Thursday, July 15, 2010

[KollelH blog] Devarim - Chodesh Av

Sefer Devarim opens as 'mussar shmooze' from Moshe Rabeinu to the young generation about to enter Eretz Yisrael. Rashi writes that in a show of respect for klal yisrael Moshe did not want to openly rebuke them. The names of places mentioned in the psukim are actually hinting to the downfalls our nation experienced in those places.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz"l offers another purpose for this indirect manner of criticism. Moshe did not want to expose the new generation to evils that they were not yet aware of. Informing an individual with the ways of the wicked, plants those ideas into the realm of possibility in his mind. Therefore Moshe chose to just hint to the sins that were committed, so that those who already knew of them would understand the reference, while the innocent minds amongst them would not be affected. (The most infamous sins were able to be addressed openly.)
Perhaps we can introduce another possible explanation. There is an often qouted pasuk in mishlei (1:8) led me to this understanding. "Shma bni mussar avicha v'al titosh toras imecha" - Listen my son to the discipline of your father and do not ignore the instruction of your mother. Why is it that mussar comes from the father but Torah - instruction from the mother? Secondly, why must we tell the son to be attentive and listen to his father, whereas he does not need that prodding to listen to his mother, rather he needs only not to ignore her?
I believe we can answer as follows. We find numerous instances in chazal that speak of an interesting point in the relationship of a son to his father. "One should ask himself, 'When will my actions be comparable to those of my fathers?' ." "A son is like the leg of his father". The image of Yaakov withheld Yosef from aishes Potifar.
It appears to me that chazal note the tendency of a son to naturally feel 'measured against' and judged relative his father's accomplishments. A son subconsciously feels that he is the foot stepping into his father's large shoes. This feeling is so overbearing that the father's mere existence is already a critique of his son. A father does not need to openly instruct his son. Given the dynamics of their relationship, direct criticism can be too powerful for the son to absorb constructively, leaving him a dangerously low self esteem. A father can merely hint to his expectations, and so long as his son is listening attentively, the subtle rebuke will be heard and well taken. A mother on the other hand, with her love and softer nature can offer clear instruction to her son without him feeling offended. She may directly give orders, so the son does not need to be especially attentive to understand her. He just should not ignore her.

Rav Avrahm Schor has said that the month of  "AV" is the month when our Father in heaven is quite near us it is the closeness preceding Elul. It is specifically that closeness which creates a great measure of unfulfilled expectations of the son's 'owning up' to his Father.

Perhaps the new generation, who were not the same strong, red-necked, 'am kshei oref ' as their predecessors could not bear the direct form of mussar given to the generation before. The mussar of Moshe rabeinu had to be expressed more subtly, in an indirect fashion.

In the month of AV let us listen to the subtle critique from Avinu shebashamayim. Let the indirect message of the roshei taivos of 'A.V.' - Elul Ba'ah- arouse our souls to prepare for the coming season.

Let's not let our FATHER down. May this tishah b'av become a day of rejoicing!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/15/2010 11:48:00 PM

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