Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Kedoshim

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

This week's parsha contains the laws of Orlah - the rules which apply to the use of the fruit of a newly planted tree. As discussed in Vayikra 19:23-25, the Jews were commanded that when they would come to the land of Israel and shall plant fruit trees, any fruit growing during the first three years was forbidden. Thereafter, the fruit grown in the fourth year was deemed holy (much like the fruit of ma'aser sheni). Once the first four years have passed, any fruit growing during the fifth and successive years was free for whatever use the owner desired and the Torah promises that the fifth year fruit will be plentiful.

Rashi on Vayikra 19:25 indicates that the fruit of the fifth year was a reward for keeping the laws of Orlah. Rashi then uses an interesting lashon in saying "hayah R' Akiva omer" - that R' Akiva used to say that the Torah used this language against the yetzer hara so that a person should not say - I worked four years for free. Therefore the Torah says that the fifth year will be a bountiful year as a reward for keeping Orlah.

Rabbi Frand asked three questions on the above statements. The first question was - why is there a reward for Orlah? We just finished Pesach - a holiday that carries with it a great financial burden for matza, wine, meat. Does the Torah say don't worry about paying for matza, because after Pesach there will be a financial reward for keeping Pesach? Why is the reward mentioned here?

R' Frand's second question was about the language used by Rashi - that R' Akiva used to say. Why not just say that R' Akiva said.

R' Frand's third question was about the medrashim on Orlah including one that the Jews were commanded to plant upon reaching Israel. This was tied into a mashal about a mother bird who feeds her baby birds until a specific point. She then says - go out and find food. Similarly - Hashem says to the Jews - recess is over, the vacation is over. While you were in the desert you had water from the well of Miriam, food came to your door from the sky in the form of mon and your clothes never were outgrown. Hashem says to the Jews - no longer will you have a free ride - you must work on the land and not just rely on the trees which were already there. The question is -- why?

R' Frand answered the questions by looking at the third point. Hashem was saying to the Jews - things require effort both in the physical and the spiritual world and there is no instant gratification. There is nothing that is worthwhile which comes without effort. The Jews had not worked for anything for forty years in the desert and Hashem needed to teach the Jews a lesson that things don't come instantly and that sometimes work is required for a long period of time without seeing any reward.

This was the reason that R' Akiva used to say this statement. R' Akiva had spent forty years with no Jewish education or background. At the age of forty, R' Akiva went to school with children to learn the alef beis. R' Akiva used to say to himself - this is worthwhile - I spent forty years with nothing and now I have a desire to learn. How did R' Akiva become R' Akiva? Through being motivated to learn by realizing that he had not done anything for forty years. R' Akiva used to say - the deprivation serves a purpose as the lack of fruit over his first forty years made his learning that much more valuable to him - just like the post Orlah fruits to the farmer.

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