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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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DEUTERONOMY — 4:2 add

It would be wrong to regard the many customs and observances that have been derived from Biblical Commandments as illegal additions coming under the ban of not adding to or subtracting from that which is written in the Torah [this verse]. This interdiction, as is plane from its context, applied only to individuals, not to the Sanhedrin or judges who were authorized to expand existing laws and to frame new ones, after they had carefully examined the changing conditions of the times. The stipulation was that they must conform to logical rules in harmony with the spirit of the Torah. R. Johanan b. Zakkai made new decrees after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Basing himself on Deuteronomy xvii. 8-11, he invested the Sanhedrin he established with supreme authority to present to the perplexed and despairing people a Jerusalem reinterpreted and adapted to the catastrophic change that had taken place in their national life. Furthermore, the Talmudic sages themselves declare that so decisive should the decrees of a Beth Din be that even when they inform us "that our right hand is our left, and our left our right", we must listen to them. (Continued at Deuteronomy 15:2 remission LEHRMAN 181-3)
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:4 alive

Ben Zoma said: ... Who is rich? -- he who is happy with his lot, as it is said: When you eat from the toil of your hands, happy shall you be, and it shall go well with you: (Psalms 128:2) happy in this world; and it shall go well with you in the world-to-come. Pirkei Avot, Perek IV, mishnah 1. … above all, a person can be happy with his lot in life only when he sees himself and his existence as part of some greater plan, when he knows that his task is to further those ultimate values which transcend petty human longings. Those who live only to gratify their own desires may soon belong among the wicked of whom the Talmud says that "even while they live they are ranked as dying." (T.B. Berakoth 18b; Midrash Rabbah, Genesis xxxix 7; Tanhuma, Yithro 1 and B'rachah 7 (ed. Buber 6). For these people, each day that passes is a day that has died, leaving nothing of lasting value behind. Each desire that is fulfilled marks a feeble emotional agitation that has perished. There is no build up or accumulation of anything significant, but only a countdown of many passions and whims that peter off into nothingness upon gratification. The wicked die a little bit each day. By contrast, says the Talmud, the righteous are called living even when they have passed beyond (T.B. ibid. T.J. ii 3; Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes ix 4; Tanhuma, B'rachah ibid.). They go on living beyond the grave; as Scripture tells us [this verse]. One time the righteous person will care for a sick human being in need. The next day he may provide for some orphan. The third day, perhaps he raises funds for a school of Torah. His is not a life of attrition, a wearing-down day by day; it is a life of building-up. His deeds add up to values and ideals that accumulate and increase in significance. The righteous person is alive each day because he furthers life each day. His presence contributes something lasting to this world, and this justly achieves for him immortality. To know that your life adds up to lasting significance, this indeed breeds happiness. Meeting a religious member of Jewry, you ask, "How are you?" The reply you receive is, baruch ha-shem, "Blessed is the Almighty": I am happy with my lot, thank the L-rd. This is the rich man.
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:4 cleave

Now is it possible to cleave to the Shechinah? Is it not written (24): "For the L-rd your G-d is a consuming fire"? But, if one weds his daughter to a Torah scholar, or engages in business on behalf of a Torah scholar, or benefits a Torah scholar from his possessions, Scripture accounts it to him as if he would cleave to the Shechinah (Ketuvoth 111b)
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:4 cleave

Now, we do not fulfill our duty to the Almighty merely by being fine and decent to our fellow. Justice, righteousness and loving-kindness are indeed the "foundations of His throne" (Psalms 97:2). But there is a further area of purely religious values, the depth of Divine worship and personal communion with the Almighty, which must not be overlooked. The prophet Micah remind us: "Man has told you what is good and what the L-rd requires of you: only to do justice, love kindness and humbly (vhatzne'a) walk with your G-d (Micah 6:8. This is usually translated, "He has told you, O man…" Or, "It has been told you, O man…" But the Hebrew can be equally rendered in the present translation.) The Hatham Sofer gives this ingenious interpretation: Man can tell you what is good and what the L-rd requires of you. Human reason can perceive the worth of certain moral values and urge justice and kindness as the religious life. However v'hatzn'ea: they "conceal"; they omit; they are totally incompetent to develop the concept of "walking with the Almighty." Human reason cannot generate, fathom or validate a halachah, a normative way of life in which the Almighty delights, through which man will surely "cleave to the Lord" [this verse, Joshua 23:8]. And so Rabbi Judah haNasi teaches: is it a path that is right in the sight of man and beautiful in the sight of your Creator.
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:4 cleave

On [this] verse: "But you who cleave to Hashem your G-d are alive every one of you this day," the Gemara (Kethuvoth 112a) comments: "Is it really possible to cleave to the Shechinah?--Is it not written (Ibid. v. 24): 'Hashem your G-d is a devouring fire?' The meaning is: Whoever gives his daughter in marriage to a Talmid Chacham and whoever engages in business with a Talmid Chacham (he invests the latter's money so that the scholar receives an income and is free to occupy himself with Torah study [Rashi], and whoever gives the benefit of his property to a Talmid Chacham is regarded by Scripture as if 'he cleaves to the Shechinah.'"
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:6 all

… it is imperative for us to teach the Children of Yehuda [ II Shmuel 1:18, I.e. the Jewish people] through instruction and documentation [Yeshayahu 8:20, I.e., through the Torah], the gravity of punishment for every sin and transgression.… I have seen how most of the nation perceives certain major iniquities as of minor significance, and [even] for those punishable by death and excision, diligence over them is (merely] considered an added virtue [Koheles 10:10] or one worthy [only] of the pious. People stumble, without taking it to heart [Iyov 4:20], and reproof is to no avail, as the pasuk says (Yeshayahu 48:8), "Even from then, your ear was not open." Therefore, we must exhort them and make them realize the severity of many of the transgressions, and that [even] with the lighter mitzvos there are many ways and aspects that can lead to absolute ruin [Yeshayahu 10:22] and the destruction of one's soul. Many wicked people will forsake their path, for they will become cognizant of the destruction and loss contained within that path, when made aware of the gravity of their sin and what awaits them through it. Those who stumble will gather strength to conquer their [lawless] desire--for how can they bear to witness the destruction of their soul? This situation can be compared to a person who wants to travel to a city and was told how the road is filled with thorns and snares [Mishlei 22:5] and painful rocks [Yeshayahu 8:14]. If he needs to be there, this will not deter him from going. However, if he is told that a lion is on the road and a leopard is lying in wait [Yirmeyahu 5:6], he will refrain from traveling that road. In a similar vein Shlomo, a"h, said (Mishlei 1:2), "To know wisdom and rebuke." [Some editions add the word lehavin; this seems to be an editor's mistake, as it belongs to the second part of the pasuk (Zeh Hasha'ar)]. The meaning of this is: suitable deeds [I.e. the performance of mitzvos] and forsaking one's sins are called "wisdom," as the pasuk says [this verse], "[You shall keep and do these laws,] for this is your wisdom and understanding. After he learns and knows the mitzvos and what the transgressions are [I.e., all of this is referred to as wisdom], he must learn the vile nature of those transgressions, and the loss and destruction associated with them, that he may distance his soul from them; and he may reprimand himself, remembering the punishments associated with them; and that he may chastise others. This knowledge is called mussar, and for those who offer reproof it will be fitting [Mishlei 24:25] to acquire such knowledge [I.e., reminding oneself and others of the punishments associated with transgression and the vile nature of sinning. See also the commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah to Mishlei 1:2].
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:6 peoples

From passages in the Book of Deuteronomy, it seems clear that moral principles like tzedek were regarded as "second-order" standards by which "first-order" rules and statutes were judged. Evidently, the Torah realized that there was nothing unique or terribly impressive in the mere fact of the people being given "statutes and judgments," no matter how elaborate or particular they may have been. The highly developed Hittite and West Semitic codes must have been known to the ancient Hebrews. What the Book of Deuteronomy did find noteworthy was the special moral quality of Israel's G-d-given "statutes and judgments" [Deuteronomy 4:5-8]. This remarkable passage assumes that each nation will have its own set of statutes and judgments but makes the bold claim that Israel's code will be acknowledged superior when judged by the moral standards of righteousness. This is also seen in the passage, "And ye shall judge the people with righteous judgment" (Deuteronomy 16:18).
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DEUTERONOMY — 4:6 proof

The superiority of Israel's G-d and His laws are used in Deuteronomy to convince Israel that obedience is the most reasoned response to G-d's demands. The unprecedented nature of Israel's exodus from Egypt and their survival of the awesome, fiery theophany at Sinai provide proof of this G-d's astonishing singularity (4:33-35). Further, His ethical nature is preeminent as the "G-d supreme and Lord supreme... Who shows no favor and takes no bribes, but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and defends [literally, "loves"] the stranger, providing him with food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:17-18; see also Psalm 146:7-9). Not surprisingly, then, the laws that Israel's moral G-d legislates for Israel are also ethically superior, and their observance will be proof of Israel's wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:5–8). In truth, Israel's laws were unique in the ancient Near East; in biblical law we find no vicarious punishment, no capital punishment for crimes against property, while slaves and bond–servants receive relatively generous treatment.
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