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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 25, v. 10: "Ukro'sem dror" - And you shall proclaim freedom - What need is there for verbal proclamation? Since emancipation of slaves takes place in the Jubilee year, we have the situation of a person being ingrained with the slave mentality after becoming acclimated to it for the last six years. It is told of the slaves in the south of the U.S. who were freed after the emancipation proclamation and they simply didn't know how to function. They had no idea where their next meal would come from, nor what to do with money they earned. This is the intention of our verse. Many former slaves would want to remain in their previous positions, as long as their basic daily needs were attended to by their masters. Our verse therefore commands us to "proclaim" freedom, to not allow anyone to remain a slave. (M'oroh Shel Torah)

Ch. 25, v. 34: "Usa'dei migrash o'rei'hem" - And the fields of expanse of their cities - The final letters of these three words form Moshe in reverse. Moshe knew that he would not merit having a portion in the areas allotted to the Levites. This is why the term "migrash" (chased away) is used. However, his son Gershom, also letters "migrash," would have a portion. (Rokei'ach in Moshav Z'keinim)

Ch. 25, v. 35: "V'hechezakto bo" - And you shall strengthen him - This mitzvoh is expressed in the singular. Although there are communal institutions that help the needy, nevertheless, each person has his own personal responsibility to help the poor. (Holy Alshich)

The Rambam in his commentary on Pirkei Ovos says that it is better for a person to give charity numerous times, albeit in small amounts, rather than giving all he has allotted to charity in one go. This seems to run counter to the idea of donating by giving a federation institute all allotted charity money and having them distribute it and thus not being involved in regular donating.

Ch. 25, v. 36,37: "V'sarbis,Uvmarbis" - With interest, And with interest - Why do we have two forms of the same word, one beginning with a Tof and one with a Mem? These two letters form the word "MeiS." This alludes to the severe punishment meted out to one who lends and charges interest. Yechezkeil witnessed the resurrection of many dead, with the exception of one person who remained dead. He was told that this one person did not merit being resurrected because he lent money and charged interest. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid)


Ch. 26, v. 16: "Uzra'tem lorik zarachem" - And you will sow for naught your seed - Rabbeinu Yoel says that the two letters Zayin in these words are written reversed in a Torah. (It seems that his intention is upside down. If we were to simply reverse a Zayin, a mirror image, it would remain the same. The same issue is raised with the reverse final Nun in the word "b'Choron," the final word of parshas Lech L'cho.) This teaches us that the dismal outcome is a result of turning around the laws of the seventh year, i.e. not abiding by the laws of "shmitoh."

Ch. 26, v. 19: "Shmeichem .. artz'chem" - Your heavens .. your earth - Do the heavens and earth belong to mankind? Aren't they Hashem's? Even though there was a time when Hashem allowed mastery over the heavens and earth to be in the hands of the righteous, for example, hearkening to the prayers of Choni Hamagol for rain, etc., when the nation as a whole does not behave properly even their prayers are not heard. "Gam ki ezak v'asha'vei'a sosam tfilosi" (Eichoh 3). (Rokei'ach)

Ch. 26, v. 33: "V'es'chem ezo'reh vagoyim" - And I will disperse you among the nations - Toras Kohanim explains that this admonition is quite powerful. Not only will the bnei Yisroel be exiled, but even when living among the heathen nations they will not be banded together, but rather, they will be scattered, not having family or neighbours close by.

Perhaps we can find some consolation in these words. "Ezo'reh" is sourced from Zayin-Reish-Hei, a verb meaning winnowing. Zoreh is one of the 39 prohibited forms of Shabbos activities. The gemara Shabbos asks that in the mishnoh's list of prohibited activities we find "boreir, zoreh," and "m'ra'keid." These are all acts that separate the good from the bad. If so, why are all three of these listed as primary acts, since they are essentially one and the same? The gemara Yerushalmi only asks that "boreir," and "m'ra'keid" are one, but does not ask about zoreh. Commentators explain that the gemara Yerushalmi's understanding of zoreh is different from that of the Bavli. Zoreh is dispersing something into fine particles, such as when one spits into the air when it is very windy, sprays pressurized liquid such as perfume from an atomizer, or the basic act of winnowing, where a pile of grain is tossed into the wind and the grains spread out singly.

We can thus say that the Toras Kohanim mentioned earlier bases its interpretation of "ezo'reh" on the gemara Yerushalmi's interpretation. However, the gemara Bavli understands zoreh as a purification process, separating the chaff from the grain. Thus our verse is saying that Hashem will purify us through our exile experience. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 26, v. 41: "V'heiveisi osom b'eretz oi'veihem" - And I will bring them into the land of their enemy - Tzror Hamor writes a detailed account of the sufferings that were endured in Castille and Portugal in his days. He explains that Hashem brought the bnei Yisroel from one local that was oppressive, to another that was even more so. This is the intention of our verse when it says that Hashem will bring them into the land of their enemies, even though previous verses have already told us that they would be exiled.

Ch. 26, v. 42: "V'af es brisi Avrohom" - And also My covenant with Avrohom - Hashem told Avrohom that even though the bnei Yisroel would experience exile in future generations, nevertheless, they would eventually return. Avrohom was worried that the bnei Yisroel would become acclimated to their foreign surroundings and not want to return (sound familiar?). Hashem promised him that they would and that his concern would be addressed by "vaavodum v'inuosom" (Breishis 15:13), that they will never feel comfortable in the Diaspora. This first national exile is a forerunner for all future exiles.

Perhaps this is the intention of our verses. Verse 41 says, "Af ani eileich imom," which can be interpreted as "With anger I will accompany them." Our verse continues by saying that you can be sure of their eventually returning because I will remember My covenant with Avrohom, that they will WANT to return to Eretz Yisroel. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 26, v. 44: "B'eretz oi'veihem lo m'astim" - In the land of their enemy I have not despised them - This is at a time that the bnei Yisroel have sinned and deserved being sent into exile. Nevertheless, I have not despised them when they are in the land of their enemies. When Hashem compares their behaviour with that of their present neighbours they shine in comparison. (Toldos Yitzchok)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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