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cycle. One unique law of Yovel is that all masters must free their slaves. Although the law states that the slaves conclude their service on Rosh Hashanah, they do not leave their masters until the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur, another special mitzvah of Yovel. Interestingly, the Talmud seems to connect this mitzvah (sounding of the shofar during Yovel) with the mitzvah of blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah, to the extent that the law regarding the minimal amount of required shofar blasts is derived from this associaRabbi Joshua Hoffman
Parshas Behar - Bechukotai Volume 20, Number 28 tion. Although there only between Rosh Hashanah and seems to be a formal associ- Yom Kippur of the Yovel ation between the two year, the slaves “sit as kings with crowns on their heads,” The Rav while waiting for their release. Then, when the shoexplained far is sounded on Yom that the Kippur, the slaves are freed from their masters’ possesshofar sion. Why is there a need for enables us to this interim period? express that The Sefer ha-Chinuch writes that the purpose behind the which mitzvah of blowing the shofar during Yovel is to cannot be strengthen the spirit of the articulated slave owners, who must endure a great loss when with words they release their slaves. In mitzvos, there is also a more addition, the Chinuch writes intrinsic connection between that the sounding of the them. shofar is also a message to The Rabbis state that in the slaves, to prepare them
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Is Tefillah Delfish?
n its own way, a full set of Talmud Bavlis represents one of the most imposing symbols of Jewish practice. The obligation it represents, to endeavor to master its seemingly limitless contents constitutes perhaps the most daunting challenge presented anywhere in Halacha. Who has the time or mental faculties to seriously encroach such a vast and difficult expanse of information? Indeed the challenge appears so great that often we exempt ourCandles .M. 7:51 P Dawn 4:22 A.M. Sunrise 5:34 A.M.
T abl e Torah
Pain equals Gain
selves of even modest exertion in its pursuit. However, this perspective represents a fundamental misconception of what Talmud Torah is all about, a misconception pointed out by the Chofetz Chaim at the beginning of Parshas Bechukosai. The Torah lists the things Klal Yisrael must do to merit blessing from Hashem. The first is, "Im bechukosai teleichu," literally translated, "If you walk in my decrees."
Shema (Gra) 9:13 A.M. Tefilla (MA) 10:02 A.M. Tefilla (Gra) 10:26 A.M.
n the opening chapter of Nesiv Ha’avodah, the Maharal grapples with the following two questions about tefillah (prayer): “What is tefillah?” and “Is tefillah selfish?” Understanding his unique and insightful answers will hopefully enrich the daily experiences we have within the realm of prayer. Before turning to the subject of tefillah, the Maharal first focuses his attention on the subject of the korbanos, the various sacrificial offerings that were performed in the Beis Hamikdash. Why? Tefillah is derived from the phrase avodah she’balev, which means worship of the heart; avodah, however, can also mean the offering of the
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Rashi understands this poetic turn of phrase to refer to ameylus, loosely translated as toil in the pursuit of Torah study. The Chofetz Chaim notes that we see from Rashi that what Hashem desires, as much as our success in Torah study, is the physical, mental, and emotional expenditure we put into it. It doesn't matter if that toil results in a page or a paragraph or a line. As long as we put in the effort, Hashem will pay us the dividends.
Mincha Ged. 1:29 PM. Shkia 8:11 P .M. Havdala 8:58 P .M.
Chatzos 12:52 A.M.
Are We Jewish Harry Potters?
Rabbi Josh Joseph
t was a magical day. Thunder. at Har Sinai, the spot is it is Lightening. Thick clouds referred to as Chorev (Shemos obscuring your vision, making 3:1). Why, then, is it called you wonder if what you were Sinai? seeing was real. Fire. Ibn Ezra (3:2) says that Sinai Earthquakes. And through it comes from its bushes, senaim; all, Hashem’s voice boomed. A in fact, since the “burning day for the ages! In his fascinat- bush” [sneh] episode took ing, though historically ques- place here as well, this may tionable Worlds in Collision, have contributed to the Sinai Immanuel Velikovsky cites tag as well. Interestingly, Ibn numerous sources from other Ezra explains that the sneh was cultural teachings indicating a dry, thorny bush, and those volcanoes, floods, fires and who inhabited places with plagues of vermin throughout many senaim would turn to the world durDivine powing this period ers to bring We are the of time. rain and A p p a r e n t l y, “goody two water to the local their lands. events of that shoes” to their Thus, it was particular “rebellious an appropriplace were ate place for reflected by son,” the Yakov Bnei Yisrael global natural Avinu to their to be on that occurrences. day, a place Esav, or where they, And the spot perhaps, the in their drywhere it happened, as we Harry Potter to ness, would turn to are told in the their Draco Hashem for first pasuk of the flowing the parsha, Malfoy. water, the was Har Sinai. gurgling True, it is a place with many names, such as spring that is the Torah. Chorev, Kadesh, etc (Shabbos Chazal offer a different reason 89a-b). According to R. Abahu, for the designation of the name the actual name was Sinai and Sinai, namely, because it is a all the other appellations were mountain on which hatred merely nicknames based on [sinah] fell upon idolators. This what happened there that day. is a curious reason for an event For example, it is called Chorev that seems at first blush to be because churbah, or destruc- so wondrous, so positive. tion, came to idolaters from Sinah… hatred?! Rashi posits that place. It is called Kadesh that the hatred emanated from because the Jewish people were Hashem toward the non-Jewish sanctified on that day. nations who had rejected His However, according to R Yossi, Torah. The Talmud (Avodah the son of R Chanina, even Zarah, 2b) notes that Hashem before the momentous events brought the Torah around to
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korbanos. According to the Maharal, the connection between tefillah and korbanos is no coincidence; the experience of prayer is, in the most literal sense, one and the same as offering a sacrifice. Only by thoroughly understanding the latter will we be able to truly comprehend the former. What was the purpose of the korbanos? Shlomo Hamelech asserts that, “the sacrifices of the wicked are abominations to G d, but the prayers of the upright are His desire” (Mishlei 15:8). Aside from his rebuke, Shlomo Hamelech is teaching an essential lesson about korbanos, namely, that G d does not need them. Indeed, if G d needed our korbanos there would be no reason for Him to distinguish between the offerings of the righteous and the offerings of the wicked. A beggar in dire need of a meal is in no position to pick and choose his handouts. This begs the question, “If G d has no need for our sacrifices, then who does?” The answer is… us. A korban is essentially the placement of property on the altar for consumption. When one offers a korban, he reveals that all of his property is under G d’s jurisdiction. In other words, the act of bringing a korban engenders the conscious appreciation that G d is in control of everything in one’s life. This realization is the ultimate goal and purpose of the sacrificial service, and without it, the sacrifice becomes an “abomination,” precisely as Shlomo Hamelech admonished. Tefillah shares a similar paradigm. By petitioning G d for help, one reveals that He is in control of all matters. The
Is Tefillah selfish?
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very act of asking for one’s needs engenders a conscious awareness that the supplicant is lacking. This is the answer to our first question: tefillah is an expression, manifested by asking for one’s needs, that G d is in complete control of the world. However, we now run into the following problem: how could tefillah be considered a type of service to G-d if it only contains our own self interests like health, wealth, and prosperity? In other words, is tefillah selfish? The Maharal turns this question around and explains how the apparent egocentricity expressed in our tefillah actually lends support to his theory. As mentioned previously, tefillah is called an avodah, which is actually derived from the word eved, which means servant. This highlights the fact that our relationship with G-d during tefillah is similar to a servant’s relationship with his master. When a servant beseeches his master for help, even in regards to trivial matters, he is consciously aware that his master is the “boss.” In fact, the more he asks of him, the more he recognizes the extent of his master’s control. Thus, even if one’s prayers are egocentric, his service is not undermined. Tefillah is, from an objective point of view, still an avodah even if it consists of personal requests. In sum, the Maharal offers one solution to answer both of our questions. When one asks G-d for assistance, even regarding personal and trivial matters, one comes to the realization that G-d is in control of his or her life. This is not selfish; it is an integral aspect of avodas Hashem.
EINAYIM L’TORAH • 2
Are ohn, vhv, We Jewish Harry Potters?
“every nation and every tongue, but none accepted it until He came to Klal Yisrael who received it.” Hashem hated the nations for not striving to become better, to achieve more than their commonplace existence. In making this choice, they opted out of a closer relationship with Hashem, forgoing forever His holiness and uniqueness. However, the Rambam in his Iggeret Teiman suggests that the sinah here refers to the nations’ hatred and jealousy of Bnei Yisrael’s new status and elevated relationship with Hashem. We are the “goody two shoes” to their “rebellious son,” the Yakov Avinu to their Esav, or perhaps, the Harry Potter to their Draco Malfoy.
It does not quite seem fair: we are hated before we even start. More fittingly, it is the punishment in our parsha’s tochacha, which says that if we do not follow Hashem’s ways, only then will we be destroyed by our enemies. Yet despite this apparent lack of justice, the words do ring true: people don’t seem to like us Jews very much, and it may often be based on jealousy. One need only read recent comments about the Israel lobby manipulating Washington’s Iraq policy, or age old claims of Jews controlling the financial markets and media outlets to know the green of envy that can rear its ugly head in our direction. Our lesson then, just days before our year-
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ly kabbalas ha-Torah on Shavuos, is twofold: as with Rashi’s interpretation of the Talmud, we must cherish the gifts we received and accepted, and Hashem’s relacontinued from page 1 tionship with us as the chosen people. Yet, simultaneously, we must also be sensitive to what those gifts represent to others, and be wary of the hatred of other nations towards us, as Rambam suggests. It is easy to lose sight of the notion that local events can have global significance, but we must learn to balance others’ negative feelings with our perception of good, to avoid incurring the jealousy of others, while striving for a closer connection to the “magic” of Hashem.
to leave their beloved masters. Through this message, concludes the Chinuch, everyone will thus return to God. This statement of the Chinuch helps explain the intrinsic connection between the sounding of the shofar on Yovel and on Rosh Hashanah, and also helps explain the necessity of the ten day period that the slave must endure before he attains complete freedom. Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, of blessed memory, developed the idea of the Ramban (see commentary on Masseches Rosh Hashanah) that the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a form of prayer. The Rav explained that the shofar enables us to express that which cannot be articulat-
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ed with words, as the inner essence of man is something that cannot be put into words. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak ha-Kohen Kook explains (in Oros haTeshuvah) that the process of repentance begins with a return to oneself, to the unique soul implanted in each person by God. Before a person can renew his relationship with Hashem, he must have a sense of self with which he can begin that relationship. This is the function of Rosh Hashanah, as in order to get onto the path of repentance, one must first reawaken one’s inner self, which is initiated by the unspoken sound of the shofar. Only then can one rectify and renew one’s relationship with God
through the process of repentance.
On Yovel everyone is called upon to return to Hashem. Even the slave is included in this process, but due to his years of servitude he is not able to be his own person and develop his innerself. Therefore, before the slave can leave his master’s land and return to his own, he needs a period of readjustment to realize that he was also born with a unique soul and that has a contribution to make in life. Thus, he needs to spend ten days “with a crown on his head,” feeling like a king, before he can embark with the rest of the Jewish Nation on the ultimate goal of the Yovel year - a return to God.
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PARSHAS BEHAR BECHUKOTAI
Parsha Points in Behar–Bechukosai
Ephraim Meth • Every seventh year is shemittah, when agricultural activities are prohibited. Hashem guarantees that sixthyear crops will suffice until post-shemittah crops are ready.
• Every fiftieth year is yovel. Agricultural activities are prohibited, Jewish slaves go free, and fields return to ancestral owners. • Jews may not charge or pay each other interest on loans. • Jewish slaves may not be given purposeless degrading labor. • A Jew who sold himself to non-Jews may be forcibly redeemed by his relatives. • Hashem pledges satisfaction, health, peace, victory, and a special relationship to the Jews in exchange for obedience to Torah law.
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E d i t o r s I n C h i e f of 5766! Einayim Staff Yehuda Brand Managing Editor Pinchas Friedman Joshua S. Weinberg Executive Editors Zev Koller Executive Editors Dovid Skversky Josh Vogel Josh Weinberg Zev Koller Oren Kaufman Dovid Skversky
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• The Torah vividly portrays the terrible famine, invasions, and exile that will result from disobedience. • Hashem has not abandoned us in exile. In the merit of our repentance and our ancestors, he will return us to Israel. • The erech system discusses pledges to the Beis haMikdash that are fulfilled based on age and gender. We collect no more than the donor can afford. • Unblemished kosher animals can be consecrated as sacrifices. They may not be directly exchanged for other animals (temurah). • A criminal condemned to death cannot escape with a lighter sentence. • One tenth of a person’s produce must be eaten in Yerushalayim. • One out of ten new-born animals must be given to the kohen and (if unblemished) offered as a korban.
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EINAYIM L’TORAH • 4
PARSHAS BEHAR BECHUKOTAI
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