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by Daneal Weiner
From the Orchards of Jerusalem
To all two of you who missed me last week, sorry. I flew to NY and then back to Israel and I just could not get it together in time. But enough of the past...back to the future!
Parshas Ki Savo
opens with Moshe Rabbeinu telling B'Y that when they settle and plant and harvest the fruits, the first of them they will put into a basket and brought to the Kohen on the Temple Mount. In verses 26:2&4 the word for basket is `teneh'. This word is used one other time in Tanach. Every other of the dozen+ times we have a basket we have the word `sol'. (Not to be confuse with Uncle Sol, the basket case.) Why is here `teneh'?
The Ba'al haTurim isolates the entire first aliyah of the parsha, 12 verses, some 170 words, over 1000 letters, and says that every letter of the Hebrew alephbet can be found repeatedly except for the letter `samech'. The absence of the letter is actually to draw attention to it! We are learning that the first fruits have to be brought to the Temple but how many first fruits? Chazal derive that from the numeric value of the samech- 60, G-d wants us to give one sixtieth of the produce to the Kohanim. And if that doesn't weave your basket, the gematria of the word `teneh' is...I'll give you 60 guesses.
Rav Wolfson notes something special about this donation unlike any other that Klal Yisrael gave to the Kohanim or the poor. Only the first fruits had to be brought to Jerusalem, to the Temple. The Rav explains the reason is the first. First what? Reason. Yes, what is it? What? The reason? The first. Yes, the first reason? That's right.
Questions anyone? I suppose some clarification is warranted and I'll do it in as round about a fashion as possible. In the time of Noach, (Hey! I could have gone back to creation!) the final straw of the inhabitants of earth, which got themselves destroyed, was theft. What is so disgusting to G-d about theft? It is a total denial of how He runs the world. Everyone was created for one purpose, to sanctify G-d's name. Everything was created for one purpose, to sanctify G-d's name. Everyone was therefore given everything they needed with that purpose in mind.
"Who is happy? One who is satisfied with his lot." is not just a mind game for a positive outlook. It's the reality of it! If you know that you have a G-dly purpose and that you have precisely everything needed to fulfill that purpose, how could you not be happy. You are doing exactly what H' expects of you with what you are expected to do it. To want what another has is either telling G-d he made a mistake or you simply don't care what His plans are, you've got your own in mind.
Something fascinating, if not mind boggling comes out from this idea. If I have an apple and I cut it in half and give half to you, the half of the apple you now have is part of what is yours to sanctify G-d's Name. If you make a bracha, job well done. If you don't, you literally passed up the opportunity of a life time because you will never see that half apple again. Point being- hold on to your seats- from Creation, it has been decreed that there shall be an apple grown that is half mine and half yours!!! That apple finds it's way into my hands at just the right time and place!!! Pass around a bottle- every gulp is going exactly to who is supposed to get it- except, of course for the back wash, called as such because no one drinks it and it goes BACK to where it came from! (Please, just enjoy. No checks or money orders necessary.)
Obviously, this spiritual divying applies to acts of giving and sharing. If Joe steals from Bob, or as we say in the south, if Billy-Joe steals from Billy-Bob he is taking property which has absolutely no purpose for himself. Not only that, he is stealing from Billy-Bob the ability to elevate what was stolen via the sanctification of H'. Its just an all around not good situation. But I begin to digress.
When the Torah tells us to leave the corners of the field and stalks that fall to the ground, its because they don't belong (in this spiritual sense) to the owner of the field. They belong to the poor individual that is going to happen by to pick them up. And likewise the poor person can pick up no more than 2 stalks from 3 that fell because no more than 2 where designated to him or her.
Moving in closer, all truma's and ma'asers seperated from the grain piles are exactly the grains that were supposed to be given away. And finally, the bulls eye, the first fruits belong, so to speak, to the first place. And the first place is the Temple Mount. The home of the Ehven Shisia, the first piece of matter from which G-d created the world. The first fruits belong to the first place and will certainly end up in the hands of the Kohanim who somehow are part of this idea of `first.
26:5> "V'anisa v'amarta lifnay H'..." ArtScroll translates it as "Then you shall call out and say before H'..." `V'anisa' seems to be from the ward `ana' or `oneh' which is to answer or respond. The problem is there is nothing to answer or respond to. The Israelite just said he declares that he came to the land H' promised his forefathers, he gave the basket to the Kohen, the Kohen placed it before the Alter, and now the Israelite speaks again. This question is probably what caused Rashi to translate this word `V'anisa' according to a Gemorah in Sotah (and ArtScroll according to Rashi) which says it means `raising ones voice.' The Chanukas HaTorah wants to ask Rashi, "So what?" Quietly, loudly- Whats Rashi trying to add?
A Gemorah in Brachos says that when we pray to Hashem the silent prayer, the shmoneh esray, it's really not supposed to be silent. One has to hear him/her self WITHOUT distrurbing the neighboring worshippers. So why is it the `Silent' prayer in the first place? The silence is a show of faith that H' knows all. He's a mind and heart reader extraordinare. The sudden silence in an otherwise noisy service, which is the pinnacle of the service, is a personal request and simultaneous proclamation of H's greatness. What is it being called out before H' in our parsha? "An Aramean destroyed my forefather..." Wait one wicker weaving minute! "Destroyed"? Not `tried to destroy', `attempted', `almost'? If our forefather was destroyed it would lend one to think then we wouldn't be here!?
According to many, the Aramean was Bisuel, the father of Rivka. When Avraham Aveinu sent Eliezer out to find a wife for Yitschak, he also sent him with a load of gifts to do the kiddushin, the engagement, on Yitschaks behalf. This means that according to law, Yitshcak had to consider himself as married as soon as Eliezer left. So what if Eliezer never came back? You might be thinking that two wives were allowed in those days so Yitschak could go marry someone else. No No No! Yitschak would be forced to AVOID marriage for fear of marrying the sister, mother or daughter of his mystery wife. Bisuel thought to poison Eliezer! The tables were turned, rather, the plates were turned, and Bisuel ate the poison. The Torah considers the wicked thoughts of the enemies of Israel as if they had carried them out. Bisuel was punished, measure for measure for thinking to kill Eliezer.
Chazal tell us Bisuel's name is from the word Bisulah meaning virgin. Bisuel would sleep with all newly engaged women. By the gentiles, the marriage is a marriage at the consumation. By the Jews, the kiddushin/engagement already gives the woman the status of wife and she is forbidden to any other man. To Bisuel, thinking to have Rivka after her kiddushin was tantamount to an act of adultery for which the punishment is death! The bottom line- Whereas the silent prayer is a proclamation that H' reads the hearts and minds of men, here that is exactly what is being said by "An Aramean destroyed my forefather"! H' read the hearts and minds of this wicked man. Rashi says, if that's so, go ahead, say it oloud!
The Alshich Hakadosh has a different twist to the Aramean. He
says it Lavan, Bisuel's son. When Yaakov went looking for a wife
he saw his soulmate in Rachel. Joseph would have been their first
born, he would have been the wisest, gotten the colored coat and
B'Y would have lived happily ever after. Instead, Lavan switched
Leah for Rachel. Now Joseph is 2nd youngest. He's still the
wisest and now his getting the coat is a source of `jealousy'
which eventually causes all B'Y to go down to Egypt. The
enslavement begins and if not for the H's kindness in taking us
The second aliyah in the parsha, Rashi refers to as the Confession- the Confession of the Tithes. "I gave to the priest, to the poor, the orphaned, the widowed..." Aren't confessions usually, "I DIDN'T give to the priest, the poor, the orphaned, the widowed..."? The root of the word, the common denominator is taking responsibility. Just as we take responsibility for H's commands, to do them and make the world a better place and now ask for bracha, so too do we take responsibility for our sins and the damage we brought to the world and ask for punishment. In both cases we hope to awaken in H' His kindness.
27:26> "Accursed is one who will not uphold the words of the Torah, to perform them." In the Gemorah Yerushalmi, R. Shimon ben Yakim says this is refering to the chazan! A hard one to hear. The Ramban explains that Reb Shimon is refering to the one who does hagbah, the literal holding up of the Torah after the reading (before in Sfardic synagogues).
The Fla'ah claims the word `chazan' is from the word `chazu' which means `sees'. A chazan is not a visionary, but a teacher. His job is to see to it that each child learns only what's emes, true. The end of the verse says "to perform them." He has to see each childs actions as the results of his teachings. Woe to a teacher who teaches falsely, that the student puts falsehoods into action. The Fla'ah brings a Gemorah Bava Bastra.
King David sent his general Yoav to wipe out Amalaik. After 6 months Yoav has succeded killing all the males and reports back to King David who jumps up, "WHAT? You let the women live?!?"
All say I embellished a little on the dialogue. It's not true. I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. I heard it all. Better not be negligent and take responsibility for an incredible Shabbot Shalom!
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