“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu




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בס"ד

B PARASHAT HASHAVUA B

PARASHA : Bechukotai

Date :17 Iyaar 5771, 21/5/2011

“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden)

Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori

Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l

Please respect the Holiness of these pages

These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word format. Anyone who is interested in receiving them, can subscribe via the Parasha web site: http://parasha.sde.org.il/eparasha - Arieh.

HhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhH

1 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet)

Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel; http://www.moreshet.co.il/zomet/index-e.html

AS SHABBAT APPROACHES

From Yom Haatzmaut to Yom Yerushalayim

- by Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg, Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne

"And I led you standing upright" [Vayikra 26:13]. Sforno writes, "This is the opposite of the verse, 'Those who said to your soul, bend down and we will cross over, make your body like the earth' [Yeshayahu 51:23]." As Metzudot David writes, "bend down to prostrate yourselves on the earth and we will cross over you." This is the opposite of being upright, when the people will brush away the dust of the earth and stand with their heads held high.

Sforno refers to this in his commentary on the verse, "And your offspring will be like the dust of the earth" [Bereishit 28:14]. He writes that this is not a prophecy that the population of Bnei Yisrael will be multiplied as the dust of the earth, but rather "this is similar to 'make your body like the earth'" meaning that the people will be completely downtrodden and in as low a status as possible. The redemption of Yisrael will come after a great period of living at a very low status in unprecedented exile, as is written, "If you see a generation in which the troubles flow like a river, anticipate the coming of the Mashiach, as is written, 'for he will come as a narrow river' [Yeshayahu 59:19] which is followed by, 'and a redeemer will come to Zion' [59:20]." [Sanhedrin 98a].

The Rambam writes in his letter to Yemen that the comparison to the dust is because everybody walks on it, and that at the end of a person's life he is covered by a layer of dirt.

This is thus a prophetic vision that after Yisrael falls to the lowest possible level, the nation will rise up from the dust and reach a higher spiritual status.

The section of rebuke in this week's Torah portion ends with, "And I will remember My Yaacov covenant... and I will also remember My Avraham covenant" [Vayikra 26:42]. The wording is not "a covenant with..." but a title: the Yaacov covenant, and so on. There is a covenant named for Avraham and one named for Yitzchak, and they parallel the history of the nation. First this nation commanded the respect of the other nations, "You are a Prince of G-d among us" [Bereishit 23:6]. Yitzchak was at a lower level – isolated, hated, and an object of jealousy. The status of Yaacov was so low that he could not live in peace. The awakening will come in reverse order. First will come the Yaacov covenant, with the people able to withstand the darkness, and this will be followed by the Yitzchak covenant, where the people will be at a higher level but still the objects of hatred. Finally, the Avraham covenant will be fulfilled, and the nation of Yisrael will be respected and honored by the people of the world, who will recognize their spiritual value.

In our generation we fell to the level of the dust of the earth, to the lowest possible level. This is a sign of the beginning of the prophecy "I led you standing upright." According to the Sifra, the word in the verse, "kommemiut," refers to "two levels, as with Adam."

The Maharal explains the "two levels" based on the passage in the Talmud that Adam was two hundred Amot tall – the number "one hundred" implies being complete, and a height of two hundred Amot means that Adam was complete in two ways, both physically and spiritually. When Adam sinned he was reduced in size to one hundred Amot, as is written, "You placed Your hand upon me" [Tehillim 139:5]. The numerical value of "kaf," a hand, is one hundred.

After Bnei Yisrael wake up from the dust, they will not return just to their former height. They will be given an additional Divine level, so that they will have a double height, two hundred Amot. That is why we pray, "Bring us back to our land with kommemiut." As Rav A.Y. Kook notes, this refers to "two levels, like Adam, for the body and the soul together make up a level of perfection, including both the physical and the spiritual."

This is what we have been privileged to experience in the month of Iyar: The physical level of independence on Yom Haatzmaut, followed by the spiritual level of Yom Yerushalayim, when Jerusalem was redeemed.

POINT OF VIEW

Flames in Miron at the end of Shabbat!

- by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet Institute

"Philosophers asked the (Jewish) elders in Rome: If your G-d is opposed to idol worship (referring to the sun, the moon, and the stars) why doesn't He just eliminate it? They replied... The world will continue its behavior, and the foolish ones who have corrupted matters with be brought to justice in the future." [Avoda Zara 54b].

Chopping Wood on Shabbat

A proposal was recently made to move the Lag B'Omer bonfires from the end of Shabbat to Sunday night in order to avoid the desecration of Shabbat – in chopping down wood, early lighting of the flames, and other preparations for the bonfires. It seems that the rabbis of the Zohar organization were the first ones to bring this suggestion into the public sphere. They turned to the Chief Rabbinate to join the call to postpone the custom of making bonfires from Motzei Shabbat to Sunday night. The Minister of Education became a target for this campaign, since he has the power to control time by postponing the Lag B'Omer school vacation from Sunday to Monday. Their plea was followed by a statement by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who picked up the gauntlet and also called for postponing the bonfires until Sunday. Based on his influence, the Chief Rabbis also declared that they support the idea to postpone the festivities. They even met with the Minister of Education, but he refused to change the vacation time in the schools, since the dates "were set a long time ago," and specifically because a statewide matriculation exam in mathematics is scheduled for the following day.

So much for the facts of the case at the time of this writing. It may be that during the week before this article is formally published more events will take place with respect to this issue.

A Series of Postponements

The main argument for "changing the calendar" is based on the decision that was accepted in recent years (by the government? by the Knesset?) to delay the observance of Holocaust Memorial Day by one day if the twenty-seventh of Iyar is on a Sunday. The same is true for the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, which is exactly one week later, on the fourth of Iyar, which means that Independence Day in such years is postponed from Monday to Tuesday. All of this movement is performed in order to avoid Shabbat desecration on the night when the memorial days begin, in the evening before. Now this chain of events has reached as far as Lag B'Omer, which is not a formal governmental occasion. Who can predict what future postponements will be in store for us in the future?

Some people see such moves as a sanctification of the name of G-d. The fact is that our country has taken the sanctity of Shabbat into consideration. This is what happened when the original declaration of the state of Israel was advanced to Friday even though the British Mandate was not officially over until middle of Shabbat, the fifteenth of May, 1948. Thus, the birth of the state was intimately linked to the observation of Shabbat, and I too have written enthusiastically in the past about this fact and its symbolic meaning.

Confusing Halacha and Customs

But now I must say that I have changed my mind! This latest pressure, to postpone the festivities on Lag B'Omer, has opened my eyes to the truth. The readers of this regular column, which appears in a Shabbat bulletin, know that these events are occasions not only for formal ceremonies but also for prayers, blessings (such as Hallel), memorials for the dead, and for not reciting "Tachanun" in the morning prayers. This is true both in Israel and abroad, for today and for future generations. The day of Lag B'Omer has halachic implications and is linked to customs related to such subjects as marriage, haircuts (especially for three-year-olds!), expressing joy during the period of the Omer, and more. Will all of these issues be moved together with the school vacation day? In my town of Alon Shevut, the rabbi has ordered that on the fifth of Iyar (the original date of Independence Day) the Tachanun should not be recited, in spite of the special memorial prayers that are said. He declared, "How can we say the Tachanun (which is never recited on days of joy) on the fifth of Iyar?" It is clear that the customs and the laws of Lag B'Omer cannot be delayed for a day because of the "foolish ones who have corrupted matters." And there is also no way to separate between the rituals in the synagogues and the halachic rules and customs on one hand and the public celebrations, the school practices, and the bonfire in Miron on the other hand.

I now feel that the two memorial days and Yom Haatzmaut should be moved back to their original historical dates. To return to marking them "right in the middle" of their true dates is the only way to guarantee that they will be maintained in future generations! The beginning of a complete fall is often when something starts to move.

Details of the Proposal

Here is my detailed proposal: Holocaust Memorial Day will be marked on the original date, the twenty-seventh of Iyar, in synagogues, educational facilities, and in public events. The ceremonial lighting of the torches will be postponed to the afternoon and not the preceding evening (possibly at night). There is no source in the Talmud or halachic rulings that requires this to be done in the evening, at the start of the occasion. Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Yom Haatzmaut will also be marked on their original dates. Here also the ceremony of torch lighting can be moved to the afternoon, possibly close to nightfall. I recommend doing this even if it is not close to Shabbat, as is already done in many communities. It is quite reasonable to produce public and government-sponsored events that will be meaningful and emotional close to the end of Memorial Day and immediately follow them – in a sharp transition – by the start of the Independence Day festivities. The close linkage of the two days will receive a proper and strong emphasis with such combined ceremonies.

There are no official national ceremonies on Lag B'Omer. It is therefore sufficient to light the bonfire in honor of Rabban Shimon Ben Yochai at night, after a proper delay to avoid Shabbat desecration.

But what about the youths and others who will be busy chopping and preparing wood on Shabbat? There are three answers to this question:

(1) See the quote at the beginning of this article, which teaches us what we must know about taking into account the actions of "foolish people who have corrupted matters."

(2) I have a question for those who are raising the banner of Shabbat: Where were you when Daylight Savings Time was instituted, with its added Shabbat desecration in transportation, in opening businesses and restaurants, and in the loss of patience by "youths" (and adults) because of the extended "hours of prohibited activity"?

(3) We might consider moving our celebrations to the thirty-fourth day of the Omer ("Lad" B'Omer) after we first manage to postpone the "Meimuna" from the night right after Pesach to the next day (or at least to the afternoon of the following day). As things now stand, the agitated baking and cooking in honor of this celebration, for the glory of the Moroccan tradition, lead to large-scale desecration of the Pesach holiday, possibly even violations of prohibitions related to chametz.

"Rabban Shimon Bar Yochai is called Shabbat" [Zohar Idra volume 3, 144:2].

RESPONSA FOR OUR TIMES

Is the Obligation to Pay on Time Valid no Matter What the Cost?

- by Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen, Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel

Question: Are we required to borrow money or to incur a bank debt for insufficient funds ("overdraft") in order to pay a salary on time and not to violate the prohibition of withholding the pay of a workman?

Answer: In the Torah portion of Kedoshim, we were told, "Do not keep the pay of a workman with you overnight, until the morning" [Vayikra 19:13]. And a similar positive mitzva appears in the portion of Ki Tissa, "Give him his pay during the day, do not let the sun set for him" [Devarim 24:15]. The Sifri (279) and the Talmud viewed both sources as referring to the same law. This week's portion involves a day laborer, who must be paid at night, after he finishes his labors, and the verse therefore emphasizes that the pay must not be held back "overnight." The passage in Ki Tissa is referring to a night laborer, who must be paid "during the day." In any case, both a positive mitzva and a prohibition exist. With respect to one who works by the hour (which is quite common today), we have been taught: "An hourly laborer who works during the day should receive his salary during the day, and an hourly laborer who works at night should receive his salary at night" [Bava Metzia 111a]. This corresponds to the halachic rulings of the Rambam (Hilchot Sechirut 11:2) and the Shulchan Aruch (339).

The question that concerns us here is what happens if the employer does not have the money available. Is it still a sin (both positive and negative) if he does not pay the worker on time? The Talmud quotes a Baraita, "We might think this is true even if the employer does not have with what to pay? We have been taught, 'with you overnight' – this refers to what you have with you." [Bava Metzia 112a]. This means that no sin has been committed if the delay in payment stems from a lack of available money. But this still leaves us with two questions. (1) Why is there no demand that a person should not be allowed to hire workers if he does not have the money to pay them? (2) How do we define that an employer "does not have money" and therefore delay the payment?

With respect to the first question, how can we allow an employer to hire workers if no money is available, the Sefer Hachinuch writes for, "In any case, the proper behavior is for every reasonable person to make sure he has money available before he hires workers" [Mitzva 584]. At first glance, it seems that these instructions by the Sefer Hachinuch are not strictly required by the halacha. But in my humble opinion, I would suggest that there is a difference between two cases. If the employer cannot pay because of a temporary lack of cash flow but in the overall balance has the money to pay, then the words of the Chinuch apply as good advice. But an employer should not knowingly hire workers where there will not be sufficient funds to pay them, and this is based on simple common sense.

With respect to the second question, the definition of no available money, this refers not only to temporary cash flow but also to material goods that could be exchanged for money. This is the point of a story that appears in the Talmud (Shabbat 127b), and it is implied by the Baraita quoted by the Talmud, which does not specifically mention money. The RITVA writes that an employer is not required to sell his tools but is required to sell goods such as fruit in order to obtain money. The Chinuch also restricts the prohibition only in a case where "he will suffer a large loss." These statements imply that in principle an employer is required to sell objects in order to raise money on condition that this will not incur a large loss. On the other hand, the TUR and the Shulchan Aruch specifically write, "If he does not have the money with which to pay" [339]. In my humble opinion, it is clear that workers today do not want to be paid in goods but only in money.

The Chafetz Chaim writes that in principle an employer is required to borrow money in order to be able to pay the salary on time (Ahavat Chessed volume 1, 9:7). He brings three proofs of this. (1) In Vayikra, Rashi explains that the reason one is allowed to pay throughout the entire night and not only as soon as the work is finished is to enable the employer to gather the money. This shows that the employer is required to find money and not pay with goods. (2) From the RITVA it is clear that an employer must sell goods that are ready for sale and is not allowed to wait. (3) In the Talmud, we are taught that in general a person should make an effort to be in a position where it is possible to fulfill a positive mitzva (Menachot 41a).

The Shuchan Aruch of the Rav (Chabad) quotes from the ARI that it is a pious act to pay a worker on time (Hilchot Sechirut 18). It is said that the ARI would delay Mincha until the sun set so that he would have time to find the money to pay a hired man. Only then would he pray, and he would say: How can I pray to the Almighty if I encounter such a great mitzva and I do not fulfill it?

In my humble opinion, since there is a widespread practice in the banks of allowing overdrafts (although this should be avoided if possible), and in addition the banks allow it because the sum is covered by other money held in the bank, the loss to the employer due to this practice is not to be considered as extensive. Therefore, anybody who hires workers (and that includes babysitters!) is halachically required to withdraw enough cash so that he can pay for the work immediately. Otherwise, he will be violating the prohibition of late payments and ignoring a positive mitzva (according to many of the early commentators).

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