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

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Vol. 12   No. 33

This issue is sponsored
in honour of Rebetzin Beila Berger,
Rebetzin Ayelet Wegbreit
and the entire Bircas ha'Torah community n.y.
for the outpouring of chesed
surrounding the birth of
Yisroel Dovid Irom n.y.

Parshas Emor

The Mirror Image
(Adapted from the Seifer Chochmas Chayim)

Rashi cites the Sifra, which asks why the Torah inserts the Parshah of Matnos Aniyim in the middle of the Yamim-Tovim, Pesach and Shavu'os on one side, and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur (and Succos) on the other?

To teach us, answers the Medrash, that someone who fulfils the Mitzvos of Leket, Shikchah, Pe'ah and Ma'aser Ani, is considered as if the Beis-Hamikdash was standing and he had brought his Korbanos there. As of itself, this speaks volumes about the importance of assisting the poor. Such a tragedy is the absence of the Beis-Hamikdash in our lives that barely a day goes by that we do not pray for its rebuilding some five times a day - every time we Daven, every time we eat. Yet the Torah gives us the opportunity of tasting on the Beis-Hamikdash experience, by helping the poor to make a living.


R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld offers another explanation to explain the insertion of the Parshah of Leket and Pe'ah at this point. He bases it on the juxtaposition of these Mitzvos to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur specifically.

During the Days of Awe he says, we stand before G-d, asking Him to inscribe us in the Book of good life, sustenance and good health, in addition to a variety of other good things that we feel we need. At the end of the 'Avinu Malkeinus', we lower our voices (Minhagim) and beseech Him 'Our Father, our King, grace us and answer us, for we are devoid of good deeds. Do with us charity and kindness, and save us!'

The One who sits on the Throne of Justice to judge His creatures like sheep on the day of Judgement responds with a simple question, says R. Yosef Chayim. 'On what merits and by what right do you come with your list of requests before Me, the King of Kings, who is about to judge you for the forthcoming year? On what basis do you expect Me to favour you and do with you charity and kindness, without adequate good deeds on your part on which to base it?'


It is well-known that G-d rewards Midah Keneged Midah (measure for measure). The Pasuk in Tehilim says "Hashem is your shadow", which Chazal interpret to mean that He judges us like a shadow, paying us exactly according to the manner in which we ourselves behave towards others. His payments reflect our own deeds to the letter.

A person has toiled throughout the summer in his field, labouring in the sweltering heat, ploughing, planting, and reaping by the sweat of his brow. And if, in the process of harvesting, some grains slip between his fingers, he leaves them right there where they have fallen for the poor to collect. In addition, when he reaches the edge of his field, he leaves a corner of the field, also for the benefit of the poor. These Mitzvos are unique, inasmuch as, unlike other acts of charity and gifts to the poor, he has no authority to choose to which Aniyim he wants to give. In fact, he is not even permitted to inform his poor friends and relatives when he plans to harvest the section of field which constitutes Pe'ah. The upshot is that whoever comes to collect Leket and Pe'ah, is welcome to do so, whether the owner considers him a worthy recipient or not, whether the owner even knows him or not.


Someone who has fulfilled this Mitzvah in this way, R. Yosef Chayim concludes, is able to stand before the One who sits on the throne of judgement and say 'I gave of my toil and hard work to people who were undeserving to receive it. Also You, our Father, our King, perform with me kindness, Midah Keneged Midah, and write me in the Book of good life and of sustenance, even if I too, am unworthy. And that explains why the Torah places the Din of Leket and Pe'ah precisely where it does - before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur.

This is reminiscent of the story recorded in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (17a), where the Heavenly Court overlooked the sins of Rav Huna b'rei de'Rav Yehoshua (who had already been sentenced to death) and gave him a new lease of life. It appears that he was accustomed to overlooking the evil that others had done to him. So G-d instructed the members of His celestial Court to do the same for him, to ignore the fact that he was undeserving of a reprieve, and to forgive him unconditionally for his sins.

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Parshah Pearls

Who Died First?

"Only for his wife (may the Kohen render himself Tamei) ... for his mother and for his father ... " (21:2).

The Ib'n Ezra explains that the Torah mentions his parents in this order, because in biblical times (contrary to modern statistics) a woman tended to die before her husband.

The question is asked however, that only a few Pesukim later (in Pasuk 11), the Torah inverts the order, and writes (with regard to a Kohen Gadol) "... he may not 'touch' his father and mother".

To answer this question, The Ma'ayanah shel Torah, citing R. Ya'akov Gezundheit, observes that the latter Pasuk is speaking about a Kohen Gadol, who is normally appointed after the death of his father. It would therefore have been most unusual to find a Kohen Gadol whose father survived his mother. Once he became Kohen Gadol, in the vast majority of cases, it would have been more common for his mother to survive his father. And this also explains why the Mishnah in Makos speaks about the mothers of the Kohanim Gedolim distributing food and clothing among the inhabitants of the cities of refuge, and not their fathers.


Chilul Hashem

"ve'Lo sechalelu es Sheim kodshi asher heim makdishim li" (22:2).

R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld was once asked why he gave full support to a certain communal figure about whom unpleasant rumours were circulating. He replied that every sinful act had two ramifications. There was the sin itself, and then there was the Chilul Hashem that it involved. Defending the man concerned would remove the Chilul Hashem, by far the more serious of the two aspects.


Another episode demonstrates the significant role that Chilul Hashem played in all R. Yosef Chayim's deliberations. A valuable Seifer-Torah was once stolen from the Batei Varsha Shul. The Seifer-Torah had been donated by R. Yisrael Isar Levi, who was one of the wealthiest and esteemed men in Yerushalayim at that time. Following a private investigation, R. Yisrael Isar's family managed to ascertain, beyond the slightest shadow of doubt, the identity of the thief, which they decided, they would divulge to the Turkish police. R. Yisrael Isar however, would not hear of taking any action before consulting with the Rav. So the family met with R. Yosef Chayim. Some members of the family insisted that calling in the Turkish police was the right thing to do. Remaining silent, they argued, would only encourage the thief to perpetrate more thefts, as he was known to frequent the local Shuls in the area.

R.Yosef Chayim disagreed ...

'Imagine', he said, 'if we do not hand him over to the police. What will happen then? He will sell the Seifer to another Shul (for there is nothing else he can really do with it). The chances are that bearing in mind that the Batei Varsha Shul possess many Sefarim, it will end up in a Shul where it will be put to far better use than it is now, where it sits in the Aron ha'Kodesh virtually unused. So the Seifer-Torah itself will not suffer a loss. On the contrary ...!

Calling in the police, on the other hand, will create a terrible Chilul Hashem, as the gentiles, not to mention our very own trouble-makers, will delight in this sort of scandal. And who will take upon himself the responsibility of Chilul Hashem? Moreover', he added, 'the Turks are prone to murder, and who knows whether the thief will come out alive? And as for your worry that silence will only encourage him to continue stealing, I would therefore suggest to it to him discreetly him that his identity is known. That is bound to deter him from perpetrating further acts of theft. I think it might even open his heart to thoughts of repentance. Perhaps he will even return the Seifer-Torah of his own accord. And that is precisely what happened. The thief was quietly informed that his identity was known, and a few weeks later, the Seifer-Torah was returned to its place, and the matter was soon forgotten.


What's Shabbos Doing here?

" ... the festivals of Hashem which you shall initiate ... these are My festivals ... Six days work shall be done ... " (23:2/3).

Having introduced the Yamim-Tovim, asks the G'ro, why did the Pasuk insert Shabbos, which is not a Yom-Tov? And he replies that as a matter of fact, the Torah prescribes seven days Yom-Tov during the year - Pesach (two days), Shavu'os (one day), Rosh Hashanah (one day), Yom Kipur (one day) and Succos (two days). Now six of these days (on which work for food is permitted) are called 'Shaboson', whereas on the seventh no Melachah at all may be performed (like on Shabbos). Consequently, when the Torah writes "Six days work shall be done ... ", it is referring, not to Shabos, but to Yom Kipur (the Shabbos of the Yamim-Tovim).


R. Shimshon Refael Hirsch however, explains the Pasuk very simply with reference to the actual Shabbos.

The opening words, he explains, are not an introduction to the Parshah of the Yamim-Tovim (which really only begins two Pesukim later), but are coming to teach us that Yom-Tov is not automatically fixed, but is determined by the Beis-Din ha'Gadol, whose decision is final. 'They are My festivals', says Hashem, 'but it is you who will decide when they are to be fixed'. They are not like Shabbos, the Torah continues (which remains under Hashem's personal jurisdiction), even to the point that it has been fixed by Him since the creation - every seventh day, and no power on earth can move it.


For the Right Reason

"And they took the one who cursed Hashem outside the camp and all B'nei Yisrael stoned him, like Hashem had commanded Moshe" (24:23).

They did not stone him because he was a Ger who had quarreled with a native, or because he had had the audacity to curse Hashem, says the Kometz ha'Minchah. They stoned him because Hashem had commanded Moshe to do so, and for no other reason.

From the Haftarah

So What's New?
(adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

"And on the day that he (the Kohen) comes to the Kodesh to the inner Courtyard to serve in holiness, he shall bring his Chatas" (44:27).

According to the commentaries, says the Ahavas Yehonasan, the Pasuk is speaking about the inaugural Minchas Chavitin (also known as the Minchas Chinuch) that every Kohen is obligated to bring on the first day that he serves in the Beis-Hamikdash. But surely, he asks, we already know this from a Pasuk in the Torah; so what is the Navi coming to teach us?

Not so simple, he answers. The Navi is teaching us that even a Kohen who already served in the first Beis-Hamikdash would become obligated to bring the Minchas Chavitin with the building of the second one, because the Churban Bayis Rishon was considered a Hefsek (a break in the Avodah), and his first day in the second Beis-Hamikdash constituted a new beginning. Likewise, he concludes, when the Kohanim who already served in the first and second Beis-Hamikdash will come back to life at Techiyas ha'Meisim, and will come to serve in the third Beis-Hamikdash, they will be obligated to bring (a Minchas Chinuch), for exactly the same reason.

It seems to me however, that they would have had to do even if no Churban had taken place, since their death would have been considered a Hefsek anyway.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Mitzvah 300:
To Desist from Melachah on the Seventh Day of Pesach

One should desist from Melachah on the seventh day of Pesach, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:8) "On the seventh day is a call for holiness "Mikro Kodesh ... " "). This term denotes a Mitzvas Asei to sanctify the day by not working on it (as the author already explained in Mitzvah 297). And the reason that he gave for the Mitzvah there (of desisting from work on the first day of Pesach) applies here too.

Some of the Dinim that apply to the day he will list in the following Mitzvah. In fact, the Mitzvah of desisting from work on the seventh day of Pesach is exactly the same as that of desisting from work on the first. They are actually considered to be one and the same Yom-Tov, inasmuch as one does not recite 'Shehechiyanu' on the latter (as well as in every other respect of the Dinim of Yom-Tov) as opposed to Shemini Atzeres, which is considered independent from Succos, as the author will explain in its place (in Mitzvah 323). The doubt that the b'nei Golah had, was whether Beis-Din had fixed Rosh Chodesh on the thirtieth day of the previous month or on the thirty-first, since, depending mainly on whether witnesses appeared in Beis-Din or not, the earliest that Rosh Chodesh could possibly fall was on the thirtieth, and the latest, the thirty-first. As a result, they used to celebrate the Yom-Tov on the two possible days on which it could fall. This was the origin of the two days Yom-Tov. The Chachamim, fixed two days Yom-Tov in Chutz la'Aretz even nowadays, even though everybody knows on which day Rosh Chodesh was fixed. Those living in Eretz Yisrael or close by however, only celebrate one day Yom-Tov. And because the second day of Yom-Tov is a Takanas Chachamim (and not a Safek), there are opinions who claim that the Din cited by the Gemara, permitting an egg that is laid on the first day of Yom-Tov, on the second, does not apply (since both days Yom-Tov have the same status). Others however, maintain that the Chachamim fixed the second day Yom-Tov nowadays under the same conditions as they kept it in former times (in the form of a Safek). And a proof for this lies in the fact that when the Gemara permitted an egg that is laid on the first day, on the second, the Din of fixing Rosh Chodesh by sighting was no longer in practice. Indeed, the second opinion is the generally accepted one.

All of this applies only with regard to the two Yamim-Tovim of the Shalosh Regalim, but not to the two Yamim-Tavim of Rosh Hashanah, which have the status of one Kedushah, and what is born on one is therefore forbidden on the other. This is because even when the Beis-Din still sat, it sometimes happened that they kept two days (such as when the witnesses arrived only in the afternoon), and when that happened, the second day was not Asur because of a Safek. Consequently, even though we observe two days of Rosh Hashanah nowadays, an egg that is laid on the first day, does not become permitted on the second.


Mitzvah 301:
Not to Perform Melachah on the Seventh Day of Pesach

One should not Perform Melachah on the seventh day of Pesach, as the Torah writes in Emor "On the seventh day ... all servile work you shall not do".

The author already gave the reason for the Mitzvah here, in Mitzvah 297 (desisting from work on the first day of Pesach). So instead of presenting the reason for the Mitzvah here, he explains why the Chachamim instituted the second day of each and every Yom-Tov in Chutz la'Aretz. In fact, the Torah instituted only one day for each Yom-Tov, as the Pasuk writes by Pesach "On the first day ... " , and "On the seventh day ... ", and similarly, with regard to Shavu'os, Rosh Hashanah and Succos. And the second day that we celebrate nowadays is merely a Minhag, not an obligation. And he goes on to explain that what he means is that we do not observe it because of a doubt as to which day Rosh Chodesh was, since nowadays, all of Yisrael know exactly which day Rosh Chodesh is fixed (as he already explained in Mitzvah 4 ['Kidush ha'Chodesh']). The basis of the Minhag is that initially, when there were 'S'muchim' in Eretz Yisrael, they would fix Rosh Chodesh according to the sighting of the new moon, in accordance with the Mitzvah of the Torah (as he explained there). Consequently, all countries that were too distant from the chosen place (where the announcement was made) for the messengers (who were sent to inform the Galus when Rosh Chodesh had been fixed) to arrive before Yom-Tov, would remain in doubt as to when Yom-Tov would in fact, take place.

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