Parshas Netzavim

Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, Hashem, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. (Devorim 30/4)

Zera Shimshon asks what is the Torah teaching us by describing our redemption in two phrases “(1) will gather you from there” and “(2) and He will take you from there”? Why didn’t the Torah combine them together and simply write, “He will gather and take us from there”?

He explains that the reason for our exile is because we were tainted with worthless hatred (sinnas chinam). Therefore we will not be redeemed until we rectify this and we will live in harmony with our neighbors, relatives and friends. Until then , sadly, we will have to stay in exile.

According to this we can understand that the reason for the two phrases is that the redemption will be in two phases. Firstly, Hashem will gather us- meaning that Hashem will gather us in one place and we will be together and live in harmony with each other. Only after that will come the second stage “and He will take you from there”.


Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, Hashem, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. (Devorim 30/4)

Zera Shimshon asks that seemingly the word “there” in the phrase “will gather you from THERE” is superfluous. Since in the beginning of the possuk it says that we were exiled even at the end of the heavens, then obviously we will be gathered from “there”. Why then did the Torah have to write it?

He answers in light of the Gemoro in Megillah (16/a) that says that Haman’s relatives said to him that, “This people (the Jewish nation) is compared to the dust and it is compared to the stars. When they go down, they go down to the dust, and when they rise they rise to the stars. Meaning, that when the Jewish nation are “good they are very good but when they are ….”.

The Gemoro in Berochos adds that even though we can fall very low, this doesn’t mean the ruin and the end of Clal Yisroel. On the contrary our fall to that low horrible level causes the beginning of our rise!

According to this, concludes Zera Shimshon, our possuk is teaching us that even when we fall to very low levels and we will be exiled to very far places, (we shouldn’t think that the end is near) but, on the contrary, from THERE- from that low level that caused us to be exiled- Hashem will redeem us.


You are all standing here today, all of you, before Hahem, your G-d, … for you to pass into a covenant of Hashem, our G-d…. (Devorim 29/9)

Rashi (possuk 12) quotes a Medrash that when Bnei Yisroel heard the one hundred minus two (ninety eight) curses in last weeks parsha (in addition to the forty nine in Vayikra) their faces turned white from fright! They said, “How can we can survive such punishment?” Moshe consoled them and said to them, “You are all standing here today! Even though that you have done things   to   anger Hashem, H. has not totally destroyed you and you still exist.” 

Zera Shimshon asks two question. Firstly, why were they only frightened after hearing the curses in last week’s parsha, Ki Sovo, and not afer they heard the ones in Vayikra. Those curses are also pretty scarey.

Secondly, why were they comforted when Moshe told them that they were not destroyed. Maybe the reason that they were not yet destroyed? Maybe the reason for this was that they did not make a covenant with Hashem to keep His mitzvos until now?   However, now that they made a covenant to keep the mitzvos there is good reason to be scared.

Zera Shimshon answers these questions based on a very interesting idea: There is not only one way in which a promise or a curse mentioned in a possuk can be fulfilled. As long as a description of what happened fits into the words of the possuk it is considered that the possuk is fulfilled. 

For instance,   the Gemorro in Berochas (56A) relates that Bar Hediya, a person who interpreted dreams in the time of Abaya and Rovvo, interpreted   the exact same possuk to different ways. For Rovvo, who paid Ben Hedya, he interpreted it that something good would happen. However, for Abaya, who didn’t pay him, he interpreted it to mean that something bad would happen.   We see from here, explains Zera Shimshon, that there are many ways to fulfill a possuk

There are two curses in the curses of Ki Sovo that aren’t written explicitly, “Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in this Torah, them will Hashem bring upon you, until you will be destroyed. (possuk 61)”

According to this, Zera Shimshon explains, we can answer the above questions. When Bnei Yisroel heard the curses in Vayikra they weren’t tremendously scared. They knew that even though the curses sounded very scary, Hashem could bring these curses in a very gentle way, like a father who must punishes his child.

However when they heard the curses in Ki Sovo things were different. Since two of the curses were not specified, they reasoned that this is a sure sign that the rest of curses will be executed literally! They therefore “turned white from fright”! 

Moshe comforted them by saying that there were times in the past that we deserved to be annihalated. For instance, it says “Someone who serve another god (besides Hashem) will be destroyed”. Even so when Bnei Yisroel served the Golden Calf, Hashem didn’t destroy us. 

The reason for this is that Hashem promised our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov that H. will not exchange us for another nation. Therefore there is no need to worry that these curses will be executed literally   and that Hashem will destroy us. 

The Zera Shimshon adds that according to this we can understand an interesting difficulty in the above words of Rashi. Rashi writes, “when Bnei Yisroel heard the one hundred minus two (ninety eight) curses in last weeks parsha (in addition to the forty nine in Vayikra) their faces turned white from fright!” Why did Rashi one hundred minus two instead of ninety eight like he wrote forty nine and not fifty minus one?

According to the above Rashi’s wording is exact. It was the “minus two” curses, the ones that weren’t explicitly written that caused them to be so worried!

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Parshas Ki Sovo

And it will be when you come into the land that Hashem, your Lord, gives you as an inheritence….You should take from the first of all fruit of the ground… and you should put it in a basket and go the place that Hashem, your Lord, will choose to have His name dwell there. (ax Devarim 26/2)

Rashi explains: From the first fruit- But not all first fruits, because you are not obligated to bring bikkurim from all types of fruits, only from the seven species. (We learn this from a gezierah shava– comparison based on two similar words in two pessukim) The word ” eretz” is written in our possuk and the word “eretz” is written when the Torah speaks of the seven species. (Therefore,) just like Eretz Yisroel is blessed with seven species so too there is only an obligation to bring bikkurim from the seven species.

Zera Shimshon asks in the name of the Mizrachi that if we learn from the gezeirah shava of “eretz” “eretz” that we bring bikkurim only from the seven species, then why did the Torah write the word FROM in the phrase “from the land” to learn the same halacha?

He asks a second question. This is not the only place in chumash where Chazal learn a halacha from the word “FROM”. When the Torah speaks of the mitzva to separate challah from dough it says (Bamidbar 15/21), “From the first of your dough…”. From that word “from”, however Chazal derive a different halacha: “from the first of your dough – but not your whole dough”. Meaning one can not make the whole dough challah but he must leave at least a small amount of dough for the owner to eat.

Zera Shimshon asks, why didn’t Chazal also learn concerning bikkurim, “from the first fruit but not all of your fruits” to prohibit making the whole field bikkurim?

He answers the first question by first answering the second question.

He points out that there is a difference between the pessukim that speak of bikkurim and the pessukim that speaks of challah. On the one hand they are similar in that in both places it is written “from” which implies to exclude something; either different species or “from… and not the whole”. However on the other hand they are different in that in the pessukim speaking of bikkurim it also says “all”, “from ALL your fruit”, which implies to include something, seemingly either all species or “even the whole”.

He also posits that the word “from” really implies “from the first fruit” and not the whole field bikkurim, like we learnt concerning challah.

Therefore, concerning bikkurim it isn’t possible to learn from the word “all”, all species, because of the gezara shava that bikkurim only applies to the seven species. Therefore we must conclude, by process of elimination, that it teaches that one can make a whole field bikkurim. After we learn that we can make the whole field bikkurim obviously we can’t learn from that the word “FROM” that you can’t (like we learnt concerning the mitzvah of separating challah).

According to this we can now understand why it is not enough for the Torah to just write “From all of your first fruits” without the gezeirah shava. If that would have been the case then we would have explained it like we did concerning Challah.

However it still has to be answered why isn’t it enough to just write the gezeirah shava without “from”.

The answer to this is that it teaches us that even the fruit that is brought with the bikkurim to adorn them also has to be of the seven species and not some other fruits.
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