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Friday, August 29

The Weekly Shtikle - Re'eih

Although this Shabbos is the day before Rosh Chodesh when we would normally read the haftarah of "Machar Chodesh," we instead read the regular haftarah of Re'eih as part of the seven haftaros of comfort just as the haftarah of Rosh Chodesh was skipped on Rosh Chodesh Av in favour of the regular reading as part of the three haftaros of misfortune.

The pasuk in this week's haftara, (Yeshaya 55:1) says "Hoy kol tzame l'chu lamayim", all who are thirsty, go to (drink) water. The gemara in Taanis 7a tells us that water here refers to Torah, that all who are thirsty shall go and learn Torah. Why is Torah compared to water? R' Chaim Kunyevsky, in Ta'ama D'kra explains: We are taught (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 204:7) that there is a distinct difference between water and all other food and drink. All other food and drink require a berachah regardless, because under all circumstances, one derives a certain amount of pleasure from the food or drink. Water is different. One only makes a berachah on water if they are drinking it because they are thirsty. If they are drinking it because they are choking on a piece of food, for example, a berachah is not required because no pleasure is derived from it. Similarly, the only way to really fulfill oneself with Torah, is if you are thirsty for it. One who learns Torah without a genuine thirst for it, will simply not get out of it what he should.

R' Eli Wolf uses this idea to explain the gemara which comments that one of the sins which led to the destruction of the first Bais HaMikdash was that "They did not make a berachah on the Torah first." Many commentaries are bothered how it is possible that they did not recite Birchas HaTorah. There are many explanations given. Perhaps, we could understand it now. Maybe what the gemara means is that they did not learn Torah out of thirst and thus, did not learn it in a manner that would require a berachah in the way that a berachah is required for water.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka


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