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


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DEUTERONOMY — 32:1 listen

It was taught: Why did Moses call heaven and earth to bear witness over Israel? He said to them: Observe the heavens and the earth. Though they were not made to be rewarded or punished, they do not deviate from their assigned path. You, who if you are meritorious, are rewarded, and, if you sin, are punished -- how much more so should you not deviate from your assignment path! (Sifrei)

DEUTERONOMY — 32:2 rain

We should not despair if our admonition does not bring about an immediate change. Words of admonition are analogous to rain. When rain falls on trees and plants, growth is not noticeable immediately. It takes time for the rain to have a visibly effect. So too with admonition. Very often you will try to improve someone, but you will not see a change in that person. Keep trying. If you are sincere, eventually you will notice an improvement. (Rabbi Bunim of Parsischo)

DEUTERONOMY — 32:4 just

… Shlomo HaMelech, may peace be upon him, says (Koheles 12:14): For G-d will bring every action to justice.…" Just as the Holy One blessed be He does not allow any good deed, however small, to go unrewarded, He will not allow any bad deed, however small, to go unjudged or unchastised. The purpose of this verse, furthermore, is to counteract the thoughts of those who would be tempted to believe that the Master , blessed be He, will not include in His judgments the lighter offenses and will not require an accounting of them. But in fact, this is one of our fundamental truths (Bava Kamma 50a): "Whoever says that the Holy One blessed be He overlooks things will have his innards overlooked." And similarly they said (Chagigah 16a): "If the evil inclination says to you, 'Sin and the Holy One blessed be He will be forgiving,' do not listen to him!" This is self-evident and clearly spelled out because the Eternal is a G-d of truth. This is what Moshe Rabbeinu, may peace be upon him, said [this verse]: "The Rock, His actions are perfect, for all His ways are just. A faithful G-d, without injustice.…" Since the Holy One blessed be He wants [a world of] justice, it would be a violation of justice to turn a blind eye either to merit or to misconduct. Consequently, if there is meant to be justice, He must repay each person in accordance with his conduct and the results of his actions – both for good and for bad, with the strictest of precision. This is what our Sages of blessed memory said (Ta'anis 11a): "'A faithful G-d, without iniquity, righteous and fair is He' [this verse] – for the righteous [as well] as the wicked." This is the standard, and He judges everything and punishes each sin. And no one can escape from this. You might ask how the attribute of compassion enters into all of this, since in all cases justice must be precise. The answer is that the attribute of compassion is undoubtedly holding up the world, without which the world could not exist at all. Nonetheless, this does not rule out [the function of] the attribute of justice. For according to the letter of the law, the sinner should be punished immediately, subsequent to his sinful act, without any delay. Furthermore, the punishment should be [meted out] with anger, since it is directed against one who has rebelled against the words of the Creator, blessed be His Name, and there should be no way whatsoever to atone for the sins. (How, in fact, can a person rectify that which he has ruined once the sin has been committed? For example, if a person has killed another, [or] has committed adultery, how can this be rectified? Can he purge from reality the act which has been done?) The attribute of compassion, however, yields the opposite of the three things mentioned above: Time is extended to the sinner and he is not destroyed as soon as he has sinned; the punishment itself will not be total; the possibility of repenting will be granted to the sinner as an act of benevolence, so that the uprooting of the penitent's will, should be equivalent to the uprooting of the deed. This means that since the penitent recognizes his sin, admits his guilt and ponders his wrongdoing, repents and totally regrets all that he has done from the outset [as in the declaration of regret over a vow that was taken) so that his regret is so complete that he wishes the deed had never been done and he is filled with terrible anguish that it was done, and from he severs himself from it, and flees from it – then the willful uprooting [of the deed] will be like the uploading of the vow and it will be an effective act of atonement for him. This is what Scripture says (Yeshayahu 6:7): "And your iniquity will disappear and your sin will be atoned for." This means that the sin will literally disappear from reality and will be uprooted retroactively, as a result of one's current anguish and his regret over the past. This surely is benevolence, for it goes beyond the letter of the law. Nonetheless, it is a benevolence that does not undermine the attribute of justice completely. For it allows for the assumption that the satisfaction and pleasure derived from sinning have now been replaced with regret and anguish. Similarly, the extra time granted [between the sin and the punishment] is not an instance of tolerance towards sinful behavior, but rather a brief waiting period to allow one the opportunity to adopt corrective measures.

DEUTERONOMY — 32:4 just

The problem of theodicy receives its fullest biblical treatment in the Book of Job. Here, as elsewhere in the Bible, the form in which the problem is presented is not such as to seek an explanation for suffering or evil in general, but rather to focus on the suffering of the righteous. Judaism never strayed away from the belief in the moral quality and purposive nature of G-d's will. However, men are compelled to question the justice of G-d, and indeed the entire world order, once we contemplate the fate of a Job. The challenge of Job's experience consists precisely in this. The tzaddik in Job believes in G-d. The thinker in Job accepts G-d's existence but demands that we separate G-d from ideas of morality and justice. For it appears clear that G-d's rule is not moral. The Book of Job rejects the separation. Once G-d appears to Job and causes him to experience the "grace of revelation," G-d's concern for the world is clear. Job is now able to accept the principle that G-d's ways are hidden from men. Out of an "immediate certitude of divine majesty," Job regains his faith in the meaningfulness of G-d's acts. The Bible's last word on the problem of theodicy is that, all experience to the contrary, the concept of G-d necessarily includes the moral idea. (Y. Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel, (trans. M. Greenberg (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960) p. 338; J. Guttmann, Philosophies of Judaism (New York: Holt, Rinehard & Winston, 1964) p. 15). "For all His ways are justice… just and right is He" [this verse].

DEUTERONOMY — 32:6 acquired

R. Chanina b. Pappa said: If one derives benefit from this world without a blessing, it is as if he would rob the Holy One Blessed be He and the congregation of Israel, as it is written (Proverbs 28:24): "One who robs his father and mother and says that it is not a sin is a companion to the destroyer," "his father" being the Holy One Blessed be He, as it is written: "Is He not your father, who acquired you?" (Berachoth 35b)

DEUTERONOMY — 32:6 father

… certainly this love [of G-d] must not be conditioned upon anything, such as loving the Creator, blessed the He, because He is good and grants wealth and success. Rather, it must be like the instinctual love of a son for his father, whereby his nature forces him and compels him to feel this way, as it says [this verse]: "Is He not your father Who acquired you?" The test of this type of love comes in times of distress and suffering. Our Sages of blessed memory have said (Berachos 54a): "'You shall love the Eternal, your G-d, with your whole heart and with your entire being' (Devarim 6:5) even if He takes your life;' and with all your might' (ibid.) means with all of your monetary possessions."

DEUTERONOMY — 32:7 tell

Rabbi Dosa ben Horkinas said: … children's talk … removes a man from the world. Pirkei Avot, Perek III, mishnah 14. There is always a wide gulf between the generations. The older father or grandfather represents an age gone by; no one is interested any longer in the way things were done in his time. He is invariably, inevitably "old-fashioned." What, indeed, can he have in common with the younger generation? As a rule, very little, unless, wishing to be "modern" at all costs, he learns to manage "children's talk": he comes to discuss baseball standings, the latest movies, etc. No member of our people, however, need be reduced to such a state. If he gives his children a traditional Jewish education, and they in turn transmit it to their children, he can always talk with the young ones about something ever fresh and timely in Bible or Talmud. Grandchildren and grandparents then have Torah and Jewish life in common. "Ask your father, and he will inform you; your grandfathers, and they will tell you" [this verse]. Indeed, this sharing of values and ideas truly reinstates grandfather, not as the tolerated "old man," but as the revered and respected head of the family, the fountainhead and source of tradition.

DEUTERONOMY — 32:15 fat

How ugly and loathsome is the action of the rich man insulting the poor and being insolent towards the Holy One, blessed because He, because of his wealth. This is the quality of the wicked who are insolent towards the Holy One, blessed be He, because of peace and wealth, as it is said, "When they were fed, they became full, they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they have forgotten Me" (Hosea 13:6). It is also said (this verse). A wise man said: There are two qualities that are evil, when the donor is proud of his gift and the rich man is haughty in his riches.

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