Re'eh - Midot

Keep and listen to all these words that I command you, that it may benefit you and your children after you, forever, when you do what is good and proper in the eyes of the L-rd, your G-d
שְׁמֹ֣ר וְשָֽׁמַעְתָּ֗ אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָֽנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּ֑ךָּ לְמַ֩עַן֩ יִיטַ֨ב לְךָ֜ וּלְבָנֶ֤יךָ אַֽחֲרֶ֨יךָ֙ עַד־עוֹלָ֔ם כִּ֤י תַֽעֲשֶׂה֙ הַטּ֣וֹב וְהַיָּשָׁ֔ר בְּעֵינֵ֖י ה' קלקיך
Devarim 12:28
The Slonimer brings a question by the Or HaChaim Hakadosh, asking why does 'keep' (שמר) precede 'listen' (שמעת). Shouldn't one have to listen first in order to know what they need to keep?

Says the Or HaChaim, there are things written in the Torah that were said over to Moshe, and there are things that were inspired by Chazal, our sages. That is in every generation, the sages set 'fences' to protect the Torah, extra stringencies so that we should not come close to desecrating a Torah commandment.

Protect and Listen
In parallel to the what the Torah has already written, the verse starts off with 'Keep' (שמור). Then the verse continues with the word 'Listen' (ושמעת) that is we should listen to the additional injunctions that our sages added over the generations.

Personality of Character
Says the Slonimer Rebbe, the word 'Listen' (ושמעת) has additional meaning, especially in reference to developing our character - our midot. The Torah doesn't explicitly state what character traits we should adopt, opting for allusion and generalization like 'do what is good and proper'.

Yet we get great insight into how we should behave and act in our character, midot, from places like Mesechet Avot, which only focuses what actions to adopt.

And we have already seen what Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote. Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote Sha'arei Kedusha (Gates of Holiness) as a guide to achieving ruach ha-kodesh (divine inspiration). The greater portion of this work is dedicated to musar (ethics), teaching us how to rectify and elevate our midot (personalities). He addresses the matter that the Torah doesn't explicitly state what are the exact actions to take in molding our character, explaining that how we act, our midot, that is the chariot which the whole Torah rides on.

Do Good
And so the verse states in reference to developing our midot, 'Listen' (ושמעת), so that this will lead us to the words at the end of the verse, do what is good and proper in the eyes of the L-rd, your G-d.

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