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

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Vol. 21   No. 33

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
R' Gavriel ben R' Yitzchak z"l

Parshas Bechukosai

Torah-Study - The Focal Point

The Triple Segulah

"If you will follow my laws and keep my Mitzvos and do them" (26:3).

Simply explained, says the Oznayim la'Torah, " follow my laws" refers to Torah-study (as Rashi explains), "keep my Mitzvos" (to Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh", which is the regular interpretation of the word "Tishmoru") and "do them", to Mitzvos Asei.

What the Torah is now saying is that if Yisrael will study Torah, refrain from transgressing the Lo Sa'asehs and carry out the Mitzvos Asei, they will merit all the B'rachos mentioned in the Parshah.


Torah-Study & Mitzvos
(another perspective)


The Torah connects the observance of Mitzvos to Torah-study, the Oznayim la'Torah explains, because, as Chazal have said in Pirkei Avos (2:6) 'A boor' (an illiterate person) does not fear sin, nor is an am ha'aretz pious'. Moreover, he adds, the Yeitzer ha'Ra works hard and consistently to cause us to sin. His job is relatively easy, inasmuch as our physical bodies live at home, on the earth from which they were created, and are easily attracted to the material distractions to which they are constantly subjected. Our Neshamos, on the other hand, which abhor sin, live far away from the celestial domain from which they were forcibly taken and placed inside us to stop us from sinning. That being the case, the Neshamah is faced with a losing battle, That is why G-d gave us the Torah to study, as the Gemara says in Kidushin (30), quoting Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, "I created the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, and I created the Torah to counter it !' Torah-study is the Neshamah's aid that keeps the Yeitzar ha'Ra at bay.

Hence Torah-study is vital to successfully perform Mitzvos from this different perspective.


The Reward for Torah-Study

"If you will follow my laws and keep my Mitzvos and do them. Then I will give your rain in its right time and the land will give its produce and the trees of the field, its fruit" (26:3/4).

The Gemara in Kidushin concludes that there is no reward in this world for keeping the Mitzvos - the Mitzvos after all, are spiritually- based, whereas this world is physical, and there is nothing in this world that can compensate for a Mitzvah. Consequently, the true reward for observing them awaits us in the World to Come - a world that at this point, belies human comprehension.

What the Torah is therefore presenting here, is the condition of hiring, in keeping with the ruling in the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (83a) 'Someone who hires workers is obligated to sustain him in accordance with local custom.' Consequently, having hired us to work for Him ('We are day-laborers'), G-d has the obligation to sustain us.

Moreover, as we explained some years ago, reward in the World to Come only applies to the individual, not to the community. Consequently, seeing as the Torah here is speaking about communal reward and punishment, it confines itself to reward and punishment in this world, in the same way as it does in the second Parshah of the Sh'ma.


Eat Little - Be Healthy

" the threshing season will overtake the grape-harvest and the grape-harvest will overtake the planting season, and you will eat your bread to satisfaction" (26:5).

Commenting on this Pasuk, Rashi explains that one will eat little and the food will be blessed in one's stomach.

What is the point of this miracle, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, now that the Torah has blessed the crops in the granary and the wine in the wine-press? And he answers with a Tana de'bei Eliyahu, which states that 'Before praying for words of Torah to enter one's body, one should pray that nice foods should not enter one's body. Excessive food, it seems, simply stimulate one's physicality and serve as a barrier to one's spirituality ('you can't have it both ways!').

The author cites this same Tana de'bei Aliyahu to explain the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos "Eat bread with salt and drink a small measure of water! If you do this, then you will be fortunate in this world '. What the Mishnah means, he says, is that if you eat and drink limited quantities even when you have plenty (of lavish food) you will have it good in this world '.


It seems to me however, that if that is what the Torah meant to say, it ought to have said "and you will eat your bread" (to preclude 'your delicacies') and stopped. Now that it adds the word 'to satisfaction', what the Pasuk evidently means is that you will not need to eat large quantities of food in order to be satisfied, but will make do on little. This as we all know, means both living healthier lives, and cutting down on one's expenses.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

Security & Peace

" you will dwell in safety in your land. And I will give peace in the land" (26:5/6).

This is not a repetition, points out the Oznayim la'Torah, citing a Pilpula Charifta in Bava Basra, (Daf 9). Based on the Pasuk in Yeshayah " the act (of making others give Tzedakah is peace, and the service of Tzedakah, tranquility and security". The Gemara explains that making others give Tzedakah is greater than giving Tzedakah oneself. The Pilpula Charifta explains that this is because peace is greater than security.

The reason for this is because, a person may well feel secure on account of his own strength or on account of powerful friends who are ready to defend him. Yet how often does it happen that one has misread the situation, and that that one's own defenses are totally inadequate, leaving him open to attack and to ultimate defeat. Whereas peace on the other hand, is peace! And, as Rashi points out, 'if one has peace one as everything!'


Witnessing Vengeance

" You will pursue your enemies and they will fall before you" (26:7)

Rashi, citing the Toras Kohanim, explains that they will actually kill each other.

In that case, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, why does the Torah insert the word "before you"?

And he explains it with the Pasuk in Tehilim "The Tzadik will rejoice when he sees revenge". Such is human nature, to rejoice when one's enemies are falling. Indeed, we have precedence for this when the Philistines flocked to their temple to watch the humiliation of their mortal enemy, Shimshon, and to gloat over his downfall.

What the Pasuk is therefore saying here is that our enemies will kill each other in their confusion, and that we will merit witnessing the spectacle.


The Third Beis-Hamikdash

" And I will give My 'Mishkan' among you" (26:11).

Rashi interprets this in connection with the Beis-Hamikdash. The Or ha'Chayim adds that it is referring to the third Beis-Hamikdash. This is in keeping with the Ramban, who explains that the current B'rachos were bestowed on Yisrael in connection with the era of Mashi'ach, seeing as its contents have never yet been fulfilled.


That explains, says the Oznayim la'Torah, why the Torah writes "My Mishkan", since, according to the opinion of Rashi and Tosfos in Succah (41a) and in other places, the third Beis-Hamikdash, as opposed to the Mishkan and the first two Batei-Mikdash, which were built by the people, will descend from Heaven, already built.


In similar vein (though in the reverse), we find that the first Luchos, which were given to Moshe before Yisrael sinned, were the work of G-d's Hands, whereas the second Luchos, which were given to Moshe after the sin of the Golden Calf, was written in G-d's handwriting, but carved by Moshe.


Death & Two Kinds of Death-Sentences

"Any convicted person who has been condemned to death shall not be redeemed" (27:29).

Chazal derive from this Pasuk that if one declares someone who has been condemned to death a Cherem (a form of sanctity that requires paying his value to Hekdesh), his declaration is invalid.

The Rambam explains that this ruling is confined to a person who has been condemned to death by the Beis-Din, but not to someone who has been condemned to death by a non-Jewish law-court or by a king. And the reason for this, he explains, is because when Beis Din sentences a person to death on account of a sin that he committed, they are merely carrying out the will of the Torah, which has pronounced him Chayav Miysah, and the Torah's word is final.


Elaborating on the Rambam's explanation, the Oznayim la'Torah presents two categories of death - factual death and Halachic death.

Generally, he explains, as regards the Dinim of inheritance and marriage, only factual death will change the status of a man's property and of his wife. And what the Torah is teaching us here, is that when it comes to the laws of Charamim, Halachic death will suffice to render him valueless, and any declaration of Cherem will not take effect.

A death-sentence by a non-Jewish court or by a king on the other hand, is not factual death nor can it even be considered a Halachic death-sentence.

Consequently, as long as the death-sentence has not been carried out, the person concerned is considered alive, and any declaration of Cherem on him is valid.

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