Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


Moshe Rabbeinu says to all of Yisrael “ראה,” which Onkelos translates in the plural form, referring to everyone in Klal Yisrael. This was spoken out to all of Yisrael. The next passuk continues את הברכה אשר תשמעו… the berachah, that which you will listen to the mitzvos of Hashem, and והקללה אם לא תשמעו… and the kelalah, if you will not listen to the mitzvos of Hashem.

Rashi explains the words אשר תשמעו mean that the berachah is on condition that you will listen. The Sifsei Chachomim brings from the Gemara; everything is in the hands of Hashem besides for the fear of Hashem. Therefore a person needs to choose to fear Hashem on his own. Rashi does not explain אשר as “that,” which is a definite thing, because there is always a chance that chas v’shalom a person won’t listen and he won’t follow the mitzvos. Therefore אשר means “on condition;” beracha will come when you will fulfill the mitzvos, and if not curse will come. Onkelos translates the words אשר תשמעו as “if you will accept.” The Ba’al HaYa’ir explains that Onkelos translates אשר as the word אם “if” just as it states by the kelalah אם לא תשמעו, if you will not accept, in order to contrast these pessukim. The pessukim are reflecting two sides of one condition: if you will accept the mitzvos there will be berachah, and if you will not accept the mitzvos then there will be kelalah.

Why does the Torah state by berachah the word אשר that you will accept, whereas by kelalah אם if you will not accept? The Rabbeinu Bachya answers that by kelalah it states אם if, showing there is a doubt whether one will not fulfill the mitzvos. Whereas by berachah it states אשר that, which infers that a person will definitely accept to fulfill the mitzvos and will therefore receive berachah. Although the pessukim are conditional, the Torah does not want to mention by beracha the word אם, if, which would reflect a doubt and a possibility of not receiving beracha. The Ramchal says that Hashem constantly wants to shower good to Yisrael, we just need to deserve it, or else we will block ourselves from being able to receive the shefa sent. The Ba’al HaTurim adds that אשר is from the lashon אשרי praiseworthy, reflecting that a person who fulfills the mitzvos is praiseworthy.

The Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the species of man is unique in the world, and there is nothing comparable, not in the sky above nor on the land below. The creations above are spiritual beings which praise Hashem with their spirituality, and not with any physicality. The creations on the land are physical beings which praise Hashem with their physical being, and not with any spirituality. All of these creations must praise Hashem without choice, the former with their spirituality and the latter with their physical being. There is nothing to stop and hold them back from fulfilling their responsibility. However, people are made up of a mixture of both entities: they are physical beings and also spiritual beings. People are not forced to praise Hashem and serve Him, rather they praise Hashem and fulfill mitzvos by their own choice. Each person has the option to praise Hashem and to fulfill His mitzvos, then he will be rewarded with berachah, or if chas v’shalom not he will be punished with kelalah.

May Hashem help us to constantly choose to fulfill the will of Hashem and merit berachah.

Leave a Reply