This Mitzva: Teshuva – Source Sheets

Nov 24, 2014

Alumni Group Learning
Parshat Netzavim Devarim 30:11-14
Chumash, Ramban, Sforno, and Kli Yakar

[Learn through the sources, guided by the questions. In an email
(subject: “Elul Webshiur”) write the answers to the questions, numbering them 1 through 7, send them in to the Darche Noam Israel office, and you will receive a response with comments from a Darche Noam staff member.]

The Parsha in the Torah
There is a small (4 verses) section in Parshat Netzavim (Devarim 30:11-14, source #1) that receives a lot of attention from our commentators.
One of the challenges this section presents is determining which mitzva the Torah is referring to when it says (the opening words of the section), “For this mitzva that I command you today . . . .” There are three main approaches taken by the commentators. The approach we will focus on views this section as referring to the mitzva of Teshuva, repentance.

Source #1
Devarim 30:11
English Translation
Immediately preceding section (very helpful for answering question 2)

1. What else might “this mitzva” be referring to? (2 other possibilities — Rashi on pasuk 14 takes one of them, and the Ramban, before he brings teshuva, brings the other)
2. What in the text supports the “teshuva” approach? (see the immediately preceding section in the Torah)

The Ramban
The Ramban is the author of the approach that “Hamitzva hazot” refers to the mitzva of teshuva. First try and read the section (source #1) as referring to teshuva and see what, if any, difficulties arise. Then read the Ramban and see if he addresses them.

Source #2
Ramban Devarim 30:11
English Translation

3. The main thrust of this section in the Torah seems to be: You might think this is impossible, difficult, and unattainable — but it is not. Why might we have thought — reading between the lines of the Ramban — that teshuva is not possible?
4. How does the Ramban explain the line, “beficha uvilvavecha laasoto” (“In your mouth and in your heart to do it”) = what about teshuva is in the mouth, what is in the heart, and what does “to do it” mean?

The Sforno and the Kli Yakar
The Sforno and the Kli Yakar (second explanation) similarly explain this section as referring to teshuva. Compare and contrast their comments with the Ramban’s.

Source #3
Sforno Devarim 30:11-14
English Translation

5. Show how the Sforno translates the Ramban’s basic direction into the following expressions: “Lo nifleit hi;” “Lo rechoka hi;” “Lo bashamayim hi;” “Lo mei’eiver layam hi;” “beficha uvilvavecha laasoto.”

Source #4
Kli Yakar Devarim 30:11
English Translation

6. What is the sinner’s excuse that this section rejects?
7. What is the sinner’s worry that this section reassures him about?

After having learned the above sources, read an article, “This Mitzva: Teshuva”, that puts it together (and offers an additional reading of the parsha according to the Teshuva-approach)

[Prepared by R. Eliezer Kwass] Click below to share!