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The Weekly Torah Publication of the Yeshiva University High School for Boys 27 Iyar 5772 May 19, 2012Volume XVIII, Issue 1
to by other witnesses, then thelender may collect the principalusing this contract. If, however,the distinction is not clear, and thecontract simply specifies oneamount (which includes the princi-pal and the interest), then the en-tire contract is considered invalidand the lender may not use it even to collect the princi-pal. The Shulchan Aruch elsewhere (Choshen Mishpat – Siman 52: Se’if 1) explains that the whole contract is in-validated so that the lender will not come to collect theinterest as well. The Ramo (ibid.) adds, however, that if the lender can furnish some other proof about the debt,he can still collect the principal. Although the Ramo(ibid.) does say that according to one view, this idea isincorrect, the Poskim do not seem to accept that view(See the Shach - Se’if Katan 4).The Ramo (Yoreh Deah – ibid.) also writes thatanyone who finds a document that outlines a loan whichincludes a charge for Ribbis should destroy the documentin order to prevent the lender from collecting that Rib-bis. This ruling is based on a statement of Tosafos in BavaMetzia (ibid. – “Shtar”) in the name of the Tosefta there(Perek 5: Halacha 9). The implication there is that thisrequirement exists even though the lender, because hisdocument has been destroyed, may now no longer beable to collect the principal either. One may infer fromthis that one must try to prevent a fellow Jew from com-mitting a sin even if he will thereby cause him financiallosses, an interesting concept in its own right. The KetzosHaChosen (Choshen Mishpat – Siman 3: Se’if Katan 1)discusses Beis Din’s obligation in this regard.What happens if one has already violated the pro-hibitions and actually collected interest from the borrow-er when the loan was repaid? The Gemara in Bava Metzia(61b) records a dispute between two Amoraim as towhether or not Beis Din may force the lender to returnthe Ribbis money. One view is that when the Ribbis
Behar -Bechukosai
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In this Parsha, the Torah forbids usury, that is,charging interest, known as Ribbis, when lending money(Vayikra – 25: 35-37). The Mishna in Sanhedrin (24b)states that when onewho lends money and charges inter-est is disqualified from serving as a witness in a Beis Din;Rashi (ibid. – “V’Eilu”) implies there that this person isconsidered a thief. The Gemara in Bava Metzia, (71a)adds that a usurer will eventually suffer financial losses;the Yerushalmi in Bava Metzia (Perek 5: Halacha 8 – Daf 24b) compares a usurer to one who denies the existenceof Hashem. The Rambam (Hilchos Malveh U’LovehPerek 4: Halacha 2) rules that one who lends money withinterest violates six different Biblical violations, and theborrower also violates two prohibitions. The Tur (YorehDeah – Siman 160) therefore stresses that one must beexceedingly careful regarding this prohibition againstcharging Ribbis.The Gemara in Bava Metzia (72a) presents a dis-pute as to whether one who writes a contract detailing aloan which includes a requirement to pay interest, in vio-lation of the above law, has any validity at all. One au-thority holds that the lender is penalized and not only canhe not collect the interest, but he also cannot recover theprincipal. Other authorities, however, disagree, and al-low the lender to collect the principal, but not of coursethe interest. According to the latter position, therefore,the illegal part of the agreement in the contract does notaffect the legal part. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah – Siman 161: Se’if 11) rules that according to the acceptedHalacha, everything depends upon how the Ribbis pay-ment was described in the contract. If it is clear exactlywhat amount is the principal and what amount is the in-terest, because for example, as the Ramo (ibid.) explains,the contract specifies the distinction or in fact mentionsonly the principal while the interest obligation is attested
Page 2 Volume XVII, Issue2,000
amount is fixed, constituting a Torah based violation, theBeis Din may force the lender to return it; this is based,as the Gemara there (ibid. 62a) indicates, on the phraseof this Parsha (VaYikra – 25: 36) which says that onemust allow one’s fellow man to live. The ShulchanAruch (Yoreh Deah – ibid. Se’if 5) accepts this view.The Gemara in Temurah (6a-6b) relates this question of whether or not the lender must return the Ribbis moneyto a general dispute between Abayei and Rava as towhether or not any action which violates a Torah law cannonetheless have binding validity; Abayei rules that it can,and Rava rules that it cannot. The generally acceptedview is that it cannot, representing another reason whythe Ribbis money must be returned. This logic wouldimply that the money must be returned even if the bor-rower never claimed it back, an issue which is the subjectof dispute between the S’ma (Choshen Mishpat – Siman9: Se’if Katan 3) and the Taz (ibid. & Yoreh Deah – ibid.Se’if Katan 3). It is interesting to note that someRishonim hold that even if the lender returns the Ribbismoney, he has still not undone the violation, or all of theviolations, he committed by charging interest (See Rashithere – “Lo” & Tosfos there – “Lo”, and other MefarsheiHaShas).
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This week’s Parsha begins by discussing the
wewill receive if we follow the words of Hashem. The bless-ings start off saying that we will get good rain in theproper time. Next is the blessing of having sufficientcrops. Ramban says: “The reason the first blessing is rainis that it is more important than the following blessings.When there is enough rain the plants can grow and pro-duce good crops. Furthermore, when there is enoughrain everyone will be healthy, and the food will behealthy, and the animals will be healthy. This is why rainis first, because it is the most fundamental of the bless-ings.”Rashi comments on the opening words “
im bechu-kosai teileichu
” Rashi says that these words are refer-ring to
ameilus batorah
- toiling in Torah. The way toachieve all of the wonderful blessings we are being toldabout is through Torah study. We know that Torah iscompared to water. Maybe the connection is if we delveinto Torah then we will have rain. This is the most im-portant of the blessings. The Torah Temima says, basedon the words “
vinasati gishmeichem b’itam
”, Hashem is say-ing that He will give
rain and not the other nations,and that while we are prospering from the blessings, theother nations will be starving for the same treatment thatthe Bnei Yisroel get when they follow in the ways of Ha-shem. This is because we are the ones who keep the To-rah.In speaking about the blessing of the crops, theTorah says: “
v’eitz hasadeh yitein piryo
.” The pasuk refersto the Torah as “
eitz chayim hi lamachazikim bah
:” a tree of life for those who grasp it. The same word is used: “
”-a tree. This may be another connection between learningTorah and the resulting rewards.We can see the importance of learning Torahfrom these opening
. By furthering our efforts tolearn Torah, to make the extra push to spend a fewminutes on it each day, we will reap the countless re-wards that will follow. Hopefully, we can improve ourcondition as well as the condition of all of K’lal Yisraelthrough our learning.
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Parshas Bechukosai begins by introducing the
prior to the infamous
. It states “Im bechu-kosai telecho vies bechukosai tishmoru” “If you will go inMy statutes and observe My commandments and performthem.” Rashi explains that these “commandments” thatHashem is referring to is more specifically being “AmelimBatorah”, Laboring in the torah. What this means is thatfor those who set time and work for knowledge in torah,these people will receive many
as the subsequent
illustrate. From Daled through Yud gimmel Ha-shem lists all of the
the Bnei Yisral would receiveif they were Amel btorah, including rain, peace, andfruitfulness.In
, the depressing Tochacha be-gins: “V’im lo sishmiu li” and if you will not listen to me.The torah then states many different punishments andtroubles culminating in the end of 
:“Vinigaftem lifnai oiyvachem vinastem viain rodef eschem” “You will be struck down before your enemies,
Page 3Volume XVII, Issue2,000
those who hate you will subjugate you- you will flee butthey will not be pursuing you.”How is this a punishment? Should we not be happyabout this? Hashem states that we will be struck down andrun away, should our enemies not chase after us and at-tempt to destroy us completely? This seems to be a bracha,not tochacha!While some suggest that this “bracha” is in fact,Hashem, Melech Rachamim, speaking and showing com-passion for us, this is difficult to reconcile in the mind.Only in
does Hashem show his empatheticside and say: “Vizacharti es bris yaakov viaf es bris Yitzchakvies brisi avraham ezcor vihaaretz ezcor.” Evidently, thecompassion of Hashem is not shown until the very end of the
, thus the suggested answer is not easily ac-cepted.The Vilna Gaon suggests an answer that is sup-ported by a famous story about the Brisker Rav. In thetown of Brisk there was a middle aged Jewish man whowas a threat to the community. He spoke loudly in
,complained to the government about his neighbors, andturned Jews in for taxes and many other false transgres-sions. The man was a menace to the society. During animportant town meeting in which the Brisker Rav wasrunning, the man barged in and began to continually dis-rupt and damper the meeting. While many
 suggested the man be put in
, excommunicated, theBrisker Rav silently walked out. Later that night, the Ravwas respectfully asked why he did not remain inside andexcommunicate the man as suggested and fair. The BriskerRav responded to the
explaining that the man facesenough hate and disdain from the community that if hewere to be excommunicated Hashem would feel compas-sion for the man and help him. This was not something theBrisker Rav wanted and thus refused to excommunicatehim.Similarly, explains the Vilna Gaon, Hashem waspushing his anger and “cruelty” as far as He could. Hashemknew that if the nation striking Bnei Yisrael would contin-ue to chase and attempt to destroy them, then his compas-sion would kick in. Despite the fact that these peoplewould not be
and be far from Mitzvos, Hewould feel too compelled to save us. Due to this being the
, this is not a situation Hashem wishes to be in, andthus leaves our punishment at its worst level.A third explanation can be given with an inspiringmessage and something for us to keep in mind at alltimes. Rashi explains the enigmatic words, “Vi’ain rodepheschem” due to “Mibli Coach,” a lack of strength. TheSifsei Chachamim expound upon Rashi and explain thatRashi means that the words “Mibli Coach” means that theBnei Yisrael no longer pose a legitimate threat to themand thus are not even worth pursuing. How is this acurse, at least we would be free of subjugation? The an-swer is in the very makeup of the Bnei Yisrael. Through-out every generation, for thousands of years, as vihisheamda states, we have been persecuted and detested.We are the
, the chosen nation. That is whatmakes us so extraordinary, out of every nation, Hashem,the Creator, chose to love and care for each and everyone of us and give us His torah. That is precisely why weare persecuted and despised for what seems like no rea-son. In life, nobody roots for the “Overdog.” Everybodyis against and wishes for the worst for the top. Peoplewant the best to fail for one simple reason: Jealousy. AsHashem’s Am Hanivchar, His chosen people, we are thebest, we get the most from Him. Thus, By Hashem sayingthat our enemies will not chase after us, we must havelost our
, we are no longer worth it. We arewithout
. We, like the Sifsei Chachamim said, nolonger pose a threat for we are no longer Hashem’s lovedones, the Chosen Nation. This is the ultimate curse andfrom it we can learn quite a message. All the anti-Semitism, the nasty slurs, the dirty looks, they are out of  jealousy and we should look upon this all with love forHashem and appreciation for the Torah. It is all simplyhate born out of jealousy, disdain of the top. We shouldlearn to be proud of who we are in public, and recognizewhy we are so unique.
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We are all well aware of the reason that thetwenty-eighth day of Iyar has become a highlight of the Jewish calendar and has been accepted as a day of joyouscelebration. It was on that day that the Jewish people mi-raculously overcame their much more powerful and wellequipped enemies and, not only escaped total annihila-tion, but regained control of the Kotel Ha’ma’aravi andHar Habayis, the holiest places in the world. However,although this calls for national recognition and

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