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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 25, v. 1: "B'har Sinai" - On Mount Sinai - Toras Kohanim asks: "Mah inyan shmitoh eitzel har Sinai?" What connection is there between the laws of shmitoh and Mount Sinai? The gemara Megiloh 29a says that numerous mountains claimed that they deserved to be the site of the giving of the Torah. Hashem chose Mount Sinai because it was not an especially tall mountain. This teaches us that less results in more, a smaller mountain than others vying with it, became Hashem's choice for this most momentous historical happening. Similarly, leaving one's fields fallow seems to be a path that would lead to having smaller crops. In fact the opposite is true. By virtue of fulfilling this mitzvoh, Hashem sends a great blessing into the agricultural results of all the other years. (Ben Ish Chai)

Don't spend the year off from agricultural activities as a year long vacation. Shmitoh is mentioned alongside Mount Sinai teaches us that the year should be spent studying Torah full-time. (Yismach Yisroel)

Ch. 25, v. 4: "Shabas Shaboson yi'h'yeh lo'oretz" - A total rest shall there be for the land - Shouldn't the verse have said "Bo'oretz," IN the land? After all, the rest is for the farmers, not the land. During the six years of agricultural pursuits, people rest every seventh day, but the land still does its thing, supplying minerals for the fruit and vegetables, and aiding in their growth. How many days of Shabbos and Yom Tov are there in six years. Since there are 13 month years to keep in stride with the solar year, we may calculate 52 week years. This gives us 52 Shabbosos. Every year has 2 Yom Tov days of Pesach, one of Shovuos, one of Rosh Hashonoh, one of Yom Kipur, one of Sukos, and one of Shmini Atzeres. This totals 59 days yearly, times six years = 354 days, a lunar year. Refraining from agricultural pursuits on the shmitoh year allows the land itself to rest from producing for a full year, to make up for a year of growth on Shabbosos and Yomim Tovim during the six other years. (Tiferes Y'honoson)

I have a problem with this calculation, as every year there must be at least one day of Shabbos and Yom Tov overlapping, reducing the total by at least seven days.

Ch. 25, v. 6,7: "Lochem l'ochloh, V'livhem't'cho" - For you to eat, And for your animal - Based on the rule that we must first feed our animals, derived from the words, "V'nosati eisev b'sodcho livhemtecho v'ochalto v'sovoto" (Dvorim 11:15), why is "your eating" mentioned before "and for your animal"?

Sh'ilas Yaavetz offers an insight into this order. Since our animals work for us to produce the food, it is only appropriate that we feed them first. Since during the shmitoh year we do no agricultural activities, the animals likewise do no work. During this year we have the right to eat first. (Daas Sofer)

Ch. 25, v. 9: "V'haavarto Shofar Tru'oh Bachodesh Hashvii" - And you shall sound a shofar on the seventh month - The first letters of these words form the word "teshuvoh." This alludes to Tishrei being the month that is most appropriate for repentance. (Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel)

Ch. 25, v. 14: "V'al tonu ish es amiso" - And you shall not deceive one another - The word "tonu" is in the plural form. This is puzzling because in any given transaction only one person is deceiving the other. The Holy Alshich answers that even if the seller gives an item that is faulty or short-weighted, and the buyer likewise gives short-weighted money unbeknown to the seller (in the good old days a coin's value depended upon its metallic content), and these two shortcomings counter-balance each other, both people have transgressed this prohibition.

Ch. 25, v. 17: "V'lo sonu ish es amiso" - And you shall not aggravate your friend - This prohibition, in contradistinction with a similar prohibition in verse 14, mandates that we not cause our fellow Jew aggravation with our words.

The Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 7:8 writes: "Baa'lei teshuvoh are in general people who are modest and unpretentious. If they hear the deriding words of others, reminding them of their sinful past, they should be happy with their present state, realizing that they now have great merits. The embarrassment caused them further cleanses them. However, those who criticize them have transgressed the great sin of 'v'lo sonu ish es amiso.'"

Sefer Chasidim #44 writes that paining a person is akin to paining the whole world, as a person is a microcosm. For every tiny bit of pain caused he will be brought to judgment, as per the verse, "Ki al kol eileh y'viacho hoElokim bamishpot" (Ko'heles 11:9).

Ch. 25, v. 20: "Mah nochal bashonoh hashviis" - What will we eat during the seventh year - Since the crops that were grown during the sixth year, a non-shmitoh year, sustain the farmer in the following year, just as any year supplies food for the following, the farmer's concern should not be the seventh year, but rather, the eighth year. The Trumas Ha'deshen in Biu'rei Mahara"i answers that a person who sees no visible means of sustenance in the eighth year will be very sparing with the food available in the seventh year, so he is struck with the perceived problem of the seventh year first.

Ch. 26, v. 2: "Es Shabsosai tishmoru umikdoshi tiro'u" And My Shabbosos you shall safeguard and My sanctuary you shall fear" - The guarding of Shabbos is expressed here in the plural form, while in the Ten Commandments it is expressed in the singular form, "Shomor es yom haShabbos l'kadsho" (Dvorim 5:12). This is because the verse in the Ten Commandments refers to Shabbos violation that is punishable by death (as are numerous other prohibitions in the Ten Commandments), and this requires only one person doing the act, as per the gemara Shabbos 92b. Nevertheless, even when two people desecrate the Shabbos in tandem, it is prohibited, even to build the Mikdosh, so our verse is expressed in the plural form. Similarly in parshas Ki Siso (Shmos 31:14,16), where the verses likewise advise that Shabbos is not sidelined by the building of the Mishkon (according to Rashi), the verse also expresses itself in the plural form. (Meshech Chochmoh)


Ch. 26, v. 3: "V'es mitzvosai tishmoru" - And My precepts you shall safeguard - Toldos Yitzchok translates "tishmoru" as "You shall wait, as in "V'oviv shomar es hadovor" (Breishis 37:11). Not only should a person do a mitzvoh when it is at hand, but he should eagerly await its coming, and them do them with alacrity, "Vaasi'sem osom."

Ch. 26, v. 4: "V'nosati gismeichem b'itom" - And I will give your rains in a timely manner - Rashi says that this is Friday night. The Holy Noam Elimelech in I'geres Hakodesh writes in the name of a great personage that there are people who totally immerse themselves in pursuit of the spiritual, to the point that they have no appetite for physical pursuits, the most common being eating, drinking, receiving honour, and physical relations. However, a person must take care of his health and reproduce. Hashem, in His great mercy, leaves such an exalted person on his lofty level, and only when he needs the urge for physical pursuits, Hashem give it to him, only to have it disappear immediately after it is no longer required. This is "v'nosati gishmeichem," I will give you your physical urges, "b'itom," only in the time they are needed. Rashi says that this is on Friday night, the required time for Torah scholars to have relations.

Ch. 26, v. 10,11: "V'yoshon mipnei chodosh totziu, V'nosati mishkoni b'sochachem" - And old in the face of new you shall take out, And I will place My Mishkon in your midst - The gmera Y'vomos 62 says that Moshiach ben Dovid will only come when all the souls will be emptied out of the storage house called "guf." The Holy Zohar in parshas P'kudei writes that until the destruction of the Mikdosh newborn people had new souls. After its destruction only recycled souls requiring some correction or fulfillment, "tikun," are given. Only after Moshiach comes will new souls again be given. The Ari z"l writes that this is the intention of these words of our two verses. Old souls will be taken for newborns before new ones. Once the new ones are being distributed, in the days of Moshiach, Hashem will again place His Sanctuary in our midst. (Nachal K'dumim)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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