|From The Rebbe's Tish: Devarim: Of Light & Darkness|
|Written by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
In Tehillim 135 and also instituted as part of the Hallel Hagadol we recite on Shabbos, we say שהכה גויים רבים והרג מלכים עצומים לסיחון מלך האמורי ולעוג מלך הבשן . This apparently is not grammatical. The passuk should have not said לסיחון ולעוג with the prefix letter of lamed which means to but rather סיחון ועוג since only the names of the kings whom Hashem smote are listed. Furthermore we find the pesukim to be very repetitive שהכה גויים רבים והרג מלכים עצומים . not only are they repetitive but some words seem definitely extra נתן ארצם לנחלה נחלה לישראל עמו each phrase with its own designated כי לעולם חסדוin the Hallel Hagadol. Both phrases should have been contained into one נתן ארצם לנחלה לישראל כי לעולם חסדו? Rav Scjwab ztl in his sefer Mayan Beis Hashoaivah answers the following. The passuk in our parsha says that the land of Sichon and Og was originally under the rule of the Aimim and Refaim nations (2,10-11) who were powerful and were giants. Their land was captured by Kedorleomer and the three other kings who defeated them at war (Bereishis 14,5). Only after Yisrael conquered Sichon did the original of the Aimim and Refaim nations fall into their possession.
With this historical background let us now review the above pesukim and we will see clearly that there are absolutely no redundancy or grammatical mistakes found within. למכה מלכים גדולים ויהרוג מלכים אדירים does not refer as we thought previously to Sichon and Og but rather to the nations of Amim and Refaim. Although they were mighty, nevertheless Hashem gave strength to Kedorleomer to defeat them and conquer their lands. The intention of Hashem with this victory was to give over that captured territory to Sichon and Og to hold onto until it was time to change hands and transfer into Yisrael’s possession. This is what the passukim are clearly saying by adding on the lamed to Sichon and Og. Dovid Hamelech was not listing the names of Sichon and Og as the ones who were described as מלכים אדירים וגדולים. Rather, these great and mighty kings are referring to the rulers of the Refaim and Aimim nations. Their land was given as an inheritance TO Sichon and Og נתן ארצם לנחלה to hold onto until they were transferred to Yisrael נחלה לישראל עמו - here again we see Hashem’s providence in the world with the middah of סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה. The sole purpose of all the previous war and battles shed over this territory was to present it to Am Yisrael generations later.
Parshas Devarim is always read on Shabbos Chazon which is the Shabbos before Tisha B’av. I would like to suggest that this interpretation of the pesukim relay the message and the definition of the vision and inspiration with which every Yid must prepare himself concerning the Chruban. The Torah states that the erev precedes the boker, the darkness before the light, the yeridah before the aliyah. Our emunah is not just that there is a light at the end of the tunnel but rather in the tunnel itself within the darkness is concealed the light. It is we who do not merit to see it but it is truly there. In every challenge and pain there is an embrace of Hashem that screams out this is for your good and many times over the span of time and sometimes even immediately afterwards we thank Hashem for that difficulty.
The Nodah Beyehudah in his sefer Telach makes an enlightening comment on the gemarrah in Pesachim that says that when Moshiach will come we will no longer recite the beracha of dayan haemes but rather hatov vehamaitiv even on the seemingly bad decrees. Asks the Tzelach will there really be bad things happening to people at the time of Moshiach? He answers to the negative and therefore this Chazal must be interpreted to mean that when the geulah arrives we will look back retroactively at all the seeming voids and anguish we have encountered, those that we wished then that we never experienced, however now on these very same dark events and with our new perspective of clarity, we will then bless the beracha of Hatov Umeitiv with the deepest gratitude.
We must look at all the challenges of life that Hashem sends to our address as a beautiful woven tapestry. Show a person who does not know the science of this art such a tapestry but first the side which portrays the all the knots and loose pieces everything “mishgebabled”. His response will be in great bewilderment remarking What you spent 10 years working on this ugly piece of work? Then turn it around and to his surprise it suddenly becomes a breathless magnificent tapestry of art. Only then will he fully realize that it is impossible to create such a beautiful work without all the messy knots and the loose strings. Every knot and loose string contains an inner light and beauty of its own but most times they can only be appreciated when the tapestry finally comes to its end. In one aspect the knots and strings of the tzitzis symbolize the same. The blue string represents the kisay hakovod. No way can one attain the revelations of Hashem’s glory without passing over the hurdles and challenges that impede one’s keeping of Hashem’s mitzvos.
Kordolaomer’s conquering of the Aimim and Refaeem nations was only the beginning of a string of events that ended with Yisrael inheriting Eretz Yisrael. In the letters of כדרלעמר is hinted an incredible acronym which is a famous Chazal that tells us that everything that Hashem does, even events that appear superficially bad, are essentially truly good. That Chazal is a statement of Rabbe Akiva in Berachos 60b כל מה דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד ! Rabbe Akiva understood that dictum very well for he emerged from the biggest darkness by descending from gentiles and even so he became the light of the Oral Torah. This we can learn from his reaction related at the end of Mesecta Makkos upon viewing the sadness that overcame his colleagues when they saw a fox roaming in the ruins of the Beis Hamikdash. He was able to see the light of hope and geulah by piercing through the cloak of the very deep darkness of the churban and say that this darkness itself is the very proof of the geulah.
When the Romans entered the Kodesh Hakadashim they found that the cherubim were embracing each other. Chazal say that this position of facing each other was a barometer to measure and display the close relationship Am Yisrael was having with Hashem. If their positions were turned away from each other that was indicative that the relationship with Hashem lacked their natural intimacy. So how could it be possible that at the height of the Churban one found the cherubim not only facing each other but even more so embracing? The answer is that in the deepest darkness there is an even deeper light that we cannot see. For it is Hashem’s desire to benefit Man that motivates Him to bring the darkness for the purpose of creating within him the appropriate vessel to receive His beracha and hatavah from his greatest and most concerned benefactor
Our Chazal say better that Hashem poured out his anger on stones and wood by destroying the Mikdash than to have spilled it over His people. The outcome? Every piece of wood that burned and every single stone that was smashed and toppled can be seen as an embrace of love from Hashem for by the Churban He spared His beloved children from annihilation.
I would suggest that the 21 days of the three weeks correspond to the 21 days of closeness to Hashem that Yidden achieve from Rosh Hashanah until the end of Succos. This could be the remez in the passuk in Aicha 5,15 נהפך לאבל מחולינו – You have turned our dancing into mourning. On Succos Am Yisrael reaches an incredible height of closeness with Hashem as it is the culmination of the Yamim Noraim. “One who did not experience Simchas Beis Hashoaiva really never experienced true simcha in his lifetime” which was highlighted with song and dancing all night. This passuk tells us that this same simcha which radiates an incredible light is contained in the incredible darkness of these three weeks of availus only that it is concealed and cloaked.
The Apter Rav in parshas Pinchus writes that these 21 days correspond to the name of Hashem of אהיה which is gemtriah 21. This name sends the message that Hashem says that I will be with Yisrael in every situation even in galus. Tisha B’av falls on the 9th day of the month of Av. ט is the letter that is numerically nine. This letter symbolizes tov fobbosr the Chazal say that if one dreams of the letter tes it is a harbinger of good tidings. Also we find that the first time the letter tes appears in the Torah it is the first letter of the word tov. The structural form of letter is that the top is curved inwards as if it the tov is hidden paralleling the passuk (Tehillim 31,20) מה רב טובך אשר צפנת ליראיך. The ninth of Av symbolizes that the tov concealed in this day of overwhelming darkness will be the av the head of all the lights that we have experienced in good times.
We must learn from the parsha that our proper spiritual posture towards churban both on a personal and klal level is כדרלעמר that everything that Hashem does is לטב to bring out that hidden light that is cloaked inside. Getting Eretz Yisrael for the tachlis of building the Beis Hamikdash was a long journey passing through many hands, wars, deaths, and darkness all within the plan of Yisrael eventually building it. All along underneath the cloak of all this void and churban lay a hidden ray of an other worldly light that navigated and guided that darkness towards its goal of revealing the ultimate kovod shamayim in the universe. ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום אחד May we merit to see that day that the entire world will chant in unison Hashem echad!!