Illuminations #160, Iyar 5778, Parshat Behar – Bechukotai

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Illuminations #160, Iyar 5778, Parshat Behar – Bechukotai

Torah Gems

The parsha States, “And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them that when they come to the land which I am giving them, they shall let the land rest, a Sabbatical for Hashem. And if you will ask, ‘what will we eat in the seventh year if we are not seeding nor gathering our crop?’… I have commanded my blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will produce a crop to last three years.”  Rashi asks, “Why does the Torah specifically mention that this was said at Har Sinai?” “Ma Inyan Shmitta Etzel Har Sinai?” – What do the laws of Shmitta, the Sabbatical of the Land, have to do with Mt. Sinai more than any other Mitzvah? The entire Torah was given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai – so why the emphasis on Shmitta? Many answers are given, including that which Rashi quotes from the Midrash – that it is indeed a paradigm: just as all of the various complex laws of Shmitta were given at Sinai, so too all of the various Mitzvos were given, in their full complexity, at Sinai. The Chasam Sofer offers the possibility that Shmitta has a unique relationship, for it tells us something about the authenticity of the Sinai experience. Why? Because Shmitta offers a guarantee that the land will produce in the sixth year to cover not merely the sixth and seventh, but the eighth year as well. The Torah promises the nation of Israel that they will see a triple crop! The Chasam Sofer asks the question: “What person would have the gall to make such a promise as ‘I have commanded my blessing upon the land, and it will produce a crop to last three years?’” If we were to sit down and write a Bible, would we make this promise? How long would we last if we did? At the very least, let’s promise the triple crop in the eighth year… then we can claim that people didn’t follow us, and thus didn’t get the blessing! In addition, everyone knows that every year the harvest of the fields becomes weaker, so that the first year after Shemitah it would yield the most fruit, and on the sixth year it would yield the least. But The Torah insists that the triple crop will come in the sixth year, no if’s, and’s or but’s. The Chasam Sofer says that the very audacity of this claim… is the best verification of Who made it. A human being would not guarantee that which defied the laws of nature. Only Hashem, Who transcends and controls nature, can promise something that is not in accordance with its laws.

Parsha Pearls

“You shall not hurt the feelings of one another and you shall fear G-d.” In this verse the Torah commands us to be careful not to say anything to another person that will cause him emotional pain. Rabbi Shlomo Kluger commented: Some people are careless with the feelings of other people and think that they only have to be careful to observe those commandments which involve man’s obligation to Hashem. But the truth is that if a person is not careful with his obligations to his fellow men and speaks against them and hurts their feelings, he will eventually be careless with the commandments between man and Hashem. Therefore in the same verse that the Torah warns against hurting the feelings of other people, the Torah adds, “And you shall fear Hashem.” Failure to observe the first half of the verse will lead to failure to observe the latter half of the verse. Since verbal abuse can cause so much suffering, much care must be taken not to say things to people that will hurt their feelings. The more sensitive a person is, the greater care we must take when speaking to him that we do not cause him pain with our words. Not only is it important to watch what you say to someone, but also your tone of voice is crucial. If you shout at someone or speak in an angry voice, this causes hurt feelings and is included in the prohibition of this verse of the Torah. Every time you speak to someone, you have a choice of saying things that will make him feel good, which is the fulfillment of an act of hesed, or you might say something that will hurt him, which is a violation of this prohibition. Utilize your power of speech to build people up, not to tear them down. (Growth through Torah)

Glimpses of Greatness

Rabbanit Bolisa Attia walked out of the clinic, shaken and worried. The doctor had just told her that her hand would need to be amputated. As soon as she came home, she related the terrible news to her husband, R’ Ezra Attia ztz”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef . He immediately went to R’ Avraham Addes to ask for his advice and get a brachah. R’ Avraham Addes, the great Kabbalist, warmly greeted Rav Attia, but soon noticed his visitor’s downcast expression. “Is everything okay ?” he inquired with concern. “No,” R’ Attia sighed, “My wife has unbearable pain in her hand, and the doctor decided to amputate it.” “Nonsense!” announced R’ Avraham. “Everything will be just fine. There’s really no need to amputate her hand.” It was not the same R’ Ezra who left the house of the mekubal . He hurried home and told his wife with a relieved smile, “Go back to the doctor and tell him to examine you again.” The speechless doctor confirmed that there was an immense improvement, and it was unnecessary to operate.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Can one name a child a name used by both evil persons and righteous persons? II-11-274)

A. We learn that we do not use the name of  Evildoers (Yoma38b). Rashi says, “A person should not call his son after the name of a evil doer.” Sheiltot Rama (42, R. Moshe Isserles Z”L) writes that it is forbidden to call by the name of an evil person specifically when we do not find that name used except for that individual. But if the name is used with many other individuals there is no prohibition. Sdei Chemed (KuntrasKelalim (Marechet Zayin- 7, R.Chaim Chezkiah Medini Z”L)and Zecher David (Maamar 1-82, R. Mazal Tov Modinah Z”L) explain that the name of an evil person that is joined with many other individuals [of that name] is not prohibited.

Sefer Haflaah (Ketubot 104b, R. Pinchas Halevi Horowitz Z”L) writes that one does not call (a child) by the name of an evil person, even if there was a righteous person called by that name after him, except for those names which are frequently used and well known. For example, “Menasheh,”  should not disqualify the name because an evil person is also called by that name.  However, if a name is not well known, even if it is found later that a tzaddik has that name, one should not use that name because everyone does not know that a tzaddik was called by that name.

Tirosh Veyitzhar (105, R. Tzvi Yechezkel Ben Avraham Chaim Michaelson) writes that it is permitted to call a child by the name of  a righteous person even though there was before him an evil doer that was called by that name. He proves that this is the opinion of  Mabit (1-276, R. Moshe ben Yosef deTrani, Z”L). Likewise in Sefer Erech Lechem (Yoreh Deah 265, R. Yaakov de Castro Z”L Maharikash), it is explained that even though we do not name after Evil persons, if a righteous person is called by that name (even though an evil doer is also called by that name) there is no concern.