Monthly Archives: 16 Elul 5774

Parshas Ki Sovo

Parshas Ki Sovo
(When you bring Bikkurim (your first fruits)) And you shall come to the Kohen who will be [serving] in those days, and say to him, “I declare today to Hashem, your G-d, that I have come to the land which Hashem swore to our forefathers to give us.” (Devarim 26/3)

Rashi comments on the phrase “who will be (serving) in those days”; “You only have the Kohen in your days the way that he is”. Meaning, that a person cannot exempt himself from giving the Priestly Present of Bikkurim because the Kohen in his generation is not as great as the Kohannim of previous generation. A person is obligated to bring and to give bikkurim to the Kohen who is living in his generation even though that he is on a much lower level than the Kohannim of previous generations.

Rashi makes a similar point concerning judges (Devarim 17/9). He explains that the possuk there teaches us that one has to listen to the psak of the judges in his days even though that they are not as great as the judges in previous generations.

Zera Shimshon asks that he understands why a person might mistakingly reason that he doesn’t have to listen to a judge who is not as great as previous judges. The role of a judge is to clarify what happened and to determine the halacha in that case. If he isn’t of the same stature of the judges of previous generations he is apt to make a mistake. Therefore one might think that there is no reason to go to such a judge.

However, Zera Shimshon asks, why would a person think to exempt himself from giving bikkurim to a Kohan who is not on such a high spiritual level? The Kohen only has to accept the bikkurim. What then is the diference if he is on a high level or not?

To answer this question Zera Shimshon asks another question. What does it mean, “AND SAY TO HIM (the Kohen), I declare today to Hashem, your G-d, that I have come to the land…” Seemingly, this declaration is between the person bringing the bikkurim and Hashem. What then does it mean, “and say to him..”? Why does he have to say it to the Kohen?

Rashi therefore comments, “and say to him”: “to show that you are not ungrateful”. In other words, Rashi understood that in addition to making the declaration “I declare today…” (which is made to Hashem) he also says thanks to the Kohen to show that he appreciates all that the Kohen does for him.

Zera Shimshon asks, though, why does he have to SAY “thank you”? Isn’t it apparent that he appreciates what the Kohen does by the mere fact that he gives the Kohen the bikurim?

He answers according to the halacha that one doesn’t just bring bikkurim to the Bais HaMikdash, give it to the Kohen and then walk away. After he gives them to the Kohen, the Kohen puts his hand underneath his hands and together they wave the bikkurim up, down, east, south, west and north. The Gemorro (Sukko 37/b) explains that the reason for this is in order to “prevent harmful winds and in order to prevent harmful dews”. In other words, the bikkurim are not simply a present to the Kohen. They also influence Hashem to protect the crops from damage.

We can now understand why a person might mistakenly feel that he doesn’t have to bring bikkurim to a Kohen who is not so great. He could make a mistake and think to himself, “Can this Kohen (who is not as great as the previous Kohanim) really persuade Hashem to stop the harmful winds etc. through his prayer?”

However this is a mistake!

Firstly, only Hashem sees into the hearts of people and can judge if this Kohens’s heart is filled with yiras shamayim. If he wasn’t full of yiras shamayim, Hashem would not have allowed him to reach such a position.

Secondly, the doing of a mitzvo intrinsically causes Hashem to shower goodness in this world independant of the deep thoughts of the one that does the mitzvo.

Zera Shimshon concludes that this is also the reason why the one who brings the bikkurim thanks the Kohen for what he does. It is to show that realizes that the fact that there were no harmful winds and dew and that he had a good crop is a result of the Kohen’s waving the bikkurim (last year) and not just a result of nature.

This d’var Torah is dedicated to Beracha Bas Menucha Shaina. In the merit of  the  learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun

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Parshas Ki Tzaitzai

If a bird’s nest happens to be before you on the road, on a tree or on the ground- young birds or eggs- and the mother is resting  on the young birds or the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall surely send away (shalayach t’shalach) the mother and take the young for yourself, so that it will be good for you and you will prolong your days. (Devorim 22/6-7)

The Mishna in Berachos (33/b) writes, “If someone prays and says “Y.u (Hashem) are merciful, and Y.u (Hashem) have mercy on a birds nest to send away the mother” we silence him.”

The reason that we silence him, according to one explanation in the Gemoro, is because (by his saying this) he depicts Hashem’s mitzvos as acts of mercy while, in truth, they are really only decrees.”  From here it seems that this mitzvo does not stem from Hashem’s kindness but rather it is simply a decree from Hashem that we have to carry out.

Zera Shimshon asks that  seemingly the Medrash in this week’s parsha condradicts this. The Medrash writes, “Just like HaKodesh Baruch Hu is full of kindness on animals, so too H. is full of kindess on birds. From where do we know this? As it says, If a bird’s nest happens before you….”.  How can we reconcile the Gemoro with the Medrash?

To answer this question Zera Shimshon quotes an interesting Medrash. The Medrash asks, “What does it mean Shalayach teshalach” (the Torah repeats the word shelach -“to send” twice). (The Medrash answers) “If you will perform the mitzvo of “sending” (away the mother) you will hasten the coming of Meshiach that concerning him it is written “Behold I will “send” to you etc.”. Zera Shimshon asks how do we understand the connection between sending away the mother bird and the hastening of the coming of Mashiach?

He explains  in light of  a third  Medrash (quoted in Sha“ch Al HaTorah). The Medrash describes that after a person sent away the mother bird, she (the mother bird) is very worried and troubled about her child. She moves back and forth and because of her intense pain she wants to kill herself. When her assigned malach sees her pain he asks mercy for her from Hashem.

Hashem accepts the malach’s request and also becomes full of mercy. H. then  says to himself, “If this malach asks mercy for his subject, shouldn’t I, who am the source of all mercy, have mercy and compassion on my children. Oy, that I destroyed the Bais HaMikdash….”  What caused all of this? The person who performed the mitvo of sending away the mother bird.”

From here, explains Zera Shimshon, we understand that the bringing of Mashiach isn’t a direct result of sending the mother bird; Person sends bird away, Hashem sends Mashiach to us.  Rather it is the result of a long chain of event; we send the mother bird away, which, as result of this, the mother bird has pain.

As a result of this, its malach approaches and asks Hashem to have mercy on her.

As a result of this, Hashem sees the mercy that the malach has on the mother bird.

Finally, as a result of this, Hashem makes a kal v’chomer (a logical inference) that H. should have mercy on us (and send Mashiach).

According to this, reasons Zera Shimshon,  we can now understand that the Gemoro (that maintains that the mitzvo of sheliuch HaKan is does not stem from Hashem’s mercy) does not contradict  the Medrash (that says that Hashem has mercy on the mother bird).

It is true that there is an aspect of mercy in this mitzvo. However this only comes after a whole chain of events (the mother has pain, her malach feels her pain etc.) If this mitzvo would stem from Hashem’s mercy then there would not be so many elements of pain and suffering. Therefore, even though that in the end Hashem does show compassion for the mother bird (and for us),  if one says that the root of this mitzvo is Hashem’s mercy we silence him!

Zera Shimshon adds another point. According to the Medrash that in the merit of sending away the mother bird we hasten the coming of Mashiach we can understand another puzzling Medrash; that in merit of this mitzvo a person merits giving birth to children (like the posuk concludes, “and the child take for yourself)!

He explains this Medrash in light of the Gemorro (Yevomos 62/a) that Mashiach will not come until all of the neshamos leave HaGuf (a place in heaven next to Hashem’s Throne that all neshamos are stored until they are put into newborn children).

Therefore, reasons Zera Shimshon, since through this mitzvo we hasten Mashiach’s coming, and a prerequisite of his coming is having children (in order to clear out HaGuf from the neshamos) therefore one who performs this mitzvo also merits having children!

This d’var Torah is dedicated to Beracha Bas Menucha Shaina. In the merit of  the  learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun

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