shore.gif (51285 bytes)

Back to this week's parsha

Archive of previous issues


August 22, 1998 30 Ab 5758

Rosh Hodesh Elul will be observed on Shabbat and Sunday, August 22 & 23.

Pop Quiz: What is one required to do with his firstborn cattle?

by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"When you do what is good and right in the eyes of Hashem, your G-d" (Debarim 12:28)

In our perashah we are commanded not to eat blood. In pasuk 25 it says, "And you shall do what is right in the eyes of Hashem." The Seforno explains that you should refrain from eating blood not because you find it disgusting, but because you wish to do what is right in the eyes of Hashem. The same applies to all the commandments. While it is good to look for intellectual or emotional justifications for the performance of the misvot, these are only aids, but should never become the main reason for obedience to the Torah. The essential intention must be to obey G-d.

Later on the Torah, in pasuk 28, speaks about all of the misvot and repeats the same words with a little change. It adds "Do what is GOOD and what is RIGHT. Rashi explains, good in the eyes of Hashem and right in the eyes of man. When we do any misvot, easy ones or hard ones, they should be done both good and right. What does that Rashi really mean? Rabbi Eliyahu Mair Bloch explains that it is not good to be good only in the eyes of Hashem. Every good thing that should be done in the eyes of Hashem should be done in a way that is good in the eyes of people as well. My friends, the Torah is speaking about all of the misvot of the Torah. Hashem wants us to do them all, no exceptions. Hashem also wants us to do them in a way that will be pleasing in the eyes of man as well, and they can be. All we need is more patience and more effort from all Jews, no exceptions. Shabbat Shalom.


"You shall surely give is because of this matter that Hashem your G-d will bless you in all your work"(Debarim 15:10)

Man must realize that his wealth is bequeathed to him for a specific purpose, so that he will use it to help others. One should not think that giving sedakah, charity, decreases his financial assets. On the contrary, the greatest merit for attaining financial security is to give charity to others. This is the pasuk's message.

The Dubno Maggid offers a parable to elucidate this idea. A man went to the market with a hundred dollars in his pocket, which he later lost. The next day he returned to the market and founds a wallet with two hundred dollars in it. Despite the fact that he was overjoyed by his newfound wealth, he still despaired over the loss of the previous day. Indeed, he could have had three hundred dollars today, had he not lost his money the day before! This person, alas, saw no connection between the first day's loss and the second day's gain.

This is unlike the merchant who was carrying grain from place to place. As he was passing by a field, his sack of grain opened. The grain spilled all over the field, so that he had to go home empty-handed. A few weeks later, as he went past that same field, he noticed that the grains, which he had dropped and considered lost, had germinated and sprouted into crops all over the field. What he thought was a misfortune actually was the source of amazing success! Had he not spilled the grain, he never would have had the crops!

This, says the Dubno Maggid, is the essence of sedakah. One who gives a charitable donation might mistakenly think that he is losing money. Actually, the wealth he eventually accumulates is in the merit of this sedakah.

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin cites another parable to explain this pasuk. A wagon driver, who made his living by selling merchandise from the big city to the merchants in the small towns, once became stuck in the snow. His wagon wheels were imbedded in the snow and mud, and the horses could not pull it out because of the added weight. He was in a quandary. To remove part of the merchandise and lighten the load would not be fair to the merchants. After all, they were waiting anxiously for the merchandise. If it did not arrive in time, however, they would suffer serious financial losses. He thought of a solution - the mud and snow stuck in the wheels weighed the wagon down considerably, so he would simply remove the wheels and then the horses would be able to pull the wagon. He proceeded to execute his idea.

After a few minutes, the foolish wagon driver realized that the wagon would not go anywhere without its wheels, regardless of the weight. The same idea applies to sedakah. A person suddenly notices he just isn't "making it" financially. Many demands are made upon his weekly paycheck. What is the first thing he does to "lighten" the financial load? He cuts back on his sedakah contributions! After all, he will not curtail his spending in the area of food, clothing and entertainment.

People have priorities, and sedakah is just not one of them. This, says Rav Sorotzkin, is the pasuk's message. "Ki biglal hadabar hazeh - It is because of this matter." The word "biglal" is closely related to the word "galgal, wheel. Thus, the pasuk can be interpreted as follows: The sedakah contribution symbolizes your set of wheels, which enables you to carry your entire load." Indeed, charity and maintenance of Torah-related endeavors represent our access to success in every field. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: He must bring it as a sacrifice and eat its meat in Jerusalem.

Back to this week's parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
Jerusalem, Israel