These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: CD #933 – The Mitzvah of Lending Money Good Shabbos!
Explaining The Zohar Quoted By The Ketzos
This week’s parsha contains the mitzvah of lending money to another Jew. A person may not charge interest. If someone takes a security deposit and the borrower needs it at night (e.g. — it is his bedclothes) then it must be returned each night, etc. A certain individual named, Reb Yosef Gelb, who lives in Lakewood, called me this week and told me the following idea he recently heard from Rav Matisyahu Solomon, the Mashgiach in Lakewood.
The Ketzos HaChoshen rules that if Reuven borrows money from Shimon and Shimon is holding a deposit (pikadon) that belongs to Reuven, if Reuven does not pay up the debt, Shimon can keep the deposit he is holding in lieu of payment of the debt. In other words, if Reuven borrowed $500 from Shimon and Shimon happens to be a shomer [guardian] of Reuven’s watch worth $500, if Reuven does not repay the $500, Shimon can keep the watch.
Then the Ketzos HaChoshen does something that he does not do anywhere else in the entire sefer: the Ketzos quotes a Zohar. The Zohar says that even though legally the lender may keep the deposit, morally someone should not do this. Rav Matisyahu Solomon says that his Mashgiach — Rav Eliyahu Lopian, zt”l — asks: What is the meaning of such a statement? If the halacha states that the lender is entitled to keep the deposit, why does the Zohar say that he should not avail himself of this permission?
Rav Lopian explained: The Almighty gave each and every one of us a deposit — our soul (neshama). “My L-rd, the soul that You gave me is pure, You created it, You formed it…” The Ribono shel Olam tells us to watch our neshama and then at the end of our lives to return it to Him. Every single night, when we go to sleep, the Ribono shel Olam takes back that neshama. Hopefully, every single morning He returns it to us and we say “I gratefully thank You O living and eternal King, for You have returned my soul within me with compassion — abundant is Your faithfulness!”
We all owe the Ribono shel Olam big time. We have big debts that we owe Him. We do not always behave properly. Nevertheless, He keeps extending our credit. G-d could tell us “Listen here. You owe me a lot. I have this ‘deposit’ of yours. I could keep it in lieu of you paying your debt to Me.” However, the Ribono shel Olam does not do that.
This is the interpretation of the Zohar. The Zohar says that even though we are halachically permitted to keep the deposit, but just think — if someone will insist on his rights in this situation, the Almighty, as it were, could stand on His rights and one fine morning He could say, “You know what? I am sick and tired of you not paying up. I am going to keep your neshama that I have on deposit!”
The way we treat others is the way the Ribono shel Olam will treat us. This is why the Zohar says that despite the fact that you have the right to keep your neighbor’s pikadon if he owes you and is negligent in his payment, do not do it! This will be a merit, a segula, that the Almighty should treat you in the same generous fashion.
Obviously The Dog Did Not Do His Job Here, So Why Is He Being Rewarded?
I would like to share a new insight into a Da’as Zekeinim m’Baalei haTosfos in this week’s parsha. The pasuk states “People of holiness shall you be unto Me; and flesh in the field that has been torn you shall not eat; you shall throw it to the dog.” [Shmos 22:30] As the Ramban explains in his Chumash commentary, this is really an introduction to all the laws of Kashrus. Kashrus is about Kedusha [holiness]. This is why the Rambam records all the laws of permissible and forbidden foods in his “Book of Holiness” [Sefer Kedusha] within Mishna Torah. By abstaining from forbidden foods, we become holier people. People who unfortunately indulge in forbidden foods are doing something extremely detrimental to their souls. It affects their kedusha [sanctity]. It affects their Yiddishe neshama [Jewish soul].
Even though we speak colloquially of something treife as being non-Kosher in general, literally the word treife is actually a technical term as used in this pasuk. It refers to a kosher animal that was torn by a wild animal in the field, rather than dying through ritual slaughter (shechitah). What should we do with such an animal? The Torah says we are to give it to the dogs.
The Daas Zekeinim explains the reason we are advised to give the torn animal to the dogs: The job of the sheep dog is to round up stray sheep and chase away wolves and coyotes. Since the dog risks its life for the welfare of the sheep, the shepherd should not be ungrateful to him, but should reward him with the inedible sheep that became treife.
The question must be asked, however, that obviously the dog did not do his job here. If the dog would have done his job, there would be no torn sheep to throw to him. This is the equivalent of a night watchman in a jewelry store who falls asleep on the job and the store gets robbed. The owner hears the burglar alarm go off. He runs to the store and asks the night watchman “What happened?” The watchman answers, “Sorry. I fell asleep.” Is the owner going to say “You know what? Here is a raise!” This is exactly the same thing — the dog did not do his job and we give him a bonus? We throw him the ripped up sheep meat? What is the meaning of this?
The sefer Yismach Yehudah cites an explanation from a Rabbi Menachem Rabinovich. This idea teaches us a very important lesson in life. The Da’as HaZekeinim is teaching us that we must not only focus on the here and now — what has just happened yesterday or the day before. We need to look at the totality of the picture. When someone works for you or is a neighbor or a good friend and he has provided you with years and years of loyal service and dedicated friendship and then he makes a mistake and does something wrong or says something wrong — we must not forget what came before this mistake.
I once heard a commercial many years ago for GM: “It is quintessentially American to ask ‘What have you done for me lately?'” This is a treife hashkafa (i.e. — it reflects a very inappropriate value system). What about what I have done for you all these years? How dare you ignore that! If it is quintessentially American to say, “What have you done for me lately?” it is quintessentially Jewish to say, “I know what you have done for me in the past and I appreciate it.”
The Torah is teaching that even though the dog failed us this time and did not do his job, nevertheless, show hakaras haTov [gratitude] for what he has done in the past.
This really becomes halacha l’maaseh (practical) in the relationship between husbands and wives. Husbands and wives who have been together for any amount of time have been good to each other, loyal to each other, and have taken care of each other. However, every so often, as we all know, there are lapses. Our tendencies are to focus right on that particular incident. The Torah says, “No. That is not the way you should look at it.”
The Baalei Drush say the following. There appears to be a contradiction between peskum. One pasuk states “One who finds a woman finds good…” [Mishlei 18:22]. Another pasuk states “I find more bitter than death a woman…” [Koheles 7:26] The Talmud [Brochos 8a] reconciles the two by pointing out that the pasuk in Koheles uses the verb “find” in the present tense (motzai) and the pasuk in Mishlei uses the verb find in the past tense (matza).
One of the many interpretations given to this Gemara is as follows. If someone looks at his wife, not only in terms of the present, but in terms of the totality of the past (matza), taking into account all the good times that have transpired and not only the here and now that may have featured some lapses, then it will be good (matza tov). This is how a successful marriage works. However, if it is always motzai — always focused on the here and now, then when something goes wrong, the only thing apparent will be the situation immediately in front of him — it will be a situation “more bitter than death.”
Everybody makes mistakes and everybody fails from time to time. The lesson of “throw it to the dog” is “yes, the dog blew it this time and he failed;” but our outlook must be that we need to remember what the dog has done in the past and on the contrary, we need to remind ourselves that this was an infrequent occurrence. Why does this not happen every day? It is because the dog does his job. The one time that he messed up should not diminish our attitude towards him and therefore “when you find torn meet in the field which you cannot eat — throw it to the dog.”
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Mishpatim is provided below:
- CD# 043 Malpractice
- CD# 086 Withholding Medical Treatment
- CD# 134 Hashovas Aveida: Returning Lost Objects
- CD# 181 Medicine, Shabbos, and the Non-Jew
- CD# 227 Taking Medication on Shabbos
- CD# 271 Experimental Medical Treatment
- CD# 317 Wrecking a Borrowed Car
- CD# 361 Bankruptcy
- CD# 405 Litigating in Secular Courts
- CD# 449 Is Gambling Permitted
- CD# 493 Bitul B’rov
- CD# 537 Losing Your Coat at a Coat Check
- CD# 581 Lending Without Witnesses
- CD# 625 The Kesuba
- CD# 669 Rabbinical Contracts
- CD# 713 Adam Hamazik & Liability Insurance
- CD# 757 Midvar Sheker Tirchak: True or False?
- CD# 801 Oy! My Wallet Went Over Niagara Falls
- CD# 845 Is Hunting a Jewish Sport?
- CD# 889 The Neighbor Who Forgot To Turn Off The Fire
- CD# 933 The Mitzvah of Lending Money
- CD# 976 Will Any Doctor Do?
- CD#1020 The Potato Baked in a Fleishig Pan – With Butter or Margerine?
- CD#1064 The Doctor That Erred
- CD#1107 5772 or 2012 What Should It Be?
- CD#1150 Taking State Farm To Beis Din
- CD#1193 “Dayan, If You Know What’s Good For You, Rule In My Favor”
- CD#1237 The Case of the Sefer That Was Borrowed and Never Returned
A complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.