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

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Vol. 15   No. 48

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Whose Yohrzeit is ' (5747)

Parshas Re'ei

Kashrus Questions and Queries
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim M.T.)

But We Already Know This?

Chazal teach us that the Torah will repeat a Parshah that it has already taught before, (particularly in Seifer Devarim) provided it contains some detail or other that we do not already know. That being the case, comments the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., despite the fact that the Torah has already listed the animals that are Kasher and those that are not, it nevertheless sees fit to repeat them here, on account of the species named Shesu'ah (a creature with two backs and two spinal cords), which it includes in the latter list, as the Gemara in Chulin (62b) explains.

Likewise, says the Gemara there, it repeats the birds because of the non-Kasher species 'Ra'ah', which it referred to in Shemini as 'Da'ah'.

What is not clear, the Da'as Zekeinim concludes, is why it repeats the Parshah of Kasher and non-Kasher fish, without adding anything that it has not taught us already?


"Nesher" is an Eagle, No?

"No!' say the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. To be sure, that is how it is commonly translated. The eagle however, has an extra (fourth) claw, which is generally a sign of Kashrus, whereas the Gemara in Chulin (61a) specifically says that a Nesher does not.


"Oreiv" is a Raven

or so we assume. But it cannot be, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos state emphatically!

Why not?

Because they examined a raven, and discovered that it has both an extra claw and a crop (both of them signs of Kashrus in a bird). In which case, it must be 'Doreis' (which will be explained later), conforming with the Gemara there, which maintains that it only has two. Now if it was not Doreis, it would have three.

And if that is so, how can the Gemara there state that any bird that comes before us with two signs of Kashrus is Kasher, as long as one recognizes an Oreiv?

Now if it is similar to an Oreiv but is not quite the same, how can it possibly be Kasher, for, now that we have proved that an Oreiv is Doreis, we have a hard and fast rule that any bird that is Doreis is not Kasher? In which case, an Oreiv cannot be a raven (and one of the two signs of Kashrus of an Oreiv must be that it is not Doreis).


What we know for sure is that a bird that spits during intimacy is an Oreiv, since that was the Oreiv's punishment for contravening G-d's instructions and being intimate during the flood.


The Daughter of an Ostrich?

Why, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., does the Torah refer to an ostrich as "the daughter of an ostrich"?

The reason for this, they reply, is because it is only when an ostrich is young that one can possibly eat it. Once it grows up, its flesh becomes hard as wood.


Incidently, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, the ostrich is called "ya'anah" because it torments its young (from the word 'le'anos') and treats it without mercy. So does the Oreiv, he adds, which explains why the Torah juxtaposes them. And the Ib'n Ezra adds that the reason that the Torah uses the feminine form used in connection with the ostrich is because there are no male ostriches (?)


'Netz' is a Hawk, of Course!

Once again, in spite of common tradition, Tosfos disagrees (and incidently, the Rosh does not comment on the 'Netz', though he does agree with Tosfos regarding the 'Nesher' and the 'Oreiv'). And once again they base their objection on the Gemara in Chulin, which teaches us that three of the four signs of a non-Kasher bird are to be found on nineteen of the twenty-four non-Kasher species, including the Netz.

Tosfos in Chulin (63a DH 'Netz') prove that the one sign of a Kasher species that is to be found only either in the 'Peres' (assifage) or in the 'Ozniyah' (osprey) is that its stomach can be peeled. That being the case, the three that pertain to the nineteen birds are an extra claw, a crop and that they are not Doreis. Consequently, since we see that a hawk is Doreis (since it holds its prey down with its feet as it eats [like Rashi], and it both holds it with claws and eats it alive [like Rabeinu Tam]), "Netz" cannot be a hawk.


And here's something that is subject neither to question nor to query.

The Basic Laws of Shechitah

"Then you shall Shecht from your cattle and sheep like He commanded you" (12:21).

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. cite Chazal, who derive from here that the Dinim of Shechitah (i.e. the cutting of the wind-pipe and the esophagus; the majority of one of them when Shechting a bird, but both of them when Shechting an animal), which are not written explicitly in the Torah, were told to Moshe on Har Sinai.


True to Chazal, who have said 'There is nothing that is not hinted in the Torah', R. Ya'akov from Kurbil points out that the Gematriyah of "ka'asher tzivisicho" is equivalent to 'Rov echod be'of, ve'rov shenayim bi'veheimah' (the majority of one of a bird, and the majority of two of an animal).

Furthermore, "asher" ('Alef', Shin', 'Reish') is the acronym of 'Echod', 'Shenayim' and 'Rov'.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

Remembering the Levi

"Beware lest you forget the Levi all the days on your land" (12:19).

"On your land", the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains, because once you come to Eretz Yisrael and distribute it, you will have an inheritance, but he won't. That is where he will need material assistance. Under any other conditions, there is no reason to help him more than anybody else.


Total Destruction

"And all its booty you shall gather to the town-square, and you shall burn with fire the city and all its booty" (13:17).

The reason for this, explains the Da'a Zekeinim M.T. is actually contained in the words that follow "completely for (the sake of Hashem your G-d), to let everybody know the righteousness of your motives (that you are not doing it for the financial benefit).


Filling in the Gap

" and Hashem will give you mercy " (13:18).

"Hashem will give you mercy", the K'li Yakar explains, because after having put to death an entire town, one's heart tends to become somewhat hardened; therefore Hashem promises that he will not allow that to happen. He will soften the hardened hearts, so that your Midah of Rachamim will not be impaired.


" and He will have mercy on you" (Ibid.). "The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains that Hashem will repay you measure for measure, in that since that you did not display mercy to those who evoked His anger (for being cruel to the wicked is akin to being merciful to the righteous), He will display mercy towards you!


Our Father in Heaven

"You are children of Hashem your G-d! Do not cut yourselves and do not make a bald patch between your eyes for a dead person" (14:1).

See Rashi.

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. however, explains that with a live Father in Heaven (who is the father of all orphans), there is no reason to behave like orphans, who have nobody to look after them. We can leave that, they add, to the gentiles, who have nobody left other than a 'father' made of wood and stone.


Touching the Carcass of a T'reifah

" and the Chazir Do not eat their flesh and do not touch their corpses.

This is not a prohibition against touching a dead T'reifah (or any Neveilah for that matter, since every Neveilah is Metamei) per se, explains the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., but rather a warning not to touch it in order to eat it.

In fact, they explain, the Pasuk is in effect, a warning against eating the corpse of a T'reifah, and the reason that the Torah uses an expression of touching here, is to teach us that the Shi'ur of touching, that renders food Tamei is equivalent to that of food that one eats - i.e. a ke'Beitzah (the volume of an egg, which is the maximum that a person can swallow in one go).

Indeed, they argue, the Pasuk cannot be referring to a prohibition against touching Neveilah per se, because if it was, it would render the need to add the prohibition against eating it superfluous.

Nevertheless, Chazal do derive from here a prohibition against touching it on Yom-Tov, as Rashi explains.


When My Corn Becomes Your Corn

"And you shall eat there the Ma'aser (Sheini) of your corn, your wine and your oil" (14:23).

If you separate your Ma'asros properly it will become your corn. Otherwise, it will remain My corn, as the Pasuk writes in Hoshei'a (2:11) "Therefore I will take back My corn in its time, My wine and My oil".

And furthermore, come and see, says the Medrash, the great power of Ma'asros; for, on the one hand, the Torah writes (in Va'eschanan 6:16) "Do not test Hashem your G-d, whereas on the other, it writes (in Mal'achi 3:10) "Bring all the Ma'aser to the storehouse, and please do test Me on this".


Sometimes You Have to say 'No!'

"And this is the matter of the Sh'mitah (ve'Zeh d'var ha'Sh'mitah)" (15:2).

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. cite Chazal (in Gittin 37b) who (presumably either because the entire phrase is superfluous or because of the Torah's use of the word "d'var [which can also mean 'word']) translating "d'var" as 'the word', explain that if, after the termination of the Sh'mitah, a debtor comes to pay his debt, the creditor is obliged to respond with 'I cancel the debt', after which the former is permitted to accept it, should the debtor still insist on paying.

Likewise, the Gemara in Makos (12b) explains the phrase "And this is the matter concerning the murderer" (Devarim 19:4) to mean that if, when the 'murderer' arrives in the city of refuge, they offer him a position of importance, he is initially obliged to respond with the statement 'I am a murderer!', though whether they subsequently rescind their offer or still give him the position, is their decision.

And the Yerushalmi, he concludes, learns from here that a person who is conversant with one Masechta, and people praise him for his knowledge of two, he should not hesitate to point out that he only knows one.

* * *


'And any animal that has cloven hooves and horns and that chews its cud, is Kasher' (14:6).


'The following however, you may not eat from those that chew their cud , one that has two heads or two spinal cords, since there are none among those species that can survive ' (14:7).


'Only the following are you permitted to eat from all those that live in the water; Those that have fins with which they swim and scales on their skin; Should the scales fall off and one remains underneath its cheeks, one underneath its fins and one underneath its tail, then you may eat it (14:9).


'All Kasher birds that have a crop, whose stomach can be peeled off, that have an extra claw and that are nor 'Doreis' (see last Pearl in Parshah Pearls) you are permitted to eat (14:11).


' All flies and bees, and insects that are found in lentils and beans are forbidden to you, once they have left the food and have flown like a bird; they may not be eaten' (14:19).

* * *

(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 475:
To Release All One's Debts in the Sh'mitah

One is forbidden to claim an outstanding debt in the Sh'mitah year, but is obligated to release it and not to claim it again, as the Pasuk says in Re'ei (15:2) "Do not claim your debt from your neighbour or from your brother".

A reason for the Mitzvah the author will discuss in Mitzvah 477.

Someone who contravenes this Mitzvah by claiming his debt after the Sh'mitah has terminated, in the time when the Beis-Hamikdash stood has transgressed this La'av. He is not however, subject to Malkos, since it is a 'La'av she'Ein bo Ma'aseh' (a La'av that one contravenes without performing an act).


Mitzvah 476:
To Claim one's Debts from a Gentile in the Sh'mitah

One is obliged to press one's claim for one's debt from a gentile who serves idols, and not to have pity or mercy on him, and not even by merely extending the duration of the loan, as the Torah writes in Re'ei (15:3) "The gentile you shall press", and Chazal interpret this as an Asei to claim one's debt from a gentile at all costs.

A reason for the Mitzvah is to train ourselves not to have pity and mercy on gentiles, which in turn, is in order not to be drawn after their deeds and after their counsel under any circumstances.

According to the Ramban, this is not a Mitzvas Asei at all, but comes rather to teach us to have pity on our fellow-Jews via both an Asei and a Lo Sa'aseh. The Pasuk is therefore presenting us with a 'La'av ha'Bo mi'K'lal Asei ' (a La'av that is extrapolated from an Asei') - "Claim your debt from a Nochri", but not from your brother (a fellow-Jew).

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, both to men and to women. Whoever contravenes it and even merely extends the duration of a loan that is owed by a gentile, based on feeling of pity alone (as opposed to fear of the gentile or of losing his money altogether, or based on other personal considerations) has negated this Mitzvah, according to the Rambam; whereas according to the Ramban, he transgresses only if he presses a Jew for his debt , in addition to the La'av (that we discussed in the previous Mitzvah). The Torah is not talking about releasing a gentile from his debt, which is permitted.

* * *

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