subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


Ch. 7, v. 12: "V'shomar Hashem Elo'kecho L'CHO" - The Rashbam connects these words to the last two verses of the previous parsha. In verse 9 it says, "ho'Keil ha'ne'emon shomer habrfis v'hachesed l'ohavov ul'shomrei mitzvosov l'elef dor." The next verse says, "V'shomarto es hamitzvoh .." We see that Hashem is so very kind that he will accrue the benefit of a righteous person to bestow it upon his descendants even 1,000 generations later if they comply with Hashem's wishes, contrary to punishing only up to four generations of sinners for the inequities of their ancestors. Our verse tells us that if you "guard the mitzvoh" (verse 11), then Hashem will bestow the reward UPON YOU (our verse), in contrast with our ch"v sinning and Hashem passing us up and waiting for a later generation that will be deserving of the accrued reward of its ancestors.

Ch. 8, v. 8: "Eretz chitoh u's'oroh v'gefen u's'einoh v'rimone eretz zeis SHEMEN udvosh" - The gemara Brochos 41a says that whichever item is closer to the word "eretz," receives a blessing earlier, meaning that if a number of the items mentioned in this verse are in front of a person and they require the same blessing, if he wishes to partake of each of them, he should make the blessing on the item mentioned closest to the word "eretz" in our verse. How do we know that this is the intention of our verse? Perhaps, all these items are equal, and there is no priority of making a blessing on one over the other, and there is no choice but to list them one after another, even if they are equal. Answer next week bez"H.

Ch. 8, v. 8: "Eretz chitoh u's'oroh v'gefen u's'einoh v'rimone eretz zeis shemen udvosh" - This verse contains ten words and begins with the grains from which bread is made. The Tur O.Ch. #167 says that when reciting the blessing over bread one should place his ten fingers on the bread to correspond to the ten mitzvos that are fulfilled from the beginning of the agricultural activities until the completion of creating bread. They are: Lo sacharosh, Kilayim, Leket, Shikchoh, Pei'oh, Bikurim, Trumoh, Maa'seir Rishon, Maa'seir Sheini, and Chaloh. He adds that we also find ten words in the verse "Matzmiach chotzir labheimoh .. l'hotzi lechem min ho'o'retz" (T'hilim 104:14), as well as in "Einei chole ei'lecho y'sa'beiru" (T'hilim 145:15), in our verse, and in the verse "V'yi'tein l'cho hoElokim," (Breishis 27:28). It is most interesting to note, as the Beis Yoseif points out, that in the commentary of the Tur on the Torah he leaves out the mitzvoh of Bikurim, and places in its stead the mitzvoh of "Lo sach'some." The gemara Yerushalmi Chaloh 1:6, which is the source of this halacha has the list as we find it in the commentary of the Tur on the Torah, and not as his list in his halachic work. Any insights would be appreciated.

Ch. 8, v. 8: "Eretz chitoh u's'oroh v'gefen u's'einoh v'rimone eretz zeis SHEMEN udvosh" - The gemara Horios 13b says that five things bring back the knowledge of Torah that a person has forgotten. One of them is olive oil, as Rabbi Yochonon has stated: Eating olives makes one forget even seventy years of learning, and drinking olive oil brings back even seventy years of forgotten Torah knowledge. With this gemara we can understand why the Torah when mentioning the seven species of produce that grow abundantly in Eretz Yisroel, lists them all in their natural state, except for the olive. Rather than saying "zayis," olive, the Torah says "zeis SHEMEN," olive OIL. Since the Torah is listing the produce that is to be a blessing for the bnei Yisroel upon their residing in the Holy Land, the Torah does not want to mention olives in their unprocessed state, since consumption of olives causes one to forget his Torah learning. Rather, the Torah chooses to tell us about the olive OIL that will be found in abundance in the land, as drinking olive oil helps a person remember his Torah learning. (Maharsh"o Chidushei Agodos) Please note: The statement of Rabbi Yochonon that eating olives makes one forget his Torah knowledge requires qualification. There are a number of details required for this to have a deleterious effect. Also, the drinking of olive oil plain, by itself, also brings negative health effects.

However, the Maharsh"o only answers "zeis shemen," but "dvash," which is also a derivative of produce, and not the original fruit, also requires an explanation. The Chochmas B'tzal'eil answers this with the same approach as the Maharsh"o. The gemara K'subos 10b says that one who has eaten dates should not render an halachic ruling, as dates are somewhat intoxicating and dull one's mind. As well, the gemara Taanis 9b relates that Ulo called a basket of dates a basket of danger, as dates are deleterious to one's health. This is not the case with the honey-like extract of dates. Therefore the Torah mentions its honey, rather than the original produce.

There seems to be some difficulty with this answer as the gemara Yoma 76a says that one who drinks honey and then enters the Beis Hamikdosh receives lashes for entering while intoxicated. However, it is not clear if the gemara is discussing the honey extract of dates or bee honey.

Ch. 8, v. 10: "V'ochalto v'sovoto u'veirachto" - The Sefer Hachinuch in mitzvoh #430 writes: "I have received a tradition from my teachers, may Hashem safe-keep them, that whoever is meticulous with grace after meals will have his sustenance readily available to him in an honourable fashion for the duration of his life!"

Ch. 10, v. 20: "ES Hashem Elokecho tiro" - The gemara P'sochim 22b says that the word ES in this verse teaches us that fearing Torah scholars is included in this command. MVHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l writes that if the fear mentioned in this verse refers to fear that comes as a result of contemplating Hashem's great exalted stature, "yiras horom'mus," then it is understandable that one should also fear a Torah scholar by virtue of his exalted stature. If however, the intention of the fear of Hashem refers to fear of punishment, then the fear of a Torah scholar is not the same concept as the fear mentioned in the verse. However, the Ponim Yofos writes that it is most appropriate to fear a Torah scholar lest one be punished through him, as the mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos 2:15 says, "Ve'he'vei zohir b'gachalton shelo siko'veh, shenshichoson n'shichas shu'ol."

It would seem that the GR"A would not explain the word "tiro" in our verse as "yiras horom'mus," because in A'derres Eliyohu on Chabakuk 1:7 he writes that the term for "yiras horom'mus" is the word form "eimoh," and not "yiroh."

Ch. 11, v. 4: "Va'y'ab'deim Hashem ad ha'yom ha'zeh" - The Ramban asks that the Egyptians who were drowned are gone forever, not only until "this day," meaning forty years after the splitting of the Yam Suf. He answers that these words refer not to the drowned Egyptians, but rather to their military horses and chariots. Absolutely every military horses and chariot was sent out in pursuit of the bnei Yisroel, and all were lost. Thus for a period of forty years the Egyptians had no military might. The Ibn Ezra explains that not only were the warriors who pursued the bnei Yisroel destroyed, but also all able-bodied men, and their male children who remained in Egypt. Thus it took forty years until a new generation of adult Egyptian men developed. The Moshav Z'keinim in parshas Shlach also says that after the episode of Yam Suf there were no living males left in Egypt. The Sforno says that although there were survivors in Egypt, nevertheless, the Egyptians were dealt such a devastating blow that they had any vestiges of courage knocked out of them for forty years.

Ch. 11, v. 6: "Va'asher ossoh l'Doson v'laAvirom .. asher potz'so ho'oretz es piho vativlo'eim" - Why does the verse mention the earth's swallowing Doson and Avirom, and not mention the swallowing of the leader of the revolt, Korach?

1) Neither Korach nor his 250 followers are mentioned because the Torah is recollecting happenings unique to the desert, and the death penalty for one who is not authorized to bring the incense offering applies always. (Ramban)

2) Moshe was ashamed to recount Korach's being swallowed because Korach, a Levite, was Moshe's relative. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

3) Only Doson and Avirom are mentioned to stress that they had even more audacity than Korach. They stood arrogantly, "yotzu nitzovim" (Bmidbar 16:27) and cursed and shamed Moshe. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

4) Doson and Avirom were punished more severely than Korach. Korach's sons survived (Bmidbar 26:11), and the great personage of the prophet Shmuel was their descendant. Doson and Avirom's families were totally obliterated. (Ponim Yofos)

5) Korach at least had a claim to a higher position, as mentioned in Rashi on Bmidbar 16:1 d.h. "vDoson." Doson and Avirom involved themselves in an argument that was not theirs, and were thus punished more harshly than even Korach was. We find the same when Midyon came to the aid of Moav, where Midyon ended up suffering even greater consequences than Moav. (Daas Yisochor)

6) Korach was in general a peaceful person. Only when egged on by his wife did he bring himself to quarrel with Moshe. Doson and Avirom were the source for much discontent numerous times in the past. (Ha'a'meik Dovor - N'tziv)

7) Doson and Avirom were the source for Korach's courage in keeping up his argument with Moshe. When shove came to push and push came to kick, Korach might have backed down when challenged by Moshe. A strong indication to this is that Moshe went to the homes of Doson and Avirom, hoping to dissuade them from their folly. He did not go to Korach. This shows that Moshe realized that if Doson and Avirom would back off, then the wind would be blown out of Korach's sails, and the rebellion would be squelched. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

8) Since Korach's sons had repented and were alive at this time, out of concern for their feelings Moshe did not mention their father's name. (Med'r'shei Torah)



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

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel