Category Archives: Vayikra

Parshas BeChukosei

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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Parshas Emor 5775

On the first possuk in our Parsha the Medrash (Yalkut Shemoni) comments, “Rebbi Yehoshua of Sichnin in the name of Rebbi Levi said, ….Moshe said to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, the first king of Clal Yisroel (Shaul) will be stabbed to death with a sword!?” Hashem answered back, “Why are you criticizing me? Speak to the Kohanim whom he (Shaul) killed. They are the one who are prosecuting!”

Zera Shimshon asks why does the Medrash stress that Shaul was the FIRST king of Clal Yisroel? Why wouldn’t Moshe have been bewildered even if he was the second or third king?

His answer is based on two concepts. 

The meforshim write that the reason that Shaul, who was a descendent of  Binyamin, merited to be the first king because Binyamin was the only Tribe that didn’t bow down to Eisav (when Yaakov met him in Parshas VaYishlach). Because of this, Eisav had no power over him.

The second concept is found in another Medrash (Zohar Parshas Balak page 292/b). It is written  there that Hashem came to Eisav and offered him to accept the TorahEisav refused since it says in the Torah “You shall not murder” and this totally contradicts the blessing that Yitzchak blessed him, that he will live by the sword. 

After Eisav refused it, Hashem, so to speak, then asked him for advice on how H. can persuade Bnei Yisroel to accept it. Eisav answered that H. should give them a part of his beracha; that Clal Yisroel will be allowed to implement capital punishment. 

With these two ideas in mind Zera Shimshon explains the Medrash.

Moshe Rabeinu didn’t understand how it could be that Shaul be killed by a sword.  Shaul was chosen to be the first King of Yisroel because he didn’t bow to Eisav and therefore Eisav had no hold over him. Therefore, wondered Moshe, how could he be killed by a sword that is Eisav’s legacy?!

Hashem answered the sword was given to Clal Yisroel to be used in Beis Din. To simply kill though is not our lot, but Eisav’s. Therefore at the time Shaul killed the inhabitants of Nov the city of Kohanim he essentially stole Eisav’s legacy. Since he did this, then Eisav now had power over him (even though that his great grandfather, Binyamin, did not bow down to him). 

It is because of this that  the sword could have power over Shaul even though that he didn’t bow down to Eisav!
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