Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt”l: Notes on Devarim IX: Travel With Knowledge
In Perek 2, pasukim 1-3, we find Hashem telling Moshe and Klal Yisrael where they were going to travel. The purpose of this telling was not so that they would know where to go because the ananim-clouds would indicate that. Rather, the purpose must be that Bnai Yisrael should know how to go-how to prepare and grow from the journey through the knowledge of where their destination was.
In Perek 2, 5-8, we learn points concerning our relationship with Esav. The pasukim describe Esav as our ‘ach’, our brother. Because Esav is our brother we cannot take his land or bother them. This is because he received a yerusha from Avraham in the land of Seir.
But if Esav lives anywhere else in the world this would not apply. It is not wrong as a general rule for one nation to take another nation’s land. It is only because of Esav’s brother relationship to Klal Yisrael and his inheritance from G-d specifically in Seir that we cannot take his land.
The Process Of Conquering Eretz Yisrael
We learn at least 2 things in the sugya of how to conquer Israel from Perek 2:25. #1, from ‘Hayom Hazeh Achel tes Pachdecha. . . ‘ we learn that the beginning of the process of conquering must start with the nations being instilled with fear of Klal Yisrael. #2, we learn that we cannot simply conquer Eretz Yisrael but the goyim must recognize and submit to our taking of Eretz Yisrael.
Sichon vs. Og
In Perek 3, we see a tremendous difference between how we conquer Sichon vs. Og. With Sichon, G-d wants to conquer him. He looks to make him afraid, He takes away or more accurately balances out his free will so that it’s a real decision Sichon makes to fight and then we can take his land. With Og, we don’t look for his land, he comes out to us. Moshe is afraid of him and Og is not afraid of Moshe as Sichon was (without his free will balanced).
It ends up in pasuk 3 that we also- ‘gam es Og’- get Og’s land, but it’s more of an afterthought.
This is what we have in mesorah that Og did something for Avraham(Vayavo Hapalit) and with the power of Hakaras Hatov, even when his intent is not for good, Og has zechoyos. (We do owe Sadat a Hakaras hatov. Hakaras Hatov does not mean to thank a person but it is a feeling we must have to realize that we came to be where we are because of this thing, this person etc. It is for us not for others, so the intent of the giver makes no difference.)
In pasuk 3:11, we are being told that the gratitude that G-d owed him should not have enabled us to conquer Og. Og was ‘Miyeser Harefaaim’ and we should not have been allowed to destroy him but because ofHashem’s love for us, we did defeat him.
But why do we care how tall or wide Og was? What difference does it make? The only difference (besides remez and drush) is that the goyim were now discussing
that if Klal Yisrael could defeat such a strong and powerful person then we don’t have a chance.
Hashem did not want to fight Og; it was not in His plan. The plan was to instill fear in the hearts of the goyim by conquering Sichon but once Og decided to attack, Hashem used Og’s actions for His original purposes to instill fear. Therefore, the Torah describes the height etc. of Og because this is how people were reacting- with fear.
Reuven and Gad-Part 2
We discuss again the episode from Mattos in 3:18. The Rosh Yeshiva ZTL brought a raaya to his mehalech that Reuven and Gad originally had no intention of fighting from 3:18. Moshe says that he commanded them to fight.
But in Mattos, Reuven and Gad suggested this, not Moshe. Eleh the pshat is that because Moshe reacted the way he did, they changed their tune.
Also, in 3:20, it is mashma that the problem of Reuven and Gad was not anything connected to an Eretz Yisrael issue but simply that they had no right to abandon their ‘brothers-acheichem’ until their brothers had inherited like them-‘kachem’. They had to show concern for their brothers before settling down themselves.