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Devarim, Shabbos Chazon: Come Close To Me

והדבר אשר יקשה מכם תקריבון אלי ושמעתיו.

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.


פרוק ית ענך מפום אריותא ואפיק ית עמיך מגו גלותא.

“Deliver Your lamb from the mouth of the lion and gatherin 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 Youchose from among all nations?” We are begging Hashem to redeem us. Hashem knowswho we are; He knows that He chose us. What does the reminder about our chosenstatus add to the plea?

We will explain this with a parable: A teacher had a classof naughty boys who were disobedient and caused him a lot of anguish. Theynever listened to him or sat respectfully in class, but instead the classroomwas in constant chaos with the boys bickering among themselves and ignoring theteacher.

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

It wasn’t long before the boy’s classmates became jealous ofhim and started picking on him. They would mock him and fight with him, callinghim names and sometimes even abusing him physically. The boy couldn’t understandwhat he did to deserve this treatment from his friends. After a while, hefinally realized that his special relationship with the teacher is causing hisfriends to envy him, and that’s why they are making his life miserable. Uponcoming to this realization, the boy decided that it just wasn’t worth it tocontinue listening to the teacher. He began to join the other boys in theiractivities 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 asolution together, he turned his back on the teacher.

The same thing is happening with many Jews. The source ofanti-Semitism is the special love that Hashem has for His chosen nation. Thenations of the world are envious of our status and therefore they persecute us.Unfortunately, some Jews come to the wrong conclusion and decide to follow thenations, in the hope to stop all anti-Semitism. Instead of becoming closer toHashem who loves us so much, these Jews imitate the ways of their tormentorsand slip away from Hashem.

So we turn to Hashem in prayer and cry out to Him: “DeliverYour lamb from the mouth of the lion and gather in Your nation from exile.”Please, Hashem, save us, because the reason for our suffering is our specialstatus as “the nation that You chose from among all nations.” This sparks thejealousy of the nations and brings upon us a double problem: we are subject totheir abuse and persecution, and it also causes many Jews to turn away from theTorah. The envy of the nations is causing us both physical and spiritualsuffering, and we therefore implore Hashem to save us from their jaws.

We will forever remain Hashem’s chosen nation. May wemerit seeing His love openly with the coming of Moshiach, speedily and in ourdays. Amein

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