to say, of course, there are certain commandments associated
with the prophecies. So
it seems important to outline those first.
They begin at Daled:tet-zayin (4:16):
lest you act corruptly and make yourselves a carved image, a
likeness of any shape; a form of a male or a female:
this particular verse corresponds to a number of other
a form of any animal on the earth; a form of any winged bird
that flies in the heaven:
directly concerns the religions formed around animals similar
to those in the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman cultures.
a form of anything that creeps on the ground, a form of any
fish that is in the water under the earth:
particular verse reminds me of certain emblems that are seen
on cars here in the U.S. these days.
and lest you raise your eyes to the heaven and you see the
sun, and the moon, and the stars -- the entire legion of
heaven -- and you be drawn astray and bow to them and worship
them, which Hashem, your God, has apportioned to all the
peoples under the entire heaven:
or those who held that the sun was a god?
But Hashem has taken you and withdrawn you from the iron
crucible, from Egypt, to be a nation of heritage for Him, as
this very day:
the reasoning behind all of this.
God brought Klal Yisrael out of Mitzrayim to be His
people and, as is pointed in many other places, this is a
sacred relationship that is, in itself, kodesh/holy.
Rabbeinu (our Rabbi Moses) follows this with discussion about
his particular situation in that he is not permitted to enter
the Land and then warns the people with the following:
Beware for yourselves lest you forget the covenant of Hashem,
your God, that He has sealed with you, and you make yourselves
a carved image, a likeness of anything, as Hashem, your God,
has commanded you:
enough, the prophecies now follow directly and we will look at
each verse individually.
When you beget children and grandchildren and will have been
long in the Land, you will grow corrupt and make a carved
image of anything, and you will do evil in the eyes of Hashem,
your God, to anger Him:
certainly happened. I
remember a number of years ago, upon starting the return to
religious Judaism, that we were discussing this Parashah and
Rabbi Yehoshuah Harlig from Las Vegas mentioned two things.
First, he said that the Jewish people have a terrible
weakness when it comes to idolatry.
Indeed there is a Midrash that says that Klal Yisrael
went to Hashem and asked Him to remove to temptation of
idolatry and He refused, stating that this was one of the
tests that had to be overcome.
Second, and just as important, idolatry is not always
found in religions. Rather, money can, and all too often does, become an idol for
I appoint heaven and earth this day to bear witness against
you that you will surely perish quickly from the Land to which
you are crossing the Jordan to possess; you shall not have
lengthy days upon it, for you will be destroyed:
destruction of the Beit Hamikdash followed two periods of both
idolatry and a lack of Ahavat Yisrael with all the behaviors
that attend that.
Hashem will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be
left few in number among the nations where Hashem will lead
this follows the destruction of the Second Beit Hamikdash.
For those who are not students of history, most of the
population that survived was taken into captivity and
dispersed throughout the regions of the Roman Empire.
And, of course, the Jewish people have never been
anything but a minority in all the countries in which they
There you will serve gods, the handiwork of man, of wood and
stone, which do not see, and do not hear, and do not eat, and
do not smell:
ways, the Jewish people did serve these other gods.
They certainly served the believers in those gods.
As well, history records numerous episodes of forced
From there you will seek Hashem, your God, and you will find
Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your
the most difficult of the verses for me because there is no
clear indication of what this service to Hashem entails.
Of course, the Torah will provide the insights shortly.
When you are in distress and all these things have befallen
you, at the end of days, you will return unto Hashem, your
God, and hearken to His voice:
five key words in this pasuk.
They are "at the end of days" meaning just
prior to the messianic era.
In other words, messianic era prophecies are not merely
contained in the Prophets and Writings of the Tanakh.
They can be found in the Torah as well.
For Hashem, your God, is a merciful God, He will not abandon
you nor destroy you, and He will not forget the covenant of
your forefathers that He swore to them:
been those who have suggested that Klal Yisrael, the Jewish
people, are no longer the chosen of Hashem.
The Torah not only disagrees but clearly states that
such an occurrence is not going to happen.
Now to the
comments of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch concerning pasuk
chav-tet (verse 29). His
comments begin with at chav-chet (28) with:
blind lack of freedom of his idol becomes his ideal, and you,
subjected to the heathen world, will learn to feel the whole
weight of this demoralizing idolatry.
continues for pasuk chet-tet with
this contrast, the elevating, free-making nearness of the One
Unique truly living God Who had becomes Israel's portion in
the world will then flash up all the more in your hearts,
"ye will seek Him and ye will find Him."
Even as helots of a heathen world you will be aware of
His illuminating, elevating, free making Nearness which
ennobles you and brings happiness, if you will ask only Him
for what is right and good, and go to Him only, for help.
The whole history of Israel is exile with its
victorious endurance and continuous existence externally, and
its happiness-bringing efforts towards inspiration,
understanding, and ennoblement internally is a continuous
revelation of the living God in contrast to the dead and
an opportunity to speak with Rav Tuvia Singer of Outreach
Judaism and Mark Powers of Jews for Judaism, I would guess
that they would see the promise in this commentary and would
appreciate it, as it says, " Even as helots of a heathen
world you will be aware of His illuminating, elevating, free
making Nearness which ennobles you and brings happiness, if
you will ask only Him for what is right and good, and go to
Him only, for help."
appropriate to also add a few words from Rav Hirsch's
commentary on pasuk lamed-aleph (31):
God will not forsake you because He has already done so much
for you, because you are the product of His special caring
rule. For rachamim (from rechem, the womb) is the
love of a creator for his creation because it is his creation.
aside, one of my toughest challenges when I followed another
religion was understanding the concept of "hell" and
considering it valid. It was just as Rav Hirsch said.
How is it possible for a loving God to condemn any of
his creations to eternal torment?
Of course, this was resolved for me from learning
Tanakh wherein it states that a person who is lacking in any
righteousness earns Sheol - death and death of the neshamah as
well. It would
seem that a loving and merciful God, Who loves what He has
created, would find the most merciful solution.
Previously, I asked the question of "What did God mean" in perek chav-tet (29). The answer can be found beginning in Perek Hay (Chapter 5); wherein the 10 commandments heard by klal Yisrael at Har Sinai are repeated.