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Parashas Ki Seitze
Parashas Ki Seitze
"It is so kind of you to allow our class to take a tour of your farm, Mr. Kindman."
"My pleasure, Rabbi Ginsburg. I am always happy to help out the Talmud Torah. Where shall we begin?"
"We would like to see the entire operation."
"Okay. Boys, please step this way. I will take you to the field where we are plowing, preparing the ground for seeding. Please feel free to ask any questions that you would like, at any time."
"What is the main crop that you produce, Mr. Kindman?"
"Let us wait until the tour finishes before we answer that question, young man. When you see everything, the answer will become apparent to you."
The class reaches the field that is being plowed. Mr. Kindman's plow is being pulled by two oxen.
"We still plow the old-fashioned way, boys - with oxen. One advantage of this is that we can perform the mitzvah of, 'do not plow with an ox and a mule together' (Devarim 22:10), mentioned in this week's parasha. The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 550) explains that it is the nature of animals to keep together with their own species. They do not live or work together with other types of animals. To put them together would cause 'tsaar baale chaim' (distress to animals). Therefore, we are kind to animals by not making two different species plow together. The Sefer HaChinuch adds that the wise person will also not put two people with different natures together on the same job. I adhere to this principle on my farm."
"Mr. Kindman, you perform chessed and mitzvos with your animals and workers."
"B'ezras Hashem. Now we come to seeding the ground. We are careful not to plant seeds of grain within the vineyard. This is call 'kilai hakerem,' and the Torah forbids it (Devarim 22:9). It is a 'chok' that we do not understand, yet we perform it out of great love for Our Creator, and our desire to do His Will and give Him nachas ruach."
"What a chessed."
"Next, we come to the orchard. You can see the workers picking the fruits."
"Mr. Kindman! I see that worker eating from your fruits!"
"He is allowed to do that, young man. The Torah clearly states, that a hired fruit picker may eat from the owners fruits (Devarim 23:25). The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 576) explains that the Torah is teaching us to be generous. Hashem has blessed us with a crop. We must share it with those who are working to help us harvest it. If we are generous, The Almighty will be generous with us."
"Mr. Kindman, you also do chessed with your workers."
"We try, boys. We are also very careful to pay the workers on time. In doing so, we perform the mitzvah of 'You shall pay him on the day (that he earns the wages)' (Devarim 24:15). Rashi explains that he endangers his life to work for you. The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 588) adds that most workers buy food with their wages. Therefore, withholding wages is like withholding food,"
"It is terrible. Therefore, the Torah instructs us to do chessed, and feed everyone on time. In doing so, we become fit to receive Hashem's chessed."
"Chessed, chessed, and more chessed."
"Yes, boys. Now we come to the final stop of our tour - the threshing floor. We throw the wheat on the floor and the oxen step on the kernels, breaking the husk. This enables us to separate the wheat from its kernel. Here we fulfill the mitzvah of not muzzling an ox while he is threshing (Devarim 25:4). The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 596) beautifully describes the kindness of this mitzvah. We accustom ourselves to beautify our souls, choose the straight path, and stick to it. We pursue kindness and compassion. By beginning with mercy to animals, which were created to serve us, we accustom ourselves to this wonderful middah (character trait). We then branch out to human beings; not withholding any goodness that is coming to them. We allow them to eat from our fruits, we pay them on time, and we satisfy them in any way that we can. This is the way of Hashem's chosen nation - Am Yisrael."
"Mr. Kindman, you are a truly kind man - fitting of your name. Now we see what your main crop is - chessed! This is a chessed farm. You produce bushels of chessed for everyone and everything!"
Kinderlach . . .
Mr. Kindman's farm is a wonderful example of how much chessed there is on the job. The workplace is one big opportunity to do chessed. With whom? With the people who work for you. You pay them on time, and you let them eat in the fields. With animals. You do not plow with two different animals together. You do not muzzle an animal while he is threshing. And most of all, with Hashem. You observe His chukim (decrees) that apply to the work environment. Chessed, chessed, chessed. That's what work is all about.
"An Ammonite or Moavite shall not enter the congregation of Hashem." (Devarim 23:4). A man from the nation of Ammon or Moav is not allowed to undergo conversion to become a Jew. Why? The verse states two reasons: "They did not offer you bread and water while you were traveling and they hired Bilaam" (Devarim 23:5). They didn't give you bread and water? That pales in comparison to hiring Bilaam to destroy the entire nation. Why are the two deeds mentioned together, and why is the bread and water mentioned at all?
Rav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel zt"l answers the question as follows. The verse is revealing the root of the problem. They did not treat guests properly. The Jewish People were on their way to the Land of Israel after forty years in the desert (as Rashi explains in Bamidbar 21:13). They asked Moav if they could take a shortcut and pass through the land, but Moav refused. They showed a bad middah (character trait). Here was a nation, weary of travel, wanting to get to their destination a little quicker. Consider them and their hardships. Get outside of yourselves. Be nice to them. No. We don't see them at all. We only think about ourselves. People who do not think about others do not see a big difference between being inhospitable and being killers. The lack of hospitality revealed their true nature.
Kinderlach . . .
Abba just came home and you are plotzing to jump all over him and tell him all about your day. But think for a minute. He has been out of the house the whole day, battling the outside world. Give him a few moments to relax when he comes in. Bring him his slippers and a nice drink. Consider him. It's naptime on Erev Shabbos and the whole house is quiet. You and your sister get into a disagreement. Don't blow it up, start screaming, and wake up the whole house. Consider others. They are sleeping. If you want Hashem to consider you this Elul, you must consider others.
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