Parashat Vaetchanan

Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shemuel Akhamzadeh

וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם֒ כִּ֣י הִ֤וא חָכְמַתְכֶם֙ וּבִ֣ינַתְכֶ֔ם לְעֵינֵ֖י הָעַמִּ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַחֻקִּ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְאָמְר֗וּ רַ֚ק עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּֽה׃

Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” Devarim, 4:6

Chatam Sofer explains that seemingly the Torah doesn’t provide us with all the wisdom necessary to uphold all of its laws and one would need to look at outside sources to gain this wisdom. For example, in order to set the Jewish calendar (as it’s required by Halacha), the sages were required to know astronomy. Similarly, a Bet Din ( Jewish court) would need to know the intrinsic details of sorcery to judge a sorcerer justly.

However, the truth is that all the required wisdom is hinted to in the Torah in the words of Pirke Avoth made famous by Shwekey’s album:
בֶּן בַּג בַּג אוֹמֵר, הֲפֹךְ בָּהּ וַהֲפֹךְ בָּהּ, דְּכֹלָּא בָהּ. וּבָהּ תֶּחֱזֵי, וְסִיב וּבְלֵה בָהּ, וּמִנַּהּ לֹא תָזוּעַ, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ מִדָּה טוֹבָה הֵימֶנָּה:

Ben Bag Bag said:Turn it over, and [again] turn it over, for all is therein. And look into it; And become gray and old therein; And do not move away from it, for you have no better portion than it. Avot 5:22.

There are many stories throughout history and up to our generation about Torah sages’ knowledge of the sciences without ever studying them. The pasuk above tells us that nations will call us נָב֔וֹן .Navon translates to one who learns an idea from another idea. When the other nations see us versed in all types of wisdom by learning them through the learning of Torah, they will call us נָב֔וֹן.

Shabbat Shalom


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