Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YEITZEI 5771 - BS"D

1) Ch. 28, v. 22: "A'seir asrenu loch" - The gemara K'suvos 50a and 67b says that in the city of Usha it was instituted that even if one is very generous and gives more that a tenth of his income to charity, he should not give more than a fifth for fear that he will fall upon hard times and himself become a public ward. Thus just before one's death he is permitted to bequeath even more. The figure of one fifth is derived from the double expression "a'seir asrenu," a tenth and a tenth. Is this a fast rule with no exceptions? If someone is so magnanimous that he distributes even more, has he transgressed a Rabbinic decree?

2) Ch. 29, v. 23,28: "Va'yikach es Leah vito, Va'yi'ten lo es Rochel" - How old were Leah and Rochel when they married?

3) Ch. 29, v. 26: "Lo yei'o'seh chein biMKOMEINU lo'seis hatziro lifnei habchiroh" - The capitalized word seems to indicate that in another place the younger is/was given ahead of the older. To what incident or place does this refer?

4) Ch. 31, v. 22: "Va'yugad ki vorach Yaakov" - Our verse does not tell us who informed Lovon of Yaakov's escape. Who was it?

5) Ch. 31, v. 52: "Im ani lo e'evore ei'lecho es hagal ha'zeh v'im attoh lo saavore eilai es hagal ha'zeh v'es hamatzeivoh hazose" - Why did Lovon mention only the hill regarding himself, and both the hill and the monument regarding Yaakov?

ANSWERS:

#1

The Shitoh M'kubetzes on K'subos 50a cites a medrash in parshas B'har that derives from the verse in T'hilim 112:9, "Pizar nosan lo'evyonim tzidkoso o'meddes lo'ad," that even if one distributed more than a fifth of his income to the poor, he has done nothing wrong, as Hashem will surely replenish his shortfall. To answer this seeming contradiction the Shitoh M'kubetzes answers that the charity mentioned in the medrash was to further Torah study, and not for destitute people. He says that this difference is actually indicated by Rashi on our gemara who comments that the generosity beyond a fifth that is prohibited is for the poor, indicating that there might be another purpose for which it is permitted.

This opinion is also voiced through the words of the Targum on Shir Hashirim chapter #8: "If one spends all his money to enable him to acquire Torah wisdom in 'golus,' Hashem will repay him doubly in the world to come."

The Rambam in his commentary on mishnayos Pei'oh chapter #1 writes that it is a "midas chasidus" to expend beyond a fifth of one's income to charity. This requires reconciliation with the gemara K'subos.

The Holy Baal Hatanya writes in I'gerres Hakodesh that since a person would be willing to spend more than a fifth of his income for medical modalities to heal himself physically, he may surely do so when dispensing charity as part of his teshuvoh process.

The Shitoh M'kubetzes says in the name of the students of Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona that the prohibition to give more than a fifth is limited to giving it in one go, but to give up to a fifth in one go and then later giving smaller amounts according to one's means, even though in total it will add up to more than a fifth, is permitted.

He also adds that even though one is permitted to give more than a fifth close to his death, one should not give everything away, as it is appropriate to leave some possessions to be inherited by one's heirs.

#2

The Rokei'ach says they were twins who were 21 years old, the numerical value of "v'ovo'oh" (verse 21).

#3

Lovon delivered Yaakov a covert jab, saying that IN OUR PLACE we don't place the younger ahead of the older as you did when you deceivingly wrested the blessings from your older brother Eisov. (Nachal K'dumim)

#4

We find the same phrase in Shmos 14:5, "Va'yugad ki vorach ho'om," again without telling us who informed Paroh of the bnei Yisroel's escape. The Medrash Tanchuma on the verse in Shmos says that Amo'leik was the informer in both cases. The Baal Haturim on our verse finds a numerical indication for this. "Ki vorach" equals Amo'leik.

#5

Horav Sholo-m Schwadron zt"l answers that these were objects that acted as witnesses to their covenant. For a ben Noach one witness is sufficient, while for a ben Yisroel two are required (Rambam hilchos m'lochim 9:14).


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