Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Behar & Bechukotai 5773

The Torah Portion of Behar 

"A Shabbat for Hashem"  (Vayikra 25:2)

The Holy One Blessed Be He commanded to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shmittah and Yovel, in order that everyone would know that the Holy One Blessed Be He is the owner of all the world, and therefore it is called "A Shabbat for Hashem". (Vayikra 25:2)  

"A Shabbat for Hashem"  (Vayikra 25:2)

For all fields it is good for them to rest a certain period of time, and that is beneficial so that they will grow better afterwards, and therefore it is written "A Shabbat for Hashem" (Vayikra 25:2), because it is necessary to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shmittah and Yovel for the sake of Heaven and not for the sake of benefiting the field.

"The land shall observe a Shabbat for Hashem (Vayikra 25:2)  

Shmittah is similar to Shabbat; by way of the  Shabbat the entire week becomes blessed as is stated in the Zohar,  and similarly the Sages state, that from the year of the Shmittah the other six years become blessed.

"Do not harass one another" (Vayikra 25:17) 

The verse is speaking about verbal harassment.  It is forbidden to cause suffering to one's fellow man, and forbidden to give him advice that is not beneficial to him but which is to the benefit of the person who is giving the advice.

"Do not subjugate him through hard labor" (Vayikra 25:43)

It's forbidden for a person to request a favor from his friend when he knows that it will be a burden for him, because he thereby transgresses the prohibition of "Do not subjugate him through hard labor"  (Vayikra 25:43) (from Rabeinu Yonah)

The Torah Portion of Bechukotai

"If you will walk in my statutes" (Vayikra 26:3)  

Rashi explains that this means that you should be laboring in the Torah.  The Eglei Tal writes in the introduction to his book that the main emphasis of the Mitzvah of learning Torah is to be rejoicing and happy and enjoying one's learning and then the words of the Torah are absorbed into his blood, and since he enjoys the words of Torah he becomes attached to the Torah.  And in the book Ohev Yisrael it is written that everyone who learns with more labor and effort finds more enjoyment in his learning, and it is a Mitzvah in and of itself to be laboring and making an effort in the Torah and to increase his enjoyment  all the time.  And in this way he explains the verse "If you will walk in my statutes...then I will provide your rains in their time" (Vayikra 26:3-4):  if you will be laboring in the Torah all the time to increase your enjoyment of learning the Torah, then the reward will be "Middah K'neged Middah" (a turn for a turn) and I will give your rains in their time, which is also an increase in enjoyment.

"If you will walk in my statutes" (Vayikra 26:3)

The Ohr HaChaim explains that "If you walk in my statutes" (Vayikra 26:3) uses the language of "walking", because one should fulfill the Mitzvah (of learning Torah) "when you are walking on the way" (Devorim 6:7)

"If you will walk in my statutes" (Vayikra 26:3)  

The masters of Mussar (ethical teachings) say that we need to take a lesson from a bicycle, because if a bicycle stands still it falls, and if it is working then it goes forward.  And that is the explanation of "you will walk", that one needs all the time to work and to go forward in the Torah and in the service of Hashem.

"If you will walk in my statutes" (Vayikra 26:3) 

This is a hint that in any place where you  go, you should go with the Mitzvot of the Torah, because in general when going on a journey it is difficult to be careful about fulfilling the Mitzvot, and that is why the verse says "If you will walk in my statutes" (Vayikra 26:3): even on the road it is also necessary to be careful about the Mitzvot.

A Good Heart 

From the holiday of Pesach until Lag Ba'omer there are 32 days, and that is the numerical value of the Hebrew word for "Heart" (Lev). And from Lag Ba'omer until the holiday of Shavuot there are 17 days, which is the numerical value of the Hebrew word for "good" (Tov).  Together that is a "Good Heart" (Lev Tov).  This is a hint that we need to strengthen ourselves with good character traits and good behavior, as a preparation for receiving the Torah.


"Blessed is the man that trusts in Hashem, then Hashem will be his security" (Yirmiyahu 17:7)

 When a man trusts in Hashem, then even if he has difficulties Hashem will help him; therefore a man needs to make as much effort as he can and Hashem will help him, and that is why the verse finishes "then Hashem will be his security".  R' Yosef Yuz'l Horovitz ztz"l explains that the very essence of the matter that one trusts in Hashem is in and of itself a blessing, even if his request to Hashem has not yet been accepted.

Sefirat Haomer

There were 12,000 pairs of students who studied under Rebbe Akiva from Gabbata to Antipatris, and all of them died during one time period because they didn't behave to each other respectfully.  And the world was desolate until Rebbe Akiva came to our Rabbis in the South and taught to them: Rebbe Meir, Rebbe Yehuda, Rebbe Yosi, Rebbe Shimon, and Rebbe Elazar ben Shamua.  And these were the ones who upheld the Torah at that time.  It is taught that all (of the 12,000 pairs of students) died between Pesach and Shavuot.  (Yevamot 62b)

The Torah Portion of Behar has 57 verses, 7 positive commandments and 17 negative commandments.  The Torah Portion of Bechukotai has 78 verses, 7 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments.  Haftora: "Hashem uzi" (Yirmiyahu 16)

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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