פ’ עקב תשע”ח
Volume 25, Issue 3
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.
ארץ חטה ושערה
“A land of wheat and barley…” (8:8)
Tur (Ohr HaChaim 167) writes that it is customary to place both hands on the Challah when reciting the beracha, for the ten fingers on the hands are symbolic of the ten mitzvot that are associated with bread production: 1) Not plowing an ox and donkey harnessed together 2) Not mixing different grains in a single field 3) Leket 4) Shikchah 5) Pe’ah 6) Bikkurim 7) Terumah 8) Ma’aser Rishon 9) Ma’aser Sheini 10) Challah.
Allusion to these mitzvot can be seen from the ten words in the beracha made on bread, as well as from then ten words in our verse and in other verses about produce: Tehillim 104:14 and 145:15 and Bereshit 27:28. (Torah Anthology)
ועתה ישראל מה ה’ אלקיך שאל מעמך כי אם ליראה את ה’ אלקיך
“And now Israel, what does Hashem your G-d ask of you but to fear Hashem, your G-d.” (10:12)
Our Rabbis derive from this everything is in the hands of Hashem except for the fear of Hashem (Rashi). When one prays to Hashem to fulfill a request of his, one cannot be certain that his prayer will be answered. The decision is entirely in the hands of Hashem. But such doubts are not relevant when an individual prays to Hashem to inspire him with the fear of Hashem. In that case, he may be sure that his prayer will be answered. (Ohel Torah)
The Chafetz Chaim used to say: “He who believes will not be troubled by doubts and as for he who does not believe, explanations will be of no avail. (Ma’ayana shel Torah)
והיה אם שמוע תשמעו אל מצותי
“It will be if you hearken to My commandments…” (11:13)
In this, the second paragraph of Shema, G-d promises that we will be blessed with prosperity beyond the bounds of natural law, if we obey His commandments. Why does the Torah use the expression shema – to hearken? Shouldn’t it have said, “If you will perform My commandments?
Rabbi Avigdor Miller comments that taking action is not always in a man’s power, whereas listening sincerely, with the intention to do, certainly is. When one decides to listen to G-d’s commandments, he demonstrates his willingness and his genuine intention to perform them. It is according to the “listening,” the effort to learn, that G-d measures one’s acceptance of the Torah and therefore provides him with innumerable blessings. (Something to Say)
ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך ואכלת ושבעת
“And I will give grass in the field for your animals and you will eat and be satisfied.” (11:15)
The Talmud (Brachot 40a) states that we learn from this verse that a person is obligated to feed his animals in the morning before he himself eats. This is to teach us compassion for all living creatures, even those who are unable to help themselves. A person who owns an animal will have this daily lesson for gaining more sensitivity to the needs of others.
On this verse, the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzcahk Zev Soloveitchik, noted that the blessing for animals is that they should have a large quantity of food, much grass in the field. But for people the blessing is to feel satisfied with the least amount of food needed. (Great Torah Lights)
This week’s Divrei Torah are sponsored by Lauren and Asher Abehsera in memory of her father, Eugene Stricker, Yisrael ben Baruch tz”l. For future sponsorship opportunities please call Steve Zuckerman at 516.652.5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.