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YIP Parsha Project Parshat Va'etchanan

08/08/2014 09:00:20 AM


YIP Parsha Project

Parshas Va'eschanan

By the Chaitovsky Family


This coming week we are privileged to be reading Parshas Va'eschanan , a parsha that discusses  a dozen mitzvos, such as the mitzvah of Shema Yisrael, yichud Hashem (the oneness of G-D), the mitzvah of talmud Torah, the mitzvahs of tefillin, the mitzvah of mezuzah, the prohibition of intermarriage, etc.,  in addition to the  Aseres Hadibros (Ten Commandments).

This Shabbos which is also referred to as Shabbos Nachamu, (named primarily due to the first word in the Haftorah read this Shabbos) is the beginning of the seven Shabbatot of comfort, prior to Rosh Hashanah.  (Yes, there are only seven weeks until Rosh Hashanah). It is notable that, there are only three Shabbatot that are called by their Haftorah name, (the other two being Shabbos Chazone and Shabbos Shuva), but it is Shabbat Nachamu that always coincides with Parshas Va'eschanan. The question we can ask ourselves is “How is it that with all the richness of the Parsha, why not refer to this Shabbos as Shabbos Shema or Shabbos Matan Torah or Shabbos Aseres Hadibros?” Aren’t these three concepts so important in that every minute of every day, they guide us on how to live our lives?


In my opinion, by referring to this Shabbos only as Shabbos Nachamu, it teaches us a most important lesson. We have experienced a horrific loss with the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash and we remain in Galut (exile) all due to how we conducted ourselves and our individual acts of Sinat Chinum, baseless hatred of one another. Unfortunately, human nature is such that we tend to remember all of the devastation and the reason for it, just on Tisha B’av, and then eventually go on with our busy daily lives, as so often happens after one experiences sad events. But the lesson from this Shabbos supersedes all. This Shabbos is only called Shabbos Nachamu to emphasize that just as Shema and the Aseres Hadibros are our foundations and help guide our beliefs and our lives every minute of every day, so too, until we merit the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash, our devastating loss and why it happened needs to be with us and a part of us, every minute and every day of our busy lives.  


So what can we do to show that we have a daily connection to the destruction and the cause behind it?  Maybe we can start by looking to better ourselves every day.


Let’s look to the Parsha.


It isn’t by chance that the shabbos referred to as Shabbos Nachamu, the shabbos of consolation or comfort, also includes the Parsha of Shema.


The first paragraph of the Shema (Devarim 6:4-9) is "ve'shinantam l'banecha," and you are to teach them to your children. The Talmud teaches that in this verse "banecha," literally your children, refers to "talmidecha - your students." The effective teacher is the one who looks at their students as if they are their children. There is an incredible love that a father and mother have for their children, and that is the love that a teacher has to have for teaching their students.

The very next verse is, "U'kshartam l'os al yadecha ve'hayu le'totafos bein einecha - and you are to bind them for a sign on your hand and they are to be a remembrance between your eyes", a reference to tefillin. Thus, in the first paragraph of the Shema the mitzvah of talmud Torah precedes the mitzvah of tefillin.

Interestingly, in the second paragraph of the Shema these two mitzvos appear in the exact opposite order. First the Torah states (Devarim 11:18), "u'kshartem osam le'os al yedchem - and you are to bind them for a sign on your hand", i.e. you are to first put on tefillin, and then the very next verse proclaims, "ve'leemad'tem osam es bneichem - and you are to teach them to your children", referring to the teaching of one's biological children. Why is it that in the first paragraph, when discussing the teacher-student relationship, the mitzvah of talmud Torah precedes that of tefillin whereas in the second paragraph when we are talking about the obligation of a parent to his own children, the order of these two mitzvos is reversed?

The teacher has to teach - that is their profession. They prepare lesson plans in advance on a variety of topics, including the mitzvah of tefillin, and the instruction precedes action. A parent also has to teach, however a parent teaches, first and foremost, by example. The parent is the role model for his child. Therefore, a parent teaches about tefillin by making sure the child sees his father putting on tefillin.


Rabbi Yudin of Shomrei Torah in Fairlawn NJ, relates a story of a certain gentleman who davened in the same beis medrash as the late Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l , who would bring his child to the beis medrash and would spend a lot of time shushing the child to make sure that he behaved properly. Rav Moshe asked the man, "What are you doing?" The man responded, "I am teaching him how to daven." Rav Moshe replied, "Don't shush, JUST DAVEN, and he will learn to daven from you." We sometimes lose focus of how much our children learn from us, less so from our words and more so from watching our actions. Role models are important, everyone should have one, and everyone should be one.

The gemara in Maseches Brachos summarizes this message saying, "gadol shimusho yoser mi'limudo" - not only is it significant to study Torah from a qualified teacher, but it is even more significant to spend time with such a teacher in order to observe how they act and learn from their behavior, and hopefully uplift our way of life as well. We all have to be conscious, that whether we like it or not, we are all role models and we have to seriously focus on what type of role models we really want and need to be. How we act is how our children will act and how their children will act! One person can impact many generations.


I pray for this Shabbos Nachamu to be a meaningful and comforting time for all of us, fulfilling the command of ve'shinantam l'banecha together with ve'limad'tem osam es bneichem, encouraging  us to be ideal role models for our children by acting in a way which is worthy of duplicating.


And, let us all pray together, that this past Tisha b’av be our last Tisha Bav of mourning and that there will no longer be a need for a Shabbos of consolation.

Shabbat Shalom

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