Parshas Netzovim Vayeilich

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 axShimshon 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!

This d’var Torah is dedicated to Beracha Bas Menucha Shaina. In the merit of  the  learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun

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