Vol. 9 No. 29
This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Meir ben Benzion Sand z"l - Yohrzeit 14th Iyar
Rashkah-Rae bat Zvi Levin z"l - Yohrzeit 29th Iyar
(adapted from the B'nei Yisoschor)
The concept of Sefiras ha'Omer is generally described in terms of a bridge that connects the physical freedom from Egypt with our spiritual freedom ('there is no free man other than the one who studies Torah').
The B'nei Yisoschor elaborates further -
Based on the Pasuk in Emor (23:15), which opens the Parshah of Sefiras ha'Omer with the words "And you shall count for yourselves the day after Shabbos", the Tzedokim always began counting the Omer on a Sunday. The Chachamim had a difficult time eliminating this fallacy, and on the day that they finally proved the Tzedokim wrong, they declared an annual celebration. One of the arguments that won the day was the fact that, if, "the day after Shabbos" is to be taken literally as the Tzedokim explained, then the Torah would not be giving any indication as to which Sunday of the year (or even of the Pesach season) the counting was to begin.
Consequently, they concluded, bearing in mind that the Torah sometimes refers to Yom-tov as 'Shabboson', "the day after Shabbos" must be referring to the day after Yom-tov (i.e. the day after the first day of Pesach, which is what the Torah is talking about at that point).
The question arises however, that if the Torah is really referring to Yom-Tov, why does it call it "Shabbos", and not 'Yom-tov', or 'Mo'ed'? Why not call a spade a spade?
To answer this question, we first need to understand the basic difference between Shabbos and Yom-tov. We need to understand that whereas the essence of Shabbos is what is known as 'it'arusa di'le'Eila' (an arousing that descends from above), the essence of Yom-tov is 'it'arusa di'letata' (one that ascends from below).
The sanctity of Shabbos was declared at the Creation, from which time on, every seventh day has been holy. This means that the institution of Shabbos was fixed by Hashem at its inception, and man has no authority to change it. Yom-tov on the other hand, is determined by Rosh-Chodesh, which in turn, is fixed by Beis-din. And this basic distinction reflects the twin concepts of 'it'arusa di'le'Eila' and 'it'arusa di'letata' that distinguish between the two.
In other words, whereas Yom-tov was an expression of Yisrael's development, a hallmark of achievement in its early nationhood, resulting in a sanctity that was sparked off by Yisrael, the sanctity of Shabbos was a gift from Hashem, unrelated to their deeds or their level. Indeed, Chazal, in describing G-d's donation of the Shabbos to Yisrael, write 'I have a wonderful gift in My treasury ... '). Yisrael received Shabbos, but created Yom-tov.
The exception to this rule is Pesach, which Hashem granted us despite our unworthiness, as Rashi writes in Parshas Bo (12:6) - 'The time arrived to fulfill the oath that I swore to Avraham to redeem his children. But they had no Mitzvos with which to busy themselves ... . So He gave them two Mitzvos ... '. It was Hashem who offered us the opportunity to earn the Geu'lah, rather than we who made the initial effort to deserve it.
In practical terms this means that when we left Egypt, we were granted levels that we had not yet attained. We allowed G-d to take the first steps towards us, instead of we being the ones to make those steps towards Him (as the Navi writes "Return to Me and I will return to you" [Mal'achi 3:7). The danger of this lies in the ease with which, once the initial euphoria at having risen to such heights dies down, one comes crashing down. In addition, bear in mind that the entire purpose of the Creation was for man to strive to earn his rights to enter the World to Come, by means of a lifetime of efforts in Torah and Mitzvos in this world. Receiving levels goes against the grain!
That is why, before receiving the Torah on Shavu'os (the ultimate goal of Yetzi'as Mitztra'im), it was essential that we consolidate the level that we were given upon leaving Egypt, by striving to attain it with our own hard work. That is why Yisrael counted the Omer upon leaving Egypt, growing day by day, so that, by the time Shevu'os arrived, they had turned the spiritual level, which up to that point had been artificial, into a reality that Parshah Pearlswas a Emorpart of themselves. And they demonstrated this when they proclaimed 'Na'aseh ve'Nishma!' That is why the Torah writes "And you shall count for yourselves", because counting the Omer was for their benefit, inasmuch as it enabled them to turn what had previously been a gift from Hashem into a level that was truly their own.
And this also answers the Kashya that we asked at the outset. The Torah refers to Pesach as Shabbos, because unlike the other Yomim-tovim, Pesach, like Shabbos, was the result of Divine Inspiration, and not the result of our own efforts.
(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
"u've'Artzechem lo sa'asu . u'mi'Yad ben neichor .. " (22:24/25).
The earlier Pasuk is talking about the prohibition of castrating an animal. The words "u'mi'Yad ben neichor" ('and from the hands of a gentile'), refers, not to the actual act itself, but to accepting a castrated animal from him as a Korban. Yet by juxtaposing these words to the earlier Pasuk, the Torah is hinting that castrating one's animal is forbidden even through a gentile sheli'ach (Ba'al ha'Turim).
"When an ox, a lamb or a goat is born, it shall remain with its mother for seven days; and from the seventh day and onwards it shall be accepted as a Korban ... " (22"27).
If one sacrifices an animal the day it is born, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, G-d suspects that one's motivation is to sacrifice it to the heaven and the earth that were created on the first day. If he sacrifices it on the second day, then perhaps he is sacrificing to the sky, which was created on the second day; ... on the third day, maybe he has the sea and the dry land in mind; ... on the fourth day, the luminaries; ... on the fifth, the animals ... ; and on the sixth, man.
So let him rather wait a full seven days, and then bring his Korban in honour of the G-d who Created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.
Not Even for G-d
"ve'Shor o seh, oso ve'es b'no lo sishchatu be'yom echod" (22:28).
The prohibition of shechting an animal and its baby on the same day extends to the realm of Kodshim, too. And this is hinted, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, in the fact that the word "ve'shor" appears two other times in the Torah: "ve'Shor vo'ayil li'Shelamim" (in Sh'mini 9:4) and "ve'Shor o seh, soru'a ve'kolut, nedavah ta'aseh oso ... " (above, pasuk 23).
The earlier Pasuk refers to Kodshei Mizbei'ach, the latter one, to Kodshei Bedek ha'Bayis (the repairs section of Hekdesh). In neither case, may one Shecht an animal and its baby on the same day.
Don't Delay a Mitzvah
"Don't leave any of it until the morning, I am Hashem ... and observe My Mitzvos" (22:30/31).
This hints at the principle 'not to delay a Mitzvah' once it falls due ('Ein ma'avirin al ha'Mitzvos'), the Ba'al ha'Turim explains. If a mitzvah comes into effect in the evening, don't delay it till the morning.
As a matter of fact, one might make the same observation on the words "and observe My Mitzvos" independently, which hint at the same thing (much in the same way as Chazal Darshen with regard to the Pasuk in Bo "u'Sh'martem es ha'Matzos", do not read it "es ha'Matzos", but "es ha'Mitzvos").
In that case, we could go a little further and explain "and observe My Mitzvos" as a negative 'command' not to delay a Mitzvah, and "and do them" as a positive Mitzvah to perform it as soon as it falls due.
In any event, the very phrase "u'Sh'martem Mitzvosai" has connotations of waiting eagerly for the Mitzvos to arrive (see Rashi, Bereishis 37:11), which inevitably leads to performing them the moment they fall due.
The Gematriyah Says it All
"The festivals of Hashem which you shall call 'mikro'ei kodesh' " (23:2)
The words "mikro'ei kodesh" are perhaps unclear in their meaning, but the gematriyah (the numerical value) says it all, because "mikra'ei kodesh" is equivalent to 'mishteh' (feasting), and to 'be'ma'achal, bi'kesus nekiyah' (with food, with clean [nice] clothes) - Ba'al ha'Turim.
All About Bread
"And bread and flour made of fresh grains, and fresh grains, do not eat until this very day, until you bring the Korban of your G-d (the Omer)" (23:14).
The word "And bread" ('ve'Lechem') appears on three other occasions in T'nach - "And there was no bread in the entire land" (Bereishis 47:13); "And Matzah bread and Matzah challos .. " (Sh'mos 29:2); "And bread from the Heaven You gave to them" (Nechemyah 9:15). This is the story, as the Ba'al ha'Turim sees it. The first two Pesukim (in conjunction with our Pasuk), he explains, goes nicely with the opinion that forbids 'Chadash' (the new crops that are forbidden until the Omer on the second day of Pesach) even in Chutz la'Aretz, until the Matzah bread (the Omer) has been brought.
Whereas the third Pasuk hints that G-d feeds us (bread from the Heaven) on the merit of the Omer. And so the P'sikta teaches us - 'I (says Hashem) provide each of you with an Omer (a description of the daily portion of Manna that each person received in the desert), whereas all I ask from you is one (collective) Omer'.
The Three Zichronos
" ... zichron Teru'ah mikra kodesh" (23:24).
The word "zichron" appears three times in T'nach. Here and twice in Koheles (1:11 ) "Ein zichron la'rishonim" and "Ki ein zichron le'chacham im ha'kesil" (2:16).
It is reminiscent, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, of the three books that are open before Hashem on Rosh Hashanah, those of the Tzadikim, the Resha'im and the Beinonim.
The books of the Tzadikim and Resha'im, the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah explains, are opened then and closed, for the former are written and immediately inscribed in the Book of Life, and the latter, in the Book of Death. It is only the beinonim who require ten days grace to give them a chance to make good, in which case Hashem will open the Books again on Yom Kipur, and inscribe them in the Book of Life. That is why the latter two Pesukim write "Ein Zichron," whilst our Pasuk, referring to the Beinonim, writes "zichron".
The Essence of Yom Kipur
"But on the tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement" (23:27).
"But" ('Ach') always comes to preclude something. Here, says the Ba'al ha'Turim (as well as Rashi), it comes to preclude someone who had not done Teshuvah.
Yom Kipur is not a magic wand that removes sins against a person's will, or even without his positive participation. Yom Kipur is a day which cleanses him, provided he presses the switch, which, in practical terms means, that he does Teshuvah. Otherwise, all his efforts, incorporating fasting, crying and praying, are in vain.
The Fortuitous Five
The five afflictions on Yom Kipur (abstention from eating and drinking, washing, anointing, wearing shoes and marital relations) correspond to the five times "Nefesh" that are written in this Parshah.
And by the same token, the Kohen Gadol Toveled five times during the Yom Kipur service and we Daven five Tefilos on Yom Kipur. (Ba'al ha'Turim).
THE DINIM OF ERETZ YISRAEL
AND ITS MINHAGIM
The Isur of K'lai Zera'im
1. It is forbidden to sow a field with Kil'ayim (a variety of seeds). This Din applies min ha'Torah to all species, whether it is produce, seeds or vegetables. It is confined however, to those species that most people sow and maintain. But if one of the mixed species is a kind that they do not maintain, or that they maintain but only for smelling, for healing or to use as spices, which is fit neither for human or animal consumption, the Isur of Kil'ayim does not apply.
Neither will it apply if both species concerned are fit for animal consumption, but not for humans.
2. The Isur of Kil'ayim is not confined to sowing, but extends to ploughing, digging, weeding, fertilizing, watering and even just maintaining a mixture of seeds,
3. Neither does it make a difference whether one sows two forbidden species simultaneously or one after the other. Either way, the prohibition applies.
4. Someone who did sow two forbidden species, even if he did so inadvertently, is obligated either to uproot them or to put up either a fence or a tzuras ha'pesach (the shape of a doorway, as will be explained in the following chapter) between them. In the event that he does, what grew before that is not forbidden (even to maintain).
5. If two types of seeds intermingled during growth, there are different opinions as to when 'Bitul be'Rov' applies. Consequently, one must ask a She'ilas Chacham. In any event, 'Bitul be'Rov' will only apply if the mixing took place inadvertently, but not if the owner planted Kil'ayim deliberately. If he did, the Isur of Kil'ayim takes effect irrespective of the Shiur.
6. Someone whose field has been sown with one species and who now wishes to change to another species must wait until the original seeds take root before ploughing the field and planting the second species. Should some of the unwanted species nevertheless persist in growing, there is again a divergence of opinion as to when 'Bitul be'Rov' applies. Here again, he must ask a She'eilas Chacham. And the same will apply if a second species grows by itself in a field in which a different species is already growing.
7. Despite the prohibition of maintaing K'lai Zera'im, the mixture is not forbidden to eat.
8. One may plant any species of seeds beside any tree, other than a vine, and no Isur Kil'ayim is involved.
The Distance Between One Species and Another
1. The Isur Kil'ayim incorporates planting two species of seeds side by side, without the necessary distance or distinguishing mark separating them (as we will now explain). And the Dinim differ in this regard both as regards the various species that one plants and the size of the areas concerned, as we will explain.
2. Zera'im are divided into three categories:
Produce (tevu'ah) incorporating the five kinds of grain: wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats.
Legumes (kitniyos) incorporating those species whose seeds are eaten (meaning that the seeds constitute the main part of the food), such as peas, beans, rice, millet, sesame, poppy-seed and corn.
Vegetables (yorok) incorporating the species whose greens are eaten, and this includes all those species that, besides the parts that are eaten, also have seeds that are not designated for eating but for sowing. This is itself divided into two sub-categories: one, where the food contains its own seeds, the other, where the seeds develop only after the fruit has been in the ground a while after it has begun to ripen.
Potatoes are included in the category of 'vegetables'.
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