Illuminations #172, Elul, 5778, Parshat Ki Tavo

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Illuminations #172, Elul, 5778, Parshat Ki Tavo

Torah Gems

When the farmer brought the first fruit to the Bet Hamikdash he was given a prescribed statement to recite. What is surprising is that soon after the farmer starts his recitation, the Kohen interrupts him and takes the basket of fruit from him. Why the interruption in the middle of the farmer’s presentation?

When we review what the farmer is really saying we may understand why the intrusion. He starts by saying that he came to the land that Hashem promised us. Two things are implied in this statement. First, he seems to be saying that he came, that is, on his own. Hashem had not brought him here. Secondly, since he says that it was promised to him, he implies that it is his now by right.

At this point the Cohen interrupts him and takes the basket of fruit and “lays it before the Alter of Hashem” (26:4). Then the farmer continues with his narration. This time he is more humble and more appreciative.

He recounts how our forefathers were enslaved in Egypt and how, after we cried to Him, Hashem took us out of that miserable degrading circumstance and brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey. Now he brings his first fruit to Hashem. In this declaration the farmer is more modest and more appreciative. He recognizes that his blessings come from Hashem.

A person should always recognize that his blessings are partially his own doing but without the blessings of Hashem they would never materialize.

Parsha Pearls

We are promised that if we keep the Mitzvot proscribed in the Torah, then: “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you” (28:2). The promise is that all the blessings mentioned previously will descend upon the Jewish people.

One word in this verse begs to be explained. The Hebrew word וְהִשִּׂיגֻךָ, “and overtake you,” seems to be superfluous. The implication here is very telling.

Often, we are granted a piece of good fortune but do not recognize it as a blessing. We run away from it, as it were, or don’t appreciate it as a good thing. The Torah tells us that the blessing will nevertheless overtake us, meaning, it will remain with us and we will benefit from it. Eventually we will acknowledge it for its full value.

We usually recognize the unfortunate things that happen to us but we must be prepared and be able to identify and acknowledge the good as well.

Glimpses of Greatness

The Pasuk says, “Then we cried out to Hashem… and our Travail…” (26:7). Chazal tells us the word “Travail” refers to sons, that we need pray that our sons will be Bnei Torah. There was a boy that did not keep Torah and Mitzvot. His mother called to the  Gedolei Yisrael, cried, and asked what to do with the son. The Rav said that she should bring in every Shabbat earlier than usual and pray to Hashem in front of the Shabbat Candles. When Shabbat came in, as she stood in front of the Candles, she started crying and praying to Hashem. The son saw her and asked, “Mother, why are you crying? What happened?” The Mother answered, “You will understand later.” Not a month passed before the son has changed and became a Ben Torah.

Halacha Weekly

Q. If someone who was converted as a child did not know he was converted and didn’t protest does he accept mitzvot? [I-YD 16-337]

A. The Talmud ( Ketuvot 11a) requires a child convert to go to the mikveh under supervision of the rabbinical court and when he comes of age that he verbally accept the mitzvot.  Shulchan Aruch (YD 268-67) explains this is referring to the case where he has not been raised to practice Jewish customs.  If he is raised Jewish, when he comes of age he does not have to verbally accept mitzvot, he simply continues observing Judaism in his adulthood for one hour without protesting and this completes his conversion. From that point onwards he is not permitted to protest.  However, what happens if he did not know until adulthood that he was Jewish, and it is discovered later in life that he was not born Jewish?  If he is told, is he permitted to protest then when he discovers he is Jewish?

Yam Shel Shlomo (Ketuvot 1-38, R. Shlomo Luria Z”L) explains that this case where he comes of age and is no longer able to protest is referring to a case where it is made known to him by the Beit Din or by his parents [that he was not born Jewish]. However, if the child was very young [when brought to the mikveh] and it was not mentioned to them from that time that they were converted and afterwards when they come of age it is then made known to them [they were not born Jewish], they are able to protest even after having accustomed themselves to Jewish observances for many years.

Igros Moshe (YD 1-122, R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L) and Minchat Yitzchak (3-93-13, R. Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss, Z”L) write that one must make it known to the child [that they were not born Jewish] before they come of age. It is only when they know that they are converted and do not protest that after they come of age and accustom themselves to Jewish practices, from that moment they are no longer allowed to protest [to being Jewish] anymore.  However, if they never knew that they were converted, certainly they are permitted to protest [to being Jewish] when it is made known to them, because it is possible for them to say that [the only reason] they did not protest in the past was because they thought that they were born Jewish. Shevet Halevi (5-107, R. Shmuel Halevi Wasner Z:”L) rules likewise.