by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS KI SOVO 5770 BS"D
Ch. 26, v. 5: "V'oniso v'omarto" - And you shall respond in a raised voice and you shall say - These words are translated based on Rashi, who says that "v'oniso" means to say in a raised voice (see commentators on "Vataan lohem Miriam"). We have the exhortation of "v'omarto," so what need is there for a raised voice specifically here where one offers thanks for his successful crop?
The "baal hamaa'seh" of this story recounts that there was a most prestigious Admor in Yerushalayim who became aware of a surviving child of "Rebbishe" lineage who was studying in a Litvishe Yeshivah who was learning "zehr fleisig." The Admor knew that there was a group of war survivors who felt forlorn after the war and had no rallying point that could collect them and bring them back to being a cohesive group whose members would give one another strength and encouragement to again form a "chaburoh" somewhat reminiscent of their union before the war. He felt that this "Bansha"k" would be the perfect catalyst for the "chaburoh's" revival, possibly also leading to the bochur's later becoming an Admor in his own right. After some enquiry he found out that the student was doing excellently in Talmudic pursuits. However, for the Admor's plan to be successful, he felt that the study of and imbibing of Chassidic masters' works and values was necessary. He felt that if he were to directly approach the Yeshiva bochur it would put undue pressure upon him and it might even backfire. He therefore sent the "baal hamaa'seh" to convince a Chassidishe married student in the Litvishe Yeshivah to introduce himself to the bochur and suggest their learning such subjects together. Everything went as planned and the bochur did not relent in his regular studies and added on the wellspring of Chassidishe works, drinking them in quite thirstily.
The go-between felt that he should offer thanks to the Chassidishe yungerman for his many efforts. He found out that the yungerman, who lived and studied in another city, would be coming to Yerusholayim in about a week and he would then meet him and personally thank him. (This was at a time when very few people had telephones and regular mail was the common method of communicating at a distance.) He appeared in front of the Admor and the Admor asked him if he had sent a letter of appreciation to the yungerman. The go-between answered that he found out that the yungerman would be in Yerusholayim in about a week and he would then meet him and thank him. The Admor made a disparaging remark about such improper behaviour and told him that he should have written a letter of thanks immediately upon hearing that there was true progress in their studies and not push things off. He told the go-between to bring him a Chumash Dvorim. The Admor leafed to our verse and pointed out the words of Rashi and raised our question. The Admor then said that the need for offering thanks to Hashem in a loud voice is because it is obvious that at the beginning of the agricultural season the farmer knew that success is fraught with many, many obstacles. He surely prayed to Hashem that He grant him success in his endeavours. Realizing that a major crop failure could mean penury and even a level of starvation, he surely CRIED OUT to Hashem that he be successful. Upon granting of his wishes and offering the first-ripened results of all his toil as "bikurim" he must therefore likewise raise his voice in thanks.
We might find an allusion to this concept in the words of T'hilim 90:15, "Samcheinu kimos inisonu." We might explain these words to mean, "May You make us joyous (in the merit of our behaviour when we rejoice and thank You in a raised voice) as in the days that You made us oppressed (when we cried out to You)."
As an added comment to the above, the go-between immediately sat down and wrote a letter of thanks, and to make up for his not acting with alacrity, he wrote extreme accolades of the yungerman. Surprisingly, he received a message from the Admor to bring his letter before he sent it in the mail. When the Admor read the letter he noted that the praises were to the extreme, quite exaggerated. He told the go-between to rewrite the letter in a more accurate manner. Just because he felt that he had to do something extra to make up for his shortcoming, it did not justify wildly exaggerated accolades. This was quite a lesson for the go-between, today an Admor of great stature and an outstanding Talmid Chochom in his own right (my hopefully measured praises).
Ch. 26, v. 13: "Lo ovarti mimitzvosecho v'lo shochochti" - I have not transgressed from your precepts and I have not forgotten - On the first word of our verse, "V'omarto," Rashi comments that making this statement is "viduy," a verbal confession that accompanies giving one's maa'seir tithe. The Rambam hilchos maa'seir sheini v'neta r'vai 11:1 likewise calls it "viduy." Commentators struggle to explain why stating that one has done all aspects of this ritual properly is called "confession." In a previous edition we have cited the Sforno who offers a very insightful explanation.
The Holy Admor of Satmar once met the Ahavas Yisroel of Viznitz and the Viznitzer told him the insight of the Kedushas Levi into the words of our Rosh Hashonoh prayers, "Ki zocheir kol hanishkochos atoh mei'olom." If one sins and forgets about it, an indication that he treats it lightly, Hashem will surely remember it and count it against him. However, if he has it on his mind and the sin haunts him, indicating that he regrets having done so, to some extent Hashem "forgets"it. Similarly, if one fulfills a mitzvoh and is very proud of it, always keeping it in his mind, then Hashem "forgets" it, i.e. its value is diminished in Hashem's eyes. If however, he does a mitzvoh and forgets it, i.e. he does not become proud and arrogant because he fulfilled a mitzvoh, then Hashem "remembers" it and He gives the person great credit for the mitzvoh.
The Holy Admor, Rabbi Yoel, responded that with this interpretation we can likewise explain these words of our verse. The person is verbalizing his confession that he did all aspects of offering maa'seir correctly, but unfortunately, he has not forgotten the mitzvoh. His shortcoming is that he gives himself too much credit for having done the mitzvoh.
Ch. 28, v. 31: "Shorcho yovuach l'einecho v'lo sochal mi'menu" - Your ox will be slaughtered in front of your eyes and you will not eat from it - What additional aspect of curse is there in your ox being slaughtered in front of your eyes over its being taken away and the same resultant "v'lo sochal mi'menu?" The Ponim Yofos answers that even when slaughtered by a competent shochet, but out of sight of a supervisor, even if it would be returned to you, you would be prohibited to eat it as it would have the status of "bossor shenisa'lem min ho'ayin" (Y.D. 63). Our verse is saying that even uf ut was slaughtered properly and remained in front of your eyes and would otherwise be permitted to be eaten, "v'lo sochal mi'menu." You will not be able to eat it because your enemies will stop you from doing so.
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