“And you shall
serve Hashem your G-d.” The concept of service indicates that the
master takes pleasure from the work of the servant, and the servant
provides a service for his master through his work. So how does service
or work apply with respect to Hashem?
“And you shall serve Hashem (YHVH) your
G-d.” The name “YHVH” refers to Hashem insofar as He is above
nature — was, is, and will be as one. A person must serve Hashem until
the aspect of “YHVH” becomes for him “your G-d,” that is, until
G-dliness is fixed in his brain and in his thoughts as though he
actually sees it.
“And He will bless
your bread and your water ... and I will remove illness from amongst you
... there won’t be those who miscarry nor will there be barren ones in
your land.” These three promises are connected as follows: When
the earth (“your bread”) and the weather (“your water”) are
good, a person is healthier, and then there won’t be those who
miscarry or those who are barren.
In spiritual terms: When a person works on
himself and purifies the spiritual air, then Hashem will remove from him
any sickness, which is arrogance, the product of the filth instilled by
the serpent in Eden. When a person no longer has that filth, then the
promise “there won’t be those who miscarry nor will there be barren
ones” is fulfilled, meaning that his love and fear of Heaven will
“And Moshe was on
the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Our Sages say, “A
person does not attain his teacher’s understanding until 40.” A day
Above is equivalent to our year. Thus Moshe was on the mountain for
forty days so that he would truly receive the Torah.
HaTorah - Devarim)
“The pauper with
you.” Rashi: Consider yourself a poor man.
Through serving Hashem as “a poor man”
— through nullification and humility before G-d — a person becomes a
“vessel” for the aspect of “for with You is the source of
life” [i.e., he connects with G-d’s very essence, realizing that G-d’s
role of being “the source of life” is merely “with You,”
secondary to Hashem Himself].
“And these are the
laws that you shall place before them” (lifneihem). In
Gemara Eiruvin it says: And from where do we know that it is obligatory
“l’haros lo panim” (literally, “to show him a face,” an
expression meaning to explain the reasoning behind the laws)? Because it
says, “and these are the laws that you shall place before them” (lifneihem,
etymologically related to the word panim). (It says “that
you shall place before them,” and not “that you shall teach
them,” because you must arrange and “place before them” a
rationale that clarifies their learning — Rashi).
What is this concept of “l’haros lo
panim” and how is this learned from this verse?
“L’haros panim” (to show a
face) means seeing the face of the rav while he teaches. Through
this is drawn the essence of the power of chachma (wisdom), which
is above the teaching itself, to the extent that it affects an increase
in the teaching itself.
Thus it says “which you shall place”
and not “which you shall teach,” for teaching alludes only to
the hashpa’a (that which is transmitted) and the ray of
illumination. The words “you shall place,” however, refer to the
essence itself, for when a particular thing is placed, the thing itself
is placed. (Seifer
“Don’t accept a
false report, don’t set your hand with the wicked to be a corrupt
witness (eid chamas).” Rashi: “Don’t accept a
false report” — a warning to someone who believes slanderous talk.
The Alter Rebbe repeated a teaching he heard
in Mezritch in the name of the Baal Shem Tov:
Every single Jew is given a special unique
quality from Above, but when somebody defames another, they are
“robbing” and taking away that person’s special quality and
This is alluded to in the verse
“Don’t accept a false report”: Don’t accept slanderous talk
about your friend so that you “don’t set your hand with the
wicked,” that is, with the yetzer hara,
“to be an eid,” to be two
witnesses (for whenever it says “eid” it refers to two
“chamas” (which literally
means robbery) to rob the special quality from your friend. (Seifer
“If you purchase a
Hebrew servant.” The first law that appears in the Torah after the
Giving of the Torah on Sinai is about the Hebrew servant. Why? The
reason we pierce a servant’s ear after six years of work is, as Rashi
says: “The ear that heard ‘for the Jewish people are My servant’
at Sinai (or the ear that heard ‘do not steal’ at Sinai) should be
pierced.” Thus the connection with Sinai is apparent in the servant
(even in his body), and this is why the Torah begins with this law.
Sichos vol. 16)