In this short parsha Moshe presents a prophetic song to the Jewish people. This song briefly predicts our entire history[1] and we are commanded to write it down[2] and teach it to our children. In his introduction, Moshe mentions (Devarim 32:3): “When I proclaim Hashem’s Teaching[3], give praise to our G-d.” The Talmud (Brochos 21a) learns from this statement that we are supposed to thank Hashem for giving us the Torah[4]! Thus, special blessings were instituted to be recited before learning[5]. What is the meaning of these blessings?




In general two types[6] of blessings were instituted to be recited before learning Torah. The first one mentions mainly the mitzvah of learning, while in the second one we thank Hashem for giving us the Torah. Indeed, our holy sages wanted to include in the blessings of Torah both ideas[7] since the learning of Torah is both a mitzvah and a pleasure[8].


Delving deeper into this subject we can note that our sages commanded us to recite only the second of the blessings when Torah is being read in a congregation. It thus seems[9] that the second brocha primarily corresponds to the Written Torah. On the other hand, the first brocha that implies busying[10] ourselves with Torah fits the learning of the Talmud and other parts of Oral Law. It is the Oral Law that occupies a person with pilpul[11] – trying to resolve the difficulties and contradictions[12].


As we mentioned before[13] the Oral Law and the Written Torah enjoy a very deep relationship which is compared to the Earth and the Heavens, and to the Wife and the Husband[14]. In some ways the husband has a better position than his wife and in some ways the wife has an advantage for everything depends on a woman[15]. In truth they work together as a unit each one having a special role[16]. Similarly, the written Torah in many ways is the most wondrous possession we have with every words and letter containing myriads of hints and secrets[17]. Still it is the Talmud through which our covenant with Hashem is sealed, and the words of our Rabbis that are most precious[18]. The Oral depends on our nation while the written Torah is unchanging, and being copied letter by letter. The relationship between the two Torahs is thus similar to the relationship between us and Hashem, ultimately characterized by a statement in Shir Hashirim (5:2): “You are my twin” meaning: “You are not greater than me and I am not greater than you[19]”. May we deserve to study and understand the Holy Torah and live till the coming of Moshiach, when the true greatness of our Torah will begin to get revealed[20].



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[1] See Ramban, Devarim 32:40. See our words to parshas Devarim, that Haazinu corresponds to the Sefira of Yesod – Foundation. It groups all the Sefiros above it to pass the Divine Flow to Malchus. This is why this parsha includes the entire Torah. Indeed we learn from here that the entire Torah has to be written by every Jew, see below. Note that In our day most people fulfill the mitzvah of writing the Torah by either buying some parsha, sentence or letter in partnership with others (see Pischey Tshuva, Yore Deah 270:1) or by buying various printed books including the Chumash, Mishna, Talmud and Shulchan Aruch (see  Drisha and Prisha on Yore Deah 270:8).


[2] From here we learn the commandment of writing the entire Torah since an individual parsha is not to be written down (see Talmud, Sanhedrin 21b, Rambam, Laws of Sefer Torah 7:1).


[3] Literally “Name of Hashem”, but here it can mean the Teaching of Hashem (see Haksav Vehakabala 32:3).


[4] Indeed Ramban (in Hasagos to Sefer Hamitzvos, missing positive commandments, 15) writes that the blessing on learning Torah are of biblical origin, (see also Shaagas Arye 24, Mishna Berura 47:1). According to other opinions this blessing is only an asmachta, i.e. it’s only hinted in the Torah (see Kaf Hachaim 47:2).


[5] Note that in general the blessings over the mitzvos are supposed to be recited each time the mitzvah is performed. Thus, Tefillin or Tzitzis that were taken off for a long time require a new blessing when put again. However, regarding the learning of Torah, it’s considered that we never interrupt. Even when we work the entire day, our mind is supposed to be on returning back to learning as soon as we get a chance. This is why we only recite the blessing on learning Torah once daily (see Taz, Orach Chaim 47:8).


[6] There is actually a dispute whether there are two or three blessing on learning Torah. In our commentary we followed the opinion that there are two blessings, but even according to the second opinion, the first two can be grouped together for they mention mainly the mitzvah of learning, while the last blessing is a brocha of thankfulness. This is why our comments can apply to the second opinion as well.


[7] See Haga in Levush, Orach Chaim 47:6, Moadim Vezmanim, 1:32, Shailos Vetshuvos Min Hashamaim, 10.


[8] There are many blessing instituted on various enjoyments: eating, drinking, smelling fragrances etc. There are also many brochos instituted on performing mitzvos (see Tshuvos HaRashba 1:18 regarding why certain mitzvos don’t have a brocha). Torah is both a wonderful gift that can gladden the heart (see Tehillim 19:9) and also the greatest mitzvah (see Mishna, Peah 1:1). Even though not everyone who start learning immediately feels the pleasure, with time one can feel enormous enjoyment from learning to such an extent that nothing else in life is as pleasure full (see GR”A on Mishley 1:23).


[9] See Yavetz in his Sidur and Eliahu Raba 47:4.


[10] The Nusach of Ashkenazi Jews in this blessing is “Laasok Bedivrey Torah” to occupy ourselves in learning Torah.


[11] Indeed this is the main learning in the Yeshivos. The Talmud, the Tosafos and other Rishonim, the Acharonim are all trying to resolve the many questions that arise based on the Mishna, Braisa, Tosefta, etc. See also Rambam, Laws of learning Torah and Shulchan Aruch, Yore Deah 346:4 regarding the fact that our main learning is that of the Talmud.


[12] See also Ramchal, Adir Bamarom, pg. 38 in standard edition, based on Tikuney Zohar that all the difficulties and disputes have a spiritual root in the unclean side causing lack of understanding. The sages had to battle against the unclean side to bring out the “princess” – the true halacha.


[13] See our words to parshas Mishpatim.


[14] They also correspond to the time of the day and the night. Indeed one should preferably learn the Written Torah during daytime and the Oral Law at night (see Shla Hakodesh, Shvuos 18 based on Midrash Pirkey DeRabbi Eliezer 45, see also Mishna Berura Shaarey Tziun 238:1, questions and answers “Betzel Hochma 4:44). In truth there is a dispute whether a person who did not sleep the entire night should recite the blessings on Torah in the morning again (see Mishna Berura 47:28). This dispute is dependant on whether the blessings on Torah are primarily brochos on a mitzvah or brochos of thanksgiving (see Shulkchan Aruch Harav 47:7). Indeed this question was presented to angels by one of the Mekubalim from the school of Tosafos (see Shailos Vetshuvos Min Hashamaim, 10). The answer was that one can conduct himself according to either opinion. The reason may be what we wrote above: the blessings over Torah indeed include both a brocha on the mitzvah and the blessings of thankfulness.


[15] See Talmud, Sanhedrin 110a; Sefer Hasidim, 135; Kav Hayashar, 81.


[16] Rav Ezriel Tauber compares them to the minister of internal affairs and the minister of external affairs.


[17] The GR”A in the end of his life only studied the Written Torah since he was able to find all the words of our sages hinted in it. Moreover the entire history of all society with details is predicted by our Written Torah (see the GR”A on fifth chapter of Sifra Detzniusa). With the recent discovery of Torah codes, based on the findings of Rabbeinu Weissmandel, we can see at least one way in which the Torah predicts and accounts for all lives for all generations.


[18] See Talmud, Avoda Zara 35a and Rashi there.


[19] See Shir Hashirim Raba 5:3. See also Ramban, Breishis 24:1; Ramchal Daas Tvunos, 158; Klalim Rishonim, 29; Zohar 1:5a.


[20] See Ramchal, Tikunim Chadashim, 18; Shla, Pesachim, Torah Ohr, 26.