This issue is sponsored jointly
Vol. 18 No. 31
Kalman Dovid ben Avraham z"l
Hena Hitza bas Eliyahu
(Anne Dodick, mother of Risa Rotman) z"l
on the occasion of her tenth Yohrzeit
Love Your Fellow-Jew …
The Gemara in Shabbos (31a) cites the story of the gentile who came before Hillel asking him to convert him on condition that he teaches him the entire Torah whilst he stood on one foot. The K'li Yakar explains that Hillel understood that the man was serious and that he was not pulling his leg (excuse the pun). He realized that what he wanted was a fundamental principle that would serve as the key to the rest of the Torah. So he promptly converted him (in front of a Beis-Din of course), and said to him 'What you would not like others to do to you do not do to them. This is the entire Torah; the rest is merely an explanation. Now go and learn!'
The Pasuk that Hillel presented to him is Targum Yonasan's translation of "ve'ohavto le'rei'acho komocho" (Love your fellow-Jew like yourself [Kedoshim, 19:18]). But then Yonasan ben Uziel was Hillel's star Talmid, so we now know the source of his (Yonasan's) translation.
The Maharsha asks why Hillel deviated from the straightforward translation, switching what the Torah presents as an Asei into a Lo Sa'aseh. And he answers by pointing at the preceding phrase "Do not take revenge … ". Clearly, what the Torah is saying here is 'Do not take revenge from another Jew, just as you would not like him to take revenge from you' (refer to the Chizkuni's explanation cited in Parshah Pearls 'Miserliness v. Revenge'). Hence the Torah continues "Love your fellow-Jew - the antidote to revenge, which is based on hatred. In any event, the Maharsha concludes, the Pasuk cannot be taken literally, seeing as Rebbi Akiva comments on the Pasuk 'This is a major principle in the Torah', whilst elsewhere he maintains that 'Your life takes precedence over that of another Jew'.
The Ramban, based on the 'Lamed' in the word "le'rei'acho", translates the Pasuk to mean "Love on behalf of your friend what you would love on behalf of yourself." He too, declines to interpret the Pasuk according to its simple translation, because it is impossible to love another person to the same extent as one loves oneself. And this would serve as another reason for Targum Yonasan to switch the Asei (which is impossible to demand) to a Lo Sa'aseh (which is feasible).
Rashi too, equates the Pasuk quoted by Hillel with the Pasuk in Kedoshim, and clearly puzzled over the fact that half the Mitzvos are 'Bein Odom la'Mokom (between man and G-d), he explains Hillel's statement in two ways: 1. Based on the fact that the majority of Mitzvos are 'Bein odom la'chaveiro' (between man and man [an eye-opener in itself]); 2. That (based on the Pasuk in Mishlei (27:10 [with reference to Hashem]) "Re'acho ve'Re'a ovicho al ta'azov" (Do not forsake your Friend and the Friend of your father), "Re'acho" refers to G-d, as well as to one's fellow-Jew. That being the case, the Torah is commanding us here to treat G-d, as well as one's fellow man, with the same concern as we would like them to treat us. In any event, Hillel teaches us here that the ideal (and perhaps the only) way of building a meaningful and lasting relationship with others is by seeing in them a mirror image of oneself, by viewing their property, their persons and their dignity with the same care and respect as if they were one's own.
When Hillel told the man not to do to his friend what he would not like others to do to him, he did not mean that he should gauge the likes and dislikes of others by his own. This is not possible, since there is no reason to assume that his friend shares his own likes and dislikes. Therefore Rashi explains that what the Pasuk means is that just as Reuven would like Shimon to avoid doing what he dislikes (whatever that may be), so too, should he avoid doing what Shimon dislikes (even though that may differ from the things that he dislikes).
That is why Hillel concluded with the words 'The rest is merely an explanation. Now go and learn!' Having undertaken to avoid doing anything that may hurt one's fellow-Jew (or according to Rashi's first explanation, that may contravene the wishes of G-d), all that remained was for the convert to discover what it was that people generally don't like done to them and what it is that contravene G-d's wishes. That was the explanation. That he would now have to go and learn.
(to be cont.)
* * *
(Adapted from the Riva)
A Time to Disobey
"Every man shall respect his mother and father … and my Shabbosos you shall observe" (19:2).
Commenting on the juxtaposition of these two Mitzvos, Rashi explains that if one's parents issue instructions to break Shabbos, one may not obey them.
But is it not obvious, asks the Riva, that the 'Asei' of Kibud Av cannot override the Asei plus Lo Sa'aseh of Shabbos (which, one may add, carries with it Miysah)?
Not at all, he answers, when one bears in mind that the Torah compares honouring one's parents ("Kabeid es ovicho … ") to honouring G-d ("Kabeid es Hashem me'honoch" [Mishlei 3:9]).
Respect for One's Father
The Torah puts the mother first when it comes to respect, Rashi explains, because a child tends to respect his father more than his mother.
The Riva cites the Gemara in Kidushin which attributes this to the fact that a father teaches his son Torah (a sacred obligation which every father should make a point of doing. Perhaps failure to do so is one of the causes of father/son relationship that is rampant today).
Lashon ha'Ra v. Letting a Person Die
"Do not be a gossipmonger (Lo seilech rochil … ) among your people; do not stand aside while your fellow's blood is being spilled!" (19:17).
Rashi explains that one may not watch a person die if one is able to save him.
Connecting the two statements in light of Rashi's explanation, the Riva explains that despite the terrible sin of Lashon ha'Ra, if Reuven tells Shimon that he is going to kill Levi, Shimon is obligated to warn Levi of his peril.
Others explain that one should not transgress "Lo seilech rochil" which strictly speaking means not to tell Shimon what Reuven said about him. If one does, Shimon will respond by avenging his honour and attacking Reuven, whom you will then need to defend. Hence the Torah warns "Do not be a gossipmonger … !" (Quoted from the Ram from Coucy).
Miserliness v. Revenge
"Do not take revenge …" (19:18).
Rashi explains that after Reuven refuses to lend Shimon his scythe, Shimon takes revenge by not lending Reuven his chopper.
Why, asks the Riva, does the Torah not issue a warning against Reuven, not to refuse lending his scythe to Shimon in the first place?
Citing the Chizkuni, he explains that the Torah does not obligate a person to lend out his personal objects. One may be termed a miser, but miserliness is not, per se, a sin. Perhaps his scythe was an expensive one, and he was afraid that it might get damaged.
Shimon, on the other hand, would have been prepared to lend Reuven his chopper, and his refusal is based entirely on revenge, which in turn, is based on hatred (Midos!). That is unacceptable, and the Torah therefore warns against it (See also Main Atrticle).
(Note, that Reuven, in the above case, only refused lending out his scythe once, and as we explained, he may well have had a good reason for refusing. Someone who has a tendency towards miserliness, it appears, is another matter. As Chazal have said, Tzara'as on one's house can sometimes be a punishment for Tzorus Ayin [miserliness], a clear indication that it is considered a sin.)
Loving a Fellow-Jew
" … love your fellow-Jew (le're'acho) like yourself" (Ibid.)
Rashi comments that 'This is an important principle in the Torah'.
The Riva, citing R. Elyakim, explains this with the Gemara in the second Perek of Shabbos, in connection with the gentile who came before Hillel with a request to convert him on condition that he teaches him the entire Torah whilst he stood on one foot.
Taking up the challenge, Hillel said to him ''What you don't like (others to do to you) don't do to others. All the rest is mere explanation.'
Indeed, the Riva concludes, this is the way one should behave to one's fellow-Jew with love. What you wouldn't like him to do to you, don't do to him.
See two final paragraphs of Main Article.
Closing One's Eyes &
Pretending Not to See
"Rise before an old man and honour a wise man" (19:32).
Rashi, citing Chazal, suggests that perhaps it is in order to shut one's eyes as if one did not see him. Therefore the Torah concludes "and fear G-d".
'Are we speaking about wicked people', asks the Gemara? Surely someone who sees a wise man coming and closes his eyes has transgressed the Mitzvos of rising?
And it answers that the Chazal are talking about shutting one's eyes before the Chacham arrives within the distance that one is obligated to stand. So when one does shut them one genuinely does not see the Chacham arrive, and is therefore not obligated to rise.
And it is about such a scenario that the Torah sees fit to write "and fear your G-d" - who reads your thoughts and who knows that you deliberately shut your eyes in order to avoid performing a Mitzvah.
* * *
THE BA'AL HA'TURIM
"Kedoshim Ti'hyu" (19:2).
The previous Parshah ends with the words "u'shemartem es mishmarti", and is followed by "Kedoshim tih'yu", remarks the Ba'al ha'Turim. This teaches us that someone who guards himself against sinning will receive Divine protection against sinning in future ('Ani le'Dodi, ve'Dodi li').
"Daber el kol adas B'nei Yisrael … Kedoshim tih'yu" (Ibid.)
"Adas - a community, implies a gathering of at least ten people. This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at what Chazal say - that a Davar she'bi'Kedushah (such as Kadish, Kedushah and Borchu) requires a Minyan.
"I am Hashem your G-d … a man shall honour his father and mother" (19:2/3).
This teaches us that honouring one's parents is equivalent to honouring G-d Himself (See Parshah Pearls 19:2).
"Observe My Shabbos … Do not turn to idols" (19:3/4).
From the juxtaposition of Shabbos to idolatry, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, we can learn that Chilul Shabbos is equivalent to pouring wine to Avodah-Zarah."
"When you Shecht a Shelamim Offering to G-d, Shecht it (Tizbochuhu) in an acceptable way" (19:5).
The word "Tizbochuhu" is written without a 'Vav' (after the 'Ches'), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. which can be read - 'tizbe'cheihu' (in the singular). This hints at the ruling that although two people are permitted to Shecht (i.e. to hold the knife, one at either end) together, two people Shechting a Kodshim animal render it Pasul.
""And when you reap (u've'kutzr'chem) the harvest … do not finish (lo sechaleh) the corner … " (19::8).
The word "u've'kutzr'chem" is also the acronym of 'u'vekatzir Chem ('Chaf' 'Mem' - sixty), a hint that the Shi'ur Pe'ah is one sixti'eth, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. And he reinforces this by pointing out that the Gematriyah of "lo sechaleh" is equivalent to - 'ha'Pe'ah hu echad mi'shishim' (The Shi'ur of Pe'ah is one sixti'eth).
The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the word 'Katzir' (or a derivative thereof) appears four times in this Pasuk, to preclude from the Din of Pe'ah - 1. a field that is harvested by robbers; 2. a field whose crops are gnawed by ants; 3. a field that has been destroyed by storm-winds and 4. a field whose crops have been devoured by animals.
The Mitzvah of Pe'ah is followed by the command "Lo tignovu" ('Do not steal!' [in the plural]) - a warning to the owner of the field not to take what belongs to the poor, and a warning to the poor man not to take what he is not entitled to, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains. For example, what we learned in the Mishnah in Pe'ah - 'Two grains are Leket (which a poor man is authorized to take); three is not Leket (and he is obliged to leave them where they are)'.
"The wages of your hired laborer shall not remain with you overnight … do not curse … " (19:13).
Commenting on the juxtaposition of the two phrases, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that, even if your employer fails to pay you on time, don't curse him - Take him to Beis-Din!
* * *
AND THEIR MEANING
(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.
To Revere one's Father and Mother
It is a Mitzvah to revere one's parents … in other words, to treat one's parents as one would a person whom one reveres, as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:3) "Each man shall revere his father and mother". In defining 'Yir'ah', the Sifra explains that one may not sit their place, speak in their place or contradict their words.
A reason for the Mitzvah … the author already presented in the Mitzvah of 'Honouring one's parents', in Yisro (Mitzvah 33).
Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah … In answer to the question "How far Mora'as Av va'Eim", the Gemara in Kidushin (31a) says that even if one's parents beat him and spit at him, he is not permitted to put them to shame … Nevertheless, the Gemara in Mo'ed Katan (17a) forbids a father to strike his grown-up son, because (since he is prone to retaliate in self-defense), he causes him to transgress the La'av of "Lifnei Iver …" (causing others to sin). Beis-Din may even place in Cherem a father who contravened it … To demonstrate the severity of this Mitzvah, the Gemara there (in Kidushin) states that even if one's parents are (slightly) senile, one should make every effort to treat them with respect to the best of one's ability. If however, their state of mental health becomes unbearable, then one is permitted to leave them and to appoint somebody else to look after them if this is possible … A Mamzer of the child or descendent of parents whose relationship carries with it a Chiyuv Kareis is not exempt from the Mitzvah, even though he is not punishable in the event that he strikes or curses them … The Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (32a) rules that if one's parents issue one a command to transgress any Mitzvah, even if it is only a Mitzvah mi'de'Rabbanan, one is obligated to disobey it … The remaining details of this Mitzvah are to be found in various locations throughout Shas, mainly in Kidushin, it would seem (See also Yoreh Dei'ah Si'man 240).
This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to both men and women. Anyone who contravenes it and shows them a lack of respect has negated this Mitzvah, unless his father or mother is aware of what one is doing, and gives his consent - due to the principle that 'If a father (or mother) foregoes his Kavod, then his Kavod is indeed foregone!'
Not to Harvest the Final Corner
of One's Field
It is forbidden to harvest all that has been planted. One is obligated to leave a remnant at the edge of the field for the poor, as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:9) "Do not finnish the corner of your field to harvest it". This is a La'av ha'nitak la'Asei' (a La'av that is connected to an Asei), as the Torah writes there " … for the poor and the convert you shall leave it". This implies that someone who transgressed and harvested his entire field, he should take the Shi'ur (measure) of Pe'ah and give it to the poor. Min ha'Torah, Pe'ah has no Shi'ur, as we learned in the first Mishnah in Pe'ah; the Chachamim however, fixed the Shi'ir as one sixtieth of the entire crop.
A reason for the Mitzvah and some of its Dinim the author already presented in the Mitzvas Asei (Mitzvah 217).
(to be cont.)
* * *