by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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With great thanks to Hashem, Yisborach Shmo, my son Yechezkel Shraga has become a choson to the daughter of Rabbi Binyomin Friedland. I hope this will be acceptable as a sufficient reason for repeating the 5758 editions of R'ei and Shoftim.

Ch. 11, v. 26: "R'ei ONOCHI Nosane Lifneichem HAYOM Brocho U'k'lolo" - Rabbi Hersch Yosef of Rudnik interprets: We have a rule that the reward for mitzvos is not paid in this world. We also know that the wages of a worker are to be paid within a day of completion of the work (Vayikroh 19:13). If so, how may Hashem delay our reward? The answer is that if one is hired through an agent, then the rules of not delaying payment are waived (Sh.O. Ch.M. #339:6, Rambam Hilchos S'chirus 11:4).

There are only two mitzvos which were given to us by Hashem directly: Onochi and Lo Yiyeh Lecho. The remaining 611 were given to us through an agent, Moshe Rabbeinu (gemara Makos 23b). Hence, our verse can be interpreted as follows: For the fulfillment of the mitzvoh of ONOCHI, HAYOM BROCHO, some reward must be given today, meaning in this world.

In the same vein, some commentators explain the mishneh in Pirkei Avos 6:4, "This is the path of TORAH, bread and salt you shall eat and measured water you shall drink, and if IN TORAH you will toil, you will be fortunate in this world and it will be good for you in the next world." When following the path of TORAH (which equals 611 numerically), it is possible that reward will be given in the next world, and the pleasures of this world will be limited. But if you toil BA-TORAH, in "the Torah," the numerical value being 613, which includes the first two mitzvos of the Ten Commandments, then Ashrecho Bo'olom Hazeh V'tov Loch L'olom Haboh, as Hashem must give reward in this world as well.

Ch. 11, v. 26: "Asher TISH'M'U...Im Lo Sish'm'u V'SARTEM." - Why does the blessing come as a result of only listening, and the curse comes for not listening plus turning away from the path? The Ponim Yofos answers with the rule (gemara Kedushin 40a) that Hashem joins a good thought with good action, so good thought alone deserves a reward. However, a thought to do an aveiroh is not considered an aveiroh until it is acted upon. Hence, the curse will only come with "V'sartem," when it is followed by an action.

Ch. 12, v. 4: "Lo Sa'asun KEIN Lashem Elokeichem." - The Kotzker Rebbe interprets: Don't do your actions for Hashem in a manner of "Kein," YES, meaning by rote. Rather, do them with forethought and intention. Rashi explains this verse in several ways. If anyone has a definitive response as to whether there are three or four explanations, I would be grateful to hear from him. One of Rashi's interpretations is that this prohibits destroying an altar. It is difficult to understand the flow of the verses of "Ki Im El Hamokom" according to this explanation. The Chasam Sofer writes that this is only a prohibition at the time of "heter bomos," but "Ki Im El Hamokom," when we reach the place, i.e. when we build the Beis Hamikdosh in Jerusalem, and bomos become permanently prohibited, then bomoh altars may be destroyed.

The Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah 6:7, brings a verse from Shmos 34:13 for prohibiting the destruction of the altar and in Hilchos Beis Hab'chirah 1:17 brings our verse. If anyone has insights as to why he chooses two different verses, please advise.

Ch. 13, v. 18: "V'nosan L'cho Rachamim V'richamcho" - Why is such an outpouring of mercy mentioned here in relation to the fulfillment of wiping out the Ir Hanidachas? The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh offers this explanation. It is natural that one is affected by one's actions. (See Chinuch mitzvas hakrovas Korban Pesach.) Under normal circumstances, a mass killing of the majority of a city would develop the characteristic of cruelty in those perpetrating the act, despite its being a mitzvoh. Hashem therefore promises that he will bestow an abundant measure of compassion into the personalities of those who executed this mitzvoh, in order to counteract the negative effect of the cruel act of killing.

Ch. 14, v. 6: The Torah tells us that two characteristics are necessary in order for an animal to be deemed kosher for consumption, split hooves and rumenation (chewing its cud). Are these two signs only indications of a kosher animal (siman) or do they cause the animal to be kosher (sibah)? I heard in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Heiman zt"l that from Toras Kohanim 11:69, quoted in Rashi Vayikroh 11:8, we can derive a proof that these characteristics are a cause for kashrus. The Toras Kohanim asks, "How do we know that animals which are lacking both signs of kashrus may not be eaten, since the Torah only mentions four species which are lacking one of the signs? Maybe only the four mentioned by the Torah are forbidden." The Toras Kohanim answers with a kal v'chomer. "If these four which are lacking only one sign are forbidden, certainly animals which lack both signs are forbidden." This kal v'chomer is valid only if the two signs CAUSE the kashrus, rather than just being a sign of kashrus.

Ch. 14, v. 8: "V'es Hachazir" - The Medrash explains that the pig is called a chazir, because in the future, it will return to a state of kashrus (yachazor l'kashruso). One of the thirteen principles of faith of the Rambam is that the Torah will never change, so how can this be? The Chasam Sofer answers that since the Torah gives a reason for its non-kosher status, i.e. "although it has split hooves, it does not chew its cud," when in the future, the pig will be given a different nature and will chew its cud, it will become kosher.

Ch. 14, v. 15: "Bas Ha'ya'anoh" - In this list of forbidden birds, the Torah mentions in this species in particular a young bird. The Baalei Tosfos explain that there was no need to prohibit eating a fully-grown ya'anoh, because its meat is inedible.

Ch. 15, v. 4: "Efes Ki Lo Yih'yeh V'cho Evyon." - There shall not be a poor man among you. Ch. 15, v. 11: "Ki Lo Yechdal Evyon Mikerev Ho'oretz." -

There will never cease to be poor people within the land.

The gemara Taanis 21a brings the story of Reb Yochanan and Ilfa who were both learning in Yeshiva. Their financial situation became grave. Reb Yochanan suggested to Ilfa that they leave the Yeshiva and pursue a livelihood, so as to fulfill the dictum of "Efes."

As they wandered in pursuit of a livelihood, the weather became extremely hot, and they sought refuge in the shadow of the desolate remains of a building. Reb Yochanan was aroused from his mid-day sleep by a heavenly voice which said, "They are forsaking pursuit of eternal life and are pursuing temporal life. Let us throw this wall down upon them and kill them." A second voice responded, "Although they are deserving of such a fate, let us not bring it about, because one of them is destined to occupy a great position."

When Ilfa arose, Rebbi Yochanan asked him if he had heard any voices. Ilfa responded in the negative. Rebbi Yochanan realized that this was a clear sign that the message was for himself, and that if he were to return to the Yeshiva, he would be appointed the Rosh Yeshiva. He told Ilfa that he had changed his mind and that he was returning to Yeshiva, and in spite of his dire financial situation, he quoted the second verse, "Ki Lo Yechdal." Indeed, Rebbi Yochanan returned and shortly afterwards became Rosh Yeshiva. Ilfa continued to pursue a livelihood and yet, was such an outstanding Talmudic scholar, that he claimed he could find from a mishneh or a breisoh, the source of any halacha.

The obvious question is, "How could Rebbi Yochanan quote one verse and act one way, and then quote another verse and act in the opposite manner. The verses aren't contradictory, as mentioned in Rashi from the medrash, but how could Rebbi Yochanan apply one and then just turn around and apply the other?"

Perhaps, we can see from here that in any given situation, it is possible to cite from Torah sources, support and defense of even diametrically opposing courses of action. It requires integrity and a lack of bias to apply the appropriate Torah source, i.e. , An affluent person, upon being approached for a donation for a Ben Torah, should not apply the dictum of "Pas B'melach Tochal," (Pirkei Avos 6:4) but should apply the dictum, "Who are the kings? The Rabonon," and therefore donate handsomely. Conversely, the Ben Torah should not apply, "Who are the kings? The Rabonon," and expect to live luxuriously, but should apply "Pas B'melach Tochal." Rebbi Yochanan merited to be given Divine guidance in his situation. We mere mortals, who are limited in knowledge and far from objective, need guidance from our Gedolei Torah. We should not take upon ourselves important decisions based upon our biased applications of the words of our sages.

Ch. 15, v. 9: "Im L'vovcho Bli'al" - Rashi explains that he averts his eyes from giving tzedaka. The Gemara Bava Basra 10a says that one who averts his eyes from giving tzedaka is considered to have worshipped idols. The Chavas Yo'ir explains this with a medrash in Breishis on the words, Ch. 1, v. 26: "Na'aseh Odom - Let US make man." Hashem said to the rich man, "Let US make man through a partnership. I will create him and you will sustain him." He who gives tzedaka to the poor man can explain the word "na'aseh" in the above manner. However, he who averts his eyes from giving tzedaka, will be forced to explain "na'aseh", chas v'sholom, that there was more than one power creating man, and this is avodah zoroh.

Ch. 15, v. 10: "Nosone Titein Lo" - The poor man, to whom we are required to give tzedaka, is one whose total possessions equal to less than the value of two hundred zuz. This is hinted at in the word "tzedaka" itself, which mathematically equals 199. One is a legitimate candidate for tzedaka, even if his assets have a total value of 199 zuz. The Toldos Aharon says that if one uses the Atbash system, the four letters of tzedakah remain exactly the same (in another order). (Tzadi = Hay; Daled = Kuf; Kuf = Daled; and Hay = Tzadi) This is the fulfillment of the verse in Tehillim 112:9, "Tzidkoso Omeddes Lo'ad."

Ch. 16, v. 3: "Lma'an Tizkor" - The Mogein Avrohom in O. Ch. s. 67 s.k. 7, says that one can fulfill his daily responsibility of remembering the exodus from Egypt by reciting the shiras hayam, "Oz Yoshir." Reb Akiva Eiger (ad. loc.) writes in the name of his son-in-law, the Chasam Sofer, that one does not fulfill z'chiras yetzias Mitzrayim with reciting "Oz Yoshir." Reb Akiva Eiger brings a proof for this opinion from the medrash Shmos Rabboh 22. It states that anyone who reads Shma is required to mention the splitting of the sea and the smiting of the first-born in the paragraph of "Emes V'yatziv," and if he did not mention the smiting of the first-born, he has not fulfilled his responsibility.

Ch. 16, v. 11: "Asher B'kirbecho" - You should gladden the heart of the orphan, widow and convert IN YOUR MIDST. This refers to the Yom Tov of Sh'vuos. In v. 14 of this chapter, which discusses the Yom Tov of Succos, the same idea is expressed, but the verse ends with the word, "B'sh'orecho," WHO ARE IN YOUR GATE. Why the change? The Meshech Chochmo answers that in the first verse, referring to Sh'vuos, the orphan, widow and convert are not in their homes, but are out in the fields, collecting Lekket, Shikchah and Pei'ah, hence, the term "in your midst." During the Yom Tov of Sukkos, however, when everything has already been collected, the above mentioned people are no longer out in the fields, but rather are also at home within the GATES of the city.

Ch. 16, v. 11: "And you shall rejoice in front of Hashem Elokecho, 1) and your son, 2) and your daughter, 3) and your male servant, 4) and your maidservant, 5) and the Levi who resides in the gates of your city, 6) and the convert, 7) and the orphan, 8) and the widow, who are among you."

A grandson of Horav Y. Ch. Sonnenfeld of Jerusalem travelled extensively, gathering funds for Torah institutions of Satmar. In one community, when he approached an individual for a donation, the person responded that he wasn't as wealthy as some people thought him to be. He stated that he was giving full financial support to his married children's families where the husbands were engaged in full-time Torah studies in Kollel. As well, he had four unmarried sons who were attending Yeshivos. Their tuitions added up to a tidy sum as well. He therefore felt that he was not obligated to give further monies for other charities.

When the fundraiser subsequently met with the Holy Admor of Satmar (whose yahrzeit is this week), he asked if this was a legitimate response.

The Satmar Rov responded that from our verse as interpreted by Chazal we see the answer. Seemingly, there are eight people to whom we should bring joy on Yom Tov, as listed above. However, Rashi brings a Medrash Agodoh, (the words of Reb Yehuda b"R' Simone) "If you bring joy to MY four children (5,6,7,8, listed above) then I will bring joy to YOUR four children (1,2,3,4, listed above). We see from here that we don't have a list of eight people, but rather, two groups of four each. The reason there are two groups is that even if one brings joy to the first four, who are his members of his household, there is no indication that he is fulfilling the mitzvoh because of Hashem's command. There is a nature to be kind to all members of one's household and staff, as they are an extension of one's self. The true sign of fulfilling the mitzvoh of tzedokoh is by giving to an outsider. True that supporting one's family members who are in pursuit of Torah study is a very elavated form of tzedokoh, but unless one gives to outsiders as well, there is no indication of fulfillment because of Hashem's command.

I would add the words of the Holy Zohar, said before commencing the second se'udoh of Shabbos Kodesh. "If one rejoices ALONE and does not share with the POOR, his punishment is severe. To him applies the words of the prophet (Malachi 2:3) "I will throw the refuse of your festivals upon your faces." It is also written (Yeshayohu 1:14) "Your monthly and holiday festivities My soul hated. They were a burden upon Me." The Zohar explains that this strong reaction only applies to holidays, but not as strongly to Shabbos, as clearly indicated by the above verses. No doubt the person who rejoices ALONE includes his family, but by not including other needy people, the admonitions of the prophet apply.

Ch. 16, v. 15: "V'ho'yiso Ach Somayach" - The Daas Z'keinim points out that we find the term "simchoh" mentioned three times relating to the Yom Tov of Succos. 16:14, "V'somachto B'chagecho," 16:15, V'hoyiso Ach Somayach," and Vayikra 23:40, "V'somachto Lifnei Hashem Elokecho." In reference to Shovuos, simchoh is only mentioned once, 16:11, "V'somachto Lifnei Hashem Elokecho." In regard to Pesach, the term simchoh is not used at all. Why? At the time of Pesach, neither grain nor fruit has been harvested, so there is no simchoh. At the time of Shovuos, the grain has been harvested, but has not yet been dried out, and the fruit has not been harvested, so there is one measure and expression of simchoh. At the time of Sukkos, the grain has been harvested and dried so it can be stored, and the fruit has been harvested as well. Hence, there are three measures and expressions of simchoh.


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