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

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Vol. 9   No. 42

This issue is sponsored by an anonymous donor
for the aliyas Neshomoh of his father
Pesach ben Shimon Ephrayim z.l.


The Two Parshiyos of the Sh'ma

Four questions will help us to gain a better understanding of the first two Parshiyos of the Sh'ma:

1. Why does the second Parshah not contain "be'chol me'odechem" (corresponding to "be'chol me'odecho" in the first)?
2. In light of Rebbi Ya'akov in Kidushin (39b), who holds that G-d does not reward us for our good deeds in this world, why, in the second Parshah, does the Torah then describe the reward for Mitzvos in this world?
3. Now that it does, why does it omit the main reward, which is in the World to Come?
4. Why then, is there no mention of reward in the first Parshah?


The K'li Yakar in Bechukosai, cites many answers to the third question. Here are three of them.

1. The Ramban and Seifer ha'Ikrim explain that the concept of Olam ha'Bo is confined to individuals. There is no such thing as a communal Olam ha'Ba.

2. According to the I'bn Ezra, the Torah was given to K'lal Yisrael. Consequently. it cannot refer to the Reward in Olam ha'Bo, since most people do not get there (though the Mishnah in Sanhedrin 'All Yisrael have a portion in the World to Come' has connotations to the contrary).

3. The Ramban quoting the Chovas ha'Levovos explains that the Torah does speak about Olom ha'Bo because it is obvious. Based on the premise that everything reverts to its source, it is obvious that having performed its duty in this world, a Neshamah goes back to the world of total goodness from which it came, to reap the benefits of the good that it performed whilst it was here. What is not so obvious is that we receive reward for our good deeds here in this world. As a matter of fact, the Ramban explains, it is nothing short of a miracle that the sun shines and the rain falls as a result of our good deeds, as if the two were directly linked. That explains why the Torah needs to state it.


In answer to the first question, the Rudziner Rebbe points out that the first Parshah comprises 'Ol Malchus Shamayim' (the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven), and the second, 'Ol Mitzvos' (the yoke of the Mitzvos). The former, which incorporates the various branches of belief in G-d, has no financial limits, whilst the latter, in connection with which Chazal have prohibited spending more than one fifth of one's resources, clearly has. Consequently, it is perfectly appropriate to insert "be'chol me'odecho" in the first paragraph, but not in the second.

The Ha'amek Davar, basing his answer on the distinction cited by the Gemara in B'rachos, explains that the first Parshah inserts "be'chol me'odecha" (which he interprets as 'with all your might' as most people tend to translate it), because one is supposed to study Torah in this way. Whilst the second Parshah, which speaks about Mitzvos, does not need to use this expression, since Mitzvos do not require the intensity that Torah-learning does. Interestingly, these two explanations basically follow the two interpretations of "be'chol me'odecha" as presented by the Mishnah in B'rachos.


To answer the second question, the Or ha'Chayim observes that the second Parshah begins with the word "ve'Hoyoh".

"ve'Hoyoh", is an expression of joy (because it contains the letters of G-d's Name 'Havayah'), he says, and hints that, in spite of Rebbi Ya'akov's opinion in Kidushin, if Yisrael will serve G-d with joy, they will earn themselves reward in this world (as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuvah).

And this serves to answer the fourth question too. Since the concept of joy does not appear in the first Parshah, we will apply Rebbi Ya'akov's principle (there is no reward for mitzvos in this world).


Earlier, we cited the opinion of the Ramban and the Seifer ha'Ikrim, who maintain that the community are not subject to Olom ha'Bo. If that is so, then it stands to reason that Rebbi Ya'akov's principle (that there is no reward for Mitzvos in this world) does not apply to them either. After all, Rebbi Ya'akov surely bases his statement on the fact that the main reward is only due in the World to Come. Consequently, a Tzibur, who do not receive their reward there, will inevitably receive it here! In other words, the answer to question three automatically provides the answer to question two, as well.

Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim) To Listen, to Observe and to Perform

"And it will be, when you listen to these judgements and you observe and perform them " (7:12).

"Listen" refers to the study of the written Torah (the basis of Judaism); "observe", to the study of Mishnah (which leads to the basic knowledge of Halachah), and "perform", to the study of Gemara (which is synonymous with the detailed knowledge of Halachah and its practice) (Ba'al ha'Turim).


A Solid Account with a High Interest

"And G-d will keep (ve'shomar) for you the covenant that He swore to your fathers" (ibid.)

The numerical value of "ve'shomar" is equivalent to that of 'le'osid lo'Vo' (in the World to Come), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is in keeping with the opinion of Rebi Ya'akov in Kidushin (39b), who rules that the (real) reward for Mitzvos is paid, not in this world, but in the next.


All on the Merits of the Avos

"Then He will love you, bless you and increase you" (7:13).

Perhaps these three blessings correspond to the three expressions that we discussed earlier (in the first wort).

The Ba'al ha'Turim observes however, that they correspond to the Avos, where the same three expressions are to be found - "the seed of Avraham, whom I love" (Yeshayah 41:8); "And G-d blessed Yitzchak" (Chayei Sarah 25:11): "Be fruitful and increase" (Vayishlach 35:11).


Just Like Avraham and Ya'akov

"Do not be broken before them (the Cana'anim), because Hashem is in your midst, a great and fearful G-d" (7:21). "Great" corresponds to Avraham, and fearful, to Ya'akov, as they do in the first B'rachah of the Amidah. But why does the Pasuk omit "Strong", corresponding to Yitzchak, which appears in the Amidah, too?

The answer, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is that we are referring here to G-d's doing battle on our behalf, in the same way as He helped Avraham against the four kings, and Ya'akov, against Lavan and Eisav. Yitzchak never fought with anyone, so he never had need of Divine assistance in that area of endeavor.


The Mon and Torah

"And he fed you the Mon in order that you should know " (8:3).

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Mon injected knowledge into those who ate it. And so Ezra said (Nechemyah 9:20) "And You gave them Your Mon to make them wise".

That is why the Medrash states 'the Torah was only given to those who ate the Mon' (Ba'al ha'Turim).


ha'Motzi Lechem min ho'Oretz

"A land of wheat and barley " (8:8).

This Pasuk contains ten words (as does the B'rachah of 'ha'Motzi'), That is why one places one's ten fingers on the bread when reciting the B'rachah over bread. And it also corresponds to the ten Mitzvos that one performs from the time that one harvests the wheat until one bakes the bread: 1. Not ploughing with an ox and a donkey; 2. Not sowing Kil'ayim (a mixture of seeds); 3-5. Leaving Leket, Shikchah and Pe'ah; 6. Not muzzling the ox whilst it is threshing; 7. Giving Terumah Gedolah to the Kohen, and; 8. Ma'aser Rishon to the Levi; 10. Giving Chalah to the Kohen.

To cap it all, the seven species are really ten, when we bear in mind that wheat and barley incorporate 'rye, oats and spelt'.


The Four Evil Powers

"Who led you in this great and fearful desert, a place where there are snakes, serpents, scorpions and thirst (Nochosh, sorof, ve'akrav ve'tzimo'on)" (8:15).

The numerical value of "Nochosh, sorof, ve'akrav ve'tzimo'on" is equivalent to that of 'be'Kasdim, be'Paras, be'Macedon (Greece) u've'Se'ir' (Edom), a broad hint, if ever there was one, to the rough trip that we were destined to make through the desert of the nations, and have since done. It is a clear indication as to the four exiles that we would have to suffer under the jurisdiction of the four specified nations.


They Simply Flew Away

"And took hold of the Two Luchos and I cast them from my two hands " (9:17).

The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the word "vo'ashlichem", (and I cast them) is missing a 'Yud', to hint that the Ten Commandments had flown away. Indeed, some commentaries attribute Moshe's throwing down of the Luchos to their tremendous weight. As long as they contained the Holy words of G-d, in spite of their immense weight, they were extremely light to carry (reminiscent of the Aron, which carried those who carried it). Once however, the letters flew away, they adopted the regular weight of sapphire, and Moshe found them too heavy to carry. So he threw them down.


A similar explanation is given by the Or ha'Chayim, who comments on why Moshe needed to take hold of the Luchos before throwing them down (seeing as he was already holding them - see 9:17).

The Torah just wrote, he explains, that the Luchos were placed "on Moshe's hands", by which it means that they were so light that they sat there by themselves. Only when they entered the vicinity of the Golden Calf, their Kedushah left them and Moshe had to take hold of them to prevent them from falling.

Perhaps you will ask why Moshe bothered to take hold of them? Why did he not simply let them fall (since he was about to break them anyway)?

The answer is that Moshe wanted to smash them before the eyes of the people, in order to shock them into realizing what they were doing and do Teshuvah.


The Death of a Tzadik

" And the B'nei Yisrael traveled from Be'eiros B'nei Ya'akon, that is where Aharon died" (10:6).

The Ba'al ha'Turim gives a number of reasons for the Torah's juxtaposing the death of Aharon to the breaking of the Luchos. It teaches us that Aharons' death was as painful to Yisrael as the breaking of the Luchos; it teaches us that when a Talmid-Chacham dies, everyone is considered his relative, and is obligated to rent his garment as one would for a Seifer-Torah that was destroyed.

And furthermore, it juxtaposes it next to the placing of the Luchos in the Aron, a hint that one buries a Seifer-Torah that wears out beside a Talmid-Chacham.



Hilchos Kil'ayim

The Rules Regarding the Different Species
(Chapter 16) cont.

4. The following are all considered one species with regard to Kil'ayim:

Barley and oats; spelt and rye; a male and female date-palm; large and small radishes; cultivated oranges and wild-oranges.

5. It is not clear as to whether esrogim, lemons, oranges and grapefruit are considered the same species in this regard. Consequently, one should avoid grafting one with the other.

6. Any species whose pip (pit) produces fruit in the first year that it is planted, and whose trunk does not last three years, is not a tree, but a species of plant.

On the other hand, a species whose trunk does survive three years is considered a vegetable if its leaves grow from the roots, but a tree, should they grow from the trunk or from the branches. This Din concerns Kil'ayim, Orlah and which B'rachah to recite over it.


The Prohibition of K'lai ha'Kerem
(Kil'ayim in a vineyard)
(Chapter 17)

1. It is forbidden to sow Kil'ayim in a vineyard, in Eretz-Yisrael, min ha'Torah; in Chutz la'Aretz, mi'de'Rabbanan.

2. Planting hemp and luf (a species of onion) in a vineyard constitutes an Isur d'Oraysa. Other species of seeds with grape-seeds is only an Isur mi'de'Rabbanan (though some commentaries permit it entirely). The Rambam maintains, that vegetables with grape-seeds constitute an Isur d'Oraysa, though most commentaries consider it only mi'de'Rabbanan.

3. Seeds that are not generally cultivated, or that are cultivated for smelling or as spices (to be used for their aroma), but that are not fit for human or animal consumption, are not subject to K'lai ha'Kerem, and neither are wild herbs.

4. One may plant one species of fruit-tree beside a another species, or beside a vine. This does not involve Kil'ayim.

5. If one contravened the Isur of Kil'ayim, whether he did so deliberately or mistakenly, the fruit is forbidden to benefit from. These Dinim are complex, and one needs to ask a Chacham how to proceed. In any event, it is forbidden to retain Kil'ai ha'Kerem or to cultivate it.


The Distance Required between Vines and Seeds
(chapter 18)

1. Regarding distancing the seeds from a vine, there is a difference between an individual vine and a vineyard. The former requires a distance of six Tefachim (a little less than sixty centimeters), the latter, four Amos (twenty-four Tefachim). A vineyard consists of a minimum of five trees. Less than that has the Din of an individual vine.

2. In order to qualify as a vineyard, the five vines must be planted in two rows of two trees each, with the fifth vine in the form of a tail, meaning that it comprises the third vine in one of the rows. One row of trees, irrespective of how many trees it consists of, is not considered a vineyard, in which case, only a distance of six Tefachim is required between it and seeds that one plants.

3. If the fifth vine was in between the two rows and not the third vine in one of the rows, as we explained, it does qualify as a vineyard.

4. If the five vines are planted as specified, and there are additional vines planted here and there, in many cases they are considered part of the vineyard, and one will leave to leave a distance of four Amos between them and seeds.

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