These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly portion: ## 1349 – The Baal Tokeah Who Was Doubtful If He Could Blow. Good Shabbos & Kesiva V’Chasima Tova! The next shiur is planned for Parshas Bereishis.
I would like to share two insights I saw from the Tolner Rebbe. They both speak to the same point.
Parshas Emor is one of several parshios that discuss the Moados (Jewish Holidays). The Torah begins there with the Yom Tov of Pesach and then continues with Shavuos, etc., etc. However, in the middle of the Moados (between Shavuos and Rosh Hashanah), the pasuk says “When you reap the harvest of the land, you shall not remove completely the corners of your field as you reap and you shall not gather the gleanings of your harvest; for the poor and the convert you shall leave them, I am Hashem your G-d.” (Vayikra 23:22) In what appears to be an unrelated interruption to the listing of the Jewish Holidays in the calendar cycle, the Torah discusses the mitzvah of Peah.
Then the Torah resumes its discussion of the Moados: “…In the seventh month on the first of the month, there shall be a rest day for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts…” (Vayikra 23:24). Immediately after the parsha of Peah, the Torah continues with the Yom Tov of Rosh Hashanah.
The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 32a) asks “How do we know to recite Malchiyos (the section in the Rosh Hashanah Musaf prayer describing G-d’s Attribute of Monarchy)? In a Braisa it was taught: Rebbi says “Ani Hashem Elokeichem” (‘I am Hashem your G-d’ — the last 3 words of Vayikra 23:22 dealing with Peah) are juxtaposed with “And on the seventh month…” (the first two words of Vayikra 23:24 dealing with Rosh Hashanah).” This teaches the obligation to say Malchiyos.
This quite obscure allusion seems to be a very roundabout way to teach the obligation to say Malchiyos in the Rosh Hashanah Musaf prayer. It certainly seems like a stretch to use this as THE source for invoking the overriding theme of the day when Hashem sits in Judgment as King over the entire world.
Another observation: The Toras Kohanim (cited by Rashi on Vayikra 23:22) asks the question we raised above: “Why did the Torah place this mitzvah (Peah) in the middle of the holidays, with Pesach and Shavuos on one side, and Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Succos on the other side?” The Toras Kohanim answers that whoever gives Peah properly is considered as if he built the Beis HaMikdash and brought his offerings inside it.
There are many significant mitzvos among the 613 mitzvos. Chazal do not teach “whoever puts on Tefillin – it is as if he built the Beis HaMikdash.” Such a statement is not made about eating matza on Pesach, or about reciting Krias Shma. Somehow, suddenly, leaving a corner of the field for the poor is equated with offering sacrifices in the Beis HaMikdash! What is so special about Peah?
The answer to both of these questions is that Peah is fundamentally different from any other type of Tzedakah. When I give charity, I have the sense and feeling “I am giving this man money. I am taking my hard-earned money and I am giving it to him.” There are many psychological and emotional ramifications attached to that. First of all, it is a bit of an ego trip. I have a certain satisfaction from fulfilling a mitzvah. There is a certain feeling of superiority gained by dispensing charity. I feel somehow higher than this poor individual, this unfortunate schlepper. “I can take care of him.” That gives me a good feeling.
There are many wonderful forms of dispensing charity, but all of them come with this sense of ego gratification. Even when a person gives matanos b’seser (literally ‘gifts in secret’ where the donor is unaware of the recipient and the recipient is unaware of the donor), nevertheless there is this inner satisfaction that comes with such donations. This is all well and good, but the element of inner pride is present.
Peah is a different type of mitzvah. Peah is not “given,” but rather, it is abandoned, so to speak. The Ribono shel Olam tells the farmer: “Guess what? Of your 150 acres, you only own 149 of them. That little corner at the end of your field is not yours! That belongs to the poor.” In this case, there is no satisfaction of “I gave him” because “No. You didn’t!” The mitzvah is not formulated as a gift from the farmer to the poor man, but rather as the poor owning this portion of the field. Someone who neglects to give other types of gifts to the poor is guilty of “stealing the gifts of the poor.” However, one who fails to leave the corner of the field is not “stealing from the poor;” he is just plain “stealing” period!
The corner of your field belongs to the poor because the Ribono shel Olam said “This is My world and you can own your 149 acres, but this part you don’t own.” In truth, the Ribono shel Olam owns the entire field, but in order to bring that point home, He commands: “You cannot touch that corner!”
This message is conveyed by the last three words of this pasuk dealing with Peah – namely “Ani Hashem Elokeichem.” Hashem is saying “I am the property owner.”
Malchiyos is a difficult concept for us to imagine in our day and age. We don’t know what a king is. Even in England, where they still have a monarchy, the king is not a real king. In basic terminology to which we can relate today, malchus very simply means: Hashem runs the world. It is His world. This is the appropriate thought process for the Yomim Noraim.
I recently heard a speech from Rav Avrom Ausband, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva of Telshe Almuni in Riverdale New York. He told the following story: When he first started the Yeshiva, – like any other yeshiva – he struggled financially. Making payroll was always a challenge. He used to pay his Rebbeim twice a month – on the first and fifteenth. Many times, he did not know how he would make payroll! He said he was blessed with a group of chaverim, people of means, and when payroll time arrived and he did not have enough money, he would call up one of these friends and say “Listen, can you lend me $25,000?” They would do it. Rabbi Ausband was good for the money.
Rav Ausband said there was one time that he had to make payroll and every one of his friends in this group of chaverim had a legitimate excuse why they could not help him at that time. He said he was at his wits end, unable to see a way to meet payroll! He could not concentrate on anything. “Tomorrow is the 15th of the month, and I just can’t make it!” He said he was walking to the yeshiva at night for Maariv. He was standing there on the street in Riverdale, NY and he raised up his hands to shamayim and pleaded “Ribono shel Olam, it is not my yeshiva. It is Your yeshiva. I have done everything I can. I am out of eitzas (plans, solutions). Ribono shel Olam, either You are going to help me or I am just going to need to tell all the Rebbeim ‘Sorry, I just can’t pay you this month.'”
Then he proceeded to the yeshiva and for the first time in days, he had peace of mind: “Listen, I did what I can do; there is nothing more I can do. I want to sit down and learn after Maariv.” (He said that at that point he had not learned well for several days.) As it turned out, a Jew came to Maariv, came over to Rav Ausband immediately after davening and said “Can I speak to you for a minute?” Rav Ausband said, “Okay. But it has to be right here in the Beis HaMedrash because I need to learn.”
Rav Ausband did not know who the fellow was. The fellow took out an envelope and said, “Here is a check for $20,000.” Rav Ausband said that right then he gained a new level of recognition of the fact that ‘It is Hashem’s world!’ A person might think “It is because of my connections. I know this person. I know that guy. No. At the end of the day, it is all the Ribono shel Olam.”
This, my friends, is the lesson of Peah. That is why Peah is the source of “How do we know to say Malchiyos on Rosh Hashanah?” The mitzvah of Peah concludes with its message: ‘Ani Hashem Elokeichem.‘” Peah demonstrates that it is the Ribono shel Olam‘s world.
This is why it is Peah – and not matzah, and not Shofar, and not Tefillin – that the Gemara equates with building the Beis HaMikdash and bringing Korbanos. Out of all the 248 positive mitzvos, Peah is a prototype for being mekabel ol malchus shamayim (accepting the yoke of heaven). Peah demonstrates an emunah in the Ribono shel Olam. When a person leaves the Peah in the field, he is putting his money where his mouth is, more than with any other form of Tzedakah.
In our day and age of democracy and egalitarianism and all the other philosophies that we encounter in our world, it is difficult to imagine and take to heart what a monarchy is all about. We should try to concentrate on the fact that the Ribono shel Olam runs the world including every little aspect of our lives. Every success in life that we experience comes from Him and every setback that we experience comes from Him. That is our kabbalas ol malchus shamayim (acceptance of the yoke of heaven). That is how we should enter Rosh Hashanah.
It is Your world, Ribono shel Olam. Please take care of me. Please take care of my family. Please take care of Klal Yisrael.
Kesiva V’Chasima Tova! May you be Inscribed and Sealed in the Book of Life!
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Edited 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 Nitzavim/Vayeilech is provided below:
- # 022 – Reading Haftorah: Scrolls vs. Book
- # 112 – Shoteh: Mental Incompetence in Halacha
- # 158 – Schar Shabbos: How Do We Pay Rabbonim and Chazzanim?
- # 205 – Kiddush Before T’kiyas Shofar
- # 252 – Buying Seforim
- # 295 – Burying the Dead on Yom Tov Sheni
- # 341 – The Brachos on the T’kios
- # 342 – Is Building a Succah a Mitzvah?
- # 385 – Fasting on Rosh Hashana
- # 386 – Succah Gezulah
- # 429 – Treatment of an Invalid Sefer Torah
- # 473 – Seudas Siyum Mesechta
- # 517 – What Exactly Is Mitzva of Shofar
- # 561 – Lo Bashomayin He
- # 605 – Selling A Sefer Torah
- # 649 – Minhagim of the Yomim Noraim
- # 693 – My Father’s Chumros
- # 737 – Borrowing and Lending Seforim
- # 781 – I’m the Baal Tokeah and Not You!
- # 825 – The Shuls of Gaza – A Halachic Perspective
- # 826 – Yom Kippur: Women and the Shehecheyanu; Women and Kor’im
- # 869 – The Mitzvah of Chinuch-Whose Responsibility? Mother or Father?
- # 870 – Yom Kippur – The Yom Kippur That They Did Not Fast
- # 913 – The Tefilah of Oleinu
- # 957 – Coming Late for Tekias Shofar and Other Rosh Hashana Issues
- # 1000 – Ta’amei Hamikra – The Tropp – How Important Is It?
- # 1044 – Must You Stand for Chazoras HaShatz on Rosh Hashana?
- # 1088 – Learning During T’kias Shofer?
- # 1131 – Asking For Personal Needs On Rosh Hashana?
- # 1173 – Oops! I Forgot Ya’Aleh Ve’Yavo in Bentching on Rosh Hashana
- # 1217 – Fascinating Halachos Pertaining to a Choleh on Yom Kippur
- # 1261 – Did I Say Hamelech Hakadosh? / Nuts on Rosh Hashana
- # 1305 – The Case of the Esrog That Was Not As Advertised
- # 1349 – The Baal Tokeah Who Was Doubtful If He Could Blow
- # 1437 – Dip the Apple in the Honey Make A Bracha: Which Bracha?
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.