An Uplifting Experience

Av 29, 5782
August 26, 2022
Candlelighting Time 7:22 PM

            We are commanded to recognize the ramifications of our actions. If we adhere to the Torah, then we will merit blessing. However, if we veer away from performance of the mitzvos, then, Heaven forbid, we are subject to a curse. The two mountains Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Eival were the setting for this experience. Rashi explains that the twelve tribes were divided into two sections, half were standing on one mountain and the other half on the other. The tribe of Levites stood in the middle and pronounced the 11 blessings toward Mt. Gerizim and voiced the 11 curses toward Mt. Eival. Nachmonides takes exception to this explanation because the Torah doesn’t mention right way this protocol, but it states to place the blessing and curses on the respective mountains before we know what that means. Therefore, he understands that the point of ‘placing the blessings and curses’ on the mountains is cautioning us to clearly grasp the consequences of harkening to the voice of Hashem. Then we will enjoy Hashem’s countenance of graciousness and pleasantness and if not, then our actions will condemn us and we will unfortunately suffer those retributions mentioned in the Torah due to our poor selection of lifestyle.

            Be’er Yosef, Reb Yosef Salant, questions why it is was necessary to divide the nation and furthermore, why was the tribe of Levites at the base of the mountains and the twelve tribes were standing on top of the mountains? He cites the Talmud’s dictum that we must constantly view ourselves as though we are at a half-way mark of merits and debits and our next action is crucial. Furthermore, we must deem that the entire world is also at such a juncture. Our next move can actually influence the status quo of the entire world. The onus of responsibility that is placed upon each and everyone is tremendous and we must conduct ourselves accordingly.

            Perhaps now we can understand Rashi’s approach to the parsha with more clarity. Of course Rashi is in full agreement with Nachmonides that at this point as they prepared to cross over the Jordan and enter into the Land of Israel they were accepting the responsibility of their actions and furthermore to be concerned about their fellow man to assure that each person fulfills his duties to their utmost. Be’er Yosef explains that the division of the tribes was to impress upon the nation the message that we must realize that we are always at the half-way mark and prudently select our actions. The Levites declared the blessings and the curses as though they were addressing the people and exhorting them to make mature and well thought-through decisions.                                                                  

This thought is visibly evinced by the comment of the Sforno. He explains you should place the blessing on Mt. Gerizim meaning that those who follow the Torah will be blessed and those who transgress the Torah will be cursed. This was the exact message that Rashi conveys as well in discussing that the Levites faced both mountains and espoused this maxim to the entire nation!

This Shabbos marks the beginning of the month of Elul, an intense period of introspection preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let us take to heart this exhortation and begin to assess and reevaluate our relationship with Hashem.Subsequently, when the New Year will be upon us we will greet it appropriately and merit a year of health, happiness and only nachas from each other and our respective families.                                                                                                                                         BYTE FOR SHABBOS

The Torah commands us to build a Succah for ‘ourselves’. The Succah is temporary and prepares us to have a mindset to ‘build’ for ourselves our true place in the Next World.                   TUV TA’AM V’DAAS