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַירוָר אֱלֹריךָ, כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ). I want it to be recognized that I am in Artzeinu Hakedosha. I am a farmer and all my work is for the Ribbono Shel Olam.

I would add that during the Divrei Torah on the Haggadah I remember mentioning the question of whether Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim needs something new, a Chiddush, or just retelling the old story. I mentioned then that L’sapeir is to tell that which took place. L’hagid is to say something new. On the night of the Seder we do both. There is Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim and there is the Haggadah. I asked how is it the Haggadah? It is preprinted. The answer is that you always have to see something new in your experiences. There has to be a new devotion, a new dedication. It should be K’ilu Hayom Yatzasa Mi’mitzrayim.

The same thing with the farmer bringing the Bikkurim. (הִגַּדְתִּי הַיּוֹם לַירוָר אֱלֹריךָ). I have a new awareness today, a new declaration that I have come (כִּי-בָאתִי אֶל-הָאָרֶץ), that I have come to Eretz Yisrael and I am here to do the Avodas Hashem with the Karka of Eretz Yisrael. A beautiful explanation of the first declaration of the farmer. The second one gets a lot of attention (וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ). But the first one too.

2 – Topic – A Thought on Davening

A thought that is very appropriate for this week. We talk about Davening and the question dealt with Kadmonim including the Maharasha in Berachos 7 and the question is what does it help to Daven for Ruchnios, what does it help to Daven to be a Talmid Chochom, to be a Masmid. Either you are a Masmid or you are not a Masmid. You have Bechira. Does Davening help? Whatever the explanation is, one thing is absolutely certain and that is that Davening for Ruchnios definitely helps.

In the Shulchan Aruch in Siman Kuf Yud S’if Ches it says in Shulchan Aruch that before you start to learn you should Daven the Tefilla of Reb Nechunya Ben Hakana and you should Daven to HKB”H that He should give you Hatzlacha in your learning. There is no question that it helps.

The Gemara in Niddah 70b (8 lines from the bottom) says that when the Jews of Alexandria of Mitzrayim asked the question (מה יעשה אדם ויחכם). What can a person do and be a Talmid Chochom, and they were told (ירבה בישיבה). You have to Huruva, you got to sit and learn. And then they said what else? They were told (יבקשו רחמים ממי שהחכמה שלו). You have to Daven to G-d. Davening for Hatzlacha in learning certainly helps. What is the Lomdus, what is the philosophy of it? This is a good question but it helps no question.

The Chiddushei HaRim says (as it says in Berachos 33b, 8 lines from the bottom) (הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים) listen to his Teitch. When you Daven for anything G-d may or may not give it to you. (הכל בידי שמים). You ask for Parnasa hopefully you get it but it is up to the Ribbono Shel Olam. (חוץ מיראת שמים). When you Daven for (יראת שמים) there is a guarantee. HKB”H answers Tefillos for (יראת שמים).

In the Sefer Derech Eitz Hachaim they quote from Rav Isser Zalman that he said about his Rebbi the Netziv that the Netziv said that any day that I did not cry while saying Ahava Rabbah to have a Cheilek in Torah, on that day I was not Mechadeish a Chiddush in Torah. A lot of people can say that on a day they did not cry in Ahava Rabbah that they were not Mechadeish Chiddushim either. But the point is that most of the time he did cry. A Tefilla for Ruchnios counts. It is meaningful. 

Probably the source of the Netziv in Halacha is Rabbi Akiva Eiger in Yor’e Dai’a in the Gilyon in Siman Shin Ayin Vav that says if the Tefilla of Ahava Rabbah is said with Kavana it is a Segula for Hatzlacha in Limud. But my point is that Davening for Hatzlacha in Ruchnios is significant.

We just resumed our Shiur in the Shul on Iyun Tefilla on the Siddur. We were up to incredibly enough, our last Shiur was a year and a half ago and after that we stopped because of the Pandemic. Now we went back to our Seforim and we “happen” to be up to Refa’ainu Hashem. We had started from the beginning of the Sefer and this is where we were up to when the Pandemic began. Look at what Rav Schwab says in Refa’ainu Hashem. A Tefillah for Rucnhios spiritual Refuos. Beautiful.  

This time of the year we should be Davening for everything we need but certainly for Hatzlacha in Ruchnios. We should Daven that we should be able to have more Kavana in Davening. We should Daven that we should be able to be bigger Masmidim especially Thursday nights. Oy, I am doing a terrible thing to you. I keep on telling you to come to learn Thursday night. I keep on telling you and some of you don’t do it. What is going to happen? L’asid Lavo they are going to play a recording of all these times I told you to learn Thursday night and they are going to tell you couldn’t you do it at least once? In Elul 5781 at least once on Thursday night? What are you going to say? I don’t know. It is a disservice that I am pushing you if you don’t follow up. I am sure you will.

3 – Topic – The Question of the Week     

As you know, we learn in the Parsha that as soon as Klal Yisrael cross the Yardein they had stones on which they wrote the Torah as it says in 27:8 (בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב) B’air Hai’taiv. What is (בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב)? Rashi says (בשבעים לשון). They wrote the Torah in 70 languages. HKB”H says to the nations of the world don’t tell me you couldn’t get it. It is there.

I have a Kasha. The Gemara in the first Perek in Megillah (9a, 26 lines from the top) tells us about the Targum Shivim. About the time that the 72 Talmidai Chachamim were put in separate rooms and were told to translate the Torah. Chazal considered that a sad day. It was Ches Teves, a day on which some people fasted. Why is it considered a sad day if the Torah tells us to translate it into 70 languages so why is it a sad day when the Chachamim were gathered and told to translate it into one language. Of course it was a Nisayon because they did change some of the wording because of the necessity, but it worked out. That worked out well, miraculously. The question therefore is, why is it a Mitzvah in the Torah and a tragedy when it happened? There are good ways of answering it but I think it requires a person to reflect on the difference and IY”H come to a good understanding. I wish one and all an extraordinarily wonderful and Gevaldige Shabbos Kodesh and a meaningful Selichos. Good Shabbos to all!