The Chumash Devarim, the fifth of the five books of Torah, is the legacy Moshe Rabbeinu conveyed prior to his physical parting with them. In this week’s Torah portion of Ki Tavo he delivers a chilling prophecy of the horrors that would befall them if they forsake Hashem and Torah. This is popularly known as the tochachah — admonition and rebuke.

Moshe, however, had much faith in his people and loved them dearly. The last thing he would ever want is to see any member of his people hurt or experiencing pain and suffering. Therefore, Moshe always thought in a positive way about matters that concerned his people and never thought that they would conduct themselves in such a way that would, G‑d forbid, warrant the actual implementation of the debilitating curses enumerated in the admonition.

Consequently, before recounting the dire consequences of sin, Moshe preceded the admonition with a series of blessings that will occur to the people for fulfilling the commandments. These blessings are wide ranging and involve every area of material life, thus reassuring the people that their spiritual accomplishments would bring them immense benefits in every area of life.

Tonight is the period in time when the two of you are seeking the utmost in blessings. We all bestowed upon you our blessings for the very best, and you are praying that they be confirmed by Hashem.

You, Chatan, conditioned your marriage on kedat Moshe v’Yisrael — that everything will be in accordance with Torah Moshe Rabbeinu gave the Jewish people. And you Kallah, by accepting the ring are also in agreement. Thus, you are both indeed worthy recipients of the beautiful berachot which Moshe Rabbeinu prophesized in the Parshah of your wedding, that will be bestowed upon those who will follow and conduct their lives kedat Moshe v’Yisrael.

I would therefore like to share with you an observation and insight on the way Moshe expressed himself.

Moshe says, “If you will hearken to the voice of Hashem to observe and perform His mitzvot, then what will happen is u’vaba’u alecha kol haberachot ha’eileh vehisigucha — all these blessings will come upon you and they will overtake you — i.e., reach you” (28:2).

Now many commentaries have a difficulty in explaining the word vehisigucha — they will overtake you — or reach you. Superficially, it seems superfluous. Since it already says u’ba’u alecha — the berachot will come upon you obviously, they will reach you and overtake you. What does the extra word vehisigucha imply?

There are numerous explanations as to what is added with the seemingly superfluous word vehisigucha, but I would like to share with you a novel thought.

Not every thing that people think is a blessing is actually a blessing in the fullest sense of the word. For example many envy the rich and pray to become rich. However, King Shlomo the wisest of all man, prayed to Hashem “Give me neither poverty or wealth, but allow me my daily bread, lest I be sated and deny You, and say, ‘who is Hashem’ ” (Proverbs 30:8,9).

Shlomo vividly knew that wealth is a test and could bring with it the opposite of blessing. Really, it is not necessary to go so far back. We are often witness to this phenomenon.

Often, as people become wealthier their piety weakens. Upward mobility may lead people to change communities, and the new neighborhood may be less compatible with Torah values than the old one. The new area at times lacks proper yeshivot, shuls, mikvaot, etc., and this causes reduction in religious observance.

I could go a step further and cite another problem that the test of wealth can bring and that is the sad fact that many families have been torn apart due to fights over money.

To solve the dilemma of wealth, the Torah added the word v’hisigucha — which can also be as related to the word hasagah and can be interpreted to mean “understanding, intuition and insight.

The Torah is thus promising that for observing and performing Torah and mitzvot, upon you will come all these berachot--and in addition to the berachot coming upon you, the Torah says that v’hesigucha — you will be blessed with the hasagah — understanding and intuition — to make sure that your blessings won’t, G‑d forbid, be the opposite of blessing. Rather, you will have the insight to be in control of the blessing and to know how to utilize the blessing in the best and most meaningful way. It should be a vehicle for shalom in your family and spiritual advancement and enrichment.

I convey to you, my dear Chatan and Kallah, the berachah promised to us by our beloved and dedicated shepherd, Moshe Rabbeinu, that for conducting yourself kedat Moshe v’Yisrael, may all the berachot enumerated in the Torah be ba’u alecha — they should come upon you — and on top of that it should be v’hesigucha — Hashem should bless you with the insight and wisdom to benefit from the blessing so as to demonstrate that you are in control of the blessing and not the reverse. When you prove to Hashem that you are capable of handling berachot, He will continue to bless you with more and more materially and spiritually.


I don’t believe anyone is ever upset with a person who gives a berachah. So in addition to all the berachot you received tonight from your family and friends, permit me to add another berachah.

My berachah, however, is somewhat unique since all the berachot extended tonight are, I believe, versions composed by man, while the berachah I plan to give and elucidate is not original. It is taken directly from this week’s Torah reading of Ki Tavo.

Moshe prophesied some beautiful blessings that people will enjoy for observance of Torah and performance of mitzvot. One of them is “Baruch atah ba’ir” — “Blessed shall you be in the city” (28:3).

In the Gemara (Bava Metzia 107a) the great sage Rav says that this blessing means that one’s house should be close to the shul. In ancient times often the shuls were located out in the fields, away from where the people lived, so it was a blessing if one’s house was nearby and one did not need to walk much to get to shul.

But, I have often wondered: are all those who do not live close to the shul really lacking this blessing? Moreover, there is an opinion in the Gemara that needing to walk to shul is better because one receives sechar pesi’ot — extra reward for the steps that one takes to go to shul. Does Rav disagree with this?

These questions lead me to conclude that Rav perhaps agrees with the opinion that there is additional reward for walking a distance to reach the shul but here he is speaking of a much more profound thought than the literal closeness or distance between one’s house and the shul.

There are many people whose Torah observance is limited to the confines of the shul. In shul they conduct themselves very piously. Moreover, when a new shul has to be built, they will insist that it be made strictly according to halachah: They insist that there must be a proper mechitzah between the men’s and women’s sections, the bimah must be placed in the middle, and the Rabbi must be an authentic Torah scholar and a G‑d fearing Jew. In short, they advocate that a shul is a holy place, it is Hashem’s abode and halachah must be meticulously followed. However, these same people conduct themselves at home in a way which leaves much to be desired. At times their kashrut standards are not the highest, their Shabbat observance needs improvement, and in general the atmosphere prevailing in the home is not permeated with Torah and mitzvot.

Rav is teaching us that when a person’s home is “close” (in spiritual proximity) to the shul, i.e. his home resembles the holy atmosphere of the shul, he is indeed blessed.

What we just explained can also add insight into the words of the Prophet Isaiah.

The prophet says in the name of Hashem, “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” (Isaiah 56:7). In view of the above, his words can also be explained as follows: The nations of the world designate the House of Prayer as a holy place, but their homes are mundane and lack spirituality. The prophet is informing us that Hashem will consider the home of a Jew as “beiti” — “My home” — if it will resemble what the nations of the world would call “a House of Prayer” — a holy place.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, may you merit that the home you will be building should be a place permeated with holiness and dominated by the spirit of Torah and mitzvot. Just as our synagogues are holy edifices in the Diaspora, may your home be a miniature Sanctuary and a place which G‑d, a partner in your marriage, will feel comfortable to call “My home” and in which He will dwell together with you.

"כי יקח איש אשה... נקי יהיה לביתו שנה"
“When a man marries a new wife... he shall be free for his house one year.” (Devarim 24:5)

The final letters of the words “naki yiheyeh lebeito shanah” — נקי יהיה לביתו שנה — spell the Hashem’s Holy four letter Name (the Tetragramaton). This teaches that following the marriage, the first and foremost task is to bring G‑dliness into the home.

(בעל הטורים)