Va’etchanan - The Power of One

But beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw, and lest these things depart from your heart, all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children and to your children's children,
 רַק הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ וּשְׁמֹר נַפְשְׁךָ מְאֹד פֶּן תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ עֵינֶיךָ וּפֶן יָסוּרוּ מִלְּבָבְךָ כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ וְהוֹדַעְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְלִבְנֵי בָנֶיךָ
Devarim 4:9
We learn in the Mishah in Pirkei Avot.
Rabbi Dusta'i the son of Rabbi Yannai would say in the name of Rabbi Meir: Anyone who forgets even a single word of this learning, the Torah considers it as if he had forfeited his life. As is stated, "But beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw" (Deuteronomy 4:9). 
Avot 3:8 
From a warning to watch oneself and to not forget, to a profound injunction that just forgetting even a single word of learning is tantamount to death. What is the connection to the verse in this week's parshah?

The Impact of our Memory
The Kli Yakar explains that we learn from the Mishna in Pirkei Avot that when man forgets his learning, he is liable for death! Why such a harsh punishment? When the people of Israel forget this causes Hashem to 'forget' His children, as we learn in the verse:
seeing that you have forgotten the Torah of your G-d,  I, too, will forget your children.
 וַתִּשְׁכַּח תּוֹרַת קלוקיך אֶשְׁכַּח בָּנֶיךָ גַּם אָנִי
Hosea 4:6 
Serving Hashem
The Kli Yakar brings the Gemarah in Chagigah that discusses the differences between one who is called a servant of Hashem and one who is not.

Bar He-He said to Hillel: How do you distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves G-d and him that does not serve G-d?

And you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves G-d  and him who has not served Him.
וְשַׁבְתֶּם וּרְאִיתֶם בֵּין צַדִּיק לְרָשָׁע בֵּין עֹבֵד א-לוקים  לַאֲשֶׁר לֹא עֲבָדוֹ
Malachi 3:18
‘The righteous’ [צדיק] is the same as ‘he that serveth God’ [עובד א-לוקים]; ‘the wicked’ [רשע] is the same as ‘he that serveth Him not’ [לאשר לא עבדו]! — He [Hillel] answered him: He that serves Him and he that does not serve Him both refer to him that are perfectly righteous; but [the difference is that] he that repeated his learning a hundred times is not to be compared with him who repeated it a hundred and one times. Said [Bar He-He] to him: And because of one he is called ‘he that does not serve Him’?
Chagigah 9:
One Makes All the Difference
One may think there is no difference from learning something a 100 times, than 101 times. Ah, but we see from this verse in Malachi a deep insight.

When we take the phrase " לֹא עֲבָדוֹ" - "him who has not served Him" the first letters in Hebrew of this phrase come to the numerical value of 100 (Ayin [70] plus Lamed [30]). That is to say one who has only reviewed his learning a 100 times is still considered to not be serving Hashem.

However when we take the phrase "עֹבֵד א-לוקים  לַאֲשֶׁר" - "him who serves G-d" here the first letters in Hebrew sum up to 101 (Ayin [70] plus Aleph [1] plus Lamed [30]). And thus we see, he who spends 101 times learning his Torah, is called one that serves Hashem.

The Kli Yakar says that we can learn a precious insight for our own spiritual life from this numerical accounting.

The Power of Remembrance and Forgetting 
The value of 101 comes up specifically when we examine the words "זכר" (Remember) and "שכח" (Forget).
"זכר" is 227 [Zayin=7, Chaf=20, Reysh=200 = 227]
"שכח" is 328 [Shin=300, Chaf=20, Chet=8, =328]
The difference in numerical value between them is...101.

Angels of Forgetting and Remembering
The Kli Yakar explains that there are angels assigned to Forgetting and Remembering. The angel of Forgetting is called שכ"ח [328] and the angel of Remembering is called רכ"ז [227].

We can diminish the more powerful level of  the forgetting angel (328), one should go over their Torah learning another 101 times. This reduces the symbolic value of the forgetting angel, and gives strength to the  remembering angel.

So in a way, the naturally higher value of 'forget' can drive us to 'remember'. That is why we must go over and repeat our Torah learning for with each pass we weaken the power of forgetting.

Reviewing Our Learning
There is an embedded reference to this idea in our verse here, "הִשָּׁמֶר...וּשְׁמֹר נַפְשְׁךָ מְאֹד"- "beware ... and watch yourself very well" Once again we see that the first letters of this phrase add up to ... 101 (Hey [5] plus Vav [6] plus Nun [50] plus Mem [40]).

Then the other word in this phrase is "לך" whose first letter is Lamed, or Learn (לימוד).

So we can put this together and reach the conclusion that one who reviews his Torah (his learning) 101 times then can be called a righteous person, a true servant of Hashem

This interpretation brings out the deeper meaning from this verse, where the Kli Yakar says it can be seen as saying Learn your Torah 101 times lest these things depart from your heart.

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