© 2019 by Cong. Birchos Yosef.

Devarim: From Darkness to Light

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

“Hashem the G-d of your forefathers will increase upon you a thousand times and bless you as He spoke to you.” (Devarim 1:11)


The word “dibur” (spoke) used in the verse connotes harsh language. Why does the Torah use this word when it promises blessings? The softer word “amar” would have seemed more in place with the spirit of the verse.


The sefarim tell us that every day of the week, when it is time for Mincha, an atmosphere of din (harsh judgment) descends upon the world. Shabbos is an exception. Not only is Mincha-time on Shabbos free of din, it is actually a special time of Divine closeness and rachamim (mercy).


The Chiddushei Harim said that during the Nine Days between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha b’Av, an element of harsh judgment is present throughout the entire day, not just during Mincha-time. Since Shabbos reverses the din to Divine mercy, this means that Shabbos during the Nine Days is a special day of Divine closeness and rachamim, far more than every Shabbos during the year.


We see from this that Shabbos has the power to reverse din to rachamim. In fact, the greater the element of din during the week, the greater the level of rachamim brought about on Shabbos.


This is the meaning of the verse: “…and bless you…” The blessing symbolizes Shabbos, as we see from the verse “and Hashem blessed the seventh day.” The verse continues, “as He spoke to you” using a harsh word. The blessing of Shabbos is in direct correlation to the harshness of Divine judgment during the week. We will be blessed according to the dibur – the harshness of the week.


May these days of pain and darkness be turned into days of joy and happiness with the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash, Amen.



Moshe said to the Jewish people: “If anything is difficult for you, bring it to me and I will listen.” (Devarim 1:17)


Moshe told the leaders of the Jewish people that if they are unable to answer any Torah question that is brought to them by the people, they should bring it to him and he will explain it to them. When interpreted literally, this verse can mean: If anything is difficult for you, come close to me and I will listen.


Before he would sit down to learn, the holy tzaddik of Lublin used to quote the verse (Tehillim 50:16): “And to the wicked person G-d says: ‘Why do you speak My laws?’” It is as if Hashem is saying: “You are learning My laws, but you do not fulfill them!” If so, a person will say, “I will not learn, because I am not always fulfilling everything I learn.” This is not what Hashem wants. Instead, the person should repent wholeheartedly before he sits down to learn, and then he will no longer be admonished for learning Torah.


The Ari writes that if a person doesn’t understand the Torah he learns, this shows that there are kelipos (meaning unholy spirits) that were brought about through his sins, which do not allow him to see the light of Torah or understand the truth of its holy words. The Be’er Menachem writes that if a person finds that it is difficult for him to understand Torah, and he doesn’t grasp the Torah he is learning, then the solution to this is “Come close to Me.” The person should do tshuva and return to Hashem, and then he will be able to “listen” and absorb the words of Torah.



“Deliver Your lamb from the mouth of the lion and gather in Your nation from exile; the nation that You chose from among all nations.” (Shabbos zemiros)


Why did the composer add the words “the nation that You chose from among all nations?” We are begging Hashem to redeem us. Hashem knows who we are; He knows that He chose us. What does the reminder about our chosen status add to the plea?


We will explain this with a parable: A teacher had a class of naughty boys who were disobedient and caused him a lot of anguish. They never listened to him or sat respectfully in class, but instead the classroom was in constant chaos with the boys bickering among themselves and ignoring the teacher.


There was one well-behaved boy who always sat in his seat respectfully and listened to what the teacher said. He knew his work well and participated in class. Naturally, the boy quickly became the teacher’s favorite. The teacher didn’t make this a secret and frequently complimented the boy publicly, giving him special treatment.


It wasn’t long before the boy’s classmates became jealous of him and started picking on him. They would mock him and fight with him, calling him names and sometimes even abusing him physically. The boy couldn’t understand what he did to deserve this treatment from his friends. After a while, he finally realized that his special relationship with the teacher is causing his friends to envy him, and that’s why they are making his life miserable. Upon coming to this realization, the boy decided that it just wasn’t worth it to continue listening to the teacher. He began to join the other boys in their activities during class time, and before long he was acting like one of them. Instead of reaching out to the teacher who loved him so much and look for a solution together, he turned his back on the teacher.