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. 7   No. 46

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Tziporah bas Ya'akov a.h.
whose second Yohrzeit is on the 19th Av.

Parshas Eikev

Speaking to the Individual,
Speaking to the Community

Rashi, commenting on the repetition of the command to "love Hashem with all your heart and with all your soul" (11:13)), explains that on the first occasion (in Vo'eschanan 6:5 - in the first parshah of the Shema), the Torah is speaking to individuals, whilst here it is speaking to the community. This is indeed evident from the change from the singular to the plural.

The Or ha'Chayim goes on to explain why the Torah then omits "u've'chol me'odeichem" which is inserted in the first parshah. Based on the opinion of R. Eliezer, that "u've'chol me'odecho" in the first parshah comes to include loving Hashem with all one's money, and is speaking to people whose money means more to them than their lives (see last week's main article), he explains that whereas such individuals do exist, it is not feasible for the entire community to value its assets above the lives of its own members. Therefore, the Torah finds it unnecessary to include "u've'chol me'odechem" in this parshah. The Kli Yokor and the Eitz Yosef also follow this line of thought which conforms with the explanation of the Maharsho that we discussed last week.


The Iyun Tefilah goes one step further. He explains why the Torah wrote the first parshah of the Shema in the singular, and the second parshah, in the plural. The first parshah, he explains, deals mainly with faith and with faith-based mitzvos. These are based in the heart, and it is well-known that just as no two faces are alike, neither are two hearts, as Rebbi Meir said in Sanhedrin (38a) 'One person differs from the other in three respects: in voice, in appearance and in mind", (mind and heart in this context have the same connotation).

The second parshah of the Shema on the other hand, which refers to the keeping of mitzvos, concerning which all people are alike, speaks to the community at large.

The Kli Yokor elaborates on the importance of serving G-d together with the community (e.g. tefilah be'tzibur). He cites the Rishonim, who, commenting on the posuk in Sh'mos (23:25) "And you (plural) shall serve Hashem Your G-d, and He will bless your bread (singular)", explain that whereas serving Hashem should be done communally, it is preferable to avoid eating in large gatherings (see also Ba'al ha'Turim there).

And that explains, he says, why the Torah uses the plural throughout this parshah, except for when it refers to gathering the produce and eating it, where it uses the singular.


It seems to me that there is another way of explaining the difference between the two parshiyos of the Shema. The Gemoro in Kidushin (39b) cites the opinion of Rebbi Ya'akov, who holds that on principle, the reward for mitzvos is paid in the World to Come, not in this world. In addition, the Kli Yokor in Bechukosai, in one of his many explanations as to why the Torah there only deals with the reward and punishment that Yisroel are due to receive in this world, but not in the World to Come, quotes the Seifer ho'Ikrim and the Ramban. They both maintain that Olom ha'Bo is a concept that pertains to individuals but not to the community. Consequently, he concludes, since the Torah is speaking there to the community, it confines itself to reward and punishment in this world, and not in the World to Come.

Based on these two concepts, the difference between the two parshiyos is crystal clear. The first parshah of the Shema, which speaks to individuals, does not deal with reward and punishment, because under normal circumstances, there is no reward and punishment for individuals in this world (see also Ramban in Parshas Eikev - who elaborates on Rashi using a similar idea). Whereas the second parshah, which speaks to the community, deals with reward and punishment in this world, because that is where Hashem handles communal affairs, not in the World to Come.


Parshah Pearls


Talking of Kal vo'Chomers

"And you will eat and be satisfied, and bless Hashem ... " (8:10) - the source of bensching after eating bread. The Gemoro in B'rochos (35a) derives the obligation to recite the b'rochoh before eating ('birchas ha'nehenin') from a 'kal vo'chomer' - if one is obliged to recite a b'rochoh after eating, then one should certainly be obliged to recite one before eating.

And with regard to birchas ha'Torah, the Gemoro there (21a) learns the exact opposite 'kal vo'chomer'. If the Torah obligates us to recite a b'rochoh before reading the Torah, then one should certainly be obliged to recite a b'rochoh after reading the Torah.


The Gro explains the logic behind this in the following manner: When it comes to food, he explains, a person's appetite and desire to eat is stronger before he eats than after he has eaten. Hence the 'kal vo'chomer' to recite a b'rochoh before eating from the b'rochoh after eating. Whereas with Torah, it is after he has studied Torah that his desire to learn increases, and it becomes more powerful with each time that he hearns ('Mitzvah goreres mitzvah'). Consequently, we learn the 'kal vo'chomer' to recite a b'rochoh after reading the Torah from the b'rochoh before.


Hashem's Treasury

"And now Yisroel, what does Hashem ask from you other than to fear Him?" (10:12)


The Gro explains that it is customary for the king to store in his treasury things that are extremely rare. One is unlikely to find there, common items that are available in all the shops.

In the realm of Hashem, nothing is rare. Hashem owns everything and is Master of all good character-traits - with the sole exception of fear, because of whom should He be afraid ('Everything is in the Hands of G-d except the fear of G-d')?

That is why Yeshayah, summing up our posuk, wrote "The fear of Hashem that is His treasury" (33:6). Fear (of G-d) is the one precious commodity that is rare in Hashem's domain and that he truly appreciates, when he discovers it in our's.


Torah, Torah, Torah

"And you shall place these words of Mine upon your hearts and upon your souls" (11:8) - to govern your emotions and your intellect.

The Gemoro in Bovo Basro (58b) states 'I, blood, am the chief of all sicknesses; and I wine, am the chief of all cures. Where there is no wine, that is where other remedies are required'.

The Gro's brother explains the Gemoro like this: The chief cause of sin is desire. Desire in turn, is rooted in the blood (which is synonymous with the Nefesh - the soul of life). And the greatest antidote to all spiritual sicknesses is Torah, which is compared to wine, as the posuk writes in Mishlei (9:5). "And drink the wine that I poured out". That is what the Gemoro means 'I blood, am the chief of all sicknesses and I wine, am the chief of all cures'!


'Where there is no wine, that is where other remedies are required' means that it is only someone who is not a master of Torah who needs to enlist the aid of other remedies (such as fasting and self-mortification) to cure his spiritual ailments (to rid himself of desire, pride and anger ... ). A master of Torah can dispense with other remedies. By immersing himself in Torah-study and the fear of G-d all day, he will succeed in overcoming all forces of the Yeitzer ho'ra.

As the Tana writes in Pirkei Ovos (5:26) 'Turn it over and turn it over again ... because there is no midoh better than it! It is superior to all midos, and incorporates all midos'.


The Power of Rain

"And I will give the rain of your land in its time ... " (11:14).

'Rav Yosef said that because 'the power of rain' is equal to 'Techiyas ha'Meisim', they fixed it(s recital) in (the b'rochoh of) Techiyas ha'Meisim' (Ta'anis 7a).


The power of rain is compared to Techiyas ha'Meisim inasmuch as, like Techiyas ha'Meisim, which, in its function of reversing the natural process that leads to death, proclaims G-d's might, so too does the rain. Everything in the world, the philosophers maintain, conforms with nature, even the rising and setting of the sun. They are forced to admit however, that rain is an exception. Rain is not a natural phenomenon, because, unlike the other forces of nature, it does not fall consistently, sometimes it falls every day in its season, sometimes it does not fall at all.

And that is why Chazal refer to 'The power of rain', because, more than anything else, it reflects Hashem's power over nature, just as 'Techiyas ha'Meisim' does.


False Promises

"And He will close the heaven and there will be no rain" (11:17).


Rabbi Yochonon said that the rain is stopped on account of those who publicly undertake to give tzedokoh and fail to keep their promise, as the posuk writes in Mishlei (25:14) "(When there are) clouds and wind, but no rain (it is because) people are boasting with false gifts".


This is truly a case of measure for measure, explains the Gro, since the earth, unable to provide for itself, is poor, and the rain that falls from heaven to sustain the earth, is an act of tzedokoh. It is the clouds that publicise the forthcoming rain and the wind which brings the clouds to their destination.

It transpires that the earth symbolises the poor man, the heaven, the rich one, and the wind, the undertaking to give tzedokoh. Consequently, when people publicly undertake to give tzedokoh, creating the impression that they are going to do so, and then renege on their word, G-d on His part, sends wind and clouds, creating the impression that He has undertaken to send rain, and then reneges on that undertaking.



(The Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh)
Adapted from the Seifer ha'Mitzvos ha'Kotzer of the Chofetz Chayim.

90. Not to eat 'eiver min ha'chai' (the limb of a live animal) - as the Torah writes in Re'ei (12:23) "And do not eat the soul with the flesh". Traditionally, Chazal interpret this as a warning not to eat a limb that was cut from a live animal.

Someone who eats a kezayis (an olive-volume) from a live animal is due to receive malkos (thirty-nine lashes), but not for less than a kezayis, even if it is an entire limb.

Someone who eats the limb of a live animal which also contains a kezayis of flesh, receives two sets of malkos, one for the la'av cited above, and the other for "And flesh in the field that was mauled you shall not eat" (see la'av 87).

This mitzvah applies to men and women everywhere and at all times.


91. Not to cook meat together with milk - as the Torah writes in Mishpotim (23:19) "Do not cook a kid-goat in its mother's milk".

Someone who cooks a kezayis of meat together with milk is due to receive malkos, even though he had no intention of eating it. The finished product must be buried. One may derive no benefit from it, even from its ashes, should one decide to burn it.

This prohibition however, is confined to the meat of a kosher animal that was cooked together with the milk of a kosher animal, even if it is a neveilah. But if either the meat or the milk is from a non-kosher animal, or if the meat is of a wild animal or of a bird (even if they belong to a kosher species), there is no prohibition against cooking them together or of deriving benefit from the finished product if one did - though one is not of course, permitted to eat it.

This mitzvah applies to men and women everywhere and at all times.

92. Not to eat meat that was cooked together with milk - as the Torah writes (for the second time) in Ki Siso "Do not cook a kid-goat in its mother's milk".

Someone who eats a kezayis of either of them is due to receive malkos, even if he did not benefit from what he ate (if for example, it was so hot that he burned his throat or if he added a bitter ingredient that rendered the food inedible).

Meat and milk that were mixed together through means other than cooking, such as pickling or salting are forbidden to eat mi'de'Rabbonon, though one may derive benefit from them. And the same applies to the meat of a wild animal or a bird (see previous la'av), irrespective of whether they were cooked together with the milk of an animal or of a wild animal, whose prohibition is also only mi'de'Rabbonon.

One may cook fish and kosher locusts together with milk and, having cooked them, one is permitted to eat them (notwithstanding the fact that nowadays, Ashkenazim do not eat locusts).

This mitzvah applies to men and women everywhere and at all times.


93. Not to eat the meat of 'tomei' (known as 't'reifah') animals - as the Torah writes in Shemini (11:4) "This is what you shall not eat ... ".

Any animal that does not chew its cud and does not have hooves that are completely split is 't'reifah'. Someone who eats a kezayis of a 't'reifah' animal or of a wild animal is due to receive malkos. But if he eats the flesh of a human being, he transgresses only an asei (because it is precluded, from the posuk "This is the wild animal which you may eat", but not from the la'av).


Whatever is extracted from any of the above forbidden species (such as milk from a 't'reifah' animal or wild animal) is forbidden by Torah law, like the animal itself.

The honey of bees and of hornets is permitted, because it is not extracted from their bodies. A woman's milk is permitted, though a grown-up (or even an older child) is not permitted to suckle the milk directly from her breast.

Milk in the possession of a gentile which a Jew did not actually see being milked, is forbidden, due to the suspicion that the gentile may have mixed in milk from a 't'reifah' animal. Non-Jewish cheese is permitted by Torah-law because the reason for the prohibition of non-Jewish milk does not apply there (seeing as the milk of 't'reifah'' animals is not fit to produce cheese). Chazal however forbade it for a number of reasons, This mitzvah applies to men and women everywhere and at all times.


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