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Pop Quiz: If a man between 20 and 60 years old vows to donate his worth to the Bet Hamikdash, how much must he give?

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"If you will say 'What will we eat in the seventh year?'" (Vayikra 25:20)

The Torah commands the Jewish people to keep the laws of shemitah (sabbatical) and to refrain from planting or harvesting during the seventh year. Hashem promised that if they kept the laws properly, they would be blessed with an abundance of crops during the sixth year which would provide for them until the next planting.

The question is, if so, why will the Jews ask "what will we eat on the seventh year" if they already saw the blessing during the sixth year?

One of the commentaries answers that this question will be posed before the sixth year, even during the times of plenty, because it is not really a logical question , but rather, it reflects anxiety and worry by the Jewish people. It is possible for many of us to have abundance for the present and lack nothing, and still we will worry about the future to the extent that we don't even enjoy what we really have. It is OK to prepare for the unknown but we should differentiate between logical concern and irrational worry and anxiety.

The way to overcome these kinds of feelings is through faith and trust in G-d, which the misvah of shemitah helped to instill in the Jews. There are many other commandments which also teach us this very important lesson of faith, such as closing our businesses for Shabbat and holidays, and the monetary laws which demand that we act in a very scrupulous manner. One who tries to strengthen his faith in Hashem will not only have peace of mind about the future, but will enjoy the present as well.

By Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And I shall remember for them the covenant of the ancients" (Vayikra 26:45)

This week we read two perashiot: Behar and Behukotai. The second perashah contains what are called the rebukes. Hashem warns His Jewish people what will happen if they fail to live up to the Torah standards. What is described is frightening to anyone who reads it. We all know the terrible tragedies that have occurred to our people. It causes one to wonder about the purpose of it all. The Melitz Yosher brings an interesting analogy that can bring things into focus.

If someone who is wealthy and powerful becomes ill, the efforts spent to help that person are very great. If the sick person is someone that the whole world needs, they will bring to him the greatest doctors and professors to save him. They will not lose hope. Even if they see he is about to die, they would continue with the most precious and rare medications hoping that maybe they will help.

It is the same when one sees the great retribution brought upon our people, which in reality are very expensive and rare medications. These are the great efforts that are being done to heal this nation from its spiritual illnesses. All of this points to the importance of these people. They are powerful; they are needed by the entire world. It is very important that this nation returns to its original strength. As the Torah says, Hashem does not forget the covenant he had with our ancient and great ancestors. Knowing all this, the retributions listed in the Torah are really statements describing our greatness. Shabbat Shalom.


"The land shall observe a Shabbat rest for G-d" (Vayikra 25:2)

The word 'Shabbat' is superfluous. It could have said "The land shall observe a rest for Hashem."

The solar calendar contains approximately 365 days, which equal 52 weeks plus one day. Since, in every period of seven days there is a Shabbat, during the entire year there are at least 52 Shabbatot with one extra Shabbat every seven years. When the farmer uses his land, in reality it is working continuously every day of the week and not resting on Shabbat.

In a period of six years the land works a total of 312 Shabbatot. Therefore, the Torah designates the seventh year as shemitah, so that for 312 days plus the 52 Shabbat days of the seventh year, and one additional Shabbat which accumulated over the seven year period, the land will rest and totally observe Shabbat to Hashem. (Vedibarta Bam)


"Ten miracles were done to our forefathers in the Bet Hamikdash...a fly was never seen in the slaughterhouse." (Pirkei Abot 5:4)

The Ben Ish Hai in Hasdei Abot says that this mishnah teaches an important lesson to remember when battling the yeser hara (evil inclination). A person, when he thinks about his physical beginnings, and that he is destined to end as dust in the earth, may come to think that his physical nature will inevitably draw him to sin. It is almost against his will. Therefore, he may convince himself, "how could I be punished for doing something over which I had no control?"

This is the lesson we are to learn from the fact that not a single fly was ever seen in the slaughterhouse of the Bet Hamikdash. It is logical to expect a place like that to be filled with flies. However, since the place was filled with holiness, the fly, which represents impurity was not able to enter. All the more so, a person who instills within himself a spirit of holiness by involving himself with Torah and misvot will be able to push off any forces of impurity, even though his physical composition would seem to push him in the other direction.

Answer to pop quiz: Fifty silver shekels.

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