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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 26, v. 32: "V'hashimosi ani es ho'oretz" - And I will lay to waste the land - The word "ani" seems superfluous, as it is contained in the suffix pronoun of the verb "v'hashimoSI." When the bnei Yisroel are sent into exile, "V'es'chem ezo'reh vagoyim" (next verse), unfortunately Hashem Himself is also exiled. Translate "es" as WITH. With the destruction of the land, Hashem's Holy Presence in the land is likewise laid to waste. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 26, v. 40: "V'hisvadu es avonom" - And they will confess their sin - The response to their confessing their wrongdoing is in the next verse.

1) Why does Hashem say that He will respond in kind to their sin of attitude of happenstance with the same? After all, they are repenting and confessing that this was their wrongdoing.

2) Why in the previous verse do we have the plural "baavonOSE," the sinS, while here it is in the singular?

3) Why are they including the sins of their fathers in their confession?

4) Even with their inclusion of their fathers' sins, why is it mentioned as part of their inequity, "v'es avone avosom b'maalom asher mo'alu vi"? (This could be understood as the inequity of their fathers and not theirs, as the antecedent of the pronoun suffix of "b'maalOM" could well be their fathers.)

5) Why isn't "v'es avone avosom" sufficient? "B'maalom asher mo'alu vi" seems like double-talk.

6) Why is their "walking with Me in a manner of happenstance" coupled with their sins and the sins of their fathers?

7) Why is exiling them to the land of their enemies (next verse) a proper response?

8) Why is sending them to their enemies' land called "I will also walk with them in a manner of happenstance?

9) The next verse ends with Hashem's saying that after this punishment their insensitive and insubordinate heart will hopefully become submissive, and only then will their sin be appeased. How will exile into their enemies' land remedy this?

10) How is this punishment in kind?

11) How does becoming subordinate automatically bring about atonement, as indicated by the words "oz yikona l'vovom he'o'reil v'oz yirtzu es avonom"?

All the above questions can be answered if we say that the confession is more of a "guilty with an excuse" plea than actual total penitence. They admit wrongdoing, but are placing the blame squarely on Hashem. "You have put us into an environment where we could do nothing else but sin. We were born into families where our fathers themselves transgressed Your laws. We learned to do the same. What can You expect of us?" This is the "keri," happenstance, of the verse. They say that they "happen" to find themselves in an environment that is not conducive to keeping the laws of the Torah. Thus they are saying that all their sins boil down to one sin. They admit that there is technically wrongdoing, but it makes no difference if it is one or many sins, as they developed no sensitivity towards the importance of Torah observance. Thus their inclusion of their fore-bearers' sins within their own is in and of itself a sin, as they are pushing the blame off themselves. Their confession is an attempt at absolving themselves, and nothing more. They say that "avone avosom" is the cause of "b'maalom asher mo'alu vi," of their own sinning.

Hashem's response is one of compassion. He says that He will act likewise, with "happenstance," meaning that He will expose them to "keri" that will awaken them to understanding that in spite of their challenging circumstances they can succeed. Hashem will send them into exile into the land of their enemies, where they will be exposed to the most base and depraved behaviours. These are beyond even the "sinning ben Yisroel's" experience and tolerance. When coming into contact with these people, the bnei Yisroel will likewise hear, "That's the way our parents, our peers, and society in general, do things." This is the "keri" of "eretz oyvei'hem." This will bring about an awakening in the recesses of their souls, as they will feel that this is no excuse for such depraved behaviour, as one could easily separate right from wrong and not follow society's decadent behaviour. Then their stoic hearts will open up and they will truly repent, realizing that they too can break away from their negative environment and better themselves.

In short, beyond their sinning, their excusing themselves by placing the blame on circumstances and on others, puts a damper on, or totally negates their repentance. It is only when one squarely puts the blame on himself, can he be on the path to proper teshuvoh. This is clearly stated in the Rambam hilchos teshuvoh 5:4. He brings verses to this affect from Nviim, but according to the above explanation of these two verses we have a Torah source for this concept. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 26, v. 40,41: "V'hisvadu es avo'nom .. b'maalom asher mo'alu vi v'af asher holchu imi b'keri, Af ani eileich imom b'keri" - And they will confess their sin .. in their inequity that they have misbehaved against Me and also that they have to Me with happenstance, I will also respond in kind and act with happenstance - Since these people are confessing their sin, why does Hashem respond so negatively? It is because the confession is only verbal. Even while they are verbally contrite they are holding onto their sins, "b'maalom asher mo'alu vi," WITH their inequity. They are "toveil v'sheretz b'yodo." (Toldos Yitzchok)

Ch. 26, v. 41: "B'eretz oyveihem o oz yikona l'vovom" - In the land of their enemies hopefully then their heart will become subordinate" - Rambam hilchos teshuvoh 2:4 writes that it is the proper path for a penitent to go into exile. This brings humility into his heart.

Ch. 26, 41: "O oz" - Hopefully then - "O," has the numerical value of 7, alluding to the sin of not sanctifying Shabbos properly. "Oz" has the numerical value of 8, alluding to not circumcising on the 8th day. (Daas Z'keinim, Rosh)

Ch. 26, v. 42: "V'zocharti brisi Yaakov" - And I will remember My covenant with Yaakov - This verse, one of comfort, seems totally out of place in the middle of this lengthy admonishment. However, it is not a consolation. Quite to the contrary, it is a strong indictment. If one is the son of an evil person and likewise behaves improperly, there is a somewhat mollifying claim, that he did not have a good role model from whom to learn. Our verse says that Hashem will also remember that we are descendants of the holy Patriarchs, Yaakov, Yitzchok, and Avrohom, and nevertheless behaved improperly. This is quite an indictment. (Shalo"h Hakodosh)

Ch. 27, v. 3: "Mi'ben esrim" - From the age of twenty years - Why does the Torah give us the redemption values starting with 20 to 60 years, then from 5 to 20 years, from 1 month to 5 years, and finally from 60 years of age and older, totally out of age order? Why between the ages of 20 and 60 does the verse tell us the female's value in a separate verse (verse 4), and by every other age include it in the same verse? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ch. 27, v. 5: "V'im mi'ben cho'meish shonim v'ad ben esrim shonoh" - If he is between five and twenty years old - From the ages of twenty to sixty years (verses 3 and 4), and from one month to five years (verse 6), the ratio of redemption of male to female is 5 to 3. Above the age of 60 (verse 7) the gap closes, with a 3 to 2 ratio, which is explained by the gemara Arochin 19a, "An old man is not very useful, while an old woman brings blessing into the home" (she is helpful around the home). This is expanded upon by the Chizkuni. He says that between the ages of 20 and 60, when men and women have strength, the man is trained to do work that is physically taxing, while the woman learns to do some skilled work that is not so physically demanding. During the "golden years" of declining physical strength, the man is totally not suited for work in which he was trained, while a woman, although somewhat weaker, can continue in a limited manner to do her work.

What needs an explanation is the ratio between male and female between the ages of 5 years and 20 years, where we find a 2 to 1 ratio. Why is a male so highly assessed during these years? The mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos 5:25 says that between the ages of 5 years and 20 years a male enters Torah study on different levels and at age 18 he should enter into marriage. Because of all these momentous spiritual milestones he is assessed at an even higher rate during this period. It is only when he reaches the age of 20, when he is a "ben esrim lirdofe," he must pursue a livelihood, that he is knocked down a notch and is back at the 5 to 3 ratio. (Rabbi Dovid Mordechai Zilber shlit"a)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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