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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Tetzaveh


"Okay here's the deal. I will put up $1000 for you to go to the market and buy wheat. I have a hunch that it is going to go up in price. Then you can sell it for a big profit."

"What do I get from this deal?"

"We split the profit right down the middle. After all, I will put up the money, but you will do the legwork."

"It's a deal"

When the partner gets to the market, he sees that wheat sales are not going too well. However, barley seems to be a good seller, going up in price. On his own, he decides to buy barley instead of wheat with the $1000.

The question is:

Since he did not follow instructions, does that dissolve the partnership? Specifically, if the barley goes up in price, who gets the profit, and if it goes down, who bears the loss?

The answer is:

This is a dispute in the Gemora (Bava Kamma102 a & b).

One opinion says that the agent has taken all of the responsibility because he did not follow orders. Therefore, he must bear all losses. However, if there are profits, they are all his. He must only return the original $1000 to the investor.

The second opinion says that the agent must bear all losses. However, if there is a profit, he must split it 50/50 with the investor. The Mechaber in Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 176:11 rules like the second opinion in the Gemora.

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.

Think About Others

"Why is the parasha of korbonos located next to the parasha of Bigdei Kehuna (Priestly Garments)?" The Gemora (Erechin 16a) asks this famous question. The Gemora answers, "Just as korbonos michaper (provide an atonement), so too Bigdei Kehuna - michaprim. The kesones (shirt-like garment) atones for the spilling of blood. The michnasayim (pants) atone for immorality. The mitznefes (turban) atones for conceit. The avnet (sash) atones for improper thoughts. The choshen (breastplate) atones for dinim - sins involving court disputes. The ephod atones for avodah zara (idol worship). The meil (robe) atones for loshon hora. The tzitz (headband) atones for brazen deeds. What a merit it was to have a Beis HaMikdash and a Kohen Godol, whose clothing could provide a kapora for all of these sins!

The Keli Yakar points out a difficulty in the verses. When Hashem commanded Moshe to tell the people to make the Bigdei Kehuna, He began with the choshen, followed by the ephod (Shemos 28:4). When the Bnei Yisrael proceeded to make the garments, they first made the ephod, then the choshen (28:6,15). Why did they not follow the order that Hashem commanded?

We find the answer in the Gemora Erechin. The choshen atoned for sins involving court disputes. The sinners corrupted the laws that govern human relationships. The ephod, on the other hand, atoned for idol worship, a sin between man and Hashem alone. By placing the choshen before the ephod, the Almighty is showing us that His prime concern is how we treat each other. We must behave justly, by adhering to His dinim. Secondly, we must carry out our obligations to Him directly. The proofs of this order of priorities are the two events in parashas Noach. The generation of the Tower of Bavel served avodah zara, yet they were not destroyed. The generation of the flood, on the other hand, corrupted the dinim by stealing. Because of their sin, they were wiped out. Now, the Keli Yakar's question becomes even more puzzling. If this is indeed the correct order of priorities, why did the Bnei Yisrael make the ephod first?

The answer is that Klal Yisrael was concerned about Hashem's honor. The mitzvos of honoring Him should precede the mitzvos of honoring our fellow man. Therefore, they took the sin of avodah zara most seriously, and the dinim were secondary. The Keli Yakar also offers an alternative answer. Hashem Himself is able to forgive His own honor. However, he cannot pardon an injustice done to a man if the wronged man does not forgive the wrongdoer. Therefore, He gave precedence to the dinim. Because He could not forgive them, He wanted us to be careful not to transgress them. However, for the Bnei Yisrael the situation was reversed. They were able to forgive each other for damages or injuries. However, they could not pardon sins against Hashem. Only He can do that. Therefore, they placed avodah zara first, because it was not within their power to forgive its sins.

If we think deeply into the words of the Keli Yakar, we discover a fundamental principle of the Torah. Hashem is most concerned about our honor and well-being. We are most concerned about His honor. Each one is more concerned about the other than about himself. This is the correct way to live. Make the needs of others your number one priority. This is the way of tsaddikim. This is the way of Hashem.

Kinderlach . . .

When you wake up in the morning, who do you think about? Hashem. You say to Him "modeh ani." Then whom do you think about? The one sleeping in the next bed. Be careful not to wake him up by making noise. You get dressed in nice, clean, tsnuah clothing to honor Hashem. You honor Imma by thanking her for preparing delicious food for you. And so your day goes on, thinking about Hashem and your fellow man. Your main concern is honoring them and giving them nachas. You are on the right derech (path) kinderlach. The derech of tsaddikim. The derech of Hashem.

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