היוֹם הזה ה’ אלקיך מצוך לעשות את החקים האלה ואת המשפטים ושמרת ועשית אותם בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך
This day the Lord your God has commanded you to do these statutes and judgments; you shall therefore keep and do them with all your heart, and with all your soul
In the Midrash Tanhuma it is written: This verse (Deuteronomy 26:16) bears on the verse (Psalms 95:6): “בואו נשתחוה ונחראה נברכה לפני ה’ עשנו” (O, come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker). Moses foresaw that the Holy Temple would be destroyed and that the offering of the first fruits was destined to be interrupted, so he arose and decreed that they should pray three times daily.
Our master explained that the Midrash correctly inferred from this verse that prayer was instituted to substitute for the offering of the first fruits, because prayer is a service of the heart (עבודה שבלב). As the Sages say in the Talmud (Ta’anit 2a): “What is Service of Heart? You must conclude, prayer. ” The verse must therefore be understood as follows: ” היֹום הזה ” (this day) (referring to a time when the Holy Temple is in existence) ” ה’ אלקך מצוך לעשות את החקִים האלה ואת המשפטים” (your Eternal God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances), that is, the offering of the first fruits and the separation of the tithes that were just mentioned (Deuteronomy 26:12). However, there will come a time when “ושמרת ועשית אותם בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך” (you shall be careful to do them with all your heart and all your soul), so that you will fulfill your desires only by doing these commandments using your heart and soul, that is, through prayer. And this is suggested by what is written in the Midrash concerning the verse above (Deuteronomy 26:15):
“השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השׁמים וברך את עמך את ישראל ואת האדמה אשׁר נתתה לנו” (look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which Thou hast given us). Come and see how great are those who bring forth the tithes, for every expression of “השקפה” (looking down) in the Scriptures is for ill, but here it is for good. And one who brings forth the tithe does not depart until he is receives the following promise: “May you merit to bring forth the tithe again next year.”
Rashi quotes the Sifri on this verse: “Look down from Your holy habitation . . . and bless Your people Israel:” We have done what You have laid upon us; Now You do what lies upon You to do, because You have said (Leviticus 26:3-4): “If you walk in My statutes and observe My commandments and do them, then I will give you rains in their season and the land shall yield its increase and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”
From here it is clearly evident that those who brought the first fruits to the Holy Temple did not come mournfully and did not speak beseechingly, like indigent persons begging for a gratuitous gift. Rather they demanded what was theirs under the law. And they did so based on what the Sages said concerning the verse (Malachi 3:10): “And thereby put Me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour out an overflowing blessing” – that it is forbidden to test the Eternal except in connection with giving tithes. It was therefore proper to say: “this day you may demand under the law your share without supplication.”
But Moses foresaw that the Holy Temple would be destroyed and the bringing of the first fruits would be suspended, so that they would no longer be able to proudly demand their share. He therefore arose and decreed that they should pray three times daily like a poor person pleading at the door, not like those who brought the tithes who did not beg for a gratuitous favor from the Almighty, but instead said: “Look down from Your holy abode, from Heaven . . .” (שביבי אש)
והיה כאשר שש יהוה עליכם להיטיב אתכם ולהרבות אתכם כן ישיש יהוה עליכם
And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice
In the Talmud (Megilah 10b) the Sages object: “But the Holy One, blessed be He, does not rejoice in the downfall of the wicked.” And the response is that He Himself does not rejoice, rather He will make others rejoice, because the verse uses the verb form “ישיש” rather than “ישוש” However, we find the hiphil verb form “ישיש” elsewhere (Psalms 19:6): “כחתן יצא מחפתו ישיש כגבור לרוץ ארח” (Who comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a hero joyfully running his course). In that verse, too, the pa’al verb form “ישוש” is not used, and certainly there we cannot understand “ישיש” to mean that he causing others to rejoice. And, as we know, there are many instances where verbs are conjugated in the hiphil form, but are not causative.
Were it not for the words of Hazal our master would offer the following answer. The Holy One Blessed Be He does not rejoice in the downfall of the wicked of the nations of the world, because their downfall is absolute as it is written (Job 12:23): “משגיא לגוים ויאבדם” (He makes nations great and destroys them). In other words (Psalms 55:24), “ואתה א-להים תורידם לבאר שחת” (But You, God, will cast them down to the lowest pit) and those nations will never live or see light again. That is why the Eternal does not rejoice over the downfall of these creations of His hands. But the Children of Israel about whom it is said (Amos 5:2): “נפלה לא תוסיף קום בתולת ישראל” (She has fallen, but never will again, arise, Virgin of Israel); and it is also said (Leviticus 26:44): “ואף גם זאת בהיותם בארץ איביהם לא מאסתים ולא געלתים לכלתם להפר בריתי אתם” (yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them, so as to destroy them utterly and break My covenant with them). For the Eternal will never wipe them out, and whatever “evil which He thought to do to His people” was intended only to cause them to turn away from their evil path, as it is written (Ezekiel 18:32): “שובו וחיו” (turn and remain alive).
The halakhah teaches us that one who tears down on the Sabbath in order to build is culpable for performing constructive work on the Sabbath, because the purpose of any activity is determined by the end that is sought. And just as a true surgeon will rejoice to the utmost when he cuts away dead flesh in order to cure and restore the patient, so the Eternal rejoices when He punishes us justly in order to cause us to return to Him. “יסר יסרני י-ה ולמות לא נתנני” (the Eternal has punished us severely, But did not given us over to death) (Psalms 118:18).
And this is what He has promised in this terrifying rebuke: “as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.” This means that He will not conduct Himself with us as He does with the all the wicked of the nations in whose destruction He takes no delight, inasmuch as, upon reaching the grave, they will never arise again. With us, however, He will take delight in administering His punishment. For His longing is for us to return from our evil path, so that He may only do good to us. May Israel take comfort in this secure promise. (שביבי אש)
והתמכרתם שם לאיביך לעבדים ולשפחות ואין קנה
And there ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and for bondwoman, and no man shall buy you
Rashi comments: “והתמכרתם” (You will seek to be sold to them for slaves and handmaids) It is not possible to interpret “והתמכרתם” to mean that you will be sold by others “ונמכרתם” (you will be sold), i.e., by sellers other than yourselves, because the verse concludes: “ואין קנה” (and there will be no one to buy you).
From these words it appears that Rashi would have interpreted “והתמכרתם” as similar to ” ונמכרתם ” [i.e., as a nifal verb rather than as a hitpa’el verb] had the words “ואין קנה” not been written. He therefore interpreted “והתמכרתם” as a hitpa’el verb meaning that they will seek to be sold. Our master explained that in the Midrash “והתמכרתם” is in fact interpreted as a nifal verb meaning that you will be sold. He interprets the words ” ואין קנה ” to mean that there will be no one to buy you.
His view in offering this interpretation was that the Children of Israel are the descendants of kings, leaders and aristocrats, and therefore could never sink to the lowest level to become a humiliated slave or a disgraced maidservant. Even when they are in the land of their enemy and are sold as slaves and maidservants, even then their grandeur will remain and their countenance will not fall. On the contrary, they will rule over their lords, because an enlightened servant will rule over a incompetent lord, as is evident from Joseph who, when in the house of his Egyptian lord, was appointed by him to manage his lord’s house and property. Even at the most difficult time for Joseph, when he was imprisoned with the prisoners of war and affliction, he found favor in the eyes of the prison warden who placed all the other prisoners under his authority, Joseph’s appearance testifying that he did not conduct himself as a slave, the offspring of an ignoble family.
The Midrash therefore teaches us not to explain the verse literally. The words “ואין קנה” do not mean that there are no buyers that could buy them from those who would sell them, but rather that the buyers who would buy them as slaves would recognize that they would not be buying slaves and maidservants but masters – aristocratic, noble, and gifted. The Midrash therefore further commented on the words ” ואין קנה ” ” אין מי שיקנה אתכם (there will be no one that can buy you), as if to say that there will be no one about whom it could be said that he bought you for slaves or maidservants, because that is not your role and you are not fit to be sold as slaves and, therefore, you will not sold into slavery. This, too, is a comfort. (שביבי אש)