by L. Jungerman
This is My Consolation in my Misery
This week contains the portion of the tochochoh, the
Divine Rebuke. The Midrash asks in Parshas Re'ei
why the baal korei does not interrupt the Torah reading
before he has completed the entire Rebuke and its curses. In
other words, why is it that the person who is called up to
that section must bear going through the entire gamut of
curses, when these could have been divided up among the others
who are called up before and after him? It replies: Said R'
Chiya ben Gamda: This is because it is written, `The rebuke of
Hashem, my son, do not despise' -- do not reduce the rebukes
to chopped up chunks.
Shem MiShmuel explains this thought in the name of his
father, author of Avnei Nezer, saying that the curses
are not an end in of themselves. Rather, they are an opening,
an aperture and doorway to a person to repent through them, as
it is written in Iyov, "And he revealed/exposed their
ear to rebuke." And if this is true, and the purpose of the
curses and their reading is not an end in and of themselves
but rather as a door to something else, there is no point in
breaking them up. To do so can be compared to a person who
comes to a place but remains standing in the doorway.
Among the responsa of the Radvaz we find the question: Why
does the Rebuke in Parshas Bechukosai end with words of
consolation, "And even with this all, when they will be in the
land of their enemies, I will not despise them or repulse them
to annihilate them, to renege upon My covenant with them. And
I will remember My covenant with Avrohom . . . ", but in the
Rebuke of this week's portion, we find no such words of
comfort and reassurance? The Radvaz replies that the greater
measure of consolation is in the very fact that "Hashem will
make your plagues remarkable" (28:59).
This begs explanation. Wherein lies the consolation in the
fact that Hashem's Name is here mentioned? Can we make the
mistake to think that in the Rebuke of Bechukosai where
His Name is not mentioned, that it is not He Who strikes and
R' Shmuel Weintraub zt'l, rosh yeshivas Novardok in
Pinsk, says: We know, as established by the Ramban, that the
first Rebuke refers to the Jewish exile after the destruction
of the First Temple when the Jews transgressed the three
cardinal sins of the Torah, headed by that of idolatry. We
know that the verses of rebuke in Bechukosai refer to
"If you shall despise My statutes to violate them . . . " And
there it states: "I shall destroy your high places and I shall
cut down your images." The Rebuke here in Ki Sovo, says
the Ramban, is directed to this present exile, for it does not
even hint at any specified end to the exile. All it says is
that they [the Jews] will [eventually] repent and return, and
be subsequently redeemed.
Therefore, says R' Shmuel, it was necessary in the first
rebuke to promise that zchus ovos, the merit of our
ancestors, would not be depleted. "And I shall remember My
covenant [with] Yaakov . . . " for there was the fear that the
Rebuke might not be taken in the correct spirit: as
mussar designed to improve the Jews and restore them to
the good. For those who served idols are prone to think that
the world is indeterminate, happenstance and without design.
They are liable to see whatever is happening around them as
chance and circumstance [a mere toss of the dice]. Therefore,
it was necessary to have ancestral merit as a guarantee that
there would be an end to that exile.
The present exile we are in, ever since the destruction of the
Second Temple, stems from baseless hatred and not from a lack
of faith in Hashem. Thus, the greatest consolation that can be
had for the punishments described in the Rebuke is the very
knowledge that "Hashem shall make your plagues remarkable."
These are the blows inflicted through love, for the purpose of
getting us back on the true path, and this is our very comfort
in our misery.
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