Category Archives: Parshas Bechukosei

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 Bechukosei

Parshas Bechukosei

(Based on Zera Shimshon Bechukosei pg. 78)

If you follow My laws, observe My mitzos and perform them, I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit.(Vayikra 26/3-4)

On these pessukim the Medrash comments:

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.” (The Medrash explains) Dovid said, “Master of the Universe, everyday I thought about what to do and I decided 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 did the Medrash find difficult in the possuk that it brought a different possuk to explain it?

Secondly, 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?

He explains that the Medrash was bothered by the following inconsistency in our parsha. When the Torah speaks of the consequences of not going in Hashem’s way it begins “And if you despise My laws and if you reject My ordinances…”. The “if” before “you reject” implies that to despise My laws doesn’t automatically bring to rejection of Hashem’s ordinances. They are two unrelated behaviors.

On the other hand when the Torah speaks of the reward for going in Hashem’s way it says “If you follow My laws, observe My commandments and perform them…” This implies that to follow Hashem’s laws directly leads to the observing of the mitzvos. What special quality is there in “following Hashem’s laws” that directly brings to observing His mitzvos?

The Medrash answers, explains Zera Shimshon, that the key to understand this is found in Dovid.

A king has countless responsibilities which leads to great pressure and tension. This state isn’t healthy for a person and therefore 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 reasoned that learning Torah guards and saves a person (Sotah 21a). Suffering and anguish is removed from a person who is involved in learning Torah (Berachos 5a).

Secondly, there was even a stronger reason. The Torah that Dovid learnt became such a part of him that his physical body itself felt that davvening in a synagogue and learning in Beis Medrash revitalized him to the same degree as going to a spa!

We can now understand how “following My laws” directly brings to “observing My mitzvos.

Rashi explains “following my laws” means to labour and work hard to understand the Torah.

Therefore, concludes, Zera Shimshon, the Medrash learns from Dovid that the Torah that one learns can became a part of him to such a degree that the Torah itself impelled him to go to Bais Medrash to heal himself. To heal oneself is important like keeping all of the mitzvos (Like we find that pikuach nefesh overrides all other mitzvos) . Therefore, we can understand that when we toil in Torah, the Torah that we learn can become an integral part of us and will also impel and cause us to do the mitzvos!

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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