by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS R'EI 5767 BS"D
Ch. 12, v. 2: "A'beid t'abdun es kol hamkomos asher ovdu shom hagoyim asher a'tem yorshim osom es elo'heihem" - You shall surely lay waste to all the places that the nations served there that you will inherit their gods - The difficulty in these words is especially accentuated when literally translated as above. The words "asher a'tem yorshim osom" seems out of place, and would better be placed after "elo'heihem," and would then read, "You shall surely lay waste to all the places that the nations served their gods there that you will inherit." The gemara A.Z. 42 says that an idol can loose its status as "avodoh zoroh' through a non-ben Yisroel's negating it, providing that it is his. However, if it is the property of a ben Yisroel, negation has no affect, and it must be destroyed. Our verse is telling us why we must totally destroy the avodoh zoroh and why it is insufficient to have a goy negate it. It is because "asher a'tem yorshim osom es elo'heihem." Since you inherit them through vanquishing their worshippers you only have the option of laying them to waste. (Haksav V'hakaboloh citing the GR"A)
Ch. 12, v. 3: "V'asheireihem tis'r'fun b'aish" - And their tree idols you shall burn with fire - In Shmos 23:24 we have the same mitzvoh, to destroy the items the idol worshippers serve, yet there is no command there to burn, only to break, "Ki ho'reis t'horseim v'sha'beir t'sha'beir matzeivoseihem." The gemara A.Z. 53b asks how the "asheiroh" trees become prohibited in the first place. Since Eretz Yisroel is our inheritance, how do the present inhabitants prohibit them? It is not theirs to create a prohibition. The gemara answers that since the bnei Yisroel served the golden calf, also a form of idol worship, it created implied consent for what the idol worshippers did. The verse in parshas Mishpotim was said before the sin of the golden calf. Although the items mentioned are not prohibited, nevertheless, they must be changed from their original form, so that there is no remembrance of idol worship in the land. However, for example, the wood of a tree that was cut down may be used for fuel or construction. Our verse takes place after the golden calf, and the items are intrinsically avodoh zoroh and must therefore be totally annihilated. (Rabbi Yechezkeil Abramsky)
Ch. 12, v. 5: "Losum es shmo shom" - To place His Name there - Why does the verse stress the placing of "His NAME" rather than "His sanctity" or the like? Perhaps this alludes to what took place in preparation of the building of the Beis Hamikdosh on this site. The gemara Sukoh 53b relates that Dovid became apprised of the correct location of the Beis Hamikdosh, and in turn the location of the outer altar, which included having holes opened down to the "evven sh'sioh." When the digging of these holes began Dovid realized that the waterway underneath would rise and flood the world. He asked and was told that it was proper to write Hashem's Holy Name on a piece of earthenware and throw it down the opening, which would quell the water. This is "losum shmo shom." (Nirreh li)
Ch.13, v. 9: "Lo soveh lo v'lo sishma eilov v'lo sochose eincho olov v'lo sachmol v'lo s'cha'seh" - Do not treat him amicably and do not hearken to him and your eye shall have no mercy upon him and you shall have no clemency and do not cover over (negativity) upon him - This is quite a mouthful of anti-seducer attitudes. However, it is not limited to one who attempts to seduce you to relinquish your faith and follow the ways of avodoh zoroh. The Chinuch mitzvoh #461 writes that the same applies to anyone who is evil by sinning with the attitude of not heeding his mentors, and to the contrary, he mocks them, and has become so imbedded in sin that there is no hope that he will repent. It is this type of person that King Dovid has in mind in the verse in T'hilim 139:21, "Ha'lo m'san'echo Hashem esno uviskom'mecho eskotot."
Ch. 15, v. 9: "V'koro o'lecho el Hashem v'hoyoh v'cho cheit" - And if he will call out to Hashem and there will be a sin in you - Similarly, we find that when a widow or orphan calls out to Hashem to complain about someone who has treated them badly, the verse also says that Hashem will respond with a heavy hand, "Ki im tzo'oke yitzak eilai v'shomati" (Shmos 22:22). However, the gemara B.K. 93 says that one who submits his claims against another to heaven, meaning that he cries out to Hashem that he has not been dealt with fairly, Hashem checks into his behaviour, and if it is lacking, Hashem punishes the one who cried out before He even deals with the one who is being complained about. However, this does not apply here by holding back charity. The statement of the gemara B.K. only applies to one who turns to heaven when he has the option to deal with the complaint on earth, i.e. take him to court, etc. When it comes to charity, one cannot be forced by the courts to give, as we have a rule that wherever the Torah spells out the reward for complying, courts do not intervene (gemara Chulin 110b). As well, a prospective donour might claim that he does not have a lot of funds available for distribution. In such a case the complainer is justified in immediately crying out to heaven. This is the intention of "v'hoyoh V'CHO cheit," only in you and not in the complainer. (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 15, v. 10: "Nosone ti'tein" - You shall surely give - The Kli Yokor notes that the verses dealing with giving charity express themselves in double terms, such as here and "poso'ach tiftach, a'seir t'a'seir, v'haaveit taavi'teno, ki vo'reich y'vo'rech'cho." This teaches us that if you give once you will merit repeating this act, as Hashem will continue to give you the means to give more charity. We might add that in each of these verses we find the repetition of the word form has a greater numerical value than the first word, teaching us that not only will you merit to repeat, but also in a greater enhanced manner.
Ch. 15, v. 10: "Nosone ti'tein lo v'lo yeira l'vovcho b'sitcho lo" - Surely give him and your heart shall have no bad feelings when you give him - Rabbeinu Yonoh in Shaa'rei Teshuvoh 3:35 writes that this verse teaches us to distance ourselves from being stingy. Rather, we should be magnanimous. This will be for our benefit, as per the verse "Tov ayin hu y'voroch" (Mishlei 22:9). It is insufficient to just give a donation. We are required to have a "giving" attitude. Toldos Yitzchok notes that our verse does not say that we should not have a bad feeling about donating and therefore not give. Quite to the contrary! "B'sitcho lo," when you are giving you must also have a positive feeling.
The story is told of a great Chasidic leader who met an extremely, shabbily dressed person who asked for alms. The great Rabbi gave a generous donation and the destitute man left. A few minutes later the great Rabbi caught up to the poor man and gave him another donation. When asked by his followers why he gave a second time just a few minutes later, he responded that the first time he gave with the motivation of feeling very sorry for the destitute person. He now gave to fulfill the mitzvoh of the Torah.
It would seem from this story that one properly fulfills this mitzvoh with the simple unemotional attitude of "Hashem said to give so I am giving," rather than one of compassion.
However, we can readily differentiate between being motivated to give by assuaging one's own pain, which is not an ideal reason for giving, and giving because Hashem said to do so, and gaining from giving continuously the trait of being magnanimous, i.e. becoming a "giving" person.
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