by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'CHUKOSEI 5760 BS"D
Ch. 26, v. 3: "Im b'chukosei teileichu" - Rashi quotes the Toras Kohanim 26:2 that says that these words teach us that we must toil in Torah study. The Toras Kohanim first says that one might think that this verse refers to the fulfillment of mitzvos, but that is taught by the words "v'es mitzvosai tish'm'ru." Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenuroh explains that at first one might think that the fulfillment of the mitzvos is a concept that fits into the words "im b'chukosei teileichu" more readily, since "teileichu - you shall walk," is what is often required to do mitzvos, as not all opportunities are at hand. Learning and toiling in Torah study is more readily done without walking somewhere, since one can toil in Torah in his home.
If so, why indeed did the Torah express toiling in Torah study as WALKING in my statutes? Perhaps this comes to teach us that one might feel that toiling in Torah is only required when one is in comfortable familiar surroundings, when he does not have to WALK any great distance. If however, circumstances bring a person to leave his home and community, he might not as readily be able to delve into the study of Torah with a clear mind. The Torah therefore tells us that even when "teileichu," when you must be in foreign surroundings, you must still diligently toil in Torah study.
The gemara Nidoh 30b says that during a child's nine month gestation period he is taught the complete Torah. Just prior to birth an angel hits him on his mouth and causes him to forget all the Torah that he was taught. Rabbi Chaim haLevi Soloveitchik asks, "If one is supposed to engage himself in continuous Torah study throughout his life, for what purpose is he born if he already has knowledge of the complete Torah?" He answers that the Torah study during the pre-birth period is lacking TOILING in Torah study as it was spoon-fed to him. Perhaps this concept is alluded to in the words "Im b'chukosei teileichu," - which the Toras Kohanim interprets as TOILING in Torah. If "teileichu," if you see that you are WALKING on the face of the earth, meaning that you realize that you were born, and you raise the question, "Why was I born and not left in a state of knowledge of the complete Torah," the answer is, so that you may toil in Torah study.
The Holy Admor of Modzitz answers the question raised by Rabbi Chaim haLevi Soloveitchik by simply saying that by being placed onto this physical world we are presented with the opportunity and responsibility to FULFILL the mitzvos, not just study them. With this answer he explains the words of Rabbi Yochonon in the Medrash Tanchumoh parshas Ki Sovo #4, who says that one who studies Torah but does not have the intention of fulfilling the mitzvos, it would have been preferable if he would have died in his mother's womb. Since one has learned the complete Torah in his mother's womb, what purpose is there for him to be born if he only learns the Torah but does not plan to fulfill the mitzvos?
Perhaps both the above answers are alluded to in our verse - "Im b'chukosei teileichu," - which the Toras Kohanim interprets as TOILING in Torah, and the next words of the verse, "u'mitzvosai tish'm'ru," - and you will guard my mitzvos.
The following story illustrates in what great esteem the concept of toiling in Torah was held by a Torah giant. A small community in Galicia had a most complicated halachic question. The response to this question could conceivably affect that community most profoundly. Their own Rav had left for a post in a larger community and they had not yet replaced him with another Rav. The community leaders decided that they should bring their query to none other than the world famous Gaon Horav Meshulom Igra who was the Rav in Tismanitz at the time.
The trip entailed staying overnight in an inn. As the community heads were about to leave the inn, a young Torah scholar who had also spent the night in the same inn met them. They struck up a conversation and the Torah scholar was advised of the purpose of the trip of the community leaders. He told them that he was on his way to their community to apply for the vacant position of Rav. He therefore asked them what their halachic question was, offering that perhaps he would be able to answer them. They were reluctant to do so as they were on their way to the great Gaon Rabbi Meshulom Igra. However, they decided to present their question to him just to fulfill his request, but decided that no matter how satisfactory the answer, they would go on to ask Rabbi Meshulom Igro the question and abide by his ruling. After hearing all the details, the young Rabbi requested that they allow him a short period of time to go back to his quarters in the inn so that he may attempt to come up with a proper answer. After a short period of time he returned to them and gave a clear response, albeit quite detailed.
The communal group continued on their trip and presented their complicated question to Rabbi Meshulom Igra. He immediately told them that the matter at hand was most complicated and required him to study many texts in depth until he would be able to formulate an answer and that it would probably take him close to three days to do this. The communal heads waited patiently and after three days the Gaon gave them his decisive response. Imagine their great shock when they heard exactly the same answer that the young scholar had given them in the inn a few days earlier. Rabbi Igra noticed their surprised look and they told him all that had transpired.
Rabbi Meshulom was so impressed by the young scholar that he decided that he must meet a Talmid Chochom of such great stature. After some inquiries he found out where the man lived. He donned his Shabbos apparel in honour of meeting such an outstanding scholar, and when Rabbi Meshulom met him, the young man responded that actually he had not worked out the answer through in depth study. Since he felt hard-pressed to find a position as a Rav and had met the communal leaders of the community to which he planned to apply, he felt this was a most unique opportunity to secure the position if he would properly answer their question. He returned to his room and with heartfelt prayers beseeched Hashem to place the correct answer into his mind. It was obvious that Hashem hearkened to his supplications.
Upon hearing this, Rabbi Meshulom Igra said a quick good-bye, adding that it is no great accomplishment to come to the correct conclusion through prayer. What Hashem wants from us is TOILING in Torah!
Ch. 26, v. 4: "V'nosati gishmeichem b'itom" - The Baal Haturim says that these words follow closely to the last verse of parshas B'har, which mentions Shabbos, to teach us that "b'itom - timely rains," come on Shabbos night, as per the gemara Taanis 23a.
Ch. 26, v. 4: "GishmeiCHEM" - Why doesn't the verse say "g'shomim" rather than "gishmeiCHEM?" The B'eir Yoseif answers with the words of the Medrash Vayikroh Rabboh 27:1. A story is related there of a king from Africa visiting Alexander of Macedonia. The African king asked many questions of Alexander in the vein of gathering information about the justice system of Macedonia. The African king quickly realized that there was no true justice and basically Alexander usurped what he could for the government, a.k.a. himself. Feeling that the people of Macedonia were very unworthy for having such an unjust system, he blurted out, "Does it ever rain in this country?" Alexander promptly responded in the affirmative. The African king retorted, "The rain must come in the merit of the animals that reside here, as the people don't merit it."
The medrash goes on to say that this is a correct concept, as is stated in T'hilim 145:9, "v'rachamov al kol maasov - Hashem's mercy is upon all his creations (even animals)," and even if the people don't deserve rainfall, it may come so that the animals shouldn't suffer, as is also stated in T'hilim 36:7, "odom u'v'heimoh soshia Hashem - You, Hashem bring salvation to man and to animals," to be interpreted as "through the merit of the animals You bring salvation to man."
The blessing of our verse tells us that when we follow Hashem's dictates He will deliver YOUR rains, rains that will come in the merit of the people and not in the merit of animals, in a timely manner.
Ch. 26, v. 11: "V'nosati mishkoni b'soch'chem v'lo sigal Nafshi es'chem" - If Hashem is ready to place His holy dwelling place amongst us, is it not obvious that His Will won't expel us?
1) In T'hilim 24:3 it says, "Mi yaa'leh v'har Hashem u'mi yokum bimkome kodsho." We see from this that even if a person has merited to elevate himself to reach the spiritual apex of "har Hashem" he may still fall, thus necessitating the verse to end with "u'mi yokum bimkome kodsho - and who can MAINTAIN his stance in Hashem's holy place." We find that the bnei Yisroel reached the level of "naa'seh v'nushma" (Shmos 24:7) and yet they fell to the dismal level of creating a golden calf. Therefore Hashem tells us that He will place His dwelling place amongst us and not have His Will expel us, meaning that we have Hashem's assurance that we will not fall from that high level. (Ponim Yofos)
2) The gemara Brochos 5a says that the purpose of suffering is to cleanse the soul of the impurities it has amassed from sinning. Once the soul has been cleansed Hashem's Holy Spirit can rest upon the person. Our verse is thus telling us that once Hashem places His holy dwelling amongst us we will not sin and there will be no need for Hashem's Will to expel (punish) us. (Tiferes Y'honoson)
3) There is a fear that with wealth will come the abominable character trait of haughtiness. Our verse tells us, however, that if the wealth comes as a result of following Hashem's statutes, "Im b'chukosei teileichu," then no bad results will come out of it. (Arvei Nachal in parshas Va'yeishev)
4) Hashem will place His holy dwelling place amongst us because of the vast majority of bnei Yisroel who heed His word. His Will won't expel us in spite of the very small minority of bnei Yisroel who do not heed His word. (N'tzi"v)
Ch. 26, v. 13: "Ani Hashem Elokeichem ...... kom'miyus" - Rabbeinu Efrayim points out that this verse begins with an Alef and ends with a Sof, the first and last letters of the Alef-Beis, to indicate that the blessings will be delivered to those who fulfill the Torah's dictates in a complete manner. Rabbeinu Bachyei says that the chapter of blessing in our parsha begins with an Alef in 26:1, "*I*m b'chukosei teileichu," and ends with a Sof in our verse, "kom'miyu*S*," to indicate that the blessings will come in an all encompassing manner. However the admonitions begin with the letter Vov in 26:14, "*V*'im lo sishmu," and end with the letter Hei in 26:46, "b'yad Moshe*H*," to indicate that the admonitions will be short-lived and be considered negligible, as if they go in reverse and cease to exist. Possibly the choice of the letters Vov and Hei is to incorporate part of Hashem's Holy Name of mercy to soften the blow of the admonitions.
Ch. 26, v. 13: "Vo'olich es'chem kom'miyus" - We find the word "kom'miyus in our daily prayer of "Ahavas Olom" (alternatively "Ahavoh Raboh" in nusach Ashkenaz). We pray "V'soli'cheinu KOM'MIYUS l'artzeinu." A similar expression with a slight variation appears in birkas hamozone. I heard a very insightful interpretation into these words. It is well known that even people who live outside of Eretz Yisroel want to be buried in Eretz Yisroel. They are transported there after their death in a casket. We pray to Hashem, "May it be Your will that You will bring us KOM'MIYUS l'artzeinu," upright in a vertical position to Eretz Yisroel, rather than after death in a horizontal position.
Answer to question in parshas K'doshim:
Ch. 20, v. 27: "Bo'evven yir'g'mu osom d'mei'hem bom"- At the end of parshas Vayikroh it was mentioned that we do not end a parshas with a negative statement. The last words in our final verse seem to be quite negative.
I came across the following in the name of R. Yoseif Zvi Duchinsky. In reference to the mekallel at the end of parshas Emor, he writes that when there is an evil man in the camp of Israel, that is a stumbling block for serving G-d, and it hinders others in serving Him. Now that they had killed the wicked man, Israel could observe Torah and mitzvos without hindrance. Indeed, from then on Israel did as G-d commanded Moses.
Do you think that the above might explain the ov ve-yidoni? Reliance on such esoteric forces takes away the special relationship the Israelites have with G-d: as in parshas Shoftim: "You shall be perfect with the L-rd your G-d" (see Rashi ad loc).
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH.
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