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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 — 33:1 blessed

We are elevated when we find merit in others. The Midrash comments on this verse: "Whoever speaks out in defense of the Jewish people is elevated. We have proof from Moshe. Moshe was not called 'the man of G-d' until he spoke in defense of the Jewish people." (Moshe pointed out the loyalty of the Jewish people to G-d--see verses three and four and Rashi.) (Psikta D'Rav Kahane). Anyone can find fault with others. True greatness is to see the good points of others.

DEUTERONOMY — 33:1 man

Although we should forgo pleasures ourselves, we should try to give others pleasure. The Midrash comments that Moshe's upper half was G-dly; Moshe's lower half was human (Dvorim Rabbah 11). Rabbi Yisroel Salanter explain the Midrash in the following manner. For himself, Moshe was a spiritual being, but when it came to others, Moshe was human. The Talmud (Ksubos 17a) states that a person should mingle with others. He must understand the needs of others. But for himself, a person should have as few needs as possible. A person must have two sets of values, one for himself and one for others. As far as he is concerned, a person should shy away from honor. Nevertheless, he should bestow honor upon his fellow man. A person should forgo pleasure for himself, but he should try to give his fellow man as much pleasure as possible. A person should be humble, but he should never humble his fellow man. (Ohr Yisroel, p. 83). Rabbi Yosef Y. Hurwitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Nevardok, expressed a similar idea. Undue concern about money is a very bad characteristic. A person should go to the opposite extreme and not worry even if he suffers a financial loss. However, if you see someone's possession laying on the floor, you must go out of your way to prevent it from being damaged. You should lend others whatever you own and even allow them to use your belongings without permission. But you yourself should never use anything that belongs to someone else without explicit permission. (Madraigos Haodom, section chesbon tzedek, ch. 7)

DEUTERONOMY — 33:10 teach

"Thou shalt teach Jacob thy ordinances and Israel thy law" [this verse]. Modern society worships success. Education is the key to success in business and the professions. An education which is geared to the promotion of proficiency in one's career must of necessity stress technological and scientific competence. Philosophy and ethics are of little consequence within this framework. Regretfully, technology does not enhance a student's moral stance, and postgraduate degrees do not attest to perfection of character. Fortunately, man's ethical heritage derives from various sources, independent of formal education. Many professionals find an opportunity to project their humane impulses in their chosen field of endeavor. The dedicated social worker, the medical practitioner in the inner city, the lawyer who defends the poor, the teacher who remains after school hours to tutor students in need of help, and countless others in different fields, find self-fulfillment in acting out their moral perceptions. Judaism has advocated the pursuit of education as a worthy goal in its own right, not for the material gain which it may produce. The rabbinic slogan which reflects this attitude was coined by Rabbi Zadok (1st cent.): "Make not the Torah a crown with which to aggrandize thyself, nor a spade with which to dig" (Avot 4:7). The rabbis and teachers of antiquity were unsalaried people who made their living by hard labor. Despite their lack of economic success, they received the highest degree of respect, admiration, and veneration. Traditional Jewish society equated education with the study of Torah, a compendium of ritual laws, civil laws, and ethical precepts. Experts and laymen alike were required to have a knowledge of this code. It was mandatory for every individual to set aside periods for study. The basic rule of national conduct with regard to education was formulated in the command to Joshua: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein" (Joshua 1:8). The purpose of education, spelled out in this command, is to teach the rules which one must translate into daily conduct.

DEUTERONOMY — 33:12 beloved

The concepts of Joseph and Benjamin are two diametrically opposite systems. Both are children of Rachel, but Joseph always symbolizes the one who provides physical sustenance to the Jews (and to the Egyptians) (Genesis 47:12, 41:57). Joseph argues that the redemption comes about because of the building up of nationhood as well as physical building, and initially through Egypt and Shechem. Benjamin, the only son of Jacob born in Israel and who never bowed to Eisav, is known as "Yedid Adonai--the beloved of the Lord," [this verse] symbolizing pure holiness and spirituality. (See the chapter, "Judaism: A Religion or a Nation" for a fuller discussion of these two philosophies.) Thus, the argument rages then and today about how Jerusalem will be built -- from the material, bricks, and mortar symbolized by Joseph, or spiritually, symbolized by Benjamin and by the Messiah of David when he will build the Holy Temple. (The Davidic Messiah actually has both components, as he fights wars and also builds the Temple.) The builders will argue about how Jerusalem is to be built. Both sides seem to be mutually exclusive. The argument takes place by the angels, arguing about the Jerusalem above, but also by actual Rabbis, arguing about the Jerusalem below. And both Jerusalems have to be built properly for G-d to return to either city (Midrash, Tehillim 122:4). The final decision is that Jerusalem will be built according to both concepts together, according to all opinions, with any one vision of building alone insufficient. And whoever does not understand that both Messiahs (Joseph and David) are necessary does not understand how to build Jerusalem. Joseph's materialism, nationality, culture, must be the basis, but Benjamin's (ben David's) spirituality must be there as well, in the lead. The light that comes from this combination, Shimsotayich, is the essential vision of the Jewish people that originated at Sinai, that Jews must be both a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6).

DEUTERONOMY — 33:12 beloved

We must be merciful toward others to deserve mercy from G-d. The Torah is referring to the Bais Hamikdosh which was in the portion of Binyamin. (Rashi). The Midrash states that the Bais Hamikdosh was in the portion of Binyamin rather than in the portion of any other tribe because the other brothers took part in the sale of Yosef. Binyamin was the only brother who was free from guilt. Since the function of the Bais Hamikdosh was to serve as a place where people could pray to G-d for mercy, G-d did not want His abode to be in the portion of those who are themselves were not merciful. (Yalkut Shimoni)

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