I beseeched G-d at that time (3:23)
Moses prayed 515 prayers—the numerical value (gematria) of va’etchanan, “and I beseeched”—to be allowed to enter the Land. The Yalkut Shemini explains: When Moses saw that the decree had been sealed against him, he went and drew a circle and sat inside it, and said: I am not moving from here until You nullify the decree! . . . He then wrapped himself in sackcloth and covered himself with ashes, and stood in prayer and supplication before G-d until the heaven and the earth and the very laws of creation began to tremble, and said: Perhaps the time has come for G-d to destroy the world? . . . What did G-d do at that moment? He announced at every gate of every heaven and at every gate of every court that Moses’ prayer should not be admitted . . . for the voice of Moses’ prayer was like a sword that slices and rips, and which nothing can stop . . . Said Moses to G-d: If You will not allow me to enter the Land, allow me to [enter] as a beast of the field, which grazes on the grass and drinks water and sees the world that way—let my soul be as one of those!
Said G-d: “Enough!” Said Moses to G-d: If You will not allow me to enter the Land, allow me to [enter] as a bird that flies in the air to all four corners of the earth to collect its feed, and in the evening returns to its nest—let my soul be as one of those! Said G-d: “Enough!”
There is none else beside Him (4:35)
Rabbi Binyamin Kletzker, a chassid of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was a lumber merchant. One year, while he was adding up the annual accounts, he inadvertently filled in under a column of figures: “TOTAL: Ein od milvado (‘There is none else beside Him’).” A fellow chassid admonished him for his absentmindedness. “Don’t you know, Reb Binyamin, that everything has its time and place?” he admonished. “There’s a time for chassidic philosophizing, and a time to engage in worldly matters. A person’s business dealings are also an important part of his service of the Almighty, and must be properly attended to.” Said Rabbi Binyamin: “We consider it perfectly natural if, during prayer, one’s mind wanders off to the fair in Leipzig. So what’s so terrible if, when involved in business, an ‘alien thought’ regarding the oneness of G-d infiltrates the mind?”
You shall love the L-rd your G-d . . . (6:5) The Maggid of Mezeritch expounded on this verse, and asked: how can there be a commandment to love? Love is a feeling of the heart; one who has the feeling, loves. What can a person do if, G-d forbid, love is not embedded in his heart? How can the Torah instruct “you shall love” as if it were a matter of choice? But the commandment actually lies in the previous verse, “Hear O Israel . . .” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch explains: The Hebrew word shema (“hear”) also means “comprehend.” The Torah is commanding a person to study, comprehend and reflect upon the oneness of G-d. Because it is the nature of the mind to rule the heart, such contemplation will inevitably lead to a love of G-d. If one contemplates deeply and yet is still not excited with a love of G-d, this is only because he has not sufficiently refined and purified himself of the things which stifle his capacity to sense and relate to the divine. Aside from this, such contemplation by the mind will always result in a feeling of love.
Prepared by Devorah Abenhaim