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

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Vol. 18   No. 47

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Zvi Hircsh
ben R' Yosef Pinchas Levinson z"l

Parshas Eikev

'Ein Mazel le'Yisrael'
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"And if you (singular) will say in your hearts 'My strength (kochi) and the might of my hands (otzem yodi) achieved for me this wealth! … Remember Hashem your G-d, that He is the One who gives you the strength to amass wealth …" (8:17/18). Rabeinu Bachye defines 'kochi' as 'Mazel' (pre-determined by the stars) and 'otzem yodi' as one's own hard work. In other words, the Torah is teaching us here not to attribute our financial success to a combination of Mazel and hard work, but rather to the realization that, yes, it is the result of our hard work, but that our ability to achieve those successes is a Divine blessing, without which we would be totally subject to the Mazolos.


Elaborating further, the author offers two very different explanations, both based on the above introductory comments: His first interpretation of the P'sukim, Rabeinu Bachye bases on the fact that, despite the Torah's use of the singular, the Torah is speaking to K'lal Yisrael at large (a style, he says, that the Torah often employs).

Moreover, when, in Parshas Lech-l'cha (15:5), G-d raised Avraham Avinu above the stars and told him to look down, because 'so will be your children', he effectively informed him a. that his children would be above the Mazalos (i.e. not subect to Mazel), and b. that this was restricted to Yisrael as a community, but not to individuals.

Indeed, the Gemara in Mo'ed Katan (28a) states that 'Children, life and sustenance depend not on merit, but on Mazel!' Consequently, what the Torah is teaching us here is that we as a nation, should not ascribe our financial successes to a combination of Mazel and effort, but to G-d's blessings, that grants us the wherewithal to succeed, irrespective of what the Mazel foretells.


His second explanation accepts the Pasuk at surface value - that it is speaking to each individual member of K'lal Yisrael, who, as we explained, is governed by Mazel. In that case, what the Pasuk is saying is that yes, we are governed by the Mazalos. But we should not for one moment believe that the Mazalos determine our destiny independently. Rather, we should bear in mind that the Mazalos themselves are merely tools in the Hands of G-d who controls them. For the Mazel is not the ultimate source of blessing, but G-d, who governs the Mazel. In other words, our destiny is at the outset, determined by Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, and the Mazel is nothing more than His Shali'ach. In any event, our own ability plays no role in our ultimate success. Neither does the wealthy man obtain his wealth though his acumen, nor does the poor man attain poverty through his lack of it. It is determined entirely by the Mazel, which in turn, relays the will of G-d.

It is therefore fair to assume that, since the Mazel itself is under G-d's jurisdiction, although the Mazel's reading is initially fixed, it can be changed by cleaving to the G-d who is the Master of the Mazel and whose power it represents. Consequently, it is possible to avert evil decrees that the Mazel predicts through Tefilah and good deeds.

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Parshah Pearls

Threshing with the Heel

"And it shall be if (Eikev) you will listen to these judgements (Mishpatim) … Then G-d will keep the covenant that He made with you" (7:12/13).

This translation seems perfectly acceptable, comments the Bartenura. Indeed, he points out, that is how it is translated in Parshas Toldos (26:5).

In that case, he asks, why does Rashi see fit to interpret the word "Eikev" as a heel, and to therefore explain that G-d will reward you for observing the 'easy' Mitzvos that one tends to trample with one's heel?


In the first of his three answers to the question, the Bartenura refers to the previous Pasuk "And you shall observe all the Mitzvos, the statutes and the judgements which I am commanding you today …". Now if the Pasuk under discussion was to be understood in the way that we suggested, it ought to have read 'And it shall be if (Eikev) you will listen to them' - with reference to the Mitzvos, the statutes and the judgements mentioned in the previous Pasuk. And it is the fact that it dropped the Mitzvos and the statutes (which are in various ways more difficult to keep than the Mishpatim) that prompted Rashi to explain the Pasuk the way he does.


The Sword of Makas Bechoros

"Don't be afraid of them (the Cana'anim)! Remember what Hashem … did to Par'oh … the strong hand (this refers to the plague of pestilence) and the outstretched arm (this refers to the sword of Makas Bechoros)" 7:19.

The Medrash (which we cite in the Hagodoh shel Pesach) learns the latter D'rashah via a G'zeirah-Shavah "Netuyah" "Netuyah" from the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim (1, 21:16) " … and His sword drawn (Netuyah) in his hand.

Which sword? asks the Bartenura, bearing in mind that no Shaliach was involved in the killing of the firstborn, only G-d Himself, as Chazal have taught, and G-d does not wield a sword!

And he cites the Medrash (synonymous with the well-known Medrash concerning the source of Shabbos ha'Godol), which tells, how when the Egyptians first heard about the impending Makas Bechoros, the first-born sent a delegation to Par'oh requesting him to send Yisrael out of Egypt. When Par'oh and the other Egyptians refused, the firstborn attacked them and many were killed. That is the sword of Makas Bechoros that the Pasuk is alluding to here.


Finishing the Mitzvah you Began

"You shall observe all the Mitzvos that I am commanding you today, in order that you will come and inherit the land" (8:1).

That is how Rashi explains the Pasuk according to the simple explanation. Quoting a Medrash however, he then interprets it to mean that 'If one began to perform a Mitzvah, one should finish it' (do the whole Mitzvah). The reason that he learns like this is because the Torah writes the word 'ha'Mitzvah' in the singular, which on the one hand, can be translated as a collective noun, but also lends itself to the Medrash cited by Rashi,.


What Moshe Saw

Αnd I saw, and behold you had sinned to Hashem your G-d, you had made yourselves a molten calf" (9:16).

What did Moshe see, asks the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos?

And he gives two answers:

1. He saw that the writing had flown from the two Tablets that he was holding, which is what prompted him to break them. And he compares it to an officer who was traveling on a journey. In his hand he held an important document stamped with the king's seal. As he was crossing the river that flowed outside the city, the seal slipped from his hand and fell into the water and the writing became rubbed out. What did he do? He immediately tore up the document and broke the seal. So too, when Moshe was descending the Mountain holding the Luchos, suddenly, the writing flew off them, and he broke them.

2. What Moshe saw was the calf that Yisrael had made, and that was why he broke the Luchos. And here too, he explains it with a parable - of a king who betrothed a woman. A short while later, he promised to send her her Kesubah with the best man. This he did; however, before the best man even arrived, he heard that the woman had been unfaithful. So he promptly tore up her Kesubah. Better he argued, that she should be judged as a single woman, rather than like a married one.

So it is too with Yisrael by the Golden Calf. Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu had betrothed them when the Torah was given, promising to send them the Luchos (the Kesubah) a short while after, through the best man (Moshe Rabeinu). Before Moshe even arrived with the Luchos, he discovered that Yisrael had already sinned, so he decided to break the Luchos (the Kesubah). Better that they should be judged as a single person, rather that they should judged as married to G-d.

* * *


"And He fed you the Manna … in order to inform you … " (8:3).

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the Manna was the source of wisdom, as the Pasuk writes in Ezra (Nechemyah 9:20) "And Your Manna You gave to them to make them wise".

That is why Chazal said that 'The Torah was given specifically to the generation that ate the Manna'.


" … that not on bread (al ha'lechem) alone can man live … " (Ibid).

The same words appear in Parshas Emor (23:18, in connection with the Korbanos that accompanied the Two Loaves that were brought on Shavu'os) "And you shall bring with the loaves (al ha'lechem)"; a hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the world is sustained on the merit of the Korbanos. Nowadays, it is on the merit of those who learn about Korbanos.


" … but on all that emerges from the Mouth of G-d will a man will live … Your garments did not wear out" (8:3/4).

The juxtaposition of "man will live" to "your garments", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, hints at what Chazal say, that when Techi'as ha'Meisim arrives, people will arise fully-clothed - 'Kal va'Chomer' from a wheat-kernel, which is placed into the earth smooth and comes out covered.


" ... neither did your feet swell these forty years … and you shall know … " (8:4/5).

Once again, the Ba'al ha'Turim points to the juxtaposition of "forty years" to "and you shall know" as a hint to Chazal that it takes a person forty years to fully understand his Rebbe.

In similar vein, he adds, the Mishnah states in Pirkei Avos - that 'One attains understanding (Binah) at the age of forty'.


"You were rebels with G-d from the day that I got to know you!" (9:24).

The Pasuk begins with a 'Mem' ("mamrim") and ends with a 'Mem ("eschem") - This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that they were rebels throughout the forty years that they spent in the desert.


"What (moh) does Hashem your G-d ask from you other than to fear Hashem …" (10:12).

"Mah" in 'At Bash' = a hundred ('Mem' = 'Yud' and 'Hey' = Tzadik'), says the Ba'al ha'Turim, because what He asks from us is a hundred B'rachos every day. So too, there are a hundred letters in the Pasuk, and likewise, we find that in the Pasuk in Michah (6:8) "What Hashem … asks from you (mimcho)" the Gematriyah of the word "mimcho" is a hundred.

Moreover, Rashi explains 'Do not read the word as 'moh' but as 'me'oh' - a hundred!'

Based on this Ba'al ha'Turim, it is clear that the key to Yir'as Shamayim is reciting a hundred B'rachos per day - with Kavanah of course.

* * *

(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 230:
Not to Delay Paying an Employee (cont.)

Some Dinim of the Mitzvah … The Mishnah says in Bava Metzi'a (Perek p, Mishnah 13) rental for animals and vessels, as well as a worker's wages, are subject to the Mitzvah of "be'yomo yitein s'choro" and to the La'av of 'bal Tolin …

Chazal also say that someone who works for a few hours in the day must be paid by the end of the day, and someone who works for a few hours in the night must be paid by the end of the night.

Likewise, one is obligated to pay someone who is employed for a week, a month, a year, or a cycle of seven years by the end of the day or the night that he terminates work …

If someone gives his Talis to a tailor to repair, and the tailor completes the job, the owner of the Talis does not transgress as long as the tailor still has the garment, even though he has informed the owner that the garment is ready to be collected. Once he has returned the garment to the owner however, he will have transgressed if he has not paid by nightfall - because the Din applies with regard to a contractor no less than it does to a day-worker ...

The Din regarding a Shali'ach who hires workers on behalf of his friend, whether he or the person on whose behalf he hires them transgresses will depend on the words that the shali'ach uses when employing them …

Chazal also said that the employer only transgresses once the employee has asked for his money, not if he hasn't yet done so, and not even if he has, but the employer is unable to obtain the money to pay him. Nor has he transgressed if the worker agreed that a third person would pay him, and the third person subsequently failed to do so ...

Someone who has transgressed the Asei and the Lo Sa'aseh by not paying one's employee on time, remains obligated to pay him the moment he asks for his fee. As long as one continues to fail to pay him, one continues to transgress a La'av de'Rabbanan. This is supported with a Pasuk in Mishlei (3:28) "Don't say 'Go now and come back. Tomorrow I will give it to you', when really you have it all along." … and the many other details are discussed in the ninth Perek of Bava Metzi'a 9 and in Choshen Mishpat (Si'man 339).

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