1) Connecting the end of Parshas V’eschanan with Parshas Eikev
The pasuk starts off in the parsha, “V’hayah eikev tishma’un eis hamishpatim ha’eileh”. It will be when you listen to the laws of the Torah, then Hashem will give you good things. Perek 7, pasuk 12, as the Torah enumerates. So, the Gra says, very interesting he’arah that ties in parshas V’eschanan into parshas Eikev. We know that the Torah is sequencial. If you look at the end of parshas V’eschanan it talks about Hashem being honest and shomer habris, He watches the commitments that he makes, and he pays reward, the pasuk says, “l’shomer mitvosav l’elef dor”, for a thousand generations. So, what’s the pshat that Hashem delays for that long, and what’s the pshat over here that we start off, “V’hayah eikev tishmaun”.
Hashem sometimes pays back your mitzvos to your descendents
So, the Gra explains one of the many pshatim of schar mitzvah b’hai almah leka. There’s no reward of mitzvos in this world, is that sometimes the Rebono Shel Olam pays back your mitzvos to your descendents. Well, you might say: That’s not fair; I’d rather get paid back myself. So, first of all, there’s an expression, I know that it’s said by environmentalists and you might not like it, but it’s an interesting expression, and that is that we don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, rather we watch it for our future generations. Now, whether or not you’re an environmentalist or whether that jives with your Torah views is not my interest here. However, the idea in a spiritual way is certainly very true as well. If you think about it, one of the greatest rewards that a person could get is to know that his children and his grand-children will be okay. And, for example, even Avraham when he was promised great things Hashem talked about his descendents, and the promise is that your descendents will get the Torah and they’ll be great people and I’ll take care of them was the most important thing for Avraham, and the biggest, painful event for Avraham was to hear “yadoa teida ki geir yihyeh zarechah b’eretz lo lahem,” that they’ll be slaves. And, in fact the fourhundred years of servitude start from that time period because just the fact that Avraham heard that his sons would have pain greatly pained him. So, if we think about it, we really care about our children, our grandchildren, an dour future generations, so Hashem pays back reward for them.
2) Hashem gives the descendents the reward of their forefathers if they follow in their ways
Now, if you say to yourself: Well look, my grandfather was a big tzaddik, my father was a tzaddik, I’m fine, I’m good, I’ll just get their reward; who cares about my life. Meaning the last pasuk in parshas Vaeschanan, you might say: Okay, so l’elef dor Hashem pays things down for generations. But, the pasuk of Eikeve puts it all in perspective. Syas the Gra: “V’hayah eikeve tishma’un”. Hashem says: Wait a minute! It’s only if you follow the Torah, then I’m going to take care of you, but ifyou have an attitude that it’s not my responsibility and I don’t care, then Hashem says: I could skip your generation too. So, a person should know that the Rebono Shel Olam, yes he pays things for future generations, but you have to do something in order to deserve it. Now, you might ask, and the Chovos Halevavos asks this in Shaar Habitachon that, well what does that mean because sometimes there’s reshaim, and sometimes they don’t get what they want. This is not a shiur klaly trying to explain every different fascet of how Hashem works and when He decides and what the formulas are because we don’t know what they are, quite frankly. Although, we have general guidelines, like the Chovos Halevavos there gives a couple and other Rishonim and Achronim, of course, talk about it at length. About hashgacha and tzaddik v’rah lo, etc. But, what is being said here is that yes, we should be aware that the Rebono Shel Olam will reward our future generations. However, you also have to be aware that your behavior and your action, not only is bequesthing a great future for your children and grandchildren, ad dorei doros, but it’s also just determining whether Hashem will bestow good things upon you as well, and that’s a really important thing to talk about.
3) When one wants to live a life of Torah there’s no limit to how much bread he eats
Let’s move on to perek 8, pasuk 10. A couple of very interesting he’aras about food. “V’achalta, vsavata, u’veirachta”. You should eat and besatisfied. “u’veirachicha es Elokecha al ha’aretz hatovah asheir nasan lach.” And, we know that this is the source for birchas hamazon, that you should bench and thank Hashem. Now, the mishna in Avos, perek vav, says, “Kach he darka shel Torah,” this is the way to acquire Torah, “pas bamelech tochal,” you should eat bread dipped in salt.” “Umayim bimesura tishteh,” and water bimesurah, which we don’t’ know exactly what that means, but it means, let’s translate it for now, the Gra will explain it, but it means, a drop of water you should drink. The mishna continues, obviously, and sleep on the ground, and you should learn Torah. That’s the way to acquire Torah. So, if you think about it, says the Gra, and it’s a very interesting he’ara, by pas bamelach tochal, when it comes to the bread, there’s no limit to how much bread. You could eat unlimited bread. And, think about it. By the bread there’s no limit, but by the liquid there is a limit. What does that mean? Now, obviously none of us live this way, even the Vilna Gaon’s children testifies about their father that he only slept for four thirty minute periods a day, and he only ate, literally, a little bit of bread, a kzayis of bread. Apparently, he was machmir only so he could bentch. You might ask why he didn’t eat a k’beitzah. This is not the time and place to talk about it. And, a little bit of water. But, in the actual framework of the mishna, there’s no limit.
4) The mishna learns that there is no limit to the quantity of bread from the pasuk
Says the Gra, that’s based on the pasuk. The pasuk says, “V’achalta,” you should eat bread because it’s referring to food, “v’savata”, and be satisfied. So, there’s no limit to how much bread a person could eat. Now, of course, there’s nutritional chiyuvim to take care of yourself, and we’re not discussing that right now. However, this is very fascinating. But, the mishna is drawing off of this pasuk, and so therefore, when it comes to bread there’s no limit, but when it comes to water there was a limit that was put on. Now, the Gra, actually, in other places explains what, how much a mesura is. And, in Megilas Esther it’s explained, and we’ll talk about why we’re in Megilas Esther in a minute, that it’s one thirty-sixth of a lug. That’s what the Gra says al pi derech remez on Megilas Esther. But, we’ll come back to that in a second. Now, remember, the Gra explains that it’s not about only eating bread and not eating other things. The point of the mishna is just to say that a person should eat to satiate himself, and not to be a gluton. That’s the point, and the Gra itself explains that. It’s talking about just limiting his physical pleasures about what he does to pleasure himself versus what he does to nurture himself because the main thing of life is Torah, and “marbeh basar, marbeh reema”, the more fat, the more worms.
5) “V’hashtia kadas” – “k’daas shel Torah”
The pasuk in Megilas Esther says, “V’hashitia ka’das”. The drinking was like the law. So, what does the law mean? So, the Gra says a very fascinating thing that it means, “k’daas shel Torah.” It means the law that the gemara says. Like the law of Torah. So, the Gra actually brings down two p’shatim about what this means. One of them has to do with a mincha, which we’re not going to discuss today. Maybe we’ll save that for next Megilas Esther or something. Ayein sham. But, the other pshat is exactly this point. That what does that mean? Says the Gra that what it’s trying to tell you is that there was such an abundance of food it was a ridiculaous amount that the food, k’daas shel Torah, the law of Torah is that when you eat it’s paas b’melach tochal. You could eat as much bread, food is unlimited, but “mayim bimisura tishteh”, but the liquid that you intake is very limited. Now, wait, what does that mean? Does that mean at the party the drinking was limited? That doesn’t make any sense. No, so says the Gra, what’s it’s saying is that if you think that there was a lot of wine and liquid, that doesn’t even compare to the amount of food that they had. That the pasuk is trying to tell you that there was such glutany going on there that the unlimited amount of liquid was considered limited in comparison to how much food there was.
When a person is at the height of aveira, his desires get the most of them
But, again, like the midrash says, that when the Jews were offered the pleasures of Olam Habah, they said: Oh, we already enjoyed ourselves in Achashveirosh’s party. Now, what does that mean? So, it’s a midrash pliah. What does that mean? The pshat is that when a person is in the height of an aveira, and their desires are getting the most of them; they’re willing to give up everything. They’re willing to give up Olam Habah. Nothing else matters because they say: I want my pleasures. And, so that’s the pshat. The pshat is that when a person becomes a baal taavah, and just gives in to everything, and just wants to take and take and take, then even when he’s offered the greatest pleasures that are more significant and matter, but his tastebuds and his desires are so off that he just writes it off, and says: Ah, who cares? I don’t need it. I don’t need Olam Habah. I don’t need that pleasure; just give me this thing. And, that’s why it says by Yosef Hatzaddik that when he was about to sin with eishes Potifar, that he didn’t listen to her. “Lihiyos etzlah baOlam Habah.” That he didn’t want to be with her in Olam Habah.” So, the simple understanding that everyone reads that midrash is that what it means is that he recognized that if he sinned with her, he would be in hell with her; he’d be punished with her. But, I think there’s something deeper going on. I think that what it’s saying is that he was saying: No, I’m not going to write off my Olam Habah just for this aveirah. I’m going to get a grip of myself and control myself and I’m going to say this is not a worthwhile endeavor for me that I know that if I would pursue this, it would cause me to write off my Olam Habah because that’s what people do when they get stuck, and so, again, when we think about all these things, the Gra is trying to teach us a phenomenal perspective about how to look at life and how to enjoy life in a healthy way, and connect to Hashem.
6) The difference between before and after of eating versus learning Torah
There’s a very famous Gra on birchas hamazon which I’ll just mention very briefly because the Haflaah says the same thing, and a number of other people do as well, and it’s a fascinating thing, but it says that there’s a kal vachomer. The gemara in Berachos seems to have a contradiction. In one place it says that when you are full, if you have to make a beracha, when you are full and you ate a whole meal you have to bentch. Right? We know that that’s D’oraisa. So, certainly, when you are hungry you should have to make a bracha beforehand, and make a bracha before you eat hamotzi, shehakol, etc. But, yet, it’s very odd because the gemara uses the exact opposite logic by birchas haTorah. The gemara says that we know that you have to make a beracha before you learn, birchas haTorah, that’s before you learn, so, certainly, after you learn, you have to make a bracha. I don’t get it. Is it more logical to make a bracha before or after. So, the Gra says a famous vort which is when it comes to food, a person is hungry, he wants to eat, and that’s when his biggest desire is because he’s so excited to eat, but once a person eats. Eh. I’m full. It wasn’t that good. It wasn’t worth the calories. It wasn’t worth being a glutton, stuffing myself. So, if Hashem says: I want you to bench, and that’s after you ate, when it’s not even as pleasurable because the meal’s already over, and it’s always disappointing because it’s only Olam Hazeh, it’s only physical, so certainly before you eat, when you’re actually excited about it, and in your mind you’re thinking about this desire to eat, certainly you have to make a beracha then, but when it comes to Torah it’s the opposite. Hashem says we have to make a beracha before we learn Torah. That’s birchas HaTorah. So, that’s before you even had the pleasure. Before you even enjoyed it. But, when a person learns, he wants more and more. He realizes how great it is, and he only wants more, this is how enjoyable this is, certainly there you have to make a beracha. So, it’s a perspective what are we talking about? Are we talking about food or are we talking about spiritual things?
7) The Avos are mechapeir on three types of sins
Another thing is in perek 9, pasuk 27. “Zechor l’avdecha, Avraham, Yitzchak v’Yaakov. Al teifenel pishei ha’am hazeh v’el risho, v’el chataso”. Hashem listens to Moshe’s prayer to save the Jewish people. And, there’s a famous Gra that very interesting remazim here. The Gra points out that it is specifically in the merit of the avos that these three aveiros mentioned in the pasuk itself get forgiven. That what are they? If you have rachok, distance from Hashem, Reish, Ches, Kuf. Risho, because of your evilness. Chataso. Your sins. And Pshi, your stubbornness. So, that’s rachok. That’s who’s far from Hashem. Someone who’s a rasha, chotei, and kshei oref. Fascinating. Just that in itself. That’s for a distance from Hashem is. And, there’s a zechus of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov to be mechapeir. Why? Because Avraham is mechapeir on the risha, on your rishus. Why? Because he’s a baal chesed. And, so he would be mechapeir through his kindness. That helps purify us. Yitzchak is din, and so he’s mechpeir on cheit, on actual sins that you do, and Yaakov is rachamim. He’s mechpeir on pshi. On stubbornness, koshi. And, that’s why it says that the degalim were arranged in this order, which we’re not going to go into, but the osios of Aleph, Yud, Yud, Beis, Tzadi, Ayin, Reish, Chuf, Ches, Kuf and Mem, Kuf, Beis, those are the letters on the degalim which is for a whole different time, but that spells out: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. So, if you move the letters, if you go through them, but the letters: Erev, boker and tzaharaim, which there’s a pasuk, by the way, that says “erev, boker v’tzaharayim asicha, v’akam”. I’ll sing to Hashem. So, the letters of erev, boker and tzaharaim have very great significance. The erev is the Ayin of Yaakov. The Beis is the Beis of Avraham, and the Tzadi is the tzaharayim for the afternoon is the prayer that Yitzchak was mesakein. And, finally, which is very, very fascinating, but also it corresponds to the three kedushos which is kadosh, baruch and yimloch. So, kadosh is a Kuf, which is Yaakov. Baruch is Avraham. Kadosh, Baruch and Yimloch. The Kuf, Beis and Mem, again, ties back into Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Very fascinating. Ayein sham pnimei Shulchan Hagra, page 322. Fascinating ideas of the Gra. I think that there’s something very, very deep there.
8) The Torah puts out the fire of taavah
And, finally, a vort from the Maalos HaTorah which is Rav Avraham, the brother of the Gra, and one of the things that I always love about the Maalos HaTorah, aside from the beautiful ideas in his peirush, is that he’s quoting from the Gra, and, sometimes, he’s quoting from himself. But, you see the family in which the Gra grew up where the Torah was so beloved and cherished. Amazing. So, the gemara in Bava Basra has a fascinating thing that “b’rosh kol marin anadam.” The start of all bad things, the head of all bad things is blood. And, “b’rosh kol asfan”, the start of all healing “ana cheimar” is wine. Now, I don’t want anyone to take that out of context. So, the Gra’s brother says, again this is a beautiful pshat in the house that the Vilna Gaon grew up in. That taavah is what causes aveiros. So, the dam, when your blood boils that’s your nefesh, that’s your desires. And, that’s what it means that all bad things, spiritually happen when your desires, blood, take over, and you get hot headed and do things. But, what’s the cure, wine. What does that mean? That’s “ein yayin elah Torah”. That represents Torah. Your passion for Torah could outdo, could douse that fire of desire. That’s what life is all about. And, the last thing the gemara says: In the place where there’s no wine, so there you at least need spices. Says the Gra’s brother again, if you’re not a baal Torah, so what you need to work on your middos. But, if you’re a baal Torah, then the way to work on your middos is not to torture yourself, but rather to learn Torah and Yiras Shamayim because everything is in Torah because as you work on yourself, that will help develop who you are. And, in fact, the Gra in agados, in Berach 57 says this exact thing. This is his pshat. SO, obviously this was something that was in the Vilna Gaon family. So, and of course, spices always refer to middos. Anyways, so what do we see, we see that Torah is the greatest cure for everything, and Torah develops our middos as well. WE should all be zocheh to live a life filled with Torah and Yiras Shamayim.
Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at ParshaThemes.com