On the possuk, “If you will walk in my ordinances and keep My mitzvos and do them” the Medrash comments, “Reb Chaninna Bar Pappey said, ‘If you keep the mitzvos then I will credit you as if you made yourself!” (The Hebrew of “do them” is “v’assissem ohsom“. Reb Chaninna Bar Pappey reads “ohsam as “attem” which means “you” and translates “v’assissem” as “make” instead of “do”.)
The Yaffai Tohar asks that the expression “I will credit you as if…” usually means that the Torah considers something insignificant in our eyes as something of great worth and praiseworthy. For instance, the Gemorro in Sanhedrin (99B) says that if someone teaches his friend’s child Torah (something that seems insignificant) it is as if made him (which is something great and praiseworthy- to give a person life.) Here, though, asks Yaffei Tohar, why is making yourself something great and praiseworthy? It would seem that to pamper oneself is not commendable at all!
Zera Shimshon answers the Yaffai Tohar’s question according to an idea he extrapolates from a different Medrash on the same possuk.
The Medrash writes, “(These pessukim can be explained) according to the possuk (Tehilim 119/59) “(Dovid HaMelech said) I thought about my ways, and I returned my feet to Your testimonies.” Dovid said, “Master of the Universe, everyday I thought what to do and I decided and intended to go to a certain place or to a certain house. However, in the end, my feet brought me to Your Synagogue or to Your Bais Medrash.””
Zera Shimshon asks what does it mean that Dovid initially thought to go other places and only in the end did he go to the synagogues and to the bais hamedrash? Why didn’t he think to go there in the first place? And, secondly, where is it that he wanted to go?
He explains that a king has countless responsibilities which leads to great pressure and tension. This state isn’t healthy for a person. Dovid initially thought he needs “to get away” to revitalize and regain his strength. He reasoned that to do so would be performing the mitzvo of “You should watch yourself very well” and (Mishlei 22/5) “Thorns [and] traps are in the way of the perverse; he who preserves his soul will distance himself from them.”
After contemplating this, though, he returned to the Bais Medrash for two reasons. Firstly he reasoned that learning Torah guards and saves a person (Sotah 21a). Also, suffering and anguish is removed from a person who is involved in learning Torah (Berachos 5a).
Secondly, even a stronger reason. The Torah that Dovid learnt became and integral part of him and his physical body was revitalized when he davvened and learnt to the same degree as when he went to a spa!
In other words we learn from Dovid that it is possible for a person to reach a level where the learning of Torah and doing mitzvos can heal someone who is sick!
According to this, concludes Zera Shimshon, we can answer Yaffai Tohar’s question and understand the Medrash. We are commanded to take care of ourselves and one who disregards and fights against the laws of nature and gets sick (or worse than that) it is considered as if he did it to himself.
However, if the neglect is a result of his performing the mitzos then Hashem will watch over him and these mitzvos are as if he gave himself life!
This then is the meaning of the Medrash. If one keeps the mitzvos in the same pure way as Dovid did then, even though that according to the laws of nature the result will be getting sick, I will credit you as if you made yourself. Meaning, as if you took care of yourself!
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