Coming out of a sad time like Tisha B’Av, it’s nice to have a parshah like Va’eschanan, where Hashem continuously tells us of His love for us. As Sefer Devarim is the farewell address for Moshe Rabbeinu, it is very important to understand what each parshah discusses. This is Moshe’s last chance to impart his wisdom to Bnei Yisrael so everything he says must be important for us to know.
Near the end of the parshah, there is a very famous pasuk. “כִּי יִשְׁאָלְךָ בִנְךָ מָחָר לֵאמֹר מָה הָעֵדֹת וְהַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶתְכֶם” “When your son will ask you tomorrow, saying, ‘what are these testimonies, statutes, and ordinances, which Hashem, our God has commanded you?” (Devarim 6:20). The Ramban explains that first your son will ask you to explain the mitzvos, which are known as “testimonies” because they are usually a testimony to a particular wonder performed by Hashem. Some examples would include, Shabbos, which testifies to creation, Sukkah, which testifies to the Clouds of Glory, and Pesach, which testifies to our leaving Mitzrayim. The child then asks about the “chukim”, the laws for which the Torah does not give any reason for them. Finally, he asks about the “Mishpatim”, the judgments that come as a result of not keeping the mitzvos, such as death for desecrating Shabbos or being whipped for giving false testimony. The reason why the son wants to understands the punishments as well, explains the Ramban, is because through understanding the legal system, you can observe the true wisdom of the Torah.
The answer the Torah tells us we are supposed to give this child is also a well-known pasuk. “וְאָמַרְתָּ לְבִנְךָ עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם וַיֹּצִיאֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה” And you will say to your son, ‘we were servants to Paroh in Egypt and Hashem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand.” (6:21). We mention this pasuk on Pesach as the obligation to tell over the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim to our children. However, this pasuk is not just dealing with the holiday of Pesach, it is dealing with your child’s questions on any day of the year; so there must be an explanation why we answer a child’s questions about the Torah with this pasuk outside of our obligations on Pesach.
The Ramban explains that the truth of the entire Torah can be seen in the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim. Through all the miracles and wonders that happened in Mitzrayim, we saw, and continue to see clearly, that Hashem is the creator of the world. Therefore, we owe Him honor and respect which we show through performing the “testimonies, statutes, and ordinances” of the Torah. This is the message that we give our children. The questions our children ask may appear to be technical queries about how the Torah works, however, they really come from a space of wanting to understand what Hashem wants from us. So we answer them the same way, that the whole reason we keep all the different aspects of mitzvos comes from the love and admiration we feel for Hashem, making this pasuk a perfect fit for Parshas Va’eschanan, the parshah where Moshe describes the incredible love Hashem feels for Bnei Yisrael.
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