CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS EIKEV 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 8, v. 1: "Asher onochi m'tzavCHO …… l'maan tich'yUN" - Which I command you (singular) …… so that you (plural) may live - Why the change from singular to plural?
2) Ch. 8, v. 8: "Eretz chitoh u's'oroh v'gefen u's'einoh v'rimone eretz zeis SHEMEN uDVOSH" - Why by olives and dates does the Torah express itself with their liquid extract rather than the basic fruit?
3) Ch. 10, v. 5: "Vo'osim es haluchos bo'orone asher osisi va'y'h'yu shom kaasher tzivani Hashem" - And I placed the tables into the ark that I made and they remained there just as Hashem commanded me - These words seem to be out of order. Should not the verse have said the words "kaasher tzivani Hashem" before "va'yi'h'yu shom"? Secondly, isn't it obvious that if Moshe placed the tablets into the ark that they would remain there?
4) Ch. 9, v. 17: "Vo'espose bishnei haluchos" - And I gripped the two tablets - Verse 15 already tells us that Moshe had the two tablets in his hands, "ushnei luchos habris al shtei yodoy." If so, why doesn't our verse simply say, "vo'ashlich shnei haluchos"?
5) Ch. 11, v. 12: "Meireishis hashonoh v'ad acharis shonoh" - We find the word "meireishis" lacking the letter Alef which always appears in the word form "reishis." Why is it left out here?
This is in keeping with the dictum, "One person's meritorious act can bring merit to both himself and the whole world" (gemara Kidushin 40b). (Kli Yokor)
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 olives. 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.
Verse 15 says that the tablets were "al shtei yodoy," UPON my two hands. Moshe did not have the tablets in his hands, but rather, they sat on his hands and through their extreme holiness they did not bear their weight upon his hands. After Moshe became aware of the bnei Yisroel's sinning with the golden calf there was a diminishing of their sanctity, and they became heavy, requiring Moshe to grip them. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
I have a bit of difficulty with the next words of our verse, "MEI'AL shtei yodoy," as according to the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh our verse should have said "MISHTEI yodoy."
Possibly we can answer these two questions based on the words of Rashi on verse 1. Rashi says that Hashem first commanded Moshe to etch the tablets and then to build an ark, and Moshe understood that he should first create an ark (as evident from verse 3), because upon descending from the mountain he would have no appropriate place for them. This might be the intention of our verse. Moshe says that immediately after descending from the mountain he placed the tablets into the ark that he already made, "vo'osim es haluchos bo'orone ASHER OSISI." He then added that they remained there, "va'yi'h'yu shom," meaning that because he switched the order they had an appropriate vessel in which they remained and did not have to wait for the building of an ark. This logic indicates that although Moshe switched the order, this was surely Hashem's intention, "kaasher tzivani Hashem." (Nirreh li)
1) This alludes to the month of Tishrei being the first month of the year (Mishnoh R.H. 1:1), since the letters of "reishis" without an Alef are the same as Tishrei.
2) The Moshav Z'keinim says that the word "reishis" lacking an Alef alludes to the gemara Beitzoh 16a which says that a person's annual income is set on Rosh Hashonoh for the following year. However, whatever is spent for Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, Yom Tov, or Talmud Torah is not included in his allotment. What ever is spent on these matters is added to his budget. The first letters of these four are the same as "Reishis" without an Alef.
Please note that the Shitoh M'kubetzes on the gemara Beitzoh 16 says in the name of the Ritv"o that this rule applies to expenditures for any other mitzvoh as well. The reason the gemara mentions only these four is because they each require a continuous outlay of money, and a person might feel that such expenditures will cut into his resources, but in truth Hashem will repay him for all mitzvoh expenses.
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