Divrei HaRav
 

BeChukosai / בחוקתי

BeChukosai / בחוקתי
The laws of shmita are positioned in the parsha in connection with Mount Sinai. It is quite fascinating that a nation could develop laws about agriculture, business, commerce and other land related laws, all in a wilderness! They were without a land and certainly these were foreign to them. The answer, then, is it all came through divine revelation on Sinai. (משלחן גבוה)

The possuk seems to repeat itself. First it says to proclaim freedom and then it repeats with the words “each man will return to his place”. The Brisker Rav z’l’ explains. The Rambam describes the year of yovel. From Rosh HaShana until Yom Kippur the slaves did not return home but ate and drank were happy in a festive spirit. On Yom Kippur the shofar was sounded, after which they returned home. This then could explain the double expression. First they were released from bondage but not until later did they return home.

The parsha discussed אונאת דברים taking advantage of someone’s weakness. The example given is not to remind a baal tshuva about his past. R. Elchonon z’l’ explains with this an interesting aspect of loshon hara. Why is it that the sin of loshon hara is realized even when it is true? The person did the act and I am not permitted to tell anybody. The answer is because maybe he wasn’t aware of the severity. Maybe he did it unknowingly. Maybe he did tshuva since then and we see from our parsha that I may not offend him with his past history. If so, reasons R. Elchonon, even “true” loshon hara is perhaps “not true”.
כי לי בני ישראל עבדים עבדי הם אשר הוצאתי אותם
The possuk repeats twice, “they are HaShem’s servants, they are my servants”. The answer is that even without the whole episode in Egypt we are the servants of HaShem. However, after He took us from slavery there is an added reason why we are His slaves (for He took us in exchange)

The parsha ends with “keep my Shabbos and respect my holy place”. The Ibn Ezra insists this is again referring to shmita (Shabbos) and yovel. (Holy shall it be). However the ספורנו explains it as a call to the future when we will no more occupy the land and we will spend centuries in galus. The two keys to our existence are Shabbos and the holy places - the shuls and the yeshivas. May we see the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdosh and the return to Eretz Yisroel in our times.

The possuk reads “the land cannot be sold forever, because it belongs to Me”. Hashem attributes the concept of Yovel as a restatement of the fundamental idea of creation and G-d’s involvement. From this R’ Yaakov z”l expounds and ties in the fact that this proclamation of Yovel comes about in Yom Kippur, so that Yom Kippur is also a testimony to creation. With this, he explains the ruling of some authorities that one who is a transgressor of Yom Kippur is likened to one who transgresses Shabbos and his “shechita” is invalid. This also has, in spirit, the same spirit as Shabbos.

Concerning cheating and taking advantage in money matters it does not use the words “and fear G-d”, whereas in reference to taking advantage with words, using cynical and sarcastic remarks, it does say “fear G-d”. The Maharsha explains: The sin performed with money is visible and detected by all - one who speaks with “tongue in cheek” is more conniving and displays fear only for man, similar to one who steals at night. Therefore the addition of “You should fear G-d”.

The Chazal wonder what the connection is between “shmita” observance and Mt. Sinai. The answer could be simple. Chazal say that the one singular mitzvah which requires perfect faith in Hashem is observing shmita, which requires an abstention from work and profit for a whole year. They liken those people to angels. Likewise at Sinai where the Jewish people expressed a willingness to proceed ahead without any understanding -“naseh v’nishma” - it was a show of utter reliance on Hashem. As it says in Hallel “I thought you were angels.” (M’Shulchan Gevoah)

In the end of the parsha there is a listing of the various set values of human beings, “arachim” - the idea is to indicate how much money one would donate to the Bais Hamikdosh if he would indicate “the value of so and so”. Perhaps, however, the Torah also wishes to impress upon each individual that he has value and also the ability to dedicate that value, meaning himself, to a cause of kedusha. Each person has what to offer.

Why would the possuk refer to the toil and study of Torah with the expression “ if you walk in my statutes” the word “chok” is usually reserved for mitzvos without understanding. The Or Hachaim describes with this the love that Hashem has for one who learns Torah. Irregardless of how he may learn, information he has already mastered, or even information he is lacking in understanding, it is all fondly regarded as “ameilus b’Torah” – toiling in Torah study.

 

 

Previous Parshos

Tazria Metzora Achrei Mos Kedoshim Emor Behar Bechukosai Bamidbar Shavuos Naso Behalosicha Shilach Korach Chukas-Balak Pinchos Matos-Masei Devorim Voeschonon Ekev Reah Shoftim Ki Seitzei Ki Savo Nitzovim - Vayelech Rosh HaShana Haazinu-Yom Kippur Sukkos V'zos HaBrocha Breishis