Ki Savo 5778

RABBI ZEV MEISELS

Klal Yisrael are commanded that upon crossing the Yarden and entering Eretz Yisrael, they must write the Torah on stones in seventy languages. The Abarbenel explains that this was a monument to the Jews entering the land. Kings and nations across the world erect monuments to commemorate their achievements, and write all their accomplishments (real and imagined) on them. Hashem commands the Jewish people differently. Write the Torah! Realize what is important and what you should be doing!
This entire episode is recounted in sefer Yehoshua. On the tenth day of Nissan, the job of carrying the Aron HaBris was transferred from the family of Kehas to the Kohanim. Hashem commanded Yehoshua to tell the Kohanim to carry the Aron. As the Kohanim’s feet entered the Yarden for the first time, the river stood up straight. Not like the Yam Suf, where both sides froze; at the river, the water continued flowing downstream. Only the new water coming down stopped flowing as it reached them and started to pile up towards the sky. It continued to grow as more water arrived, and stayed that way until all of Bnei Yisrael had crossed over the Yarden.
On the same day, they also traveled the 120 mil to Har Gerizim and Har Eval to recite the Brachos, and returned to the camp in Gilgal and performed Brissim on all the men.
The Malbim points out that when the Pasuk (Devarim 27:3) says to write the Torah בעברך, as you cross (the Yarden), it means that it should be written when you are in the Yarden!
There is an important lesson to be learned here. Torah must be studied at all times and under all circumstances. Even standing in the middle of the Yarden, with the water towering over his head, a Jew must find the ישוב הדעת, the peace of mind to be able to learn Torah. Making these stones is not just a monument to the laws of the Torah, but also a reminder to how diligently it must be studied.
The Ponovezher Rov often told a story that he heard first hand. During the first World War, Reb Aharon Borenstein was the Rav of Tavrig, a village in Lithuania. During the war, there was intense fighting near the village. The army which held the city at that time imposed a blackout on the entire area. One night, Reb Aharon was up learning by candlelight and did not realize that the shutters were open and light was shining out.
A nearby patrol noticed the fire, and upon finding Reb Aharon, they accused him of sending signals to the enemy – a crime that carried a death penalty.
When the soldiers told Reb Aharon that they were going to shoot him, he begged them, as a last request, “Please, I’m in the middle of trying to understand a difficult Torah discussion in the Rambam. Can you wait to shoot me until after I finish understanding it?”
The amused soldiers agreed. As Reb Aharon was learning, the enemy launched a counterattack and the soldiers ran away, leaving the Rav surprised and unharmed.
It is almost unbelievable to reach this Torah scholar’s level. Even when faced with imminent death, he was able to concentrate on a Rambam. But on a lesser level, everyone has things nagging at them, worries and fears. When one learns Torah, it is essential that he controls these distractions and learns with full attention.