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Rabbi Avigdor Miller did not want to publish this work during his lifetime. He felt that so soon after the Holocaust it would upset survivors
Many passages in the Torah appear at first glance to be repetitious. Often, each iteration has a unique and deep message. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, finds such a case (in the passage of the Blessings and Curses) in the Torah's instruction to keep Hashem’s commandments and walk in His ways. Also in the passage of the Blessings and Curses, Rabbi Miller highlights the great blessing of a long life.
Moshe's blessing to the nation of Israel is interesting in that a similar blessing, which Hashem had given Avraham and Yizchak, had already been fulfilled. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, observes that among the greastest blessings is abundant offspring, and therefore this blessing was particularly auspicious – even the third time around.
In the confrontation between Israel and Midian, the Torah reveals the great void of virtue that separated the two nations. While Israel had fallen to great depths in the challenge of the Peor, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, points out that it had risen again to great heights in the ensuing battle against a nation steeped in immorality.
“Pinchas Ben Elazar Ben Aharon the kohen turned away my wrath from upon the sons of Israel by his zeal for my sake in their midst; and I did not bring destruction upon the sons of Israel because of my jealousy. Therefore, say, behold, I give to him my covenant of peace” (25:11-2). This is a special proclamation of acclaim. Though Moshe certainly approved of Pinchas, Hashem here teaches the necessity to render public recognition to the righteous.
In the aftermath of the episode of Zimri and the Midianite women, Hashem struck down 24,000 Jews. Yet immediately afterward, Hashem reaffirmed his tremendous love for Israel. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that this is in character with Hashem's quality of chastising severely the nation he loves so dearly.
Aharon HaKohen is distinguished for his love of peace. Korach earned distinction for failing in this area; his name has become synonymous with dispute and divisiveness. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found in this story a striking lesson about the danger of argumentativeness and its application to every Jew.
One aspect of Divine Justice stipulates that through the decisions we make we help shape the world around us. Good deeds bring in their wake positive outcomes and the reverse is also true. In the mitzvah of the Second Pesach (Pesach Sheni), Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, develops this understanding and finds that Hashem manipulated history specifically for the purpose of making such outcomes happen.
Each detail in the Torah is laden with meaning. Surely the service vessels of the Temple had great importance and consequence over and above their routine service. In the description of the menorah that stood in chamber outside the Holy of Holies, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found layer upon layer of meaning.
Parshas Naso is notable for its length, and its length is notable for its redundancy. The Torah minces no words, and therefore we understand that the repetition in the description of the Mishkan's inaugural service is purposeful and laden with meaning. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that this is a reflection on the importance and centrality of the Mishkan.
The Generation of the Wilderness was unique in the history of Israel, as Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains concerning the first verse of Bamidbar. Israel was slated for a special mission in the world, and this mission was begun with a special forty-year inauguration in which Israel gained an intense and unmatched closeness to Hashem.
The Talmud tells us that compassion is one of the three traits that distinguish the nation of Israel (the others are shame and kindness). The Torah abounds with commandments that exercise this quality, and Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that they are given for exactly that purpose.
Although the tzoraas affliction is no more in contemporary times, it teaches lessons that are eternal. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that foremost among these lessons is the greatness of Torah leaders and their wisdom. Another lesson: The opportunity the affliction presented to the afflicted for repentance and seld-improvement.
The commentators discuss the meaning and implications of the “strange fire” brought as an offering by Nadav and Avihu. In his discussion of this perplexing passage, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, discusses their early demise and observes that their death served a greater purpose (through the sadness that ensued) and that despite receiving a divine death penalty, the Torah regards them as great people.
To the modern mind, korbanos may seem foreign or hard to understand. Yet they were a key component of the service of Hashem. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that offerings served many purposes, including a primary purpose of expressing thanks to Hashem. Thus, following the book of Exodus comes the book dealing with sacrifices as an expression of thanks for the deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
The story of Joseph’s rise to power is striking. Each facet of Joseph’s life was a preparation for his grand career as one of Israel’s foremost leaders. In this episode, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found Hashem’s providence to be strikingly evident and saw in each incident of his life the future benefit for Israel.
Hashem has many agents who do His bidding and bring about in the world the ends He desires. Sometimes the agent is rather unlikely, as when an evil person’s deeds bring about something beneficial. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that such was the case when Rivkah’s family bestowed upon her a blessing that in fact alluded to Israel’s ultimate elevation over the other nations, and Hashem’s ultimate kingship over all the world.
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