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From
Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Nasso

I Don't Need Your Walls

"That's my palm tree! You can't take dates from my palm tree!"

"Aha! We see that you really want your palm tree protected from thieves! My fences provide that protection. I own the four fields that surround your field. I put up stone walls around my fields to prevent trespassing. In doing so, I protected your fields from trespassers and wandering animals also. I asked you to pay for half the costs of the stone walls. You gave me nothing. I asked for at least the cost of bamboo walls - the cheapest wall that will do the job. Still nothing. Finally, I asked for just the salary of hiring a watchman to keep away trespassers and animals. That is even cheaper than bamboo. You still refused."

"That's right."

"I assumed that you were not interested in protecting your field at all, and that was why the walls that I built were of absolutely no use to you. Now I see that you ARE interested in protecting your fruit trees. You objected to someone taking your fruit. You are benefiting from my walls. If so, pay up!"

The question is:

Does the landowner whose field is surrounded by the other's fences have to pay for part of the costs of the fences? If so, how much?

The answer is:

The Gemora (Bava Basra 4b and 5a) discusses this case. The one who built the fence claims that he is giving benefit to his neighbor. Therefore, the neighbor must pay for the benefit that he receives. The neighbor (according to Tosafos) claims that although he is receiving benefit, he could have achieved the necessary protection in a much cheaper fashion, by hiring a watchman. The Tur Choshen Mishpat (158:6,7) rules that the neighbor must pay for half of the cost of the walls.

This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.

King or Slave?

The table setting was royal. No luxury was spared. The finest silverware, bone china, crystal goblets, and silk tablecloths graced the grand table. The servants began bringing out the food: delicacies from around the world, prepared by the finest gourmet cooks. A meal fit for a king.

And so it was. His Royal Majesty, the King, was escorted to his seat at the head of the table. He sat down ready to partake of the feast. His servant placed the first course on the plate, and set it in front of the King. He raised the fork to his lips and tasted the food.

"This is horrible!!!" he screamed. "There is no salt on these tomatoes!!! The cook knows that I eat tomatoes only with salt!!!"

The King threw the plate on the floor, smashing it to pieces.

"If I see that cook, I'll have his head!!!"

"Yes, Your Majesty," the servant calmly replied.

The King's tirade did not faze him. He had seen it before. Any action or gesture that did not meet the king's expectations 100% threw him into a fit of rage. He lost control of himself.

"The King is not a king," the servant thought. "He is nothing more than a lowly slave. His tayvas (desires) rule over him. Such a person is a servant to his appetite, his petty pleasures, and his craving for honor and power. Who is truly a king? My friend the nozir. He rules over his desires. That is real kingship."

"A man or woman who shall dissociate himself ('yafli') by taking a Nazerite vow of abstinence" (Bamidbar 6:2). The verse uses the word "yafli" to mean dissociate. The same root word ("pela") also means amazing. The Eben Ezra explains that the nozir did an amazing thing. Most of the world is running after their desires. Their days are filled with the pursuit of money, power, physical pleasures, and prestige. This nozir took a vow to refrain from wine and cutting the hair, in order to come closer to Hashem and serve Him better. How does the Torah value this seemingly small action? 'He will be holy. The crown of his G-d is upon his head. All the days of his nazirus he is holy to Hashem.' (Bamidbar 6:5,7,8). The Medrash Rabba relates that Hashem considers him as a Kohen Gadol, the holiest of all people. Both he and Kohen Gadol may not become tomei (impure). He wears Hashem's crown (so to speak) on his head, just like a Kohen Gadol. He acquires a higher level of kedusha (holiness), just like a Kohen Gadol.

This is perplexing. Is it that difficult to refrain from wine and hair cutting? Is it such a great act of spiritual heroism to earn a person a Heavenly Crown? Rav Leib Chasman answers that the nozir teaches us the great value of a pure, holy thought. Spiritual accomplishments are measured by quality, not quantity. The nozir takes a small step closer to Hashem. His sincere desire, expressed in this action, brings him to a completely new madrayga, a level of holiness. The Eben Ezra concludes with a compelling statement. "Know that all of mankind is servants to the pleasures of the world. One who is free of his tayvas; he is the true king who has the crown and glory of royalty upon his head."

Kinderlach . . .

We do not take the vow of nazirus in our days. However, we can capture a bit of his kedusha. How? By ruling over our tayvas, in our own way. Don't be a slave to sweets. You don't have to get the first candy, or the biggest piece of cake, or the most ice cream. Be happy and satisfied with what you get. Even if you get nothing, you can also be happy. How? Because you have taken a step closer to Hashem. We see how He values the nozir. He values your deeds also. The nozir is a pela. He goes against the whole world. Dare to be different. Take a step toward Hashem.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman


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