This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 22 No. 25
R' Yitzchok ben Leib Zalman v'Sima z"l
Miriam bas Tzvi Hirsh v'Esther Perl z"l
The Pasuk in Emor (23:7) refers to the work that is forbidden on Yom-Tov (as opposed to the work that is forbidden on Shabbos and on Yom Kipur) as "Meleches Avodah". Based on a Toras Kohanim. Rashi in turn, defines this as 'Dovor ho'Oveid' (a task that will result in a loss if not performed), which is forbidden on Yom-Tov but permitted on Chol ha'Moed.
According to this explanation, Melachos that are not 'Dovor ho'Oveid' are forbidden from a Kal vo'Chomer (a logical inference).
The Ramban finds it strange for the Torah to present a major part of the prohibition of working on Yom-Ton in the form of a Kal va'Chomer.
That is one of the reasons why he prefers to define 'Meleches Avodah' as work that is not connected to the preparation of food, which he refers to as 'Meleches Hana'ah'.
Hence in Parshas Bo (12:16), the first time that the Torah mentions the prohibition against working on Yom-Tov (Pesach), where it initially forbids "any work (kol melochoh)" to be performed, it needs to add that work that entails preparation of food (Ochel Nefesh) is permitted. On all other occasions, this is not necessary, since the Torah always mentions "Meleches Avodah".
Based on a Sifri, however, the author queries the above interpretation of 'Meleches Avodah'.
Accordingly, he explains that the very term 'Avodah' insinuates hard work that one generally does for others (like the word 'Eved'); he supports this idea with a number of quotations from T'nach, And he goes on to explain how the Sifri, learns from Pesukim that work that is not Ochel Nefesh is forbidden - even if it is not Meleches Avodah, whereas, on the other hand, work that is ochel nefesh is permitted - even if it is Meleches Avodah.
Work on Chol ha'Mo'ed
As far as work on Chol ha'Mo'ed is concerned, the Ramban cites a number of Tana'im all of whom agree that the Torah forbids it, but stresses that the prohibition is less severe than working on Yom-tov. Esxactly how that is, the Torah does not say, but relies on the Chachamim to define what is forbidden and what is permitted (One of the leniencies that pertains to Chol-ha'Mo'ed is in fact, that 'Davar ha'Aveid' is permitted).
The Asei of Shabboson
The Torah writes in Emor (23:24) that the first day of the seventh month shall be "Shabboson".
This means, the Ramban explains, that in addition to the La'av of not doing work on Rosh Hashanah, and we learn all other Yamim-Tovim from Rosh Hashanah, someone who does also transgresses the Asei of Shabboson.
Nor is this Asei confined to performing one of the forbidden Melachos, he says. It extends to busying oneself on Yom-Tov with mundane activities which go against the spirit of resting on Yom-Tov, such as measuring grain, or filling barrels of wine, carrying loads to and fro and doing business. He subsequently concedes however, that this Asei may well be an Asmachta (a Rabbinic decree which is hinted in the Torah), which in any event, is the opinion of the Mechilta.
The Ramban also points out that the Asei of "Shabboson", which does not extend to Chol-ha'Mo'ed, does apply to Shabbos, and he reminds us that the strigency of Kareis and Miysah at the hands of Beis-Din, which applies to Shabbos, does not extend to Yom-Tov, which is now subject to a La'av and an Asei exclusively.
Another Aspect of Yom-Tov
The Torah already presented the Yamim-Tovim In Parshas Emor, yet it presents it again - albeit briefly, in Parshas Re'ei.
One of the major differences between the two Parshiyos is the fact that whereas the former mentions, and in some cases, discusses, the Korbanos that have to be brought on the various Yamim-Tovim, the latter, with the sole exception of the Korban Pesach, makes do with ONLY a brief allusion to them.
The Ramban explains that the current aspect of the Mitzvah of Yom-tov is to go to Yerushalayim three times a year and to celebrate there. This is not simply to display our gratitude for what G-d did for us in the past and to acknowledge His greatness, which we learn from Parshas Emor, but to rejoice with him by bringing shelamim - as Chazal have said 'there is NO simchah without meat!'
Presumably the reason for the Simchah is the various stages of the ripening and the harvesting of the crops and the fruit, which the Pasuk hints at in the names of the Yamim-tovim, and for which the Simchah is an expression of our gratitude.
In a nutshell, whereas Parshas Emor, the basis of Simchas Yom-Tov is spiritual, the basis of Simchas Yom-Tov in Re'ei is material - but in a spiritual environment.
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(Adapted from the Hagadahs Ha'kehilas Ya'akov)
'Had G-d split the Sea for us but would not have passed us through it on dry land … and would not have provided us with our needs for forty years, it would have sufficed'.
Someone asked Moreinu R. Chayim Kanievski what sort of 'dayeinu' it would have been had we not crossed the Yam-suf and had we died of famine in the desert?
R. Chayim replied that he once posed the same question to the Chazon Ish with regard to the stanza 'Had G-d brought us before Har Sinai but not given us the Torah' who replied that the Ba'al Hagadah does not mean literally that the one would have sufficed without the other, but that when one needs to thank someone for a series of favours, one thanks him for each one separately, without taking the others into account.
In answer to the latter question, The Steiplar ztl. answered that standing at Har Sinai, Yisrael attained the highest levels of unity - 'like one man, with one heart' (Rashi, Yisro 19:2). Moreover, as the Gemara states in Nedarim (20a), they displayed the midah of shamefacedness.
In a nutshell, he explains, in the days leading up to Matan Torah Yisrael learned MIdos Tovos, a worthy achievement in its own.
A father once came to the Steiplar regarding a shiduch for his daughter. She had been offered a choice of two Bachurim, one, an outstanding Talmid-Chacham, the other, an exceptional Ba'al MIdos, and he wanted to know which one she should choose.
The Steiplar replied that 'a house where there are no midos is gehinom!'
No Dual Punishments
'He killed their Firstborn and gave us their money'.
How does this conform to the principle that a person cannot receive two punishments for one sin', asks the Poroshas Derochim?
To answer the question, Maran R. Chayim Kanievski cites the Gemara in Sanhedrin, which describes the international tribunal set up by Alexander the Great, where the Egyptians demanded the money that Yisrael 'stole' from them when they left Egypt. When an astute hunchback, by the name of Gevihah ben Pesisah, Yisrael's spokesman, countered that hundreds of thousands of Jews had slaved in Egypt for four hundred and thirty years without payment, and that if the Egyptians would pay for their services in full, they would gladly settle with them, they had nothing to say.
So it seems that the slaying of the Firstborn was the punishment for the Egyptians' refusal to release Yisrael (G-d's firstborn) from bondage, whereas the money that Yisrael took out of Egypt was payment for the service that Yisrael provided the Egyptians.
We can add to this that the drowning of the Egyptians was their punishment for drowning the Jewish babies, and the spoil that the Yisrael took at the Yam-Suf was the spoils of war - measure for measure for Par'oh's announcement "I will divide the spoil", as stated in the Shirah.
The Gift of Shabbos
Following the 'Dayeinus' we say 'And he gave us the Shabbos.'
The gift of Shabbos, the Gemara explains in Shabbos (10b) refers to the reward. Elaborating on this, based on the Pasuk in KI sissa "to know that I am Hashem who sanctifies you", the Steipler explains that reward as 'the light of G-d's sanctity, which G-d bestows liberally upon Yisrael - and he goes on to explain it in more detail.
In any event, it is clear that the reward that G-d has in store for those who keep other Mitzvos remains hidden from them.
R. Chayim explains with this why, in the Aseres Ha'dibros (in Parshas Yisro) each dibur is preceded by a 'Samech', denoting that it is a S'tumah (closed), except for the dibur of Shabbos, which is preceded by a 'Pey', which stands for 'Pesuchah' (open). This most appropriately conveys the aforementioned distinction between the respective rewards of Shabbos on the one hand, and the rest of the Mitzvos, on the other.
It's Shabbos that Guards the Jew
One of the many stories told about the Steipler Gaon when he served in the Russian army, is when his troop was instructed to do shooting practice on Shabbos, an activity which the Steipler refused point-blank to participate.
When the commander threatened to shoot him, he calmly informed that he had no right to do that, only to court-marshal him. furious that the Jew dared to disobey him, he consulted his superiors, who agreed with his decision to shoot, should the Steipler refuse once more to obey orders.
Now that it was a matter of life and death, the Steipler picked up his gun. However, in order to minimize the chilul Shabbos, he held it in his right hand and shot in the direction of the target, without taking aim.
The commander gnashed his teeth. but when he saw that the bullet hit the target, dead centre, exempting the Steipler from having to desecrate Shabbos further by having to shoot a second time, he explained in awe, 'Now I know that you are a holy man!'.
Not only did he Then exempt the Steipler from the shooting practice on Shabbos, but, afraid of the consequences of the incident when it became known, he arranged for him to be discharged from the army.
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