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Rashi cites Chazal who maintain that "halichah
b'mitzvos," walking in Hashem's mitzvos, refers
to intensive Torah study. One who diligently applies himself
to studying Torah merits the blessings detailed in the
parsha. Horav Chaim Shmulevitz, zl, cites Chazal
in the Talmud Yoma 35b who suggest a possible scenario
of the dialogue that ensues in the Heavenly Court on the Day of
Judgment when each human being stands before Hashem. If a poor
man is questioned regarding his lack of Torah study and
he replies, "I was poor and too busy earning a living,"
he is admonished for not following the example of Hillel who studied
Torah amidst abject poverty. To the rich man who excuses
his lack of Torah study due to his overwhelming preoccupation
with his business affairs, the rejoinder is, "Were you wealthier
than R' Elazar ben Charsam who rejected his awesome wealth
so that he could study Torah?" Finally, to the wicked
man who justifies his lack of Torah Study and his nefarious
behavior, saying, "I was handsome and preoccupied with my
evil inclination," the court says, "You were not more
handsome that Yosef ha'tzaddik who triumphed over his yetzer
hora." Thus, these three groups of people, the poor,
the rich and the wicked are all accountable for their lack of
We learn a lesson from Chazal's words. While we recognize
each group's circumstances and position in life, each must still
respond to the question, "Why did you not study Torah?"
Three great tzaddikim, each in his own way, stand as the
standard by which we measure all people. Is this appropriate?
Should we not make some concession to the fact that we are
only ordinary people, while they are giants. Their exemplary
behavior may have been natural for them, but it is not for us.
Why should their level of commitment obligate us all? Rav
Chaim explains that Torah study is different. It represents
the very essence of one's eternal existence. In the area of mitzvos,
we may make concessions and justify our actions. We cannot do
this when we are dealing with eternity. Since Torah is
the source of one's nitzchiyus, eternal life, we are all
equal in this regard. When it comes to living, no distinction
exists between the great tzaddik and the simple Jew; they
both need life!
When one is seeking a luxury item, it makes sense that each pursue
it according to his own refined taste. If an individual lacks
bread or water, regardless of his station in life, he will
pursue it with resourcefulness and vigor. This is Torah!
It is indispensable; it is basic; it is an essential prerequisite
for life. Every man must realize his individual potential.
Rav Chaim adds one more point. We see from Chazal
that one is not merely judged for the amount of time he has expended
studying Torah. He is judged according to how close he
has come to realizing his potential. One can study all day and
become a profound Torah scholar. If, however, he has not
achieved the profound level of erudition of which he is capable,
then he must answer for his failure to do so. It only makes sense
that when we are dealing with an individual's life, anything short
of the total goal is not acceptable.
This pasuk declares that regardless of where we are or
the nature of our circumstances, Hashem will never reject His
people. What is the meaning of "not rejecting"? Chovas
Halevovos encourages us to look truthfully at our situation
among the nations who govern us during our tenure in exile. We
will apparently note that while we do not see eye to eye with
the governing nations theologically and morally, it is obvious
that our circumstances are similar to theirs in the areas of livelihood
Their middle-class labors, however, more strenuously than does
ours; their poor and homeless are in a much dire situation than
ours. Yet, we are in exile, while they are not. To what do we
attribute this "luck"? It is because Hashem has promised
not to reject us. Horav Simcha Zisel Ziv, zl, comments
that after having read the entire Tochechah, curses of
the Torah, one would anticipate that hardly a remnant
of Klal Yisrael would survive. And yet, after all that,
we are here, thriving and growing. Furthermore, the entire Torah
Shebaal Peh, oral law, was permanently arranged after the
galus began. The Mishnah, Talmud and works
of the Rishonim and Achronim all came into being
after the destruction, All of this is attributable to the fact
that Hashem did not reject us.
Thus, Horav Avigdor Miller, Shlita, suggests the remarkable
insight inherent in the seemingly innocuous statement, "I
will not reject them," has a profound meaning - much
more than meets the eye. Indeed, this statement includes the
last two thousand years of galus. These years have been
filled with the history of the Jewish communities in Bavel, including
their mesivtos and countless talmidei chachamim.
This glorious period of Torah learning produced the
halachic literature of the Rishonim, followed by the
many Torah scholars and Yeshivos and Jewish communities,
each with its own distinct personality. "I will not reject
them" is more than a statement of fact; it is a testament
that Torah will be sustained throughout our history. This
modest promise contains within it the major part of Am Yisrael's
history. Imagine, if our glorious past is the product of Hashem's
continued acceptance of us, how much more would he have achieved
had we not sinned at all?
Toras Kohanim delineates between chut
and tbua in that the soneih
is an enemy from within, while the oyeiv is an external
enemy. We will fall prey to the bitter hatred of our internal
enemies, those who despise the Torah way of life, who blame
our nation's sorry state of affairs upon those faithful to the
Torah, rather than upon those who have totally defected
from the Torah way of life. The schism created by these
misguided Jews grows to the point that our external enemies use
it as an opportunity for increased antagonism. It is hard to
accept the fact that one's affliction has been internally catalyzed.
What greater persecution can there be than one which is the product
of a brother's hatred?
From the beginning of our history, the enmity of brother to brother,
of Jew to fellow Jew, has been our most serious problem. The Torah
Shelimah cites a striking Yalkut which addresses
the dialogue that ensued when Yosef took Shimon prisoner. When
Yosef was about to arrest Shimon, the other brothers wanted to
intervene. Shimon told them to retreat; he would be able to handle
the problem alone. Yosef dispatched seventy Egyptian soldiers
to take Shimon into custody. Shimon gave forth a loud scream
which overpowered the soldiers and knocked out their teeth. Yosef
thereupon sent his son Menashe with instructions to place a steel
chain around Shimon's neck. Menashe struck Shimon once, afterwards
placing the chain on Shimon. Menashe's action seemed effective.
As Shimon submitted to his incarceration, he exclaimed, "This
blow is from my father's home." Simply, Shimon was attributing
his punishment to his father's home, a reference to his lack of
respect for his father. Horav Chaim Pardes, Shlita, suggests
that Shimon was intimating that Menashe's blow was greater and
more penetrating because it came from his "father's"
home - a member of his own family. The pain incurred by a brother
is more devastating than that brought on by seventy Egyptians.
The pain inflicted by a Jew, a brother, is harder to swallow
than the blows of gentiles.
In Sefer Shemos (2:11), Moshe saw an Egyptian striking a Jew. The Torah says, aht trhu
uhjtn hrcg aht vfn hrmn "And
he (Moshe) saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man, of his brethren."
The word uhjtn of his brethren,
seems redundant. Would it not have sufficed to say "a Hebrew
man;" obviously he was one of his brethren. The Mahril
Diskin, zl, offers a penetrating response. Moshe was concerned
not as much by the single Egyptian striking the Jew, as much as
the fact that Jew was among his brethren. He was surrounded
by Jews all around, and no one seemed to notice that an Egyptian
was beating him! This is what hurt Moshe. How can Jews look
on complacently while a gentile is humiliating and beating one
of their own? Is this considered Jewish sensitivity, or is it
blatant indifference to the plight of our fellow man? How often
do we turn aside and pretend to be ignorant while our brethren
are being vilified and scorned by gentiles and -- even worse --
other Jews? Iyov turned away and remained silent when Pharaoh
made his decree to enslave the Jews. Hashem punished him with
terrible afflictions for his silence. Perhaps we should ponder
this idea. Do we sit idly while Torah leadership is
disparaged publicly by those who refuse to accept their criticism?
Must we suffer pain and sorrow before we wake up and realize
that silence is not always golden? Let us learn to cry out at
the appropriate time.
The Sifra employs a meaningful story to elucidate this
pasuk. During the time of the destruction of the first
Bais Hamikdash, when people were starving to death, Eliyahu
Hanavi walked out on the streets of Yerushalayim, seeking
out those Jews whose bodies had become swollen from hunger. When
he came across a man who was dying of hunger, he questioned his
family lineage. After the man responded with the name of his
family, Eliyahu asked him about the size of his family. "We
were a family of three thousand of which I am the sole survivor,"
responded the man. "Do one thing," said Eliyahu, "and
you will live. Say 'Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad,'
and you will be spared the fate of the rest of your family,."
To this the man cried out, "No! My father never taught me
to mention G-d's Name, I will not begin now!" After this
declaration of skepticism, the man revealed an idol that he was
holding and began to hug and kiss it. While he was doing so,
his strength slowly ebbed away. He died resting on his idol.
Hence, the meaning of the pasuk, "I will cast
your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols."
If we think about it, are we that far removed from that terrible
period of starvation? We live in a period in which the famine
is not of a material nature, but a spiritual famine where people
are literally starving for the dvar Hashem, word of G-d.
Many unfortunates people do not realize how little they must
do in order to save themselves from spiritual death. Why? Because
their parents never taught them anything about Yiddishkeit
. Did they ever have a Shabbos? Did they ever see candles
lit Friday night? Were they ever exposed to the beauty of a Yom
Tov, the sublimity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?
Is it any wonder that they continue to clutch their self-made
idols, their false beliefs in what constitutes morality, even
if it delivers them to a spiritual end? By divorcing themselves
from any semblance of tradition, they are regrettably severing
the last potential bridge of return.
The animals born during the current year all pass through a corral
which has a narrow opening. As they are counted, the tenth one
is marked and set aside as a tithe for Hashem. While the halachah
maintains that one should proclaim the tenth animal as Maaser
l'Hashem, it does not change its Maaser status if the individual
did not orally declare it as Maaser. Horav Moshe Feinstein,
zl, underscores the fact that oral expression is essential,
even though the animal nevertheless becomes holy. We infer from
here that even if something is holy, it must be maintained in
a state of kedushah. Nothing simply remains holy; its
holiness sustained must be nurtured. Horav Feinstein relates
his lesson to the area of Jewish parenthood and education. Children
must be raised and educated - constantly. One cannot expect that
simply because one has a gifted child -- replete with fine character
traits-- he will automatically remain that way. Anyone who has
ever raised or taught a child knows that the word automatic is
inconsistent with childhood. Only through blood, sweat, tears
and much Tehillim does one merit to see Torah nachas
from a child. One who does not do his utmost to educate their
child might u"j see
his child's innate holiness dissipate. Moreover, everyone, regardless
of his level of spiritual achievement, should scrutinize his deeds,
behavior and thoughts, carefully, to ensure that he remains on
his spiritual plateau.
1. What is the special blessing regarding the trees that will bear fruit?
2. The progression of sins as indicated in the Torah is in multiples of _________.
3. How is the punishment of internal enemies greater than that of external enemies?
4. Will the gentiles who conquer Eretz Yisrael derive any benefit from the land while the Jews are not there?
5. Does Hashem punish sons for the sins of their fathers?
6. What is the difference between one who redeems his own animal
which he consecrated for Hekdesh and one who redeems another's
1. In the future, all trees -- even those that are not fruit-bearing trees -- will bear fruit.
3. The enemies from within know where all the treasures are hidden. The enemies from without only seek that which is obviously revealed.
5. Yes, if the sons follow in the evil ways of their fathers and continue with their sins.
6. The original owner must add a chomesh, one-fifth, to the value of the animal.
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