CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS R'EI 5771 - BS"D
1) 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?
2) Ch. 12, v. 14: "Bamokome asher yivchar Hashem b'achad shvo'techo" - In verse 5 it says "mikol shivteichem." Rashi (Sifri 12:9) answers this by saying that although the location of the future Beis Hamikdosh was bought from Aravnoh haYevusi with money collected from all the tribes, but the actual location of the future Beis Hamikdosh was in the boundary of the land allotment of the tribe of Binyomin. Why is this expressed as belonging to all tribes in verse 5, and as belonging to one tribe in our verse?
3) 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?
4) Ch. 15, v. 4,11: "Efes Ki Lo Yih'yeh V'cho Evyon, Ki Lo Yechdal Evyon Mikerev Ho'oretz" - There shall not be a poor man among you, There will never cease to be poor people within the land - The gemara Taanis 21a relates 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 do it, because one of them is destined to 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 Mishnoh or a Breisa, 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?
5) Ch. 16, v. 15: "V'ho'yiso ach somei'ach" - We find the term "simchoh" mentioned three times relating to the Yom Tov of Sukos, 16:14, "V'somachto b'chagecho," 16:15, V'hoyiso ach somayach," and Vayikra 23:40, "V'somachto lifnei Hashem Elokecho." In reference to Shavuos, 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?
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 aveira is not considered an aveira until it is acted upon. Hence, the curse will only come with "V'sartem," when it is followed by an action.
Although according to Rashi the following is not an answer, on a simple level following the explanation of Rashi (Sifri 12:18,19) on verse 5, it is discussing the temporary Sanctuary of Shiloh. Verse 11 and our verse discuss the Beis Hamikdosh. The rulings of Shiloh include that of Nov and Givon as well, although there are some minor differences. These three places are located in the land portions of more than one tribe, hence "MIkol shivteichem," from among all your tribes, although not all. Our verse discusses the Beis Hamikdosh, located in the land portion of Binyomin only. (The Mikdosh compound, "azoroh," was partially located on the land apportionment of Yehudoh as well, but the Beis Hamikdosh was totally in the portion of Binyomin.)
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.
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 Ovos 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.
The Daas Z'keinim asks this and answers that at the time of Pesach, neither grain nor fruit has been harvested, so there is no simchoh yet. At the time of Sh'vuos, 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 Sukos, 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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V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights