Vol. 6 No. 40
(Based on R. Bachye's introduction to the parshah)
"Someone who favours a poor man lends Hashem, and He repays him for his kind deed" (Mishlei19:17).
Shlomoh ha'Melech is clarifying for us in this posuk the quality of tzedokoh and the extent of its reward both in this world and in the next. It is well-known that, when a rich man is in trouble, he turns to his wealth or to his numerous friends, whereas the poor man turns to Hashem - not to his wealth, because he is poor, and not to his circle of friends, for he has none. To be sure, even if he had, they would soon forsake him, and even hate him, on account of his poverty, for so the posuk in Mishlei writes "All my brothers hate the poor man, and all his friends have distanced themselves from him" (19:7). It also writes there (ibid. 4) "And a poor man is separated from his friend", to teach us that even if he possesses only one solitary friend, that friend will forsake him (when he becomes poor).
That is why Shlomoh teaches us that, since everybody hates the poor man, Hashem loves him, and someone who favours him lends Hashem (he becomes Hashem's creditor). For what is it that brings him to favour the poor man, if not the fact that Hashem loves him? Because Hashem loves him, he loves him too. And we know that Hashem loves the poor because He refers to them as His people, as it is written in Yeshayah (14:32) "And in it (Tzi'yon) the poor of His people will take shelter (from before Sancheriv)."
And seeing as he has loaned Hashem, Hashem becomes obliged to repay that loan. In other words, He will reward him in this world, because this is what the Torah writes in the parshah of tzedokoh "in order that Hashem your G-d will bless you" - and the definition of 'blessing' is a bonus, a bonus of goodness, a bonus of success - in this world.
And so Chazal have explained in Bovo Basro (10a): "Someone who favours a poor man lends Hashem" . If the posuk had not specifically written this, says the Gemoro, we would not dare say such a thing - kevayochol, because 'the debtor is a slave to the creditor'.
"And He repays him for his kind deed" - this refers to a promise of reward in the World to Come, because, apart from repaying the loan in this world, Hashem will also give his remuneration in the World to Come, since it is not the way of the Book of Mishlei to mention any mitzvah written in the Torah without adding something or giving a new insight to what the Torah has already said, as I (Rabeinu Bachye) have explained many times.
And the reason that Shlomoh writes "favours a poor man" rather than "has mercy on a poor man", is because the word "favours" ("chonen" from 'chaninah') which has the connotation of 'a free gift', is the word that the Torah uses in Mishpotim (22:26) "and it will be when he cries out to me, that I will listen, because I am gracious (ki chanun oni)" - even if he is not worthy.
Indeed, man is obliged to pursue the characteristic of 'chaninoh' (of giving freely) precisely because it is the characteristic of Hashem, who showers His creations with blessings and gives them of His goodness free of charge. For did He not tell Moshe at Sinai, that He leads the entire world with the midoh of 'chaninoh', as it is written (Ki Siso 33:19) "And I will favour those whom I will favour". And the Torah writes in Ki Sovo (28:9) "And you shall go in His ways" (emulate the example that He sets) - 'just as He gives free gifts, so too should you give free gifts' (Sotoh 14a).
Similarly, the tefilah of whoever prays to Hashem is answered, provided he prays in the form of 'techinah' (like someone who asks for a free gift, not because he believes he deserves what he is asking for). That is the essence of tefilah, and that is the way that Moshe prayed to Hashem, as the Torah writes "Vo'eschanan el Hashem".
Note: The translations favour, free gift, gracious and supplicate are all derivatives of the same root word 'chaninoh'.
The Five-Point Plan
Rabbi Elozor said that when Yisrael were redeemed from Egypt, they were redeemed for five reasons: through oppression, as the Torah writes "And B'nei Yisroel sighed"; through teshuvah, as the Torah writes "And their cries went up to G-d"; through mercy, as the Torah writes "And Hashem saw the B'nei Yisroel"; through the merits of the Ovos, as the Torah writes "And He remembered His covenant with Avrohom, Yitzchok and Ya'akov"; and through the fact that the end had arrived, as the Torah writes "And G-d knew".
Those same factors will combine to free us from this golus, as the Torah writes (in this week's parshah) "When you are in trouble" (oppression); "And you will return to Hashem your G-d" (teshuvah); "because He is a merciful G-d" (mercy); "He will not forget the merits of the fathers" (the merits of the Ovos); "at the end of days" (because the end has arrived) - Medrash Raba.
If we did a proper teshuvah, then we would not require any of the other reasons, says the Chofetz Chayim. In any event, he says, it is well worthwhile to do teshuvah to our utmost ability, so that our teshuvah will combine with the other four reasons to bring the coming of Moshi'ach as quickly as possible.
Additions, Subtractions and Idols
"Do not add to the words that I command you today ... Your eyes beheld what Hashem did by Ba'al Pe'or, for every man who went after Ba'al Pe'or, Hashem ... destroyed from your midst" (4:2-3).
The Gro explains the seemingly strange connection between those who were killed in the episode of Ba'al Pe'or and the prohibition of adding to the mitzvos.
Presumably, he says, among those who worshipped Ba'al Pe'or, there were those who thought that, by defacating before the idol, they would demonstrate their disgust of idols in general and this idol in particular, thereby performing a mitzvah.
To show one's loathing of an avodah-zoroh is a mitzvah, but, points out the Gro, in this case it was not. In this case, defacating was normal way of serving Ba'al Pa'or due to the fact that this was the way to worship Ba'al Pe'or, and the Torah considers it a mitzvah to denigrate an idol only if one does so in a way that one does not usually worship it. Consequently, the noble intention of those people back-fired. They were guilty of worshipping idols and were killed together with those whose intentions were not so pure.
That is why the Torah stresses "for every man who went after Ba'al Pe'or, Hashem ... destroyed" - even those who thought they were performing a mitzvah. And that is why the Torah connects the episode of Ba'al Pe'or to the prohibition of adding to the mitzvos - to teach us that adding to the mitzvos, no matter what, is just as bad as subtracting from them, because 'whoever adds, subtracts'.
To Love G-d
"And you shall love Hashem ... " (6:5).
It is actually a mitzvas asei, points out the Chofetz Chayim, to love Hashem 'with all one's heart, with all ine's soul and with all that one owns. It is not sufficient to read the posuk each day, he says, and he proceeds to compare it to a large factory, the owner of which once hired a foreman to oversee the numerous employees who worked there.
In order to clarify the employee's responsibilities, the new foreman recorded his instructions. Each day, he would gather the workers around him and read out the boss's instructions - down to the last letter. But unfortunately, not one of the employees did anything about putting the instructions into practice. Needless to say, when the boss come and discovered that the reading was nothing more than an empty ritual, he was angry both with the foreman and with the men.
In the same way, we have to remember that reciting the Shema in general, and the mitzvah of loving G-d in particular, although in itself a mitzvah, were never meant to remain just a formal reading session. Indeed, this is evident from the mitzvah of tefilin , contained in the very same Parshah, and which nobody would dream of reciting without putting into practice.
THE CAMPINGS AND JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT
(Covering events from the sending of the spies
until they enter Eretz Yisroel in the 41st year)
Year 2488 - (1270 BCE)
Nisan 10 - Kodesh
Miriam dies, the well stops functioning. Moshe strikes the rock - He asks permission from the King of Edom to pass through his land. The King of Edom responds by marching against them with a large army. Yisroel move away.
Av 1 - Hor Ho'hor - Moseiros B'nei Ya'akon - Hor Ho'hor
Aharon dies on Hor Ho'hor, the Clouds of Glory depart (both the well and the Clouds ultimately return on the merits of Moshe) - Elozor, Aharon's son, succeeds his father as Kohen Godol - The Cana'ani King of Arod (Amolek in disguise) attacks Yisroel. Yisroel are afraid and begin retreating towards Egypt. The tribe of Levi fight with them and force them to return to Hor Ho'hor. They defeat Amolek and keep their promise to ban their cities.
The decree of dying in the desert ends. Yisroel, under orders not to molest Amon, circumvent them.
Ellul 1 - ... Tzalmonoh ... Punon ...
Yisroel leave Hor Ho'hor and travel by way of the Yam-Suf. They grumble about the journey. The copper snake.
They encamp in Ovos ...
Iyei ho'Avorim ... Almon Divlosoimoh ... Horei ho'Avorim (in front of Nevo)
The miracles of Arnon (i.e., the death of the Cana'anim hiding in the caves waiting for Yisroel to pass in the ravine below, when the two mountains come together and squash them). The Song of the well.
The Land of the Emori
Mo'ov refuses Yisroel permission to pass through their land. They circumvent them. Sichon declines to accept their peace terms. He attacks Yisroel. They defeat him and capture all his territory.
Year 2489 - (1269 BCE)
Tishri (after Succos)
Og gathers an army and attacks Yisroel. He tries to hurl a huge rock at Yisroel, but Hashem intervenes. Moshe kills him. (Sichon and Og were brothers - sons of the angel Shamchazo'i.)
The Plains of Mo'ov
Yisroel capture Ya'azer, a strong fortified city on the West Bank of the Yarden.
They encamp in the Plains of Mo'ov on the far side of the River Yarden, opposite Yericho.
Bolok and Bil'om - Yisroel commit adultery with the daughters of Mo'ov - Zimri and Pinchos. A plague kills 24,000. Yisroel are counted - The daughters of Tzlofchod -The parshah of inheritance - The Korban Tomid and Musaf - The Parshah of Nedorim - The revenge against Midyon - The B'nei Gad and Reuven - A stern warning to destroy all forms of idolatry - The borders of Eretz Yisroel - The appointment of new tribal leaders - The cities of refuge - The daughters of Tzlofchod marry their cousins.
Moshe begins Seifer Devorim.
Moshe Rabeinu dies - The Mon stops falling (but the last fall lasts until the 16th Nisan - 40 days).
Nisan 6 - (41st year)
Yisroel prepare to cross the Yarden.
Yehoshua sends spies (Koleiv and Pinchos). Rochov ha'zonah.
The spies return.
The Yarden splits. Yisroel cross into Eretz Yisroel.
The Mon terminates. They eat from the produce of Eretz Yisroel for the first time.
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