Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 18   No. 34

This issue is sponsored jointly
with wishes for a Refuah Sh'leimah for
Gittel bas Chaya n"y
l'iluy Nishmas
Rus bas Shlomo z"l

Parshas Bechukosai

These Are the Mitzvos (1)
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

"These are the Mitzvos that G-d commanded Moshe" (27:34).

The Gemara in Shabbos (104a) extrapolates from this Pasuk that no Navi is allowed to add to the Taryag Mitzvos that Moshe Rabeinu taught us (See 'Highlights from the Ba'al ha'Turim').

The Torah Temimah explains that this does not include the various Mitzvos which Chazal introduced in order to safeguard the Torah's Mitzvos and other Mitzvos de'Rabbanan that enhance the Torah in one way or another. In fact, not only are they permitted, but to enact them is even considered a Mitzvah - as Chazal Darshen from the Pasuk at the end of Acharei-Mos "u'Sh'martem es Mishmarti" (an obligation of safeguarding the Torah with Rabbinical safeguards), though admittedly, a fine line divides between what exactly is considered a 'Mishmeres' and what is considered a new Mitzvah. Indeed, we find that Chazal initially refused Queen Esther's request to introduce the festival of Purim for this very reason, until they found a hint for it in the Torah itself.


As to whether a Navi is permitted to re-establish forgotten Halachos, the Torah Temimah cites the Gemara in Temurah (16a) which implies that this too, is forbidden, and the Gemara in Megilah (3a), which seems to permit it. To resolve the apparent contradiction, he concludes that whereas the Navi is not permitted to do even using the medium of means of prophecy, to work out the forgotten Halochos using the principles by which the Torah is expounded is permitted to a Navi, just like it is to any other Torah sage.

And by the same token, whenever the Gemara talks about Eliyahu ha'Navi coming to clarify disputes and obscure Halochos, it is referring (not to doing so using his power of prophecy, but) by taking advantage of the Divine spirit that rests on him to delve into the fountains of wisdom, so that he arrives at the truth not through Nevu'ah, but through Torah, when necessary to the point that both disputing factions concede that his decision is indeed Da'as Torah.


The Torah Temimah also cites the Gemara in Yuma (75a), which discusses how the Manna would settle disputes - such as the ownership of the slave that Reuven claimed Shimon had stolen from him and whom Shimon claimed belonged to him (a dispute that was easily solved by the number of portions of Manna that Reuven and Shimon respectively brought home). There too, the Kapos Temarim queries the Gemara, quoting the principle that 'Torah is not in Heaven!' (a branch of the current Chazal that a Navi has no right to rule via the medium of prophecy).

And he (the Torah Temimah) dismisses the question in that the Manna was merely clarifying who the owner was, something that falls under the classification of clarifying a situation, rather than issuing new Halachos or even revealing old ones. And he proves his point from a Rashi in Bechoros (24a), which interpreting the Gemara there (regarding a case where Eliyahu would come and teach whether a certain child was the son of the woman discussed there) explains that this is considered a revelation of the facts and not a ruling.


Finally, the Torah Temimah cites the Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei ha'Torah, who seems to link the current D'rashah with that of Bal Tosif (the prohibition of adding to the Mitzvos - in Va'eschanan). The Ramban on the other hand, defines 'Bal Tosif' as adding a detail to an existing Mitvah (such as adding a fifth Parshah to the Tefilin, or fixing five Tzitzis on a garment instead of four). Whereas adding a complete Mitzvah falls under the heading of 'adding a Mitzvah', but is not Bal Tosif.

* * *

These Are the Mitzvos (2)
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"These are (eileh) the Mitzvos (27:34)

The word "eileh" denotes that they will remain forever (like we find in Bereishis "These are [eileh] the generations of the Heaven and the earth", and in Bamidbar regarding Yisrael "These are [eileh] the counted ones of Yisrael to the house of their fathers").


And the Pasuk goes on to stress who commanded them, through whom, on behalf of whom and the location where G-d spoke to his emissary Face to face:

" that G-d commanded" - Look Who commanded it! The One whose Glory "our eyes beheld and whose Voice we heard from the midst of the fire!"

" Moshe" - to prove the veracity of the Shali'ach in whom we believe, not on account of the numerous miracles that he wrought, but because we were witnesses that G-d spoke to him face to face; nor, for the same reason, did he find it necessary to perform those miracles to prove his integrity but because of the need of the moment).

"to the B'nei Yisrael" - to attest to the greatness of Yisrael, who received the Torah, and whom G-d had in mind even before the mighty mountains were created.

" on Har Sinai" - the mountain before which we trembled in awe before G-d's presence; the mountain where we saw G-d's Glory with our own eyes; there "My Soul departed when He spoke with me He shone forth from Se'ir and revealed himself to K'lal Yisrael from Mount Paran; then He came to me there with tens of thousands of holy angels". There I perceived "His entourage, twice ten thousand, thousands of angels, G-d Himself was among them, on Sinai in holiness!"

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Riva)

The Antidote to Evil

"And I will give peace in the land" (26:6).

This teaches, Rashi concludes, that peace is equivalent to everything, and so it is written ' He makes peace and creates everything'.

Citing the Chizkuni, the Riva queries Rashi, in that the Pasuk actually writes " He makes peace and creates evil (not everything)"?

Without actually resolving the discrepancy, the Riva explains that the Pasuk actually does indicate that peace is equivalent to everything by interpreting 'evil' as the Midas ha'Din, which brings evil into the world. What the Pasuk is therefore saying is that when Midas ha'Din brings evil into the world, it is peace that neutralizes it - a proof that peace is equal to everything.

It seems to me that one might equally then explain the Pasuk by taking one's cue from the preceding phrase "He forms light and creates darkness". What the Pasuk is therefore saying is that just as light dispels darkness, so too, does peace dispel evil.


The Measure of Good
the Measure of Punishment

"And five of you will pursue a hundred" (26:8).

Quoting a Pasuk in Ha'azinu, where the Torah describes how, in a time of punishment, one enemy will pursue a thousand Jewish soldiers, the Riva comments that it appears at first glance, that the measure of punishment exceeds that of reward (contrary to what Chazal have taught)?

And he cites Rabeinu Tam, who explains that the Pasuk there says nothing about anybody falling in battle (just fleeing), whereas the Pasuk here speaks immediately after the Pasuk "And your enemy will fall before you by the sword". Consequently, the five pursuing a hundred is said with reference to those who remain alive after their defeat, in which case, all in all, their situation is far worse than ours (in Parshas Ha'azinu) - in keeping with Chazal that 'The measure of reward exceeds that of punishment'.

The Ram from Coucy however, answers the Kashya by interpreting the Pasuk in Ha'azinu differently. According to him, the Torah is referring, not to Yisrael falling before the enemy, but to the enemy falling before Yisrael. He explains that, when the enemy will see how, in the time of Mashi'ach, one thousand of their troops fall before one of ours, and ten thousand before two, they ought to realize the superiority of our G-d over theirs, and arrive at the conclusion that if it were not for the fact that He handed us over to them in the first place, there is no nation on earth that could overpower us.


The Three Batei-Mikdash

"And I will remember My covenant with Ya'akov " (26:42).

What is the purpose of this remembrance, asks the Riva, seeing as it is followed immediately (in Pasuk 43) by another curse "And the land will be forsaken "?

And he answers that Pasuk 42 is referring to the construction of the second Beis-Hamikdash, and Pasuk 43, to its destruction. In other words, the remembrance for the good here and the curse that follows are speaking with reference to two different eras.

In that case, one can assume that Pasuk 45 - "And I will remember for them the covenant of the first ones (the tribes, whom I took out of the land of Egypt ") is written with reference to the construction of the third Beis-Hamikdash (may we merit to see its rebuilding soon).


A Valueless Man

" any condemned person who has been condemned from mankind, shall not be redeemed; he shall be put to death" (27:29).

Commenting on this Pasuk, Rashi explains that if someone undertakes to pay to Hekdesh the 'value' of someone who is being taken out to be executed, his declaration is void. This is because a person who is being led to his death is considered dead, and he therefore has no redemption value.

The Riva queries this from the Gemara in Sanhedrin, which rules that if someone is being led to his execution and somebody in Beis-Din claims that he has something to say in his favour, then the accused is returned to Beis-Din, where his case is re-examined in light of the new evidence. How can Rashi then say that this person has no value?

Moreover, due to the stringency of Hekdesh (i.e to obligate the person making the undertaking), he ought to retain his initial value, like the Gemara says in Gitin. The Gemara there states that the person under discussion has the stringency of a dead person (in that if he is a Kohen, his Yisre'eilis wife may no longer eat Terumah) and the stringency of a live one (in that if he is a Yisrael, his Kohenes wife remains forbidden to eat Terumah)?

Rabeinu Tam from Orleans answers that the Torah inserts this Pasuk precisely in order to negate these questions (in that a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv overrides all other considerations).


The Shechinah is Still There

"And I will lay waste your Holy Places" (26:31).

Even when they are desolate, Chazal extrapolate, they still retain their sanctity! Indeed, says Rabeinu Bachye, citing a Medrash Tehilim, whether the Beis-Hamikdash is standing or it is destroyed, the Shechinah never moves from its midst Even though His Throne is in the Heaven, His Shechinah is in the Beis-Hamikdash and the Heichal retains its sanctity, as the Pasuk writes in Melachim "And My Eyes and My Heart are there for all time although it is a mountain, it retains its sanctity forever even when it becomes a field!

Rebbi Acha said - 'The Shechinah will never move from the Kosel ha'Ma'arovi'. , as the Pasuk states in Tehilim "Behold He stands behind our Wall!"

* * *


"And you I will scatter (ezoreh) you among the nations" (26:33).

The 'Zayin' of "ezoreh", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is bent. The message G-d is conveying, he explains, is that He gave us the country of seven nations, to fulfill in it the Torah which is 'carved on seven pillars', whereas we are guilty of seven abominations (See Mishlei, 26:25), That is why He will scatter us among the nations.


"I will unsheathe (vaharikosi) the sword after you" (Ibid.)

The same word appears in Malachi (3:10) "And I will pour (vaharikosi) upon you blessing".

"It was My intention", G-d says "to pour upon you blessing, only you did not want to fulfill My Mitzvos. So instead I scattered you among the nations".


"And they will flee as one flees from the sword and they will fall, though there is no-one pursuing (ve'rodeif) them!" (26:36).

The word "ve'rodeif", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, occurs in two other places; in Yeshayah (1:23) "All of them love bribery and pursue (ve'rodeif) gains" and in Hoshei'a (12:2) "Efrayim pastures the wind and pursues the east wind (i.e. nothingness). It is because Efrayim (the Ten Tribes) pursues gains and nothingness that one man stumbles over his friend as if he had fallen by the sword, even though nobody is pursuing them.


" the survivors among you will 'melt' in their sins (ba'avonom)" 26:39.

The word "Avon" or "Avonam" appears six times in the Parshah. A hint the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, at the six exiles that Yisrael had to endure, three at the hand of Sancheriv (King of Assyria), and three at the hand of Nevuchandetzar.


"And I will remember (vezocharti) the covenant (that I made with) Ya'akov, and also (af) the covenant with Yitzchak, and also (af) the covenant with Avraham I will remember (ezkor)" (26:42).

The Ba'al ha'Turim observes that the Torah does not mention 'Zechirah' in connection with Yitzchak because his ashes (i.e. those of the ram that were brought in his place) are heaped up before G-d (as a constant reminder).

The Avos are listed backwards, he adds, as this is the order of Yichus - Ya'akov, the son of Yitzchak, the son of Avraham. The word "af", he continues, appears in connection with Avraham (who fathered Yishmael) and in connection with Yitzchak (who fathered Eisav), but not in connection with Ya'akov - whose children were all Tzadikim.

The Pasuk begins with 'Zechirah' and ends with 'Zechirah', the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, because G-d will always remember the merits of the Avos.

Finally, he points out, sometimes the Torah mentions Avraham at the head of the Avos, and sometimes it mentions Ya'akov (such as here), but never Yitzchak. This is because he said to Eisav "Be a master over your brother". And because he wanted to appoint Eisav as Ya'akov's superior, he is never listed first!


(Perhaps then ["o oz"] their uncircumcised hearts will be humbled" 26:41).

The Rosh & the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explain that the Pasuk is hinting at the sin of Shabbos [which is the seventh day - like the Gematriyah of the word "o"], and at the sin of Milah [which takes place on the eighth day, like the Gematriyah of "oz"]).


"And the land will be bereft (Te'ozev) of them " (26:43).

The 'Zayin' in "Teo'zev" is bent, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, hinting at the seven years that the prophecy of "Sulfur and salt destroying the land" (Nitzavim 29:22) came true, rendering the land uninhabitable.


" and My statutes their soul rejected" (Ibid.)

The entire Tochachah, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, contains three hundred and ninety words. The equivalent of the years that the Ten Tribes sinned. Moreover, he adds, the Name of G-d does not appear in the entire Parshah. This, he explains, is because they publicly declared that they had 'no portion in the G-d of Yisrael'.

Furthermore, he says, the words in Divrei ha'Yamim "u'shevu'oso le'Yitzchak" (and His oath to Yitzchak) is spelt with a Tzadik' (Gematriyah 90), and in Tehilim with a 'Siyn' ("u'shevu'oso le'Yischak" [Gematriyah 300]). Because G-d swore that as long as his (Yitzchak's) children had not sinned for a period of three hundred and ninety years, He would not send them into exile.


"These are the Mitzvos that G-d commanded Moshe" (27:34).

The Gematriyah of the word 'Mitzvos' when written out in full ('Mem', 'Tzadei', 'Vav', 'Tav' - with a 'Yud') equals 612, as well as Talmidei-Chachamim' (hinting at the six hundred and thirteenth Mitzvah - Torah-study) Ba'al ha'Turim.

* * *

The Yovel Year
(Translated from the Rambam
Hilchos Sh'mitah ve'Yovel Perek 10)

(cont. from last week)

15. The Dinim of the Yovel regarding not working the land and those of the Sh'mitah are (generally) one and the same. Whatever is prohibited in the Sh'mitah in connection with working the land is prohibited in the Yovel too, and whatever is permitted in the Sh'mitah is permitted in the Yovel. Likewise, the M'lochos that are subject to Malkos in the former are subject to Malkos in the latter. And finally, any fruit that one may not eat or sell, and that is subject to Biy'ur (clearing out when the end of season arrives) in the Sh'mitah, is subject to the same stringencies regarding Yovel in all regards.

16. The (one dual difference between them is the fact that) Sh'mitah cancels debts, but the Yovel does not; whereas the Yovel releases Jewish servants and returns all land to its original owner, whereas Sh'mitah does not; and this is the Din in connection with the sale of fields of which the Torah speaks, (the redeeming of) which is a Mitzvas Asei, as it writes "A redemption you shall give to the land!" Yovel releases land at its inception, whilst Sh'mitah releases debts only at the end of the year.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel