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

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Vol. 10   No. 1

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Zevulun Doron ben Shimon z.l.
Why was the snake doomed forever?
Because it spoke Loshon ho'Ra about its Creator.

Parshas Bereishis

The Soul of the Week
(adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

"And G-d terminated on the seventh day, His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And G-d blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it ... ". Three times the Torah repeats the words "the seventh day", when once would have sufficed.

This clearly hints at the three Souls, Nefesh, Ru'ach and Neshamah, which come with the Shabbos and which comprise the Neshamah Yeseirah that every Jew merits each Shabbos. This will also explain why the three consecutive phrases are inherently progressive. In "And G-d terminated on the seventh day", the words are not only passive, but more than that, Shabbos was only indirectly affected, inasmuch as the work was finished before the seventh day arrived, not on it.The words "And He rested on the seventh day", are passive too, but at least it is on the Shabbos that the work was not performed. Whereas in "And He blessed the seventh day", they are no longer passive, because Shabbos receives a blessing from G-d.

And this conforms with the progressive nature of the three souls, Nefesh, which is the soul of life, is basically a physical soul, which man shares with the animal world. Neshamah is totally spiritual; it is a soul which he shares with the angels; whereas Ru'ach is the transitional Soul which connects the two, since it would otherwise be impossible for the physical and the spiritual to co-exist in one body.


This concept conforms with what the commentaries say about Kabolas Shabbos. Commenting on the fact that the reciting of 'Bo'i Chalah', 'Borchu' and 'u'F'ros oleinu Succas shelomecho' are all slated to bring in the Shabbos (and the Neshamah Yeseirah), the commentaries explain that this is not a matter of opinion. In fact, all three are correct, only 'Bo'i Chalah' brings in the Nefesh of Shabbos (and with it, the Nefesh Yeseirah), 'Borchu', the Ru'ach (and with it, the Ru'ach Yeseirah), and 'u'fros oleinu ... ', the Neshamah (and with it, the Neshamah Yeseirah).

And this also explains the three different Tefilos that we recite on Shabbos, the only day in the year on which all three regular Tefilos have different texts: (Atoh Kidashto' - corresponding to the Nefesh; 'Yismach Moshe' - to the Ru'ach, and 'Atoh Echod' - to the Neshomoh). Presumably, it is also the reason that we eat the three meals on Shabbos. And it will also shed light on the importance of Se'udas Sh'lishis, the third meal, which corresponds to the Neshamah. These correspond in turn, to the Sheloshah Avos (Avraham, the Nefesh, Yitzchok, the Ru'ach and Ya'akov, the Neshamah). This is puzzling however, since, due to the respective Midos of the Avos, the commentaries invert the chronological order, ascribing the Friday night meal to Yitzchak, and the Shabbos morning one, to Avraham.


To explain the words "His work which He had done" (implying that G-d did something on Shabbos, which in itself, is diametrically opposed to the Pasuk's message), the Or ha'Chayim explains that G-d did in fact, create something on Shabbos - the Soul of the world. And this is the simple meaning of the concluding words of the paragraph "u'va'yom ha'Shevi'i shovas va'yinofash", which translates as " and on the seventh day, Shabbos came and injected 'life' into the creation". This implies that before the arrival of Shabbos, the world was lifeless (like a corpse), and it only came to life with the advent of Shabbos (like a Soul that enters a body).

What the Pasuk now means is that on the Shabbos, G-d completed the work that he had done before Shabbos, by giving it a Soul and bringing it to life.


And this also helps us to understand the Zohar, who writes that both the Mitzvah of B'ris Milah and bringing an animal as a sacrifice, can be performed only from the eighth day and onwards to ensure that the baby lives through a Shabbos, and obtains a Soul.

According to the Or ha'Chayim's explanation, what we wrote earlier becomes even more meaningful, since, without the Shabbos, we would not have a Neshomoh at all. And it also becomes clear why the Torah writes a 'Vav' in each of the three phrases ("Va'yechal Elokim ... ", "Va'yishbos ba'Yom ha'shevi'i ... ", and "Va'yevorech Elokim ... "). The reason for this is because the Shabbos injected life into the world, and, according to the Zohar, the letter 'Vav' is the letter of life.


Explaining the continuation of the Pasuk " ... because on it He rested from all His work. Which G-d created, to do", the Or ha'Chayim elaborates further. Quoting the Pasuk from the Ten Commandments "because six days Hashem made the world", He explains that in fact, initially, G-d created the world in its entirety, to run for six days only. In order for the world to continue beyond six days, He created the Shabbos, which breathed a Soul into the world for another six days, until the following Shabbos, and so on. In other words, the creation of the Shabbos enabled Hashem to stop the creation, since the Shabbos, as it were, took over Hashem's work of the first six days, on a regular ongoing basis.

Now the Shabbos only exists by virtue of those who observe it. Indeed, there was never a Shabbos that was not kept, because first Adam, then Sheis, Mesushelach, No'ach, Shem and the Avos all kept Shabbos, until Yisrael took over the role on a permanent as well as on a national basis. With that, we can understand what Chazal mean when they say that whoever sanctifies the Shabbos (upholds its sanctity), becomes a partner with G-d in the work of the creation. For sure he does. Because if he failed to observe it, then (as far as he is concerned), Shabbos would cease to exist, and the world would simply expire.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro)

Creation and Continuity

" ... because on it G-d rested from all His work which he created to do (boro … la'asos)" (2:3).

"boro …la'asos" implies which 'He created (then) to do in the future'. Although G-d created everything in six days, He did not create it complete. He created everything as far as its initial stage of completion, but with the potential to develop further, until it reached a stage of perfection. And that is what we say every morning 'the One who creates anew each day the work of the creation'. He created everything during the first six days, to perfect them later, day by day (ha'K'sav ve'ha'Kabalah).

Others explain that G-d created the initial world, for us to complete later. See also Ramban and main article.


Death and Punishment

"But from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad you shall not eat, because on the day that you eat from it, you will die" (2:17).

It is most surprising, comments the G'ro, that after Adam had transgressed and eaten from the forbidden fruit, G-d lists a spate of (ten) punishments, yet death does not appear in that list?


The answer lies in the fact that when Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, he committed not one harmful act, but two. Firstly, he ate 'poison', which kills inherently (as G-d explicitly warned him in the above Pasuk). And secondly, he contravened G-d's command.


In similar vein, the Torah writes in Acharei-Mos (with reference to the Mitzvos) " ... which you shall do and live by them, I am Hashem". The last two words ("Ani Hashem") teach us that the correct reason to observe the Mitzvos is because Hashem commanded us to (not because they are the source of life - even though that may be true).

And the same applies to sins. Sins are the source of death. Yet that is not why we ought to desist from doing them, but because it means contravening the command and the will of G-d.


In addition to the danger of transgressing G-d's command, The Tree of Knowledge possessed a natural inherent danger, inasmuch as eating from it would cause death to the one who ate from it, as we explained. Someone who ate thr fruit therefore, would now have to suffer a double fate. He would inevitably die (for he had eaten poison). But he could expect retribution for having transgressed G-d's command. And it is that retribution to which G-d refers after the sin. Death would follow automatically ... in due course.


Two Out of Three

The Medrash explains that Adam sinned because he saw two, and not three. A Medrash P'li'ah, to be sure!


The Kol Dodi explains this with the Mishnah in Avos 'Look at three things, and you will not come to sin: See from where you came (from a putrid drop), where you are going (to a place of worms) and before whom you will have to give a final reckoning (before the King of Kings …). Now Adam could see where he was going, and he could know before whom he would have to give a final reckoning. He could not however, see from where he came, seeing as he did not come from a putrid drop, but was 'a creation of the Hands of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

And that is precisely what the Medrash is saying - Adam sinned because he saw two, and not three.


Allow me to elaborate. If we perceive the three things as representative of antidotes to the three Midos (jealousy, lust and honour), then knowing where one came from is surely the antidote to honour. Knowing (and realizing) one's humble beginnings, will cause a person to become aware of the extent of his finiteness, and fill him with deep humility. And it was presumably the spark of pride in Adam that caused him to taste the forbidden fruit, taking on the battle with the Yeitzer-Ha'ra in the vain belief that he could vanquish him - despite the Divine prohibition.

It was that spark of humility, that might have held him back from sinning, that was missing, the spark that remembering where he came from might have ignited.


The Snake Between the Fences

"But from the fruit of the Tree ... neither may you touch it, lest you die" (3:3). They asked the snake why he is always to be found among the fences. And he replied that it is because he breached the fence of the world (Medrash Rabah) .

But surely if the snake breached the fence of the world, it would be more appropriate for him to frequent the middle of the path, ready to be trampled underfoot by the wayfarer, and not among the fences, as the Medrash explains?


However, if we remember that the snake is a euphemism for the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, we will be able to understand the Medrash somewhat differently, and the problem will dissipate.

What they now asked the 'Snake' was why he always begins to entice man to sin at 'the fence', which is in turn, a euphemism for a preventive measure (as in 'Make a fence around the Torah'), and not by the actual sin.

To which he replied that he was the one who breached the original 'fence'. Initially, he tried to entice Chavah to sin by eating the forbidden fruit, but to no avail. And it was only when he caught her out with regard to touching the tree (a self-imposed 'fence' initiated by Adam), that he succeeded in penetrating her defenses. From there, he even managed to get her to eat too.

From that time on, this is the method employed by the Yeitzer-ha'Ra in his ongoing battle with man (Rebbi Shmuel Meltzan).


In similar fashion, the G'ro explained the well-known folk-saying 'Minhag Yisrael Torah Hi'. To explain this, the G'ro explains that there are Mitzvos min ha'Torah and Mitzvos de'Rabbanan, many of which the Chachamim initiated as 'fences around the Torah' (as described by the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos), to strengthen existing Torah-laws. And so each individual is obligated to create his own fences in those areas where he feels he is weak and which need bolstering. And this is what is meant by 'Minhag Yisrael Torah Hi'. It is well-known that "the Yeitzer-ha'Ra crouches at the entrance", as G-d told Kayin (Bereishis 4:7), which means that he waits for an opportunity to 'breach the fence' (as we explained earlier). Once he has achieved that, he breaches the major sections of Torah. For who would listen to him if, at the outset, he would begin immediately with the major sections of Torah, to aim at talking us into breaking a Torah prohibition?

So that is what he does; he first gets a person to contravene a minor offence, a Minhag or a Rabbinical decree, and from there he goes on to the more serious transgressions.

Much as David Hamelech wrote in the opening paragraph of Tehilim - first a person walks past a company of evildoers, then he stands, and in the end, he sits. And that is Chazal mean when they describe how they asked the snake why he is always to be found among the fences ... . Now we can understand the meaning of the saying 'Minhag Yisrael Torah Hi'. It is a warning to treat even Minhagim with the deepest respect, because once one begins to negate Minhagim, Torah comes next!

And perhaps this is included in the well-known adage 'One sin leads to another'.


Moshi'ach and the Snake

"And you will eat dust all the days of your life" (3:14).

The G'ro was once seated at the Seider-table. He recited the words of the Chachamim, who Darshen "all the days of your life" (written in connection with the Mitzvah of remembering the Exodus from Egypt) 'to include the days of Moshi'ach'. Then he added that from there is a proof for the Medrash that in the time of Moshi'ach, all blemishes will be cured, except for those of the snake.

The participants did not understand what he meant, until Rebbi Shmuel, the Chasid from Rasa'an explained. The Pasuk here too, uses the expression "all the days of your life", just like it does there. Consequently, just like these words mean to incorporate the days of Moshi'ach, so too, do they mean that here, a broad hint that the snake's punishment will extend to that era too.


We will recall that according to Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah "all the days of your life" comes to include night-time [and not the days of Moshi'ach], and his opinion is Halachah). According to him I seems, the snake is destined to suffer day and night, but that when the time of Moshi'ach arrives, he too, will be healed, together with all those who are sick. As for the Medrash quoted by the G'ro, the author of that Medrash must be the Chachamim?

* * *


Hilchos Orlah
(Chap. 19 cont.)

Translated from the Seifer by Rav Kalman Kahana z.l.

9. If even one root of a tree that one uprooted remains attached to the ground (even if that root is as thin as a fine needle), one may add earth, and continue to count the years of Orlah from the date when it was originally planted.

10. If one grafted a young branch into an old tree, the branch adopts the status of the tree and is Patur from Orlah. Similarly, if he grafted it into a tree that is still within the years of Orlah, then the branch leaves the realm of Orlah only when the tree does. Until then however, the branch is subject to Orlah together with the tree. There are other complicated Halachos concerning grafting and replanting the branch of a growing tree, that require consultation with a Halachic authority.

11. New branches that grow from the trunk of a tree are considered part of the tree, but not if they grow from the roots, or if one grafted a branch into the root of a tree. Both of these are considered new trees, and are subject to Orlah from scratch.

12. A tree that was cut down and that re-grew is not subject to Orlah, provided one Tefach of the original trunk remains. If it is cut right down to the ground, it is definitely subject to Orlah; but if it is cut down to less than a Tefach, some consider it subject to Orlah, others do not.

13. A tree that is planted in a pot is subject to Orlah, too. If one planted it in a metal pot which had no hole at the bottom, and removed it from the pot together with sufficient earth for the tree to live (see para. 8), before re-planting it, he needs to ask a Halachic authority as to whether the tree is subject to Orlah or not.

14. A tree is subject to Orlah even if it grew by itself, or if a gentile planted it for himself (and certainly if he planted it on behalf of a Jew).

15. The fruit of Orlah is Asur be'Hana'ah (forbidden to benefit from), and must be burned. If one made wine out of Orlah grapes or oil out of Orlah olives, then the wine and oil must be buried. Once Orlah fruit has been burned, one may derive benefit from it. Also the skins and the pips are subject to the Dinim of Orlah, though the leaves, the branches and the wood of the tree, are not.

16. If Orlah-fruit became mixed with other fruit, the whole batch becomes forbidden, unless the ratio of the Heter (the permitted fruit) to the Orlah is two hundred to one. And this ruling applies, irrespective of whether the two products are both solids or both liquids (such as wine in wine or oil in oil). This stringency however, is confined to when the two species of fruit are the same ('Min be'Mino'); but if Orlah fruit falls into a different species of fruits (and becomes mixed, to the point that it is not recognizable), then it becomes Bateil be'Shishim (nullified in sixty).

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