This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 23 No. 36
יצחק בן ליב שלמן וסימה ז"ל
מרים בת מצבי הירש ואסתר פרל ז"ל and
Favouritism - Two-Ways
G-d will lift His Face to you (favour you) and grant you peace" (6:26).
The Gemara in B'rachos (Daf 20b) records a dialogue between Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu and the angels in which the latter queried this Pasuk, based on the Pasuk in Eikev, which states that 'He does not favour anybody (in judgement) and does not accept bribes' (Eikev 10:17)?
To which He replied "How can I not favour Yisrael, considering that I wrote in My Torah (Ibid., 8:10) "You shall eat and be satisfied and bless Me", yet they are particular with themselves and bless Me over a k'Zayis (according to Rebbi Meir) and a k'Beitzah (according to Rebbi Yehudah)'?
If Yisrael go li'fnim mi'shuras ha'din (beyond the letter of the law), then Hashem too, will go beyond the letter of the law. If we favour G-d by doing more than what He demands of us, then He will respond in kind ('Midah k'neged midah') and shower us with blessings even when we do not deserve them.
The Medrash carries this idea still further - when it describes how a poor family, sitting round the table with insufficient food to satisfy their hunger, yet not only do they not complain about the food that they do not have, they bless G-d for the food that they do have! Besides blessing Him even though the Torah has exempted them from doing so, they suppress the natural tendency to complain in the process. They have turned a potential curse into a blessing. In so doing, they follow in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu at the Akeidah, who displayed absolute faith in Hashem, overcoming the obvious inclination to question Him over His 'strange' command.
Faith, like optimism, is based on the ability to perceive as half-full as opposed to half-empty, with the result that one blesses Hashem for His goodness rather than complain about what one lacks.
R. Chayim from Valozhin, commenting on the initial Chazal 'they are particular with themselves, explains that it is only with themselves that they make do with little. In that case, the Torah is talking about people who eat modesty, but who spare nothing when it comes to others. When they give Tzedakah, they give with an open hand, and when they have guests, they entertain them lavishly. This is based, not on inconsistency, but on serving their Creator Lifnim mi'shuras ha'din - both in the realm of bein Adam la'Mokom and in that of bein Adam la'chavero. The former, with regard to "Kedoshim tih'yu" - the Mitzvah to abstain from excesses, as the Ramban explains; the latter, with regard to displaying one's love towards one's fellow-Jew - by helping him with an open hand and an open heart.
The long and short of it is that, someone who consistently strains to fulfill G-d's Mitzvos to his utmost capacity will invoke a similar reaction from G-d. Because when you go with Him beyond the letter of the law, you will find that He goes beyond the letter of the law with you!
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THE CAMP OF LEVI CHART
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This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 23 No. 36
Aharon ben Shlomo z"l
and Elsie bas Henry z"l
One Step - A Million Miles Apart!
"Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Rus cleaved to her" (Ruth 1:14).
The initial difference between Rus and Orpah was barely discernable. Both women accompanied Naomi at the outset of her journey back to Eretz Yisrael, both were keen to remain with her, and both withstood her first attempt to persuade them to return, stating categorically "we will return with you to your people!"
In compliance with the laws of Geirus, Naomi tried again to convince them to change their minds. There too, the initial response of the two young women was the same - they both began to weep, conveying the impression that they would refuse. But then the pasuk informs us that "Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Rus cleaved to her". The difference between them was extremely slight, yet the deep contrast between the two characters is already clear.
They may well both have loved their mother-in-law. They may both have been perfectly willing to follow her into the unknown and to share her trials and tribulations. But whereas the one was not averse to returning to her land, the other was determined, and nothing would deter her from carrying out what she had set out to achieve. They may well have taken the same first step, but their destinations lay a million miles apart. As history would prove, the two sisters-in-law were two vastly different personalities. And it is already in the following pesukim that the flaw in Orpah's character is highlighted, precisely as Naomi hinted to Rus - when she said to her - "your sister-in-law has returned to her people and to her gods". Indeed she did, and as Chazal point out, this inevitably meant that she would return to the pervert way of life for which Moav was renowned - that very same night.
At one stage, Rus and Orpah were on a comparable level of righteousness. But like two paths that begin at the same point, and separate in two ever so slightly different directions, but that end up a million miles apart, so too these two women initially diverged only slightly. One had determination, the other didn't. But look where they ended up!
The former went from strength to strength, to become the mother of the royal lineage of Malchus Beis David, the grandmother of Mashi'ach. Whilst the latter transcended the path of tum'ah, to become the mother of the wicked Gol'yas and his three brothers.
That is what prompted the Gemara in Sotah (42b) to state 'let the children of the one who kissed come and fall into the hands of the one who cleaved - as all four brothers died at the hand of David ha'Melech.
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A Circle of Time
Rabbi Dessler explains how the Jewish calendar comprises a circle of time. By this he means that when we arrive at any particular Yom-Tov, we are merely repeating the same experience that our ancestors went through when they left Egypt, stood at Har Sinai and built Succos, or enjoyed the protection of the Clouds of Glory in the desert.
This renders us capable of recapturing those precious occasions and of de-riving the same spiritual benefits and objectives as they did.
Indeed, they in turn, were not creating new experiences - they were realizing a potential that had been in existence since the creation of the world.
What this means is that Pesach did not become the season of freedom be-cause K'lal Yisrael left Egypt on the fifteenth of Nisan. Rather Yisrael left Egypt on the fifteenth of Nisan because the fifteenth of Nisan is the season of free-dom. And the same applies to Shavu'os and Succos (and all other Yamim-Tovim) on their respective dates.
Otherwise, asks Rebbi Dessler, how does one explain the fact that Lot baked Matzos when the angels came to visit him in S'dom on the fifteenth of Nisan, as Rashi explains. And by the same token, how does one explain Ya'akov Avinu taking two kid-goats, one for the Pesach and one for the Chagigah, because it was Seider-night (Rashi) to bring to his father prior to receiving the B'rachos, both of which took place hundreds of years before Yetzi'as Mitzrayim?
For two and a half millennia, the concept of 'a circle of time' was theoretical, inasmuch as it had never been applied on a national scale. The actual realiza-tion of that theory took place for the first time when K'lal Yisrael experienced their freedom in the year two thousand, four hundred and forty-eight, when the Hebrew slaves left Egypt as free men, against all the odds, as 'No slave had ever escaped from that country'.
From that time on, the fifteenth of Nisan became fixed in the calendar to commemorate, not only the potential benefit, but the practical realization of G-d's kindness (the basis of Pesach). And this was followed almost immedi-ately by the introduction of Shavu'os and Succos, when we celebrate Matan Torah and the Clouds of Glory.
And this is one of the reasons that the Torah refers to Yom-Tov as "Chag", a derivative of 'Chug', a circle. When a Yom-Tov comes round, it simply means that it has come round full circle, since the same time last year. Presumably, we have gained a deeper understanding of the Yom-Tov, so that our level of Emunah and of observance will be that much higher than it was last time round (much like a spiral - the same point but on a higher level). In this way we grow into better Jews and come closer to Hashem, as the years go by.
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Many reasons are given as to why we read Megilas Rus on Shavu'os. Here are some of them:
To teach us that Torah can only be acquired through hardship and poverty - incorporating Mesiras Nefesh (self-sacrifice), as epitomized in Rus.
Because the major part of the Megilah takes place during the harvest season - between the harvest of the barley and that of the wheat. This coincides with the season of the Omer, which began with the barley harvest and culminated with the two wheat loaves, the first of the wheat harvest that was brought on Shavu'os.
By the same token, we find, in the Parshah of Yom-Tov in Emor, that im-mediately following the Parshah of Shavu'os, the Pasuk issues a command to leave Leket and Pe'ah for the poor and for the proselyte, a Mitzvah which Bo'az observed meticulously - and Rus was both poor and a proselyte.
Some attribute the reading to the fact that Shavu'os is the yohrtzeit - and the birthday of David ha'Melech, and we read Megilas Rus to present David ha'Melech's Yichus. This reason is further enhanced by the Ge-mara in Bava Basra (Daf 14b) which describes the name Rus as a derivative of 'Rivah' (to satiate)- because her grandson David satiated G-d with songs of praise.
According to the Medrash, we Lein Megilas Rus on Shavu'os, because it is brimming with acts of Chesed; on the part of Rus, who performed chesed with her deceased husband Machlon and with her mother-in-law Naomi; and Bo'az, who performed kindness with Rus. This is a most fitting sequel to the giving of the Torah, whose beginning, middle and end are acts of Chesed - when G-d married off Adam and Chavah and subsequently clothed them, when He visited Avraham following the B-ris MIlah, and when He comforted Yitzchak and Ya'akov upon the death of their respective mothers, and when He buried Moshe. Indeed, the Medrash tells us, it was on the merit of these acts of Chesed, that Bo'az and Rus merited that David ha'Melech and the dynasty of Mashi'ach descended from them.
6. Because, like Yisrael at Har Sinai, Rus accepted six hundred and six (the Gematriyah of her name) Mitzvos, in addition to the seven Mitzvos that they were all obligated to keep as children of No'ach.
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