תשע”ט פ’ בהר
Volume 28, Issue 11
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
“A Shabbat rest for Hashem…” (25:2)
Rashi explains Shabbat L’Hashem is for the sake of Hashem, just as it is said with regard o the Shabbat of Creation. What is the connection between Shabbat Breishit and Shmittah? Shemittah is a commemoration of the creation of the world, just like Shabbat. Shabbat and Shmittah are times that we desist from work and demonstrate our belief that Hashem created and continues to maintain the world. (Rav Ovadia M’Bartenura)
In the entire Sefer Vayikra, Parshat Behar is the only parsha that does not mention korbanot. This teaches us that Shemittah accomplishes the same as korbanot. When bringing a korban, one must demonstrate that he is nothing compared to the Master of the World. So too, adhering to the laws of Shmittah demonstrates that one has no power in this world. All of the dominance in this world belongs to Hashem. (Be’er Moshe)
שדך לא תזרע וכרמך לא תזמר
“Your field you shall not sow and your vineyard you shall not prune…” (25:4)
The prohibitions of Shemittah are all written in singular form. When discussing Yovel (25:11), the very same prohibitions are written in plural form – לא תזרעו, לא תבצרו – what accounts for this difference?
The Gemara (Arachin 32b) explains that the requirement to observe the laws of Yovel only applies when a majority of Jewish people reside in Eretz Yisrael. If the majority of the nation live outside of Eretz Yisrael then every remaining Jew is exempt. This halacha is reflected in the wording of the psukim. The laws of Yovel are written in plural since they apply only when most of the jews are in Eretz Yisrael. The requirement to observe Shmittah is incumbent upon even a lone Jew residing in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, it is written in the singular. (Har Tzvi)
“And I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year and will produce grain for three years.” (25:21)
Some meforshim, including the Chasam Sofer, found great significance in the verse. It provided a powerful response to any cynic who expressed doubts about the divine nature of the Torah. What human being would have placed such an amazing promise into the Torah without G-d’s direct guarantee? Within a decade of arriving in the Holy land, it would turn into a great joke and the “author” would become an eternal laughingstock for making such a ridiculous and impossible promise! Only G-d could guarantee such a pledge and keep it exactly as stated. (Something to Say)
וכי ימוך אחיך ומטה ידו עמך והחזקת בו גר ותושב וחי עמך
“If your brother becomes impoverished and his means fall with you, you should strengthen him, whether proselyte or resident, so that he can live with you.” (25:35)
QUESTION: “Vehechzakta bo” means, “strengthen in him.” It should have said “vehechezakta oto” – “you should strengthen him”?
ANSWER: Tzedakah is often pictured as the rich giving to benefit the poor. However, in the Midrash Rabbah (Vayikra 34:8), Rabbi Yehoshua says, “More than the rich does for the poor, the poor does for the rich.” The rich man who gives the poor man money is helping temporarily with his daily needs. In return, through tzedakah, the rich man’s assets become blessed and he is greatly rewarded in olam haba.
Our pasuk alludes to this by saying “vehechezakta” – “you will find strength for yourself,” – “bo” – “in him” – i.e. through helping the poor man. (Sha’arei Simcha)
The previous section, dealing with the laws of the jubilee year, is written in the plural. Now that the Torah considers the theme of aiding and supporting the poor, the second person singular is used, achicha, your brother, vehechezakta, you must come to his aid.
We can resolve this apparent inconsistency by noting that often when people are approached to extend a helping hand to the needy they will decline, pointing to someone else who is closer to the poor man or financially better equipped to help.
To discourage this attitude the Torah formulates its command to help the needy in the singular. Each person is addressed individually and told, “It is incumbent on you to help the poor. Don’t pass the burden on to someone else.” (Alshich from Iturei Torah)