Vol. 14 No. 50
This issue is sponsored by the
Glassman, Schwartz and Chernick Families
Jerusalem - Efrat - Netanya - Johannesberg - Toronto - Harare - Perth
in loving memory of their grandmother
Zahavah bas Chayim Yosef Luria z"l
Hakafos on Succos
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)
To explain the concept of the Hakafos in Shul, as well as the Hakafos round the Mizbei'ach in the Beis Hamidkash, particularly on Hosha'na Rabah, the B'nei Yisaschar cites the Arizal, who connects the Hakafos with the Name of Hashem 'Keil', which, when spelt out in full, comes to the equivalent numerical value as 'Hekef' (going round), which we will explain later. The B'nei Yisaschar elaborates:
The Pasuk in Lech-L'cha (17:19) describes how G-d promised Avraham that he would father a son called Yitzchak and that He would establish an everlasting covenant with him. Following that, He promised him that He would also bless Yishmael, multiply him and turn him into a great nation. Rashi there (in Pasuk 21) cites a Medrash that learns a 'Kal-Va'chomer' (a logical inference) with regard to Yitzchak, from Yishmael. If G-d would bless Yishmael (the son of the maidservant), multiply him and make him great, then how much more so Yitzchak (the son of the main wife)!
The problem with this is why a 'Kal-va'Chomer' is needed when, in the previous Pasuk, Yitzchak has received a direct B'rachah from Hashem?
The Medrash is clearly perturbed by the Pasuk's concluding phrase "and My covenant I will establish with Yitzchak", which follows G-d's promise to bless Yishmael. Having just a Pasuk or two earlier, issued the very same promise once, why did the Torah see fit to repeat it?
The author therefore explains that the initial B'rachah and covenant bestowed upon Yitzchak, which refer specifically to "his offspring after him", are talking about K'lal Yisrael, when they go in Avraham's footsteps, when Yisrael are worthy of such a B'rachah. There will however be times when they are not, when unfortunately, they will be deserving of the suffering spelt out in Bechukosai, with reference to the times when they do not obey His commands. It is with regard to such times that, following the B'rachah of Yishmael, the Pasuk repeats "and My covenant I will establish with Yitzchak". And it is in connection with this scenario that the Medrash, based on the juxtaposition between the promise to Yishmael and the B'rachah to Yisrael, learns the Kal-va'Chomer from Yishmael, whose children are certainly no more worthy than Yitzchak's - yet they are assured of a blessing.
The B'nei Yisaschar then refers to the tradition that connects the thirteen principles of R. Yishmael with the thirteen qualities of Hashem. Each Midah is connected to one of G-d's qualities. That being the case, it is by expounding the first of the Midos (Kal-Va'chomer), that one evokes the Divine quality of "Keil" (a Midah of Mercy), the first of the Midos (according to some commentaries). That explains why, when Moshe Davened to Hashem on behalf of his sister "Keil no, refo no loh" (Bamidbar 12:14), Hashem, in response, describes the reaction of a father to a daughter who had angered him, and from which Moshe would have to learn a 'Kal Va'chomer' (see Rashi). And it was the Kal-Va'chomer that evoked the Midah of Keil, as requested by Moshe, which resulted in Miriam's ultimate healing.
And it also explains why Hashem instructed Hagar to call her son Yishmael, because, as the Pasuk explains, "Hashem had heard her afflictions". But surely, she ought then to have called him 'Shama'el' (in the past) and not 'Yishma'el' (in the future). The answer is that it is on account of Yishmael, whose prayers G-d answered even though he was unworthy, that the prayers of Yisrael would be answered throughout the course of history, even when they are unworthy, as we explained. It is by evoking the Midah of 'Keil', that G-d looks at Yishmael's descendents, and decides that if the sons of the maidservant are blessed, then He will certainly bless the sons of the main wife (each one of whom is 'full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate'). And that Midah of 'Keil' is what stops the accusations that the Satan has in store to level at K'lal Yisrael. And that is the deeper meaning of 'Keil Malei Rachamim' (that we say in the Selichos of Asarah be'Teives [for 'Keil' denotes the Midah of Divine Mercy]).
But 'Keil' spelt out in full also = 'Hekef' (going round). So the connection with the Hakafos is now clear. Throughout Succos, Yisrael bring seventy bulls on behalf of the nations of the world, giving them the opportunity to survive. By simultaneously doing the Hakafos, we evoke the Midah of Keil (= Hekef, which also has connotations of surrounding, of protection - against all the prosecuting angels, that would have us destroyed), by means of the Kal-Va'chomer, as we explained earlier.
'Master of the World', we say to G-d; 'If, due to the Korbanos that we bring on behalf of the seventy nations, You take pity on them and grant them the right to survive, then let our Hakafos evoke the Name of Keil, and have mercy on us too, even if we are not entirely worthy. Grant us an acquittal on this final day of judgement'!
* * *
ALL ABOUT SUCCOS
Succah v Lulav
The Mateh Efrayim (in Si'man 625:22) rules that someone who has a choice of going to a place on Succos where there is a Succah but no Lulav or to one where there is a Lulav but no Succah, he should go to whichever location he pleases.
The Elef ha'Magein however, cites the P'ri Megadim, who gives precedence to the town with the Succah. And he gives three reasons for this choice: 1. because Succah lasts for seven days (min ha'Torah), whereas Lulav lasts for only one (and even mi'de'Rabbanan, for only six); 2. because Succah is more common than Lulav (Todir); 3. because the Yom-Tov is called Succos.
Others point out that whereas one fulfils the Mitzvah of Lulav with only one limb, the Mitzvah of Succah encompasses the entire body.
One might perhaps query the P'ri Megadim's ruling from the fact that the Torah itself seems to give precedence to the Mitzvah of Lulav in Parshas Emor, by mentioning it first (23:40), and that of Succah second (23:42).
The answer to that however, it seems to me, is that the Torah mentions Lulav first only because it has just discussed the Korbanos that are brought in the Beis-Hamikdash on Yom-Tov. And since as its reference to Lulav is confined to the Beis-Hamikdash too (seeing as it refers to taking it for seven days, and outside the Beis-Hamikdash, it is taken only on the first day), it is appropriate to mention Lulav where it does, and then Succah, which is not confined to the Beis-Hamikdash.
Sleeping or Eating
The opening Mishnah in the second Perek of Succah teaches us that if someone sleeps underneath a bed (that is ten Tefachim tall) in a Succah, he has not fulfilled his obligation.
The Tosfos Yom-Tov, referring to the first Perek (Mishnah 6), explains that the Tana prefers to prevent the Din of sleeping rather than that of eating, because eating casually (Ara'i) outside the Succah is permitted, whereas sleeping is not.
An alternative answer might be that in the very Mishnah under discussion, R. Shimon proves that it is forbidden from Tavi, the famous slave of Raban Gamliel, who did sleep under a tall table in the Succah (and slaves are exempt from Succah).
Perhaps the very fact that the Mishnah refers to Tavi, who slept under the table (with no mention of his having eaten there), prompted Rebbi to refer to someone who sleeps … , and not someone who eats.
This explanation however, will only hold water if in fact, Tavi did not eat under the table in the Succah. If he did, then the Tosfos Yom-Tov's question (why the Tana mentions sleeping and not eating) will apply there as well. And we will have to give his answer (that the Tana refers to Tavi's sleeping under the table rather than eating, because sleeping is a stronger obligation).
The Perfect Order
The question arises that, seeing as a Lulav with the top cut off ('niktam rosho') is Pasul because it is not 'Hadar', just like one which is dry ('yaveish'), why does the Mishnah in Lulav ha'gazul interrupt between 'Lulav ha'yaveish' and 'niktam rosho' with 'shel asheirah ve'shel ir ha'nidachas', which has no connection whatsoever, with 'hadar'? In other words, the Mishnah ought to have listed them as 'Lulav (ha'gazul) ve'ha'yoveish, niktam rosho, shel asheirah ve'shel ir ha'nidachas'?
It seems to me that the Tana first listed all the Pesulim that are common to all four species, and only then, the Pesulim that are peculiar to each species individually. That being the case, bearing in mind that the P'sul of 'Niktam rosho' does not apply to an Esrog, he began with the four Pesulim that are common to all the four species, namely those of 'gazul, yaveish, shel asheirah and shel ir ha'nidachas'. And because 'niktam rosho' does not apply to Esrog, he placed it after 'shel asheirah' and 'shel ir ha'nidachas', even though it really belongs before them.
* * *
(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)
When to Shake the Lulav
The reason that one shakes by 'Hodu' (at the beginning and at the end) and by 'Ono Hashem hoshi'o no', but not by 'Ono Hashem hatzlicho no', says the Avudraham, is based on the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim (1 16:33-35) which begins with "then the trees of the forest will jubilate before Hashem, for He will come to judge the earth (Succos is one of the four days of judgement)" continues "Hodu la'Hashem ki tov ... . And say 'v'e'hoshi'enu' ", hinting clearly to the two occasions when we take the trees of the forest and praise Hashem with them in the form of Ninu'in.
A second reason for shaking the Lulav by 'Ono Hashem hoshi'o no' and not by 'Ono Hashem hatzlicho no' is because, as Chazal have said, we shake the Lulav in order to stop the bad winds and the bad dews and to stop the Satan in his tracks. It is therefore appropriate to say "Please Hashem, save us" ; whereas to say "Please Hashem give us success" would be out of place.
The Eishel Avraham points out that, although the Torah is particular that one should not clash with the local custom regarding Halachos, specifically warning us not to make different groups ('Agudos Agudos'), this does not apply to Minhagim.
Consequently, he says, despite the fact that some people shake only by the first and the last 'Hodu', others do so twice each time, and yet a third group also shake by 'Yomar no', it doesn matter if the various Minhagim are all practiced in the same Shul. Nobody will have transgressed 'Lo sisgodedu'.
When shaking the Lulav towards the west, one should not turn round, but continue facing eastwards and shake the Lulav over one's shoulders (Kitzur Sh'lah). The generally-accepted Minhag is to shake east (i.e. towards the Beis-Hamikdash), south, west, north, up and down; according to the Arizal, the order is south, north, east, up, down and west.
An Aveil & the Hakafos
Some say that an Aveil should not participate in the Hakafos. However, says the Chayei Adam, there is no harm if they do. The Taz writes that seeing as the Midas ha'Din is spread over the Aveil, it is not befitting that he should be the Shatz who leads the congregation, implying that he is permitted to go round together with everybody else.
* * *
(Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch,
Si'man 134:9-15, with notes from the Mishnah Berurah)
9. One fulfils one's obligation with a borrowed Succah, but not with one that is stolen. Therefore it is forbidden to build a Succah in a public domain. However, in time of emergency, where there is no other Succah available, one may sit in a Succah that is built in a public street, and even to recite a B'rachah over it (though many Poskim rule that one should omit the B'rachah [see also Biy'ur Halachah 637:3 D.H. 'Lo yekatzetzu']). Note, this Halachah and the following one might be less applicable in Eretz Yisrael.
10. The Yisrael should take care not to cut the S'chach himself, but rather to acquire it from somebody else. In case of emergency however, one may do so, after obtaining permission from the owner of the land.
11. One is permitted to build a Succah on Chol ha'Mo'ed.
12. One may not use the wood of a Succah, either of the walls or of the S'chach, until after Simchas Torah (Shemini Atzeres), seeing as it has been designated for their Mitzvah. Even to take a splinter to pick one's teeth is forbidden, and even if the wood has fallen down. Neither will a stipulation before Succos make any difference, irrespective of what one says.
To use on Simchas Torah, however (in Chutz la'Aretz) a stipulation will be effective.
Leaning against the wall without actually taking any of the wood, is not included in the prohibition (the Misgeres ha'Shulchan adds later that the same applies to using the object without detracting from its Kedushah - such as placing things on it).
Should Simchas Torah fall on Friday (as it does this year), then the prohibition extends to Shabbos, too.
The Succah decorations are included in the prohibition, and are forbidden even if they fall down. Since one may derive no benefit from any of these, they remain Muktzah on Shabbos and Yom-Tov and may not be handled.
One may however smell an Esrog that is hanging in the Succah as a decoration, since when designating an Esrog, one does not have in mind to preclude it from being smelt. According to some Poskim, this concession does not apply to a Hadas.
It is customary not to make any stipulations on decorations that are hanging from the S'chach (because we are not experts on the correct wording of such a condition, though some commentaries query this stringency); One does tend to do so however, on decorations that are hanging on the walls. As for the coloured sheets that one hangs on the walls for decorative purposes, one may to take them down, if necessary, to stop them from getting spoilt in the rain, even without a prior condition, because it stands to reason that this is what one intended to do should the need arise. Nevertheless, it is preferable to make a stipulation before Succos. This entails standing before dusk on Erev Succos, and declaring that one intends to eat or to use the decorations in question whenever one so wishes. One should however, take care not to tie with a knot, any decorations that one might wish to take down on Shabbos or Yom-Tov, only with a bow.
13. Even after Yom-Tov, when one demolishes the Succah, one should avoid stepping on the wood, or using it for something degrading, since it falls under the category of Tashmishei Mitzvah (something that has been used for a Mitzvah), like Tzitzis, which may not be abused. It is not necessary however, to place them in Genizah.
14. It is forbidden to engrave the Pasuk "ba'Succos teishvu shiv'as yomim … " (or any other Pasuk for that matter), on a gourde or whatever, as a Succah decoration, because after Succos, it is bound to come to abuse. Moreover, one may not write a Pasuk unnecessarily.
15. On Erev Succos, from midday on, one may not eat bread (or anything else that removes one's appetite [see Si'man 113:5]) in order to eat in the Succah with an appetite. According to the Mishnah Berurah, the prohibition begins only from the beginning of the tenth hour.
It is a Mitzvah to give a lot of Tzedakah on Erev Succos.
* * *
AND THEIR MEANING
(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 325: To Live in a Succah
We are obligated to live in a Succah for seven days, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:42) "You shall dwell in Succos for seven days … ", beginning from the fifteenth of Tishri.
A reason for the Mitzvah … as the Torah explains, in order to recall the great miracles that Hashem wrought on behalf of our forefathers in the desert, when they left Egypt, when He surrounded them with Clouds of Glory (according to R. Akiva, He made them real huts) to protect them from the rays of the sun by day and the cold by night. And recalling the miracles that G-d performed with us and with our forefathers, will inspire us to observe His Mitzvos meticulously, as a result of which we will be deserving of the good that He has in store for us. And this is His wish, for He wants to do good.
Some Dinim of the Mitzvah … Chazal have said at the beginning of Masechta Succah 'A Succah that is taller than twenty Amos or lower than ten Tefachim, is Pasul, and it is Pasul too, should it measure less than seven Tefachim by seven Tefachim' … A Succah requires three walls and a doorway comprising a post on one side, a post on the other and one on top … it(s roof) must cast more shade than sun; otherwise it is Pasul … If the S'chach is as thick as (the roof of ) a house, the Succah is nevertheless Kasher … The Din of someone who makes his Succah among the trees, which actually form its walls, of a Succah atop a wagon or a boat, or of someone who simply places S'chach on top of a sun-porch which has posts both on the inside and the outside - all of these are Kasher … The S'chach must comprise a material that is not subject to Tum'ah, such as what remains in the granary or in the wine and the oil-press (after the food has been processed), but not something that is … The difference between Pasul S'chach in the middle of the Succah and Pasul S'chach at the side, whereas three Tefachim of air (in a small Succah) invalidates the Succah wherever it is … If one spreads a cloth over the Succah to keep out the sun, or underneath it to catch the falling leaves of the S'chach, the Succah is Pasul, but it is Kasher, if it is intended to decorate the Succah (since whatever is meant to beautify a Mitzvah is generally Kasher) … The Din of one Succah on top of another Succah … If somebody sleeps in the Succah in a covered canopy which has a roof measuring at least a Tefach wide or under a bed that is at least ten Tefachim tall, he is not Yotzei. If on the other hand, he sleeps underneath a bed with walls, to keep out the mosquitoes, he is not Yotzei even if the bed is less than ten Tefachim tall (unlike a regular bed is meant to be used on top of it, not underneath it) … Someone who sleeps in a two-poster bed has fulfilled the Mitzvah, because it has no independent roof … A stolen Succah is Kasher, because land cannot be stolen. And even if one steals wood and makes a Succah with it, the Succah is Kasher, due to the Takanah of Chazal to pay the value of the wood, rather than the wood itself (Takanas ha'Shavin') … Someone who is in pain (i.e. who suffers) is Patur from Succah, since the Torah writes "you shall dwell" (similar to the way one lives at home); how much more so someone who is ill is Patur for this reason. In fact, even those who are looking after a sick person are Patur, too … Anyone who is on a mission in connection with a Mitzvah ('Sheluchei Mitzvah'), as well as a Chasan and his entire entourage, is Patur, as are travelers, people who are guarding orchards and vineyards, and city guards … The Din regarding a Succah in the rain … Succas 'Ganbach' (the hut of a gentile, women, animals & Kutim) & Succas Rakbash (the hut of a shepherd, fruit-dryers, Burganin [little guard-huts, for the protection of travelers] and field-guards) are all Kasher … The wood of the Succah is forbidden (Asur be'Hano'oh) min ha'Torah, all seven days, and on the eighth and the ninth (in Chutz la'Aretz), because of Muktzah, whilst using the Succah decorations is forbidden, according to the Ramban, because of Bizuy Mitzvah (denigrating the Mitzvah) … and the remaining details, are discussed in Maseches Succah (and in Shulchan Aruch, Si'man 625).
This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times to men, but not to women. Someone who contravenes it by failing to eat bread in the Succah or by not sleeping even casually in the Succah (assuming he is not uncomfortable or sick), or Patur for one of the other reasons that we discussed earlier, has negated a Mitzvas Asei. We have already learned that Beis-Din is empowered to use physical force to coerce a person to fulfill a Mitzvas Asei. The first night, every man is obligated to eat at least a k'Zayis of bread in the Succah. On the other days, it is voluntary, provided one does not eat a fixed meal of bread outside the Succah. The early Chasidim tended to eat nothing at all outside the Succah.
* * *
Vol. 14 No. 51
This issue is sponsored
Yitel bas Aba a"h
with love from her family
(incorporating Shemini Atzeres)
What's Written In It?
"And He Shone from Se'ir to them; He appeared to them from Mount Paran" (33:2).
For He first offered it to the B'nei Eisav, and they declined, and then He went and offered it to the B'nei Yishmael, and they declined too (Rashi, citing the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah 2b).
Chazal explain that when Eisav asked what was written in it, G-d replied "Do not murder!", and when Yishmael asked the same question, He replied "Do not commit adultery!"
The question arises, as to why, in each case, G-d picked specifically the Mitzvah that clashes with the personality of the particular nation in question? Why did He not choose a Mitzvah that they could comfortably live with?
The Meshech Chochmah explains with the principle that every Mitzvah that was given to the B'nei No'ach and repeated at Sinai, is ultimately said both to K'lal Yisrael and to the B'nei No'ach; whereas those Mitzvos that were said to the B'nei No'ach and not repeated at Sinai, were said to Yisrael and not to the B'nei No'ach.
That being the case, the Mitzvos of murder and adultery remain part of the seven Mitzvos of the Noahide code only because they were repeated at Har Sinai. Had they not, the B'nei No'ach would have been exempt from observing them.
It stands to reason therefore, that when Eisav and Yishmael asked G-d what is written in the Torah, they wanted to know whether these Mitzvos were said at Har Sinai. They hoped that they were not, in which case they would have been erased from the seven Mitzvos, and they would have had good reason to decline to accept the Torah, so as not to be obligated to observe these 'impossible' Mitzvos.
Hashem however, informed them that they were included in the Mitzvos that would be said on Sinai, in which case, they may just as well accept the Torah, since they stood to gain nothing by declining.
They declined anyway, perhaps because they preferred not to have the prohibition in writing. After all, what is confined to oral tradition can always be (conveniently) forgotten. And indeed, history bears out this theory admirably.
It seems to me however, that the question does not even get off the ground. Imagine if G-d had picked two other Mitzvos, which Eisav and Yishmael found compatible with their lifestyle, and as a result, they would have accepted the Torah (as the question seems to assume they would). What would have happened when, at a later stage, they would have discovered the two Mitzvos "Lo Tirtzach" and "Lo Tin'of"! They would obviously have turned round and rejected the Torah retroactively, in spite of having already accepted it. For this is the way of the nations of the world; they will only accept things on their terms, and they will reject anything that clashes with their own personal interests. Proof of this lies in the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (3a [note the proximity of the two Gemoros]), which relates how, when Mashi'ach comes, the nations of the world will ask Hashem for a Mitzvah, so as to enable them to receive reward like Yisrael. And it describes their reaction when after they have built Succos on their rooftops, Hashem will bring out the sun (like on a boiling hot summer's day), and they will leave their Succos, giving them a kick (in disdain) as they walk out. Not like Yisrael, who leave their Succos on a rainy day, humbled and dejected, in that they are not deemed worthy of serving their Master.
Indeed, the essence of receiving the Torah is subjugating oneself before the will of Hashem. Those who feel that they can pick and choose what they want to observe and what they don't, have no portion in it. That is why, when, in reply to the same question, Yisrael replied unconditionally 'Na'aseh ve'Nishma', it was the only answer that was acceptable. It was the only answer that displayed their subjugation to G-d, which, as we just explained, was the basis of Kabalas ha'Torah, and of which the B'nei Eisav and the B'nei Yishmael were incapable.
And that also explains the Gemara in Shabbos (88a), which tells the story of Rava, who whilst concentrating over a difficult Sugya, somehow inadvertently placed his finger underneath his legs, to the point that blood was oozing out. When a Tzedoki, who was watching him, exclaimed 'Hasty nation, whose mouths preceded their ears' (when they announced 'Na'she ve'Nishma'), to which Rava replied 'About us who go before Hashem with Temimus (innocence), the Pasuk says "The Temimus of the just will guide them"; whereas about people like you, who go with libel, the Pasuk writes "and the crookedness of the treacherous ones will throw them down" '. Yes, it is that innocence, the blind faith in the One who gave us the Torah, which constitutes Kabalas ha'Torah. And that is a Midah which the nations of the world simply do not possess.
* * *
"From His right-hand, a law of fire for them (Eish-Das lomo)" (33:2).
A reform Jew once asked the Toras Yekusiel where the Gemara is hinted in the Torah.
No doubt, he did not anticipate an answer. Much to his disappointment, the Toras Yekusiel cited the words in our Pasuk 'dos lomo', which contain the same letters as 'Talmud'.
Even as He gave Yisrael the written Torah with His right-hand, comments the M'kor Barusch, He gave them the oral Torah simultaneously.
The Lashon ha'Kodesh version of 'a law of fire' is 'Das Eish', and I always wondered why the Torah inverts the two words. The above explanation solves the problem admirably (since "Das" and "lomo"need to be juxtaposed to convey the above hint).
Something to Pray for
"And He was King in Yeshurun (Yisrael), when the heads of the people gathered together, together the tribes of Yisrael" (33:5).
When the (true) leaders of Yisrael stand united, then the people unite too, and all together, they proclaim G-d as their king.
Let us pray that the Gedolei Yisrael find a way to put aside their differences and unite, for the sake of Hashem's Holy Name. That is the assured way, the only way to boot, to lead the masses back to a life of Torah and Mitzvos.
It is the only way that will strip the so-called leaders, the Resha'im who are leading our holy country to the brink of ruin, of their power, and to restore it to its rightful place, under the banner of Malchus Shamayim, where it belongs.
Our Constitution Does Not Change
There are three methods of running a country, says R. Yoshe Ber from Brisk; Some countries are governed by a king or a dictator, others by a government chosen by the people, and yet others, that the people run themselves.
It goes without saying the laws any system upon which the country operates differs from one to the other.
Not so our country. It makes no difference which of the above governs it, the constitution never changes.
That is why the Torah writes "Moshe commanded us Torah … . And He was King in Yeshurun, when the heads of the people gathered together, together the tribes of Yisrael" - depicting all three types of rulership.
A Curse is a Curse
"And this is thanks to Yehudah … " (33:7).
Rashi cites Chazal, who explain this Pasuk with regard to Yehudah, whose bones were still rolling around in his coffin, because of the curse he had accepted upon himself, should he fail to bring Binyamin back to his father. And it was only because of Moshe's Tefilos (contained in this Pasuk) that Yehudah's bones came together, and that he was allowed to ascend to his rightful place in Gan Eden.
The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos refers to a similar incident, cited in Succah, where David announced that whoever knew the Halachah with regard to writing the name of Hashem to save the world from extinction and failed to come forward, would die of strangulation. Achitofel knew and came forward with the information, yet he later died by strangulation (albeit by his own hand).
Some Original Interpretations
on the Parshah
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)
"Rejoice Zevulun when you go out, and Yisachar in your tents" (33:18).
Moshe blessed Zevulun with success when they traveled to Tyre and Sidon to do trade; and Yisachar, whose land was particularly arable, so they would sit in tents to guard their fields.
" … because they will nourished by the bounty of the sea, and by the treasures concealed by the sea" (33:19).
They will obtain an abundance of merchandise from across the sea, and also from the treasures contained in the ships that break-up in their port and which sink in the sea off their coast. The Da'as Zekeinim does however, cite Rashi's explanation to explain why the Pasuk inverts the B'rachos of Yisachar and Zevulun.
"Blessed be the One who widens the borders of Gad" (33:20).
The Torah uses the word 'Marchiv', as it has connotations of spaciousness, which in turn, goes hand in hand with the pasture lands that comprised Gad's territory.
" … and he would cut off the arm together with head" (Ibid.).
This is because, the terrified enemy would raise their arms to protect the ferocious onslaught of the soldiers of Gad. At which they would cut right through the arm and the head as far as the shoulder.
"And they saw and were the first to choose, because there the portion of the law-giver was hidden" (33:21)
Gad only chose the land of Amon and Mo'av, because they knew that Moshe was destined to be buried there, a sure sign that the territory would not be returned to its original owners any time soon. Otherwise, they would never have entered into such a risky proposition.
"Naftali, satiated with favour, and full of the blessing of Hashem" (33:23).
The pleasure that Naftali's derived from the fruit that grew in his land was complete, because it was the first to ripen. For a place where the fruit ripens only late is not conducive to satisfaction, since one works up a strong desire before one benefits from them.
And it is full of the blessing of Hashem, because whoever enters Naftali's territory and sees the fruit ripening and the trees blossoming, cannot help but praise and bless Hashem for His goodness.
"Asher is the most blessed of the sons" (33:24).
Indeed he is, says the Da'as Zekeinim, because of all the oil that he possessed.
Alternatively, he says, the Pasuk should be translated as 'Asher is blessed with sons', for none of the tribes increased in numbers (between the counting in Bamidbar and the counting in Pinchas), as much as Asher (from 41,500 to 53,400).
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"Although it was revealed before Me that the B'nei Eisav and the B'nei Yishmael would not accept the Torah (I nevertheless offered it to them) in order to endear the people of Yisrael like the tens of thousands of holy angels; for even though I bring on them much suffering, they neither rest nor are they idle from Torah-study … " (Targum Yerushalmi, 33:3).
"B'nei Yisrael should say 'Moshe commanded us Torah, he gave it to the community of Ya'akov as an inheritance' " (33:4).
"And this is the blessing of the tribe of Yehudah, who will share his portion and his blessing together with Shimon his brother … " (33:7).
"When the tribe of Levi went out to serve in the Ohel Mo'ed, they separate from their homes, and they say to their fathers and mothers I will no longer see you. They did not know their brothers who were under thirty, nor did they know their children, seeing as they remained for twenty years at their post, by Your command and the establishment of the holy service they guarded" (33:9).
"Bless Hashem, the property of the House of Levi who give Ma'aser from their Ma'aser, and the Korban of the hand of Eliyahu the Kohen that he will bring on Mopunt Carmel may you accept with good will. Break the loins of Achav his enemy; destroy the false prophets who stand against him, and do not give the enemies of Yochanan Kohen Gadol a leg to stand on" (33:11).
"The birthright was coming to Reuven but it was taken away from him and given to Yosef right from the beginning, because he was sensitive to his brother's honour. And he is praised like an ox, because just as it is not possible to work with the firstborn of one's ox, so too, is it not possible for the sons of Yosef to be subjugated among the kingdoms; and just as a re'eim gores the wild animals with its horns, so too, will the sons of Yosef have jurisdiction over the nations as one, in all the corners of the land … ' (33:17).
" … they (the tribe of Gad) saw a good land and they were the first to received their portion, since precious stones and jewels were to be found there, because there Moshe their Scribe was buried. Just as he went out at the head of the people in this world, so too, will he go out at their head in the World to Come; for he did what was meritorious before Hashem and he taught His people Yisrael the laws of the Torah" (33:21).
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AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chincuh)
Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect
the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and are not necessarily Halachah.
Not to Eat a T'reifah
It is forbidden to eat from a T'reifah (an animal that has been torn up by wild animal), as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (22:30) " … and flesh of a torn animal in the field you shall not eat". The Pasuk appears to referring to an animal that has been mauled in the open by a wolf or a lion, in a manner that is bound to die of its wounds. It is most unlikely that it is called a T'reifah simply because the wild beast nicked its ear or pulled out a tuft of wool from its body, but that it left the animal in a state of near death as a result of the attack, and that is borne out by the traditional interpretation of the Pasuk that, following the mauling, the animal will die in an hour or within a short space of time. In fact, the Gemara in Chulin (57b) gives the maximum time-span of the animal's survival as one year. It is also obvious that the Torah does not confine this Din to an animal that became a T'reifah through an attack by a wolf, a lion or a bear, but that it includes any wound (from any source) that that will cause the animal to die within the above-mentioned time span; and that incorporates any of the wounds which the Chachamim listed that cause death. That is why the Mishnah in Chulin (3:1) states the principle that 'whenever an animal in a similar state cannot live, it is a T'reifah'. Neither is the word "in the field" restrictive, and the Pasuk only mentions it because it is the way of the Torah to present the most common case, and animals generally become T'reifah by being mauled in the open. And besides, the Torah needs to mention 'the field', due to other things that we learn from it. For the words of the Torah can be explained in many ways; they are dressed on the outside with royal garments of pure linen, silk and tapestries, with gold and an abundance of jewels on the inside. And the outer dressing of the above Pasuk (that which is revealed and visible at the outset) deals exclusively with an animal that has been mauled, as we explained, incorporating flesh from a live animal, which is included in the term "T'reifah".
Whilst the deeper explanation refers to any animal that leaves its confines, which adopts the Din of a T'reifah and becomes forbidden. This incorporates the flesh of Kodshei Kodshim that leaves the Azarah (Courtyard) of the Beis-Hamikdash or the flesh of Kodshim Kalim (lighter Kodshim, such as Shelamim) that have been taken outside the walls of Yerushalayim. Included in this latter category is the flesh of a Korban Pesach that left the group of participants (after it has been Shechted), and an unborn fetus that stuck a limb outside its mother's womb. At this level, what the Pasuk is saying is that flesh in the field (i.e. that left its confines, just like a field has no walls), is a T'reifah. All of the cases that we mentioned, left their confines, and have the Din of T'reifah. Anybody who eats them, receives Malkos. (cont.)
The Mitzvah of Chalitzah
(Releasing a Yevamah)
It is a Mitzvah for the Yevamah to remove the shoe from off the Yavam's foot, should he not wish to perform Yibum with her, as the Torah writes in Ki-Seitzei (25:9) "And she shall remove his foot from on his foot".
A reason for the Mitzvah is … because in reality, this woman was fit to serve this man instead of his brother, for the reason that we gave earlier (in the Mitzvah of Yibum). And he has refused to do it; therefore the Torah commanded that she should do to him this act of removing his shoe, an act that one would employ in acquiring a slave in public, in front of Beis-Din, to demonstrate to one and all that he had acquired her completely, and that he ought to have performed Yibum with her, as we explained in the previous Mitzvah; and that, because he does not want to fulfill his obligation, to establish his brother's name, she is leaving his jurisdiction. She then spits before him, to inform everybody that she is totally free from him, and that she is no longer subservient to him with regard to giving him any Kavod whatsoever. As far as she is concerned, he is just another man, before whom she does not care to spit, and she is now permitted to marry whoever she pleases.
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