Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz
Eikev: Steps on a Ladder
Volume XVII, No. 44
18 Av 5763
August 16, 2003
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Zevachim 68
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Shekalim 21
Our parashah contains repeated adjurations to love and fear G-d
and to walk in His ways. Yet each such instruction is different.
First we read (8:6), "You shall observe the commandments of
Hashem, your G-d, to go in His ways and fear Him." First, go in
His ways, then fear Him.
Next we read (10:12), "Now, O Israel, what does Hashem, your G-
d, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your G-d, to go in all His
ways and to love Him." In this pasuk, fearing Hashem is before
going in His ways, which is followed by loving Him.
Finally we read (11:22), "To love Hashem, your G-d, to walk in
all His ways and to cleave to Him." Here, loving G-d comes
before going in His ways, which is followed by cleaving to Him.
R' Yisrael Meir Hakohen z"l (the Chafetz Chaim; died 1933)
explains: The Torah is teaching us that fear of G-d and love of G-
d are steps on a ladder. As described in the first verse, the
first step is to observe the Torah's commandments. One must then
follow in Hashem's footsteps - just as He is kind, you must be
kind; just as He is merciful, you must be merciful, and so on.
This will eventually bring a person to fear G-d.
Then the process begins anew. As the second verse describes,
even after one has attained fear of G-d, he must again walk in
Hashem's ways if he wishes to attain love of G-d. Now, of
course, his performance of mitzvot will be of a higher caliber.
Eventually, this will lead to love of G-d.
But that is not the end. Beyond love of G-d is cleaving to G-
d. How does one get there? The third verse tells us - one must
walk in G-d's ways on a higher level yet. (Quoted in Otzrot
Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot)
"He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you the
mahn that you did not know, nor did your forefathers know,
in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man
live, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of G-
d does man live" (8:3)
As related in Parashat Beshalach, Hashem did not feed Bnei
Yisrael the mahn until they cried for food. R' Dr. Avraham J.
Twerski shlita explains that had Hashem anticipated all of the
Jewish People's needs -- for example, had He provided the mahn
before they were hungry -- they would never have developed trust
in Him. This, writes R' Twerski, is an important principle in
parenting as well. If parents anticipate all of their child's
needs and provide for them before the child has had an
opportunity to identify those needs, the child may never learn
that his needs will be met. A child must be allowed to feel his
needs. When the parents respond in a way that meets those needs,
then the child learns to trust his parents.
(Successful Relationships p.32)
"Not by bread alone does man live, rather by everything that
emanates from the mouth of G-d does man live." (8:3)
"And you may say in your heart, `My strength and the might of
my hand made me all this wealth!' Then you shall remember
Hashem, your G-d -- that it was He Who gave you strength to
make wealth." (8:17-18)
A wealthy chassid, an owner of forests, once came to visit his
rebbe, R' David Moshe Friedman of Chortkov z"l (1828-1904), for
Sukkot. When he entered the rebbe's study for a personal
interview, he related with joy that he had been offered a rare
deal - to buy all the forests of a certain count at half price.
The profits, the chassid said, would double his wealth.
The rebbe listened, and then he said, "Take my advice. Cancel
The chassid was stunned. He had already given a deposit, and
the profit was as good as in his pocket. And so, his desires got
the best of him, and he disregarded the rebbe's advice and went
through with the deal.
Soon, the first trees were felled and the first shipment was on
its way to the mill. After several days, the chassid received an
urgent telegram: "The trees are rotten. Your shipment will be
returned." Darkness descended upon the chassid. He hurried to
examine what remained of his forest, and sure enough, it was all
rotten. His entire investment was lost. Worse yet, he was left
with the expenses of felling and shipping the trees, expenses
that would never be recovered. In short order, the chassid's
entire fortune was lost.
The chassid reasoned that this fate had befallen him because he
did not listen to his rebbe. At first, he was embarrassed to
even visit the rebbe, but then he reasoned, "I've nothing left in
this world. Shall I cut myself off from Olam Haba also?"
Mustering all his courage, he set out for Chortkov. He entered
the rebbe's study and begged for forgiveness for disobeying the
rebbe. "I've been punished enough," he said. "My entire fortune
A look of bewilderment appeared on the rebbe's face. "No Jew
has ever been punished on my account," R' David Moshe said.
"True, I advised you not to buy the forest, but do you know why?
When you told me about the wonderful deal that was offered to you
and the riches that were almost within your grasp, I saw that you
were so sure of yourself that you had forgotten that success is
possible only with G-d's help. You did not place your trust in G-
d and you did not pray to Him. Therefore I feared for the
outcome, and I advised you not to got through with the deal.
Now, however, that you know that Hashem determines who will be
wealthy or poor, return to your business, pray to G-d, and your
wealth will return."
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Adir B'meluchah p.237)
"You will eat and you will be satisfied, and you shall bless
Hashem, your G-d, for the good Land that He gave you."
This verse is the source of the mitzvah to recite Birkat
Hamazon / Grace after Meals. The following divrei Torah relate
to the text of Birkat Hamazon:
"We thank You, Hashem, our G-d because You have given to our
forefathers as a heritage a desirable, good and spacious land;
because You removed us, Hashem, our G-d, from the land of Egypt .
Why do we say that Hashem gave our forefathers Eretz Yisrael
but that He removed us from the land of Egypt? Also, why are
these events mentioned out of chronological order? R' Shmuel
Hominer z"l (20th century) explains:
Five separate times, the Torah tells us, "You shall remember
that you were a slave in the land of Egypt." This is the source
of the law stated in the Gemara, codified by Rambam, and quoted
in the Pesach Haggadah: "In every generation, a person is
obligated to view himself as if he himself had left Egypt." This
is not a law that applies only at the Pesach Seder; we fulfill it
every time we recite Birkat Hamazon.
This answers both of our questions. Hashem did not give the
Land to us personally, but He did take each of us out of Egypt.
And, it turns out, the events are mentioned in chronological
order, for the Land was given to our forefathers thousands of
years ago, while we must see ourselves as having been redeemed
R' Hominer adds: One must concentrate intently when thanking
Hashem for redeeming him from slavery. To fulfill this mitzvah,
one should imagine himself slaving with bricks and mortar, with
no hope of escape, if not for the fact that Hashem performed
wonders and miracles and took us from a state of mourning to
having a yom tov, from darkness to a great light, and from
subjugation to redemption.
"May Your Name be blessed by the mouth of all the chai /
R' Nosson Nata Shapiro z"l (Poland; died 1577) asks: Why do we
say "by the mouth of all the living" and not "by the mouth of all
flesh" or "by the mouth of all creations"? (R' Shapiro notes
that the same question could be asked about the identical phrase
in the blessings after the haftarah).
He offers two answers:
The term "chai" refers to the righteous, as in the verse
(Shmuel II 23:20), "Benayahu ben Yehoyada, ben ish chai / the son
of a living man . . ." Our Sages interpret this verse to mean
that Benayahu was a perfect tzaddik. Tzaddikim, our Sages say,
are called "living" even after their deaths. The text of Birkat
Hamazon attributes blessings of G-d to the righteous because of
the verse (Mishlei 10:7), "Zecher tzaddik l'vrachah / Remembrance
of a righteous one brings blessing."
Alternatively, the text of Birkat Hamazon is based on the verse
(Tehilim 145:16), "You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of
every living thing."
(Seder Birkat Hamazon)
"Please do not make us needful - Hashem, our G-d - not of the
gifts of human hands [literally: `not into the grip of gifts
of humans'], nor of their loans . . ."
R' Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowicz z"l (the Biala Rebbe; died 1905)
asks: Why don't we say simply, "Please do not make us needful -
Hashem, our G-d - of the gifts of humans, nor their loans"? Why
do we say, "the gift of human hands"? He explains:
There is virtually no one on earth who can support himself
without receiving gifts, or at least loans, from other people.
Indeed, many righteous people and Torah scholars support
themselves exclusively through gifts. This benefits everyone --
the Torah scholar who is free to study and the benefactor who
earns reward for his charity. Thus, we do not pray that we never
need gifts or loans. Rather, the meaning of this statement is as
Sometimes, when a person sees that his livelihood is dependent
on another, he flatters that person or is afraid to rebuke that
person if the latter behaves improperly. He feels as if he is in
that person's "hands," and he does not trust in G-d. Little does
he realize that G-d can take away one source of income and
replace it with another in the blink of an eye.
Therefore we pray: Please do not make us feel as if we have
fallen into the hands of humans. Rather, we continue, "only Your
hand that is full, open, holy and generous."
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Divrei Binah)
Copyright © 2003 by Shlomo Katz
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