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

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Vol. 13   No. 17

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy zecher Nishmas
Yonah ben Elchonon Moshe z"l.
May he be a meilitz yosher
for his family and for all of Klal Yisroel z.l.

Parshas Yisro

Is 'Tov' Written in the Second Luchos or Isn't It?
(Adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro)

"Honour your father and your mother, in order that you will live a long time on the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you" (20:12).

The Gemara in Bava Kama (54b) cites R. Chanina ben Agil, who asked R. Chiya bar Aba why the word 'Tov' appears in the second set of Aseres ha'Dibros (in Va'eschanan), but not here in the first?

To which the latter replied that the former ought to have asked him, not why they are written in the second Luchos, but whether they are, as he went on to explain 'I do not know whether they are written there or not'.


Strange, comments the G'ro! Surely R. Chiya bar Aba knew the Pasuk (in the later era of the Ge'onim, a 'Ga'on' had to know all sixty Masechtos of Shas by heart in order to earn that title!). Moreover, if the Gemara is to be understood literally, one would have expected the response to be 'Zil K'ri bei Rav Hu' (But every child knows that Pasuk!), as it does in other places?

The G'ro therefore explains the dialogue like this:

To begin with, the initial question cannot have been why the Torah changes its wording from the first Luchos to the second ones, since if it was, then R. Chanina ben Agil could just as well have queried "Shamor" instead of "Zachor", "Sheker" instead of "Shav", and the many other discrepancies that occur between the two sets of Luchos? What he must therefore have been querying was the implications of the change (rather than the change itself). Chazal (in Kidushin 39b) explain that "Lema'an Yitav loch" (in the second Luchos) refers to good in this world, and "Lema'an ya'arichun yomecha" (in the second) to reward in Olom ha'Bo (the world which is 'all long'). In other words, he was asking if, as the Torah indicates in the second Luchos, there is reward in this world, then why is it omitted from the first ones?

To which R. Chiya bar Aba replied that it is not a matter of why the Torah omits reward in this world from the first Luchos, but whether it inserts it in the second ones. R. Chiya bar Aba, you see, follows the opinion of R. Ya'akov, who maintains that there is no reward for Mitzvos in this world (as he proves from the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Kan, where the Torah also uses the expression "Lema'an yitav loch", yet we know of cases of children falling from a ladder and dying whilst fulfilling both the Mitzvah of Kibud Av and that of Shilu'ach ha'Kan [where the Torah also uses the same expression] simultaneously). That being so, the addition of "Lema'an Yitav loch" in the second Luchos and its omission in the first ones must be a matter of terminology, and not one of content, as R. Chanina ben Agil thought.

And when R. Chiya bar Aba subsequently advised R. Chanina ben Agil to go and ask R. Tanchum bar Chanila'i, who had spent a lot of time with R. Yehoshua ben Levi (who was a known expert in the field of Agadah), he figured that it may just be that the latter interpreted the Pasuk like he (R. Chanina) did. Perhaps he held like the Chachamim of R. Ya'akov (in whose opinion there is reward for Mitzvos in this world), and he would then answer the original question to R. Chanina's satisfaction.

R. Tanchum bar Chanila'i it transpired, had not heard it from R. Yehoshua ben Levi, but he had heard from others, that "Lema'an Yitav lach" refers to reward in this world, and that the Pasuk omitted it from the first Luchos, because to have inserted it would have signified, Chas ve'Shalom, that just as the first Luchos were broken and not given to K'lal Yisrael, so too, would good in this world be broken and would not be given to K'lal Yisrael.


By the same token, asks the G'ro, the insertion of 'Arichas Yamim' in the first Luchos, should also signify that long life in the World to Come will be broken and will not be given to K'lal Yisrael.

It appears, he answers, that when the first Luchos were broken, the writing returned to the Heavens, from where it came. Consequently, since 'Arichas Yamim', which as we explained, refers to the World to Come, returned to the Heaven, there is nothing to worry about, as that is its natural location, and that is where we will find it when the time arrives. It is only 'Tov', which returned to the heaven too, that would have turned out to be a total loss had it been inserted in the first Luchos, since the reward that "Tov" signifies, belongs here on earth and not in the Heaven.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Not Bad for a 4-year Old

"And Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law" (18:7).

Rashi refers to the great honour that was afforded to Yisro at that moment. When Moshe went out to meet Yisro, he explains, Aharon and his sons accompanied him, and who, seeing these Tzadikim going out to met Yisro, would not follow them. In other words, Yisro had the unique distinction of seeing the entire Camp of Yisrael coming out to greet him!

A young Talmid in Cheder once asked from where Rashi knew that Aharon and his sons accompanied Moshe on that occasion? The vilna Gaon, who was in the same class as the questioner and who was all of four at the time, raised his hand and gave the following answer.

Rashi learns this he explained, from the fact that the Torah writes "va'Yeitzei Moshe" ('And Moshe went out') and not simply "va'Yeilech Moshe" ('And Moshe went'). In Parshas Vayeitzei, Rashi, commenting on the same words "va'Yeitzei Ya'akov mi'Be'er Sheva ", explains that this term implies that a Tzadik's departure from a place leaves an impression on that place. In other words, the people who remain are deeply affected by the resulting vacuum, and when he leaves, 'the splendour of the place, its beauty and its glory have departed'.

Here, the young genius observed, had Aharon, whom Torah puts on a par with Moshe, not accompanied Moshe, how could the Torah have written "va'Yeitzei Moshe", implying that his departure left a vacuum in the Camp of Yisrael? Therefore, Rashi concludes, it must be that Aharon and his sons accompanied Moshe, in which case it was perfectly true to say that the splendour of the Camp of Yisrael, its beauty and its glory had departed.

The G'ro did not explain how Rashi knew that Aharon's sons also accompanied Moshe. Perhaps we can explain this by referring to Rashi in Shemini (10:3), who informs us that Nadav and Avihu, Aharon's two oldest sons, were even greater than Moshe and Aharon. In that case, had they remained in the Camp, the term "va'Yeitzei" would still not have been applicable (P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro').


A Tzadik's View of 'Lifnim mi'Shuras ha'Din'

"And you shall warn them of the Chukim and the Mishpatim, and instruct them ... and the deeds that they do" (18:20).

"Es ha'derech", Chazal explain, refers to Gemilus Chasadim, "ve'es ha'Ma'aseh", to one's obligations, and "which they shall do", to going beyond the letter of the law.

We recite regularly, the Pasuk "Tzadik Hashem be'chol d'rochov, ve'Chasid be'chol Ma'asav". The combination of these two Pesukim teaches us, the Chochmas Chayim comments, that a person's true character can be judged by the extent to which he exerts himself in the performing of Mitzvos.

In this connection, here is another story related there pertaining to R. Yosef Chayim Sonenfeld (see last year's edition of 'Midei Shabbos ...'):

In spite of R. Yosef Chayim's adamant refusal to allow anybody to trouble themselves on his behalf, even if it was just to carry a stick from one place to another, nothing was too much (and nothing too degrading) when it came to himself making life that little bit easier for others.

The Rav was a major conduit for Tzadakah funds arriving from Chutz la'Aretz to Eretz Yisrael. And so, money often arrived at his house on behalf of the poor of Yerushalayim.

It happened once that a sum of money arrived from Chutz la'Aretz for a certain Talmid-Chacham who was in need of it. No sooner had R. Yosef Chayim received the money than he went personally to the recipient's house in order to hand him the money. Unfortunately, the man was not at home, so the Rav returned home with the money.

When the Talmid-Chacham heard who was looking for him, he hurried to R. Yosef Chayim's house to enquire what it was that he wanted. Imagine his surprise when he discovered the object of R. Yosef Chayim's visit! Thoroughly embarrassed, he asked the Rav why he had to deliver the money personally? Why could he not simply have sent a Sheli'ach or at least, handed the money to a member of his family, who apparently, was in the house when he called?

'But how could I?' replied R. Yosef in typical innocence. The sender explicitly wrote 'Please hand over the money to 'P'loni'. Had I sent it through a Sheli'ach or handed it to anyone else, I would have been guilty of reneging on the Shelichus'.


The Deep Meaning of Notrikun (Acronym)

"Onochi Hashem Elokecho" (20:2).

The Gemara in Shabbos (105a) cites R. Yochanan, who learns the principle of acronym from the word "Onochi", which is the acronym of 'Ano Nafshi Kesivis Yehovis' ('I Myself wrote it and gave it'); whereas the Rabbanan learn it from 'Amirah Ne'imah Kesivah Yehivah' ('A beautiful word, He wrote it and gave it').

The G'ro explains it like this:

R. Yochanan's Notrikun refers to the various stages of the giving of the Torah's development. 'Ano' refers to the stage before it was even created, when G-d alone existed, 'Nafshi' (which has connotations of 'will') to the two thousand years prior to the creation, when the Torah was already created (even though there was as yet nobody to whom to give it) because that was the will of G-d; 'Kesivis' refers to the time of the creation, when the Torah was written, and 'Yehovis', to Matan Torah, when G-d gave the Torah to His people Yisrael.

Whilst the Rabbanan explain it in reverse: 'Yehivah', with reference to Torah she'be'al Peh (the oral Torah), 'Kesivah', to Torah she'bi'K'sav (the written Torah); 'Ne'imah' refers to Remez (Agadah, which those who study it find particularly attractive) and 'Amirah', to Sod (the esoterical interpretation of Torah, about which the Pasuk in Mishlei writes "In the city, say over its words" ['bo'Ir Amorehoh tomar']). Seeing as the oral Torah is equivalent to 'D'rush' and Torah she'bi'K'sav, to 'P'shat', the four words, it emerges, are synonymous with the four components of Torah, better known as 'Pardes'.

(P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro).


Afraid of Being Afraid

"And the people said to Moshe 'You speak with us ... but don't let G-d speak with us, lest we die" (20:16).

The Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (3a) teaches us that G-d held the mountain over the people's heads and warned them that if they declined to receive the Torah, they would be buried there on the spot.

The Malbim therefore explains that Yisrael were willing to accept the Torah, only they wanted to accept it minus the threats. Therefore they pleaded with Moshe 'You speak with us (without the threats) and don't let G-d (with His threats) speak with us, lest we die".

To which Moshe replied "Do not be afraid; G-d has no intention of killing you. What He wants is that 'the fear of G-d be on your faces' ", and the fear of G-d is an indispensable part of Matan Torah (Malbim).


From the Haftarah

Relatively Speaking

"And he said 'Woe is me, for I am doomed (Oy li ki nidmeisi) because I am a man of impure lips and I dwell among a people whose lips are impure, for my eyes have beheld the King, the Lord of Hosts" (Yeshayah 6:5).

The word "nidmeisi", in the opening phrase, can also mean 'I imagined', in which case the Pasuk means "Woe to me for I imagined". What the Navi was then saying, the Kochav mi'Ya'akov explains, was that if up until that time, Yeshayah had thought that he was elevated above other people (up to that time, the people with whom he had contact were ordinary, above whom he stood head and shoulders). Wasn't that after all, why he had been delegated to be a Navi.?

But now that he had seen Hashem, so to speak, all that changed. After his vision in which he saw G-d Kevayachol, sitting on a throne, his entire outlook changed. In light of the spiritual world and the lofty sanctity that he had just witnessed, he now viewed his own importance as a mere illusion. In stark contrast to the world that he had just seen, he was a man of impure lips and the people among whom he lived were likewise, men of impure lips.

This can be compared to a villager, who considered himself an outstanding Talmid-Chacham, because he knew when Rosh-Chodesh fell, and was generally conversant with the Jewish calendar, whereas nobody else in his village did ... until that is, he visited the town. Then all that changed. There for the first time, he saw genuine Talmidei-Chachamim. That was when for the first time, he got to realize what an ignoramus he really was.

* * *

(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 56:
To Judge the Laws of Damage by Fire

To judge and to obligate to pay, someone who causes his fellow-Jew damage by means of fire (for example, if he set fire to his haystack or to other property belonging to him, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (22:5) "When a fire spreads and catches on to thorns ... ". The Pasuk implies that the fire spread by itself (due to the owner's negligence), and therefore comes to obligate even somebody who kindles a fire in his own property and the fire spreads on its own into his neighbour's field and burns his haystack, making him liable for not keeping his fire under control, since it is natural for a fire to spread by itself, even though it does not possess a spark of life.

The reason for this Mitzvah, which the author already discussed in Mitzvah 49 (to Judge the Laws of Fines), is obvious. The Dinim of the Mitzvah ... The distance that one is obligated to remove one's fire from the border between his field and that of his neighbour, depends upon the height of the flames ... Someone who appoints a 'Chashu' (Cheresh, Shoteh ve'Katan) or a normal person, to guard his fire ... Who is liable in a case where one person brings the fire, a second, the wood, and a third fans the flames, or where a person fans the flames but so does the wind ... Whether the person who lit the fire is liable to pay for vessels that were buried in the burned haystack, or for the contents of the burned house ... What will be the Din with regard to someone who leads a camel laden with flax past a shop outside of which a lamp is burning, and the flax catches fire and sets the shop ablaze ... What if the same thing happened on Chanukah, and the lamp happened to be a Menorah ... together with the remaining details, are to be found in the second and sixth chapters of Bava Kama (and in the Rambam, Hilchos Nizkei Mamon Perek 14).

This Mitzvah applies to men (upon whom there lies the onus of judging). A Beis-Din which transgresses and which fails to judge someone who damaged by fire, and obligate him to pay as we explained, has contravened a Mitzvas Asei.


Mitzvah 57:
To Judge the Law of a Shomer Chinam

It is a Mitzvah incumbent upon Beis-Din to judge the Din of a Shomer Chinam (someone who Guards for free), as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (22:6) "If a man gives his friend money or vessels to look after ... ". The Gemara in Bava Metzi'a establishes this Parshah by a Shomer Chinam (who does not receive any remuneration for his services), which is why the Pasuk absolves him from liability in the event that the article is stolen.

The reason for the Mitzvah is obvious .

The Dinim of the Mitzvah ... such as a Shomer who claims that the article was stolen, and even swears to that effect, but witnesses then testify that they saw it still in his possession How much does he have to pay if he repeats his claim and swears a second time, and once again, witnesses testify that he still has the article ... What if he claimed, not that the article was stolen, but that it was lost ... And what happens if he initially claims that he did not receive the article in the first place, or if he claims twice that the article was stolen, but swears only once, after the second claim ... or if he claims and swears to the effect, that the article belonging to a Katan was stolen ... and the remaining details, are to be found in the ninth Perek of Bava Kama, the third Perek of Bava Metzi'a and the eighth Perek of Shevu'os.

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to men but not to women. Beis-Din who transgress have contravened a Mitzvas Asei.

* * *


Over the past two issues, we discussed how G-d 'tricked' Paroh by ordering the people to borrow the Egyptians' precious vessels, and by not specifically rescinding the initial request of going out for only three days. In this way, He created the illusion that the vessels would be returned, and so would the people, even though He knew that neither would, as we explained there. And we also explained why He saw fit to do this.


There was however, an added advantage in G-d's strategy (which, as we explained there, had the effect of confusing Par'oh). We know that if for Yisrael, the Exodus was the termination of their troubles, it was certainly not so as far as the Egyptians were concerned. In fact, G-d had 'great things' in mind for them, K'riy'as Yam-Suf, where the cream of Egyptian society was destined to suffer a crushing defeat. The question was how to get them there? Among the many methods that G-d employed to lure them down to the Yam-Suf was to make Paroh believe that a. the vessels were borrowed and needed to be returned, and b. that they were only going out into the Desert for three days, and by then leaving for good. This may seem to be a very minor aspect of that particular episode, but it, together with the confusion that reigned in the Egyptian camp, played a significant role in the play out of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, since destroying the Egyptians at the Yam-Suf was so to speak, G-d's ultimate revenge for drowning the Jewish babies in the River.

* * *

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