Parshas Vaeschanan-Summary of the Parsha

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Parshas Vaeschanan

Pesukim: 118 [Siman:עזיאל ]

Haftorah: Yeshayahu 40:1-26

 Number of Mitzvos:

There are a total of Twelve Mitzvos in Parshas Vaeschanan; Eight positive commands and Four negative commands. The following are the commands in the order listed by the Sefer Hachinuch.

 

A. Positive:

1. Mitzvah 417/Positive 173: To unify Hashem’s name in Shema Yisrael and accept his unity upon us.

2. Mitzvah 418/Positive 174: To love Hashem and contemplate his greatness until a love is aroused.

3. Mitzvah 419/Positive 175: To learn Torah.

4. Mitzvah 420/Positive 176: To read the Shema morning and evening.

5. Mitzvah 421/Positive 177: To don the hand Tefillin.

6. Mitzvah 422/Positive 178: To don the head Tefillin.

7. Mitzvah 423/Positive 179: To put Mezuzos on one’s doors.

8. Mitzvah 425/Positive 180: To destroy the seven Canaanite nations.

 

B. Negative:

1. Mitzvah 416/Negative 244: Not to covet the item of another even in one’s heart.

2. Mitzvah 424/Negative 245: Not to doubt or question the prophets.

3. Mitzvah 426/Negative 246: Not to have mercy on idolaters or find favor with their service.

4. Mitzvah 427/Negative 247: Not to marry a gentile.

 

Rishon

  1. Moshe pleads to Hashem to allow him to enter into Eretz Yisrael:
    • I [i.e. Moshe] implored Hashem at that time saying: “Hashem, you have begun showing your servant your greatness [in conquering Sichon and Og] let me now cross and see the good land on the other side of the Jordon. “Hashem became angry at me due to you (Bnei Yisrael) and replied that I may not enter and should not continue praying for it.”
    • Hashem shows Moshe the land: Hashem instructed Moshe to ascend a large cliff to see the land [of Eretz Yisrael] as he will not inherit it.
    • Encouraging Yehoshua as the new leader: Hashem instructed Moshe to command Yehoshua and strengthen him as he will lead the Jewish people to conquer the land.
    • Bnei Yisrael stayed in the valley opposite Beis Peor.

  1. Moshe commands Bnei Yisrael to follow the Torah:
  • Moshe tells the Jewish people to listen to the laws that he is teaching today so that they shall live and enter and inherit the promised land.
  • Lo Sosif: You shall not add or subtract to the Mitzvos.
  • Baal Peor: Bnei Yisrael’s own eyes witnessed that which happened to those who worshiped Baal Peor and how they were decimated and those who have attached to Hashem remained alive today.

 

Sheiyni

  • The Torah is our wisdom: The Torah is the wisdom of the Jewish people in the eyes of the nations. The nations will declare how wise the Jewish people are. There is no nation that is closer to Hashem than the Jewish people.
  • Remembering Matan Torah: We must never forget our witnessing of the giving of the Torah and are to teach it to our children. We stood under the mountain and a fire came out from the mountain until the heavens and Hashem’s voice came out from the fire. We were commanded 10 commands and they were written on two tablets of stone. Hashem commanded Moshe the remaining commands that he must tell the Jewish people.
  • One must guard his soul very much. Venishmartem Meod Lenafshoseichem.
  • Idolatry: Moshe warns Bnei Yisrael against performing idolatry. “One is not to make a replica of a human, male or female, or of an animal or bird or fish. Lest your eyes look at the heavens and you see the sun, moon and stars and worship them.
  • Hashem has removed you from the iron crucible of Egypt and chosen you as a nation.”
  • Moshe will not enter Eretz Yisrael: Hashem became angry with Moshe due to Bnei Yirael and told him that he will not enter Eretz Yisrael, although Bnei Yisrael will enter.
  • Prophecy that the Jewish people will go astray and their punishments:When you have many descendants and live long in the land, you will go astray and in corrupt ways, performing evil in the eyes of Hashem. I forewarn you today that you will perish from the land. Hashem will disperse you amongst all the lands and you will serve their gods. You will search for Hashem your G-d there and you will find him. Hashem is merciful, and He will not destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers.”
  • Moshe recounts the miracles Hashem has done and that there is nothing but Him: “Inquire and see, has there ever been a time that a nation has heard the voice of Hashem and taken one nation out from another with miracles and wonders. You have been shown today that Hashem is G-d and there is nothing aside for Him. Internalize this message into your heart.”

 

Shelishi

  1. Moshe separates three Arei Miklat:
  • Moshe then separated three Arei Miklat cities on the eastern side of the Jordon. The cities were built to serve as a refuge for the inadvertent killer, for him to escape to there and live. The names of these three cities are:
    • Betzer, which was in the land of Reuvein.
    • Ramos, which was in land of Gad.
    • Golan, which was in Bashan, in the land of Menasheh.
  • The Torah recounts the conquering of the lands of Sichon and Og.

 

Revi’i

  1. Moshe recounts the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai:
  • Moshe called all the Jewish people and told them to hear the commands of Hashem. Hashem made a covenant with us by Chorev. This covenant was not just made with our forefathers, but also with us. Hashem spoke to you on the mountain face to face from within the fire. I stood between Hashem and you at that time to relate to you Hashem’s words, as you feared the fire and did not ascend the mountain.

 

  1. Moshe repeats the Ten Commandments:
  • “I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of Egypt.
  • Do not have other deities. Do not make for yourselves an image or picture that is found in the heavens or earth, or underwater. Do not serve them, as I am a G-d of retribution who gives judgment against the third and fourth generation for those who hate Me, although I do kindness for a thousand generations for those who love me and fulfill my Mitzvos.
  • Do not recite Hashem’s name in vain.
  • Guard the Shabbos to sanctify it. Six days a week you shall work and on the seventh day it shall be a day of rest for Hashem. You shall not do any work, neither you or your son or daughter, or slave or animal. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and Hashem took you out with an outstretched arm. Therefore, He commanded you to keep the Shabbos.
  • Honor your father and mother so you live a long life on the land.
  • Do not murder.
  • Do not commit adultery.
  • Do not steal.
  • Do not testify falsely regarding a friend.
  • Do not covet the wife of a friend, nor shall you desire his house, slave, ox, donkey or any of his possessions.”

 

Chamishi

  1. Bnei Yisrael asked Moshe to speak instead of Hashem:
  • Hashem spoke the above words before you all, within a fog, and in a loud endless voice. He wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. When you heard the voice of Hashem, all your tribal leaders and elders approached me saying that you could no longer handle hearing the voice of Hashem, lest you die, as there is no one who can hear Hashem and stay alive. You asked me to be the intermediary to tell you of His commands. Hashem agreed to your request, saying that if only they would learn from here to fear Me all their days, so I can benefit their children forever. “Go tell them to return to their tents, but you [Moshe] shall remain with Me and I will teach you all the laws and commands that they shall perform in the promised land.”

 

Shishi

  1. The Parsha of Shema and Veahavta:
    • The Mitzvos of Achdus Hashem, Love, Torah learning, Shema, Tefillin, and Mezuza: “Hear Israel, Hashem is our G-d and Hashem is one. You shall love G-d with all your heart and soul and possessions. These words shall be on your heart and you shall teach it to your children and speak of them at home and on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them to your arm and eyes and write them on the doorposts of your homes and gates.”

  

  1. Moshe forewarns Bnei Yisrael not to forget Hashem after they conquer the land:
    • “Upon entering the promised land, you will find great cities that you did not build. The homes will be filled with all good, vineyards and olive orchards and you will eat and be satiated. Do not forget Hashem who took you out of Egypt. You shall fear Him and serve Him and swear by His name. You shall not stray after their gods, lest Hashem become angry with you and destroy you from the land. Do not test Hashem like you did in Massah. Do the fair and proper in the eyes of G-d.”

 

  1. The question of the wise son [i.e. Chacham]:
    • “When your son asks you tomorrow as to why we keep these laws, you are to answer him that we were slaves in Egypt and Hashem took us out with miracles and a mighty hand. He did this in order to bring us to the Promised Land where we can keep His commands.”

 

Shevi’i

  1. Moshe commands Bnei Yisrael to destroy all the nations of the land of Canaan:
  • “When you enter the promised land, Hashem will drive out many nations from before you who are greater and mightier than you. They will be given to your hands and you are to annihilate them completely. You shall not make a covenant with them or have them find favor in your eyes.
    • Intermarriage: Do not marry them. Do not give them your daughter in marriage and do not take as a wife for your son from amongst them. They will cause your son to go astray and serve other gods. Hashem will then become angry with you and hurriedly destroy you.
    • You are to destroy all of their idols and their accessories, such as their altars, statues, trees of idolatry and idols.”

 

  1. Hashem expresses His love for the Jewish people:
  • “You are a holy nation onto Hashem who has chosen you as a treasure amongst all people that roam the earth. He did not choose you because you are greater, as in truth you are smaller, but rather because He loved you and due to the covenant that He made with your forefathers. You shall know that Hashem is trusted to safeguard the covenant for a thousand generations for those who keep his Mitzvos, and to punish. You shall guard the Mitzvos that I commanded you today.”

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