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 Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
והיה ביום הנחילו את בניו את אשר יהיה לו
“It shall be on the day that he causes his sons to inherit that which he possesses.” (21:16)
QUESTION: 1) The word “vehayah” indicates a simcha – joy; what joy is the Torah alluding to? 2) The words “et asher yiheyeh lo” – “that which he possesses” – seem extra; obviously his children can inherit only that which he has?
ANSWER: There are many parents who pride themselves for having given their children much more than they had. They reminisce about their arrival in America, when they struggled to make a living, and they congratulate themselves for providing their children with a comfortable lifestyle and the higher education that they lacked.
While it is good to give our children things that we did not have, it is crucial not to forget to give our children what we did have. Just as our parents inculcated in us a love for Torah and mitzvot, and inspired us to be shomrei Torah u’mitzvot, likewise it is incumbent upon us to instill in our children the same dedication and devotion. Even when a parent helps his child to become a professional, he should impress upon him to be a Torah-observing professional.
The Torah therefore says “vehaya” – it is worthy to rejoice if one leaves as an inheritance to his children not only that which he never had in his youth, but also “eit asher yihyeh lo” – “that which he possesses” – i.e. the Torah upbringing which he received and the Torah lifestyle which he lives. (Vedebarta Bam)
איננו שמע בקול אביו ובקול אמו
“He does not listen to the voice of his father and his mother.” (21:18)
According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 71b), the laws of the unruly and rebellious son only apply if the voices of the mother and father are equivalent. If the father and mother differ in their ways and the son is witness to this kind of fighting between them, it is unfair to judge him for he is not at fault for having become unruly and rebellious.
Rav Chaim Kanievsky points out that the behavior of parents within the home is the most fundamental educational lesson that a child receives. When a child sees his father and mother acting in a manner that is totally consistent with the beliefs that they profess and which they urge him to follow, then there is reason to assume that this child will follow in their paths. But if all he sees is fighting and hypocrisy, not only will he not follow them, but we have no right to judge him for he is not at fault. (Torah Treasures)
כי תקצר קצירך…ושכחת עמר…לא תשוב לקחתו
“When you reap your harvest…and forget a sheaf…you must not go back to take it.” (24:19)
The innermost desire of every Jew, no matter what his or her outward level of observance of the Torah, is to perform G-d’s will in full. Therefore, even when we perform a commandment unintentionally, or even “mistakenly,” it is really the result of our deep-seated desire to do it. Therefore, if a person loses a coin and a poor person picks it up, G-d rewards the person who lost the coin. How much more so will G-d bless us for intentional acts of charity and kindness! (Lubavitcher Rebbe)
“Forty shall he strike him…” (25:3)
This number has special significance (see commentary to Bereshit 7:4). It is the number of days that the Flood lasted; it also corresponds to the number of days needed for a child to form in the womb. Maharal explains that thirty-nine days suffice for the physical growth of the fetus (Sotah 2b) and that on the fortieth day the soul enters the body (Gur Aryeh). The lashes, which involve thirty-nine strokes, are meant to purify the human body. The soul is then freed and thereby becomes exempt from the punishment of karet, spiritual excision. Hence the number forty once again appears, indicating a renewal and rebirth after a chastening through punishment. Similarly, purification in a mikveh requires forty measures of natural water; the spiritual development of Israel in the Wilderness took forty years; and Moshe was raised to the perfect ideal of the Torah by staying on Har Sinai for forty days. (Recanati)
זכור את אשר עשה עמלק
“Remember what Amalek did to you…” (25:17)
This passage begins with the word “zachor” – “remember,” but ends with the words “lo tishkach” – “you shall not forget.”According to the Shelah Hakodesh, this twofold exhortation relates to two conditions of the Jewish people. If Israel is in a position of dominance with the freedom to act, then it must remember and wage war against Amalek; however, if Israel is subjugated, then at least it must not forget.
R’ Hirsch analyzes why it was that Hashem did not destroy Amalek instantaneously as He had done to the Egyptians. Hashem preferred instead that we actively wage war against them one generation to the next. This is because the struggle against anti-Semitism requires continual vigilance. It calls for Jews to arm themselves ideologically, ethically and socially. Not surprisingly, the Midrash and the Zohar often remind us that the war against Amalek is characterized by its spiritual nature. That is why the war against Amalek is often depicted as a war against our inner weaknesses.
(Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch)