Parshat Vayeilech 5770 Alfred Marcus

Hanistarot ladonai alohenu vehaneglot lanu ulevananu ud olam lassot at kol divrei hatorah hazot.


The hidden things are for the lord our G-d and the revealed things for us 


Rabbi Art Scroll interprets this to mean that

·         the hidden things are  – sins done in private, or

·         the hidden things are things the sinner does not understand  that he or she is doing, or

·         the hidden things refers to assimilated Jews whose Jewishness is hidden from them  –  but who are nonetheless known to G-d

If we churn the Torah, it should reveal more hidden things,

When I jog I sometimes listen to  torah tapes. 

 It may appear that G-d punishes the righteous along with the wicked but this is not the case.

·         This is because the righteous are not entirely righteous if they do not protest the wicked.

It may appear that if G-d directed his full wrath against an individual the individual would not survive.

·         But G-d directs his wrath against the entire community and  the entire community is strong enough to survive even G-d’s full wrath.

It may appear that G-d is always angry, but his moments of anger are in fact short-lived.

·         His fury is just for a Rega (moment). The Gemara even calculates it as being about 1/15th of a second.

It may appear that the sin of the Golden Calf was a surprise and disappointment to G-d.

·         But in fact the Jewish people at the time were full of fear of G-d

·         They would not have sinned on their own, had not G-d acted to weaken their wills.  

Why did G-d do this? Why did G-d provoke both these sins?

·         In the case of David, the sin is to teach us that repentance of an individual is always possible.

·         In the case of the Golden Calf it is to teach that repentance of the congregation is always possible.

Things are hidden and things revealed  --these ideas give pause – especially at this time of year.

·         Over time does some of what is hidden become revealed?

 o   Over time will we know the outcome of the negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas?  Will they lead to a peace or just more bloodshed?

 o   Over time will we see how deep rooted is the U.S. economic meltdown? Will we experience recovery, or just more distress?

§  What will be the impact on politics? Will the country veer more to the right, or to the left? How will the November elections come out?  

o   Will we know more about the consequences of our reliance on fossil fuels? Will there be major shifts in the climate?

 o   Will the Iranians have a bomb?

 o   Will we know who among us will suffer and who will flourish?

 o   Will we understand why????

Over time the hidden becomes revealed, but the reverse is also true – the revealed becomes hidden.

Some of what we think we now know will turn out to be false in the months & weeks ahead. 

·         Politicians, authorities of various kinds, even Rabbis will disappoint us.

·         Those whom we trusted will reveal themselves to be less than trustworthy.

 To some degree we always act out of ignorance, out of partial knowledge and understanding. The economists call it asymmetric information.


For this idea a whole slew of economists have won Nobel prizes.

·         Some of what we think we know is an illusion

·         We  are operating under false pretenses

·         Not fully informed.

If we were fully informed would we act differently?

In ethics, the English analytical philosophers pointed out that if we were fully informed, if we had all the facts, all the contextual information, and completely understood the consequences of our actions, then there would be no ethical dilemmas in life.

·         The course that we should take would be clear.  It would be foolhardy to do anything else.

·         For instance, if we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a world to come and for each good deed we are amply rewarded and for each bad deed sternly punished – and of course, we also knew exactly what a good and a bad deed was, how would we act?

 ·         If this knowledge were revealed to us with absolute certainty would it change the way we behaved?

 ·         And what if at the turn of the 19th century it was not hidden that there would be a Holocaust and that the Russian Revolution would end up in Stalin’s Gulags and that in a relatively short period of time there would be a Jewish state?

 o   Would our ancestors have behaved differently?

What if all that is to happen next is known?

·         Would this change our behavior?

 o   What if we knew the exact direction in which the stock market was headed?

But we act with partial knowledge. With hiddeness.  Much is not known, much not revealed.

·         Thus we stumble & err.

·         We wish to take back what we have done and start anew.

 o   For instance, Alan Greenspan.

o   He appeared in front of Congress a short time ago as a totally broken man -- all the confidence knocked out of him.

o   He did a major mea culpa about his beliefs in free markets. He made vidui.

o   He admitted that the actions he took in opposing financial market regulation were wrong.

o   If he only knew then, what he knows now.

We must strive to know more. Our aim is to make the hidden revealed so our actions are more perfect.

·         So that that they are more in accord with the truth.

o   But as human beings our knowledge is flawed. It is limited.

o   We confront the unknown. make bets, take risks., without knowing the full consequences of our actions.

o   Sometimes we get away with it, but often we err.

o   We regret.

o   We wish it were different.

o   So there is nothing left to do but repent.

o   For if we only knew then, what we know now.

What is hidden is for Hashem.

·         What is revealed is for us.  

 ·         So. our duty is to carry out the Tora.

 ·         All of it!!


Shabbat Shalom