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

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Vol. 14   No. 43

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Betzalel ben Yitzchok Yaakov z"l
whose Yohrzeit is 2 Ellul((5747

Parshas Re'ei

Just Like Hashem Buries the Dead
(adapted from the Chochmas Chayim)

"When the Pasuk (Devarim 13:5) writes "After Hashem you shall go", says R. Chama b'R. Chanina in Sotah (14a), it means that one should go in His ways (emulate His Midos). Just as He visits the sick (e.g. Avraham Avinu), so too, should you visit the sick Just as He buries the dead (e.g. Moshe Rabeinu), so too, should you bury the dead'.


The Chochmas Chayim relates the following stories about R. Yosef Chayim Sonenfeld, who, in his younger years, was appointed Gabbe of the Chevra Kadisha, and for the best part of his life, served as its president.

Many of the Minhagim of Yerushalayim connected with burying the dead were instituted by him. Not only that, but he would not tolerate any interference in the prevalent customs of Kevuras ha'Meis, and all efforts to initiate changes, however small, were immediately stifled by him before they got off the ground.


Defending a Minhag

On a Shiv'ah-Asar be'Tamuz during the First World War, R. Yosef Chayim once got wind that the Turkish government planned to initiate changes in the burial procedure in Eretz Yisrael. The Chacham Bashi (the equivalent of the Chief Rabbi) at that time was R. Nissim Danoun, who lived in Motza, a distance of a few kilometers from Yerushalayim, and who had a strong influence with the Turks. It so happened that most of the wagons were commissioned by the Turkish army, and the few that weren't, were dangerous to ride in due to various contagious diseases that were circulating in Yerushalayim at the time. So what did R. Yosef Chayim do? He picked himself up, in spite of the heat of the fast, and walked on foot from his home in Yerushalayim to Motza. A surprised R. Danoun saw the Rav approaching and went out to greet him and to find out what brought him there. With tears streaming down his face, R. Yosef Chayim told R. Danoun of the impending breach in Kavod Meisim, and the latter, without delay, made his way to the Turkish authorities, whom he convinced to cancel the plans.


R. Yosef Chayim did not see the presidency of the Chevra Kadisha as a personal Kavod, but rather as a means of helping to carry the burden of the community. He took an active part in every facet of the Chevra's activities, and together with the other members, he participated in every burial, in particular, in that of a Talmid-Chacham, to whom he displayed immense Kavod, and whom he accompanied right up to the grave. And this he made a point of doing until the end of his life.

It happened once that towards the end of his life, when walking any distance entailed considerable self-sacrifice on his part, R. Moshe Blau tried to prevail upon him not to attend the burial of a Talmid-Chacham. This is what he had to say about that:

'Unfortunately, other than this final act of esteem, what can we give to a Talmid-Chacham in Yerushalayim? How much Kavod and pleasure does a ben-Torah enjoy during a life-time that is filled with suffering? Shall we deprive him of this final act, too?' And he added 'I have been a member of the Chevra Kadisha for close to forty-five years. In what way am I different than the other members, who 'break their legs' in the rain and the snow to walk to the Beis-Olom, whenever the need arises?'


'Running to Perform a Mitzvah!'

It happened once when R. Yosef Chayim was already an old man, that he was accompanying a Talmid-Chacham who had died on Friday, Chol-ha'Mo'ed Pesach. The cortege had reached the vicinity of Yad Avshalom, when the pall-bearers saw a large group of Arabs, known by the name of Nebi Mussa, fast approaching, with the intention of blocking the road leading to the burial plot, to prevent them from burying the Meis before Shabbos. Asking R. Yosef Chayim to turn back, the other members of the Chevra prepared to make a dash for it, to outsmart the Arabs.

But the aged Rav would not hear of it. 'What!' he retorted, "Do you think for one moment that I am not obligated to exert myself to honour a Talmid-Chacham?' And without another word, he began to run energetically. He overtook the pall-bearers, and all of them crossed the road ahead of the Arabs, and buried the Talmid-Chacham in good time - before Shabbos.


Taking the Initiative

In a similar incident that took place during another burial, when once again, a large group of Arabs from the group of Nebi Mussa attempted to block the path of the cortege, the head of the Chevra in charge of that particular burial pleaded with R. Yosef Chayim to leave. Instead of replying however, the Rav began running, until he reached a wall beyond which the group of Arabs was fast approaching. Jumping up onto the wall, he stood there, drew his body to its full height, and confronted them. Then, he raised his arms, and demanded of the sheikh who stood at the head of the Arabs to stop his men and move away, which is precisely what he did.


There Was No Stopping Him

A year before his death, at the age of eighty-two, on the day of the Yohrtzeit of his Rebbe, the Maharil Diskin, the Rav decided to make the trip to his grave to Daven there, as he had done for years. A storm raged outside and the rain came down in torrents, but no amount of pleading on the part of his family could deter him from paying tribute to his beloved Rebbe.

He subsequently told his family that as he skipped over the graves on Har ha'Zeisim, the wind caused him to fall no less than three times, and what's more, he hurt his face and his eyes - but most importantly, he went!


Giving a Lease of Life to the Wretched

One of the arched alleyways of the old city housed a home for the invalids, wretched individuals from whom, for the most part, the gates of Simchah were firmly shut. Once they entered the home, they were deprived of the joy of living, and their lives became drab and miserable. In fact, it was known as 'the hospital for those who deteriorated'. People who had previously been wonderful husbands and loving mothers slowly turned into living skeletons, waiting patiently for death to redeem them and take them to a better world. They received few visitors, not because their relatives and friends had forgotten them, Chalilah, but because they could not bear the pain and the grief that they took away with them after each visit.

One visitor however, would arrive at the hospital fairly frequently, and when he came, he would visit each and every patient - his name was R. Yosef Chayim Sonenfeld. He would stand by the bed of each patient for quite a while, offering him kind words of encouragement and learn Torah with him, like a father would learn with his son. He took his cue, it would seem, from R. Yehoshua ben Levi, who would sit with the lepers at the gates of Rome, as the Gemara in Kesubos (77b) relates.

The patients loved his visits, and would await his arrival as if he was a saving angel. The moment they saw him enter the room, their eyes lit up with a flicker of joy, which for that brief moment replaced their ongoing misery. The knowledge that they were not forgotten was in itself, something precious; proof of which lay in the fact that this esteemed personality had taken the time to come and visit them.

In fact, the head sister, Mrs. Kleinman, liked to relate how the one thing that all the patients looked forward to, was, when the Tzadik R. Chayim, the solitary ray of light in their otherwise bitter lives, was coming to visit them next.

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Parsha Pearls

Korbanos Chart:
Bechoros First-born
Olos Burnt-Offerings
Chatas Sin-Offering
Shelamim Peace-Offerings
Ashamos Guilt-Offerings
Todos Thanks-Offerings
Bikurim First-Fruit

Bring them to Yerushalayim
(based on the Torah Temimah)

"And you shall bring them there, your Olos (both individual & public) and your Shelamim (both individual & public), your Ma'asros (Ma'aser Beheimah & Ma'aser Sheini) and the Terumah of your hands (Bikurim), your Nedarim and Nedavos, and the Bechoros of your sheep and cattle" (12:6).


The Gemara in Bechoros (53a) extrapolates from the Torah's comparison of the two Ma'asros (as we indicated), that from the location from which one cannot bring Ma'aser Sheini, one cannot bring Ma'aser Beheimah, to preclude Chutz la'Aretz, from which Ma'aser Sheini is obviously not brought.


Don't Eat them Anywhere Else

"Do not eat within your gates the Ma'aser (Sheini) of your corn, wine and oil, the firstborn, your cattle and sheep (with reference to Chata'os & Ashamos), and all the Nedarim (Olos) which you undertake to bring, your Nedavos (Todos & Shelamim) and the Terumah of your hands (Bikurim).

The Pasuk is basically a prohibition from bringing any of the above outside Yerushalayim. However, R. Shimon, in a B'raisa in Makos (17a [on which the above notes are based]), due to the repetition contained in the above two Pesukim, lists the following prohibitions. For

1. ... anyone not to eat Ma'aser Sheini outside the walls.

2. ... a Zar (a non-Kohen) not to eat Bechor after the blood has been sprinkled.

3. ... a Kohen not to eat Chatas and Asham outside the precincts of the Azarah.

4. ... a Kohen not to eat an Olah within the precincts of the Azarah.

5. ... anyone not to eat Shelamim & Todah before the blood has been sprinkled.

6. ... a Kohen not to eat Bikurim before K'ri'ah (the reading of the relevant Parshah by the owner) (according to others, before the Hanachah [placing them in front of the Mizbei'ach]).

It should be noted that each of the above La'avin are already forbidden in the form of a Mitzvas Asei, as Rashi points out. R. Shimon learns the prohibition of eating Bechor, Chatas & Asham and Olah before the blood has been sprinkled with a Kal-va'Chomer from Todah & Shelamim. He also learns the prohibition of a Zar eating Chatas, Asham and Olah from a Kal-va'Chomer from Bechor. And he learns the prohibition of a Kohen eating from an Olah outside the precincts of the Azarah from Chatas & Asham.


Subject to Malkos

Based on the principle that whatever is derived from a Kal-va'Chomer is not subject to Malkos, the only cases in R. Shimon's list (which we discussed above), that are subject to Malkos are 1. Bikurim before the K'ri'ah (according to others, the Hanachah); 2. Todah or Shelamim, Bechor, Chatas, Asham or Olah before the blood has been sprinkled (this, according to Rashi, is learned from the repetitions in the second Pasuk [which constitutes the La'av]), and Kodshei Kodshim (Chatas, Asham, Olah & Minchah) outside the precincts of the Azarah.

This latter prohibition is learned from the second of the Pesukim which we are about to discuss.


Four Incorporating La'avin in connection with Kodshim

The same Sugya in Makos cites four general La'avin incorporating various La'avin in connection with Kodshim. 1. "ve'Zar Lo Yochal ki Kodesh Heim" (Sh'mos, 29:33, in connection with the Milu'im) - prohibiting a Zar from eating any Kodshei Kodshim that a Kohen is permitted to eat.

2. "u'Basar ba'Sadeh T'reifah Lo Socheilu" (Sh'mos 22:30, in connection with T'reifos [animals that have been killed]) - prohibiting any food that leaves its location, from being eaten (including Kodshei Kodshim that have left the precincts of the Azarah).

3. "ve'sorafto es ha'Nosar bo'eish Lo ye'ocheil, ki kodesh hu" (Sh'mos, 29:33, in connection with the Milu'im) - prohibiting eating any Kodshim that were initially fit to eat, and which became Pasul.

4. "ve'Chol Minchas Kohen Kolil tih'yeh, Lo Se'ocheil" (Vayikra 6:16) - prohibiting eating any Kodshim that needs to be burned.


Comparing Ma'aser Sheini & Bechor

"And you shall eat before Hashem in the place which Hashem will choose, the Ma'aser of your corn, wine and oil and the Bechoros of your sheep and cattle" (14:23).

From the comparison of Ma'aser and Bechor, the Gemara in Temurah (21a & b) learns the following two additional Halochos:

That ...

1. ... Ma'aser Sheini, like Bechor, may only be eaten in front of the Beis-Hamikdash (but not nowadays).

2. ... Bechor, like Ma'aser Sheini, does not became invalid from one year to the next.


From the Haftarah
Wot, Poverty & Galus?

"O afflicted, storm-battered one, who has not been consoled" (Yeshayah 54:11).

The Medrash relates how Hakadosh Baruch Hu showed Avraham subservience to the nations and Gehinom, and asked him to choose one of the two as a punishment for his descendents, when the need to punish them would arise. He chose subservience to the nations, to save them the terrible tortures of Gehinom, says the Medrash.

Based on a Pasuk on Iyov, the Gemara in Yevamos (102b) states that poverty saves a person from Gehinom. It would appear from there that it is not necessary to suffer both poverty and Gehinom; it is either one or the other.


No wonder then, that Yisrael cannot be consoled at being at one and the same time, poverty-stricken and storm-battered (a reference to Galus).


Ignorance and Hatred

"And all your children will be students of Hashem, and they will enjoy abundant peace" (Ibid 13).

Two of the reasons given by Chazal for the destruction of Yerushalayim are that Yisrael failed to teach the children Torah (Shabbos 119) and that needless hatred was rampant (Yuma 9).


That is why, says the Chida, the Navi assures us that when Mashi'ach arrives, these two sins will be rectified, all the children will study Torah and they will live together in peace.


"See, said Moshe the Navi, I have arranged before you today, blessings and the opposite" (11:26).


"And it shall be when Hashem your G-d brings you to the land which you are coming to take possession of, you shall place six tribes on Har Gerizim and six tribes on Har Eival. Those who have been designated to bless shall turn their faces towards Har Gerizim, and those who have designated to curse shall turn their faces towards Har Eival" (11:29).


"You shall destroy all the places where the nations whose country you are taking possession of, worshipped and their gods, on the tall mountains, on the hills, and under every fine-looking tree" (12:2).


"And you shall cross the Yarden, and settle in the land that Hashem your G-d inherits to you, and Hashem will give you respite from all your enemies that surround you, you will build the Beis-Hamikdash, and after that you will dwell in safety" (12:10).


"After the worship of Hashem your G-d you shall go, Him you shall fear, His commandments you shall observe, to Him you shall Daven and you shall come near to fear Him (13:5).


"If your maternal brother (and certainly your paternal one), your son, your daughter, your wife or your friend who is as dear to you as yourself, gives you bad advice, and he announces and says 'let us go and worship the gods of the nations that you did not know about, you and your fathers" (13:7).


"These are the animals that you may eat ; oxen and lambs, the children of sheep (but not the children of forbidden animals), kids, the children of goats (but not the children of Kil'ayim [mixed species" - see Nosei K'lei Yonasan] 14:2).

(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

Mitzvah 454:
Not to Add to the Mitzvos or to their (Traditional) Interpretations

It is forbidden to add to the written Torah or to the oral one, as the Torah writes in Re'ei (13:1) "Do not add to it". What does this entail? The Rambam gives as an example someone who teaches that eating bird's meat cooked in milk is a Torah prohibition (when really it is only a Rabbinic one). By so doing, one is adding to the tradition, which, interpreting the Pasuk "Do not cook a kid in the milk of its mother", rules that the Torah prohibition is restricted to the meat of animals, but does not extend to that of birds. Similarly, if one were to issue a ruling permitting cooking the meat of a Chayah in milk, one would contravene the Isur of not detracting from the Mitzvos, since, by tradition, the Isur incorporates the meat of wild (Kasher) animals too.

Most commentaries however, agree that 'Bal Tosif' is confined to Mitzvos Asei, such as wearing two pairs of Tefilin on one's head or on one's arm, placing five Parshiyos inside one's Tefilin shel Rosh or taking two Lulavim on Succos, and the like, as the author cites in the name of his Rebbe. Also, anybody who sits in a Succah after Succos, with the intention of performing a Mitzvah, even though he is aware of the fact that the time for performing the Mitzvah has passed, since, once the time for the Mitzvah has passed, one no longer transgresses 'Bal Tosif' unless one actually has in mind to perform the Mitzvah; and the same applies to someone who takes a Lulav after Succos intending to be Yotzei, even though he knows that Yom-Tov is over. And so the Gemara says in Rosh Hashanah (28b) 'To fulfil a Mitzvah' does not require Kavanah; to transgress during the time of the Mitzvah does not require Kavanah either. But to transgress after its time has expired, does'. However, someone who takes a Lulav on Succos a hundred times, or who blows Shofar a hundred times on Rosh Hashanah, even if he specifically has in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah each time, has not transgressed 'Bal Tosif'. Neither will he transgress if he takes a Lulav that is Pasul, or if he binds a Pasul species together with the three Kasher ones (according to the prevalent ruling, that does not require them to be bound, even though we tend to bind it).

A reason for the Mitzvah is that the Master who commands us to perform the Torah is totally perfect, and His deeds and His commands are perfect and good, too; Adding to them therefore, and certainly subtracting from them, will automatically render them deficient.

The Dinim of the Mitzvah are to be found in Sanhedrin (88b) in Perek Ra'uhu Beis-Din, in Rosh Hashanah and in Eiruvin (88b).

This Isur applies everywhere and at all times, to men and women. Someone who contravenes it and adds to a Mitzvah, such as making five compartments in his Tefilin shel Rosh or wearing two pairs of Tefilin simultaneously, or if he takes two Lulavim in his hand simultaneously, sits in the Succah after Succos or who takes a Lulav after the time has expired, with the intention of fulfilling the Mitzvah, has transgressed this Mitzvah, and is subject to Malkos, provided there are two witnesses and warning, as is well-known.

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