Devarim (Deuteronomy) Chapter 32

1Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!   אהַֽאֲזִ֥ינוּ הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וַֽאֲדַבֵּ֑רָה וְתִשְׁמַ֥ע הָאָ֖רֶץ אִמְרֵי־פִֽי:
Listen, O heavens: that I am warning Israel, and you shall be witnesses in this matter, for I have already told Israel that you will be witnesses. And so is [the clause] “And let the earth hear” [to be similarly understood]. Now why did [Moses] call upon heaven and earth to be witnesses [for warning Israel]? Moses said: “I am [just] flesh and blood. Tomorrow I will die. If Israel says, ‘We never accepted the covenant,’ who will come and refute them?” Therefore, he called upon heaven and earth as witnesses for Israel-witnesses that endure forever. Furthermore, if they [Israel] act meritoriously, the witnesses will come and reward them: “The vine will give its fruit, the earth will yield its produce, and the heavens will give their dew” (Zech. 8:12). And if [Israel] acts sinfully, the hand of the witnesses will be upon them first [to inflict punishment upon them]: “And He will close off the heaven that there will be no rain, and the soil will not give its produce” (Deut. 11:17), and then [the verse continues]: “and you will perish quickly”-through [the attacks of] the nations. — [Sifrei 32:1]   הַֽאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם: שֶׁאֲנִי מַתְרֶה בָהֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וְתִהְיוּ עֵדִים בַּדָּבָר, שֶׁכָּךְ אָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם שֶׁאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ עֵדִים, וְכֵן ותשמע הארץ. וְלָמָּה הֵעִיד בָּהֶם שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ? אָמַר מֹשֶׁה: אֲנִי בָּשָׂר וָדָם, לְמָחָר אֲנִי מֵת, אִם יֹאמְרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא קִבַּלְנוּ עָלֵינוּ הַבְּרִית, מִי בָא וּמַכְחִישָׁם? לְפִיכָךְ הֵעִיד בָּהֶם שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ — עֵדִים שֶׁהֵן קַיָּמִים לְעוֹלָם. וְעוֹד, שֶׁאִם יִזְכּוּ יָבֹאוּ הָעֵדִים וְיִתְּנוּ שְׂכָרָם, הַגֶּפֶן תִּתֵּן פִּרְיָהּ וְהָאָרֶץ תִּתֵּן יְבוּלָהּ וְהַשָּׁמַיִם יִתְּנוּ טַלָּם, וְאִם יִתְחַיְּבוּ תִּהְיֶה בָהֶם יַד הָעֵדִים תְּחִלָּה — "וְעָצַר אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְלֹא יִהְיֶה מָטָר וְהָאֲדָמָה לֹא תִתֵּן אֶת יְבוּלָהּ" (דברים י"ז), וְאַחַר כָּךְ "וַאֲבַדְתֶּם מְהֵרָה" (שם י"א) עַל יְדֵי הָאֻמּוֹת:
2My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass.   ביַֽעֲרֹ֤ף כַּמָּטָר֙ לִקְחִ֔י תִּזַּ֥ל כַּטַּ֖ל אִמְרָתִ֑י כִּשְׂעִירִ֣ם עֲלֵי־דֶ֔שֶׁא וְכִרְבִיבִ֖ים עֲלֵי־עֵֽשֶׂב:
My lesson will drip like rain: This is the testimony that you shall testify, that in your presence, I declare, "The Torah (לִקְחִי), which I gave to Israel, which provides life to the world, is just like this rain, which provides life to the world, [i.e.,] when the heavens drip down dew and rain." — [Sifrei 32:2]   יַֽעֲרֹף כַּמָּטָר לִקְחִי: זוֹ הִיא הָעֵדוּת שֶׁתָּעִידוּ — שֶׁאֲנִי אוֹמֵר בִּפְנֵיכֶם תּוֹרָה שֶׁנָּתַתִּי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהִיא חַיִּים לָעוֹלָם כְּמָטָר זֶה שֶׁהוּא חַיִּים לָעוֹלָם (עי' ספרי); כַּאֲשֶׁר יַעַרְפוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם טַל וּמָטָר:
will drip: Heb. יַעִרֹף, meaning, “dripping.” Similar to this [are the verses]: “will drip (יִרְעֲפוּן) fatness” (Ps. 65:12), [where the root רעף is equivalent to ערף]; “will drip (יַעַרְפוּ) dew” (Deut. 33:28).   יַֽעֲרֹף: לְשׁוֹן יַטִּיף, וְכֵן (תהילים ס"ה) "יִרְעֲפוּן דָּשֶׁן", (דברים ל"ג) "יַעַרְפוּ טָל":
will flow like dew: with which everyone rejoices, [unlike] the rain [which occasionally] causes anguish to people, such as travelers, or one whose pit [into which he presses his grapes] is full of wine [which is spoiled by the rain]. — [Sifrei 32:2]   תִּזַּל כַּטַּל: שֶׁהַכֹּל שְׂמֵחִים בּוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁהַמָּטָר יֵשׁ בּוֹ עֲצָבִים לַבְּרִיּוֹת, כְּגוֹן הוֹלְכֵי דְרָכִים וּמִי שֶׁהָיָה בוֹרוֹ מָלֵא יַיִן (ספרי):
like storm winds: Heb. כִּשְׂעִירִם. This is an expression similar to “storm (סְעָרָה) wind” [since ס and שׂ are interchangeable. Accordingly,] the Targum renders [כִּשְׂעִירִם as]: כְּרוּחֵי מִטְרָא, “like winds [that bring] rain.” [The metaphor is explained as follows:] Just as these [stormy, rainy] winds maintain the plants and promote their growth, so too, the words of the Torah cause those who study them to grow.   כִּשְׂעִירִם: לְשׁוֹן רוּחַ סְעָרָה, כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ "כְּרוּחֵי מִטְרָא", מָה הָרוּחוֹת הַלָּלוּ מַחֲזִיקִים אֶת הָעֲשָׂבִים וּמְגַדְּלִין אוֹתָם, אַף דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה מְגַדְּלִין אֶת לוֹמְדֵיהֶן:
like raindrops: Heb. וְכִרְבִיבִים, drops of rain. It appears to me that [a raindrop] is called רְבִיב because it shoots (רוֹבֶה) down like an arrow, as Scripture states, “an archer רוֹבֶה קַשָּׁת” (Gen. 21:20).   וְכִרְבִיבִים: טִפֵּי מָטָר. נִרְאֶה לִי עַל שֵׁם שֶׁיּוֹרֶה כְּחֵץ נִקְרָא רְבִיב, כְּמָה דְאַתְּ אוֹמֵר "רֹבֶה קַשָּׁת" (בראשית כ"א):
vegetation: Erbediz [in Old French, like the English: herbage]. This is [the general term for] the mantle of the earth covered with vegetation.   דֶשֶׁא: ארברי"ץ, עֲטִיפַת הָאָרֶץ מְכֻסָּה בְיֶרֶק:
grass: Heb. עֵשֶׂב. A single stalk is called עֵשֶׂב and each species is called עֵשֶׂב [while דֶּשֶׁא denotes vegetation in general].   עֵֽשֶׂב: קֶלַח אֶחָד קָרוּי עֵשֶׂב, וְכָל מִין וָמִין לְעַצְמוֹ קָרוּי עֵשֶׂב:
3When I call out the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our God.   גכִּ֛י שֵׁ֥ם יְהֹוָה֖ אֶקְרָ֑א הָב֥וּ גֹ֖דֶל לֵֽאלֹהֵֽינוּ:
When I call out the name of the Lord: Here the word כִּי means “when”, just as [it also means “when” in the verse]: “When (כִּי) you come to the land…” (Lev. 23:10). [The meaning of our verse is therefore:] When I call out and make mention of the Lord’s name, you shall ascribe greatness to our God, and bless His name. From here, our Rabbis derived [the rule] that [the listeners] should respond: “Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom [forever and ever]!” after [every] blessing [recited] in the Temple [instead of “Amen,” which is the response outside the Temple]. — [Ta’anith 16b]   כִּי שֵׁם ה' אֶקְרָא: הֲרֵי כִּי מְשַׁמֵּשׁ בִּלְשׁוֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר, כְּמוֹ (ויקרא כ"ג) "כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ", כְּשֶׁאֶקְרָא וְאַזְכִּיר שֵׁם ה', אַתֶּם הבו גדל לאלהינו וּבָרְכוּ שְׁמוֹ, מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ שֶׁעוֹנִין בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ אַחַר בְּרָכָה שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ (עי' ספרי; מכילתא שמות י"ג; ברכות כ"א; תענית ט"ז):
4The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, without injustice He is righteous and upright.   דהַצּוּר֙ תָּמִ֣ים פָּֽעֳל֔וֹ כִּ֥י כָל־דְּרָכָ֖יו מִשְׁפָּ֑ט אֵ֤ל אֱמוּנָה֙ וְאֵ֣ין עָ֔וֶל צַדִּ֥יק וְיָשָׁ֖ר הֽוּא:
The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect: Even though God is strong [like a rock], when He brings retribution upon those who transgress His will, He does not bring it in a flood [of anger], but [rather] with justice because “His deeds are perfect.”   הַצּוּר תָּמִים פָּֽעֳלוֹ: אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא חָזָק, כְּשֶׁמֵּבִיא פֻּרְעָנוּת עַל עוֹבְרֵי רְצוֹנוֹ, לֹא בְּשֶׁטֶף הוּא מֵבִיא כִּי אִם בְּדִין, כִּי תמים פעלו:
a faithful God: [Faithful] to reward the righteous their due in the world-to-come. And even though He defers their reward, in the end He will fulfill (לְאַמֵּן) His words.   אֵל אֱמוּנָה: לְשַׁלֵּם לַצַּדִּיקִים צִדְקָתָם לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּאַחֵר אֶת תַּגְמוּלָם, סוֹפוֹ לְאַמֵּן אֶת דְּבָרָיו:
without injustice: Even to the wicked; God rewards them in this world for [any] meritorious deeds [they might have performed]. — [Sifrei 32:4]   וְאֵין עָוֶל: אַף לָרְשָׁעִים מְשַׁלֵּם שְׂכַר צִדְקָתָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה (עי' ספרי):
He is righteous and upright: All acknowledge God’s judgment meted out to them to be just (צַדִּיק), and therefore fitting and upright (יָשָׁר) for them. [That is, God is declared] just (צַדִּיק) by people, and He is upright (יָשָׁר), and it is fitting to declare God as righteous.   צַדִּיק וְיָשָׁר הֽוּא: הַכֹּל מַצְדִּיקִים עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת דִּינוֹ, וְכָךְ רָאוּי וְיָשָׁר לָהֶם, צדיק מִפִּי הַבְּרִיּוֹת וישר הוא וְרָאוּי לְהַצְדִּיקוֹ:
5Destruction is not His; it is His children's defect you crooked and twisted generation.   השִׁחֵ֥ת ל֛וֹ לֹּ֖א בָּנָ֣יו מוּמָ֑ם דּ֥וֹר עִקֵּ֖שׁ וּפְתַלְתֹּֽל:
Destruction is not His: Heb. שִׁחֵת לוֹ לֹא, [to be understood] as the Targum renders it: חַבִּילוּ לְהוֹן לָא לֵהּ, “Destruction is theirs, not His!”   שִׁחֵת לוֹ וגו': כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ, "חַבִּילוּ לְהוֹן לָא לֵהּ":
it is His children’s defect: They were God’s children, and the destruction they wrought is their blemish.   בָּנָיו מוּמָם: בָּנָיו הָיוּ וְהַשְׁחָתָה שֶׁהִשְׁחִיתוּ הִיא מוּמָם:
it is His children’s defect: The destruction was His children’s blemish, not His blemish.   בָּנָיו מוּמָם: מוּמָם שֶׁל בָּנָיו הָיָה וְלֹא מוּמוֹ:
crooked generation: Heb. דּוֹר עִקֵּשׁ וּפְתַלְתֹּל, a crooked and perverted [generation]. [The word עִקֵּשׁ is] similar [in meaning] to [the verse], “and pervert (יְעַקְשׁוּ) all honesty” (Micah 3:9). We find [a similar expression] in the language of the Mishnah: "a weasel… because its teeth are bent (עִקוּמוּת) and crooked (עִקוּשׁוּת") . - [Chul. 56a]   דּוֹר עִקֵּשׁ: עָקֹם וּמְעֻקָּל, כְּמוֹ "וְאֵת כָּל הַיְשָׁרָה יְעַקֵּשׁוּ" (מיכה ג'). וּבִלְשׁוֹן מִשְׁנָה "חֻלְדָּה שֶׁשִּׁנֶּיהָ עֲקֻמּוֹת וַעֲקוּשׁוֹת":
and twisted: antortiliyez [in Old French, like the English “tortuous”], just as [in the manufacture of a candle,] the wick (פְּתִיל) is braided and [then it] is “twisted” around a [central] strand. The word פְתַלְתֹּל falls under the category of word stems that contain doubled letters [i.e., where the two last letters of the root are doubled], such as: “dark green (יְרַקְרַק) … dark red (אֲדַמְדָם)” (Lev. 13:49), “engulfed (סְחַרְחַר)” (Psalms 38:11), and “round (סְגַלְגַל)” (Targum Jonathan on I Kings 7:23, Ned. 66b).   וּפְתַלְתֹּֽל: אנטורט"ילייש, כַּפְּתִיל הַזֶּה שֶׁגּוֹדְלִין אוֹתוֹ וּמַקִּיפִין אוֹתוֹ סְבִיבוֹת הַגְּדִיל; פְּתַלְתֹּל מִן הַתֵּבוֹת הַכְּפוּלוֹת כְּמוֹ "יְרַקְרַק" "אֲדַמְדָּם" (ויקרא י"ג) "סְחַרְחַר" (תהילים ל"ח), "סְגַלְגַּל" (תרגום יונתן מלכים א ז'):
6Is this how you repay the Lord, you disgraceful, unwise people?! Is He not your Father, your Master? He has made you and established you.   והַ לְיהֹוָה֙ תִּגְמְלוּ־זֹ֔את עַ֥ם נָבָ֖ל וְלֹ֣א חָכָ֑ם הֲלוֹא־הוּא֙ אָבִ֣יךָ קָּנֶ֔ךָ ה֥וּא עָֽשְׂךָ֖ וַֽיְכֹֽנְנֶֽךָ:
Is this how you repay the Lord: This should be read as a question: “[Why] are you doing such saddening things before God? He has the power to punish you, [nevertheless] He has bestowed all these favors upon you. [Is this the way you repay Him for those favors?]”- [Sifrei 32:6]   הלה' תִּגְמְלוּ־זֹאת: לְשׁוֹן תֵּמָהּ, וְכִי לְפָנָיו אַתֶּם מַעֲצִיבִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ לִפָּרַע מִכֶּם וְשֶׁהֵיטִיב לָכֶם בְּכָל הַטּוֹבוֹת?
you disgraceful… people: who have forgotten all that has been done for them.   עַם נָבָל: שֶׁשָּׁכְחוּ אֶת הֶעָשׂוּי לָהֶם:
unwise: [because you do not] understand the outcome, since it is in God’s power to do them good or evil [according to their actions]. — [Sifrei 32:6]   וְלֹא חָכָם: לְהָבִין אֶת הַנּוֹלָדוֹת, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ לְהֵיטִיב וּלְהָרַע:
Is He not your father, your Master?: [The word קָּנֶךָ means:] Who acquired (קָנָה) you; [alternatively it means:] Who nested you (קִנְּנֶךָ) in a nest (קַן) of rocks and in a strong land; [alternatively it means:] Who has rectified you (תִּקְּנֶךָ) with every type of reparation (תַּקָּנָה).   הֲלוֹא־הוּא אָבִיךָ קָּנֶךָ: שֶׁקְּנָאֲךָ, שֶׁקִּנֶּנְךָ בְּקַן הַסְּלָעִים וּבְאֶרֶץ חֲזָקָה, שֶׁתִּקֶּנְךָ בְּכָל מִינֵי תַקָּנָה:
He made you: A [special] nation among nations,   הוּא עָֽשְׂךָ: אֻמָּה בָּאֻמּוֹת:
and established you: After [making you a special nation, God established you] upon every kind of firm base and foundation (כַּן) [i.e., made you self-contained]: your kohanim are from among yourselves; your prophets are from among yourselves, and your kings are from among yourselves. [Indeed, you are like] a city from which all [resources] are [drawn]. — [Sifrei 32:6]   וַֽיְכֹֽנְנֶֽךָ: אַחֲרֵי כֵן בְּכָל מִינֵי בָסִיס וְכַן — מִכֶּם כֹּהֲנִים, מִכֶּם נְבִיאִים וּמִכֶּם מְלָכִים, כְּרַךְ שֶׁהַכֹּל בּוֹ (ספרי; חולין נ"ו):