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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 26, v. 3: "Higadti ha'yom" - I have today related - These are the first words of the one who brings his "bikurim." What words has he already said? The Sforno says that here "hagodoh" means that he has related information through his actions. By bringing the "bikurim" he has already shown that he understands that his relationship with the land is a fulfillment of the promise Hashem has given to our Patriarchs.

Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel says that "higadti" is sourced from the word meaning a group, as we find that battalions are called "g'dudim," "Gad g'dud y'gu'denu v'hu yogud o'keiv" (Breishis 49:19). Similarly here the person declares that he has brought bundles of produce.

Rabbeinu Bachyei says that it means that he has extracted the sanctity of the land into the fruits that he brings to Yerusholayim.

Ch. 26, v. 10: "V'atoh hi'nei heiveisi" - And now behold I have brought - The medrash comments: "V'atoh," now immediately, "Hi'nei" with happiness, "Heiveisi," I have brought of my own. The first two points are self-understood, but what is added by the third point, given that it is obvious that bringing "bikurim" is the mitzvoh to bring the first-ripened produce of one's own field?

A person sometimes gives generously when he has plenty left for himself, but if giving involves any sort of belt tightening then he gives nothing. The medrash is telling us that the person who brings "bikurim" should even do so when it is "misheli," of my own, and impinges upon what I would have otherwise eaten and it is not excess. (Divrei Shaar Bas Rabim)

Ch. 26, v. 16: "V'shomarto v'ossiso osom" - And you shall safeguard and you shall do them - Rashi says that this is a blessing. A voice from heaven emanates and says, "You have brought the tithe this year. You will merit repeating this next year." It seems that this comment is based on translating "v'ossiso" not as "you SHALL do," but rather, as "you WILL do." The Chasam Sofer raises the question that it seems as if one who brings the tithe will live forever. His son, the Ksav Sofer answers that the intention is that notwithstanding his agricultural success, he will not experience "V'ochalto v'sovoto, Hishomru lochem pen yifteh l'vavchem " (Dvorim 11:16) and ch"v not tithe the following year.

An alternative understanding of "tishneh l'shonoh habo'oh" is that you should merit bringing twice as much next year. (Va'y'da'beir Moshe)

Ch. 27, v. 24: "Orur ma'kei rei'ei'hu baso'ser" - Cursed is the one who smites his friend covertly - If he smites him, why does the Torah call the victim his friend? On a simple level we could say that the perpetrator acts to his victim as a friend, but then smites him in a hidden manner. Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin in Ruach Chaim on Pirkei Ovos at the beginning of chapter 6 explains that a "rei'a" differs from an "ohuv," in that an "ohuv" has a bilateral friendship, each one loves the other. A "rei'a" is a person who loves the other, but this does not mean that it is reciprocal. He cites a verse in Mishlei to prove his point. (This would explain the wording of "Lomoh sakeh l'rei'echo" and "V'ohavto l'rei'acho komocho.") We might say that this is why our verse chooses this term, as the victim loves the attacker, but it is not reciprocal. (n.l.)

Ch. 28, v. 3: "Boruch atoh bo'ir" - Blessed are you in the city - The medrash says that you are to be blessed on account of the mitzvos you do in the city. This is an enigmatic statement. Some people refrain from doing mitzvos in the public eye, a sort of modest behaviour. However, there is a time and a place where the opposite is necessary. When Torah observance has unfortunately ebbed to the point that even those who are still devoted to keeping its mitzvos might be shy to make a display of their actions. At a time like this it is important to publicize one's fulfilling mitzvos, thus providing guidance and a thrust for others to do the same. (Divrei Shaa'rei Chaim)

Ch. 28, v. 15: "V'hoyoh im lo sishma" - And if it will come to pass that you will not hearken - It is the common custom to have the Torah reader, the "baal koreh" receive the "aliyoh" of the admonitions. If another person were to receive this "aliyoh," it might be misconstrued that the "baal koreh" is targeting the "oleh laTorah" with the admonitions. However, if the "baal koreh" receives this "aliyoh" this issue is alleviated. Rabbi Yehoshua Ibn Sho'iv has some harsh words for those who treat the parshios of admonitions lightly: Our Rabbis have explained that the reason for not breaking up the section of the admonitions with separate "aliyos" is to show that we do not despise the admonitions, as per the verse, "Al tokutz b'sochachto." The gemara Megiloh says that the prohibition to break up the admonitions is limited to those in parshas B'chukosai, but the admonitions of our parsha may be broken up into separate "aliyos." The admonitions of B'chukosai correspond to the period of the seventy year exile, and just as that exile had no chance of being shortened, so too, the reading of its admonitions cannot be shortened by breaking it into separate "aliyos." The admonitions of our parsha correspond to our present exile, and just as it can come to an abrupt end, as per the verse, "b'ito achishenoh," so too, an "aliyoh" can be shortened.

However, the custom has been instituted that even those of our parsha are given to only one "oleh laTorah."

The words "al tokutz" mentioned earlier can also be translated as "do not treat them like THORNS." Just as one who walks on thorns tries to get off them quickly, so too, we are told to not treat words of mussar like thorns, but instead be patient and even eager to hear such words. This teaches us that we should not read through the "tochachoh" in a rush, or quietly, as this indicates that we are not really interested. Rather, this section should be read in the same manner as any other section of the Torah is read.

Also, the "oleh laTorah" should not be treated like a poor "victim." He should not be an outsider who is just visiting, or the like. As well, the Torah reader should NOT be the "oleh laTorah." I have heard that the custom of the Rishonim was to have an elder sage be the "oleh laTorah," and with this we have the fulfillment of, "Mussar Hashem bni al timos."

Even though one is permitted to leave a shul "bein gavra l'gavra," between "aliyos," our Gaonim have instituted that no one should leave the shul just before the admonitions are read.

Ch. 28, v. 15: "Lishmore laasose es kol mitzvosov v'chukosov" - To safeguard to do all His precepts and His statutes - In verse 1, where it relates the blessings that are bestowed upon one who complies with Hashem's commands, the verse only says, "Lishmore laasose es kol mitzvosov," but does not mention, "chukosov," His statutes. Perhaps here it is in place to specify even the statutes. Do not think that the admonitions only target one who does not comply with mitzvos for which we have a rationale, but not for mitzvos whose rationale is hidden from us. Therefore the Torah specifies that the admonitions will visit one who does not fulfill even "chukim." (n.l.)



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

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