A large part of this week's parashah is devoted to describing the rewards
for observing the mitzvot and the punishments for not doing so. In
particular, our Sages teach, our parashah foretells that Bnei Yisrael will
be exiled from Eretz Yisrael as a consequence of transgressing the laws of
R' Yoel Sirkes z"l (1561-1640; Poland; author of the important halachic
work Bayit Chadash) writes that there are at least six benefits to living
in Eretz Yisrael rather than in the Diaspora. All of these, he writes
further, are alluded to in Megillat Ruth.
(1) Man's soul is connected to its source "under the wings of the
Shechinah" via Eretz Yisrael. One who is outside of Eretz Yisrael is, so-
to-speak, stretching the cord that binds his soul to Heaven. This is
alluded to in the words of Boaz to Ruth (Ruth 2:12), "May your payment
be full from Hashem, the G-d of Israel, under whose wings you have come to
(2) One who is in Eretz Yisrael never goes to sleep without his sins
having already been forgiven. [Note: This does not apply to certain more
serious sins.] This is alluded to in Ruth's words (1:16), "Where you
sleep, I will sleep."
(3) One who is outside of Eretz Yisrael is not considered part of
the "Am" / "nation" of G-d. The reason for this is that G-d has delegated
dominion over the entire world, except Eretz Yisrael, to angels. This is
alluded to in the same verse: "Your nation is my nation."
(4) For the same reason, one who is outside of Eretz Yisrael is
considered, in some sense, to be G-dless. This is alluded to in the
words, "Your G-d is my G-d."
(5) The soul of a person who is buried outside of Eretz Yisrael will
suffer pain as it "travels" through the impure atmosphere of the Diaspora
on its way to Heaven. This is alluded to in Ruth's words (1:17), "As
you die, so I shall die."
(6) Being buried in Eretz Yisrael provides additional atonement; thus,
those who are buried in the Diaspora will suffer a certain pain at the
time of techiyat ha'meitim / the resurrection of the dead. This is
alluded to in Ruth's words: "There I shall be buried."
In addition, R' Sirkes concludes, Ruth suspected that there are other
benefits to living in Eretz Yisrael with which she was not familiar.
These are alluded to in her words in the same verse, "Thus may Hashem
do to me, and so may He do more." (Meishiv Nefesh)
"If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments . . ."
Rashi writes that "If you will follow My decrees" refers to toiling in
Torah study. If so, writes R' Akiva Yosef Schlesinger z"l (Hungary and
Yerushalayim; died 1922), we can understand why this verse follows
Immediately after the verse, "My Sabbaths you shall observe."
Specifically, the Midrash Tanna D'vei Eliyahu states that the primary time
for Torah study is on Shabbat, when one is free from working. (Torat
"I will provide peace in the land, and you will lie down with none to
frighten you." (Vayikra 26:6)
Rashi z"l comments: "Perhaps you will say, `There is food and there is
drink [as promised in the prior verses], but if there is no peace, then
all this is nothing!' The Torah therefore states after all these
promises: `I will provide peace in the land.' Hence we may learn that
peace counterbalances everything. In a similar sense it states (Yishayah
45:7), `Who makes peace and creates all'."
R' Zalman Sorotzkin z"l (1881-1966; Lithuania and Israel) elaborates: Even
though peace is the most important gift, it is mentioned only after the
other gifts (food, etc.) because a poor person who lacks food or clothing
does not appreciate peace. To the contrary, he reasons that a war might
spur the economy and improve his lot. Similarly, "peace" is mentioned
only at the end of the Birkat Kohanim / Priestly Blessing.
R' Sorotzkin also writes: The previous verse ended with, "You will dwell
securely in your land." What is added by the promise in our verse, "I
will provide peace in the land"? He explains:
Peace is different from security. We read (Yishayah 32:17), "The deed
of tzedakah shall be peace, and the work of tzedakah, quiet and security
forever." Based on this verse, the Gemara (Bava Batra 9a) teaches that
the reward of charity collectors is greater than the reward of those who
give charity. The commentary Pilpula Charifta explains that this is
learned from the fact that the first phrase in the verse, which refers to
collectors, promises the greater reward of peace, while the second part of
the verse, which refers to givers, promises only the lesser reward of
quiet and security. [The correlation of the two parts of the verse to the
two groups is based on a wordplay that would be lost in translation.]
Why is peace a greater reward than security? Because security results
from being stronger than one's enemy; nevertheless, one must remain alert
to potential attacks. Peace, however, brings not only a cessation of
hostilities, but also peace of mind. (Oznayim La'Torah)
Rabbi Shimon says: "There are three crowns - the crown of Torah, the crown
of kehunah / the priesthood, and the crown of rulership. However, the
crown of a good name is above all of them." (Chapter 4)
The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 7:11) states that the members of a
court that judges monetary matters should have seven characteristics:
wisdom, humility, fear of G-d, hatred of money, love of truth, love of
other people, and masters of a good name.
The Vilna Gaon writes in his commentary there: "Masters of a good name-
anshei chayil / men of strength."
What does this mean? R' Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook z"l (1865-1935;
first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael) explains:
One does not earn a truly good name merely by performing isolated "good"
acts. Rather, a master of a good name is a person who is recognized as
having internalized and mastered the traits of goodness and yosher
(loosely translated "honesty," but best understood by the Yiddish
term "erlichkeit"). Such a person has made these traits his essence.
It follows that becoming the master of a good name requires tremendous and
consistent inner strength. Such a person is a true "man (or woman) of
strength." (Be'er Eliyahu)
This week we resume our discussion of the laws of shemittah, focusing on
the mitzvah of "biur." Literally, biur means "destruction" (as in "biur
chametz"); here, however, a better translation is "elimination." (The
exact nature of this obligation will be discussed next week.)
The law of biur derives from the verses (in last week's parashah - 25:6-
7), "The Sabbatical produce of the land shall be yours to eat . . . and
for your animal and the beast that is in your land." From here our
Sages derive that the produce of the shemittah may only be kept in one's
home so long as it is still available to the "beast that is in your land,"
i.e., in the wild. Thereafter, it is subject to biur.
The halachot below are from Sefer Ha'shemittah (ch. 9) by R' Yechiel
Michel Tikochinski z"l. The reason we have chosen to discuss these laws
at this time is that a small number of produce items (among them,
broccoli) became subject to the laws of biur during the past week. Most
items will not become subject to biur until this coming summer or as late
as next Chanukah.
The fruits of shevi'it / the seventh year may be eaten so long as each
species is found in the fields. When each species is no longer found in
the field -- in most cases, in the eighth year -- then one must eliminate
the produce of that species from his house.
For example, if one has dried figs from the shemittah year in his home, he
may eat them only as long as fresh figs remain on the trees. If one has
raisins or wine of the shemittah, he may consume it as long as grapes
remain on the vines.
If one has a mixture of species that were pickled together, he should
separate them and eliminate each one at the proper time. The fact that
they may have absorbed taste from each other is of no consequence [unlike
the concern that exists regarding mixtures of meat and milk or kosher and
House flowers are subject to biur if they are species that lose their
petals in the wild.
If one exchanged shemittah produce for money at any point during the year,
the money is subject to biur at the time when the species for which it was
exchanged would be subject to biur.
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
Hamaayan needs your support! Please consider sponsoring Hamaayan in honor of a happy occasion or in memory of a loved one. Did you know that the low cost of sponsorship - only $18 - has not changed in seventeen years? Donations to HaMaayan are tax-deductible.