Parsha Devarim

August 13th, 2016

Av 9th 5776


Reproof of Moshe Rabbeinu for Generations

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel, on the other side of the Jordan, concerning the Wilderness, concerning the Arabah, opposite the Sea of Reeds” (Devarim 1:1)

Rashi cites in the name of Chazal (Sifri Devarim 1) that all “these words” are words of reproof of Moshe Rabbeinu to Yisrael admonishing them over all the places in which they caused anger before Hashem.

Rashi also explains there; “VeChatzerot” – refers to the dispute of Korach. Another explanation is that He said to them: You should have learned from what I did to Miriam in Chatzerot because of lashon hara, but instead, you slandered in that place. “V’Di Zahav” – he admonished them about the Golden Calf that they created, etc.

We may ask, after all, these sins, as in the dispute of Korach and the Golden Calf, our forefathers committed them, and they already died. But the reproof here was meant for the children. So why did Moshe Rabbeinu admonish the children about the sins that their fathers committed? Ultimately, the sons did not commit these sins.

Moreover, the Torah indicates in its account of the Sin of the Spies that the children were actually righteous, as it says (Bamidbar 14:31), “And your young children of whom you said they will be taken captive, I shall bring them; they shall know the Land,” etc. This implies that the sons were tzaddikim, since they were left alive and inherited the land. If so, why does Moshe remind them of the sins of their fathers?

I thought to explain it in the following way: We know that the deeds of the fathers set examples for their descendants. Consequently, it is impossible to entirely eradicate the root of evil. If the fathers acted in an evil way, then surely they passed it on to their children, as Chazal have already said (Sukkah 56b), “The talk of the child in the market-place, is either that of his father or of his mother.” Rashi explains that whatever a child says in the market place is what he heard from either his father or mother.

Therefore, Moshe Rabbeinu admonishes the children and reminds them of the sins of their fathers, in order that they should not repeat the sins. He recounted the deeds of the fathers, because they have to eradicate the transgressions of their fathers from their hearts so that they will not resurface when they enter the Land. 

This is why Moshe Rabbeinu specifically mentioned Korach, since Korach was swallowed by the earth together with his wife and children and supporters and his belongings. In other words, anything associated with Korach was swallowed by the earth. Thus, he mentioned Korach, since: Just as Korach is no longer in existence, so too, you must eradicate all the evil deeds of your fathers for which they were punished. Furthermore, you must eradicate the sins from their root, so that you will not be held guilty for the sins of your fathers.

According to this we can understand what Rashi says about “Chatzerot.” The first explanation is that he admonished them about the dispute of Korach, and the second explanation is that he reminded them about the lashon hara that Miriam spoke in Chatzerot against Moshe Rabbeinu.

In this manner Moshe Rabbeinu wished to warn Bnei Yisrael to distance themselves from dispute, and even more so when the dispute is not for the sake of Heaven. He hinted to them: Do not think that the dispute of Korach involved only lashon hara as in the sin of Miriam. The lashon hara of Miriam was for the sake of Heaven, and perhaps Korach thought that his intentions were for the sake of Heaven when he spoke against Moshe Rabbeinu. Therefore, Moshe mentioned that Korach spoke lashon hara to clarify that he also created an actual dispute, which was not for the sake of Heaven, and in truth, the lashon hara he said was also not for the sake of Heaven.

If the dispute of Korach had been for the sake of Heaven, perhaps he would have become the Kohen Gadol. But, since he disputed Moshe and Aharon, and disputed the kehuna, he was swallowed with his entire household and belongings into the earth. This is what Moshe warned the sons to beware of, that they should not be drawn into a dispute.

In essence, this is a lesson for the future. Also today, even one who observes Torah and mitzvot, if he is not in a place of Torah, not in a yeshiva, he is in danger. This is what Moshe told Bnei Yisrael: As long as you are in the Wilderness, and have not yet entered Eretz Yisrael, you are in danger and thus prohibited from repeating the mistakes that your fathers did.

Walking in Their Ways

The Fire of Faith

During one of the days of the hilula for the tzaddik, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, zy”a, a man sat down next to me, in order to share a l’chaim in memory of the tzaddik. This man had a brother who lived in Geneva, Switzerland, with whom I was acquainted. I took the opportunity to ask after this brother and offered the blessing, “May Hashem protect your brother from destruction by fire.” The man didn’t put too much thought on the wording of my berachah and simply replied, “Amen.”

The next day, he came to me in a most excited state. He related that precisely at the time that I had given this blessing, his brother was on the second floor of his house, with his entire family. Suddenly, they smelled fire. Hurrying to check the source, they found, to their distress, the entire lower floor consumed by flames. All of their possessions were destroyed.

Precious moments passed until the firemen came to put out the devastating fire. By the time they arrived, nothing was left, except for a picture of Rabbi Chaim Pinto and a pair of tefillin which I had once given this man.

In a most supernatural way, the entire family was saved from the fire. They immediately resolved to reinforce their Torah and mitzvah performance, as a token of thanks for their deliverance.

It is most wondrous how the words of the blessing came from my mouth. I had no idea that the family was in danger, so many thousands of miles away. It is definitely in the merit of the tzaddik’s hilula that the family was rescued.

Tuv Taam – Insights

During Menachem Av, we bless the new moon on Motzei Tisha B’Av.

The reason for this is because on Tisha B’Av Mashiach is born, and therefore we bless the new moon going forth and inform the moon and Am Yisrael that they are destined to be redeemed and renewed.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “The vision of Yeshayahu” (Yeshayahu 1)

The connection to Shabbat: The haftarah describes the penance that will come upon Bnei Yisrael with the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash due to their sins. This haftarah is the third haftarah of the three haftarot that we read during the three Shabbatot preceeding Tisha B’Av.

Guard Your Tongue

Acquiring Good Habits

One who aspires to guard his tongue should accustom himself not to draw after the crowds and not seek to hear the latest news. Slowly he should wean himself from wanting to listen to any gossip, until eventually, with Hashem’s help, he will acquire the trait of guarding his tongue. Then, when he will thereafter see a person transgressing the violation of lashon hara, he will be taken aback, because he will find it strange to violate its laws just as he would find it strange to violate any other prohibitions of the Torah.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Remedy for Destruction – Responsibility to One Another

“How can I alone bear your trouble and your burden and your quarrels?” (Devarim 1:12)

When Yirmeyahu mourned the destruction of the First Temple, he began with the outcry, “How does she dwell alone, the city teeming with multitudes?” The similarity of Yirmeyahu’s exclamation to that of Moshe’s, both using the word איכה – How? – indicates a connection between them.

The Shechinah rested in the Beit Hamikdash so that it could rest among the people. By involving themselves in Torah (Vayikra 26:3) and cleaving to Hashem, Bnei Yisrael cause the Shechinah to dwell among them. An awakening from below causes an awakening from Above (Zohar I, 77b), influencing all the people.

Conversely, when the people do not have the desire to come close to Hashem, there is no purpose for the Beit Hamikdash, which acts like a vessel to contain His Presence. This automatically results in destruction and exile.

One way of rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash is to build batei kenesset for prayer and batei midrash for learning Torah. We learn this from the pasuk, “And I have been for them a small sanctuary” (Yechezkel 11:15). The Gemara (Megillah 29a) explains that this refers to batei kenesset and batei midrash, which are called “sanctuaries.”

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai put this idea into practice. After the destruction of the Second Temple, he requested Yavneh and its Torah scholars (Gittin 56b). According to Rashi, he asked that this Torah city and its scholars would not be destroyed. He knew that the nation would be saved in this way. After the destruction, the yeshiva of Yavneh would rebuild the nation spiritually.

However, this was dependent on one condition: That the whole nation learn Torah. This is hinted in the letters ofכרם ביבנה  – the Vineyard of Yavneh. The wordכרם  has the same letters asמכר  – indicatingמכור  (sold). One must completely devote himself to Torah. Hashem says that He is, so to speak, sold together with the Torah (Shemot Rabbah 33:1). Then the nation will be rebuilt (as inferred by word Yavneh, rebuilt) and will experience the Shechinah resting upon them, since the Shechinah does not depart from the batei kenesset and batei midrash.

These ideas are interconnected. When one builds batei kenesset and batei midrash in order to build Torah, he increases wisdom, as “the more learning, the more wisdom” (Pirkei Avot 2:7). A wise man is preferable to a prophet (Bava Batra 12; Zohar I, 183b). The Torah is the ultimate wisdom and the core object. Through increasing the study of Torah, he merits receiving the Shechinah.

When Moshe exclaimed, “How can I alone bear…?” he was asking how he could come close to Hashem if the people did not want to. All Bnei Yisrael are responsible for one another (Sanhedrin 27b; Shevuot 39a). It is impossible for an individual to keep the 613 mitzvot. Some mitzvot apply only to Kohanim or Levi’im, some to a king, some only to a man, and others only to a woman. Because each member of the nation is connected to all others, and mutually responsible, everyone is able to collectively keep the entire body of mitzvot. Before performing a mitzvah, we say that we are doing it “in the name of all Israel.”

This sheds light on Yirmeyahu’s exclamation, “How does she dwell alone, the city teeming with multitudes?” How was it possible that Yerushalayim, the city filled with multitudes, was now bereft of people, her crown trampled in the dust? Why had the Shechinah departed from this bustling capital, toward which the eyes of all were turned? The answer is because she was “alone” – each person who dwelled within her gates lived for himself alone. There was no unity. No one felt the need to act “in the name of all Israel.” This is what caused the destruction.

Words of Wisdom

“These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel”

Rabbi Yochanan said; Doesn’t it already say, “These are the words” [so why the double language, adding “that Moshe spoke”]?

This is because when Hashem told Moshe to rebuke Bnei Yisrael, Moshe got very worried and said: In the beginning when I did not rebuke them besides for just one time, as it says, “Listen now, O rebels!” I was punished for my words, and Hashem said to me “therefore you will not bring the congregation to the Land that I have given them.” Now there is much more rebuke to deliver. How much more so [will I be blamed].

Thus, Hashem told him “Moshe speak!”

(Pitron Torah)

“These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel”

Chazal say: Hashem said to Moshe: Since they accepted your rebuke, you must now bless them. Immediately he turned to bless them.

How do we know? As it says, “Hashem, your G-d, has multiplied you and behold! you are like the stars of heaven in abundance,” etc.

From where do we know that one who accepts rebuke merits a blessing? Since Shlomoh Hamelech elucidates (Mishlei 24) “The reprovers should be pleasant, and a good blessing will come upon them.”

Hashem said to Yisrael: In this world you were blessed by others. In the future, I will bless you, as it says (Tehillim 67) “May G-d favor us and bless us, may He illuminate His countenance with us, Selah.”

(Midrash Rabbah)

“You shall command the people saying: You are passing through the boundary of your brothers the children of Eisav”

This is a warning for generations to come, not to incite the descendants of Eisav.

You are passing through the boundaries of your brothers the children of Eisav. Passing! And not settling, since calamity will come upon them in the future.

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel would say: If at a time when they feared [the Jews], Hashem warned “But you shall greatly beware for your souls,” now, when we are disbursed among them, how much more so.


When we seek to impart values and instill a pattern of behavior in our child, we must remember the good advice we received from our sages of blessed memory, who taught us the secret in instilling good values, saying that “things that derive from the heart will penetrate the heart.”

Every father or mother and educator, who sits and has heart-to-heart discussions with the child, discussing Torah and yirat Shamayim, is guaranteed that his words will enter deep in the soul of the child. However, there is one important condition: he must know the difference between the child’s actions and remarks “at that moment,” and the acquisition of values, which are not a reflection of the current behavior of the child.

For example, when a child is not behaving properly in the Beit Haknesset, or is not praying as he should, the father must know that this is not the right time to transmit to the child a lesson about correct behavior during prayer. At that point, the father may remind the child to pray properly, but he cannot teach him how one must stand in prayer in awe before the King of all kings, the Holy One. 

If every time, when the child’s eyes wander from his siddur, the father will cast him an angry look, clearly this angry look will not help in any way, but rather it will diminish the child’s desire to pray. “At the moment” the child is not capable of absorbing lessons, because at that moment he feels humiliation and is not receptive to rebuke. No one is prepared to have someone else dictate to him what to do.

The problem created (in our example) during such an occurrence is that at the moment when a child acts inappropriately, one’s natural instinct is to reprimand him immediately. Some parents and educators see this as an opportunity to deliver long lectures, explaining the seriousness of the matter, and so on. If this method would work, then all problematic children would be straightened out already in no time. 

One who reflects upon it will realize that all these speeches reach a brick wall. At that moment, the child is not capable of accepting any moral understanding of the subject. He will not receive constructive criticism for his actions. In his immature state, if he will get screamed at and rebuked, he will immediately feel an emotional need to defend himself. And when he is engaged in self-defense, his heart and mind are blocked from receiving criticism.

Thus, at the moment, it is permissible and even necessary to react. If the child did not obey us, certainly we must clarify immediately the gravity of the issue. But compliance at the precise moment is related to discipline: to educate the child, which is a separate issue. Instilling values is achieved in a different way. True, it is also related to values, such as when you see him hit his friend, you must reprimand him at that moment. You must impress upon him that such an act is not acceptable. But just inform him; this is not the time to explain the issue to him at length.

If “at the moment” is not the right time to explain the issue, let alone it is not the time to express surprise that the child is not well-behaved. This is something incredible. Often we see a father soundly scolding his son, “How dare you not listen to your father, what nerve! How dare you!... But you never clarified to him the issue of honoring his father and mother in an appropriate manner. When his ears were opened to hearing, and he was held in your embrace, you were silent. But at the time when he slips up, when he defied and disobeyed you, then you yell at him: “You don’t know by yourself that you have to listen to your father?!” And you expect him to understand and accept your rebuke? How? It is not realistic!

Men of Faith

Making the Match   

There was a young man who searched for many years to find a suitable wife. He prayed to Hashem to help him find his proper match. However, every suggestion that arose did not materialize.

One day, the young man came to Moreinu v’Rabbeinu and begged the honorable Rabbi to bless him that he should find his true mate quickly.

Rabbi David tells the rest of the story:

I made some inquiries on his behalf, and after a while, I suggested a match with a girl from Toronto. With the help of Hashem, I was able to organize all the arrangements for the young man to travel to Toronto in order to finalize their engagement. The families of the young man and the girl had already met, and the match would hopefully soon be concluded.

When the young man arrived in Toronto, he stayed with one of the members of the community. This man suggested a different girl for him as a wife, despite the fact that he had come specifically to see the girl that I had suggested. In the end, he got engaged to the girl whom his host had suggested.

Soon after, the family of the young man called to tell me the good news. At first, I was upset about the turn of events. After all, I had been convinced that his future lied specifically with the first girl in Toronto, and I had worked hard to organize all the arrangements. However, upon reflection, understanding that Hashem is the cause for everything that happens, I realized that He arranged that the young man should meet a different girl. This was the reason that he had come to Toronto. It was ordained in Heaven that he should meet the second girl and get engaged to her.  

A short while later, when I came to Toronto, my host told me that the family of the girl that I had originally intended for this young man was extremely upset, and the girl herself was distressed, since she did not end up getting engaged to him.

I arranged to visit the family and console them. I told them with conviction, “It is all from Heaven.”

The family’s sorrow tugged at my heart, and I beseeched Hashem that in the merit of my holy grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, a miracle should occur within the next two days, before I would leave Toronto, and the girl should find her true match.

That day, the father of the girl called excitedly to inform me that they had found a proper match for their daughter. She was scheduled to meet him in the evening.

Two days later, when I was in France, the parents called to let me know that the couple had gotten engaged, and were inviting me to their wedding, which would take place in three months.

All this was in the merit of Rabbi Chaim Hakatan. How wonderful are the ways of Hashem.


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