A Hidden Message by Max Shulman


Sefer Devarim is called Mishneh Torah, a repetition of the Torah, by Chazal, and there are many instances of repeated stories and Halchot within the Sefer. The commentators deal with this both on a global level and on an individual level. There are analyses of the nature of repeated stories, subtle implications of the repetition, and the differences in the text.

In speaking to the people, Moshe recognizes that it is the last year of his life and he needs to impart messages that will help the nation survive after he is no longer around to guide them.

The Pasuk relating Moshe’s comments to Bnei Yisrael as they leave Har Sinai reads, ”Rav Lachem Sov Et HaHar HaZeh Penu Lachem Tzafonah," "You have navigated this mountain long enough turn you northward" (Devarim 2:3). The Kli Yakar interprets the word “Tzafonah” not from the root "Tzafon," meaning north, but from the root "Tzafun," meaning hidden. He says that if a Jew is successful, he should hide all of his possessions from the nation of Eisav, as they would become jealous of the Jews for reaping the benefits of Yitzchak's blessing that they believe should have been theirs. He finds more support from Rashi who comments on Ya’akov’s instruction to his sons as they prepared to buy food from Mitzrayim for the famine, "Lamah Titra'u" "Why are you looking at each other" (BeReishit 42:1). Rashi states that this means that they should not stand around and be observed by others, even though they still had food, as they would be loathed by Eisav.

The message that emerges from this is that one should not flaunt his wealth. Of course there are several obvious reasons for this, but the Kli Yakar‘s main focus is not to create jealousy amongst the nations of the world. We live in a world with almost 7 billion people and the Jewish community represents such a small percentage of the world; however, we find that in every generation we do not slip under the global radar.

Our impact is of much greater importance than our statistical representation. At Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum in Jerusalem, there is an interesting exhibit about understanding why there is such prevalent anti-Semitism. This exhibit speaks of the Rothschild family, who had amassed great wealth in eighteen century Europe. It writes that this family received tremendous hatred due to their money.

This argument could be expanded to many areas, the ability to demonstrate prowess in other areas such as academics, sports, is clear. The challenge to maintain humility and modesty and yet achieve excellence in a field remains a tremendous challenge.

The message from the Kli Yakar is very clear and obvious. We need to be able to achieve our wealth, but simultaneously, we need to learn how to hide it in order not to create humility. While, the Kli Yakir focuses on the other nations of the world, we can extend it even to amongst the Jewish nation. We should all be sensitive to the topic, and not create jealousy among ourselves by flaunting our wealth.

Maximizing Your Potential by Avi Rosalimsky

Operating Within the System by Ben Notis