פ’ בהר-בחוקתי תשע”ח
Volume 23, Issue 9
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ 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, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
וקראתם דרור בארץ לכל ישביה…ואיש אל משפחתו תשבו
“And proclaim freedom throughout the land for all its inhabitants…and you shall return each man to his family…” (25:10)
The Torah states that the Yovel year is a year of freedom for all; i.e. that every Jewish slave is freed (Rashi). If so, why does the Torah repeat that “people return to their family,” which also refers to the freeing of slaves (Rashi)?
The Rambam (Shemittah 10:14) states that at the beginning of the Yovel year the slaves cease working, but do not yet return home. Only after t he blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur do the fields return to their original owners and the slaves to their families. This is alluded to in the verse. The first phrase refers to the first stage of cessation of slavery. The end of the verse alludes to the second stage of Yovel, which is the actual return of the slaves to their homes. (R’ David Soloveitchik)
Yovel is the year when all the Jewish slaves are freed. However, the phrase “all its inhabitants” seems awkward, since only slaves are freed, not masters. The Gemara (Kiddushin 20a) states that if someone buys a slave it is as if he bought a master for himself. The basis for this statement is that the Torah has strict regulations how to treat one’s slave. This being so, when one’s slave is freed, in a sense the master himself is being freed from being “enslaved” to his slave. (Pnei Yehoshua)
וצויתי את ברכתי לכם בשנה הששית ועשה את התבואה לשלש השנים
“And I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and will produce grain for three years.” (25:21)
Some commentators, including the Chasam Sofer, found great significance in this 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 God’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 God could guarantee such a pledge and keep it exactly as stated. (Torah Gems)
את כספך לא תתן לו בנשך
“Your money you shall not give him upon interest…” (25:37)
QUESTION: The Hebrew word for interest is “ribit”; why is “neshech” used here?
ANSWER: Rich and poor alike sometimes need a loan, and a person may feel somewhat depressed when he has to ask for a one. The word “neshech” can also mean “bite.” The Torah is teaching that when you are approached for a loan, to give it with a smiling countenance and a pleasant attitude. Do not make biting comments that will distress the borrower. The same applies when giving tzedakah to the needy – give it with a smile, and don’t say anything that would, G-d forbid, add to the pain of the poor person. (Melechet Machshevet)
אם בחקתי תלכו
“If you walk in My statutes…” (26:3)
QUESTION: Rashi explains that this verse is not referring to the fulfillment of mitvot, but to the study of Torah. 1) The mitzvot in the Torah are divided into three categories: Eidut (testimonies), mishpatim (civil laws), and chukim (statutes). Since the verse is stressing the study of Torah, why are statutes singled out? 2) Why does it say “teileichu” – “you will walk” – and not “tilmedu” – “you will study”?
ANSWER: The word “bechukotai” )בחקתי( – “in My statutes” is related to the word “chakikah” )חקיקה( – “engraved.” When one takes a pen and writes on paper, although the ink is now attached to the paper, it is not actually a part of the paper. However, when one engraves on stone or metal, the letters become one with the stone or metal and can never be removed. This verse not only tells us how to study Torah in order to receive the great rewards promised in the parsha, but also that we must toil in the study of Torah until Torah becomes engraved in us.
Additionally, one should not be content with the amount of Torah that he already studied, but “teileichu” – he should keep going higher and higher, from strength to strength, in Torah study. (Likutei Sichot)
וזכרתי להם ברית ראשנים…כי אני ה’
“I will remember the covenant of the ancients…for I am Hashem…” (26:45)
This is not brit avot, the covenant of the patriarchs, which was mentioned in the previous verse, but brit shevatim, the covenant with the tribes, which was made at Sinai when G0d promised the twelve tribes that He would watch over them. (Rashi)
This is the first time that the name of Hashem appears in this chapter of threats and warnings. His face is hidden from us, to reappear only now at the time of our deliverance. Until the point, God’s presence is expressed by the words “Af Ani”– I, too or “Gam Ani – Even I. The expression Af Ani indicates irritation, but Gam Ani expresses mercy. The harmonious balance between the terms Af and Gam signifies that in His reprimands, God wants us to temper justice with mercy. (Rav Munk)
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