Friday, May 13, 2011

Belated Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Behar

[ED NOTE - The below post was written on Thursday Night. However, since Blogger was down from 3:30 PM Thursday night until mid afternoon today, I was unable to post this until now. Apologies for any inconvenience caused by the delay].

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 begins with a discussion of the laws of shemitta – the law which forbids agricultural activity every seven years. Immediately following the discussion of shemitta, the Torah at Vayikra 25:25 introduces the concept of assisting a fellow Jew to buy back his ancestral land in Israel which he sold after he fell on hard times. R’ Frand quoted a medrash on this pasuk which connects the pasuk to a statement of Dovid Hamelech who wrote “ashrei maskil el dal” – praiseworthy is one who understands the poor.

R’ Frand then asked two questions: (1) What is the connection between shemitta and the Jew who has been forced to sell his ancestral land, and (2) How does the statement of Dovid Hamelech connect with the two halachos?

R’ Frand answered the questions by making reference to a vort said over by R’ Yaakov Yosef in 1885 (prior to his coming to America). R’ Yaakov Yosef observed that people can experience a wide range of emotions over the course of any given day. Among those emotions are the feeling of faith (bitachon) and worry (d’aga). Often times a person may feel worry about his own circumstance, but when someone else is dealing with a difficult situation, the person may seek to reassure them by telling the troubled one – Hashem will take care of you.

R’ Frand observed that the above circumstances should be reversed. When a person is troubled he should seek to reassure himself that Hashem will provide. However, when his friend is in trouble he should do his best to assist. To support this concept, R’ Frand mentioned the middah of kefirus – rejection of the notion that Hashem is involved and in control of the world. R’ Frand remarked that if there is a place for this middah, it could be useful in assisting others who are having problems. Rather than wait for Hashem to assist someone else who is in need, the observer should assume that (k’vyachol) help will not be coming and it is up to him to help.

This is the reason why the laws are sequentially linked and why the medrash cites to the language of Dovid –praiseworthy is one who understands the poor. It would be logical for the farmer who trusted in Hashem and observed shemitta to tell his friend in need – I trusted in Hashem and He helped me, you should too. However, the medrash is telling us – don’t reassure the person. Instead, remember that he is going through hard times and do your utmost to help.

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