1. This week is Shabbos Chazon. The רמ"א סימן תקנא paskens that one should not wear בגדי שבת on Shabbos Chazon. The Mishnah Berura writes that in Vilna, they hold like the Gra and therefore they wear Shabbos clothing. However he is hesitant, and says that at least one garment should not be from בגדי שבת. But today everybody wears Shabbos clothing without a question. How could this be explained? The Rav suggested based on the מהרי"ל that says the reason we don’t wear Shabbos clothing on Shabbos Chazon even though there is a potential issue of אבילות בפרהסיא is because an onlooker who sees someone not wearing Shabbos clothing might assume that he doesn’t have any Shabbos clothing. Based on this, in later generations where it is inconceivable that someone wouldn’t have Shabbos clothing, not wearing Shabbos clothing would be אבילות בפרהסיא and therefore we all wear Shabbos clothing. But unfortunately, today our Judaism is so external that if we take away the פרהסיא, there won’t be anything left because our whole practice is almost completely limited to the פרהסיא. Therefore, it is important to recognize that it is a time of אבילות even though we are not displaying it. One might think that the reason we wear בגדי שבת is because we are more sensitive to the כבוד of שבת but really it’s because we are less in tune to the אבילות of the חורבן. Like we find in the מסכת יומא that two Kohanim were racing up the ramp of the Mizbeach to do the Avodah and one stabbed the other with a knife. The father of the murdered Kohen pulled the knife out and said since his son wasn’t completely dead yet, the knife isn’t טמא. The Gemara asks did the father respond that way because murder was so cheap to them or because טומאת כהנים was so important to them? But in our case, we can for sure say that it’s not because Shabbos became so important to us and therefore we wear Shabbos clothing, rather it’s because we are less in tune and connected to the אבילות of the חורבן.
  2. The first Pasuk in the Parshah seems like a very specific address, on the corner between etc. But really it’s all the places the Jews messed up and Hashem got angry at them. However, it was all hinted מפני כבודן של ישראל. But it’s not that we have two conflicting values one being preserving the dignity of the Jews against the need for rebuke, but rather preserving the dignity of the one receiving rebuke is essential for having the תוכחה received and accepted. If the recipient of the תוכחה is being put down, then he will tune out and not be willing to listen. Rashi on פסוק ד says Moshe waited to give mussar until they defeated סיחון ועוג and they got their land, because otherwise the Jews would’ve thought the תוכחה was only לקנתר. The Jews would have said he hasn’t fulfilled his promise and now he is looking for excuses for why he wasn’t able to fulfil his promise of bringing them into the land. Therefore he waited until now to give תוכחה to eliminate such a claim by the Jews. Additionally, a reason could be that because the most opportune time to give mussar is when a person is feeling good about himself, contrary to what people believe that it should be given when a person is feeling down about himself. But since תוכחה is meant to build a person and not destroy them, when it’s given when the person is feeling down about himself, then you are just contributing and making him feel worse about himself. But if you chose to give a person direction and guidance when he is already riding high and point out how much better he can be, then it will be effective. This idea is expressed in the הפטרה on fast days, where Hashem says לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם ולא דרכיכם דרכי. Rashi explains that Hashem is saying to the רשע “How come”, כלומר I’m surprised you aren’t acting godly and divine like me, and it’s not that Hashem is saying that you’re a failure and inadequate. We see from the way Hashem gives mussar that the way to do it is by building the person up and not by putting the recipient down. The Chasam Sofer in his commentary on Chumash asks what it means that Moshe only hinted the mussar to the Jews if the entire Sefer has direct and explicit mussar. He answers that in the beginning you have to hint it and get the person thinking about it himself. Once he is there thinking about it himself and realizes on his own that he has what to correct and improve, then you could give him the more explicit and direct mussar. As opposed to if you spell it out right away, then he closes up and won’t listen. This is all along the lines that תוכחה needs to be given in a way of כבוד and that allows for the תוכחה to be received. The word תוכחה is not really rebuke but it means to reproof, like the word להוכיח. Because it’s about proving to a person that he made a mistake. But that can only happen if he reaches that conclusion on his own and not by you forcing what you think on to him. In פסוק ו, it says רב לכם שבת בהר הזה. The Chizkuni on this Pasuk says פתח להו הכי כדי לקרובי דעתייהו במילי דבדיחותא. This is the same idea that in order to give someone mussar, there is a specific way to do it.
  3. עוג was מיתר הרפאים and the Pasuk says about him that ערשו ערש ברזל, that his bed was an iron bed. The simple understanding of this is that he was so big that a wooden bed couldn’t withstand his size. The Rashbam says it is referring to his crib-עריסה של קטן, and he would break any wooden crib. The Chizkuni says that ערש means a fortified city. The end of the Pasuk ends with his dimensions and says באמת איש. Rashi says באמת איש is באמת עוג. The אבן עזרא disagrees and says its באמת כל אדם because the Pasuk is trying to give us a size and if it was באמת עוג, then we wouldn’t know the size. But either way he was a massive human being. The Gemara in Brachos 54b describes his downfall. It begins with describing how he lifted up a massive rock and he wanted to throw it on the Jews. But Hashem sent little tiny ants to eat the rock and it fell on his neck and he wasn’t able to move. At that moment, Moshe, who was ten Amos tall, jumped ten Amos and hit עוג’s heel with a ten Amos long stick. The idea being portrayed is that even something as massive as עוג could be overpowered by something as small as ants who do as little as they do, but consistently over and over. Moshe could have hit his heel right away and didn’t have to wait for the ants to do what they did to the rock. Why did he wait until after the ants ate through the rock and it fell on his neck? A suggestion could be because only once Moshe saw what small ants could accomplish even against something as big as עוג, at that moment he got the encouragement and came to the realization that even something so small and insignificant can overpower something as big as עוג. Therefore it was only at that moment, after the ants, did he grab the stick and hit עוג on his heel. This is in contrast to the מרגלים who said ויהיו בעינינו כחגבים. There are things that grasshopper can do that others can’t. Even ants, which are smaller than grasshoppers, were able to crawl and eat the rock and do what they did to עוג. Therefore, a person should not focus on his disadvantages, but rather focus on how his disadvantages could be an advantage and should focus on his own unique qualities. Then when a person focuses on his own unique qualities and he uses them consistently and persistently, then he can succeed.