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Devarim - From the Crib to the Grave

07/27/12 17:13:00


Throughout life we see things shrink and grow, expand and compress, becoming bigger and smaller. From the moment we enter this world, we grow, requiring more and more space to obtain ever greater portions of the physical world. We are born with nothing, but continuously acquire more and more stuff throughout our lifetimes. Finally, at a certain point in time we realize that we need to shed some of the possessions which we worked so hard to obtain. We strive to get that big house, filling it with fine, expensive furnishings, and then finally realize that it's too difficult to manage so much space, and we start to downsize. Once we downsize, selling that large house and relocating to something smaller, we then get rid of some of the furnishings since they won't fit into the smaller quarters. This progression continues until we are left with that with which we came.

Soon after we are born we are placed in a small contraption called a crib, which somehow resembles a little prison. It is usually warm, comfortable and very snug. Eventually we grow out of the crib and end up in a bed. Most people don't think about their death and where they go. Ironically, we end up after one hundred and twenty years, in a small snug area known as the grave. We return to the place from which we came, our physical bodies placed in a very small container.

In this week's Parsha Devarim,which is always read the Shabbos before Tisha B'Av, Moshe Rabbeinu, thirty-seven days before his death, delivers his final speech to the Jewish people. Moshe rebukes the nation by identifying the places where they sinned without mentioning the sin itself. The very first passuk 1:1 states: "bein Paran u'bein Tofel". The word 'bein means between and is mentioned twice, once before each place. Reb Shlomo Luntzitz in his commentary the" Kli Yakar", explains the need for this repetition. The sin at Paran was about the spies while the sin at Tofel regarded the complaint with the Manna. In between these two events was another sin, namely Mei Mereeva, when the Jewish people complained about water or the lack thereof. The additional time mentioning 'Bein' is a hint within a hint that there was another sin committed and Moshe didn't even have to mention the place.

A second poignant insight is that these two places, Paran and Tofel, represent the seventeenth of Tammuz - the day the walls of Yerushalayim were breeched, and Tisha B'Av - the day both the first and second Temples were destroyed. Tofel was the place the golden calf was formed. That very same day Moshe Rabbeinu came down from Har Sinai and when he saw the Eigel Hazahav, he smashed the Luchos, the tablets of the Bris. That day was none other than Shiva Asar B'Tammuz - the 17th of Tammuz, the first day of the three weeks. Paran was the location of the incident of the Meraglim, the spies. When the spies returned and brought back a negative report against the land, everybody cried. Hashem said, "Since you cried for nothing you will cry for good reason on this very day." That day was none other than Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of Av - the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. This is the day that both Temples were destroyed and we cry and mourn over their destruction every year.

The medrash tells us that the every year on the night of the ninth of Av, the Jewish people dug a grave to sleep in, and in the morning the number of Jews were fifteen thousand less. Over a forty- year period the six hundred thousand Jews in the desert who were sentenced to die in the midbar and not go into Eretz Yisrael died out. This was a siman/sign for all future generations that we should contemplate the end of life on this very sad day. The way to live a fulfilled, purposeful life is to constantly review our life day by day. We should think about what things were good and should focus on doing more good while recognizing those things which were bad that should be avoided in the future.

Ironically, Chazal tell us that not only will Moshiach be born on Tisha B'Av, but that this day will become a full-fledged Yom Tov - a festival day. How do we reconcile the notion of going from the saddest day to the happiest day? I believe that the ninth of Av was actually a festival day to begin with. It was only as a result of the sin of the spies did that all turned sour. The day became blemished, covered with a black cloud. We understand, however, that one day the black cloud will dissipate and the clarity of Hashem being the king over the entire world will be recognized.

Bein Paran U'Bein Tofel is reminding not only the Jews in the desert but we Jews of today to contemplate our actions, particularly during these days of the three weeks. A true Yom Tov day is when Klal Yisroel will come to see eye to eye, to get along as brothers and sisters should. Let these days of the Bein HaMitzarim serve as a reminder that the Geula, the redemption, is most appropriate to occur during these days. Let us work on all of our middos, and In particular the laws of Bein Adam Lachaveiro.Once again, the word 'Bein' is put before us to help us to understand that it is the key word in bringing Shalom between all Jews and then to bring genuine Shalom to the world. May we all be Zocheh to see Moshiach Tzidkeinu B'Meheiru B'yameinu. AMEN.

Ah Gut Shabbos Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky
Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780