Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 20   No. 31

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Gavriel ben Yitzchak z"l
t.n.tz.v.h.

Parshas B'har/Bechukosai

Creating a Kidush Hashem (1)
(adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

" He shall make a reckoning with the purchaser from the year that he (the Yisrael) was sold to him (the gentile) up to the Yovel year; the money of his purchase shall be divided by the number of years, it shall be regarded by him like the years of a laborer (25:50).

The Torah is warning the servant here to make an exact reckoning with his former gentile master when leaving his service before the expiry date in the Yovel year. It forbids him, in no uncertain terms, to trick him into accepting less than the full amount outstanding from the moment that he leaves until the Yovel.

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The Pasuk is speaking about a gentile who lives in Eretz Yisrael and who is under our jurisdiction and therefore bound by Torah law. Nevertheless, the Torah strictly forbids stealing from him, on account of the Chilul Hashem that follows in the wake of dealing with him dishonestly.

In the same vein, the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (70b) rules that, although the Torah permits taking interest from a non-Jew, tricking him is forbidden because of the ensuing Chilul Hashem.

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Strictly speaking, one is permitted to cash in on any mistake that a gentile makes in one's monetary dealings with him. Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy to point out his mistake and return the money, thereby creating a Kidush Hashem. Indeed, that is precisely what Ya'akov Avinu taught his sons, when he instructed them to return the money that had 'mistakenly' been placed in their sacks upon their return from Egypt. The fact that the Egyptians were idolaters did not deter him from doing so, because Kidush Hashem took priority over the worthiness of the people concerned. Bear in mind too, that this occurred before the Torah had been given. How much more so nowadays, when Kidush Hashem is a Mitzvah commanded by the Torah (See Parshas, Emor 22:32).

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Moreover, not only is stealing from a gentile forbidden, but, as the Tosefta in Bava Kama explains, stealing from him is worse than stealing from one's fellow Jew, because - whereas the latter will not turn against Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu or his Torah when a Jew steals from him, the former will.

*

And it is for precisely the same reason that, when Sh'lomoh ha'Melech built the Beis-Hamikdash, he prayed that when a Jew comes to Daven in the House that he had just built in G-d's Name, G-d should respond in accordance with the person's worthiness; but that, when a gentile comes to Daven, He should answer his prayer irrespective of who he was - because whereas a Yisrael, who understands that prayers go hand in hand with merits, will not rebel against G-d should his prayers go unanswered, a gentile will.

*

Creating a Kidush Hashem (2)
(Translated from the Gemara)

This is how a B'raisa in Yuma (86a) describes Kidush Hashem.

"And you shall love your G-d" (Va'eschanan 6:5) - That the Name of G-d should become beloved through you! To learn Chumash and Mishnah, and serve Talmidei-Chachamim (the Mishnah's description of Gemara). To conduct one's business with faith in G-d and to speak with others in a gentle manner.

What do people then say about you? How praiseworthy is his father who taught him Torah! How praiseworthy is his Rebbe who taught him Torah! Woe to those who did not study Torah! So-and-so who studied Torah, see how pleasant are his ways, and how correct are his deeds!'

It is about such a person that the Pasuk writes in Yeshayah 49:3), "And He said to me, 'You are My servant, Yisrael, through whom I will be glorified!"

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Parshah Pearls

Charging too much for Karka (Immovable Property)

" ... or if one acquires from the hand of one's friend, one man may not overcharge the other" (25:14).

The Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (47b) learns from the insertion of the word "hand" that Bitul Mekach (the negation of a sale where the purchaser or the seller is unwittingly asked to pay in excess of a sixth more or less (respectively) than the going price) is confined to Metalt'lin (things that one acquires by hand); it does not pertain to Karka (immoveable property).

It should be noted that the Din of Ona'ah (overcharging by exactly a sixth), in which case the sale is valid, but that the person who overcharged must return the excess, applies to Karka, too.

The K'li Yakar attributes this distinction to the fact that Karka, unlike Metalt'lin, are of a permanent nature. Consequently, even if one pays an exorbitant price for a house today, the chances are that tomorrow, that will be the house's on-going value. Consequently, the sale is valid in any case - even though the one who overcharged has committed a sin (as we learn from the very next Pasuk) and is obligated to return the difference.

*

The Act of Acquiring

" ... or if one acquires from the hand (mi'Yad) of one's fellow-Jew (Amisecho)" (25:14).

The Gemara in Kidushin (26a) learns from the insertion of the word "mi'Yad" (see previous Pearl) that Metalt'lin (movable objects) are acquired by means of Meshichah (moving them). Whilst the Gemara in Bechoros (13a) extrapolates from the word "Amisecho" that this does not apply to a non-Jew, from whom one acquires with money.

However, this is the opinion of Resh Lakish. Rebbi Yochanan (whose opinion is Halachah) maintains that min ha'Torah one acquires Metalt'lin from a Jew with money (like one acquires from Hekdesh), and it is the Chachamim who instituted the Kinyan Meshichah (in favour of money). Needless to say, the second D'rashah from Bechoros, falls away, according to Rebbi Yochanan.

Rebbi Yochanan learns from "Amisechao" that when purchasing an object that is available from both a Jew and a non-Jew, one should purchase it from the Jew. And the same applies when one has the option of selling to a Jew and to a non-Jew, one should give precedence to one's fellow-Jew, since the same Pasuk begins with the words "And when you sell to your fellow-Jew (la'amisecho)".

*

Bechukosai

Blessings for the Future

" I will walk around in your midst and I will be for you a G-d" (26:12).

Rabeinu Bachye explains that some of the B'rachos in this paragraph are referring to Olam ha'Ba (life after death).

And it is in this vein that he cites Chazal, who extrapolate from this Pasuk that G-d will walk with the Tzadikim in Gan Eden and His Kavod will be in the middle.

They are comparing the level of unadulterated pleasure that the souls will attain in the World to Come to a dance in a circle, inasmuch as that pleasure, like a circle, will have no end (i.e. it is eternal).

And because there is a point in the middle around which the dancing circle revolves, they added that His Kavod will be in the middle.

Chazal have compared the circle to the Tzadikim in the World to Come and the central point to G-d. And they interpret the conclusion of the Pasuk "and I will be for you a G-d" to mean - that each and every Tzadik will point a finger at G-d and declare "Behold this is my G-d" (Yeshayah 25:40).

*

So What if it's Masculine?

"And it shall be when the field (sodeh ) goes out in the Yovel " (27:21).

The word "sodeh" the Toras Kohanim explains, is masculine.

The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos wonders what the Toras Kohanim is coming to teach us. Despite its feminine (plural) ending, it is conveyed in masculine form (by virtue of its adjoining adjectives) in many places in the Torah, and is therefore a well-known fact.

To answer the question, they connect the Toras Kohanim to the end of the Pasuk, which states "The Kohen's possessions shall belong to him". How?

The Medrash concludes there "From where do we know that a field that a Kohen redeemed, and that is in his possession when the Yovel arrives, goes out to all the Kohanim?"

(We would have thought that he may retain it, because, as the Gemara states in Erchin (25b) 'If he receives a portion of the fields of others (that he does not yet own), how much more so his own (that he already owns)!'

Therefore the Torah writes "The Kohen's possessions shall belong to him (la'Kohen tih'yeh achuzoso)" - 'his possessions', but not the fields of others that he redeemed, of which he receives only a portion.

The above Toras Kohanim is now pointing out that "la'Kohen tih'yeh achuzoso" can only be explained in this way because the word "Sodeh" (mentioned earlier in the Pasuk) is masculine, whereas the word "tih'yeh" is feminine.

Had 'sodeh' been feminine, then we would have translated the Pasuk "the field shall become his possession" - including the field that he redeemed among his possessions rather than excluding it.

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