Friday, August 27, 2010

Parshas Ki Savo

Something to say

I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, and I have not forgotten (26:13).

Why the apparent redundancy? One who does not transgress obviously has not forgotten. The Sfas Emes answers that sometimes we may perform a mitzvah only out of habit, forgetting the reason behind it. While we may fulfill the commandment, we lack the proper kavanah, intent. Therefore we declare in this verse, “I have not transgressed and I have not forgotten”; we have not only fulfilled the mitzvah, but we have also not forgotten its meaning.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Parshas Ki Seitzei

Something to say:

Forty [lashes] shall he strike him (25:3).

Although the prescribed punishment for one who has committed certain sins is forty lashes, this is actually reduced by one in practice, so that the sinner receives only thirty-nine. The Ma’ayanei Chachomim discusses one reason for this. He says that if a person were to receive the full punishment of forty lashes, he would feel that his sin was totally wiped out, and he might not be careful in the future. The Chachomim therefore reduced the number of lashes, so that the person would continue to examine his ways.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Parshas Shoftim

Something to say:

Our hands have not spilled his blood (21:7).

In the discussion of the Eglah Arufah which we read in this parshah, we are told that when the community’s elders find a murder victim between two cities, they must make the declaration that their hands did not spill the victim’s blood.

The Gemara asks, “Would anyone possibly suspect that the elders of the beis din committed the murder?” The Gemara explains that the elders were actually declaring that they were unaware of this person’s presence in their city, which is why they did not escort him properly and attend to his needs for the road. The implication is that if someone feels that he is alone and uncared for, it can be so depressing that it affects even his will and ability to survive.

The Maharal explains this Gemara further by teaching that every individual has an inner need to feel part of a community, to know that he is not only an individual, but an integral part of the Jewish family. By escorting someone even a few steps from our homes we create an attachment between him and us, and this can provide him with the Heavenly protection extended to the nation as a whole. This intense feeling of belonging something we can provide the guests we host in our homes, and the effort it requires is worth our while.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Parshas Re’eh

Something to say:

And [God[ will give you rest from all your enemies all around, and you will dwell securely (12:10).

The Gelilei Zehav comments that while these two phrases, referring to rest from one’s enemies and security, may appear redundant, in truth they are not. Resting from one’s enemies, rather than being synonymous with dwelling in safety, is a result of the latter. If we dwell securely, harmoniously, and respectfully with our fellow Jews, we will have nothing to fear from the enemies around us. Our sages tell us that if t he Jewish nation would live in harmony, no other nation could rise against us.