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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 — 31:10 remission

Every seventh year, the entire Jewish people were not permitted to work the land (Leviticus 25:1-6) This was a special miracle that G-d guaranteed in the Torah that they would not starve (Leviticus 25:19-22); this would be unworkable in a modern secular society. What did all the Jewish people do during that year, since they could not work the land and essentially had nothing else to do? It is believed that the Jews sat and learned Torah during the Shemitah year. Thus, while putting their trust in G-d to give them food, they also grew spiritually during this Sabbatical year. (This is the origin of the modern concept of sabbatical, in which some educational institutions realize the importance of educators "recharging your batteries" every seven years.) At the end of this year, during the following holiday of Sukkot, the king would gather the entire people and also teach them Torah [this and following verses]. The overall effect would be that the people who had been so involved in their "business" would begin to realize another, spiritual side of life when they were forced to take a break from the regular pattern of work. In addition, they also had to realize that not everything depended upon them, but upon G-d. Although this does not relate directly to the economic system, these ideas played a very important role in the overall attitude of the people to the economy.

DEUTERONOMY — 31:17 evils

[There are six motivations to repentance:] (1) When many troubles come upon a man he should commune with his heart, acknowledging that these troubles are the fruits of his ways and actions, and that his sins and evil ways have brought them upon him; and he should return to G-d, who will be compassionate to him, as it is written [this verse]: "And many evils and troubles shall come upon them, so that they will say on that day: 'Have these evils not come upon us because our G-d is not among us?'" And this type of repentance is accepted by G-d. This is not the case with men, for if one man sins against another and, when in dire straits, is regretful and humbles himself before him, requiring his help, this regret will be scorned by the other, as Yiftach said (Shoftim 11:7): "And why have you come to me now when you are in distress?" But it is among the lovingkindness is of the Blessed One that He accepts repentance resulting from affliction and that it finds favor with Him, as it is written (Hoshea 14:2): "Return, O Israel, to Hashem your G-d, for you have stumbled in your transgression," and (:5): "I shall heal their backslidings; I shall love them freely." And it is written (Mishlei 3:12): "For whom Hashem loves He chastises, and is reconciled with, as a father with his son." But if one does not repent in his affliction then his punishment is doubled, as in the case of a king of flesh and blood. If he chastises one who has sinned against him and the other refuses to except his chastisement, he will chastise him even more and place an even heavier yoke upon him. So with the Holy One Blessed be He, as it is written (Yayikra 26:18): "And if you will not for all this listen to me, then I will afflict you even more." And if he does not reflect that these evils come upon him because of his sins and considers them a chance happening, then he will be the object of great wrath, since he does not believe that he is being afflicted because of his sins.

DEUTERONOMY — 31:17 evils

The first way [by which man can arouse himself to return from his evil behavior] [is as follows]: When hardship befalls a person, he must take heed and acknowledge that this is the outcome of his conduct and actions, and that his sins have brought this upon him. He should return to Hashem, and He will be compassionate to him [Yeshayahu 55:7], as the pasuk says [this verse]. Observe human nature. If one were to offend another, and then, when in trouble, he were to express regret and be very accommodating because he needed his help, the other would look askance at such expressions of regret, as Yiftach said (Shoftim 11:7): "So why have you come to me now when you are in distress?" It is through Hashem's kindness that He accepts repentance resulting from distress--it finds favor before Him, and He responds with unconditional love to the sinner upon his return to Him on the day of reproof and from the midst of distress, as the pesukim say (Hoshea 14:2-5): "Return, Yisrael, unto Hashem your G-d; for you have stumbled on account of your sin. Take with you words [of confession]… I will heal their errant ways and love them unconditionally," and (Mishlei 3:12), "For Hashem admonishes the one He loves, and [then], as a father and a son, He will favor [him]."

DEUTERONOMY — 31:17 hide

Divine Providence is constantly watching over those who have obtained that blessing which is prepared for those who endeavor to obtain it. If man frees his thoughts from worldly matters, obtains the knowledge of G-d in the right way, and rejoices in that knowledge, it is impossible that any kind of evil should befall him while he is with G-d, and G-d with him. When he does not meditate on G-d, and when he is separated from G-d, then G-d is also separated from him; then he is exposed to any evil that might befall him; for it is only that intellectual link with G-d that secures the presence of Providence and protection from evil accidents. Hence it may occur that the perfect man is at times not happy, whilst no evil befalls those who are imperfect; in these cases what happens to them is due to chance. This principle I also find expressed in the law. Comp. [this verse]. It is clear that we ourselves are the cause of this hiding of the face, and that the screen that separates us from G-d is of our own creation. This is the meaning of the words: "And I will surely hide My face in that day, for all the evils which they shall have wrought." (Deuteronomy 31:18). There is undoubtedly no difference in this regard between one person and a whole community. It is now clearly established that the cause of our being exposed to chance, and abandoned to destruction like cattle, is to be found in our separation from G-d. (Maimonides).

DEUTERONOMY — 31:19 song

The central Book of Judaism, the Torah itself, is called a song, Shira [this verse]. Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin explains why the Torah is referred to by this term. He states that every song has lyrics and feelings that are implied beneath the surface and not plainly stated. So too, the Torah's main ideas and deeper concepts are not found in the plain text, but must be understood on a hidden, more subtle level, like a song. Ideas in the Torah, like in a song, are often intentionally illusive and implied, and not openly written (Ha'amek Davar, "Introduction to Genesis"). Perhaps, in addition, just as a song has many levels of understanding, the Torah is intended to be understood on many levels. And just as the song contains many feelings and moods within it and varies from person to person, so too, the Torah generates different feelings and moods for different people. Finally, just as the song inspires people, deeply moving them to action and change, so too, the Torah is meant to inspire individuals to act and to change.

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