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"Say Little - Do Much!"

07/24/2018 08:38:49 PM


In this week's parashah, Parashat Va'etchanan, we read the following: "HaShem, our God, sealed a covenant with us at Chorev.  Not with our forefathers did HaShem seal this covenant, but with us - we who are here, all of us alive today."  Moshe was reminding B'Nei Yisrael that the brit, the covenant, they made when receiving the Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments, was made with all generations of Jews, both with that generation alive at that moment as well as with all succeeding generations of the People Israel.

 In Parashat Yitro which tells of the giving of the Aseret HaDibrot, we read these words of HaShem spoken to Moshe: "And you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you shall speak to B'nei Yisrael."  The great Torah commentator Rashi comments on the words "these are the words" and says: "Not less and not more."  What is Rashi saying here?  Merely that Moshe is not supposed to add or subtract any words from what HaShem told him to say.  But why would HaShem limit Moshe to just those few words? The answer to this question can be found in a story as related by Rabbi Yaakov Luban.

A family in Yerushalayim had a severely challenged child.  As he got older, his needs conflicted with the needs of the rest of the family so much so that consideration was being given as to how it might be the time to place him in an institution.  They sought guidance from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, one of the greatest Orthodox Rabbis of his time, regarding this matter.  He asked them: "Did you discuss this with your son?"  The family protested that due to his mental incompetence, the boy would not understand the question let alone be able to answer it.  Rabbi Auerbach protested: "You cannot just drop off a child at an institution without discussing it with him!  Bring him to me.  I want to speak with him."  The family did as he asked.  Rabbi Auerbach identified himself to the boy, and the boy told him his name.  The Rabbi proceeded: "I have a problem that you may be able to help me with.  There is a school that has no mashgiach to make sure that everything is being run's my job to make sure that everything there is on the up-and-up, but I cannot be there on a regular basis.  Can I ask you a favor?  Would you be willing to live in the school and serve as my representative to make sure that it's being run properly?  Tell them that I have sent you as my personal emissary to supervise."  The boy immediately accepted his misson and took it so seriously that when his parents came to bring him home for Shabbat, he replied that he could not take any Shabbat off."  Because Rabbi Auerbach told him that he was responsible for the school, he felt he had to remain on campus to supervise.  Using a simple, brief explanation that the boy could understand, Rabbi Auerbach had given this boy a mission to fulfill, and fulfill it he did.

Rabbi Luban went on to say that in a similar fashion, HaShem told Moshe that He was giving B'Nei Yisrael a mission as well: B'nei Yisrael - both those present at that moment and all who would come afterwards - were to be HaShem's emissaries of Torah in this world.  In a few simple and straightforward words, HaShem gave both our ancestors and us the most important mission of all: "And you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation...."  May all of us be true to this mission.

Tue, July 27 2021 18 Av 5781