Pisqa’ 320

Pisqa’ 3201


“HASHEM saw [them spurn it], and was provoked’ (Dt.32:19)—

R. Judah says:

They spurned [to His Face] the very [treasure]

He tried to bestow upon them.

R. Meir said:

“Because of the provocations of his sons and daughters.” (Dt.32:19)

Now, isn’t this a matter of simple logic?

If even when they provoke Him,

they are referred to as children,

all the more so should they be

referred to as children

when they are not provoking him!


“ So He said: I will conceal My Face from them” (Dt.32:20).

Said the Blessed Holy One:

Look! I am removing My Presence from among them!

“I will see their ultimate destiny” (Dt.32:20)—

I will know what’s in store for them.

“For they are a generation of extremes”2 (Dt.32:20).

Another word:

For indeed I will now send them

to the four Kingdoms who will enslave them.

“I will see their ultimate destiny, that they are a generation of extremes” (Dt.32:20).

“An upside-down (hafuch) generation”

                                     or “a generation that will be up-ended” (tahafoch )

is not written here.


“For they are a generation of extremes” (Dt.32:20).

Thus, they are inconstant (hafchanim) as they are fickle.

“Children who cannot be trusted” (Dt.32:20)—

being children, you deserve no trust.

You stood at Mount Sinai and said:
“Whatever HASHEM says, we will obediently perform” (Ex.24:7).

“Then I said: you are like gods” (Ps.82:6).

But when you said to the [golden] calf:

“This is your god, Israel!” (Ex.32:4)—

then I said to you:

“Yet, like Adam you will die!” (Ps.82:7).

I placed you in the Land of your Patriarchs

and you built for yourself the Chosen Abode.

And I told you that you would never be exiled from it.

But when you said:

“We have no share in David” (2Sam.20:1),

I replied:

“Israel will surely be exiled from off its soil” (Am7:17)


R. Dosethai b. Judah says:

Do not vocalize this text [in the conventional way]:

“Children who have no trust in them”

(lo’ ‘emun bam; Dt.32:20);

Rather, vocalize it as:

“Children who have no Amen in them”

(lo’ ‘amen bam)—

that is, they didn’t want to affirm “Amen”

after the prophets would utter benedictions over them!

And, similarly, He says:

“In order to confirm the oath He swore to your Patriarchs,

to give them a Land dripping with milk and honey,

as on this very day” (Jer.11:5).

And there was none among them

who opened his mouth to respond “Amen,”

until Jeremiah came and responded “Amen.”

As it is said:

“And I responded, saying: Amen, HASHEM” (Jer.11:5)

“They have aroused My jealousy with a non-god,

stirred my anger with their vanities3 (Dt.32:21)—

your typical image-worshipper, worships what he can see.

But [My people] worships vanities!

And not only is it hot air, but it is like steam that rises from a pot,

in accord with what is said:

“They stirred my anger with their hot air” (Dt.32:21).

“Therefore, I will arouse their jealousy with a non-people” (Dt.32:21)—

Do not vocalize this text [in the conventional way]:

“With a non-people” (belo’ `am);

Rather, vocalize it as:

“With displaced people” (beluei `am)—

they come from conquered nations and kingdoms,

to displace [native peoples] from their homes.

Another word:

These come from Barbaria and Mauritania

To wander around naked in the streets.

And you’ll find no one in the world

more degraded or pitiable than

a person wandering naked in the streets.


“I will enrage them with a vile nation” (Dt.32:21)—

this refers to dissenters.4

And, similarly, He says:

“A vile person says to himself: there is no God” (Ps.14:1).

“For My rage burns within Me” (Dt.32:22)—

when retribution comes from Me, it comes only with rage.

And where does this rage come from? It is within Gehenna!

As it is said:

“And it will burn to

the lowest pit of Sheol” (Dt.32:22).

“To consume the Land and its yield” (Dt.32:22)—

this refers to the Land of Israel.

“And set aflame the foundations of the hills” (Dt.32:22)—

this refers to Jerusalem.

Accordingly, it is stated:

Jerusalem, surrounded by mountains”(Ps.125:2).

Another word:

“To consume the Land and its yield” (Dt.32:22)—

this refers to the world and its fullness.

“And set aflame the foundations of the hills” (Dt.32:22)—

this refers to the four Kingdoms,5

as it states:

“See! There came four chariots

from between the two mountains, . . .

and the messenger said to me:

These are the four winds of the Heavens” (Zekh.6:1-5).

  1. H:329-330;JN2:351-353
  2. Heb: tahapuchot; from h-p-ch, “contrary, opposite.” Words formed from to this root provide the midrashist a rich opportunity to expand Scripture’s thesaurus of words for “contrary!”
  3. Heb: hevel; literally “steam, vapor;” via metaphor, “vane thing, vanity.” See Ecc.1:1.
  4. Heb: minim; “opponents” of rabbinic authority.
  5. Normally identified with Persia, Media, Greece, and Rome. See Pisqa’ 313.5, 317.4.