The Wise Solution

Parshas Vaeschanan

For this is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations, when they hear all these statutes they will say “Surely a wise and understanding nation is this great nation”. For what great nation has a G-d as close as Hashem, our G-d, whenever we call Him.

The Torah states that our mitzvahs will impress to the degree, that people will say we are a great nation. This is readily understandable. Wise laws are attributes of a great nation. The Torah clarifies the relevance in being a great nation: We have a G-d close to us whenever we call Him.

Question 

Why are we trying to impress the nations with our wisdom?

How do we progress from being a wise and understanding nation to having a G-d close whenever we call?  

Answer

The Torah here is providing the true antidote to anti-Semitism. Preventing aggresion is not engendered by amassing mighty armies that intimidate our neighbors from attacking. Rather, when the nations witness our statutes and perceive “our wisdom and our understanding” they realize we are a great nation. Our being a great nation intimidates them. How so?

There can only be one explanation for the sophistication in developing such a wise legal, moral and ethical system. It can only be from G-d himself that such laws can originate. They will then correctly assume G-d must be close to us whenever we call. Surely a nation scrupulously following His code, are intimately close to him. This will forever constrain them from attacking. Who wants to fight a nation that has a supernatural deity fighting their cause?

Lesson

You do your job and Hashem will do His.

Story 

It is related that the Vilna Gaon (1720 – 1797) was once staying in a Jewish-owned inn. In the early hours of the morning the innkeeper arose to recite his morning prayers and in the customary manner, wrapped himself in his tallis, and donned his tefillin. The Gaon did likewise in the privacy of his own room at the same time. Suddenly, a stranger marched into the room where the innkeeper was praying and started to attack him. The Gaon, reacting to the anguished cries of the innkeeper, opened his door to see what was happening. The gentile took one look at the Gaon and fell flat on the floor in a dead faint.

The innkeeper turned to his prominent guest, full of wonder, and asked him, “What did you do?”

To this the Gaon answered, “What are you so surprised about? The Talmud says, “And when you enemies see your tefillin on your head, they will fear you”.

The innkeeper responded, “But I was also wearing tefillin.”

The Rabbi elucidated. You are wearing tefillin on your head, I am wearing tefillin in my head. The Gaon added further, “For the words of the Torah to be fulfilled, it is not sufficient that one just put on one’s tefillin without internalizing the message of the tefillin. The fear generated by the tefillin only takes effect when the person wearing the tefillin becomes one with the tefillin.

Weekly Halacha

One is permitted to run to escape the rain.

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