Parashat Ki Tavo – Graduation….

September 23, 2016 at 2:52 AM , , ,

Parashat Ki Tavo

“…..Yet until this day, g-d did not give you a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear. i led you through the desert for forty years… you must safeguard the words that constitute this covenant….” (Devarim 29:3-8)

…ולא נתן ה’ לכם לב לדעת ועינים לראות ואזנים לשמוע עד היום הזה; ואולך אתכם ארבעים שנה במדבר..


One cannot fathom the depths of his teacher’s mind or the wisdom of his teachings until forty years. Hence, G-d was not strict with you until this day; but from now on He will be strict with you; and therefore: “Observe the words of this covenant…”—Rashi

Many of the experiences that Moshe warns the people to take to heart occurred closer to the end of the forty years than to their beginning. Likewise, Moshe did not teach the entire Torah in the very first year in the desert, but over the course of the next forty years. How then can Moshe say that Bnei Yisrael will now be held responsible for all that they learned and saw over the last forty years, if “one cannot fathom the depths of his teacher’s mind or the wisdom of his teachings until forty years” and forty years had not yet passed from these later teachings and events?

We must explain that the need for forty years to understand one’s teacher does not mean that every teaching can only be understood forty years after hearing it. It means that it takes forty years for a student to truly absorb his teacher’s academic method, the discipline and learning-style that pervades everything that his teacher taught.

In each of his ideas, the teacher vests his unique style and intellectual process, in addition to the actual content he is teaching. At first, the student can only understand the ideas themselves. After diligently studying these teachings for forty years, however, the teacher’s analytical style and his approach to an issue become absorbed in the student’s mind. Now the student can truly understand the underlying perspective in all the ideas his teacher taught, and not only their actual content.

After forty years of being educated by G-d, Moshe tells the Bnei Yisrael that they can now be expected to correctly internalize all that G-d has taught and shown them throughout these years. Therefore: “Observe the words of this covenant…”


—Likutei Sichos, vol. 34, pp. 163-165

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