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Pearls of Rashi – Lech Lecho

In this week’s Torah Portion, Lech Lecho, we are told that Avrom built an altar to Hashem. The Torah says that[1] “Avrom pitched his tents, and came and lived in the plain of Mamre, which is in Chevron. There he built an altar to G-d.”

Earlier in the Parshah we are told of two other altars which Avrom built. First the Torah tells us that[2] “Hashem appeared to Avrom, and He said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ There he built an altar to the Lord Who had appeared to him.” Rashi explains that his reason for constructing this altar was “for the good tidings (which he heard from Hashem) concerning his descendants, and the good tidings concerning the Land of Israel (which he heard from Hashem).” We then find that[3] “Avrom moved from there to the mountain, east of Bais el, and he pitched his tent. Bais el was to the west and Ai was to the east. There he built an altar to the Lord, and he called in the name of the Lord.” Rashi also explains the reason for his constructing this altar. “He prophesied that his progeny would sin there because of Achan’s sin, and he prayed for them there[4].”

We find that Rashi finds a need to explain why Avrom built these two altars. However, he offers no explanation whatsoever as to why Avrom built the first altar we discussed. We know that Rashi explains everything which the beginning student needs to know in order to understand “Peshat,” the simple meaning of the Torah. Therefore, just as we need to understand what Rashi writes, we need to understand that which he does not write. Rashi found it necessary to explain the reason for building the first to altars. Why did he not find a need to explain the third?

One explanation is as follows. Avrom built the first altar for personal reasons; Hashem promised him progeny and the Holy Land. He built the second for a greater purpose; as atonement for sins. The third, and greatest altar was built with no motive in mind. It did not have any benefit whatsoever for any individual; it was built solely for G-d’s honor. Therefore, Rashi does not write any reason for its building. It served no “earthly” purpose.

May we merit to learn from our forefather Avrom; that all of our actions should be for the sake of Hashem’s honor. May this lead to the complete and true redemption.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 13:18.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 12:7.

[3]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 12:7.

[4]. For the details of Achan’s sin and its repercussions, see the Book of Yehoshua, Chapter 7.

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Pearls of Rashi – Noach II

This week’s Torah portion, Noach, tells us of the devastating flood which destroyed most of the world. How was the world repopulated? Hashem commanded Noach to build an Ark. This served as a sanctuary for himself, his family and at least two of each type of animal.

Quite a bit changed in the aftermath of the Flood. Until that point, we were all commanded to be vegans. All of the inhabitants of the earth, people as well as animals, were only permitted to eat of that which grew from the ground. After the Flood, permission was granted to eat meat.

There were several conditions that went along with the permission to slaughter and eat meat. There was a prohibition to eat from an animal who was still alive. Additionally, the Torah tell us[1] “But your blood, (the blood) of your souls, I will demand. From the hand of every beast I will demand it. From the hand of man, from the hand of each man, his brother, I will demand the soul of man.” Rashi cites the words “but your blood,” and explains them as follows. “Even though I permitted you to take the life of animals, your blood I will demand of one who sheds his own blood, (meaning one who commits suicide). According to Peshat, which is the simple explanation of the Torah, this prohibition includes shedding one’s blood even if it causes no damage whatsoever.

This provides us with an answer to a very famous question. We are taught that our patriarchs fulfilled all of the Mitzvos before they were commanded. Yet there is one Mitzvah which Avrohom did not perform until Hashem told him to do so; the commandment of circumcision. Many of the commentaries struggle with this question.

Based on the above we have a simple explanation. The commandments which were given to Noach apply to all of mankind. They are obligatory for each and every human. The fact that the patriarchs kept the Torah was a stringency which they accepted upon themselves. Because of the prohibition of shedding one’s own blood, Avrohom was not allowed to circumcise himself until he was explicitly told to do so.

May we all be careful to observe everything which G-d demands of us. In this manner we will certainly merit the complete and true redemption through Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 10, Beginning with Page 138

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 9:5.

Pearls of Rashi – Noach

In this week’s Parshah, Noach, the Torah tells us of the devastating flood which was brought to the world. From among the people of the world, only Noach and his family were saved.

In describing Noach, the Torah tells us that[1] “… Noach was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generation …” We need to understand why the Torah specifies that “he was perfect in his generation.” Rashi’s comments on this verse explain this. “Some of our Sages interpret the words ‘in his generation’ favorably. Had he lived in a generation of righteous people, he would have been even more righteous. Others interpret it derogatorily. In comparison with his generation he was righteous. However, had he lived in Avrohom’s generation, he would not have been considered of any importance[2].”

We need to explain why there are Sages who explain the Torah’s words in a derogatory manner. We find that “the Torah does not (even) make a negative statement about an impure animal[3].” How much more so would the Torah refrain from making a derogatory statement about a Tzaddik! We must say that the Torah says this in order to teach us a very important lesson.

The Alter Rebbe explains that Hashem’s command to Noach to[4] “enter the Ark[5]” actually allude to a much deeper concept. The waters of the flood actually represent the concerns which we have about making a living, and our worries about matters of this world. These indeed form an ongoing flood. The only way in which we can be saved from this is by entering the words of Torah and Tefillah.

One might think that this can save a Tzaddik of Noach’s stature. However, for a simple person such as myself it may be “too little too late.” Therefore, the Sages make a point of telling us that “some interpret it derogatorily … had he been in Avrohom’s generation he would have been considered nothing.” Entering the Ark, the words of Torah and prayer, can save all of us from the flood of this world, despite his stature.

Each of us must take this lesson to heart and enter the Ark, the words of Torah and prayer. As a result of this may we merit the complete and true redemption through Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 5, Beginning with Page 279

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Parshas Noach, Bereishis 6:9.

[2]. Talmud Sanhedrin 108, b.

[3]. Talmud Bava Basra 123, a.

[4]. See Torah Ohr to this week’s Torah portion.

[5]. Please note that the Hebrew word for Ark can also be translated to mean words.

Pearls of Rashi – Bereishis

In this week’s Parshah we begin reading and studying the Torah once again. It begins with the famous words[1] “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.” Rashi cites the words “In the beginning,” and writes the following. “Rabbi Yitzchok said, “(it would seem that) the Torah should have begun from[2] ‘This month is to you the first month,’ which is the first commandment that the Jews were commanded. Why did the Torah begin with ‘In the beginning?’ Because of (the verse)[3] ‘The strength of His works He told His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations.’ If the nations of the world tell the Jews that ‘you are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations (of Canaan),’ they will reply, ‘The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whomever He saw fit. When He wished, He gave it to them, and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us.’”

We need to understand what sort of claim this is. Why should the conquest of the Land of Canaan be considered robbery? Granted, stealing is prohibited to all of the nations of the world. Nevertheless, we do not find any nation being punished for conquering land from another. The claim seems to lack any validity.

The explanation is that transferring an object from one person (or nation) to another does not change the essence of the object. This is true in whatever manner the transfer took place; whether it was sold, inherited, given as a gift, conquered, etc. The original owners can always take it back.

The one exception to this is the conquest of the Land of Israel. Once the Nation of Israel conquered this land, there was a change in its essence. It became the Holy Land, the land of Israel for the Nation of Israel. This is true even during the exile; when “we were exiled from our land[4].” It still remains “our land,” which can never truly be taken from us. We prevented them from ever being able to take the land back. This is the rationale behind the claim of the nations of the world.

Our commencing the Torah should mark the beginning of a blessed year. May we merit being in our land with Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 5, Page 2

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Parshas Bereishis, Bereishis 1:1.

[2]. Parshas Bo, Shemos 12:2.

[3]. Tehillim 111:6.

[4]. Liturgy for Pilgrimage Festivals.

Pearls of Rashi – Berochoh

The Parshah with which we conclude the reading of the Torah, Berochoh, is the only Torah Portion which is not read on Shabbos. It is always read on Simchas Torah, the final day of Succos. It contains the famous verse which expresses the connection between Jews and Torah[1]; “the Torah which Moshe commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov (the Jewish Nation).”

Rashi cites the word “Torah,” and explains as follows. The Torah “that Moshe commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov, we have taken hold of it, and we will not forsake it!”

We need to understand why Rashi uses the phrase “we have taken hold of it.”  It would seem that “we have followed it,” or “we have learned it” would be more appropriate.

Furthermore, why does Rashi need to specify that we have taken hold of the Torah which we received as an inheritance? What difference does it make how we received it?

The root of the Hebrew word which Rashi uses for “taking hold of,” is “Achuzah – אחוזה.” It can be translated as grasping, taking hold of. However, it can also be translated as an inheritance. The Torah uses the word “Sedei Achuzah – שדה אחוזה,” to mean an inherited field.  Hashem commanded us to divide the land of Israel among all of the tribes. The portion of each tribe was further divided among each individual family. Every Jew has a portion of the Holy Land. One can never really sell real estate, a part of his land in Israel. It never completely leaves his possession. The land returns to him in the Jubilee, the 50th year. It always belongs to the one who originally inherited it.

The same is true of Torah. It is our eternal property; despite the fact that we may temporarily found among the nations of the world. Come what may, Torah is always the “inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov.”

May we all have a good, sweet year both in spiritual and physical matters. We should rejoice with the Torah, our personal, constant possession. Likewise, the Torah shall rejoice with us. May we merit the ultimate blessing of Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 29, Beginning with Page 229

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER 

Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen 

Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778 

May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life 

 

DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY 

* * * 

לעילוי נשמת 

מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן 

נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח 

ת. נ. צ. ב. ה. 

*

יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו 

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 33, 4.

Pearls of Rashi – Ha’azinu

Our Parshah, Ha’azinu, tells us of Moshe addressing the Jews. The Torah tells us that he was accompanied by his prize pupil, Yehoshua[1]. “And Moshe came and spoke all the words of this song into the ears of the people, he and Hoshea bin Nun.”

The surprising thing here, is that the Torah refers to Yehoshua as Hoshea. That was his name until the incident with the spies occurred. When they left on their mission, we are told that[2] “… Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun, Yehoshua.” Why does the Torah revert to his former name, by which he was not known for the past forty years? Rashi explains this as follows. “… Why does the Torah call him Hoshea here? This is in order to imply that Yehoshua did not become haughty. Despite the fact that he was given high status, he humbled himself as he was at the beginning (when he was still called Hoshea).

Why does the Torah choose to tell us of Yehoshua’s humility here? Here he was chosen to take Moshe’s place as leader of the Jewish Nation after his teacher’s passing. He was truly attaining greatness, as the one who would lead the Jews into the promised land. Nevertheless, he remained as humble as always.

Anyone who merits a position of leadership receives Divine assistance to help him fulfil his mission. Hashem never gives one a job which he is incapable of handling. Leading Jews is certainly a most difficult task, as we saw throughout Moshe’s forty years of leadership in the wilderness. Together with the position, comes the Divine power which aids one in handling it.

What lesson can we derive from this? As a result of attaining a position of leadership, and receiving this Divine aid, one may believe that he truly deserves it. This may cause a feeling of haughtiness. Nonetheless, we must all learn from Yehoshua, that no matter what the position, we must always retain the necessary feeling of humility.

May we all have a good, sweet year both in spiritual and physical matters. The year should be sweet in a revealed manner. We should merit the ultimate blessing of Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 29, Page 201

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
א לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 32:44.

[2]. Parshas Shelach, Bamidbar 13:16.

Pearls of Rashi – Vayelech

This week’s Torah portion, Vayelech, tells us of a number of times that Hashem rebuked the Jewish Nation. Among these, the Parshah tells us that[1] “My fury will rage against them on that day, and I will abandon them and hide My face from them. They will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will befall them. They will say on that day ‘Is it not because our G-d is no longer among us, that these evils have befallen us?'” Rashi cites the words “and hide My face,” and comments that it will be “as though I do not see their distress.”

Why does Rashi explain that Hashem (as so to speak) “hiding His face” as Him “not seeing their distress?” It would seem that the simple meaning of our verse is that He will hide His face as if He does not see them, the Jewish people, rather than their distress.

The explanation is as follows. There can come a point where the Jews suffer bad consequences as a result of their actions. Rashi is referring to Hashem’s providence after Jewish people reach the stage of being consumed. That is when Rashi says that Hashem behaves as if He does not see the Jews’ distress. Hashem chooses not to see their distress; He does not hearken to the Jews prayers that He save us. However, once we do Teshuvah, we are forgiven, and He will come to save us.

This Shabbos is called is called Shabbos Teshuvah; this is because it is the Shabbos of the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

It is known that the content of the weekly Torah portion is related to the time in which it is read. It is quite easy to see the connection here between the Torah portion of Vayelech and these ten days. In as much as this is a time of Teshuvah, returning to G-d, we read the words of rebuke which are found in this Torah reading. These words help return us to Hashem with a complete heart.

In a certain respect, Shabbos Teshuvah is greater than the other nine days of Teshuvah. Just as Shabbos transcends the natural order of the six workdays of the week, so too is the case with Shabbos Teshuvah. It is not simply repentance from sin. Rather, it marks a return to Hashem. We are restoring, returning our souls and ourselves to G-d. Our Divine service reaches a higher level of Teshuvah.

Rashi alludes to this by writing that G-d’s hiding His face from us is “as though” He doesn’t see the Jews’ distress. In other words, despite the fact that it was the Jewish people’s actions which led to[2] “Hashem’s fury raging against them on that day, abandoning them and hiding His face from them,” nevertheless, He is still with us. He still feels (as so to speak) the suffering of the Jewish people. The fact that He behaves toward us “as if” he does not see our pain, only emphasizes His great love for the Jewish Nation.

May we all have a good, sweet year both in spiritual and physical matters. Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 117

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 31:17.

[2]. Paraphrased from our verse.

Pearls of Rashi – Nitzovim II

In this week’s Parshah, Nitzovim, Hashem tells the Jewish people[1] “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil.” Rashi explains the connection between life and goodness, and death and evil in the following manner. In his comments to this verse he writes that “Each one is dependent upon the other. If you do good, you will be granted life. However, if you do evil, you will receive death. The Torah now proceeds to explain how this is so.”

After explaining what constitutes life and death, good and evil, the Torah warns us that[2] “you shall choose life.”

The Torah is telling us to see that Hashem has set before us good and evil. We are told the consequences are for each. This being the case, why is it necessary for the Torah to then warn us to choose life? If this is something which we can see with our mind’s eye, why does it require a specific commandment from Hashem? After all, who does not wish to live?

One explanation is as follows. We are all commanded to choose to serve Hashem by studying Torah and performing Mitzvos. If we make this choice purely on the basis of intellectual understanding, it is not the service of G-d. We are simply doing what we understand to be best for ourselves.

Our Divine service must be comparable to the service of a slave to his master[3]. We must accept upon ourselves the yoke of our master, Hashem. Therefore, our G-dly service must be based upon following His commandments.

However, before commanding us to choose life, the Torah does tell us to see, to understand the choice we are making. Aside from accepting the yoke of G-d’s kingship, we must also internalize everything which He commands us to do. Therefore, it is important for us to understand and feel the greatness of our Torah observance.

May we all make the correct choices. May Hashem choose to inscribe us for the best year ever in all respects.

I would like to wish everyone a very good Shabbos, and a good, sweet year.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 15, Pages 291-293

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 30:15.

[2]. Ibid., Verse 19.

[3]. In fact, our relationship to Hashem is not only that of a slave to his master. There are various ways in which we relate to each other. At times our relationship is like that of a child to a parent. At other times it is like that of a wife to her husband.

Pearls of Rashi – Nitzovim

This week’s Torah portion, Nitzovim, begins by telling us that Moshe Rabbeinu gathered the entire Jewish nation into Hashem’s presence. He did so in order to bring them into His covenant[1]. The Torah specifies that all Jews, without exception, were included; “the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every Jewish man, your young children, your women, and the convert who is within your camp, both your woodcutters and your water drawers[2].”

Rashi cites the words “both your woodcutters and your water drawers” and explains as follows. “This teaches us that Kena’anim (Canaanites) came to convert in the days of Moshe …and he made them woodcutters and water drawers for the Jews.”

The Alter Rebbe explains this on a deeper level[3], as it relates to our Divine service. Our verse specifies woodcutters. The Hebrew word for “wood” is “eitz – עץ,” which is related to the Hebrew for counsel, “eitzah – עצה.” He interpreted “woodcutters” to mean that one must cut, i.e. remove from his mind the “many thoughts (counsels) that are in the heart of man[4].” Furthermore, he explained that “water drawers” refers to draining the water that “makes all enjoyments grow[5]” from ourselves.

Simply speaking, the Alter Rebbe is teaching us that when serving Hashem, one may not look for “shortcuts.” After all, it is not easy expend all of one’s energy on the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos. One may find a justification to take the “easy way out.” This teaches us that this is only the “counsel” of the Evil Inclination. Furthermore, one may be led astray by his physical desires. Therefore, we must “drain” ourselves of these desires.

Rashi’s comments add an additional dimension to this teaching. It does not only apply to the time that one spends serving the Almighty, while studying Torah or praying. Rather it applies equally to the time one is occupied with business. This would include while eating, drinking and taking care of all of one’s physical needs. It may be possible to think that at such times there is no need to be concerned with the “many thoughts that are in the heart of man.”

This is why Rashi teaches us “that Kena’anim (Canaanites) came … in the days of Moshe.” We find throughout the Tanach that the word “Kena’anim – Canaanites” has the meaning of merchants[6]. Rashi is teaching us, that even when one is involved as a “merchant,” he is engaged in his mundane needs, he must still beware of the “many thoughts that are in the heart of man.” He must never give in to the urge to follow his desires.

May we all have a good, sweet year both in spiritual and physical matters. Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 117

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. See Rashi at the beginning of our Parshah, Devorim 29:9.

[2]. Our Parshah, Devorim 29:9-10.

[3]. See Hayom Yom, Page 89.

[4]. Mishlei (Proverbs) 19:21.

[5] See Tanya Chapter 1.

[6]. See Hoshea 12:8, among other sources.

Pearls of Rashi – Ki Savo II

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Savo, tells us that the Jewish people are Hashem’s treasured nation; as it is written in our Parshah[1], “Hashem has selected you today to be His treasured people as He spoke to you …” Where do we find that the Almighty said this? Rashi answers this question. He cites the words “as He spoke to you.” Rashi then tells us that He said this to the Jewish people at the time of the giving of the Torah. He said that[2] “you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples.”

There Rashi explains what is meant by “a treasure[3].” He writes that the word “treasure” means “a beloved treasure, as it is written[4] “and the treasures of the kings.” This refers to costly vessels and precious stones, which kings store away. So too will you be more of a treasure to Me than the other nations.”

It is clear enough that Rashi is equating the Jew’s status as a treasure with that of a royal treasure of precious stones. However, just as is the case with everything else in Torah, this too has a far deeper meaning.

There are various categories of precious, royal stones. The monarch holds these in trust for his/her successors and the nation. There are gems which are affixed to the royal crown in order to add to its beauty. There is another category of gem which the king uses purely for the benefit of the nation. Finally, there are gems which serve no use whatsoever. They are placed within the king’s treasury, and he makes no use of them. The only purpose which they serve is to bring pleasure to the ruler.

The same is true of Hashem, the true king, and His precious stones, the Jewish people. It is true that the service of the Jews here in this world serves a great purpose. Through learning Torah and performing Mitzvos Jews reveal G-dliness in the world!

However, there is an aspect of Jews which is greater than this. Each and every Jew, without exception, is Hashem’s precious gem. This is so by virtue of the fact that he is a Jew, a part of Hashem above! G-d derives pleasure from the existence of every single Jew, even without his performance of Torah and Mitzvos. He does not need an excuse or a reason to enjoy His treasured nation. Every single member of the Jewish Nation must be aware of his exalted status, and realize the potential this gives him.

May we all merit to be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet year. Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 24, Pages 161-164

IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
*
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
*
נדפס ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 26:18.

[2]. Parshas Yisro, Shemos 19:5.

[3]. See ibid., Rashi’s comments.

[4]. Koheles (Ecclesiastes) 2:8.