Friday, August 12, 2016

Place association

The name of the last book of Torah and the first parsha it contains comes from the second word in  it, a reference to the words that Moshe spoke to his people at the end of his life. Rashi explains why it used the term devarim.

These are the words: Since these are words of rebuke and he [Moses] enumerates here all the places where they angered the Omnipresent, therefore it makes no explicit mention of the incidents [in which they transgressed], but rather merely alludes to them, [by mentioning the names of the places] out of respect for Israel (cf. Sifrei). אלה הדברים: לפי שהן דברי תוכחות ומנה כאן כל המקומות שהכעיסו לפני המקום בהן, לפיכך סתם את הדברים והזכירם ברמז מפני כבודן של ישראל:


My grandfather asks, why the allusive approach? Multiple times in the Torah we see that Moshe rebuked Bnai Yisrael directly. My grandfather suggests an answer based on another Rashi 2 verses later: 

יהי בארבעים שנה בעשתי עשר חדש באחד לחדש:מלמד שלא הוכיחן אלא סמוך למיתה. ממי למד, מיעקב שלא הוכיח את בניו אלא סמוך למיתה. אמר, ראובן בני, אני אומר לך מפני מה לא הוכחתיך כל השנים הללו, כדי שלא תניחני ותלך ותדבק בעשו אחי. ומפני ארבעה דברים אין מוכיחין את האדם אלא סמוך למיתה, כדי שלא יהא מוכיחו וחוזר ומוכיחו, ושלא יהא חבירו רואהו ומתבייש ממנו וכו' כדאיתא בספרי. וכן יהושע לא הוכיח את ישראל אלא סמוך למיתה, וכן שמואל, שנאמר (ש"א יב, ג) הנני ענו בי. וכן דוד את שלמה בנו:

And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month [… Moses spoke]: This teaches us that he rebuked them only a short while before his death. From whom did he learn [to do] this? From Jacob, who rebuked his sons only a short while before his death. He said, “Reuben, my son, I will tell you why I have not reproved you [for your shortcomings] during all these years: So that you would not leave me and join my brother, Esau.” And for four reasons, one should not reprimand a person except shortly before one’s death: So that one should not rebuke and again have to rebuke him, so as not to cause his friend to feel ashamed when he sees him; etc. These appear in Sifrei . And similarly, Joshua rebuked Israel only shortly before his death (cf. Joshua 24:1-29), and so, Samuel, as it is said, “Behold, testify against me” (I Sam. 12:3) and so, also, David rebuked his son Solomon only shortly before his death (see I Kings 2:1-10). 


For this reason, Moshe does not rebuke them explicitly for the sins of the places here, for he had already rebuked them openly at the time.  Here there is only an allusion suggested by the association with place but not a direct rebuke that would repeat what had already been delivered.  My grandfather also cites Midrash Rabba 1:5 that says G-d said to Moshe that as Yisrael accepted his rebuke upon  themselves he has to bles them. That he blessed them in verse 11: " יֹסֵף עֲלֵיכֶם כָּכֶם אֶלֶף פְּעָמִים וִיבָרֵךְ אֶתְכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לָכֶם
[ May G-d] add to you a thousandfold as many as you are, and may He bless you, as He spoke concerning you!" indicates that they had already accepted rebuke. 



No comments: