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Gleaned From the Sfas Emes

by Rabbi Simcha Leib Grossbard

Parshas B'chukosai

Two Kinds of Blessings

Blessings, when Torah is kept...

"And you shall eat ample bread. And you shall dwell in security in your Land." (Vayikra, 26:5)

A similar blessing is found in the previous parsha: "And you shall eat amply. And you shall dwell in security" (25:19). Why is this blessing repeated? Also, why is "bread" mentioned in our verse, and omitted in the verse of the previous parsha?

G-d, in His Goodness, desires that we earn reward - rather than receiving it, unearned - because only in this way do we experience the full sweetness of our reward. This brings out the fullness of reward. The Kabbalistic term n'hama d'kesufah "bread of shame" means food which has not been paid for; it cannot be enjoyed as much as food which has been paid for in full.

Therefore, G-d created an opposing force - the evil inclination - to be fought against so that we can earn our reward, our 'bread'. As we overcome our evil inclination, as we grow wiser and stronger - so must our evil inclination grow too. Only thus, can we continue to earn our 'bread', without shame.

The word "lachmechem" means both "your bread" (from "lechem") and "your fight" (from "locham"). We can propose that the blessing in the previous parsha (where "your bread" is omitted) refers to material abundance and satisfaction. This parsha's blessing which includes the word "lachmechem", which can be translated as "your fight", refers to a spiritual blessing of success in the war against the evil inclination, the staple for growth and reward. (Sfas Emes, Sh'lach 5640)

Let us not waste times of blessing, but capitalize on them for spiritual betterment. Times of blessing can help us attain new spiritual elevation. Once, on a hot Sunday, the air-conditioning unit in the Lakewood Bais haMedrash failed. Rav Aharon Kotler, zt"l, insisted that it be fixed immediately, though to do so on a Sunday meant an extra charge. If comfort induces better learning and aids us in our efforts to attain higher spirituality, then we should not skimpy with such expenditures.

"Gleaned From the Sfas Emes" - excerpts adapted from a soon to be published work, G-d willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of "The Sfas Emes Haggadah" (Targum Press), and "Kasheleg Yalbinu", a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.
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