“Baruch ata bivoacha, uvaruch ata bitzeisecha – blessed shall you be
when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out" (Devarim
In a parsha that contains the largest portion of ‘tochacha’ – rebuke of
the B’nei Yisroel and the dire consequences that will happen to the Jews
should they reject the values of the Torah – this pasuk inspires hope and
confidence. Hashem promises us that when we keep His eternal mitzvos, we
will be showered with His blessings; when we are “coming and going.”
Rashi, quoting a gemarah (Bava Metziah 107a), does not make use of the
pshat (simple translation) of this pasuk in his commentary on chumash. He
seems to bypass the notion that this blessing refers to the success of the
mundane trips of our daily life. He explains that these words refer to the
spiritual journey of our neshama (soul) in this transitory world.
According to this view, Hashem blessing us that we remain as pure and sin-
free when we leave this world [at the time of our death] as they were when
we arrived [when we were born].
Why Not Use the Simple Translation?
As a general rule, Rashi’s commentary follows the simple translation of
the Torah’s words. Why, then, did Rashi not mention the straightforward
translation – that these words refer to one’s physical travels?
The Sifsei Chachamim offers an interesting insight into the thinking of
Rashi. They maintain that a trip usually begins with ‘leaving’ one’s home
and ends when that person returns to his or her house. Therefore, if the
pasuk, in fact, was referring to a physical trip, the order of the words
should have been reversed – Blessed are you when you go out (bitzeisecha)
… and when you come in (bivoacha ). The fact that ‘come in’ is mentioned
first indicates that one’s spiritual journey is the subject of the
blessing, where one is blessed that his or her arrival in this world
should immediately be blessed.
Bringing Meaning to our Lives
The Ksav Sofer offers a profound insight into this pasuk. The gemorah
(Eruvin 13b) relates how the talmidim of the great sages Hillel and Shamai
debated whether or not it was advantageous for a person’s pure soul to be
brought to this challenging world. The gemorah notes that after much
discussion, they agreed that it would have been better for a person to not
be created, “but now that he was [brought to this world], he must examine
his actions carefully [to see to it that he lives a meaningful life].
With this conclusion in mind, asks the Ksav Sofer, how can the Torah
say, “Blessed shall you be when you come in [to this world]” if it would
have been better not to have been created?
To resolve this question, the Ksav Sofer notes the comment of Tosfos on
the above-mentioned gemorah. Tosfos maintains that the talmidim of Hillel
and Shamai would certainly agree that tzadikim (righteous people) bring
meaning to their lives and enrich the world. Therefore, it would certainly
be beneficial for the soul of a tzadik to arrive in this world.
The Ksav Sofer says that the Torah is informing us that to bring blessing
to our actions, we need to live meaningful Torah lives. “Baruch ata
bevoacha” – your arrival in this world will be worthwhile, when you leave
this world with your neshama pure and intact. When that occurs, it will be
evident that you are among those whose arrival in this world was
advantageous – and a source of blessing to all.
Rabbi Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Monsey, NY, as well as the founder and Program Director of Agudath Israel's Project Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services), which helps at-risk teens and their parents. He is a popular lecturer on teaching and parenting topics in communities around the world, and is the author of several best-selling parenting tape and CD sets. For more information on Rabbi Horowitz's parenting tapes, visit http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/ or call 845-352-7100 X 133.