The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, August 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Re'eih

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
    This week's parsha presents the contradiction of the following two pesukim. First we are told (15:4) that with the proper fulfillment of the laws of shemitah as they pertain to loans "there will not be any needy among you." In the very same perek we are told (pasuk 11) "For the needy shall never cease from within the land." Rashi explains homiletically from the Midrash (Sifrei Piska 114) that when we are performing HaShem's will, the needy will be among others and not among us. But when we are not performing HaShem's will, there will be needy among us.

    On a more simple level, however, perhaps the contradiction may be reconciled as follows: The first pasuk is indeed giving us an assurance that with the proper performance of the laws of shemitah, poverty will be wiped out from the community. The second pasuk, however, is stated regarding the mitzvah of tzedakah. It is not a prediction of the future. Rather, the Torah is giving us a reason why charity is always necessary. You should never say "someone else will take care of him, he'll make it somehow." The Torah is teaching us a lesson that the poor will never cease to be on their own. In order to tackle poverty, you must take the initiative and give tzedakah and never rely on someone else to do the job.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Friday, August 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Eikev

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

While last week's parsha contained the first paragraph of Kriyas Shema, in this week's parsha we find the second. Both begin with the subject of our obligation to love HaShem. Although the two seem quite similar, there is one obvious difference. The first parsha demands of one to love HaShem "bechol levavecha," with all your heart, "uvchol nafshecha," with all your soul, "uvchol meodecha," which Rashi explains to mean with all your money. The second parsha mentions "bechol levavchem uvchol nafshechem" but there is no mention of "bechol meodechem."

Meharsh"a (Berachos 35b) offers an explanation for this omission. In the gemara it is explained, according to one opinion, that the scenario of the second parsha of Shema is that of "ainam osim retzono shel Makom," those who do not fulfill the will of HaShem. Meharsh"a points out that it is clear from the very beginning of the parsha that we are talking about people who perform the mitzvos and demonstrate a love of HaShem. Rather, he concludes in accordance with Tosafos that this parsha is surely referring to people who fulfill HaShem's will only not on the same level of complete tzadikim who can rely on their work being done by others and need not worry about plowing their fields. He uses this to explain the discrepancy between the two parshios. The first parsha, outlining the ideal service of HaShem, includes difficult to devote his monetary possessions to the service of HaShem.

R' Moshe Shternbuch, in Ta'am Voda'as offers an alternate explanation. The two parshios speak of different forms of love. He understands the first parsha to be speaking of true devotion to HaShem and not to serve other gods for which we are indeed commanded to give up our lives. For this aspect of our service of HaShem we are certainly expected to part with our monetary possessions as well. However, the second parsha refers specifically to the service of HaShem through the performance of mitzvos. We are required to devote all of our heart and soul toward this cause. However, we are not expected to dispose of all our monetary possessions for this purpose. After, we may give no more than a fifth to tzedakah (Kesubos 50a) and spend no more than a third on the fulfilling of a mitzvah (Bava Kamma 9a). Therefore, "uvchol meodechem" is left out of the second parsha.

Have a good Shabbos

Friday, August 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Va'eschanan / Nachamu

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

    Although the yearly Torah reading cycle has not always followed its current pattern, it has a tendency to have the parshah of the week correspond quite neatly with the calendar. For example, we read Moshe Rabbeinu's exclamation of "Eichah!" in Parshas Devarim (1:12) which always falls on the Shabbos before Tish'ah B'Av. We always read Parshas Nitzavim, which speaks of teshuvah, as we approach Rosh HaShanah and the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. This week is known as Shabbas Nachamu, after the beginning of this week's haftarah which begins with the words "Nachamu, nachamu ami..." be comforted, be comforted My nation. The haftarah is specifically directed at the theme of somfort and consolation, but where do we see this theme in the parshah? If anything, Va'eschanan deals with more grim circumstances as it is the source for the reading on Tish'ah B'Av, discussing the various repercussions of straying from the path. There seems to be no mention of the week's theme whatsoever.

    Perhaps, the theme is hinted to in the very passage that is read on Tish'ah B'Av. After reading of all the terrible consequences of our evil deeds, we are assured (4:29-31) "And from there, you will beseech HaShem, your God, and you shall find, if you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul. Amidst your tribulations when these things have been visited upon you, in the end of days, when you shall return to HaShem, your God, and listen to His voice. For Hashem, your God, is a merciful God, He will not forsake you and He will not destroy you, nor will He forget the covenant of your fathers which He has sworn to them." These words remind us, after we have mourned the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash which came about as a result of our awful sins, that no matter how deep we sink, no matter how much it seems that HaShem has distanced Himself from us, we may always return at a moment's notice and HaShem will answer us. This passage encourages us never to lose hope amidst our exile, as HaShem will never forsake us, a veritable paradigm of the theme of "Nachamu."

Have a good Shabbos.