Vol. 8 No. 48&49
This issue is sponsored by the Glassman Family
Jerusalem - Efrat - Johannesburg - Edenvale
in loving memory of their grandmother
Zahavah bas Chayim Yosef Luria z"l
For the Love of Suffering
(& ve'Zos ha'B'rachah)
Incorporating Succos & Shemini Atzeres
The Yalkut explains the Pasuk "Remember the days of old" (32:2) to mean that whenever G-d brings suffering on us, we should bear in mind the enormous amount of goodness He will give us in the World to Come to compensate it. To illustrate this idea, the Chofetz Chayim would tell a Mashal that he heard from the Rav of Vilna.
A Jew once rented a house from a certain prince for the price of three hundred rubles per year. Year in, year out, the Jew would pay the prince punctually and the prince for his part, caused him no trouble.
It happened one year that the prince had to travel abroad. In his absence, he appointed one of his servants to take charge of his estate, including the house that he had rented out to the Jew. Now it so happened that this servant, as well as being greedy, was a malicious man, who would look for any excuse to cause others suffering. So what did he do? He promptly raised the rent from three hundred rubles per year to five hundred.
And when the time came to pay, he noticed that the Jew's rent was missing twenty rubles, which he demanded on the spot. The tenant asked for a few days' grace to make up the balance, but the servant would not hear of it. He demanded the money that same day, and when the Jew was unable to come up with the required sum, the servant ordered him to receive twenty lashes, one for each ruble that he was short. And this is what he did to many other of the prince's tenants. As a result, it was not long before he became an extremely wealthy man. From the proceeds of his ill-gotten gains, he was soon able to purchase his own estate.
Needless to say, the Jew felt embittered and humiliated at the treatment that he had received at the hands of the prince's servant, and he eagerly awaited the prince's return. The moment he heard of the prince's return, he informed his wife that he would go and report to him all that had transpired in his absence. No sooner said than done, and he told the prince about the raising of the rent and about the lashes he had received at the hand of his servant, despite his having committed no crime.
The prince was furious with his servant, and his heart went out to the unfortunate Jew. As compensation, he promised him one hundred rubles for each stroke that he had received. On top of that, he granted him half of the servant's four thousand ruble estate, which he documented, handing him the document.
Meanwhile, his wife was waiting for her husband in the courtyard. When she saw him emerge from the meeting with the prince dour-faced, she asked him what had happened, whether the prince had been unsympathetic to his cause. Not at all, he assured her, showing her the document.
And when his wife pressed him to tell her why he looked so forlorn, he explained to her that, when all was said and done, the pain from the lashes he had received from the servant was a thing of the past. He wished that he would have received forty lashes, rather than twenty, because then, the prince would have given him the entire estate and not just half. And that was the cause of his anguish.
And this is exactly how it is with regard to suffering in this world. One worries about it, and does whatever possible to relieve oneself of it. But when, in time to come, we arrive in Olam ha'Ba, and receive ample reward as compensation for every moment of suffering that we endured in this world, how we will wish that we had suffered more whilst we were here. The extra compensation would have made any amount of suffering well worthwhile.
Perhaps the Yalkut is restricted to suffering that one receives as a test or as one's lot from birth (due to one's Mazel). Perhaps it even refers to suffering that one receives as a punishment for one's sins, and that one accepts in good grace. But one thing is for sure. It sheds light on the entire concept of suffering, making it very much easier to bear. In addition, it lessens the wonder that many of us experience, when we see righteous people suffer.
The Ma'aseh la'Melech cites another parable from the Chafetz Chayim, in connection with those who lash out at suffering and refuse to accept it.
It can be compared, the Chafetz Chayim said, to a prisoner in chains, who wants to rid himself of them. He twists and turns, this way and that. But of course, the more he twists and turns, the more the chains bite into his flesh and hurt him. He would be wiser to come to terms with his situation and learn to live with it, thereby making his suffering that much easier to bear. In real life, we can go one step further. We can train ourselves to accept that everything that happens to us is Heaven-sent, and that it is possible to alleviate our situation through Teshuvah and Tefilah, and not through twisting and turning.
(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
"Pay attention Heaven, and I will speak" (32:1)
The numerical value of "Heaven, and I will speak" ("ha'Shamayim va'adabeiroh") is six hundred and thirteen, since this is what the Heaven should listen to. That is the essence of Divine speech (Ba'al ha'Turim).
The Pasuk begins with the letter 'Hey' ("Ha'azinu") and ends with a "Yud" (Imrei-Fi"), so as to open the Shirah of 'Ha'azinu' with a hint of G-d's Name.
The Pasuk contains seven words, corresponding to the Pasuk "He carved its seven pillars" (Mishlei 9:1). It also corresponds to the seven lands (of Cana'an) and the seven days of the week (Ba'al ha'Turim).
It Pays to listen
"And the land will listen" ('ve'sishma ha'aretz" - ibid.).
The word "ve'sishma" appears on only one other occasion in T'nach; in Divrei Hayamim 2 (20:9) - "And You will listen and be saved". The message, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, is that we earn G-d's salvation through obedience.
Rain, Dew, Storm-Winds and Rain-drops
"My Torah will drop like rain ..." (32:2).
These four elements correspond to the four Midos of Torah-students, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains. There are those who are quick to learn, but quick to forget (whose gain is cancelled by their loss); those who are slow to learn, but slow to forget (whose loss is cancelled by their gain); those who are quick to learn but slow to forget (a good measure), and those who are slow to learn and quick to forget (a bad measure).
And it also corresponds to the four times that Yisrael heard everything that Moshe taught them (first from Moshe, then from Aharon, then from Nadav and Avihu and then from the elders - Eiruvin 54b).
This is the Way We Bless Hashem
"And like rain-drops on the blades of grass ... When I call out in the Name of Hashem ... " (32:2/3) - a hint that one offers special prayers when there is a shortage of rain.
" ... on the blades of grass ... When I call out in the Name of Hashem" - a hint that we recite a different b'rochoh for each individual species.
"When I call out in the Name of Hashem ... Hashem, the Rock whose work is perfect." (32:3/4).
The latter Pasuk is 'Tziduk ha'Din', the praise that we recite after losing a close relative. The juxtaposition of these two Pesukim hints that we must bless Hashem even for tragedies, and say "Boruch Dayan ha'Emes' (Ba'al ha'Turim).
Torah is Here to Stay
"Ask your father and he will tell you, your grandfathers and they will say to you ... " (32:7)
The Torah mentions here three consecutive generations, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. And when the Pasuk continues "When He inherits", it is hinting at Chazal, who say that a Talmid-chacham whose son and grandson are Talmidei-chachamim too, Torah becomes an inheritance, and feels at home so to speak, in that family.
A Six-Star Torah
"He surrounded them, He imbued them with understanding" ("Yesovevenhu, Yevoneneihu") 32:10.
"Yevoneneihu" has an extra 'Vav', the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, because on the sixth of Sivan, G-d gave Yisrael six things: Torah, Eidus (Testimony - the stories of the Torah), Pikudei (the logical Mitzvos), Mitzvos, Awe and Judgements (based on Tehilim 19:8-10).
Going into Golus
The Medrash explains why it is that, immediately after Yom Kipur, we leave our homes and go out into the Sucah. Just in case, says Rebbi Eliezer, the Heavenly Court sentenced us to galus on Yom Kipur. So we take upon ourselves the onus of galus. In this way, it will not be necessary to extend the sentence, since it has already been carried out.
For so our sages have taught us - 'When there is Din below, there is no need for Din above'. If we accept Din upon ourselves, then Hashem opens the Gates of Mercy!
The Four Letters of G-d's Name
In the 'Yehi Rotzon' that we say when tying the Hadasim and the Aravos with the Lulav, we connect the four species to the four letters of Hashem's Name. The three Hadasim (which correspond to the three Avos, also) correspond to the 'Yud', the two Aravos (which correspond to Moshe and Aharon, also) correspond to the first 'Hey'. And the Lulav and Esrog (which correspond to Yosef and David respectively, also) correspond to the 'Vav' and the last 'Hey' respectively.
By taking the four species in our hands, we are in effect, bringing the letters of Hashem's Name close together to form the Holy Name. And this in turn, is the source of all the beautiful blessings mentioned there (in the 'Yehi Rotzon').
The Ta'amei ha'Minhagim (Si'man 792) cites the story of the Rikanti, who related how he once had a dream on the first night of Succos. In his dream he dreamt how a certain Ashkenazi guest by the name of Rebbi Yitzchak was writing the Name of Hashem, but was distancing the last 'Hey' from the other letters. When, in his dream, he queried his guest about it, he replied that this was the Minhag in his town. He rebuked him, and he rectified his mistake. When he awoke, the dream disturbed him, and he was unable to make any sense of it until Shachris that morning, when he noticed how Rebbi Yitzchak took the Lulav, the Hadas and the Aravah without the Esrog.
As we just explained, the four species hint to the Name of Hashem. Consequently, they must all be taken simultaneously, and held close together, in order to connect the letters of G-d's Holy Name.
However, by the same token, he concludes, they should not be held too closely either, in the same way as the letters of Hashem's Name would be Pasul if they touched. And this is the source of the Minhag to make 'koshelech' (holders made of Lulav leaves) for the Hadasim and the Aravos.
The Four Species
"And you shall take for yourselves on the first day a P'ri Eitz Hodor (an Esrog)" Vayikra 23:40.
"P'ri Eitz Hodor", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, has the same numerical value as 'Esrogim'.
"va'Anaf Eitz Ovos (a Hadas)".
"Ovos" he adds, is missing a 'Vav'. This hints at the six things that disqualify it: a Hadas that is dry; one that is stolen or that comes from an Asheirah (a tree that was planted for idolatry). A Hadas that comes from an Ir ha'Nidachas (a city that served idols and that has to be destroyed together with everything that is in it), one whose top is cut and one that was used for idol-worship (even though it is not from an Asheirah).
"Kapos Temarim" (palm branches).
This refers to a Lulav. The numerical value of 'Lulav' is equivalent to that of 'Chayim', life. That is why a dry Lulav is Pasul ("Lo ha'Meisim Yehalelu Kah" - 'the dead do not praise Hashem').
The Sins Start Here
The Medrash Tanchuma comments on the Pasuk in Emor (23:40), which describes the Mitzvah of Lulav as taking place on "the first day". The Torah ought really to have referred to this day by its date 'the fifteenth' (of the month), it asks?
The Torah however, is teaching us by way of hint, that the first day of Sucos is also the first day of the reckoning of sins. And it illustrates the point with the following parable:
A king once sent officers to collect a long outstanding tax debt from his subjects in a vassal state. When the people ignored the demand, the king declared war on them. He gathered an army and marched upon them.
When the state heard that the king was approaching, they sent a delegation to meet with him. When he asked them what they wanted, they pleaded with him for mercy, explaining that they simply did not have the means to settle the debt. The king replied that, in their honour, he would forego one third of the debt.
A short while later, all the remaining subjects came out to meet the king and proceeded to plead with him for clemency. The king, overcome by their pleas, canceled the entire debt. But, he warned them, from that day on, they would be expected to pay their taxes on time.
And so it is with the King of Kings, whose subjects, Yisrael, tend to sin throughout the year. G-d warns them to do Teshuvah. On Erev Rosh Hashanah, their Torah leaders fast, and He foregoes one third of their sins. During the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, the middle class people fast, and G-d foregoes another third. And then on Yom Kipur, everybody fasts and pleads for mercy, men, women and children. The King of Kings is overcome by their pleas, and He grants them a royal pardon for all their sins, and wipes their slates clean.
What do Yisrael then do? They praise G-d brandishing their Lulavim, and He accepts them and forgives them. But He warns them that from now on, they will be held responsible for all their sins, for today is 'the first day of the reckoning of sins'.
The More Sins, the Better
The Berditchever Rebbe has a novel interpretation of 'the first day of the reckoning of sins'. During the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, he says, Yisrael do Teshuvah out of fear (and, as is well-known, Teshuvah out of fear reduces sins performed on purpose into sins performed by mistake. On Sucos however, they do Teshuvah out of love, which has the power to transform sins into Mitzvos.
Consequently, on Sucos, everyone starts searching for the sins that they accumulated in the course of the year, so that, through their Teshuvah, they will all become Mitzvos.
(adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Si'man 134, with notes from the Mishnah B'rurah)
1. Constructing the Sucah:
Based on the principle 'When a Mitzvah falls due, don't let it turn sour', it is a Mitzvah to construct a Sucah straight after Yom Kipur. This applies even if it falls on Erev Shabbos (though it is probably restricted to the morning up until midday, after which it will be prohibited). One should pick a clean place to build it.
Everyone should make a point of becoming personally involved in the construction of the Sucah and in laying the S'chach, even someone of high esteem, because there is nothing more honorable than busying oneself with a Mitzvah. In reality, we ought to recite 'Shehechiyanu' over the construction of the Sucah. However, we rely on the 'Shehechiyau' that we recite at Kidush in the Sucah on the first night. One should make a point of beautifying one's Sucah, and to lay out good quality crockery and linens, according to one's means.
2. The Walls of the Sucah:
The Dinim of the walls of a Sukah are complex, and not everyone is conversant with them. Consequently, it is best to construct a Sucah consisting of complete and strong walls that do not flap about in the wind, and that will not allow the wind to extinguish the lights. Someone who cannot afford four complete walls, should rather put up a Sucah of three complete walls than four incomplete ones.
3. The S'chach:
The S'chach too, has many complicated Dinim. But since we tend to use branches of trees, or canes, which grow from the ground, are detached, are not subject to Tum'ah and are not tied together, there is no problem (clearly, if even one of these conditions is missing, a problem might exist. Consequently the permanent s'chach that is commonly used requires a reliable hechsher, since they are tied together.)
4. Ma'amid (Things that keep the S'chach firm):
Initially, one should avoid resting the S'chach on top of something that can receive Tum'ah, such as ladders, which have receptacles into which the rungs fit, how much more so metal vessels such as a spade, a hoe, a pitchfork or metal poles. In fact, one should even avoid placing them on top of the S'chach, to hold it firm. Bedieved however, or in the event that one has nothing else to use, everything is permitted, seeing as the Halachah allows supporting the S'chach with something that is subject to Tum'ah.
5. More Shade than Sun:
There must be sufficient S'chach to cast more shade than sun. Vice-versa will render the Sucah Pasul min ha'Torah. Therefore, one should place sufficient S'chach to cast more shade than sun, even after it has shriveled in the sun. Nor is one allowed to have a space of three Tefachim in the S'chach (or even less, if it runs across the entire length or breadth of the Sucah).
Lechatchilah, one should leave sufficient gaps in the S'chach through which to see the stars. The Sucah is Kasher however, even if one did not do so. But if the thickness of the S'chach is such that the rain cannot penetrate it, it is classified as a house, and is Pasul.
This section is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas Yitel bas Aba z.l.
with love from her family
THE MITZVAH OF HAKHEIL
The Mitzvah of Hakheil is unique. It is the only positive Mitzvah in which the entire body of Yisrael participate simultaneously and collectively. The Korban Pesach is brought by the whole of Yisrael on Erev Pesach, but it is sacrificed in three groups, as we are taught in the Mishnah in Pesachim, and there again, neither the women nor the children take part in the actual sacrifice ritual. And besides, not everyone is obligated to Shecht the Korban, only one person from each group is needed to represent his group. It may therefore be true to say that all of Yisrael congregated in Yerushalayim for the Korban Pesach, they did not however, fulfil the Mitzvah as one group.
But Hakheil is different. Every man, woman and child (with the exception of those who are Tamei, as well as of most of those who are disqualified from bringing the Olas Re'iyah [e.g. those who are blind, deaf or dumb]) is obliged to attend and hear the words of the king. If there is a Mitzvah that promotes national unity, then this is it.
The Seifer ha'Chinuch, presenting the reason for the Mitzvah, stresses the fact that the focal point of Yisrael's existence is the Torah. That is what separates them from the other nations of the world, to merit an everlasting pleasure in the World to Come, a supreme pleasure which has no parallel in this world. That being the case, it is befitting that everyone gathers at a certain time in a certain location to hear its words, at a gathering that incorporates everyone, men, women and children. In this way, should anyone question the significance of the occasion, the answer will be forthcoming 'To hear the words of the Torah, which is our cornerstone, our majesty and our glory!'
And this will lead the people to sing the Torah's praises, and to describe its greatness, something that in turn, will increase their infatuation with it and result in an increased knowledge of G-d. In this way, the people will merit the goodness that G-d has in store for them, and G-d for His part, will rejoice over His works, as indeed the Pasuk writes in this Parshah " ... and in order that they will learn to fear G-d".
The last words in the Pasuk just quoted however, suggest that it is not so much the importance of the Torah that Hakheil represents, as the Chinuch explains, but the fear of G-d. And it is in this context that a. the location and b. the person who was chosen to read the Torah, are highly significant. For who can conceive of any place on earth which is more conducive to the fear of G-d than the Beis Hamikdash, which brought the people face to face with the Shechinah? And who can conceive of any person capable of inspiring the people to fear G-d more than the King, whose prime task was to reflect G-d's majesty?
In any event, the Mitzvah on hand is the reading of the Torah, and it is interesting to note that this is the Mitzvah that brings to the high degree of unity of which we spoke earlier, like no other Mitzvah can.
The timing of the Mitzvah too, is of great significance. It followed the Sh'mitah year, a Sabbatical year when, in biblical times at least, most people were out of work, and would naturally spend their time studying Torah. And now, following a year dedicated to a life of sanctity, they were about to step out of a sacrosanct world into a mundane one. Presumably, it was in order to counter the vacuum that would inevitably result from this transition from one extreme to another, that the Torah gave them Hakheil, as an opportunity to fortify themselves before entering the new year.
THE DINIM OF HAKHEIL
(adapted from the Rambam Hilchos Chagigah chapter 3)
Seeing as this year is the year when Hakheil will be read (should we prove ourselves worthy of it), it is appropriate to present the Halachos here, as they appear in the Rambam.
1. The Mitzvah of Hakheil
It is a Mitzvas Asei to assemble all of Yisrael, men, women and children, on every Motza'ei Sh'mitah, when they come up to Yerushalayim for Yom-Tov, and to read in their ears from the Torah some Parshiyos that will encourage them to perform Mitzvos, and strengthen their hand in the law of truth, as the Torah writes "At the end of seven years on Yom-tov (after) the Sh'mitah year, on Sukos, when all of Yisrael come to be seen before Hashem ... ."
2. Who is obligated to attend
Whoever is exempt from the Mitzvah of Re'iyah, is also exempt from the Mitzvah of Hakheil, except for women, children and someone who is uncircumcised. Someone who is Tamei however, is exempt, since the Torah writes " ... when all Yisrael come (to the Beis Hamikdash)", and a Tamei person is not fit to come. It is obvious that a Tumtum and an Androginus (who are exempt from Re'iyah because women are exempt), are obligated to perform this Mitzvah.
3. When do they read and Who reads it
On the night following the first day of Sukos, which is equivalent to the beginning of Chol ha'Mo'ed Sukos, of the eighth year, the King reads to them - in the area known as the Ezras Nashim. The King is permitted to sit as he reads. However, it is considered praiseworthy to read standing (in honour of the Torah).
4. What does the King read
The King reads from the beginning of Seifer Devarim until the end of Parshas Sh'ma (in Va'eschanan), "ve'Hoyoh im shamo'a" (in Eikev), and from "Aser te'aser" (in Re'ei) until the end of the Tochachah (in Ki Savo).
5. The procedure
They blow the trumpets throughout Yerushalayim to assemble the people. Then they bring a wooden platform, which they place in the middle of the Ezras Nashim, so that the King should be heard by everyone. The King ascends the platform and sits down on it, and the people gather round it. The Gabai of the Beis Ha'keneses then takes a Seifer Torah and hands it to the head of the K'nesses, who hands it to the deputy Kohen Gadol. (All this is in order to make a fuss of the Torah, to elevate its esteem in the eyes of the people.) The deputy Kohen Gadol hands it to the Kohen Gadol, who hands it to the King, who receives it standing, though he is subsequently permitted to sit, if he so wishes (as we learned earlier).
He looks inside the Seifer, recites the B'rachah, Leins the above-mentioned Parshiyos and recites the B'rachah, in exactly the same way as one does in Shul. However, he adds another seven B'rachos; three of them from the Amidah: 'Retzei', 'Modim' and 'Atoh Bechartonu'. And the additional four constitute a prayer ... 1. ... for the longevity of the Mikdash, which concludes with the words 'Boruch ... ha'Shochen be'Tziyon'; 2. ... for the longevity of the kingdom of Yisrael, which concludes 'Boruch ... ha'Bocher be'Yisrael'; 3. ... that G-d should accept the Avodah of the Kohanim, which concludes 'Boruch ... Mekadesh ha'Kohanim'; 4. ... for whatever he considers to be important, concluding with the words 'Hosha Hashem es Amcho Yisrael, she'Amcho Tz'richim Le'hivoshei'a', Boruch Atoh Hashem, Shomei'a Tefilah'.
6. In which language does he read.
Both the B'rochos and the Leining must be read in Lashon ha'Kodesh, as the Torah writes "You shall read *this* Torah", implying in the original tongue, even though there are foreigners there who do not understand Lashon ha'Kodesh ...
7. Proselytes and people who do not understand
Proselytes who do not understand what is being read, must nevertheless concentrate and pay careful attention to what is being read, with dread and awe, with joy and trembling, like the day on which the Torah was given. In fact though, even great Talmidei-Chachamim, who are conversant with the entire Torah, are obligated to listen with extra concentration.
Someone who is unable to understand, should nevertheless follow the reading with intent, since the Torah only fixed this Mitzvah in order to strengthen the true law (the Torah). In fact, one should consider oneself as if he was at that moment being commanded the Torah, and that he was hearing it directly from the mouth of G-d, because the King is the emissary to inform the people of the word of G-d.
8. If Hakheil falls on Shabbos
Should the Mitzvah of Hakheil fall on Shabbos, they postpone it until Sunday. This is because the blowing of the Shofar and the Techinos (the supplications that one tends to recite at Hakheil) do not supercede Shabbos. (Note, that the Ra'avad disagrees with the Rambam's reason here. He cites a Yerushalmi, which ascribes the postponement to the wooden platform, which, under normal circumstances, may not be constructed in the Azarah).
The Only Nation
(adapted from the Medrash Tanchuma)
"The more You added (tranquility) to the nation, Hashem, the more You were honoured; You distanced the nations of the land" (Yeshayah 26:15).
G-d granted the Generation of the Flood with an abundance of tranquility, Yisrael complained, yet they did not sacrifice to Him as much as one single bull. And not only that, but they instructed Him to go away and leave them alone. He did likewise with the Generation of the Tower, yet not only did they not sacrifice one solitary bull, but they built a tower (to fight with Him). And so G-d did with the Sedomi'im, with Par'oh, with Sancheiriv and with Nevuchadnetzar. But not one of them sacrificed to Him a ram or a bull in acknowledgement.
It is only to Yisrael that it is worthwhile granting an abundance of tranquility and honour (because when He does, He derives Naches from them), as the Pasuk writes "The more You added (tranquility) to the nation ... ". And 'the nation' refers to Yisrael, as the Pasuk writes in Divrei Hayamim 1 (17:21) " ... and who is like Your people Yisrael, a unique nation on earth".
K'nesses Yisrael said to G-d "Master of the World, it is up to You to give us Yamim-tovim, and it is up to us to offer You sacrifices accordingly. You were honoured when You gave us Roshei Chodashim and we sacrificed to You (an extra Korban - the Musaf) on them. You gave us Pesach, and we sacrificed to You on it, and so too on Shavu'os, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur and Succos. On every Yom-tov we brought You sacrifices. Never once did we fall short. You give us more Yamim-tovim and we will bring more sacrifices in Your Honour. " The more You added (tranquility) to the nation, Hashem, the more You were honoured ".
And Hashem replied "By your lives, I will not withhold from you one Yom-tov; on the contrary, I will give you another Yom-tov on which to rejoice˘, as the Pasuk writes "On the eighth day, is a Yom-tov ... ".
It transpires that throughout the seven days of Succos, Yisrael sacrifice seventy bulls on behalf of the nations of the world. One might have expected the nations of the world to love Yisrael for their kindness and care. But that is not the case, Yisrael complained to G-d. They hatred remains as intense as it was before, as the Pasuk says in Tehilim (109:4) " ... instead of loving me, they hate me - and I pray".
So G-d replied that, since over Succos, they had brought sacrifices on behalf of the nations of the world, they should now sacrifice for themselves. That is why the Torah writes that on the eighth day is a Yom-tov, and on it, they bring one bull and one ram.
The Medrash compares this to a king who made a party for seven days. To this party he invited all the subjects of his kingdom. As the party drew to a close, he called his good friend and asked him to remain behind, so that they could enjoy each other's company. As for food, they would eat the left-overs, whatever they found - a small piece of meat, a small piece of fish or even just some vegetables.
And that's what Hashem said to his beloved Yisrael; "All the sacrifices that you brought during Yom-tov, were for the benefit of the other nations of the world. But on the eighth day, let us enjoy each other's company with whatever we find, one bull and one ram'.
Among the various lessons that we can learn from this Medrash is that our special relationship with G-d renders the love of the nations dispensable and their hatred insignificant.
Adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim
They Were at Har Sinai, Too
"He also endeared the nations" (33:3).
Which nations did G-d endear at the giving of the Torah (which is what the Pasuk is referring to)?
The answer lies in the numerical value of these words, which is equivalent to that of 'Geyrim' (proselytes). A hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that their Neshamos too, stood at Har Sinai, just like the as yet unborn Neshamos of the rest of K'lal Yisrael (as Rashi explains in Nitzavim 29:14).
Perhaps it is the fact that they were at Har Sinai, that creates the desire to convert. Perhaps that is why Geyrim will one day be taken to task for not having converted earlier.
Its Not an Inheritance
"Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe, Moroshoh Kehilas Ya'akov" (33:4).
On one other occasion the Torah uses this word; in Sh'mos (6:8), in connection with Eretz Yisrael (See Parshah Pearls, Parshas Vo'eiro).
Just like Eretz Yisrael is not an inheritance (it is a moroshoh, not a yerushah), says the Ba'al ha'Turim, Torah is not an inheritance either.
An inheritance is something that comes automatically, and that is passed on automatically. Eretz Yisrael and Torah are not! They both require a large amount of effort to retain; the former, through merits (as we are told over and again - in Bechokosai, in Eikev, in Ki Savo ... ), the latter, through toil and effort. (Ba'al ha'Turim)
An inheritance is something that one is free to keep, and free to give away. Not so Torah and Eretz Yisrael; they are a Moroshoh, to pass on to our children, through hard work and through meritous behavior. They are not ours to give away!
be'Rov Am Hadras Melech
"A moroshoh for the community of Ya'akov".
Ya'akov is of course, the pillar of Torah ("Titein Emes le'Ya'akov"). That is why the Torah writes in Toldos "Ya'akov ish tam Yoshev oholim", and in Balak "Mah tovu oholecho Ya'akov".
The Pasuk here hints that one only succeeds in one's Torah-studies when one learns in a group of people, but not on one's own (and this was particularly relevant in former times, when they had no Sefarim) Ba'al ha'Turim.
"They will teach Your judgements to Ya'akov" (33:10).
In former times, Levi were the Rebbes in Yisrael. This entailed traveling round the country so that they were accessible to all. This conforms with Ya'akov's B'rachah to the same tribe "and I will scatter them in Yisrael". (Ba'al ha'Turim)
The Ketores Enriches
"Yasimu Ketorah" ('They, the Kohanim, will place incense ... in Your nostrils') (ibid.)
The numerical value of these words, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is the equivalent to that of 'Ma'ashir' (makes rich).
This is based on Chazal who have taught that once a Kohen had brought the Ketores, he never received a second chance. This is because the Ketores was a segulah to riches, and it was considered unfair to give a Kohen, who had already been blessed once with wealth on account of the Ketores, a second turn, when there were others who had not yet had their first.
"u'Vein keseifov shochein" ('and He will rest between his [Binyamin's] shoulder-blades') - 33:12.
"Vein Keseifov" has the same numerical value as 'bi'Yerushalayim', says the Ba'al ha'Turim.
And the next word is "u'le'Yosef ... ", he adds, to hint that before the Beis ha'Mikdash was built in Binyamin's portion, the Mishkan stood in Yosef's portion in Shiloh.
Mosheh and Yosef
"u'le'Gad Omar ..." (33:20).
Both the b'rachah of Gad and that of Yosef include all the letters of the Alef-Beis. What do they have in common?
The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that Moshe was buried in the portion of Gad (as Rashi explains in the next Pasuk), and Moshe kept the entire Torah (from 'Alef till 'Tav'). And similarly, Yosef's Aron (coffin) went alongside the Aron ha'Kodesh, because, Chazal explain, the former kept all that was written in the latter (from 'Alef till 'Tav').
Swift Like an Eagle
"Naftali S'va Rotzon" (33:23).
The first letters spell 'nesher' (an eagle), comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, because Naftali was swift like an eagle to do the will of his Father in Heaven.
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