SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'CHUKOSAI 5765 BS"D
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
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
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.
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
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)
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