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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 25, v. 14,17: "Al tonu ish es ochiv, V'lo sonu ish es amiso" - Do not defraud one another, And you shall not distress your friend - Ibn Ezra says that the earlier prohibition targets the seller of an item, while the latter warns the purchaser. Rashi (gemara B.M. 58b) says that the earlier verse refers to financial matters, while the latter to verbal barbs. The gemara goes on to say that the latter is a more severe sin, as indicated by the words "v'yo'reiso meiElokecho" by verbal abuse, by virtue of verbal abuse being an attack on one's emotions, not his finances, and finally, that money can be returned, while emotional pain cannot be amended.

The Maharsh"a explains that "v'yo'reiso meiElokecho" indicates that emotional abuse can be covert, as the intentions one has with his words is often open to interpretation. Monetary fraud is overt once discovered. This is therefore akin to the difference between stealthy theft and overt robbery. The gemara B.K. 79a says that covert theft is worse than overt theft, as demonstrated by covert theft being punishable with double repayment, because when one covertly steals, he shows that he has greater fear of man, fear of being caught, than of Hashem, Who knows what he is doing. When overtly stealing, at least the thief places his fear of Hashem on an equal footing with that of man.

If one transgresses the sin of verbal abuse he does not receive lashes, as it is considered a sin that does not involve action (Rambam in pirush hamishnayos on Makos chapter #3). The Sefer Hachinuch mitzvoh #338 writes the same, but adds, "There are many lashes without a calf-hide strap in the hand of the Master Who has commanded this prohibition."

Ch. 25, v. 17: "V'lo sonu ish es amiso" - And you shall not distress your friend - Note 2 differences between our verse and verse 14. There the verse says "al tonu," while here it says "v'lo sonu," and there it says "ochiv," while here it says "amiso." Perhaps we can say, based on the words of the Meshech Chochmoh, that AL means "PLEASE don't," and LO means DON'T, that there is no pressing issue that forces a person to speak abusively to his friend. All that is required is control of the tongue, and the same message, even one of complaint and rebuke, can be gotten across in a kinder gentler manner. The prohibition therefore comes in an unequivocal DON'T. When it comes to money matters, when a person sees an opportunity to deceive his friend, and perceives monetary gain, his evil inclination pushes him quite strongly in that direction, to seemingly gain financially. There Hashem's command to not do so takes the above into consideration, and the command is expressed as PLEASE don't. (Nirreh li) The gemara B.M. 59a explains the word "amiso" as a composite of "am" and "ito" (see Rashi), a member of the nation who is with him (in behaviour), who fulfills Torah and mitzvos properly. This excludes a blatant sinner. He may be sharply reproved, if this does not contravene the rule of "v'lo siso olov cheit" (Vayikra 19:17). However, when it comes to money matters, even if the person you are dealing with is an incorrigible sinner, you may not deceive him, hence the Torah does not say "amiso." (Maharsh"a)

Ch. 25, v. 18: "Vaasi'sem es chukosai" - And you shall do My statutes - As just mentioned above, the prohibition against verbal abuse is limited to a person who is "amiso," "am she'ito" (gemara B.M. 59a). This is why these words of our verse follow. He who fulfills Hashem's laws is protected by this prohibition. (Imrei Shefer)

Ch. 25, v. 18: "Vishavtem al ho'oretz lo'vetach" - And you will reside on the land securely - The gemara Sanhedrin 17b says that a Torah scholar should not reside in a community that does not have all ten of the following resources:

1) A source of water for bathing
2) A teacher for children
3) Toilet facilities
4) A blood-letter
5) A doctor
6) Charity
7) A scribe
8) A prayer house
9) A butcher
10) A court that can administer punishment

All ten of these requirements are alluded to in the words "al ho'oretz lo'vetach." "Vishevtem," and you may reside there provided you have, Ayin = "ayon," a wellspring, Lamed = "limud," Hei = "heichal," toilet facilities, Alef = "uman," Reish = "rofei," Tzadi = "tzedokoh," Lamed = "lavlar," Beis = "beis haknesses," Tes = "taboch," Ches = "chachomim," a court of wise people that can carry out the law and administer punishments. (Note that the Rambam hilchos dei'os 4:23 states this as an halacha.) (Va'yomer Avrohom)

Ch. 25, v. 18,19: "Vishavtem al ho'oretz lo'vetach, Vishavtem lo'vetach o'lehoh" - And you will reside on the land securely, And you will reside with security upon it - Why the repetition?

1) You will not be exiled. You will not worry about famine. (Rashi)

2) You will not be exiled. You will not have to leave Eretz Yisroel and reside in the Diaspora for the year of "shmitoh" for lack of food. (Ramban)

3) You will not be exiled. You will not have to travel to the Diaspora to purchase food during the "shmitoh" year. (Abarbanel, Sforno, Holy Alshich)

4) You will not be exiled. You will not even have to leave your city to live in another city within Eretz Yisroel. (Raava"d, Rabbi Shimshon of Shantz)

5) You will not have terrorists come upon you. In spite of the world-renowned reputation of the lusciousness of your fruits, no enemies will attempt to attack. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

6) When there is limited produce there is no fear of outsiders attacking, but you might fear internal fighting. Rest assured that this will not happen. When there will be an abundance of crops you will not fear outsiders attacking. (Ksav Sofer)

7) You will not be exiled, You will not incur the jealousy of the surrounding nations because your being satiated will not be through a bumper crop, but rather through a normal amount, but with the blessing of eating little but having great satisfaction within, - "o'cheil kimo umisbo'reich b'mei'ov" T.K. 25:36). (Malbim)

Ch. 25, v. 24: "G'uloh titnu lo'oretz" - Freedom shall you give to the land - The Rashbam says that this means if the seller has amassed sufficient funds to redeem his inheritance property, you must allow him to purchase it back. The Sforno says that it means to release the land by not working it during the "shmitoh" years, and returning it to its previous owners gratis on the "yoveil" year. The Ramban entertains both these explanations, but prefers that of complying with "yoveil" because this verse is in the parsha of "shmitoh" and "yoveil," and not in the parsha of redemption, which follows.

Ch. 25, v. 25: "Ki yomuch ochicho" - When your brother becomes impoverished - This verse is juxtaposed to the parsha of "shmitoh" to teach you that even though "shmitoh" laws teach us to be reliant upon Hashem for our livelihood, we should not misplace this trust. We can easily transfer this concept to the poor man who comes for alms. We can send him away empty-handed, with the hollow reassurance that "Hashem will surely help." Here we must apply the verse "v'hechezakto bo" (Vayikra 25:35). (Magid of Dubno)



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

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