This issue is sponsored
Vol. 19 No. 22
with wishes for a Refu'ah Sheleimah for
Chaim ben Miriam n"y
(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)
"G-d passed before him and proclaimed 'Hashem, Hashem, a compassionate and gracious G-d, slow to anger, abundantly kind and truthful' " (34:6).
Tosfos in Rosh Hashanah (17b) defines "chanun" (gracious) as a free gift, as Chazal comment on the Pasuk "and I shall be gracious to (favour) whoever I choose to be gracious to" - 'even though he is not worthy'. See also Rashi on the first word in Parshas Va'eschanan.
With this explanation we can understand the Pasuk in Tehilim (123) "Behold like the eyes of slaves that look to their masters' hand … so do our eyes look to Hashem our G-d, until He favours us (ad she'yechoneinu). Favour us Hashem, favour us, for we are fully sated with contempt!"
Initially, the comparison of our prayers to those of a slave is unclear, and also why we end the request with a plea to remove the contempt in which we are held, as if self-esteem is what Yisrael was missing the most during the period of the Galus of Nevuchadnetzar (to which this chapter in Tehilim refers)?
The Din is that a master has the right to demand of his slave to work for him without sustaining him. It therefore transpires that whatever the slave requests from his master, it is never more than a free gift, seeing as the master never owes him anything. Hence the Pasuk compares our request to G-d to that of a slave to his master - a free gift. Because even if we serve G-d, what do we ever give Him for which He needs to repay us for our services? And any remuneration that He does gives us for the performance of Mitzvos is nothing more than a free gift. This explains why the Chachamim refer to G-d's reward as 'Matan s'char', since that reward is really a Matonoh (a gift).
And this is what the Pasuk in Tehilim (62:13) means when it says "And to You Hashem belongs kindness, for You pay each man according to his deeds". Even when Hashem rewards us for our good deeds, it is really an act of kindness on his part, for we perform Mitzvos in our capacity as His servants, and He for His part, is under no obligation to give us anything in return.
In fact, the Pasuk contains an additional kindness that G-d performs with us. As is well-known, the purpose of the creation is contained in what Chazal describe as 'Nahama de'chisufa' (bread of shame). What this means is that G-d created the world in order to perform loving-kindness with His creations, by placing them in Olam ha'Bo, which is the world of ultimate bliss. Only it is natural that when a person receives something for free, there is a certain feeling of embarrassment. And it is to remove that feeling that He first placed us in this world, in order to earn our place in Olam ha'Bo through the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos.
And this is included in the above Pasuk in Tehilim - the fact that G-d pays each man according to his deeds (as if he had earned the reward for his Torah and Mitzvos), to enable him to enjoy the pleasures in Olam ha'Ba with a clear conscience, is in itself, an added Chesed on G-d's part.
And the Pasuk ends with the plea "for we are fully sated with contempt!" …
The Gemara in Nidah (10) relates how Shmuel, in his capacity as a doctor, once had to examine a slave-girl. Subsequently, he paid her four Zuzim for the embarrassment that the examination obviously caused. And he explained this by citing the Pasuk in Bechukosai (25:46) "You shall work with them forever", from which he extrapolated that slaves are subject to work, but not to embarrassment.
Consequently, he was obligated for having embarrassed the slave-girl.
It transpires that, whereas on the one hand, a master may owe a slave nothing for his work, on the other, he has no right to embarrass him.
So the exiles in the time of Nevuchadnetzar beseeched G-d to remove the contempt in which they were held in their captivity - the one request which they, as His slaves, were fully entitled to ask for.
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(Adapted from the Riva)
Forty Days & Forty Nights
"And the people saw that Moshe was delayed" (32:1).
Rashi attributes Yisrael's error to the fact that Yisrael began counting the forty days that Moshe said he would spend on the mountain on the day that he ascended (the sixth of Sivan). But this was a mistake, since Moshe meant forty full days, and since the night of the sixth had already passed, the forty days were destined to begin on the following night (the night of the seventh).
The Riva, however, citing Rabeinu Meir, queries Rashi from the Gemara in the first Perek of Yuma, which explains that the forty days were made up of twenty-four days of Sivan (beginning on the sixth) and sixteen days of Tamuz. And on the following day (Shiv'ah-Asar be'Tamuz), Moshe descended.
It is clear, he concludes, that the day on which Moshe ascended Har Sinai was included in the forty days, and that if one counts the night after the day, that explains the forty days and forty nights.
(The Riva offers no alternative suggestion to explain Yisrael's mistake. Presumably, they understood from Moshe that he would return on the fortieth day, when in fact, he meant that forty days would pass and that he would return on the forty-first.)
Moreover, he asks, unless one counts the sixth of Sivan in the forty days, the last set of forty days will only end the day after Yom Kipur, and it will transpire that that is when G-d said to Moshe 'I have forgiven like your words' (and not on Yom-Kipur). And the same problem will arise according to Rashi later (31:11), who states that Moshe ascended Har Sinai for the second time on the nineteenth of Tamuz.
Not a Good Kal va'Chomer
" … and Moshe was very angry, so he threw the Luchos from his hands, and he smashed them at the foot of the mountain" (32:19).
He made a Kal va'Chomer, comments Rashi. If regarding the Korban Pesach, which is only one of the Mitzvos, the Torah writes "a meshumad (an apostate) is not permitted to eat it!", then when the entire Torah is here, and all of Yisrael are meshumadim, how can I possibly give it to them?
But this not a genuine Kal va'Chomer, says the Riva. Even if meshumadim are forbidden to eat the Korban Pesach, which is merely a Korban, that is no reason to withhold from them the Torah, which would cause them to do Teshuvah and relinquish their apostasy..
Another problem with the Kal va'Chomer is based on Pasuk eleven, where Moshe asked why G-d was angry with His people that He had taken out of Egypt. A strange question, bearing in mind that that very same people was currently prostrating itself to the idols that they had given up before leaving Egypt!
Unless what Moshe meant was that since it was the Eirev-Rav who were sinning, why was G-d angry with K'lal Yisrael (see Oznayin la'Torah)?
And since Moshe acknowledged that it was the Eirev-Rav who were sinning, the Kal-va'Chomer is difficult to understand!
Doing Moshe's Bidding
"And G-d said to Moshe 'Also that which you asked for I will do …" (33:17).
According to Rashi, this refers to Moshe's request that G-d should never again rest His Shechinah on a gentile.
In Pasuk fourteen ("My Shechinah will accompany you"), He condescended to Moshe's request for the Shechinah to go with Yisrael in the desert and not an angel, to which Moshe replied (in Pasuk fifteen) that this was precisely what he wanted and that otherwise, G-d should rather leave them where they were.
This is how the Riva explains the sequence:
In Pasuk fourteen, God informed Moshe that He agreed to accompany Yisrael when they got to Eretz Yisrael, but not in the desert.
In Pasuk fifteen, Moshe replied that unless He agreed to accompany them there and then, He should not take them to Eretz Yisrael.
Whereas in Pasuk seventeen, G-d acceded to Moshe's request to accompany them already in the desert.
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THE BA'AL HA'TURIMp>
"And each man shall give (ve'nosnu) an atonement for his life …" (30:12).
The word "ve'nosnu", observes the Ba'al ha'Turim, reads the same backwards as it does forwards. This teaches us, he explains, that 'What goes round, comes round!' Because when one gives money to Tz'dakah, G-d always pays back.
By the same token, the commentaries explain the Torah's expression (in the opening Pasuk in T'rumah) "And they shall take for Me a gift" (instead of 'And they shall give to Me a gift") because whenever one gives to G-d, one always ends up receiving from Him.
Three times, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, the word 'Pekudim' (in one form or another) is repeated in this Pasuk, and three times the words "Machtzis ha'Shekel", "Kofer Nafcho", "Lechaper" and "B'nei Yisrael" - to atone for the three things that Gad ha'Navi presented in His ultimatum to David ha'Melech (when he counted Yisrael) to fall in battle, starvation, or pestilence.
"And you shall manufacture a copper basin … to wash (le'rochtzoh)" 30:18.
The word "le'rochtzoh" appears four times in T'nach (here, in Pikudei, and twice in the same Pasuk in Divrei ha'Yamim) - a hint that the Kiyor must contain sufficient water to wash the hands and feet of four Kohanim.
The four Kohanim here were Aharon, El'azar, Isamar and Moshe, who served as Kohen during the Shiv'as Yemei ha'Milu'im.
" … take for yourself spices … pure frankincense (Levonoh zakoh) 30:34.
The word "zakoh" also appears in Emor ("And you shall place next to the arrangement of bread (Levonoh Zakoh") and in Iyov ("And my prayer is pure [zakoh]").
Hence David ha'Melech writes in Tehilim, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, "Establish my prayer like Ketores before You". To teach us that Tefilah, like the frankincense in the spices, must be pure, without allowing other thoughts to infiltrate!
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