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

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Vol. 18   No. 38

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Parshas Sh'lach-L'cha

It's the Heart that Governs

As is well-known, before G-d made man, He created two diametrically-opposite kinds of living creatures, both of which He created devoid of freewill and choice. He created angels, spiritual creatures that are bound to do His will, and have no inclination to do evil, and animals, physical beings that are governed by instinct, and have no inclination to do anything other that what lies in their nature to do. Consequently, neither is subject to reward or punishment, since neither act by choice, but rather by rote.

Finally, He created man, with a physical body like an animal, but with a spiritual Soul (a Neshamah) like an angel. Of all G-d's creations, man alone has the ability to weigh up his actions, and to decide whether to follow his instincts - like an animal, or whether to choose to do what is right and good - like an angel. Representative of the former, G-d endowed him with Seichel (intelligence), and he provided him with a code of instructions (called Torah) to assist him in fulfilling the purpose for which he was created, to choose the latter.


When the heart, working in harmony with the Seichel, fulfils its obligations, then it elevates the person, placing him on a par with the angels, and earning itself a reward for making the right choice. On the other hand, when one allows it to operates independently, relying on its natural inclination to determine its actions, then, not only does one sink to the level of an animal; one actually becomes inferior to an animal, inasmuch as, unlike an animal which, as we explained, works purely by instinct, a person pursues his desires and acts wilfully; and for that, he will be punished.

It transpires that the heart of a person is the engine that guides him along the path that he takes. It is the heart and the heart alone that will determine whether he will be a Tzadik or a Rasha. Hence Chazal have said 'Rachmana Liba ba'i (G-d wants a person's heart)'. And that is what Chazal mean when, quoting G-d, they say 'Give Me your heart and your eyes and I know that you are Mine!'


What the Heart Doesn't Grieve

Commenting on the Pasuk "Do not go astray (ve'lo sosuru) after your hearts and after your eyes" (15:39), Rashi, playing on the words "ve'lo sosuru", which also has connotations of spying (refer to the beginning aof the Parshah, Pasuk 17 & 21), explains that the heart and the eyes are the two spies of the body; the eye sees, the heart desires and the body perpetrates the sin. The question arises however that if this is the order in which they operate, why does Rashi invert the order, referring first to 'the heart and then to the eyes'? Indeed, why does the Torah itself invert the order?


Chazal have taught (in Shabbos 104a) that somebody who comes to purify himself, receives Divine assistance in his quest; whereas somebody who comes to render himself impure, will find the doors of sin open to him. This means that G-d helps someone whose heart is pure to attain the goal of righteousness to which he aspires, and that includes not being shown sights that he does not wish to see. That being the case, it may be correct to say that when the eye sees evil, one's inclination works to translate what he has seen into sin. But it is equally correct to say that someone whose heart is pure will be divinely protected against seeing it. Because, as we explained earlier, it all begins with the heart, as the Medrash says 'Whereas Resha'im are controlled by their hearts, Tzadikim retain control over their hearts". So that a person who truly does not want to see evil will not see evil.


A well-known mantra informs us that 'What the eye does not see the heart does not grieve'. That is correct. But it is equally correct to say that 'What the heart does not grieve, the eye does not see!' Because G-d will make sure that he doesn't!

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Riva)

What Sort of Pardon is That?

"And G-d said 'I have forgiven like your words' " (14:20).

The Riva asks from the tradition cited by Rash in Parshas Yisro, that G-d said this Pasuk on Yom Kipur of the first year, when He finally forgave Yisrael for the sin of the Golden Calf, when Moshe came down the mountain with the second set of Luchos. Whereas this Pasuk is said with reference to the period following the episode with the Spies, in the second year. And he answers that in fact the Pasuk is not quoting G-d at all; it is quoting Moshe Rabeinu, and it reads like this: "Forgive now the sin of this people in keeping with the greatness of Your kindness, just as You forgave this people from Egypt from the time they left Egypt until they arrived here, and like Hashem said (on Yom Kipur following the sin of the Golden Calf) 'I have forgiven like your words' !"

With that, he also explains how G-d could say to Moshe that He has forgiven Yisrael, and then, in the same breath, as it were, talk about killing them in the desert and how they would not see Eretz Yisrael! According to the above explanation, it was Moshe who requested that G-d pardon Yisrael, but G-d replied that He would not.


The Riva's explanation is a novel one, but one that is very difficult to understand. If the current Pasuk was said by Moshe, then surely what he ought to have said was "And You said 'I have forgiven like your words", as is Moshe's style throughout the Torah. Moreover, why is the Pasuk an independent one. Why is it not part of Pasuk nineteen, which was said by Moshe, and of which it is part?


It therefore seems more appropriate to learn like the Seforno (See also Or ha'Chayim), who explains that that Pasuk was indeed said by Hashem, and what He meant was when Moshe asked for forgiveness on behalf of K'lal Yisrael, He had already forgiven them (hence the past tense) to the extent that Moshe had requested (that He should wipe them out with a plague of pestilence). Because when He had said "I will smite them with pestilence!" he had never meant to kill them all in one go, but rather that He would kill them little by little, in a way that none of them would see Eretz Yisrael. Hence He continued "But I swear that the Glory of Hashem will fill the earth (for that is the purpose of the creation) that all the men who saw the signs and wonders that I performed in Egypt and in the desert, and who tried Me these ten times, they will not see the land ." This was an oath and was therefore irreversible.


Kalev, but Not Yehoshua

"And My servant Kalev, since he had a different spirit I will bring him to the land and his children with dispossess it" (14:24).

The question arises as to why the Torah mentions Kalev, but not Yehoshua?

The Torah omits Yehoshua, the Riva explains, because had it included him, it could not have concluded "and his children will dispossess it", since he had no sons.


The Shi'ur of Chalah & of Terumah

"From the first of your doughs you shall give (titnu) to G-d a separation " (15:21).

Rashi explains that there is no indication as to the Shi'ur Chalah that one is obligated to give to a Kohen, and that Torah inserts the word "titnu", to teach us that it must be something worth giving (and not just a tiny piece of dough).

In that case, asks the Riva, bearing in mind that regarding T'rumah too the Torah writes "ve'nosan la'Kohen es ha'Kodesh", one ought to be obligated to give the Kohen something worthwhile. Yet, Chazal say that, min ha'Torah, one kernel of wheat will cover the entire pile of grain' (one fiftieth is only mi'de'Rabbanan)?

He answers that in fact, 'nesinah' implies a minimal amount, and he cites a Get in connection with which the Torah writes "ve'nosan be'yadah" (and he shall give it into her hands), and Chazal rule that a Get that is written on Isurei Hana'ah (that has no monetary value whatsoever) is Kasher.

And the reason that Rashi learns 'something worthwhile' from "titnu" in the above Pasuk, is not because that is the intrinsic meaning of the word, but because the word is superfluous. In other words, the Torah inserts it to teach us that Chalah must have some value (even though the word per se does not mean that).


The Second Shabbos

" The B'nei Yisrael were (vayih'yu) in the desert, when they discovered (vayimtze'u) a man gathering wood on the day of Shabbos" (15:33).

Rashi explains that the Pasuk is coming to teach us the disgrace of K'lal Yisrael, that they only kept one Shabbos, and on the second Shabbos, along came this man and broke it!

From where does Rashi know that this incident took place on the second Shabbos, asks the Riva?

Citing Rebbi Aharon in the name of his father, he answers that otherwise, why does the Torah need to insert the words "va'yih'yu vayimtze'u", if not to teach us that as soon as Yisrael entered the desert, this episode occurred. Otherwise, the words would be superfluous.

The Bartenura adds that it cannot have taken place on the first Shabbos in the desert, since the Torah informs us in Beshalach (16:29) that "The people rested on the seventh day". It must therefore have been the second Shabbos that was desecrated.

* * *


One Third Threads

" ,,, and they shall place on the Tzitzis of the corner a deep-blue thread (P'sil T'cheiles)" (15:38).

From here, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T, we learn that the Tzitzis must have loose threads (P'sil) hanging from the fringe (G'dil). Indeed, he explains, quoting the Gemara in Menachos (39a), one third should be G'dil and two thirds P'sil.

This corresponds, he adds, citing the Maharam (me'Rottenberg) to the eight things of the heart (?), or to the eight names of the heart, which is situated a third of the way down the body. That explains why the threads of the Tzitzis begin from a third of the way down, leaving two-thirds of the Tzitzis as P'sil, corresponding to the two-thirds of the body from the heart down to the feet.


A Night Garment & the Garment of a Blind Man

" and you shall see them" (15:39). This comes to preclude a night-garment from Tzitzis, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. Or perhaps, he suggests, it comes to preclude a blind man from the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. Therefore the Torah adds " and you shall remember. ". The Torah mentions 'seeing' for a man who is capable of seeing, and 'remembering' for a man who is not (See Gemara in Menachos [39a]).

Alternatively " and you shall see them " - if you keep the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, it will be as if you see G-d's Throne of Glory, which has the appearance of T'cheiles, as Rebbi said - 'Why T'cheiles of all colours? Because T'cheiles resembles the sky, which in turn, resembles the Throne of Glory, as the Pasuk writes in Mishpatim (24:10) " and they (Nadav and Avihu and the elders of Yisrael) beheld the G-d of Yisrael, and beneath His Feet, was something that resembled the work of a sapphire brick" (and sapphire is a dark blue that resembles the sky [just before nightfall]).

The Torah writes " and you shall see"; then " and you shall remember"; then " and you shall do". This teaches us, the Da'as Zekeinim concludes, that seeing leads to remembering, and remembering, to doing (the Mitzvos).


Six Hundred and Thirteen

(Ibid.) Rashi explains that the Gematriyah of Tzitzis is six hundred, plus the eight threads and five knots = six hundred and thirteen, corresponding to the Taryag Mitzvos (which the Tzitzis remind one to keep).

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. adds that some have the custom to add more K'richos (the circles) and Chulyos (sets of three), so that the total number of K'richos, Chulyos, threads and knots equals six hundred and thirteen. Interestingly, Tosfos in Menachos points out that none of these hints has a source in Chazal.

The author queries Rashi however, in that the word "Tzitzis" is written without a 'Yud', in which case its Gematriyah is actually ten short of six hundred!

He answers that the 'Lamed' in front of the third "Tzitzis" ("le'Tziztzis") makes up for the three missing 'Yuds' (whose Gematriyah it shares).


Finally, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. cites the Gemara, which explains that although the definition of 'K'richah' is at least three circles (round the G'dil) one should do a minimum of seven (corresponding to the seven Heavens) and not more than thirteen (corresponding to the seven heavens and the six spaces in between). Presumably here again, this hints at G-d's Throne of Glory of which Tzitzis comes to remind us, and which is situated on top of the seventh Heaven.

* * *

(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 221:
Not to Finish the Corner of the Vineyard

It is forbidden to finish the corner of one's vineyard during the harvest, but one must leave a corner for the poor, as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:10) " and you shall not collect the loose clusters of your vineyard" - This, the Rambam explains, refers to the corner of your vineyard. Furthermore, the Rambam writes, when the Torah writes in Re'ei (24:20) in connection with olives - "Do not remove all the splendor (lo sefa'er ) behind you" it is referring to the Pe'ah of the olive-trees; for the Pe'ah of the olive-trees is called *'Poros'*, and that of the vines, 'Ol'los'. And from these two we can learn the Din of Pe'ah by all other trees.

The Ramban however, takes the Rambam to task on this point. In his opinion, the Rambam's explanation is totally incorrect. He explains that the current La'av ("Lo Se'olel") pertains to a vineyard exclusively, and it entails leaving all the small grapes that one sometimes finds in vineyards that have no 'shoulders' (the stalks that form a cluster of grapes) and 'drippings' (grapes hanging down from the middle of the cluster), as the Mishnah explains in Pe'ah (7:4). Judging by our own vineyards, the Chinuch comments, we are really talking about a very small amount of grapes. The obligation to leave Pe'ah, he explains, is over and above the Chiyuv of Ol'los. Regarding the Mitzvah of Pe'ah, there is no actual Pasuk he says, and we learn it via a Gezeirah-Shavah "Acharecha" "Achcrecha" from olives, as the Gemara explains in Chulin (131a). The Gemara there learns that a vineyard is subject to four gifts - '*Peret and Ol'los*, which are written explicitly; Shikchah, which It learns from the word "Acharecha" (in the Pasuk "Lo se'olel acharecha") - implying something that one needs to go back for, and Pe'ah - from the Gezeirah-Shavah "Acharecha" "Achcrecha" from olives, where the Torah writes "Do not beat your olives; do not take their glory from them (Lo sefa'er acharecha") - with reference to Pe'ah. This Machlokes does Rambam and Ramban does not affect the number of La'avin however, since they are simply arguing over how to interpret "Lo Se'olel" (i.e. the Rambam interprets it with regard to Pe'ah, whereas the Ramban interprets it with regard to Ol'los, whilst he learns Pe'ah via the Gezeirah-Shavah from olives, as we explained). This La'av is also 'Nitak la'Asei' (rectifiable by still performing the Asei of giving the Ol'los to the poor, as the Rambam rules in Hilchos Matnos Aniyim, Perek 4). Consequently, it is not subject to Malkos.

A reason for the Mitzvah the author already presented in part in the Mitzvah of Leaving Pe'ah (Mitzvah 216). He also discussed there as to where the Mitzvah applies, and all the other Dinim of the gifts for the poor, and that the details of the Mitzvah are to be found in Maseches Pe'ah It is worth mentioning what Chazal have said, that if the entire vineyard consists of Ol'los, then all the grapes in the vineyard belong to the poor. This is based on the Pasuk " you shall not take the Ol'los from the vineyard", from which they extrapolate 'even if it is all Ol'los! The poor are not permitted to pick the Ol'los until the owner of the vineyard begins to harvest the grapes, as the Torah writes "When you harvest your vineyard, do not take the loose clusters".


Mitzvah 222:
To Leave Peret in the Vineyard

It is a Mitzvah to leave Peret in the vineyard - this is the loose grapes that separate from the cluster and fall to the ground whilst the grapes are being harvested, as the Pasuk writes in Kedoshim (19:10) " for the poor and the convert you shall leave them, after having written " and the Peret of your vineyard you shall not collect". The author will elaborate on the details of the Mitzvah in the La'av of "Lo Selakeit" (See next Mitzvah).

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