Friday, August 03, 2012

Parshat V'etchanan - פרשת ואתחנן

"ואתם הדביקים ביהוה אלוהיכם חיים כלכם היום / And you who cling to Hashem your God, are living today" (דברים, ד:ד)

Continuing from last week's high octane start to the book of Devarim, the parsha this week, V'etchanan, is jam-packed full of events, ranging from Moshe's request to enter Eretz Yisrael to the recounting of the Ten Commandments through part of the text we recite daily in Kriat Sh'ma.

The focus of this D'var Torah, however, is on the last Pasuk of the Levi's Aliyah in Rishon, quoted above. The pasuk is one well-known; each time we read from the Torah, it is recited by the entire congregation as a confirmation of how much the Torah means to us.

The passage is straightforward and can be easily understood without extra explanation, but the Degel Machane Efraim makes an interesting comment on these words that helps reveal something that we would not notice otherwise. He points out that it is well-documented in Jewish texts that three paragraphs of the Shm'a cumulatively comprise 248 words. We learn that these 248 words correspond to the 248 limbs of the human body, and we believe that each word gives strength and vitality to a specific limb. Thus we believe that reading the Sh'ma helps sustain a Jew in this world.

There's a problem though, namely that the 248th word, אמת (Emet - truth), isn't part of the text of Sh'ma as it's found in the Torah. This word is actually part of the next paragraph. By joining the two paragraphs together and repeating the two words preceding it, we gain this 248th word. But this solution doesn't seem to be very tidy. Why should we connect the two paragraphs together?

Fortunately, the Degel Machane Efraim resolves the matter with a neat suggestion. The text here reads: "And you who cling to Hashem your God, are living today" but if we look closely, we may see that the word אתם (Atem - you) shares the same letters as another Hebrew word - אמת. These two words are connected.

Furthermore, when the text says הדביקים (which means clinging/adhering), we may read it literally as an instruction for us to 'stick' something to something else. The insinuation as for us to attach the word אמת (Emet) to the paragraph that precedes it. And what will happen if we are to do this? Simple - the verse continues to bless Israel with life, "חיים כלכם היום - and you are living today" It is my wish that with our prayers, we may realise both our own inner capabilities and be able to make use of all the faculties of our bodies to realise them. Similarly, may we all be blessed to really live life and grasp the truth of this world.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom.

No comments:

Post a Comment