Thursday, October 30, 2014

Parshas Lech Lechah - bitachon in Hashem

The passuk in this week’s sedrah (14:22 - 23) relates Avraham reply to the king of Sedom when he offered to reward Avraham for saving him from the four kings:

וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם הֲרִימֹתִי יָדִי אֶל ה' קֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. אִם מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ נַעַל וְאִם אֶקַּח מִכָּל אֲשֶׁר לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת אַבְרָם

“And Avram said to the king of Sedom, ‘I have lifted up my hand to Hashem G-d most high owner of heaven and earth. If I will take from you from a thread to the clasp of a shoe or if I will take anything from you so that you should not say that I made Avraham wealthy.”

The passuk says in Shir haShirim (7:2):

מַה יָּפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בַּנְּעָלִים בַּת נָדִיב

“How beautiful are your footsteps in shoes, the daughter of the generous one.”

The gemara in Chagigah (3a) explains that this passuk is referring to the benei yisrael meriting to be oleh le’regel because of the generosity of Avraham Avinu:
דרש רבא מאי דכתיב מה יפו פעמיך בנעלים בת נדיב כמה נאין רגליהן של ישראל בשעה שעולין לרגל בת נדיב בתו של אברהם אבינו שנקרא נדיב שנאמר (תהלים מ"ז, י') נדיבי עמים נאספו עם אלקי אברהם אלקי אברהם ולא אלקי יצחק ויעקב אלא אלקי אברהם שהיה תחילה לגרים
“Rava explained, what does the passuk mean when it says ‘how beautiful are your footsteps in shoes the daughter of the generous one’? How pleasant are the legs of the benei yisrael at the time when they are oleh le’regel. ‘The daughter of the generous one’ – ‘the daughter of Avraham Avinu who is called the generous one as the passuk says ‘the generous ones of the peoples have gathered, the people of the G-d of Avraham [who was the first ger].”

Similarly the medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 43:9) comments on this passuk:

ועד שרוך נעל, אלו פעמי רגלים, היך מה דאת אמר (שיר השירים ז' ב') מה יפו פעמיך בנעלים

“In the merit that Avraham Avinu refused to accept even the clasp of a shoe from the king of Sedom he merited that his descendants should be oleh le’regel in shoes as the passuk says in Shir ha’Shirim ‘how beautiful are your footsteps in shoes’.”

·         Why is the mitzvah of being oleh le’regel represented specifically by the feet of the benei yisrael being shod in shoes? The fact that they were wearing shoes when they were oleh le’regel would seem to be totally incidental to the mitzvah to be oleh le’regel?

The Meshech Chachmah explains as follows:

Rabbeinu Yonah says in Avos (5:4) that the war against the four kings was a test of bitachon for Avraham Avinu:

החמישי מלחמת ארבעה מלכים שבשלש מאות ושמנה עשר איש החזיק ובטח בהקב"ה ונעשה לו נס שניצל והציל אחיו וכל רכוש סדום ועמורה והיה סובל המקרים לטובתו ולזכותו

“The fifth test of Avraham Avinu was the war against the four kings where with 318 men Avraham Avinu trusted in Hashem and a nes happened for him that he was saved and he saved Lot and all of the wealth of Sedom and Amorah.”

Avraham Avinu did not want to take a reward from the king of Sedom because that would have mitigated the level of bitachon he reached by going to war. When Avraham Avinu said to the king of Sedom that he would not from a thread to a shoe clasp from him, he meant that even if he would be left without clothes and without shoes altogether he still would not take anything from the king of Sedom.

If so, where would Avraham Avinu get clothes and shoes from? Only from trusting in Hashem, so that what Avraham Avinu meant to say to the king of Sedom was that just as I trusted in Hashem to fight the four kings, so too I will continue to trust in Hashem in my everyday life to provide me with shoes and clothing.

On Pesach we bring the korban omer from the barley harvest, on Shavuos we bring the shtei halechem from the wheat harvest and we start bringing bikkurim which may be brought till Succos which is the chag ha’asif when all of the harvests of the year are completed.

When the benei yisrael are oleh le’regel, they show that even though the crops seem to grow naturally in the fields, this only occurs because Hashem makes them grow in order that we should have food.

Therefore in the merit of Avraham explaining to the king of Sedom that even his basic necessities such as shoes would come only from bitachon in Hashem, he merited that his children would be walk up to Yerushalayim in shoes to be oleh le’regel and show that all of their material wealth also comes only through trusting in Hashem.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parshas Vayelech - seeing the world through the eyes of the Torah

 The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (31:16):
וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה הִנְּךָ שֹׁכֵב עִם אֲבֹתֶיךָ וְקָם הָעָם הַזֶּה וְזָנָה אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵי נֵכַר הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הוּא בָא שָׁמָּה בְּקִרְבּוֹ וַעֲזָבַנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת בְּרִיתִי אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אִתּוֹ. וְחָרָה אַפִּי בוֹ בַיּוֹם הַהוּא וַעֲזַבְתִּים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּי פָנַי מֵהֶם וְהָיָה לֶאֱכֹל וּמְצָאֻהוּ רָעוֹת רַבּוֹת וְצָרוֹת וְאָמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא הֲלֹא עַל כִּי אֵין אֱלֹקַי בְּקִרְבִּי מְצָאוּנִי הָרָעוֹת הָאֵלֶּה. וְאָנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עַל כָּל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה כִּי פָנָה אֶל אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים
“And Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Behold you will lie with your fathers and this people will arise and they will stray after the gods of the people of the land which it comes to and they will desert me and they will annul my covenant. And my anger will flare against them on that day and I will abandon them and I will hide my face from them and they will be eaten and great and oppressive evil will find them.

Then they will say, “Is it not because Hashem is not in my midst that this evil has found me.” And I will surely hide my face from them on that day for all the evil that they have done in turning to other gods.’”
  • Why would Hashem hide His face once the benei yisrael recognise that evil had befallen them because they had turned to avodah zarah? Surely this shows that they did teshuvah so that now Hashem would reveal His face to them?

The gemara says in Menachos (29b):
ומפני מה נברא העולם הזה בה"י? מפני שדומה לאכסדרה שכל הרוצה לצאת יצא. ומאי טעמא תליא כרעיה? דאי הדר בתשובה מעיילי ליה. וליעייל בהך? לא מסתייעא מילתא...
“Why was olam hazeh created with the letter heh? Because it is similar to a porch in front of a house (which is easy to go out of since it is open in all directions) so that anyone who wants to go out (whoever does not want to keep the Torah) can go out.

And why does the leg on the left hand side of the heh not reach the top of the heh? This is to teach you that if a person does teshuvah then they let him back in (through the gap between the leg of the heh and the roof of the heh.)

But why can he not come back through the bottom entrance of the heh? It will not work...”
  • Why can a person who abandoned the Torah not do teshuvah and return the same way that he left?

The gemara says in Bava Basra (3b):
הורדוס עבדא דבית חשמונאי הוה... קם קטלינהו לכולהו מרותיה... אמר מאן דריש (דברים י"ז, ט"ו) מקרב אחיך תשים עליך מלך? רבנן. קם קטלינהו לכולהו רבנן שבקיה לבבא בן בוטא למשקל עצה מניה... השתא מאי תקנתיה דההוא גברא? אמר ליה הוא כבה אורו של עולם דכתיב (משלי ו', כ"ג) כי נר מצוה ותורה אור ילך ויעסוק באורו של עולם דכתיב (ישעיהו ב', ב') ונהרו אליו כל הגוים. איכא דאמרי הכי אמר ליה, הוא סימא עינו של עולם דכתיב (במדבר ט"ו, כ"ד) והיה אם מעיני העדה, ילך ויתעסק בעינו של עולם דכתיב (יחזקאל כ"ד, כ"א) הנני מחלל את מקדשי גאון עוזכם מחמד עיניכם
“Herod was a slave of the house of the Chashmonaim, he rebelled against his masters and killed all of the family of the Chashmonaim (so he could be the king). He said, ‘Who explains that the passuk says that a slave cannot be a king, it is the chachamim. So he arose and he killed the chachamim and only left Bava ben Buta alive in order that he could ask him for advice.

[In the end, Herod asked Bava ben Buta how he could do teshuvah for having killed all the chachamim.]

Bava ben Buta said, ‘He (Herod) extinguished the light of the world as the passuk says ‘כי נר מצוה ותורה אור’ – “Because a mitzvah is a lamp and the Torah is the light that comes from the lamp”, so he should go and toil in the light of the world (and rebuild the beis hamikdash) as the passuk says ‘ונהרו אליו כל הגוים’ – “and all the nations will come to its light".’

Others say that Bava ben Buta said to Herod, ‘He (Herod) blinded the eye of the world as the passuk says “והיה אם מעיני העדה” – “and it will be if a matter is hidden from the eyes of the congregation (meaning, if beis din make a mistake)”, so he should go and toil for the eye of the world (and rebuild the beis hamikdash), as the passuk says “הנני מחלל את מקדשי גאון עוזכם מחמד עיניכם” – “Behold I will profane my beis hamikdash, the greatness of your might, the desire of your eyes.”’”
  • Why are the beis hamikdash and the chachamim are called the eyes of and the light of the world?

Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner z”l explains as follows:

The chachamim and the beis hamikdash are the eyes of the world and the light of the world since everything in the world can be looked at and understood in different ways. However, through the eyes of the understanding of the chachamim and of the kedushah of the avodah in the beis hamikdash, the benei yisrael see everything in the world in the light of the Torah.

Someone who abandons the Torah cannot do teshuvah and return the same way as he left Torah observance because once he abandons the Torah he is no longer capable of seeing anything in the light of the Torah as he did previously. He now has to forge a new way back to the Torah in order to renew his ability to see the world through the eyes of the Torah.

Therefore, when the benei yisrael recognise that evil had befallen them because they abandoned their bris with Hashem, it is not enough for them to do teshuvah by going back to their original madregah.

Instead, once they start on the path to doing teshuvah, Hashem will totally hide His face from them so that they will be forced to find a new way to come close to Hashem and keep the Torah.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Parshas Ki Savo - the mitzvah to read the pessukim of bikkurim

The pesukim at the beginning of this week’s sedrah explain that there is a mitzvah to read pesukim to thank Hashem when we bring bikkurim:
וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי ה' אֱלֹךֶיךָ אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה... וַיּוֹצִאֵנוּ ה' מִמִּצְרַיִם... וַיְבִאֵנוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה ...וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה הֵבֵאתִי אֶת רֵאשִׁית פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לִּי ה'
“And you shall answer and you should say before Hashem, ‘Lavan tried to destroy Yaakov and he went down to Mitzrayim... and Hashem brought us out of Mitzrayim... and He brought us to this place... and now behold I have brought the first  of the fruits of the land that you have given to me, Hashem.’”

The Turei Even in Megillah (20b) says that according to the Rif, these pesukim can only be read by day. However, the Turei Even asks on the Rif from a mishnah in the first perek of Bikkurim (1:5) that says:
האפוטרופוס והשליח והעבד והאשה וטומטום ואנדרוגינוס, מביאין ולא קורין, שאינן יכולין לומר אשר נתתה לי ה'
“Women bring bikkurim but they do not read the pesukim because they cannot say ‘אשר נתתה לי ה'’ – ‘these fruits are from the land that you Hashem have given me.’”

The Turei Even asks that if you can only read the pesukim of bikkurim by day, then this is a mitzvas asek shehazman geramah (a mitzvah that can only be performed at a specific time) and anyway we would know that women do not need to keep this mitzvah, so why does the mishna need a special passuk to tell us that women are patur?

Rabbi Pesach Stein z”l answers as follows:

The mishna says in Kiddushin 36a:
הסמיכות... נוהגים באנשים ולא בנשים..
The mitzvah of semichah (resting your hands on the head of the korban and saying viduy)... applies only to men and not to women.

The gemara explains the source of the halachah:
סמיכות דכתיב (ויקרא א, ב) "דבר אל בני ישראל וסמך" -- בני ישראל סומכים ואין בנות ישראל סומכות
“We know that women do not have a mitzvah to do semichah as the passuk says ‘דבר אל בני ישראל וסמך’ – ‘speak to the benei yisrael and they should rest their hands’. From this we understand that the mitzvah applies to the benei yisrael (the men) and not to the benos yisrael (the women).”

The Ritva asks, why do we need a passuk to tell us that women are patur from doing semichah, we know that semicha can only be done by day as the mishnah says in megillah 20b:
כל היום כשר לסמיכה
“The whole day (and not the night) is kosher for doing semichah.”

If so, semicha is a mitzvas aseh shehazman geramah, and we would know anyway that women are patur from this mitzvah without a special passuk?

The Ritva answers
ואיכא למימר דכי אמרינן מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא נשים פטורות במצות שבחובה לגמרי, דכי מטי זמן חיוביה לא סגיא דלא לקיומינהו, אבל הנהו אינן בחובה לגמרי, אלא שבאין להכשיר קרבנו אם ירצה שיעלה לו לרצון, והוה אמינא דאחד אנשים ואחד נשים שוין, קמ"ל.
“It is possible to explain that women are only patur from a mitzvas aseh shehazman geramah where the mitzvah is an absolute imperative, so that when the time comes, the person absolutely has to perform the mitzvah.

However, mitzvos such as semichah are not an absolute imperative, rather they come to make his korban kosher if he wants that his korban should be pleasing to Hashem, and I might have thought that with such mitzvos, men and women are equally obliged to perform the mitzvah (even although the mitzvah can only be performed at a specific time).”

Rabbi Pesach  Stein z”l explains that similarly we could say that reading the pesukim of bikkurim is not an absolute imperative, rather if the person wants that his bikurim should be oleh le’ratzon then he has to read the pesukim, however the bikkurim are kosher even if he does not say them.

Therefore we may have thought that women are obliged to read the pesukim of bikkurim and that is why we need a passuk to tell us that women are patur.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Parshas Ki Setze - dishonesty in weights and measures

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (Devarim 25:17):
זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Mitzraim.”

Rashi on this passuk explains:
"זכור את אשר עשה לך" - אם שקרת במדות ובמשקלות, הוי דואג מגרוי האויב
“[The parsha of Amalek follows the parsha that prohibits using false weights to tell you that] if you were dishonest with measurements then you will fear the attack of the enemy.”         
  • Why is being attacked by Amalek an appropriate onesh for being dishonest with weights and measures?

When we thank Hashem in the Haggadah for giving us the Torah, we thank Hashem using the name ‘הַמָּקוֹם’:
בָּרוּךְ הַמָּקוֹם, בָּרוּךְ הוּא. בָּרוּךְ שֶׁנָּתַן תּוֹרָה לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּרוּךְ הוּא
“Blessed in the Holy One, blessed is He. Blessed is he who gave the Torah to his people Yisrael, blessed is He.”

The Bereishis Rabbah (68:9) explains the meaning of the name “הַמָּקוֹם”:
רב הונא בשם רבי אמי אמר, מפני מה מכנין שמו של הקב"ה וקוראין אותו מקום? שהוא מקומו של עולם ואין עולמו מקומו
“Rav Huna said in the name of Rebbi Ami, ‘Why do we call Hashem “מקום”? Because He is the place of the world and the world is not his place.”
  • Why do we refer to Hashem’s being the place of the world when we thank Him for giving us the Torah?

When Yaakov asked Esav’s malach what his name was, the malach answered (Bereishis 32:30):
וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה נָּא שְׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ שָׁם
“And Yaakov asked and he said, ‘Please tell your name.’ And he said, ‘Why then do you ask my name.’ And he blessed him there.’”

The name in lashon hakodesh defines the essence of the thing that is being named. When Yaakov asked the malach of Esav what his name was, he was really asking what the true essence of the malach is. To this the malach of Esav responded that his name is, ‘why then do you ask my name’.

The nature of the malach of Esav is such that it is not possible to determine his true essence, therefore his response to being asked for his name or essence is ‘why then do you ask my name’.
  • Why is it not possible to determine the nature of the malach of Esav?

The Pachad Yitzchak explains as follows:

The gemara says in Kiddushin (18a):
רב חייא בר אבין א"ר יוחנן עובד כוכבים יורש את אביו דבר תורה דכתיב (דברים ב, ה) כי ירושה לעשו נתתי את הר שעיר ודלמא ישראל מומר שאני
“Rav Chiya bar Avin said in the name of Rebbi Yochanan, an idol worshipper inherits his father according to the Torah, as the passuk says, ‘For an inheritance to Esav have I given Har Seir.’

[The gemara says this is no proof because] perhaps a Yisrael who is an apostate is different. [So that even if an idol worshipper does not inherit his father, Esav would still be able to pass his inheritance to his children because he is not a idol worshipper but is instead a Yisrael who does not observe the Torah.]”

The name of Esav’s malach is indeterminate because the nature of Esav is indeterminate. Esav is not one of the shivim umos but he is also not part of the benei yisrael. The malach of Esav is the yetzer hara and the yetzer hara seeks to make itself unidentifiable in order that a person should not be able to identify and stop the yetzer hara’s activities.

If it is so difficult to identify the activity of the yetzer hara, how then can we be protected from him?

The Pachad Yitzchak explains that if we keep the Torah, then we place ourselves in Hashem’s reshus where we are safe from the yetzer hara. This is why the Haggadah uses “המקום” as the name of Hashem when we thank Hashem for giving us the Torah.

However, if the benei yisrael are dishonest with weights and measures, and we misidentify  what we are selling, then since we are no longer in the reshus of Hashem we have to be afraid of the yetzer hara and of Amalek who comes from Esav who also causes himself to be misidentified.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parshas Shoftim - The death penalty for rebelling against the king

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (Devarim 17:15):
שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ בּוֹ מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ
“You shall surely place over yourself a king whom Hashem will choose from amongst your brothers.”

The gemara in Kesuvos (17a) explains:
שום תשים עליך מלך שתהא אימתו עליך
“’You shall surely place a king over you,’ [this means] that his fear will be over you.”

If someone rebels against the king he is put to death, the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (3:8) explains that he is killed by the sword:
כל המורד במלך ישראל יש למלך רשות להרגו .. וכן כל המבזה את המלך או המחרפו יש למלך רשות להרגו כשמעי בן גרא ואין למלך רשות להרוג אלא בסייף בלבד
“If someone rebels against a Jewish King then the king is allowed to kill him ... and also if someone insults the king or curses him the king may kill him as with Shimi ben Geira, however the king may only execute by the sword.”

Tosafos in Sanhedrin (36a, d”h Rabbah bar bar Channa) says that that although if beis din decide that someone is chayav misoh then they have to wait till the next day to execute them, however the king may kill someone who rebelled against him on the same day.

Tosafos asks from a gemara later on in Sanhedrin (48b) which implies that there is no difference between beis din’s chiyuv misah and the king’s chiyuv misah in this regard.

The gemara discusses if the estate of someone who is killed for rebelling against the king goes to the king or to his heirs. The gemara brings a proof from the story of kerem Navos that the estate of the person who rebelled against the king goes to the king.

The passuk (Melachim 1, 21:10) says that Izevel advised Achav that he should hire false witnesses to testify against Navos so that Navos would be killed and then Achav would be able to take his vineyard:
וְהוֹשִׁיבוּ שְׁנַיִם אֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵי בְלִיַּעַל נֶגְדּוֹ וִיעִדֻהוּ לֵאמֹר בֵּרַכְתָּ אֱלֹקִים וָמֶלֶךְ וְהוֹצִיאֻהוּ וְסִקְלֻהוּ וְיָמֹת
“Let them place two godless men opposite him (Navos) and they should testify against him saying, ‘You cursed Hashem and the king’, and they should take him out and they should stone him and he should die.”

The gemara says:
בשלמא למאן דאמר נכסיהן למלך היינו דכתיב (מלכים א כא, יג) ברך נבות אלקים ומלך אלא למאן דאמר נכסיהן ליורשין למה לי ומלך
“I can understand that according to the opinion that the estate of the person who rebelled against the king goes to the king, that is why Izevel advised Achav that the false witnesses should say that Navos cursed the king as well as Hashem (since Navos would be killed for rebelling against the king his vineyard would go to the king).

However according to the opinion that the estate of someone who is killed for rebelling against the king goes to his heirs, then even if Navos was killed for cursing the king as well as for cursing Hashem, then anyway his estate would go to his heirs and not to the king.

In that case, why did Izevel ask the witnesses to testify that Naval had cursed both the king as well as Hashem, since anyway the king would not receive the vineyard as a direct consequence of Navos being killed?”

Tosafos asks; if someone who rebels against the king is killed on the same day, then maybe the reason that Izevel hired witnesses to say that Navos had cursed the king as well as Hashem was in order that Navos would be killed straight away before it was found out that the witnesses were lying?

The Ohr Someach (Hilchos Melachim perek 8) answers as follows:
The mishna (Sanhedrin 81a) says:
מי שנתחייב בשתי מיתות בית דין נידון בחמורה
“Someone who is condemned to two death penalties receives the more severe one.”

Therefore, if Navos would be chayav hereg for cursing the king and also be chayav sekilah for cursing Hashem’s name, then he would be executed by stoning. In this case, beis din would have to delay till the next day to execute him because sekilah for cursing Hashem’s name requires beis din to delay the execution till the next day.

Izevel would not have gained an execution through hereg on the same day by saying that Navos cursed the king, because since Navos would be killed by sekilah, this would only be carried out on the next day.

The Ohr Sameach explains that even although the sentence of sekilah for being mored be’malchus for cursing the king would allow Navos to be killed on the same day, nevertheless beis din would not have been allowed to execute Navos on the same day by sekilah since Tosafos says (daf 81, d”h haniskalin) that the difference between delivering a lenient death penalty and a more severe death penalty has the halachah of dinei nephashos.

Just  as the delivery of any chiyuv misah requires beis din to wait till the next day in case they think of a reason why the person should not be killed at all, so too extra severity of a chiyuv sekilah over a chiyuv of hereg would require beis din to wait till the next day in case they would think of a reason that the person should only be killed by hereg.

Therefore it would have anyway been necessary to wait overnight for Naval to be killed and Izevel would not have gained him being killed on the same day by saying that he cursed both the king as well as Hashem.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Parshas Re'eh - Exodus from Egypt and the future redemption

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (perek 16, passuk 3):
לֹא תֹאכַל עָלָיו חָמֵץ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל עָלָיו מַצּוֹת לֶחֶם עֹנִי כִּי בְחִפָּזוֹן יָצָאתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְמַעַן תִּזְכֹּר אֶת יוֹם צֵאתְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ

“You shall not eat chametz together with the korban pesach, for 7 days you should eat with it matzah, the bread of affliction because you came out of Mitzraim in haste.

[Do this] in order that you should remember the day that you came out of Mitzraim all the days of your life.”
The Gevilei Eish says that we find that there are three differences between the geulah from Mitzrayim and the geulah from our current galus:

1       1) Regarding the geulah from Mitzrayim, the passuk says “וַחֲמֻשִׁים עָלוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם”, on which Rashi explains, “אחד מחמשה יצאו וד' חלקים מתו בשלשת ימי אפילה”, “Only 1/5th of the benei yisrael came out of Mitzrayim and 4/5th died in the three days of darkness.”

However regarding the geulah ha’asidah the passuk says (Shmuel 2, 14:14); “לְבִלְתִּי יִדַּח מִמֶּנּוּ נִדָּח” – “No-one will be pushed away (when moshiach comes).”

2.       2) Regarding the geulah from Mitzrayim, the passuk says (Shemos 10:13)
לֹא רָאוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְלֹא קָמוּ אִישׁ מִתַּחְתָּיו שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבֹתָם
“A man did not see his brother, and no man was able to move for three days, however for all of the benei yisrael, there was light in their dwellings.”
However regarding the geulah ha’asidah, the passuk says (Yeshaya 60:3):
וְהָלְכוּ גוֹיִם לְאוֹרֵךְ וּמְלָכִים לְנֹגַהּ זַרְחֵךְ
“And nations will go by your light, and kings will go by the glow of your brightness.”

3.       3) Another difference is that regarding the geulah from Mitzrayim, the passuk says “כִּי בְחִפָּזוֹן יָצָאתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם” – “Because you came out of Mitzrayim in haste.”

However regarding the geulah ha’asidah, the passuk says (Yeshaya 52, 12):
כִּי לֹא בְחִפָּזוֹן תֵּצֵאוּ וּבִמְנוּסָה לֹא תֵלֵכוּן כִּי הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיכֶם ה' וּמְאַסִּפְכֶם אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
“Because you will not go out in haste, and you will not travel while fleeing, because Hashem will go before you, and behind you will be the protection of the G-d of Yisrael.”

Why do we find these differences between the geulah from Mitzrayim and the geulah ha’asidah?

The Gevilei Eish explains as follows:
The Medrash says (מדרש תהילים מזמור קז):
"או הנסה אלקים לבא, לקחת לו, גוי מקרב גוי" (דברים ד' ל"ד) - כעובר שהוא נתון בתוך מעי בהמה, והרועה נותן ידו ושומטו, כך עשה הקב"ה שנאמר, "לבא לקחת לו גוי מקרב גוי"
“The passuk says, ‘Has Hashem ever come to take for himself a nation from the midst of another nation’, before the benei yisrael were redeemed from Mitzrayim they were like a foetus that is placed within the innards of an animal and the shepherd comes and delivers the foetus with his hands. So too did Hashem do, as the passuk says, ‘to come and take a nation from the midst of another nation.’"

When the benei yisrael were in Mitzrayim, they became mixed up with the Mitzrim, therefore:

1       1) Four fifths of the benei yisrael died during makkas choshech because they did not want to come out of Mitzrayim and be a separate chosen people.

       2) The light that shone for the benei yisrael during makkas chosech only benefited the benei yisrael, this was in order to differentiate between the benei yisrael and the Mitzrim.

3       3) The geulah was done unnaturally quickly in order that the connection between the benei yisrael and the Mitzrim should be broken and should not have a chance to drag the benei yisrael back.

However after the benei yisrael received the Torah, they are no longer considered part of the umos ha’olam at all, as the passuk says (Bamidbar 23:9):
הֶן עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב
“Behold a people that dwells alone and is not considered to be one of the nations.”
Therefore, when the geulah ha’asidah comes;
       1) All of the benei yisrael will be redeemed because they will not want to remain as part of the nations that they are being redeemed from.

       2) The light that shines for the benei yisrael will be able to benefit the umos ha’olam because there will be no need to differentiate between the benei yisrael and the umos ha’olam.

       3) The geulah will take place at a natural pace because there will be no connection to break between the benei yisrael and the umos ha’olam.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Parshas Ekev - the complete reward for the mitzvos

The Medrash Rabbah says at the beginning of this week’s sedrah:
הלכה, אדם מישראל שיש לו מנורה שעשויה פרקים פרקים, מהו לטלטלה בשבת? כך שנו חכמים, המרכיב קני מנורה בשבת חייב חטאת. ומשום מה מחייב? אמר רבי אבהו, בשם רבי יוחנן: המרכיב את המנורה בשבת כאדם שבונה בשבת, ומי שהוא בונה בשבת חייב.

“A halachah was asked; Can you move a menorah which is made of parts that you have to put together, on Shabbos (i.e. is the menorah muktzeh)?

We have learnt; if you join together the rods of a menorah on Shabbos then you are chayav a korban chatas. [And since putting the menorah together is assur mideoraisah, you may not move it in case you dismantle it and put it together again.]

Why is he chayav? Rebbi Avahu said in the name of Rebbi Yochanan, if you join together the parts of a menorah on Shabbos then you are chayav because of boneh (i.e. when the menorah is dismantled it is not considered to be a kli so when you join the parts it is considered as if you have built the menorah.)”

The medrash continues:
...אמרו לו ישראל: ואימתי את נותן לנו שכר המצות, שאנו עושים? אמר להם הקב"ה: מצות שאתם עושים מפרותיהן אתם אוכלים עכשיו, אבל שכרו בעקב אני נותן לכם. מנין? ממה שקרינו בעניינינו: והיה עקב תשמעון:

The benei yisrael asked Hashem; When will you give us reward for the mitzvos that we do? Hashem answered them, “You will eat the fruits of the mitzvos as soon as you perform them, however the main reward of the mitzvos will only be given to you in olam habah.”

This is alluded to in the passuk that says - והיה עקב תשמעון – it will be at the end, if you listen (the medrash transalates the word ekev as ‘the end’).

Why does the medrash begin with the halachah of a menorah which you have to put together, and what is the connection between this halachah and when we receive the reward for performing mitzvos?

The Chasam Sofer explains as follows:

The passuk says in parshas Ki Savou:
וְכָתַבְתָּ עַל הָאֲבָנִים אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב
“And you shall write on the stones all the words of the Torah explained well.”
Rashi explains:
"באר היטב" - בשבעים לשון
“Explained well – in the 70 languages.”

The word היטב has the gematria of 70 if you add up the letters as follows:
ה + הי + היט + היטב = 5 + 15 + 24 + 26 = 70
The gematria of היטב is only 70 if you add each letter to all of the other letters before it because every time you do a mitzvah it builds on the mitzvah that you did beforehand. Therefore, the yud is not just yud, it is heh (the previous mitzvah) + yud, similarly the tes is not only tes, but it builds on the previous mitzvos of heh and yud and so is heh + yud + tes.

Similarly, the Medrash in our sedrah compares all of the mitzvos that a person does during their entire life time to a menorah which is comprised of different parts. This tells us that just as the menorah does not give all its light until it is fully assembled, so too, the mitzvos that a person does during their lifetime cannot be fully appreciated until they are all considered in the light of all of the other mitzvos that the person ever did.

The Chasam Sofer explains; if it was possible for Hashem to give the reward for mitzvos in olam hazeh then He would do so immediately upon us completing the mitzvah, in order not to transgress the mitzvah of לא תלין פעולת שכיר – you are not allowed to delay giving a worker their wages.

However since all of the mitzvos that we do in our entire life time all join together, it is only when a person has done all their mitzvos that it is possible to appreciate the significance of every  mitzvah that they ever did. Therefore, in order to give the full reward of their mitzvos, Hashem only gives reward for mitzvos in olam habah.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parshas Va'eschanan - seeking Hashem with one heart

The passuk says in parshas Va'eschanan (דברים ד', כ"ט):

וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם מִשָּׁם אֶת ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ וּמָצָאתָ כִּי תִדְרְשֶׁנּוּ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשֶׁךָ

“And you will seek from there Hashem your g-d and you will find Him when you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The Meshech Chachmah asks; Why does the passuk start in the plural, “וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם” – “and you (plural) shall seek”, and finish in the singular; “וּמָצָאתָ” – “and you (singular) will find”.

The Meshech Chachmah also asks; the gemara says in Berachos 58a that every Jew has their own way of understanding things:

תנו רבנן הרואה אוכלוסי ישראל אומר: ברוך חכם הרזים. שאין דעתם דומה זה לזה, ואין פרצופיהן דומים זה לזה.

The rabbis have taught, if someone sees a multitude (600,000 or more) of Jewish people he should make a berachah - "blessed is the Wise One who knows secrets." Because their minds are not similar to each other and their faces (which  reflect their personalities) are not similar to each  other."

On the other hand, the passuk in parshas Yisro (Shemos 12:2) says that before Matan Torah:

וַיִּחַן שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶד הָהָר

"And the benei yisrael camped opposite the mountain."

On which  Rashi comments:

"ויחן שם ישראל" - כאיש אחד בלב אחד

"The passuk says that the benei yisrael camped there, in the singular, to teach  you that  the whole nation was like one man with  one heart."

You see from this Rashi that it is possible that the whole of the benei yisrael should be perfectly united, if so why do we always assume that they have different minds so that when we see 600,000 Jews we say the berachah of ברוך חכם הרזים which implies that they all think differently?

The passuk says in Bereishis (2:9):

וְעֵץ הַחַיִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַגָּן

"Hashem place the Tree of Life in the centre of Gan Eden."

Why  was the Etz ha'Chaim placed particularly in the centre?

The Meshech Chachmah explains that the service of Hashem is comparable to people standing on the circumference of a circle and wanting to go to the centre of the circle. Each person will head in a slightly different direction, because each person started on a different point of the outer circle, however everyone moves towards and eventually reaches  the only centre of the circle.

Similarly, even although אין דעתם דומה זה לזה, the minds of the benei yisrael are all different to each other, nevertheless when they use their intelligence in avodas hashem, they reach a mutual understanding because they realise that they are all heading towards the same goal of understanding Hashem - albeit from different directions and with different tools.

That is why when the 600,000 benei yisrael merited to stand at Har Sinai, they were כאיש אחד בלב אחד - like one man with one heart, because even  although  they all understood the Torah in a slightly different way according to the root of their neshama in the 600,000 letters of the Torah, they all knew that the purpose of their accepting the Torah was to draw closer to Hashem.

Similarly the passuk in Va'eschanan starts in the plural, וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם, and you (plural) will seek, and finishes in the singular, וּמָצָאתָ, and you  (singular) will find. Becuase once the benei yisrael find Hashem, they realise that they are all united in a common purpose although they had different approaches to finding Hashem initially.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Parshas Shelach Lechah - the mistake of the meraglim

The passuk says in parshas shelech lechah (13:3):
וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה מִמִּדְבַּר פָּארָן עַל פִּי ה' כֻּלָּם אֲנָשִׁים רָאשֵׁי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה
Moshe sent them from Midbar Paran according to the instruction of Hashem, they were all men – they were the leaders of the benei yisrael.
Rashi explains:
"כלם אנשים" - כל אנשים שבמקרא לשון חשיבות ואותה שעה כשרים היו
They were all men – Wherever it says the term ‘anashim’ in the passuk it is an expression of importance; this is used here because at that time they were tzadikim.
The passuk later on in the parsha (13:26) says:
וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל מִדְבַּר פָּארָן קָדֵשָׁה וַיָּשִׁיבוּ אוֹתָם דָּבָר...
They went and they came to Moshe and to Aharon and to all of the people to Midbar Paran to Kadesh and they returned a report to them...
Rashi explains:
"וילכו ויבואו" - (סוטה לד) מהו וילכו להקיש הליכתן לביאתן מה ביאתן בעצה רעה אף הליכתן בעצה רעה
They went and they came – why does the passuk need to say that they went – this is to compare their going to their coming. Just as when they returned it was with an evil council so too when they went it was with an evil council.
·         There would appear to be a contradiction in Rashi. Initially Rashi says that when Moshe sent them they were tzadikim, however the second Rashi says that they went initially with bad intentions? Furthermore, if they were indeed tzadikim initially why did they come to speak lashon hara about Eretz Yisrael?
The yerushalmi says in Sanhedrin (2:6):
תני ר' הושעיה עלה יו"ד ונשתטח לפני הקב"ה ואמר רבון העולמים עקרתני מן הצדקת הזאת. אמר לו הקב"ה צא לך, לשעבר היית נתון בשם נקיבה ובסוף תיבה, חייך שאני נותנך בשם זכר ובראש תיבה. הדא הוא דכתיב ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע
Rebbi Hoshaya taught – the yud that was taken out from Sarah’s name (when her name was changed from Sarai to Sarah) prostrated itself before Hashem and said – Master of the Universe – you have taken me out of the name of this tzadekes! Hashem said to the yud – it is to your benefit! In the past you were in the name of a woman and at the end of the word – by your life I will place you in the name of a man and at the beginning of the word – this is what the passuk says “And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nin – Yehoshua.”
·         Why was the yud that was taken from Sarah’s name put into Yehoshua’s name to save him from the council of the meraglim?

Rabbi Yitzchak Eisak Chaver z”l (Ohr Torah) answers as follows:
The passuk says in Yeshaya (26:4):
בִּטְחוּ בַה' עֲדֵי עַד כִּי בְּקָהּ ה' צוּר עוֹלָמִים
Trust in Hashem forever because in k”ah Hashem is the rock of the worlds.
The gemara in Menachos (29b) explains that olam habah was created with a yud and olam hazeh was created with a heh. That is why the passuk says “ki be’kah Hashem” – since the two worlds were created with the Name ka”h.
·         Why was olam habah created with a yud and olam hazeh created with a heh?
The Ohr Torah (4:63) explains:
... כי יו"ד התחלת הנקודה והוא במחשבה  לבד...עד שבאו לעולם הזה ושם  נתגשמו במעשים גופנים... והוא נרמז באות ה׳, ששני קוין  של הד׳ הם אורך ורוחב, והקו שבשמאל  מרמז על הגובה
The letter yud is a point and so represents something that exists in thought and has not yet been given a physical form. However the heh represents something which has been given a physical form in olam hazeh. The two lines of the daled (which forms the right hand side of the Heh) represent length and width and the line on the left of the heh represents height [thus the heh represents a three-dimensional form given to something in olam hazeh].
Olam habah was created with a yud because the yud, which is a point, represents an idea. Olam hazeh on the other hand was created with a heh because the heh represents the three-dimensional form given to the idea that was formed in olam habah.
Just as when Hashem created the world olam habah was created with a yud and olam hazeh was created with a heh, so too when a person does a mitzvah, the yud represents the thought that precedes the mitzvah and the heh represents the act of performing the mitzvah within olam hazeh.
This is why Sarah had a heh added to her name before she could become the first of the imahos. Sarah already had the pure intentions required to be the first of the imahos. In order to enable her to bear Yitzchak however, Hashem changed the yud - representing her good intentions - into a heh - which represented her ability to effect her thoughts into action. By adding the heh to her name, Hashem gave Sarah the ability to become the mother of Yitzchak.

The meraglim
What was the mistake of the meraglim?
The mishnah says in Yuma (5:2):
מִשֶּׁנִּטַּל הָאָרוֹן, אֶבֶן הָיְתָה שָׁם מִימוֹת נְבִיאִים רִאשׁוֹנִים, וּשְׁתִיָּה הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת, גְּבוֹהָה מִן הָאָרֶץ שָׁלֹש אֶצְבָּעוֹת, וְעָלֶיהָ הָיָה נוֹתֵן
From the time that the Aron Hakodesh was removed from the kodesh hakedashim the cohen gadol would place the ketores on the even hashesiyah...
The gemara says (Yuma 54b):
ושתיה היתה נקראת: תנא שממנה הושתת העולם...
The reason it was called the even hashesiyah is because the world was founded from it...
Just as when the world was created, Yerushalayim was the place from where the rest of the world spread out, so too now Eretz Yisrael is a place of growth and development whereas all other countries are places to in a constant way.
The meraglim thought that essentially Eretz Yisrael was a country like all other countries (although they understood that ארץ ישראל מקודשת מכל הארצות). Therefore they understood that whatever they saw there was part of the nature of the land. If they saw unconquerable giants and people dying then the nature of the land was that it would be difficult to conquer and that the people there died. They did not understand that Eretz Yisrael has no nature at all and that the characteristics it displays only relate to the plan of Hashem and the way that the benei yisrael keep the Torah when they are in it.
In this way, although the world was created with the shem Hashem of ka”h, olam hazeh with a heh and olam habah with a yud – Eretz Yisrael always maintains an aspect of the original intention of the creation of the world – and therefore relates to the yud as well as to the heh.
Hashem added the yud taken from Sarah back into Yehoshua’s name – so that he would understand that the purpose of the benei yisrael entering Eretz Yisrael was not to acquire a permanent place in the heh of olam hazeh – but rather was for them to maintain a life which would relate both to olam hazeh (the heh) and also to olam habah (the yud).

The meraglim on the other hand took the idea of the heh in Sarah’s name too far. They thought that the benei yisrael were now to acquire a permanent place in olam hazeh – represented by the heh. Therefore although the meraglim were initially tzadikim, because they misunderstood the nature of what they saw they reached the wrong conclusion and spoke lashon hara.
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