Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
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Ch. 21, v. 2: "L'imo u'l'oviv" - Here by the regular Kohein, where the Torah permits defiling oneself to a deceased parent the Torah mentions a mother first, to indicate that even when the Kohein's father is still living he may defile himself to his mother. One might have thought that this would only be permitted when the Kohein's father is no longer living and in some circumstances his mother has no one else to involve himself with her burial except for her son the Kohein.

By the case of the Kohein Godol's parents death, where the Torah prohibits his defiling himself (21:11), the Torah first mentions his father to tell you that even if the Kohein Godol's father has already died, his son may not defile himself to his mother, even though her husband is not alive to tend to her burial needs. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

Ch. 21, v. 9: "Es ovihoh hee m'chaleles bo'eish tisoreif" - The gemara Makos 2a tells us that if witnesses are found guilty of lying in the manner called "hazomoh", the Torah mandates a reciprocal punishment. The gemara Sanhedrin 90a says that if witnesses were caught lying about the daughter of a Kohein having committed adultery, they do not receive the punishment of the Kohein's daughter, "sreifoh," but rather the punishment which would be meted out to the adulterer who has committed this sin, "chenek." This is derived from the word "l'ochiv" in Dvorim 19:19.

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that since the Torah stresses that when a Kohein's daughter commits this sin, it is not only a blemish upon her, but also a great disgrace for her father, once found innocent, the Torah does not want to reciprocate with the punishment for adultery which is administered uniquely to the daughter of a Kohein. The fanfare created by killing by way of "sreifoh," even if applied to the false witnesses, would advertise that the Kohein's daughter was accused of this terrible sin, and would undeservedly heap shame upon the Kohein. Therefore the false witnesses receive the punishment reserved for the man and not the woman.

Ch. 23, v. 3: "Shabbos hee laShem b'chole moshvoseichem" - What do we learn from the words "b'chole moshvoseichem" - in all your dwellings? Rashi (Mechilta #217) on parshas Mishpotim (23:12) writes that since "shmitoh" is called "Shabbos," we might incorrectly conclude that there is no addition to the sanctity of "shmitoh Shabbos" and the prohibition against work on the weekly Shabbos does not apply. Therefore Shabbos is placed right after "shmitoh" to teach us that Shabbos restrictions still apply. Indeed, the Saducees misinterpreted the Torah and derived from the words "bechorish uvakotzir tishbose" (Shmos 34:21) that one is required to keep the Shabbos holy only when there is a Shabbos restriction to not plow nor to harvest. During the "shmitoh" year when there is a prohibition to plow or harvest every day of the week there is no Shabbos (gemara Horios 4b). Following their mistaken reasoning, Shabbos would still apply outside of Eretz Yisroel even on a "shmitoh" year, as plowing and harvesting are always permitted outside of Eretz Yisroel. We would thus have the anomaly of having Shabbos outside of Eretz Yisroel during a "shmitoh" year, while there would be no Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel. The Torah is teaching us that the ruling of the Saducees is false, by stating that Shabbos applies "b'chole moshvoseichem," in all your dwellings, whether they be in or outside of Eretz Yisroel. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

Ch. 23, v. 10: “Ho’oretz asher ani NOSEIN” - In Bmidbar 32:5 the verse says, “Yutan es ho’oretz hazose laavo’decho,” may this land be given to your servants (Reuvein and Gad). The recital when bringing “bikurim,” the first-ripened fruit to the Beis Hamikdosh, includes thanks for living in the Holy Land, “V'eis ho'adomoh asher nosatoh lonu …… eretz zovas cholov udvosh," and the land that You gave us …… a land that flows milk and honey (Dvorim 26:15). The gemara Yerushalmi Bikurim 1:8 states two opinions regarding land requirements for the mitzvoh of bringing bikurim. One opinion is that bikurim can only be brought from produce grown in Eretz Yisroel, since the verse says “eretz zovas cholov udvosh.” Only west of the Jordan Eretz Yisroel has this accolade. A second opinion is that the stress should be placed on the words “asher nosatoh lonu,” meaning that only Eretz Yisroel that was GIVEN to us, is the land from which bikurim may be brought. (The parcels of land that were given to the tribes of Reuvein and Gad were REQUESTED by these tribes.) The gemara says that there is a difference in law between these two reasons. According to the opinion that we require a land that flows milk and honey, even the land parcel of half the tribe of Menasheh that was outside Eretz Yisroel is exempt from bikurim, while according to the opinion that bikurim is brought only from a land that was GIVEN, there is a requirement to bring bikurim from the land of Menasheh even though it does not flow milk and honey, but nevertheless, because the tribe of Menasheh did not request this land bikurim must be brought.

Based on this we have an answer to a difficulty the MESHECH CHOCHMOH raises on the opinion of Rashi in Sanhedrin 10b. Rashi states that the “omer” meal offering may be brought from barley grown on the Trans-Jordanian side. The Ran in his commentary on the gemara N’dorim disagrees and says that it may only be brought from the western side of the Jordan. MESHECH CHOCHMOH, based on the derivation of “asher nosatoh lonu,” and not that which was requested, says that we should likewise derive from the words of our verse, “ho’oretz asher ani NOSEIN" that “omer” can only be brought from the west of the Jordan, as the Trans-Jordanian lands were requested.

However, it seems that this should present no difficulty for Rashi, based on the above gemara Yerushalmi. The land given to the half of Menasheh tribe was not by virtue of their request, and there is no reason to exclude it from “omer,” and this could well be Rashi’s intention, that omer may be brought from the area of Menasheh. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 23, v. 11,15: "Mimochoras haShabbos y'ni'fenu hakohein, Usfartem lochem mimochoras haShabbos" - On the morning after the Shabbos the Kohein should wave it, And you shall count for yourselves from the morning after the Shabbos - Rashi (gemara M'nochos 65b) says that the word "Shabbos" in these verses means the first day of Pesach. The gemara M'nochos 65b-66a brings no less than 8 proofs that "Shabbos" means the first day of Pesach, and not Shabbos the 7th day of the week, contrary to the incorrect position of the Saducees. Why indeed does the Torah express itself with the word "Shabbos," rather than simply stating "mimochoras haPesach" or the like?

1) Shabbos means cessation. We count the days of the week as the first day, the second day, etc., until we reach Shabbos. We then start again from the first day. Thus Shabbos brings to an end and ceases the previous count and the following day is the beginning of a new count. The requirement to start counting from the day after the first day of Pesach justifiably gives it the nature of Shabbos and therefore the same appellation. (Mahara"l of Prague in Gur Aryeh)

2) The Rambam in hilchos chometz u'matzoh 7:1 writes that from the words "Zochor es ha'yom ha'zeh asher y'tzo'sem miMitzrayim" (Shmos 13:3) we derive that it is a mitzvoh on the first night of Pesach to relate the miracles and exodus which took place on this night, similar to that which is written, "Zochor es yom haShabbos l'kadsho (Shmos 20:8)." What is the intention of the Rambam in equating Pesach to Shabbos because of the common word ZOCHOR found by both? One can view the calendar anniversary of a Yom Tov as a commemoration of that which has taken place in the ancient past. However, regarding Pesach, we say in the Hagodoh, "Chayov odom liros es atzmo k'ilu hu yotzo miMitzrayim," - It is incumbent upon a person to consider himself as one who has personally left Egypt. The Rambam's text in the Hagodoh is, "k'ilu hu yotzo ATTOH," - as if he has NOW left. This is not a commemorative vicarious experience, but rather it should be considered as our personal event. Shabbos likewise is not a commemoration. It is our active testimony that Hashem made the world in six days and ceased from further creation on the seventh. This might be the intention of the Rambam in his comparison. Perhaps this is also the reason the Torah calls Pesach Shabbos, to teach us that the Pesach experience is to be viewed as our own present-day occurrence. (Nirreh li)

3) If the verse were to say either "mimochoras haCHAG" or "mimochoras haMO'EID" we would mistakenly understand this to mean the day after the 7 day holiday of Pesach ends. If the verse were to say "mimochoras haPESACH" we would still incorrectly interpret this to mean the morning after sacrificing the Paschal lamb, the 15th of Nison, as we find in Bmidbar 33:3, "Mimochoras haPesach yotzu vnei Yisroel." By saying "mimochoras haShabbos" it is clear that the intention is the day following the day of restriction from work, the 16th of Nison. (Malbi"m)

Shaarei Aharon asks that it still remains to be explained why the verse didn't say "mimochoras Yom (Tov) horishon shel Pesach." Perhaps this can be answered by saying that the first Pesach lasted only one day so there was no second section of Yom Tov, and although here we are discussing Pesach for later generations, the Torah did not want to express itself in a manner that is not consistent with the original Pesach, the forerunner for all later P'sochim.

4) Since the verse is discussing an offering in the Beis Hamikdosh, there is no difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov. Although regarding our own activities there is the difference of the leniency of "ochel nefesh," and that is why Yom Tov is sometimes called "Shabbosone" with the added diminutive letters Vov-Nun (Vayikroh 23:24,29), in the Beis Hamikdosh there is no difference, as any sacrifice that is a requirement and has a set time is to be processed even at the expense of the laws of Shabbos. (Abarbenel and N'tzi"v in Haa'meik Dovor) This explanation is more readily understood in verse 11 where we have the command to bring the "omer" offerings, but in verse 15, where the thrust is the mitzvoh of counting, even though the verse uses the day of the offerings as the starting point for counting, this is less well understood.

5) As long as the bnei Yisroel were in Egypt they were in a defiled environment. This ended on the 15th of Nison, the day they left Egypt. They then began counting days and weeks of purity, in preparation for receiving the Holy Torah. Therefore this day is called Shabbos, meaning the day of cessation of defilement. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

6) We derive from the words "reishis k'tzirchem" - the first of your harvest - in the previous verse, that one may not begin to harvest his crop until the "omer" offering is brought (gemara M'nochos 71a). Not harvesting is one aspect of not pursuing normal agricultural activities. This restraint is called "Shabbos" in Vayikroh 25:2, "V'shovsoh ho'oretz SHABBOS laShem." Since the day before the "omer" offering is brought still has this restriction, it is called "Shabbos." (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)

7) In "kiddush" of Shabbos we say that Shabbos is "Zeicher litzias Mitzroyim." In what way is Shabbos a reminder of the exodus from Egypt? The Mahara"l of Prague in G'vuros Hashem chapter #44 writes that a day of rest is only appropriate for one who has a clearly defined direction and goal. Gentiles do not have this and they are therefore forbidden to set aside a regular day of rest, "aku"m sheshovas chayov misoh" (gemara Sanhedrin 58b). It is only by virtue of Hashem's taking us out of Egypt to serve him that we have Divine direction and goals. This intertwining of Shabbos and Pesach gives Pesach the title of Shabbos, as it is the source of our being allowed (and required) to cease from many worldly pursuits. (Nirreh li)

8) One is responsible to have his leavened food cease to exist by the 15th of Nison, as expressed in the verse, "Ba'yom horishon TASHBISU s'ore mibo'teichem" (Shmos 12:15). "Mimochoras haShabbos" means the morning after you cause your "chometz" to CEASE to exist. (Haksav V'hakaboloh and MESHECH CHOCHMOH) I have a bit of difficulty understanding this because the verse of "tashbisu" refers to the 14th of Nison. Perhaps because during the first half of the day "chometz" is permitted, the 14th is not considered a day of cessation, even though the mitzvoh takes place during that day.

9) By analyzing and comparing the laws of Shabbos and Yom Tov, we find that Yom Tov is a holiday that allow us to involve others in serving Hashem with us in unison. For example, it is permitted to cook and bake on Yom Tov itself. It is also permitted to carry food items ("ho'il" allows for other items as well) from one domain to another. These two leniencies allow us to accommodate guests in joining us in our meals even if we had no prior notice. This allows for joining in a group in the service of Hashem in celebrating Yom Tov. Shabbos has a different character. The above-mentioned leniencies do not exist. Shabbos is the service of Hashem as individuals, although the service of each individual is towards the same goal, somewhat like the individual spokes of a wheel that all lead to one central point.

However, the Pesach in Egypt had the characteristics of Shabbos, as there was a restriction to leave one's home (Shmos 12:22). In remembrance of the unique character of the original Pesach the Torah calls its first day Shabbos. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)

10) The year since creation of this command was 2449. This is the 17th year in the 127th cycle of 19 year cycles. The 17th year is "m'uberres," i.e. it has 13 months. Given that the bnei Yisroel left Egypt on a Thursday, and applying some other rules of when specific Yomim Tovim can and cannot fall on certain days of the week, we find that the first day of Pesach of year 2449 fell on Shabbos. (Droshos HoRavi"l in Yad Shluchoh)

This still does not explain why this day is not expressed as Pesach or "chag." As well, it is misleading for future years.

11) Before the giving of the Torah calendar days ran from daybreak to daybreak. Thus when the bnei Yisroel were commanded to "process the Pesach offering," meaning to consume it (This is contrary to the Malbim mentioned earlier in #3), it referred to the night but it was still the 14th of Nison. "Mimochoras haPesach" of eating the Paschal lamb would mean on the 15th of Nison. Our verse was transmitted before the second Pesach. When our verse mentions "mimochoras haShabbos," again referring to the day after consuming the Paschal lamb, it refers to the day after eating the lamb at night, but now that was on the 15th. Had our verse said "mimochoras haPesach" it would have been unclear if it means on the 15th as it did the previous year, or the 16th. The verse therefore expresses itself with "mimochoras haShabbos," the day after the restraint from work, which was the 15th in the previous year as well, and "mimochoras haShabbos" is unambiguously the 16th. (MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki)

Ch. 23, v. 22, 24: "U'v'kutz'r'chem .. lo s'cha'leh pas sodcho, Bachodesh hashvii b'echod lachodesh" - The M.R. Vayikra 29:2 brings the verse in Yirmiyohu 39:11, "Ki e'e'seh choloh b'chol hagoyim .. ach os'cho lo e'e'seh choloh," and comments that the nations who totally end their fields, i.e. harvest everything for themselves and leave nothing for the poor, I will bring to an end. However, the bnei Yisroel who do not end their fields, i.e. they leave over that which the Torah prescribes (two of these items are mentioned in our verse), I will in turn not bring to an end. The M.R. ends by saying that with this interpretation we understand the juxtaposition of "lo s'cha'leh pas sodcho" to "bachodesh hashvii b'echod lachodesh." The M.R. requires elucidation, although it is clear that the last words come to answer why some of the laws of agricultural charity are placed in the middle of the listing of Yomim Tovim, between Shovuos and Rosh Hashonoh.

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains the M.R. by predicating the verse in Thilim 9:9, "V'hu yishpote teiveil b'tzedek u'l'umim b'meishorim," that Hashem judges the world with righteousness. The gemara R.H. 16b and Yerushalmi R.H. 1:3 say that Hashem judges a person "ba'asher hu shom" (Breishis 21:17), as per his present status. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH proposes a novel interpretation that this not only means "his present status" in relation to his future status, as was the case with Yishmo'eil, but also in relation to his previous status, i.e. if he sinned a while back and more recently has not sinned, he is judged more leniently, and also conversely, if he has fulfilled many mitzvos earlier, and more recently has not done so, he is judges less favourably.

In earlier generations the majority of people were involved in agricultural pursuits, both Jews and non-Jews. Thus in the winter, when the larder is full and there are no agricultural activities, one can occupy himself with his true interests. The majority of bnei Yisroel will busy themselves with Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos, while the majority of non-Jews would indulge in all sorts of inappropriate activities. When spring comes and one must involve himself in the field, there is no major difference in the activities between these two groups, as all must plow, fertilize, sow, etc., leaving little time for either doing mitzvos or for sinful indulgence. It is therefore most surprising that Hashem has placed Rosh Hashonoh, the day of judgment towards the end of the agricultural season, when the mitzvos of the bnei Yisroel wane and the sins of the non-bnei Yisroel also wane. Why not have Rosh Hashonoh in the spring shortly before Pesach, when the "ba'asher hu shom," recent behaviour, of the bnei Yisroel's mitzvos are the strongest, and the "a'veiros" of the nations are the strongest?

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers with the gemara B.B. 11a. The gemara relates the story of Binyomin "hatzadik," the righteous Binyomin. He administered charity in his community, distributing it to the needy. During a year of famine a woman approached him, imploring him to give her some charity. All funds had been exhausted, as it was a year of famine. He told her that the coffers were empty. She responded that if he would give r no charity, she feared that she and her seven children would die of starvation. He responded by digging into his own funds and helping her. Later, while still quite young, he became deathly ill. The administering angels in heaven appeared in front of Hashem, pleading his case. "Master of the world, You have stated, 'Whoever sustains even one person it is as if he has sustained the whole world' (mishneh in Sanhedrin 37a, M.R. Bmidbar 23:6, Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 48). How then can Binyomin the righteous, who sustained a needy woman and her seven children die at such a young age?" The negative decree was immediately destroyed, and 22 years were added to his life.

It is obvious that notwithstanding this great act of kindness, Binyomin was a very righteous man, as he was called "Binyomin the righteous" before he responded so charitably. If so, why weren't his other meritorious acts sufficient grounds to grant him long life? It seems that righteousness alone is insufficient to guarantee long life. However, by his doing an act that extended others' lives, he in return was also granted an extension to his years, "midoh k'neged midoh," reward in kind.

We now understand why Hashem placed Rosh Hashonoh towards the end of the agricultural season. This gives us the opportunity to leave over "leket, shokchoh, pei'oh, ol'lose," and "perret" for the needy, thus sustaining them and in turn being a merit to extend our lives. These particular objects are different from tithes and Trumoh, in that tithes and Trumoh may be given to the recipient of your choice, thus directly benefiting the giver as well. However the items mentioned in our verse are left to any person who deems himself poor, with no control by the farmer on whom the recipient will be, whether he is worthy in the eyes of the farmer or not. So also in kind we activate a similar response in heaven, that our lives be extended even if we are not so worthy.

This is the intention of the M.R. Because the non-ben Yisroel takes all for himself he has no merit to be dealt with in such a kind manner, but the bnei Yisroel who do not annihilate (take all produce for themselves) the field will in turn not be destroyed, as per the verse in Yirmiyohu 30:11.

Although it does not offer an understanding of this M.R., possibly another answer to the MESHECH CHOCHMOH's question of why Rosh Hashonoh does not occur before the agricultural season begins is that Hashem is not ready to judge a person only when he has free time to study the Torah and fulfill a limited amount of mitzvos. The acid test of the Torah knowledge one has in practical application, if it has permeated his being, in the realm of mitzvos between man and man, "bein odom lacha'veiro," takes place during the agricultural season. We then see if he treats his workers fairly, paying them on time, honouring his financial commitments, not overworking them, selling and buying these goods in an honest and fair manner, and giving and leaving of his produce for the less fortunate. Then, and only then, is Hashem ready to judge us.

Ch. 23, v.31: "Kol m'lochoh lo saasu chukas olom l'doroseichem" - The MESHECH CHOCHMOH asks why the verse only mentions the restriction to work as a statute for all time, and not the restriction to eat or drink. He answers that since King Shlomo waived the restriction to eat or drink on Yom Kippur when the Beis Hamikdosh was completed, the prohibition to eat and drink is not for all times. Therefore our verse only mentions the restriction to work as a law for all times.

I have a bit of difficulty with this from Vayikroh 16:31 which says, "Shabbas Shabbosone hee lochem v'ini'sem es nafshoseichem chukas olom." We see the Torah mentioning that the law applies to all times regarding both the restraint from work and to afflict oneself (fasting). Perhaps the word "l'doroseichem" missing in 16:31 and appearing in 23:31 makes a difference.

Ch. 23, v. 32: "Shabbos shabbosone HU lochem" - In parshas Acharei Mose (16:31) it says "Shabbos shabbosone HEE lochem." The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says that our verse refers to the DAY (DAY being masculine) of Yom Kippur being a day of total rest, refraining from even doing "m'leches ocheil nefesh," just as Shabbos is called "Shabbos Shabbosone" in numerous places (as in Shmos 16:23, 31:15, 35:2). The verse in Acharei Mose tells us that the "shvisoh" (FEMININE), the refraining from activities, belongs to you. As explained by the Ra"n on the gemara Yoma 76a, the Torah requires more deprivation on Yom Kippur than just refraining from eating and drinking. Which deprivations these are, is given to the Rabbis to decide. This is expressed in the words "Shabbos Shobbosone HEE LOCHEM" that the decision of what is considered an appropriate "shvisoh," manner of refraining, is LOCHEM, is given into the hands of the Rabbis.

Ch. 24, v. 23: "Uvnei Yisroel ossu kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe" - And the bnei Yisroel did as Hashem commanded Moshe - Since the verse says that they put the blasphemer to death, what information is added with these words? M.R. Vayikra relates that the blasphemer had earlier spoken of the mitzvoh of "lechem haponim" with great derision. He said that week-old bread was totally inappropriate for Hashem. Although he also blasphemed and was put to death, seemingly a strong antidote for any thoughts of copying him, nevertheless, there is the fear that his words of derision cheapened the mitzvoh of bringing "lechem haponim" for Hashem. The Torah therefore concludes that the bnei Yisroel continued fulfilling this mitzvoh just as Hashem commanded them through Moshe, with no less respect or enthusiasm. (Meshech Chochmoh)


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