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

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Vol. 15   No. 33

This issue is sponsored
with sincere wishes for a Refu'ah Shleimah for
๐็๎ไ แ๘๋ไ แ๚ ๗๘๒๙้ไ ๐"้ and
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l'Iluy Nishmas Rus bas Shlomoh a.h.

Parshas Behar

Hashem's Good Eye
(Adapted from the Meshech Chochmah)

The Gemara in Bava Basra (37a) discusses whether someone who sells a field sells with a good eye (generously) or with a bad one (reluctantly). The fact is, says the Meshech Chochmah, that someone who sells with a bad eye, does not really want the purchaser to benefit. He sells because he needs the cash, but in his heart, he will be quite happy if, for whatever reason, the purchaser fails to plant, or even if he does, does not enjoy a successful harvest. The seller will even be quite pleased if the land does not respond to the purchaser's efforts and it leaves him disappointed.

Not so a person who sells with a good eye. He wants the purchaser to benefit from the sale, and to enjoy the fruits of the land and to appreciate its goodness just as he did.


When the Torah inserts in the Parshah of Sh'mitah the words "Six years you shall plant and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and you shall gather its produce", the Torah is teaching us that when G-d gave us the land, He did so with a good eye, and we should not for one moment think that He is selling it to us and that He wants something in return (and someone who gives a gift in any event does so with a good eye, as the Gemara categorically states there [65a]). That is why the Torah opens the Parshah with the words "When you come to the land that I am giving to you, the land shall rest a Shabbos for Hashem". The land is a gift, and not a sale.

No, the Dinim of Sh'mitah are not intended to deprive us of the benefit of the land or to minimize it. On the contrary, G-d wants us to enjoy the land and its fruits, and the reason that He instituted Sh'mitah is that, due to the holiness of Eretz Yisrael, the laws of Sh'mitah are an integral part of the nature of the land. In fact, even land that belongs intrinsically to Hashem is subject to Sh'mitah too. This is why the Yerushalmi rules that all the Dinim of Sh'mitah apply to a vineyard that has been planted even in the name of Hekdesh.


Clearly, Sh'mitah is not a form of payment for the land that G-d gave us, but rather a law that demonstrates His Divine Providence and miraculous ways, when in the sixth year He provides us with three years' produce instead of the usual one. For that alone the entire institution of Sh'mitah would suffice. But of course, there are other more profound issues connected with Sh'mitah, which lie beyond our comprehension. That is what the Torah means when it writes "It is a year of complete rest for Hashem" (i.e. only He knows the underlying reasons behind it).


What's more, says the Meshech Chochmah, quoting the Yerushalmi, the reason that Sh'mitah applies to Hekdesh is because the status of Hefker of the land precedes the Hekdesh. Much like a purchased field which Reuven (the current owner) declares Hekdesh, which nevertheless goes back to Shimon (the original owner) in the Yovel, because a person cannot declare Hekdesh something that is not his, and beyond the Yovel, it was not his to be Makdish. In other words, Shimon's ownership negates Reuven's declaration. Likewise here, the land in Sh'mitah does not belong to the current owner, and it is as if the inherent status of Hefker preceded the Hekdesh.

It is a mistake to think that until the Sh'mitah, the land is ours, and that Kedushas Shevi'is begins only with the advent year. If that were so, then our ownership would precede the Sh'mitah by six years and whatever we declared Hekdesh before the Sh'mitah would remain Hekdesh even after the Sh'mitah arrives. Indeed, that is the Din regarding Orlah, for example, where if someone plants a field on behalf of Hekdesh, it is exempt from Orlah, because the Hekdesh preceded the Orlah); or if he Shechted a deer or a bird that he has already declared Hekdesh, it is Patur from Kisuy ha'Dam, since Hekdesh's ownership preceded the obligation to cover the blood).

And it is to teach us that this is not the case regarding Sh'mitah, that the Torah not only repeats the Din of Sh'mitah in the opening Pesukim, but in the Pasuk that we quoted earlier, it places the initial Mitzvah of Sh'mitah before the injunction to work the land for six years (even though chronologically, it only comes afterwards). This indicates that the inherent Kedushah of the land preceded our ownership. Consequently, the land was initially given to us for only six years at a stretch. On the seventh, it was never ours, in which case, Sh'mitah over-rides any subsequent declaration of Hekdesh.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

Counting Seven

"And you shall count for yourself seven 'Shabbos' years …" (25:8).

This appears to be a Mitzvah, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., in which case one is obligated to count the days and the weeks … , just like one counts the Sefiras ha'Omer. And the same applies to the seven days of a Zavah, by whom the Torah also writes "and she shall count … ".

In that case, asks the Da'as Zekeinim, why does she not recite a Brachah when she does (just like one does with regard to the two other above-mentioned Mitzvos)?

The reason for this, they reply, is because she might well have a sighting in the middle, which will negate her counting to date.


The Price of Sh'mitah Sales

"When your brother becomes poor and sells some of his inheritance … " (25:25).

This is the price one pays for doing business with Sh'mitah produce, as Chazal have warned.

And this is indeed what happened on a national scale, as the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim (2, 36:20) testifies, when Yisrael were exiled for seventy years, to make up for the seventy Sh'mitah years that Yisrael broke.

Let us hope that, on account of the widespread Sh'mitah observance that we witness today, Moshi'ach will come soon and the Beis-Hamikdash will be rebuilt soon.


G-d Sold Us …

"And his redeemer (his close relative) shall come and redeem the sale of his brother " (Ibid.)

"And his redeemer shall come … " - This refers to Hashem (as the Pasuk says in Devarim [4:7]) " … who has a G-d who is close to them".

"and redeem his brother's sale" - 'Master of the world' said Yirmiyah to Hakodosh-Baruch-Hu, 'you fulfilled in them the Pasuk "When your brother becomes poor, and he sells some of his property", now fulfill the continuation of the Pasuk "And his redeemer shall come and redeem the sale of his brother", seeing as You called them 'brothers', as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim "For the sake of My brothers and My friends I shall speak of peace in your midst". And this is what the Pasuk says in Yeshayah "For your sakes I was sent to Bavel".



"And a man who sells a residence in a walled city, its redemption shall be until the end of the year of its sale … " (25:29).

"And a man" - This refers to Hakodosh-Baruch-Hu (as the Torah writes in Beshalach (Hashem is a Man of War [meaning a Master]).

"who sells His residence" - This refers to selling the Beis-Hamikdash (as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim "for Hashem has chosen Tzi'on, He has desired it as His residence") to the Babylonians.

"its redemption shall be until the end of the year of its sale" - as the Navi writes in Yirmiyah "When the time-period of seventy years is over, I will remember you".


Medes, Greece and Edom

"If a sojourner who resides with you becomes sufficient and your brother …is sold to a sojourner who resides with you, or to an idolater, the family of the sojourner … " (25:47).

"The sojourner" refers to the Medes, "who resides with you", to the Greeks, and "an idolater … ", to Edom (the Romans).


The Redemption

"After he has been sold, he shall be redeemed; one of his brothers shall redeem him. Either his uncle or the son of his uncle (O Dodo o ben Dodo) shall redeem him" (25:48/49).

"One of his brothers shall redeem him" - This refers to Hashem (based on the Pasuk in Tehilim that we quoted earlier) "For the sake of My brothers and friends … "; Whereas "either his uncle or the son of his uncle" refers to Hashem and King Mashi'ach respectively (based on the Pasuk in Shir ha'Shirim, "This is my uncle and my friend" and the Pasuk in Tehilim "G-d said to me 'you are My son' ".

In similar vein, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the letters of "ben Dodo" (which is missing a 'Vav)' also spell 'ben David'.


Redemption & Compensation

" … or he acquires the means and is redeemed" (Ibid.)

Still in connection with the final redemption, the Pasuk is referring to the Mitzvos and merits that Yisrael acquire to earn the coming of Mashi'ach.


"And he shall reckon with the one who acquired him … like the years of a labourer he shall be with him" (25:50).

"And he shall reckon with the one who acquired him" - This refers to Eisav, who acquired Yisrael in this world. And when Yisrael finally go free, he will recompense him, as the Pasuk says in Tehilim "The kings of Tarshish and the islands will return gifts … ".

* * *


"Do not make for yourselves idols, and images and sacred pillars you shall not erect for yourselves; nor may you place stones with pictures on them on which to prostrate yourselves. Though pictures and images you shall engrave on the floor of the Beis-Hamikdash, but not to worship" (26:1 [Targum Yonasan]).



"ve'es 'Invei' Nezirecha Lo Sivtzor (and the grapes that you have set aside you shall not harvest)" (25:5).

The Torah uses the same word in Ha'azinu, where it writes "Anoveimo 'invei' Rosh" (its grapes are bitter grapes). A prediction that it was the sin of Sh'mitah that would lead to Galus Bavel, as Chazal have said.


""Lo sizro'u, ve'Lo siktz'ru es sefichehoh (Don't plant, and don't harvest its wild seeds)" (25:11).

The Navi Yirmiyah uses the same word in (35:6), where he says "ve'zera lo sizro'u". The Pasuk is talking about Yonadav ben Reichav (a descendant of Yisro), who commanded all his descendants to live a temporary lifestyle in this world. Yonadav's descendants fulfilled his legacy; therefore the Navi testifies there (Pasuk 19) "And no man of Yonadav ben Reichav's family will be cut off … all the days". Yisrael, on the other hand, who failed to obey G-d's command not to plant in the Sh'mitah, were sent into Galus, as the Navi writes there (15:1) "He sent them from before Him and they went".


" … es sefichehoh" (Ibid.)

Likewise the Pasuk writes in Iyov (14:19) " … tishtof sefichehoh afar ho'oretz" (it [the water] washes them [the stones] into dirt that produces its own wild seeds). A hint at the Tosefta, which requires one to breach the fence that surrounds one's vineyard in the Sh'mitah. For if one does not make a breach in one's stone-wall, a torrent of water will break it down.


" … and your brother will live with you. Do not take from him interest (Neshech) … " (25:36/37).

The juxtaposition of these two Pesukim hints at what Chazal have said that a person who takes interest will not live, a warning which the Navi Yechezkel reiterates in his Seifer (18:13).

The Gematriyash of "Neshech" is equivalent to that of 'Zeh nochosh' (this is a snake), firstly, because in time to come, just as the snake will not be healed (as the Pasuk says in Yeshayah "and the snake will still eat dust), so too, will a person who took interest not be brought back to life; and secondly, because (compound) interest is compared to a snake, inasmuch as it begins with a small rate, but, like the bite of as snake, it soon swells up into a large amount, which kills the person.


The word Yovel appears fourteen times in the Parshah, corresponding to the fourteen Yovlos that Yisrael passed whilst Yisrael lived in Eretz Yisrael, until the ten tribes were exiled in the days of Hoshei'a ben Eilah. Whereas variations of the word 'go'al' (redeem) appear nineteen times, corresponding to the nineteen B'rachos in the Amidah, which is why one needs to juxtapose 'ge'ulah to Tefilah.


"Either his uncle or the son of his uncle (ben dodo) shall redeem it" (28:49)

"ben dodo" contains the same letters as 'ben David' (Mashi'ach). See Parshah Pearls.


"es Shabsosai Tishmoru" (26:2).

Here the Torah puts Shemirah after Shabbos, whereas in Va'eschanan (5:12) it puts it before it ("Shomor es yom ha'Shabbos"). This teaches us that one needs to extend Shabbos both at the beginning and at the end.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 329
Not to Harvest the Fruit of the Sh'mitah As One Normally Does

We are forbidden to harvest what the trees produce in the Sh'mitah-year in the manner that people tend to gather the fruit of their trees every other year; but rather to do it differently, to demonstrate that this year, everything is like Hefker. Consequently, when the Pasuk states in Behar (25:5) " … and the grapes that you set aside you shall not harvest", it means that one should not harvest them the way that harvesters do, for that is the traditional interpretation of the Pasuk. And that is why the Mishnah in Shevi'is (8:6) teaches that one may not cut figs using a 'Muktzah' (an implement that is normally used to harvest figs), but with a knife. Likewise, says the Mishnah, one may not press grapes in the wine-press, but in a trough (or tub), or olives in the olive-press or with a 'Kotev' (a heavy piece of wood with a stone on top), but one rather pounds them first before placing them in a small press. And the above Pasuk also teaches us that if one fenced off grapes, denying people access to them, and failing to declare them Hefker, harvesting them is totally prohibited until one has declared them Hefker (and opened them to the public). This is the opinion of Rashi, who writes in Succah and Yevamos that if a person guards his field in the Sh'mitah, the grapes do not become permanently forbidden. And there are clear proofs that this is indeed the law of the Torah. Accordingly, when the Toras Kohanim commenting on the Pasuk "and the grapes that you set aside you shall not harvest", explains that one may only harvest from what has been declared Hefker, but not from what has been guarded, it means only as long as it is being guarded, but not from the moment that one declares it Hefker.

The Ramban, on the other hand, explains "that you set aside" to mean that you did not prune or work on; and what the Torah is saying is that even a vineyard that has not been worked one may not harvest in a regular manner, how much more so one that has.

The reason for this Mitzvah, is the same as that of Sh'mitah (Mitzvah 66), where the author already explained the time and place of the Mitzvah, together with the other details of the Mitzvah. Other details are discussed at length in Maseches Shevi'is.

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