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Parshas Re'eh - Vol. 4,
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Ki y’sis’cha … leimor neil’cha v’naavda elohim acheirim … lo so’veh lo v’lo sish’ma eilav v’lo ta’chos ein’cha alav v’lo sach’mol v’lo t’chaseh alav … ki harog tahar’genu … u’skalto ba’avanim va’meis ki bikeish l’hadich’cha me’al Hashem Elokecha (13:7-11)
The Torah is stricter regarding the treatment of the îńéú – inciter – than it is with the transgression of any other sin. The Torah specifically instructs us not to have any mercy on him and not to attempt to prove his innocence, concepts which aren’t found by other suspected sinners.
The Alter of Kelm points out that this stringency is even greater when one considers that in reality, the inciter didn’t actually accomplish anything. Although he attempted to convince another Jew to worship idolatry, he was unsuccessful. The other person turned him in and refused to listen to him. Even so, the desire to intentionally sway another person from the Torah’s path is so severe that it receives this stringent penalty.
Rashi writes (Shemos 20:5) that Hashem’s reward for those who listen to His commandments is 500 times greater than the punishment meted out to sinners. Many times, a person who is engaged in kiruv rechokim – attempting to educate our not-yet-religious brethren – invests valuable time and energy trying to reach out to another person, only to find that his efforts are completely unsuccessful.
As frustrating as this experience must surely be, the Alter of Kelm offers inspiring words of comfort and consolation based on the aforementioned principles. If Hashem reserves His most severe and stringent punishments for one who merely tries to persuade another Jew to leave the Torah path, how much more must be the immense reward lying in store for a person who tries, even unsuccessfully, his utmost to draw our wayward brethren back to their Creator!
Aseir ta’aseir es kol t’vuas zar’echa (14:22)
The Torah commands us to tithe our crops. The Gemora in Taanis (9a) interprets our verse by playing on the similarity between the letters “shin” and “sin.” It renders the words “aseir ta’aseir” in our verse as “aseir bishvil she’tisasher” – tithe and you will become rich. What source is there for the Gemora’s teaching that tithing will make a person wealthy?
The Vilna Gaon notes that the Gemora (Bava Metzia 31a) understands doubled verbs as requiring a person to repeatedly do the action referred to as many as 100 times. In other words, he is not absolved from his obligation by performing it once. He must do the mitzvah as many times as is necessary.
In this light, our verse, with its doubled command to tithe, should be understood as requiring a person to tithe his money as many as 100 times. However, the Gemora in Kesuvos (50a) records that the Sages decreed that a person shouldn’t give more than one-fifth of his money to charity. If so, the Gemora in Taanis questioned how a person could be permitted to tithe by giving one-tenth of his money even three times, as this would require him to give more than one-fifth of his assets to charity. To resolve this concern, the Gemora answered that the Torah guarantees that a person who does so will become rich and will have enough money to continue tithing – even 100 times – without ever falling below the threshold of having given one-fifth of his original possessions to charity!
Ki yih’yeh b’cha evyon me’echad achecha … lo s’ameitz es l’vav’cha v’lo sikpotz es yad’cha me’achicha haevyon ki pasoach tiftach es yad’cha lo (15:7-8)
The Torah exhorts us to be compassionate toward the poor, commanding us not to close our hand to the destitute, but rather to open it. This statement seems redundant. If it is forbidden to close our hand to the poor, doesn’t it go without saying that we are required to open it? What is the Torah trying to teach us by emphasizing this point?
The Vilna Gaon explains that although a person is obligated to give tzeddakah, he is not supposed to disperse it equally to each poor person. There are laws governing to whom one must give precedence when distributing charity, such as family members or people in his community, and the needs of each pauper must be assessed when determining how much to give them.
The Torah alludes to the requirement to take these considerations into account when giving tzedakah. When a person closes his hand and looks at his fingers, they all appear equal in length. Opening one’s hand reveals that this is not the case, as each finger is a different size.
The Torah already commanded us to be merciful to our needy brethren. Our verse takes for granted that we will help meet their needs and is not coming to repeat this point, as it seems at first glance. Rather, it comes to teach that the manner in which we do so should not be one in which we indiscriminately give equal amounts to each beggar, as symbolized by a closed hand. Instead, we should open our hands and realize that each poor person’s needs as well as our obligation to him aren’t the same, and we should disperse our charity accordingly.
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) The Torah promises (11:27) a blessing for a person who hearkens to the mitzvos and a curse (11:28) to one who doesn’t hearken to the commandments and strays from the proper path. Why does a person receive a blessing merely for listening, while the curse isn’t given to one who chooses not to listen until he actually veers from the Torah path? (Panim Yafos, Tiferes Yehonason, Apiryon, Tiferes Shlomo, Darash Moshe)
2) The Torah prohibits (13:1) adding on to the mitzvos. Rashi explains that this prohibition refers to such acts as placing an additional section in one’s tefillin or an additional species to be taken together with the lulav on Sukkos. The Torah requires one (Vayikra 16:9) to count the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuos. If one continues and counts the 50th day, does he transgress the prohibition against adding to the mitzvos? (Mikdash Mordechai Parshas Beha’aloscha)
3) Parshas Re’eh contains the laws of kosher food and delineates which species may be consumed (14:3-21). In another place (Vayikra 11:44-47), the Torah stresses the importance of observing the laws of kashrus in order to become holy and pure. If a person is required to consume non-kosher food for the sake of his health, does it still cause him spiritual impurity? (Toras Chaim Parshas Shemini, Shu”t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 1:83, Derech Sicha Parshas Shemini)
4) The Gemora in Pesachim (3a) derives that a person should always speak in “clean” language from the fact that the Torah (Bereishis 7:8) uses eight “extra” letters to avoid referring to the non-kosher animals entering Noach’s ark as “tamei” but rather as “not tahor.” Why in Parshas Re’eh does the Torah repeatedly refer (e.g. 14:8) to non-kosher animals as explicitly “tamei?” (Taam V’Daas and Derech Sicha Parshas Shemini)
5) The Torah requires (15:7-11) a person to be compassionate and merciful toward his poor brethren and to generously open his hand to dispense loans and charity to assist them. The Gemora in Kesuvos (50a) records a Rabbinical decree not to spend more than one-fifth of one’s income doing so. Is a wealthy person or one who has tremendous trust in Hashem permitted to dispense even more than one-fifth of his income and possessions for charitable purposes? (Tuv’cha Yabi’u, Shita Mekubetzes Kesuvos 50a, Tiferes Torah, Lulei Soras’cha)
6) May a person fulfill his twice-daily obligation to recall the Exodus from Egypt (16:3) by reciting Shiras HaYam (Exodus 15:1-19) – the song sung by the Jews after the drowning of the Egyptians in the Reed Sea? (Magen Avrohom 67:1, Shu”t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 15, Chiddushei Chasam Sofer and Chiddushei Rav Akiva Eiger Orach Chaim 67, Peninei Kedem)
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