What’s In It For Me?

August 27, 2021
Elul 19, 5781
Candlelighting Time 7:20 PM

            Moshe declares to the people that today you have become a nation! What changed so dramatically that the Jewish nation had reached this new stage of prominence? They were about to enact the scene whereas half of the nation would stand on one mountaintop and the other half would mount the other. Blessings and curses would be pronounced, and we were going to accept these specific responsibilities that would culminate in the final blessing /curse stating that we need to uphold the Torah to the fullest. Netziv therefore explains that this new level of accountability would transform us in to ‘guardians’ of the veneration of Hashem’s kingship entrusting us with the mission to convey that reverence to the world at large. Predominantly, the elders of the generation and the esteemed Torah scholars would be tasked with this honorable and magnificent initiative. It is the nobility of the nation that is referred to that bestows greatness and pride upon our nation.

             After the long and harrowing rebuke in this week’s parsha should we transgress the Torah, Moshe then states that Hashem did not give us an understanding heart, eyes with insight and ears with which to comprehend until this very day. Rashi explains that he heard that on that very day Moshe conferred the Torah to the tribe of Levites. Immediately, the rest of the nation badgered him that they also stood by Mt. Sinai at the time that the Torah was given and why was he awarding them control of the Torah? At this juncture, Moshe was pleased with their interference and realized that they had indeed reached a new level of appreciation for Hashem and the Torah. Rashi continues that this episode indicated that they were truly intimately connected to Hashem. Rashi prefaces this account explaining that through the usefulness of their heart, eyes and ears they now recognized the kindness that Hashem had bestowed upon them and that enabled them to cleave strongly to Hashem. This connection between Hashem’s kindness and their desire to connect with Him is not readily understood.

            The Vilna Gaon explains that there are three avenues with which we can attain a level of faith in Hashem. They are seeing, hearing and understanding. When we witness wondrous events that occur, we are jolted with the realization of Hashem’s omnipresence in the world. Our understanding refers to our ability of comprehensive evaluation of all that is transpiring. And our hearing is not alluding to our audial intake rather our allegiance to the rich legacy of Torah that has been conveyed for thousands of years through our Sages and Prophets. With strengthened faith, we then deeply discern and appreciate Hashem’s ongoing intervention in our lives which is an expression of loving kindness that has sustained us throughout many generations of vicissitudes that we have encountered and surmounted. If we direct ourselves to search for Hashem, that outreach results in appreciation and gratefulness for all that we have. And certainly, an internal chord of allegiance and resoluteness peals and that climaxes with a sincere desire to cherish the supremacy and magnitude of Hashem.


When we shouted to Hashem for help then we were rescued from the Egyptian bondage. Dire straits motivate us to cry out for assistance to Hashem and then we merit His intervention.      CHOFETZ CHAIM