Vol. 4 No. 50
Parshas Ki Savo
I am For Hashem, and Hashem is For Me
"And you singled out Hashem today, to be for you G-d"... "and Hashem singled you out today, to be for Him a treasured nation" (26:17-18). This possuk is reminiscent of "Ani le'Dodi ve'Dodi li" (if I am for Hashem, then Hashem is for me), the keynote and acronym of Elul. It also conforms with the Gemoro in B'rochos (7a) which explains how, in our Tefillin we unify Hashem and proclaim Him as G-d, in the possuk of "Shema Yisroel", and Hashem in turn, has written in *His* Tefillin "And who is like your people, Yisroel, a unique nation in the land!" We praise Hashem, and Hashem in turn praises us. Hence, the Ba'al Ha'turim points out, the gematriyah of "Es Hashem he'emarto ha'yom", (you singled out Hashem today) is equivalent to "zeh bikriy'as Shema" (this is with the Kriy'as Shema).
That is why the Torah concludes the previous paragraph with the words: "... with all your heart and with all your Soul", an obvious allusion to "the Shema", in which these very words play such a prominent role, as does the word "ha'yom", which figures in the first phrase of this parshah too ("you singled out Hashem today"). Indeed, the essence of teshuvah is to repent immediately (therefore Chazal say that the word "ve'ato" [and now] always refers to Teshuvah), and to repent "with all your heart and with all your soul", since Teshuvah, which is not performed with sincerity and totally, is nothing more than an empty formality.
The possuk of which we are speaking, Tefillin, and the acronym of Elul (Ani le'Dodi", etc.) all have one thing very much in common: they all begin with us and end with Hashem! "You first singled out Hashem today" (so) Hashem singled you out. (Because it is written in our Tefillin - Shema Yisroel, (therefore) in Hashem's Tefillin too, it is written: "And who is like Your people", etc. "I am for Hashem" and (consequently) "Hashem is for me".
To come before Hashem on Rosh Ha'shonoh and to pray to Him for life, health, riches and children without first offering Him a firm commitment to raise our own level of observance, is an unqualified impudence, and stands little chance of gaining a positive Divine response. It is quite clear from the above possuk and many others (e.g. the b'rochos in Bechukosai and in this week's parshah), as well as from the above teachings of Chazal, that we must open the proceedings, and that only after we have "tuned in" to G-d's wavelength, will He respond by "tuning in" to ours.
To expect Hashem to equip us with all our needs without prior obligation on our part is tantamount to a denial of the very purpose of man's role in the creation, which is to earn his existence in this world and his reward in the World to Come, and this he can only achieve via his obedience to his Creator and adherence to His wishes (i.e. the Torah).
If I will turn to Hashem in the days of Elul and utilize the s'lichos days to come closer to Him, then I can justifiably expect Him to come close to me on Rosh Ha'shonoh and to tend to the well-being of myself and my family. But if I am not willing to make any sacrifices for Him, then why should He take any notice of my needs?
But in addition to the aspect of responsibility and obligation, the fact that we have been given the first move should be seen as a tremendous advantage. It means that we call the tune - and Hashem plays to it - like in a game of chess, where the opener has a distinct advantage.
Hashem's course of action is clear, and should serve to guide us in ours - the more goodwill we show towards Hashem the more He will show towards us - and that's a fact!
Some of its dinim
based on the Rambam, Hilchos Bikurim (Chapter 2 &3)
- Bikurim is one of the four "Matnos Kehunah" that has to be eaten by the Cohanim and their families in Yerusholayim.
- Any Cohen who eats any of the Matnos Kehunah that has Kedushah, must recite a special b'rochoh (besides the regular b'rochoh over the food).
- Only the person who owns the land on which the trees stand is obliged to perform the mitzvah of Bikurim, which is brought exclusively from the seven kinds: Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. It is the fruit that one brings and not the juice, except for grapes and olives, where the Torah permits wine and oil to be brought.
- Min ha'Torah, Bikurim are brought exclusively from the fruits of Eretz Yisroel - the Rabbonon however, added fruit from the lands of Sichon and Og, as well as from Syria.
- Poor quality fruit is not acceptable (see Rambam 2:3).
- Those who live far from Yerusholayim bring the fruit dried.
- The ideal season to bring Bikurim is between Shevu'os and Succos. Between Succos and Chanukah, one brings it without reading the Parshah of Bikurim. Before Shevu'os and after Chanukah, one does not bring Bikurim at all (see Rambam and Ra'avad 2:6).
- Fruit that begins to ripen before Tu bi'Sh'vat, cannot be brought in the following year (after Rosh Hashonoh).
- Fruit that grows on land belonging to partners is subject to the mitzvah of Bikurim, but not fruit that is grown in a pot without a hole in its base.
- The Torah does not specify how much one has to bring, but the Rabbonon fixed the amount at one sixtieth.
- As soon as the first fruits in his field have begun to ripen, the owner ties a string around it as a marker, and declares it "Bikurim". Unlike Terumah, Bikurim comes into effect even whilst it is still attached to the ground. What grows subsequently from the original fruit is also Bikurim (see Rambam 2:18).
- If anything happens to the Bikurim before it arrives in Yerusholayim, the owner is responsible to replace it.
- Unless he specifically had so in mind when he picked them, the owner may not send the Bikurim with a sh'li'ach, but must take them to Yerusholayim himself.
- Bikurim must be given to whichever group of Cohanim happens to be serving in the Beis-Ha'mikdosh that week.
- Bikurim is prohibited to a non-Cohen. A non-Cohen who eats it after it has entered the walls of Yerusholayim is chayov "misoh biy'dei Shomayim".
- The fruit is placed before the Mizbei'ach, and only then are the Cohanim permitted to eat it, even if the owner has not yet read the Parshah of Bikurim.
- The dinim of eating Bikurim are similar to those of eating Terumah, with two major differences: a) Bikurim must be brought to Yerusholayim (and eaten in Yerusholayim); b) They are forbidden to an "Onon" (see Rambam 3:5).
- Bikurim are brought to Yerusholayim inside a vessel - ideally, each fruit in its own receptacle. But at least they must be carefully arranged in the vessel, with a partition between each species, and not just placed haphazardly (see Rambam 3:7).
- Metal containers are returned to their owners, whereas wickerwork baskets etc. are retained by the Cohanim.
- Together with the Bikurim, one brings doves and pigeons, which are hung at the side of the "basket". These are subsequently brought as sacrifices (see Rambam and Ra'avad 3:9).
- It is a mitzvah to "confess" in the Beis Ha'mikdosh, when bringing Bikurim. This "confession" takes the form of reading the first section of the Parshah of Bikurim - specifically in Loshon Ha'Kodesh. The Cohanim would always read the Parshah together with the owners (see Rambam 3:11).
We wrote in Gems Parshas Re'ei (Binyomin ha'Tzadik), that someone who gives tzedokoh is blessed with seven brochos.
This was a slip of the pen, for which we duly apologise. The Gemoro says that, someone who gives tzedokoh is blessed with six brochos, not seven.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE HAFTORAH
(Parshas Ki Sovo) (Yeshayoh 60:1-22)
"Arise and shine, because your light has come, and the glory of G-d will shine upon you."
The Novi is referring to the imminent ge'ulah that will take place. Light, the Meforshim explain, is a moshol for the happiness and the goodness that will accompany the advent of Moshiach. The rest of the world may well be in darkness, but for Yisroel there will be light.
One could also interpret it to mean that when Moshiach comes, the spotlight will be on Yisroel; they will take centre-stage, whilst the remainder of the world will play second fiddle to them, as the possuk continues: "And all the nations will go by your light, and kings by the brightness of your shine".
The Novi then describes how the world scene will change at that time, how all of Yerusholayim's sons and daughters will return to her, and how she will amass all the vast wealth of the nations. The extent of G-d's popularity will be such that the people will flock to Yerusholayim in their boat-loads, bringing with them the Jewish exiles, together with their silver and gold. "It is the gentiles who will build the walls of Yerusholayim, and even their kings will serve you. The gates of Yerusholayim will be open day and night, to enable the wealth of the nations to come pouring in, whilst their kings will subjugate themselves before King Moshiach; their own sovereignty will terminate.
Any nation that fails to serve you will perish. They will bring you their fine trees with which to build the house of G-d, and they, the children of the very ones who tormented you previously, will now come to prostrate themselves at your feet. There will be a total role reversal as Yerusholayim, filled with eternal joy, becomes the capitol of the world.
Whatever the nations of the world robbed you of, G-d will now recompense you manifold - if they took copper, He will now bring you gold, instead of iron, silver, instead of wood, copper, and iron will replace stones. But above all, peace and kindness will grace you, in place of the oppressors who tormented you in golus. Never again will you experience robbery, or plundering or breaking up. Instead you will experience salvation within your walls, and inside your gates, you will praise G-d.
You will no longer have need of the light of the sun by day or the shine of the moon by night, because Hashem Himself will be your light, and G-d your glory. (No doubt, this is also a moshol which can mean that a supernatural existence will replace the powers of nature that appeared to govern in this world - see Redak). That being the case, your sun will never set (your destiny will never again decline) etc., your days of mourning will have come to an end.
In the days leading up to Moshiach, G-d will purify Yisroel, sifting out the bad - who will die in the battle of Gog and Magog - from the good. Consequently, those who remain will be tzadikim, and it is they who will inherit Eretz Yisroel forever.
In the days of Moshiach, the Novi concludes, the smallest tribe will grow a thousand-fold, and the weakest will become a mighty nation. When the time for all this arrives, it will transpire quickly without the slightest delay, like Chazal have said "The salvation of G-d is like the wink of an eye", and as we saw practically applied by the exodus from Egypt".
But Chazal explain these words - the words which close the Haftorah - differently.
"Be'itoh achisheno" the possuk writes; "be'itoh" - Moshiach will come in its designated time. That is the year 6000, by which time he has to have come. That will be the case if we are unworthy. But should we be worthy, then "achisheno" "I will hurry it"; G-d will bring the Moshiach before its time - he could arrive at any time, if we would only have the z'chus to receive him.
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