This was a fitting time for Moshe to deliver focused words of rebuke
“These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael…” (Devarim 1:1)
We often seek to connect one parshah to the following one, emphasizing the continuity of the Torah as a unified, flowing whole.
The Ohr HaChaim points to the opening word of Devarim: eileh. The word eileh is generally used to limit or minimize. What is it teaching here? (Yehuda Z. Klitnick, Pardes Yehuda)
My husband parked and shut off the ignition. For a moment there was blessed silence. The day at the seashore had been fun, but now, after so many hours of listening to songs, stories, and squabbles from the back seat, I just wanted to close my eyes and ignore the sandy, wet crew behind me.
“Let’s get going.” I roused myself. “Binyamin, grab the cooler, Avi, carry up the beach chairs, Yitzi, make sure your wet clothes go straight into the laundry room.” I tried to infuse some cheer into my voice as I swung out of the car. “Wasn’t today great? Now we just gotta clean up before we all can relax for the night.”
“Those beach chairs are heavy!” Avi dragged them out of the trunk. “Don’t know why everyone couldn’t just sit on the sand.”
“My clothes aren’t wet anymore.” Yitzi jumped out of the car, shaking sand as he went. “They’re just gritty.”
“Gritty clothes also straight into the laundry room.”
“I get the first shower!” Avi headed up the stairs.
“No, Shloime gets the first shower.” I hoisted an almost sleeping Shloime onto my hip. “He needs to get into pajamas.”
My voice was quickly losing its forced cheer, and we hadn’t even gotten into the house yet.
The Ohr HaChaim explains that eileh is defining the difference between before and now. During Klal Yisrael’s entire 40-year saga in the Midbar, Moshe Rabbeinu never delivered harsh words of admonition. Why not?
Within minutes, the hall was full of knapsacks, empty canteens, and of course, wet towels.
“Wet clothes to the laundry room!” I repeated, feeling like a sergeant issuing orders in boot camp. However, my troops weren’t paying the slightest bit of attention.
“Yitzi! Why did you dump your seashells on your bed? Now we need to wash all your sheets.”
“The shells can shower with me.” Yitzi was unperturbed as I gathered his gritty linen and headed to the laundry room.
“Who put their Crocs in the washing machine?” The laundry room walls stubbornly refused to tattle. “That load has to stop so this linen gets washed! Someone needs to pick up all the towels in the hall… Shloime needs clean pajamas. And…” My litany continued, but not even the washing machine was listening.
The Gemara (Shabbos 86b) says that on the Yidden’s first day of arrival at Har Sinai, they didn’t receive any significant teachings or commands because of their exhaustion from the journey.
The parshah before ours, parshas Masei, details Bnei Yisrael’s numerous journeys in the Midbar. It’s plausible to posit that any words of admonition would not have been well received due to the nation’s exhaustion. However, at the time of our parshah, the nation was at rest, on the cusp of entering Eretz Yisrael. That was a fitting time for Moshe to deliver focused words of rebuke.
“Ma, what’s for supper?”
Supper? I was elbow-deep in seashells, scooping them out of the bathtub where they had indeed showered with Yitzi, but failed to wash up the bathtub wall as they do on the surf.
Supper! I was about to go off on a speech of ‘He who prepares for supper gets to eat supper’ when I remembered — I had supper bubbling in the crockpot. Brilliant me. Supper was served, and everyone relaxed, me included.
“Today was great fun, no?” Their cheers were authentic. “I know sometimes it’s hard when we get back, to help out with the after-trip chores, but they gotta be done too.”
“Sorry, Ma, I’ll put the towels in the dryer,” Binyamin offered.
“I’ll make up my bed with fresh sheets,” Yitzi followed suit. “But can the seashells sleep on my pillow now that they’re clean?”
Ah. The way to my boys’ good hearts is through full stomachs. A word from the (now) wise me: A relaxed command is worth two in a rush.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 751)
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