The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, May 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Behar

In the section dealing with our obligation to reach out and come to the aid of our neighbour, there is a glaring discrepancy, pointed out by Meshech Chachmah, in two adjacent pesukim. The first deals with the ger toshav, a non-Jew who has sworn off avodah zarah but is not subject to all of our mitzvos. We are commanded to support him in his time of need. The pasuk (25:35) ends off, "vachai imach." The next pasuk, dealing with the prohibition of charging interest, ends of, "vechei achicha imach." The message seems almost the same but the word vachai turns into vechei.

Meshech Chachmah explains the difference between these two similar terms. One might summarize it as follows: Chei is to live whereas chai is life itself. We find the word chai used with respect to HaShem, as in "Chai HaShem," because He embodies everlasting lifeThe word chei is used with respect to more fleeting life, such as Yoseif's use of the term "chei Par'oah." 

When we support our neighbour, the ger toshav, it is far more than providing financial stability. Since he has not accepted the full burden of all mitzvos, his sole source of "everlasting life" is his connection to our community. If we do not come to his aid, he will surely stray and give up the life he had chosen. Therefore, reaching out to him is indeed providing him with everlasting life.

The second pasuk refers to achicha, your Jewish brother. He therefore already merits the "everlasting life" by virtue of his service of HaShem and acceptance of all mitzvos, a pact he surely cannot alleviate himself of under any circumstances. Therefore, our financial support, however mandatory, is simply providing superficial, physical life. And so, the word chei is used instead.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
DIkdukian: Hearing Los

Dikdukian: How Lo Can You Go?

Dikdukian: Even Lo-er

Dikdukian: Liife as We Know It
Dikdukian: 
A name that took ME by surprise


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Friday, May 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Emor

On another occasion we have discussed some interesting perspectives on the meaning of the term sefiras ha'omer and the role it plays in connecting Pesach to Shavuos. I recently saw an intriguing perspective from Noam Jacobson, whose creative videos continue to entertain while providing deep insights on the parsha on a weekly basis.

In our parsha, the name of the upcoming chag is not even mentioned. We are simply told (23:16) that it is after counting 50 days from the bringing of the korban omer. Even a date is not provided as Shavuos could technically fall on any one of three days before we had a set calendar. In this sense, Shavuos represents the holiday which is the dominion of man. We are in control of the date on which it falls.

Conversely, he understands the word omer – as used as a measurement – to be a callback to the omer per person that was collected of the mann each morning. The mann represents our complete and utter reliance on HaShem for all of our sustenance.

We may now understand Shavuos as the perfect confluence of our own handiwork and that of HaShem. We are commanded to bring two loaves of bread as an offering – loaves which we ourselves have produced by cutting wheat, grinding it into flour, kneading and baking it. As we offer it as a korban we are reminded of the lesson of the mann that no matter how much toil we put in to our sustenance, it is ultimately all from the grace of HaShem.

(I highly recommend viewing Noam Jacobson's far more entertaining presentation on his YouTube page.)

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Ner Tamid

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Friday, May 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Kedoshim

As we have mentioned many times, Kedoshim contains the most mitzvos per pasuk of any other parsha – 51 mitzvos in only 64 pesukim. The potpourri of various types of mitzvos really runs the gamut. However, there is one aspect of the parsha that stood out to me, going through the parsha. With the apparent lack of direct connection between the mitzvos discussed, one might have expected more divisions between the pesukim with a samech or peh. However, you have to go quite far in the parsha before you encounter the first break. Contrast this with Mishpatim, for example, where there are many breaks between the pesukim.

I wasn't quite sure where to even look for someone who discusses this but I have come up with a basic, rough idea as a theory of my own. There is a well-known discussion between the commentaries – Rashi and Ramban foremost – about the exact definition of kedoshim. This is understanding the term as a specific idea which stands on its own. However, we can also understand the kedushah as that which is attained through the performance of all of the mitzvos, each adding to one's level of kedushah.

Perhaps this idea is conveyed in the inclusion of so many mitzvos in one block without a break. This allows us to understand the leading pasuk of our parsha not (just) as a commandment unto itself but as a means of introduction to everything that follows.

 

 

In case you hadn't heard, this shabbos we read the rarest of all haftaros – one we haven't read in 27 years. It is read on average only once every 17 years. This concludes the Year of the Rare Parsha (as explained in the linked article.) Also, see this entertaining shiur by Rabbi Dovid Heber for more insight.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: A Revealing Note

Al Pi Cheshbon: Omer Counting in Different Bases


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, 
www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

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Friday, May 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Acharei Mos

In this week's first parsha we are told (18:5) "You shall keep My statues and My ordinances which, if a man does, he shall live by them." In the gemara (Sanhedrin 74a) we are taught that from the phrase "vachai bahem," and he shall live by them, we are to infer that one is meant to live by the mitzvos and not die for them. Thus, if one is put in a position where he has to choose between death and the transgression of a mitzvah, he should transgress rather than be killed. Of course, there are three exceptions to this rule. The strangely ironic part about the pasuk from our parsha is that it appears in the introduction to the passage dealing with the prohibitions of illicit relationships which is one of those very three. The Torah is telling us that we need not sacrifice our lives for the mitzvos just before it goes into lengthy detail regarding a mitzvah for which we must.

 

The mishnah (Berachos 33b) teaches that one who beseeches HaShem's mercy "like the mercy He has on the bird's nest" is silenced. One of the reasons given in the gemara is that this person is erroneously painting HaShem's ways with the broad brush of mercy. We do not understand the true motivation behind each and every mitzvah and it is wrong for us to assume that HaShem leans towards a specific trait.

 

Perhaps, this message is being conveyed here. The limitation excusing transgressions in the face of death might lead us to understand the Torah as inherently lenient. Conversely, the requirement to sacrifice one's life rather than transgress one of the three cardinal sins might lead us to understand the Torah as overly strict, putting human life in second place. But neither is true. The Torah puts these ideas together in the very same passage in order to impress on us that very idea. The laws are all decrees from Above and not indicative of any inherent leniency or stringency.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: A Revealing Note
Dikdukian: Stand up, goat!
Dikdukian: Mitum'os: Watch that plural

Dikdukian: Qualification of the AHOY rule


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to shtiklelist+unsubscribe@weeklyshtikle.com.