Rabbi Tzvi Abrahams
Ki Tavo: There Is Nothing Greater ~ Tzvi Abrahams
Parshas כִּי תָבוֹא
There Is Nothing Greater
אֻמָנוֹת: trade, artisan
אוֹמֶנֶת: midwife, nurse, babysitter
וְעָנוּ כָל הָעָם וְאָמְרוּ אָמֵן And all the people answered and said Amen.
In Parshas כִּי תָבוֹא, the Jewish People are about to enter Eretz Yisrael, Hashem’s home, so to speak. However, entry was on condition that they abide by the house rules. Like with any contract, there are terms and conditions that must be agreed upon. Standing on the mountains of Har Eival and Har Grizim, the blessings and curses were called out one after the other. After each one, the Bnei Yisrael’s affirmations resounded through the mountains with the power of one word: אָמֵן/Amen.
אָמֵן is so powerful that one who answers Amen in this world is zocheh to answer Amen in the World to Come.
The Midrash says that Amen has three connotations: one of acceptance, as in this week’s parshah; one of answering an oath, as in the oath of the Sotah woman; and one of affirming the truth.
אָמֵן also has the connotation of אֵ-ל מֶלֶך נֶאַמָן/all-powerful, trustworthy King. Hashem is נֶאֶמָן to keep His word that He will send the Mashiach and redeem us from galus, בִּמְהֵרָה בְּיָמֵינוּ אָמֵן
Just like we have trust in Hashem, He has trust in us, as we say each morning: מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה, רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ In your presence I thank you, living and existing King, that You have returned in me my soul with compassion, great is Your trust.
Hashem’s trust in us is great. Each day He returns our neshamah to us, trusting in us that we will guard our souls from coming to any harm and that we will return our souls to Him at the end of the day in an elevated state.
This indeed is the meaning of one of the brachos that Hashem promises us if we listen to His commandments, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּבֹאֶךָ וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּצֵאתֶךָ/you will be blessed in your coming in, and you will be blessed in your going out. This means that just as we come into this world free of sin, so too we should be blessed to leave this world free of sin.
In Tehillim, the order of the blessing is switched around. There it says: ה’ יִשְׁמָר צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם /Hashem will guard your going out and your coming in. There, it refers to Hashem guarding us when we go out to war and when we come back.
The Ohr HaChaim explains that the verseכִּי תָבוֹא אֶל הָאָרֶץ /when we come to the land hints to the הָאָרֶץ הָעֶלְיוֹן/the upper world. When we come to the upper world, laden with our basket of fruits, symbolizing our Torah and good deeds, we will relate our story: that we came down to Mitzrayim, symbolizing this world of restriction, where the yetzer hara tried to destroy us, etc.
This explanation fits very nicely with the order of the two adjacent parshiyos of כִּי תֵצֵא and כִּי תָבוֹא/when we go out and when we come in, that first we must go out to war against our yetzer hara in this world before we are zocheh to come to the upper world. There, Hashem will guard our going out and our coming in, but on the one premise that we follow His Torah, because it is the Torah that protects us against our enemy. תּוֹרָה תְּהֵא אֶמוּנָתִי/Torah should be my trade, that just like a merchant puts all his efforts into his trade, so too a person who immerses himself in a life of Torah will be guaranteed to be victorious over his enemy and come home from the frontline laden with the spoils of war.
אֻמָנוֹת: Trade, Artisan
We put our trust in the tradesman that he knows his trade.
אוֹמֶנֶת: Midwife, Nurse Babysitter
A midwife and a babysitter are called so because we trust them with our most precious possessions.
Perhaps Amnon shares this root in that King David trusted him to be alone with Tamar, and he ended up abusing that trust.
After the incident with Amnon and Tamar, King David and his courthouse decreed the prohibition of yichud/men and women being in seclusion.
According to the Radak in Sefer HaShorashim, the word אֶמֶת comes from the word אֶמָנֻת, where the ‘נ’ has been dropped because in essence when we are saying אָמֵן, we are saying “it is true.”
In the Gemara, it says that a son is allowed to be in yichud with his mother but with no one else.
There is something sacred about the mother-son relationship that the Torah attests to its authenticity. Indeed, we trust the son comes from the mother more so than the father, as Hashem caused Yitzchak to look exactly like Avraham to cast away any aspersions that Avimelech was the father.
שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִיךָ וְאַל תִּטֹּשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ/Listen my son to the mussar of your father and do not abandon the Torah of your mother. In this verse, the Torah connects a son to the mother more than to the father, hinting to us that just like we trust the relationship between the mother and son to be absolutely true, so too we trust the Torah to be absolutely true.
In conclusion, the relationship between us and Hashem is one of נֶאֶמָנוּת/trust, where both partners in the relationship have trust in the other. Hashem puts His trust in us, whether we are going out of the world of אֶמֶת/truth and coming into this world, or whether we are going out of this world and coming back to the upper world. He trusts that we will be responsible to return His precious neshamah intact. We also have נֶאֶמָנוּת/trust in Hashem, like we say in לְדָוִד ה’ אוּרִי during the month of Elul: לוּלֵא הֶאֱמַנְתִּי לִרְאוֹת בְּטוּב ה’ בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים/if not that I have trust in Hashem to see the land of the living, where לוּלֵא back to front reads אֶלוּל/Elul, meaning that what keeps us going in this sometimes back to front world is the knowledge and trust that there is a World to Come, a world of אֶמֶת, where everything will be the right way up and we will see clearly the ways of Hashem. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we put our hope in Hashem that He will put His trust in us and consider us worthy enough to merit another year of life. Amen!
אֵין גָדוֹל לִפְנֵי הַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּך הוּא יוֹתֶר בְּאָמֵן שֶׁיִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹנִין There is nothing greater before Hashem more than Yisrael answering Amen.
1 Devarim 27:15.
2 Devarim Rabbah 7:1.
3 Devarim 28:6.
4 Bava Metzia 107a.
5 Tehillim 121:8.
6 See Shmuel II, chapter 13.
7 Kiddushin 80b.
8 Mishlei 1:8.
9 Tehillim 27:13.
10 Midrash Rabbah, Ki Savo.