by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'CHUKOSAI 5774 BS"DCh. 26, v. 4: "V'nosati gishmeichem b'itom" - And I will give your rains in a timely manner - The word for physicality is "gashmius." This is sourced from "geshem" - rain. If there is no rain then all living things cannot exist. Our verse and other verses in the Torah discuss rewards for heeding mitzvos in terms of the physical. Although there are allusions to reward in the world to come, the Torah does not spell out spiritual rewards. The obvious question is WHY.
Kuzari writes that if Hashem were to only write in His Torah spiritual rewards that are paid in the world-to-come people would be doubtful. They might say that "horotzeh l'sha'keir yarchik eidosov," - one who wishes to lie, and not get caught, will distance his witnesses, saying they are overseas and not available. (This only explains why only spiritual rewards are not written but does not explain why spiritual rewards alongside physical rewards are not written.)
Rambam writes that it would be unbecoming for Hashem to write rewards for mitzvos altogether. This would make it seem as if Hashem has to convince people to do His bidding and can onl get them to take on this burden by rewarding them. However, the exact opposite is the case. It is an extreme privilege for us that Hashem has chosen us to do His bidding. The physical benefits written in the Torah are not rewards, but rather, a promise to supply us with the mediums to serve Him so that we can do so unencumbered.
Ibn Ezra explains that since mankind lives in a most physical setting it is only one in many who can somewhat grasp what a reward in the world-to-come means. You cannot describe to a person who was blind from birth the different colours. Our Rabbis tell us that the prophets only discussed the reward given in the days of Moshiach but the reward for the world-to-come, "Ayin lo ro'aso," no eye has envisioned it. The Torah therefore speaks the language of down-to-earth people.
Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachyei write that spiritual rewards in the world-to-come are self-understood, given that they are rewards for Hashem's commands. That the abundance or lack of rain hinges upon our fulfilling Hashem's mitzvos is a startling novelty, hence the need to write them.
Rabbi Saadioh Gaon writes that since idol worshippers did all sorts of acts to appease their so-called gods to receive physical rewards, Hashem spells out mitzvos and their physical rewards (see Sforno on "bossor b'cholov) to counter any interest ch"v in pursuing the behaviour of the idol worshippers. Since they offer no reward in the world-to-come Hashem has no need to write about this.
Rabbi Moshe Cheifetz writes that had Hashem written rewards that will be given in the world-to-come, people would be driven to only think about holiness and the world to come, and in its wake they would forsake their physical needs. The world would become desolate and they would die of self-neglect. This was not Hashem's intention. He wants us to pursue spirituality while living in a functional world. This requires spelling out physical rewards.
Yalkut haGeirshuni writes that Hashem hid the reward for the world-to-come to greatly enlarge the reward. Had the Torah clearly spelled out spiritual rewards they would be glaring out to everyone from the text of the Torah. This would lessen the effort put into doing the mitzvos since the pot of gold is within sight. This is the meaning of "Moh rav tuv," how great is the goodness, the reward, because "asher tzofanto l'rei'echo," You have hidden it for Your beloved.
M'leches Chosheiv writes that there is no need to write the spiritual reward because for those who are righteous, they are self-motivated and a reward need not be spelled out. For the common folk this makes no imprint. This is akin to a parent offering the child a toy if he eats his …… Even though it is of the utmost importance that a child be nourished, he is not sufficiently intelligent to understand that he should be strongly self-motivated to nourish himself. Similarly, the earthy folk need a motivator, and this can only be physical reward, notwithstanding that they need to nourish their soul.
Ch. 26, v. 5: "Vaachaltem lach'm'chem losova" - And you will eat your bread to satiation - Hashem will send a blessing into the bread that even when you've eaten some and are satiated, you will still eat more. This is akin to "ravcha livsumei sh'chicha." (Chid"o)
Ch. 26, v. 6: "V'nosati sholo-m b'artz'chem" - Rashi says that without the blessing of peace all the other blessings are meaningless, as it says (Yeshayohu 45:7), "Yotzeir ohr u'vorei choshech osseh sholom u'vorei es HAKOL." Upon looking into the verse quoted, you will notice that the last words are not "es HAKOL," but rather "u'vorei ra."
1) Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenuroh says that Rashi's words are a take-off on the verse and he is actually quoting the words of our daily "birkos krias shma."
2) The Sifsei Chachomim answers that Rashi means a derivative of the verse. Since it contrasts ohr and choshech, likewise there is inherent a contrast of "ra" and "hakol," that all (HAKOL) is dependent upon the "oseh sholom."
3) Others change the text in Rashi and have the verse appear accurately. The proof that Rashi brings is as stated in the Sifsei Chachomim.
Ch. 26, v. 11: "V'nosati mishkoni b'soch'chem v'lo sigal Nafshi es'chem" - If Hashem is ready to place His holy dwelling place amongst us, is it not obvious that His will won't expel us?
1) In T'hilim 24:3 it says, "Mi yaa'leh v'har Hashem u'mi yokum bimkome kodsho." We see from this that even if a person has merited to elevate himself to reach the spiritual apex of "har Hashem" he may still fall, thus necessitating the verse to end with "u'mi yokum bimkome kodsho - and who can MAINTAIN his stance in Hashem's holy place." We find that the bnei Yisroel reached the level of "naa'seh v'nushma" (Shmos 24:7) and yet they fell to the dismal level of creating a golden calf. Therefore Hashem tells us that He will place His dwelling place amongst us and not have His Will expel us, meaning that we have Hashem's assurance that we will not fall from that high level. (Ponim Yofos)
2) The gemara Brochos 5a says that the purpose of suffering is to cleanse the soul of the impurities it has amassed from sinning. Once the soul has been cleansed Hashem's Holy Spirit can rest upon the person. Our verse is thus telling us that once Hashem places His holy dwelling amongst us we will not sin and there will be no need for Hashem's Will to expel (punish) us. (Tiferes Y'honoson)
3) There is a fear that with wealth will come the abominable character trait of haughtiness. Our verse tells us, however, that if the wealth comes as a result of following Hashem's statutes, "Im b'chukosei teileichu," then no bad results will come out of it. (Arvei Nachal in parshas Va'yeishev)
4) Hashem will place His holy dwelling place amongst us because of the vast majority of bnei Yisroel who heed His word. His Will won't expel us in spite of the very small minority of bnei Yisroel who do not heed His word. (N'tzi"v)
Ch. 26, v. 13: "Vo'olich es'chem kom'miyus" - We find the word "kom'miyus" in our daily prayer of "Ahavas Olom" (alternatively "Ahavoh Raboh" in nusach Ashkenaz). We pray "V'soli'cheinu KOM'MIYUS l'artzeinu." A similar expression with a slight variation appears in birkas hamozone. I heard a very insightful interpretation into these words. It is well known that even people who live outside of Eretz Yisroel want to be buried in Eretz Yisroel. They are transported there after their death in a casket. We pray to Hashem, "May it be Your will that You will bring us KOM'MIYUS l'artzeinu," upright in a vertical position to Eretz Yisroel, rather than after death in a horizontal position.
Ch. 26, v. 38: "V'ochloh es'chem eretz oi'veichem" - And the land of your enemies will consume you - The Ibn Ezra takes note of the verse saying that the land will consume you, and not that you will be consumed in your enemies' land. He explains that when you will be exiled you will end up in a place where the air and water are different from what you were used to back home. The majority of people who undergo such a change die from it (another thing to consider when planning a vacation).
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