Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
on the Weekly Parsha

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 19: "Pen taazove es haLevi kol yo'mecho" - Lest you forsake the Levite all your days - What is the intention of "all your days"? The next verse discusses when Hashem will broaden our borders. This refers to the time when we will receive our inheritance promised to Avrohom of the lands of Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni. There is an opinion that Levites will receive a land portion there among the rest of the tribes (see gemara B.B. 56a, Mishneh L'melech at the end of hilchos shmitoh v'yoviel). Since we give Levites tithes because they service the Mikdosh and are in turn given no large land portions, we might think that in the days of the coming of Moshiach, when the Levites will also own land parcels, we will no longer be required to give them tithes. The words "kol yo'mecho" negate this line of thinking. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

Ch. 13, v. 6: "V'hanovi hahu ...... yumos" - The gemara Sanhedrin 89b gives us two opinions as to the type of death penalty administered to the false prophet who attempts to persuade someone into serving a false god, either by stoning or by strangulation. It is therefore most puzzling that we find Eliyohu killing the false prophets of Baal by sword (M'lochim 1:18:40 and 1:19:2). The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers this difficulty by saying that we must assume that Eliyohu acted in the name of King Achov. The Rambam states in hilchos m'lochim 3:8 that all death penalties decreed by a king must be carried out through decapitation by sword. With this we can understand M'lochim 1:19:1 which states that Achov told his wife I'zevel what Eliyohu had done to the false prophets of Baal, that he had killed them by the sword. In 1:19:2 she responded by sending a messenger to Eliyohu advising him that she intended to have him be a victim of the same fate as the false prophets. When she heard from Achov that the death penalty was by the sword, she understood that Eliyohu acted in a manner of carrying out the king's decree. Since she had taken for herself a most prominent role in running the country, she was slighted that Eliyohu carried out a capital punishment without consulting with her first.

Ch. 13, v. 12: "V'chol Yisroel yishmu v'yiro'uN" - By all other places that this phrase is used it says "v'yiro'u" without the added letter Nun. Perhaps we can explain this based on the words of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH on "V'lo yoduN avosecho" (Dvorim 8:3). The gemara Kidushin 38a says that there was the taste of manna in the matzos that our ancestors took with them from Egypt. If so, why does this verse say that the manna was not known by the parents of the people Moshe was addressing? The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers by pointing out that there is a letter Nun at the end of "yoduN" which does not usually appear at the end of this word. He says that grammarians explain that an extra letter Nun at the end of a verb indicates a diminutive of that word. Thus the verse is saying that those who ate the manna and even the previous generation that left Egypt had at least a limited knowledge of the manna, but "avo'secho," the generations before those who left Egypt did not have even this limited exposure to manna. Possibly, by the case of the teacher of heresy, since the Torah has already stated five expressions of animosity towards him (Dvorim 13:9), some particularly aimed at harshness during his being judged, all learn the lesson of fearing to follow his path. Thus, publicizing the sin that brings to his death penalty only adds a limited amount of fear, "yiro'uN," in the populace.

Ch. 14, v. 21: "La'geir asher bisho'recho titnenoh vaacholoh" - To the inhabitant who is within your gates shall you give it and he shall eat it - Why does the verse say that he shall eat it? Isn't this obvious? A ben Yisroel is prohibited from doing commerce with "n'veiloh." However, if he happens to own "n'veiloh," for example he owns an abattoir and inevitably there will be "n'veilos" among the animals slaughtered, he may sell them. He is not only permitted to sell to a gentile, but also to another ben Yisroel who will eventually sell them to a gentile. However, if one has sold or given the "n'veiloh" to a gentile, a ben Yisroel may no longer buy it from him, even with the intention of selling it to another gentile (see Y.D. #117). This is why the verse says "vaacholoh." Once it has become the property of a gentile, he should eat it, and a ben Yisroel may not buy it from him. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

Ch. 15, v. 8: "Ki foso'ach tiftach es yodcho" - Rather you shall surely open your hand - The mishnoh Pei'oh 8:8 says that if a person has less than 200 "zuz" he is considered a poor man who may receive alms. Is there a Torah source for this threshold? In the parsha of "arochin," donating the value of a person to the Mikdosh, the Torah gives set sums for the payments. A poor person pays a reduced amount. The verse says "V'im moch hu mei'erkecho" (Vayikra 27:8), - if he is too poor for the value. The amount just mentioned as the payment is 50 "slo'im," which equal 200 "zuz." If he has less than this amount he is called a "moch," a poor person. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

There is a mathematical allusion to the 200 "zuz" threshold. The word "tzedokoh" has the numerical value of 199. If one has 199 "zuz" or less he may receive alms.

Ch. 15, v. 8: "Ki foso'ach tiftach es yodcho lo v'haa'veit taavi'tenu dei mach'soro" - Rather you shall surely open your hand and you should lend him for that which he lacks - These words discuss two situations. The first is where a person seeks alms because he lacks basic food. The Torah says that you shall surely open your hand and give with no restrictions and no delays in giving. "V'haa'veit" is the Torah's response to one who asks for a loan for other items he lacks, "dei mach'soro." In this situation you may investigate and ask for surety (hence the term/word source "ovote," collateral) before giving him help. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

Ch. 15, v. 18: "Lo yiksheh v'ei'necho b'sha'leichacho oso chofshi .. avodcho sheish shonim" - Do not find it difficult in your eyes when you send him away free .. he has served you for six years - The master owned this slave for a maximum of six years only. When sending away an indentured slave who might have worked for his master as for as long as 49 years (Vayikra 25:10,13) the Torah does not commensurate with the owner or comfort him by stating that the servant did what was required of him and that we were likewise slaves in Egypt and were freed (verses 15 and 18). It would seem that there is a greater need to mention these concepts there.

Possibly, we can answer this with the insight of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH. He says that to lessen the impact of setting a slave free on Yom Kippur of the "yoveil" year and receiving no compensation, the Torah gives a transition period. >From Rosh Hashonoh of "yoveil" until the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur, which is when the servant actually leaves, he has no responsibility to work and must still be given room and board by the master gratis (gemara R.H. 10a). This makes it relatively easy for the master to let go with no pep-talk. (Nirreh li)

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 Shovuos. In vERSE 14 of this chapter, which discusses the Yom Tov of Succos, the same idea is expressed, but the verse ends with the word, "bish'o'recho," WHO ARE IN YOUR GATE. Why the change? The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that in the first verse, referring to Shovuos, the orphan, widow and convert are not in their homes, but are out in the fields, collecting Lekket, Shikchoh and Pei'oh, 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. 15: "V'hoyiso ach so'mei'ach" - And you should only be joyous - Another interpretation: And only you will be joyous, to the exclusion of the 70 nations. They have been very happy during the 7 days of Sukos, as during Sukos 70 offerings were brought for their well-being. On Shmini Atzerres a single offering is brought, and only for the bnei Yisroel. Therefore, only you will be joyous on this day. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)


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