by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS B'HAR - B'CHUKOSAI5759 BS"D
Ch. 25, v. 1: "B'har Sinai" – The Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim explain why it is pointed out that these mitzvos were given at Har Sinai. From the beginning of Vayikroh until this point, the mitzvos were told to Moshe from Ohel Mo'eid, which was on the Mikdosh campus, since the mitzvos were all relevant to the Mikdosh, korbonos, purity, impurity, restrictions to entry into the Mikdosh area, and the dedication. (They do not explain the mitzvos of parshas Emor.) From this point on, there is no direct connection to the Mikdosh, hence the mitzvos were told to Moshe at Har Sinai. If you will ask, "Why is this included in Vayikroh altogether," they answer that the mitzvos of B'har and B'chukosai are at least indirectly connected to the Mikdosh or at least to the Kohanim.
Rashi quotes the T.K. 25:1 which says that this teaches us that just as the mitzvoh of Shmittoh was given with all its details at Har Sinai, likewise all the mitzvos of the Torah were given to Moshe at Har Sinai. The Chasam Sofer explains this to mean that just as it is obvious that the mitzvoh of Shmittoh could not possibly be a man-made mitzvoh, since no one in his right mind would give such a demanding mitzvoh, and furthermore, no one would dare give a promise of the earth giving forth a triple bounty in one year, and therefore it is clear that this mitzvoh was given by Hashem, likewise, we should realize that all the mitzvos of the the Torah with all their details were also given by Hashem.
Ch. 25, v. 2: "V'shovso ho'oretz SHABBOS" – When we plant, the earth gives forth produce and the growing takes place daily, including Shabbos. A solar year has 52 Shabbosos. If we multiply this by seven years, we get a total of 364 days of Shabbos. Hashem tells us to leave the fields fallow for a year to make up for the growth of seven years of Shabbosos. This is the intent of the words, "v'shovso ho'oretz SHABBOS." (Matteh Moshe #473) I don't understand why there is a need to make up for seven years, as in each Shmittoh cycle planting is only done for six years out of the seven.
Ch. 25, v.3,4: "Shaish shonim tizra …… , u'vashonoh hashviis shabbosone" – Rashi on 25:2 brings the T.K. 25:7 which says that the seventh year is for Hashem, similar to the weekly Shabbos, where it also says Shabbos shabbosone (Shmos 31:15, 35:2). It seems that the seven years of the Shmittoh cycle correspond to the seven days of the week. We find that the words "ki tov" are mentioned twice on the third day of creation. As well, on the sixth day "ki tov" is mentioned once and the expression "v'hinei tov m'ode" is also found. The Meshech Chochmoh says that during the seven-year cycle we find that "maaser oni," tithing which is given to the poor, is given on the third and the sixth years. Charity is an act of "tov," kindness, corresponding to the word "tov" written twice on both the third and sixth days of creation. Perhaps another point can be added. On the sixth day we find the expression, "tov M'ODE," exceedingly good. This might be in place since giving a tenth of one's produce on the sixth year is an exceedingly great act of kindness. Since the donour will not plant on the seventh year, he has a greater inclination to save as much as possible from the sixth year to sustain himself later.
Ch. 25, v. 6,7: "Lochem l'ochloh l'cho …… , v'livhem't'cho" – Does this not seem to indicate that you will eat before your animal, contrary to the rule that one must first feed his animals (gemara Brochos 40a)?
1) This teaches us that one may not feed an animal food that is fit for human consumption unless the person has had his fill and the left-overs might spoil, as it says (Shmos 23:11), "v'yisrom tochal chayas haso'deh."
2) This rule only applies when one is eating his own food, not that which is given by another. The produce of "shviis" is ownerless, so a person may eat before offering his animals. This would explain why Rivkoh gave drink to Eliezer before giving the camels (Breishis 24:19), as the water was not Eliezer's. (Imrei Emes) Some say that drink need not be offered to animals first, only food need be. This is indicated in the verse "v'hishkiso es ho'eidoh v'es b'irom" (Bmidbar 20:8).
Ch. 25, v. 8: "V'sofarto l'cho sheva shabsos shonim" – The Baal Haturim on 25:52 says that the word Yovel is mentioned 14 times in this parsha, corresponding to the 14 Jubilee years that the bnei Yisroel experienced in Eretz Yisroel. From the gemara Arochin 12b we see that there were actually more Jubilee years, but the number of Yovlos sanctified by the Beis Din were indeed 14. Of these 14, six were sanctified while the Beis Hamikdosh was existent, while the other eight were sanctified without the presence of the Beis Hamikdosh. This might be alluded to in the word YOVEL appearing six times with the letter Vov in it, while eight times it is deficient, lacking the letter Vov, indicating the lack of the Beis Hamikdosh. (Tal'lei Oros)
Ch.25, v. 10: "Ukro'sem DROR" – Some commentators say that this word means freedom, while others say that it means living (rights), as in "lodur." Others say that both these translations mean the same thing, as one who is not free to live where he chooses does not experience freedom.
Ch. 25, v. 20: "V'chi somru mah nochal bashonoh hashviis" – There are many interpretations of these words, differing in which year this question is raised, and if the verse refers to a regular Shmittoh, or a Shmittoh-Yovel combination. This impacts as well on how to understand the response in the next verse. See Rashi, Ramban, Rabbeinu Bachyei, Trumas Ha'deshen, and Kli Yokor.
Notwithstanding the differences of interpretation among the above-mentioned commentators, they all agree that verses 19 through 22 discuss two types of people, those who implicitly trust in Hashem and those who worry in spite of His assurance. Even the ones on a lower level are promised that Hashem will respond with an abundance of produce to tide them over the non-agricultural activities of the Shmittoh year.
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that the verse at the beginning of our parsha also addresses the mitzvoh of Shmittoh to two types of people. In 25:2 it says, "DA'BEIR el bnei Yisroel V'OMARTO a'lei'hem." We know that "dibur" indicates harsh speech, and "amiroh" indicates gentle speech. How do we have both forms in this one mitzvoh? He answers that there are two attitudes towards the mitzvoh of Shmittoh. Those who accept it as a statute comply by accepting that they are servants, and must comply with Hashem's wishes, even when they are exceptionally hard to do, as with refraining from agricultural activities for a complete year. To them the mitzvoh is a harsh decree, hence DA'BEIR.
There is, however, another way of viewing this mitzvoh. If one were to give someone a parcel of land as a gift and stipulate a condition in the beginning that the recipient need vacate the land for a period of a year in every seven years, although it is inconvenient, nevertheless, the recipient does not feel an imposition, since he realizes that the parcel of land is a gift and that the conditions were clearly stated beforehand. The application to the bnei Yisroel receiving Eretz Yisroel is self-understood. For a person with this attitude, the mitzvoh of Shmittoh is not a statute, but rather an easily acceptable mitzvoh.
Perhaps the Torah is following through with the likely scenario that he who accepts the mitzvoh as a reasonable one will also not raise the question, "Mah nochal ……," while the one who finds the mitzvoh a very demanding statute will likewise be very concerned about his sustenance when he must leave his fields fallow for a year, and will ask "Mah nochal ……"
With this lengthy preface, perhaps we have a new insight into the words of the Yalkut Shimoni on T'hilim 103:26. The verse says, "Giborei koach OSSEI d'voro LISHMO'A b'kol dvoro." The Y.Sh. first interprets this to refer to those who received the Torah and said "naa'se v'nishma" (Shmos 24:7). The verse says OSSEI and then LISHMO'A, doing before hearing, clearly indicative of those who received the Torah.
A second interpretation given in the Y. Sh. is that this refers to those who fulfill the mitzvoh of Shmittoh. This verse says "D'VORO," and by Shmittoh the Torah says "V'zeh DVAR hashmittoh." We are still left with the difficulty of how are the ideas of "OSSEI" and "LISHMO'A" applicable to "shomrei shviis." In parshas K'doshim the words of the Baal Kitzur Shulchon Oruch were brought to explain (18:4), Es mishpotai TAASU v'es chukosai TISH'M'RU." Based on the writings of the Rambam in Shmonoh P'rokim ch. 6, he says that "assioh" is the term used by logical mitzvos, "mishpotim," while by statutes, "chukim," the term "shmiroh," (or a variable "shmioh" as mentioned in the Rambam who says that "chukim" are "mitzvos shmios", which must be heard first, as we could not figure out to do them on our own) is used.
We mentioned before that the Torah is continually addressing two types of people in the parsha of Shmittoh observance, he who readily accepts the mitzvoh as logical and fair, as a "mishpot," and he who accepts it as a harsh difficult decree, as a "chok."
Perhaps the verse in T'hilim follows suit. It is discussing the two types of "shomrei shviis." Those who accept it as a "mishpot" are referred to as "OSSEI d'voro." OSSEI are those who fulfill a "mishpot" as mentioned by the Baal K.Sh.O. above. Those who accept it as a statute fulfill the mitzvoh as a "mitzvoh SHMI'IS," and are referred to as "LISHMO'A" b'kol d'voro." Even the one who is on the lesser level is extolled, as in any case he has also fulfilled a very demanding mitzvoh. This would also explain why the word "GIBOREI" is used in the plural form, as the verse is discussing two types of "shomrei shviis."
Ch 25, v. 21: "V'tzivisi es birchosi" – The Noam Elimelech says in the name of his brother the Rebbe R' Zisha that if you would not ask, "What will we eat," then you will eat to your satisfaction (25:19), as the blessings will naturally be upon you for hearkening with full trust to Hashem's mitzvos. However, when you question, "What will we eat," then you have damaged the conduit of blessing with your lack of full trust. Since you are keeping the mitzvoh in any case, Hashem will still send you the blessing, but this requires a new infusion of blessing. Therefore, "v'tzivisi es birchosi," I will again command my blessing to descend upon you, and give you sustenance for three years.
Ch. 26, v. 3: "Im b'chukosai teileichu" – The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh was once travelling and encountered much difficulty and suffering. He did not voice even the slightest complaint. On a Thursday evening he had not been successful in reaching a town and was forced to spend his night in a forest. As a reward for accepting his lot, Hashem sent him forty-two insights into our verse. These can all be found in a standard Mikro'os G'dolos Chumosh. On Friday he entered a town where he would spend the Shabbos. No one knew who the great personality in their midst was. After the Friday night prayer services, he waited with other wayfarers, as they were paired up with hosts for the Shabbos meals. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh was the guest of none other than the town Rov, who was in his own right a great scholar, as well as a very holy person.
The Rov advised the O.H.H. that after every Shabbos meal, townsfolk would assemble in his home to hear divrei Torah on that week's reading. It was Shabbos parshas B'chukosai. During the meal, the O.H.H. did not respond to any divrei Torah the Rov said, and also seemed to be drifting into and out of a light sleep. The Rov assumed that his guest was unlearned. After the meal ended, the townspeople came and the Rov seemed to sit in a trance. After a short while the Rov advised the people that he would not be saying his own insights into the parsha, but rather someone else's. He had been informed through spiritual power, fourteen insights into the first verse of our parsha.
After relating the fourteen p'shotim, he added that the divrei Torah were those of a very scholarly and holy person named Rabbi Chaim, although he did not know who this person was.
The O.H.H. suddenly spoke for the first time and derided and belittled Rabbi Chaim who was mentioned by the Rov. The assembled townspeople were very upset, since their Rov said that Rabbi Chaim was very leaned and very holy. How could this wayfarer have the audacity to belittle such a personage? The Rov quieted them down by suggesting that they pay no attention to the guest; that he was extremely exhausted from his wanderings and probably needed a good night's sleep.
After the day seudoh, the Rov again merited to receive and transmit another fourteen insights of the O.H.H. and again attributed them to Rabbi Chaim. Again the guest belittled Rabbi Chaim. Some folks said that the guest should be strictly punished, and again the Rov calmed their anger with a flimsy excuse for the guest's disgraceful behaviour.
As you no doubt expected, after "Sholosh Seudos," the third meal of Shabbos, the same scene repeated itself, and the anger of the crowd could not be stemmed.
After Shabbos was over, the congregational administrators put the Rov's guest into a holding cell and said that the next day he would receive a public flogging. That night a great storm ensued. It ripped roofs off numerous houses and there was great fear among the people, who even feared for their lives. The Rov realized that this was a supernatural happening, as such weather conditions had never taken place before in that area. He had a suspicion that it was connected with his guest. He ran to the holding cell and forced the guest to expose his true identity. Upon hearing that he was none other than the O.H.H., the Rov had him immediately released and asked for forgiveness in the name of all the members of the community. The storm immediately abated.
We see that these 42 insights of the O.H.H. were surely heavenly inspired, as they were spiritually transmitted to another holy and scholarly person, to tell to his congregants.
I have had a difficulty for over twenty years with understanding explanation #34. (Do not assume that this means I fully understand the other 41 explanations.) The O.H.H. says that "b'chukosai" can be translated as "chakikoh," scraping away. The letters of a Torah and of tefillin and mezuzos must not touch each other. If they do it is usually invalid, "possul." The verse tells us that if you follow the law that allows for scraping away the contact point of two letters of a Torah scroll, "b'chakikoh teileichu," go with scraping, but, "v'es mitzvosai tishmoru," you will safeguard not to scrape by tefillin, Hashem will bless you. He quotes the Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 32:18 as a source for this rule by tefillin.
Upon viewing the rules mentioned in this location, one sees that by tefillin as well, one MAY scrape the contact point of two letters and render the script kosher, seemingly saying the exact opposite of what the O.H.H. says. I have merited to come across the responsa of Beis Shlomo by hoRav Shlomo of Skolla Y.D. volume 2, response #128, who asks this question and has no answer. Any additional information would be very appreciated.
Ch. 26, v. 6: "V'nosati sholom b'artz'chem" – Rashi says that without the blessing of peace all the other blessings are meaningless, as it says (Yeshayohu 45:7), "Yotzeir ohr u'vorei choshech osseh sholom u'vorei es HAKOL." Upon looking into the verse quoted, you will notice that the last words are not "es HAKOL," but rather "u'vorei ra."
1) Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenuroh says that Rashi's words are a take-off on the verse and he is actually quoting the words of our daily "birkos krias shma."
2) The Sifsei Chachomim answers that Rashi means a derivative of the verse. Since it contrasts ohr and choshech, likewise there is inherent a contrast of "ra" and "hakol," that all (HAKOL) is dependent upon the "osseh sholom."
3) Others change the text in Rashi and have the verse appear accurately.
The proof that Rashi brings is as stated in the Sifsei Chachomim.
Ch. 26, v.9: "Ufonisi a'leichem" – The Baal Haturim says that the letters of "u'fonisi," Vov-Fei-Nun-Yud-Sof-Yud can be read "u'fo'nai Tof-Yud, "My face (presence) will be with you for 410 (the value of Tof-Yud), alluding to the fact that the Divine presence, "sh'chinoh," will be present during the 410 years of the existence of the first Beis Hamikdosh. The second Beis Hamikdosh lacked the divine presence, as well as four other things (see gemara Yoma 21b).
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