אם בחקתי תלכו
If you walk in my statutes
Rashi, quoting the Sifra, comments: “שתהיו עמלים בתורה” (you should study the Torah laboriously).
Rashi used the word “עמלים,” because of the verse (Numbers 19:14) “אדם כי ימות באוהל” (when a man dies in a tent), from which the Sages inferred “שאין דברי תורה מתקיימין אלא במי שממית את עצמו עליה” (that the Torah can be securely maintained only by one who exhausts himself in its study) as the tanna says (Avot 6:4): “ובתורה אתה עמל” (and in the study of Torah you should labor). The laborious study of the Torah is called exhaustion, because, by studying the Torah, one exhausts his physical desires and becomes holy unto the Eternal, to the Torah, and to the mission of his life, as implied by the first part of the Mishnah: “’פת במלח תאכל וחיי צער תחי” (you shall eat bread with salt and live a life of hardship), and only then does the Mishnah say to labor in the study of Torah.
Moreover, the word “הליכה” (walking) is used in referring to death as it is written (Genesis 25:32) “הנה אנכי הולך למות” (behold, I am about to die). Also in connection with David, the Scripture says (1 Kings 2:2): “אנכי הולך בדרך כל הארץ” (I am about to go the way of all the earth). Since here it is written: “אם בחוקותי תלכו” (if you walk in my statutes), the Sages understood the verse to mean that only if you study the Torah laboriously to the point of exhaustion will all the promised blessings come upon you. (שביבי אש)
ונתתי שלום בארץ ושכבתם ואין מחריד
And I will grant peace in the land and you will rest securely without being afraid
Our master explained that sometimes a person may be at peace with his enemy, because he is always on alert, with sword drawn and ready for battle, so that his foe is deterred from waging war against him. Such a situation may be called peace, because no evil befalls him and no scourge comes near his dwelling. However, this is a conflicted peace, because his soul cannot rest owing to constant fear of attack. Better than such a peace is the peace that exists when one dwells with neighbors who love him as if they were brothers. In that case, he need fear no evil, and he dwells in quiet, serenity and prosperity in his home. This is the promise of the Scripture in saying: “ונתתי שלום בארץ ואין מחריד” (And I will grant peace in the land, a peace such that you can rest securely and without fear) because you are surrounded by peaceful neighbors.
In this way we can also understand the words of Rashi on the passage “ונתתי שלום בארץ” (and I will grant peace in the land).
Perhaps you will say, “Well, there is food and there is drink, but without peace, there is nothing.” That is why, after all these promises, the Scripture says “I will grant peace in the land.”
An obvious question arises: why would they think that there would not be peace? But we may say that the peace being referred to is peace with their external enemies. In that case, they would indeed have reason to fear that, having settled in a desirable land and in houses filled with every good thing, the surrounding nations would envy them and would seek to take their land from them. They would then have to remain constantly on alert lest their enemies invade their land like an overflowing river. That is why the Scripture promises them that no one will desire their land so that they may dwell upon it securely with no reason to tremble. (שביבי אש)
ורדפו מכם חמשה מאה ומאה מכם רבבה ירדופו
And five of you will pursue one hundred and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand
Is this the right proportion? Surely it should have stated only “and a hundred of you shall pursue two thousand,” not ten thousand?
Many have asked why Rashi was so verbose here saying “והלא לא היה צריך לאמר אלא מאה מכם שני אלפים” (surely it should have stated only one hundred of you will pursue two thousand ). The gaon R. Moshe Harif explained that the word “רבבה” (ten thousand) could also be interpreted to mean an indefinite large number (not necessarily ten thousand). Rashi was therefore asking if, on the one hand, “רבבה” means ten thousand, is this the right proportion? And if, on the other hand, “רבבה” means an unspecified large number, why did the Scripture not in fact say “שני אלפים” (two thousand)?
Our master explained that this answer is still inadequate, for why should the Scripture have said “two thousand”? Could we not have done this calculation ourselves? We must therefore interpret Rashi’s words as follows. If “רבבה” is just an unspecified large number, and the Scripture expected that we would ourselves be able to infer from the twenty-to-one ratio that one hundred could pursue two thousand, then the Scripture ought to have remained silent, because we could calculate the ratio of five to one hundred. And should we say that the Scripture wished to spare us from making such calculations, then the Scripture should have written two thousand explicitly. According to the Gaon R. Moshe Harif, the verbosity of Rashi must be explained in that way.
However, the words “והלא לא היה צריך לאמר אלא מאה מכם שני אלפים” are not in the text of the Midrash in Torat Kohanim. (שביבי אש)