For the Love of God by Rabbi Joel Grossman


In our Parashah we find the Mitzvah to write a Torah. The Pasuk states, "VeAtah Kitvu Lachem Et HaShirah HaZot," "And now write this song for yourselves" (Devarim 31:19). The Rambam (Hilchot Sefer Torah 7:1) writes that this commandment applies only to the portion that follows, namely, Parashat Ha'azinu. However, because we are not allowed to write one Parashah by itself, to fulfill this commandment we must write the entire Torah. In his Darash Moshe, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt''l questions this teaching. He wonders why we are prohibited to write just one portion of the Torah. Regarding Tefilin and Mezuzah there is no issue to write just one section. It would follow, therefore, that for the fulfillment of any Mitzvah the Torah would allow us to write just one section. If the Mitzvah of writing "this song" is to write just Parashat Ha'azinu, why would we be stopped for writing that Parashah alone?

Rav Moshe explains that to properly perceive all that is said in Shirat Ha'azinu to the point that it will influence us to repent and gain holiness, we must understand the entire Torah and become Torah scholars to the best of our abilities. Only then can we truly understand what is meant in Ha'azinu. Thus, although the specific commandment is to write that specific Parashah, it is necessary to write and understand the entire Torah to properly fulfill the charge.

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shuva. There are many reasons for this name. The week, being between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, is a time to think about how we conduct ourselves and how we should repent for our sins.

Indeed, Teshuvah has been in the front of our minds for over a month now. Still, how does Teshuvah work? The Gemara in Yoma (86b) quotes two opinions of Reish Lakish. The first opinion is that Teshuvah is great because it will change our sins done on purpose from intentional transgressions to mistaken trangressions. Reish Lakish suggests alternatively that Teshuvah is great because it converts sins into Mitzvot. There is an apparent contradiction between these two statements that the Gemara attempts to reconcile; namely, does Teshuvah transform purposeful Aveirot into mistaken Aveirot or into Mitzvot? The Gemara answers that Teshuvah, when done out of fear, turns intentional sins into mistaken sins, but when done out of love, elevates deliberate sins into Mitzvot. In order to learn and understand the power and importance of love-based repentance, we must study the entire Torah and become knowledgeable in all of its parts.

May we all try to become as familiar with the entire Torah as possible and reach the level of love-based repentance for Hashem. With this, let the year of 5773 be granted a wonderful one filled with health, good news, and peace in Israel.

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