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

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Vol. 20   No. 48

This issue is sponsored
in honour of the engagement of
Na'ama Esther Osborne
and Avraham Yeshaya Blachorsky n"y

Parshas Ki Savo

About Bikurim

" you shall take from the first (me'reishis) of all the fruit of the ground which you will bring from your land that Hashem your G-d is giving to you, and place it in a basket; Then you shall go the place which Hashem your G-d will choose to rest His Name there Then you shall come to the Kohen and you shall say to him "I am telling Hashem your G-d today that I came to the land that Hashem swore to our fathers (la'avoseinu) to give to us (loseis lonu])" 26:2/3.

Honey! Which Honey?

Based on the 'Mem' in "me'reishis" Rashi learns that the Mitzvah of Bikurim is confined to the seven species for which Eretz Yisrael is praised, beginning with wheat and ending with honey ("d'vash"). 'D'vash', Rashi adds, means not bees' honey, but dates, which in the era of the Beis-Hamikdash, would ooze an abundance of honey.

The marginal notes in R. Bachye cites the Chasam Sofer, who asks why Rashi here translates "d'vash" as 'date-honey', whilst the same word in Vayikra (2:11 [in connection with the prohibition of bringing yeast or honey on the Mizbe'ach]) he translates as 'all kinds of sweet things (any species of sweet fruit)? Quoting the Ba'i Chaye, he cites the Radvaz that "d'vash" in both contexts does indeed refer to all kinds of sweet fruit. Indeed, he points out, Rashi himself in Succah (6a) specifically writes that the "d'vash" with reference to the fruit with which Eretz Yisrael is praised, incorporates 'all kinds of sweet things'. And he concludes that when, in a number of places in Shas, Rashi explains that it refers to dates, he only means to exclude bees' honey, but not other fruits and fruit-juices.

If this is correct, then we will have to apply the same ruling to the B'rachah Achronah after the Shiv'as ha'Miynim. In other words, one will need to recite the B'rachah of 'al ha'Eitz ve'al p'ri ho'eitz ' after eating sweet fruits. To my knowledge, there is no such opinion.


Bringing Bikurim from Eiver ha'Yarden

The Mishnah in Bikurim (1:10) cites a Machlokes Tana'im as to whether one brings Bikurim from Eiver ha'Yarden or not.

Rebbi Yossi Hagelili maintains that one does not, because it is not "a land flowing with milk and honey" (a description of Eretz Yisrael mentioned in the very Parshah that is read by the owner of the Bikurim).

According to the Tana Kama, however, one does. The Bartenura attributes this to the fact that 'since Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu gave the land to Yisrael, its fruit is considered "the fruit of the land that You gave to me" (part of the same declaration).


In any event, this is a clear proof that Eiver ha'Yarden is considered an intrinsic part of Eretz Yisrael, a fact which is disputed by the commentaries. Indeed, the Mishnah Rishonah writes there that regarding T'rumos and Ma'asros and all other Mitzvos that are connected with the land, Eiver ha'Yarden is considered part of Eretz Yisrael, since it was distributed to the tribes by the command of G-d, and it is only here (by Bikurim) that Rebbi Yossi Hagelili argues for the reason that we quoted.


Does a Convert read the Parshah?

The Mishnah in Bikurim learns from the word "la'avoseinu" that although a ger (a convert) is obligated to bring Bikurim, he does not read the Parshah, since, for obvious reasons, he cannot say "la'avoseinu".

The Torah Temimah cites the opinion of many Rishonim, who actually rule like Rebbi Yehudah (quoted in a B'raisa in the Yerushalmi in Bikurim), who permits it, because the Torah confers upon Avraham the title 'father of a multitude of nations', which they explain to mean that he is the father of all geirim. The ramifications of this Machlokes extend of course, to the first B'rachah of the Amidah and the second B'rachah of Birchas ha'Mozon, both of which refer to 'our fathers'. There the wording that a Ger uses (as well as whether he is permitted to Bensch Mezuman) will depend upon whether we rule the Mishnah in Bikurim or like the Yerushalmi. Interestingly, despite the fact that he is arguing with a S'tam Mishnah, both the Rambam and some of the Ba'alei Tosfos Pasken like Rebbi Yehudah in the Yerushalmi.

The Torah Temimah observes that the Mishnah in Arvei Pesachim, which obligates us to discuss 'the Pesach that our fathers ate in Mitzrayim' - and nobody suggests that a Ger changes the text - seems to concur with the Yerushalmi.


The author also raises the question that, even assuming that a Ger can say 'la'avoseinu', how can he read the Parshah? On what grounds is he any better than women and Avadim, whom the Sifri exempts from reading the Parshah based on the words "Loseis lonu", and women and Avadim do not have a portion in Eretz Yisrael? Neither does a Ger (See Torah Temimah, end of note 16).

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Measure for Measure

"And you will serve your enemy without anything" (28:48).

Such is the way of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu - 'Measure for Measure', remarks Rabeinu Bachye. When they had everything, they failed to serve G-d; therefore now they will have to serve their enemies with nothing. (See previous Pasuk)

And this is the source of the Gemara in the first Perek of Chagigah (9b), which, based on a Pasuk in Yeshayah, explains that after examining all the Midos, G-d came to the conclusion that the only Takanah (remedy) that is suitable for Yisrael is poverty. Hence the mantra 'Poverty is suited to Yisrael like a red rose on a white horse'.


Like an Eagle Swoops

"G-d will bring upon you a nation from afar like an eagle swoops " (29:49).

This refers, R. Bachye explains, to Vespasian and Titus, emperors of Rome, who destroyed the Beis-ha'Mikdash. The Medrash relates how Vespasian intended the journey from Rome to Eretz Yisrael to last ten days. Due to a strong wind, however, he arrived in five.

When he heard children quoting the above Pasuk, he declared that perhaps he was the 'eagle' referred to in the Pasuk. (Interestingly, the emblem of the Romans was an eagle!)


R. Bachye concludes that in fact, all the punishments in this Parshah pertain to the era of the second Galus ,as opposed to those in Bechukosai, that pertain to the first.


To Egypt by Boat

"And G-d will return you to Egypt in ships " (28:68).

This implies that the women and children too, will be taken captive and sent to Egypt, the Rosh explains. Because had they gone on foot, they would have sent only the men, who are able to walk that distance.


Unwanted Slaves

"You will try to sell yourselves there to your enemies as slaves and maidservants, but nobody will want to buy you" (Ibid.).

The Rosh explains that the Egyptians will refuse to accept you even without payment when they recall how, many years earlier, the Jews were their slaves, and how they ultimately suffered the Ten Plagues on account of them.

And when their captors witness this, they will proceed to beat and starve them.


Two Sets of Curses (1)

"And it shall be, if you do not listen to the Voice of Hashem your G-d " (28:15).

R. Bachye writes that although the curses in this Parshah are written in the third person, it does not mean that they are Moshe's own words, only that he became G-d's mouthpiece (See also main article, Devarim).

And the reason that the Parshah in Bechukosai appears in the first person is because the curses there refer to the era of the first Beis-Hamikdash (where the principle sin was idolatry, as the Torah writes there "And I will destroy your altars and cut down your sun-gods"), where the Shechinah rested. The current Parshah, on the other hand, refers to the era of the second Beis-Hamikdash (evident from the fact that there is no hint of when the ensuing Galus will come to an end). And it is written in the third person, a hint that G-d Kevayachol, was not there (See following Pearl), as if someone else was saying it in His Name.


Two Sets of Curses (2)


Rabeinu Bachye explains that the Shechinah rested in the first Beis-Hamikdash. That is why David Hamelech wrote in Tehilim (24:7) - with reference to Sh'lomoh his son, who would later transport the Aron Hakodesh into the Kodesh Hakodoshim "Raise up your heads,o gates so that the King of Glory may enter!"

Whereas regarding the second Beis-Hamiksdash, the Navi Hagai (1:8) writes "And I will be pleased with it and I will be honoured (spelt with an extra 'Hey' at the end), hinting at the Shechinah which hovered there, but which did not rest there.

When the third Beis-Hamikdash is built, the author concludes, not only will the situation revert to what it was in the time of the first one, it will exceed it, and our understanding of G-d will reach even higher levels, as Yeshayah Hanavi wrote (60:1/2) "Arise and shine, for your light has arrived and the glory of G-d shines upon you! For behold darkness may cover the earth, and a thick cloud, the kingdoms, but upon you G-d will Shine and His glory will be seen upon you." May this prophecy come to pass soon.

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