Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Behar - Bechukosai

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parshios this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts 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. 

R' Frand quoted a Medrash which explains the pasuk in Tehillim of the "Giborei Koach" is speaking about those who keep shmitta. R' Yitzchak states that a person performs a mitzva a few times over the course of a few days. But the farmers who keep shmitta are stronger because they do the mitzva day after day by not farming their land. From the farmer's perspective this is quite difficult. Day after day, the farmer sees his field lying fallow, but he does not act or work the field. 

R' Frand asked - why are these people called the strong ones? We know that Hashem gives the farmers double produce in the sixth year so that they will not want for anything in the seventh year. So why are they the strong ones? They are sitting with all their money? 

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Aharon Kotler. R' Aharon explains that a person who sees a windfall in the sixth year thinks to himself - if only I work the seventh year, how much more money could I have in the bank. The produce of the sixth year is tantalizing to the farmer and promises even greater return if he will work the seventh year. Thus the farmers truly are strong because they are not tempted. 

R' Frand closed that vort with the following analogy. A person buys Apple stock for $100 a share. He sees that the stock is at $400 but he does not sell. The stock hits $600 and he still does not sell, as he says - it will go higher. When Apple hits $700 he looks like a genius...and when it falls back to $400 he looks like a fool. But when a person sees that he can make money on something, he will want more. R' Frand next told a vort about the issur of ribis - charging interest. The Medrash states that a person who charges interest will not come back to life at Techiyas Hameisim. 

R' Frand asked - why is this issur given such a drastic punishment? There are 365 negative commandments and this one is not a commandment which has a punishment of kares or death. So why does the lender not come back? 

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, who connects the mitzva to the positive commandment of shiluach haken - chasing away the mother bird before taking the eggs. Why does the Torah command us to keep the mitzva? Because generally it is impossible to catch a bird. The only time the bird will allow itself to be caught is when it wants to protect its young. Therefore the Torah says, don't take the mother bird when it is vulnerable. The same concept applies to the law of ribis. A person comes to borrow money when he really needs help. At that point he is at his most vulnerable. If he is asked to pay interest he will do so because he has no choice. It is for this reason that the punishment is so severe. 

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