subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@AOL.COM


Ch. 19, v. 2: "Da'beir el kol adas bnei Yisroel v'omarto a'lei'hem k'doshim t'h'yu" - Speak to the complete congregation of the bnei Yisroel and tell them, 'Be holy' - Rashi (M.R. 24:5) says that the words "el kol adas bnei Yisroel" teach us that these words were told to the complete assemblage of the bnei Yisroel. Since our verse tells us to behave in an exalted holy manner, one might mistakenly believe that the correct way of doing this is by leaving society and living like a hermit, thus not being exposed to outside influences. Rashi therefore tells us that the command to develop into becoming a holy person was said in an assemblage, i.e. that a person should live within society and still strive to achieve this level. (Chasam Sofer) Alternatively, when one looks at an individual he will readily find faults in him, but when one looks at the bnei Yisroel as a group, they are deservingly to be judged as holy. (Hadrash V'ho'iyun)

Ch. 19, v. 2: "K'doshim t'h'yu" - You shall be holy - In keeping with the theme mentioned earlier by the Chasam Sofer, that we are to infuse our physical daily living with sanctity, the Baal Ho'ikrim interprets the verses in T'hilim 119:85,86, "Koru li zeidim shichos asher lo k'Soro'secho, Kol mitzvo'secho emunoh," - The intentional evil-doers have dug me pits that are not in consonance with your Torah, All Your precepts are faith, as follows: Evil-doers attempted to have me fall into the pit of their false ideology. Their approach is that all your mitzvos are not there for us to physically do in this material world, and thus inject sanctity into the mundane. Rather, they say that all mitzvos are to be fulfilled in the heat and mind only as faith, "Kol mitzvo'secho emunoh."

Ch. 19, v. 3: "Ish imo v'oviv tiro'u v'es Shabsosai tishmoru" - Each person his mother and father should you fear and My Shabosos you shall safeguard - What does the juxtaposition of these two mitzvos teach us (see Rashi)? The gemara Eiruvin 13b says, "They counted and concluded that it would have been better for mankind to not be created, but once he was created he should investigate his actions." The Maharsh"o on the gemara Makos 23b d.h. "tarya'g" explains that this is because there are 365 negative precepts, while there are only 248 positive precepts. Mankind is therefore closer to liability than to virtue. He says that this is the intention of the gemara when it says, "They counted and concluded." They counted the number of positive and negative mitzvos. Because the majority were negative precepts they came to their conclusion.

If the logic for honouring one's parents is that they brought him into this world, why should he honour and fear them if he would have been better off never having been created, as per the above gemara?

Whoever keeps Shabbos properly is credited with having fulfilled all the Torah's precepts, negative and positive (gemara Yerushami Brochos 1:5, M.R. Shmos 25:16). This is the intention of placing the command to safeguard Shabbos right after the mitzvoh to fear one's parents. If one would ask why he should honour and fear them, since he would be better off never having been brought into this world, Hashem responds that man is given the opportunity to keep Shabbos, and thus have to his credit the fulfillment of all 613 mitzvos, and thus be closer to merit than to liability, and is therefore better off being created. This is why honouring and fearing our parents is rightfully incumbent upon us. (Chasam Sofer)

According to this insight why does the gemara Eiruvin conclude that mankind is better off not having been created according to the Maharsh"o, since he has more opportunity for merit through keeping Shabbos properly? Any help would be appreciated.

Ch. 19, v. 9: "Uvkutz'r'chem es k'tzir artz'chem lo s'cha'leh p'as sodcho" - And when you cut the harvest of your land do not complete your harvest by cutting the corner of your field - The verse begins in the plural form, "Uv'kutz'r'CHEM es k'tzir artz'CHEM" but changes to the singular form, "lo s'cha'LEH p'as sodCHO." The Holy Alshich explains that the Torah is addressing the owner of a field who might be very reluctant to share his hard-earned produce with a poor man who doesn't own the field and put in no agricultural effort into growing and producing the bounty. The Torah tells the person who worked the field that the effort expended in producing food is yours (plural), "uv'kutz'r'CHEM," and the field is yours (again plural), "artz'CHEM," both the actual owner and the poor man. Therefore you (single), the owner, should not harvest all the produce, "lo s'cha'leh," to keep it all for yourself.

Ch. 19, v. 18: "V'ohavto l'rei'acho komocho" -And you shall love your friend as yourself - The Torah in Dvorim 13:9 says regarding one who attempts to seduce his fellow man into believing in a false god, "lo soveh LO v'lo sishma EILOV," - do not accede nor hearken to him. Rashi explains that "lo soveh lo" tells us that although we are commanded to love our fellowman (our verse), nevertheless, when it comes to one who attempts to talk you into believing in false gods, you should not love him. Rashi continues to say that "v'lo sishma eilov" teaches us that although we are commanded to help our fellowman with unloading his donkey that is staggering under its load, "ozove taazove imo" (Shmos 23:5), nevertheless this person should not be helped.

There are numerous mitzvos that require us to be kind and helpful to our fellowman. How do we know that these words of the verse come to exclude specifically these two mitzvos? Secondly, once we have an answer for this question, how do we know to attribute the exclusion of the earlier words to the mitzvoh of loving our fellow man, and the second group of words to exclude helping him unload his beast of burden, and not reversing the exclusions?

The gemara Yoma 4b explains the difference between the word LO - "to him," and EILOV, which also means "to him." LO means to him, but does not necessarily indicate that this is to the exclusion of others. If a verse says "va'yomer LO," this means "And he said to him." The intention of the speaker is to direct his words to a specific person, but there is no indication that there is no one else who could hear the words. Possibly there are many people present whom the speaker does not mind hearing the spoken words, just that his intention is to direct his words to one specific person, to make sure that he hears them.

When the word EILOV is used it connotes TO HIM to the exclusion of anyone else. Thus when the verse says "Va'y'da'beir EILOV" (Bmidbar 7:89), the intention is that Hashem spoke to Moshe and no one else heard the words - to him and only him (Rashi on that verse).

We now have an answer for the questions posed above. The gemara P'sochim 113b says that it is appropriate to externally exhibit an attitude of dislike for any intentional sinner. The mitzvoh of "v'ohavto l'rei'acho komocho" is waived for such a person. This is not limited to any specific sin. When the verse says "lo soveh LO," this is to be understood as, "do not accede to him," but by virtue of the use of the word LO, it means not only to him, as the same is true of any other intentional transgressor of any sin. This rule applies only to the mitzvoh of loving your fellow man, as explained by the gemara P'sochim mentioned above. Thus we know that specifically "v'ohavto l'rei'acho komocho" is being waived.

When the verse says, "v'lo sishma EILOV," we understand that the mitzvoh that is being waived is specifically in regard to this particular sinner and not towards one who transgressed a different sin. This must refer to "ozove taazove," and no other mitzvoh, as the gemara says that "ozove taazove" must be done even for one whom you hate, and as interpreted by the gemara P'sochim 113b, the reason you hate him can only be because of his transgressing the law of the Torah. Thus any sinner, except for a seducer to believe in false gods, should be helped to unload his animal, but not this particular sinner, EILOV, but not another. (Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Nishmas Chaim)

While on the subject of the difference between LO and EILOV, see the explanation of the Ra"n on this gemara in his "droshos" after the 12th and final "drush."

CORRECTION: The last offering of parshas Metzora was written incorrectly. It should read as follows:

Ch. 15, v. 31: "B'tamom eS mishkonI" - With their defiling My Sanctuary - These words allude to the two Bo'tei Mikdosh being destroyed because of defilement. The final letters of "eS" and "mishkonI," Tof and Yud, have the numerical value of 410, the number of years that the first Beis Hamikdosh stood, while the word "mishkoni" has the numerical value of 420, the number of years that the second Beis Hamikdosh stood. (Niflo'ose Chadoshos)



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

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