Home August 2013 Making It Real

Making It Real

The entire book of Devarim differs from the other four books of the chumash as it is addressed to the generation who were about to enter the holy land.  These people needed counsel and caveat in a way that the previous generation did not.  It is understood that the people who traveled in the wilderness possessed an immediate knowledge of the Divine – they had seen God on Sinai!  But the succeeding generation, already touched by its responsibilities in the physical world, lost that “immediacy.”  People heard God but did not see Him.  They were addressed in the words, “And now, Israel, listen . . .”  The difference between seeing and hearing is that someone who witnesses an event is unshakable in his testimony about it.  He has seen it with his own eyes.  But one who hears about an event may eventually entertain doubts.  Hearing does not confer certainty.  This is why the generation who were to enter Eretz Yisroel — who heard but did not see God — had to be commanded about self-sacrifice and the like, a warning that would have been superfluous to the people in the wilderness.  They were about to reach a goal that was unattainable for their fathers who were told, “You have not, as yet, come to the rest and to the inheritance the Lord, your God, has given to you.”
Shiloh and Jerusalem were reached only by that later generation.  Because only by the descent into material concerns can God’s will be translated into practical action.  In short, Devarim tells us of the paradox that through descent comes true uplifting: the highest achievements of the spirit are won in earthly and not in heavenly realms.
In discussing the differences between Heaven and earth, Parsha Ekev allows us to explore the miracle of manna from a few angles.  The Ramban teaches that each day the Israelites had to worry about getting the manna and whether it would be sufficient to sustain themselves and their families.  It was a strange, unfamiliar food, not given in great abundance and not able to be stored.  No other food or food source was available, and there was no way out of the desert.  Trust in God became ingrained in their hearts and minds, making the generation born in the desert worthy of crossing over into Eretz Yisroel.
Unlike other miracles, the miracle of the manna was apparent.  The order of nature was reversed as food came from the sky instead of the ground and dew came forth from the earth instead of from the sky.  The blessings that we say before and after food are intended to show us that our “normal” means of sustenance is no less a miracle.  As the Ramban observes, “Man’s own deeds do not automatically give rise to favorable effects or otherwise.  But the reward and punishment alluded to in the Torah in this world are in the nature of miracles, hidden ones that the onlookers regard as the workings of nature.  But in reality, they are the providential allocation of reward and punishment.”

From the Torah to Your Table
Regarding chinuch – education – the Rambam says, “He whose father did not have him taught is obliged to teach himself when he reaches the age of discernment.  Learning precedes action, for learning leads to action; action does not necessarily lead to learning.”

A Final Thought
The Chofetz Chaim said: “He who believes will not be troubled by doubts and as for him who does not believe?  Explanations will be of no avail.”

August 2013
AV-ELUL 5773
Candle Lighting Times
and Torah Portions
Friday, August 2
Light candles at 7:33 p.m.
Saturday, August 3
Torah Portion: Re’eh
(Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)
Friday, August 9
Light candles at 7:27 p.m.
Saturday, August 10
Torah Portion: Shoftim
(Deuteronomy 16:18-21:19)
Friday, August 16
Light candles at 7:19 p.m.
Saturday, August 17
Torah Portion: Ki Tetze
(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)
Friday, August 23
Light candles at 7:11 p.m.
Saturday, August 24
Torah Portion: Ki Tavo
(Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)
Friday, August 30
Light candles at 7:02 p.m.
Saturday, August 31
Torah Portion: Nitzavim-Vayelech
(Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

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