Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday's Torah Tidbits

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand during his shiur this evening. Regular readers of this blog will note that the Thursday post is usually about the parsha. However, since Rabbi Frand spoke solely about Rosh Hashanah and not about Parshios Netzavim and Vayelech, the summary will not discuss parsha thoughts. Other than that, the same rules as usual apply - 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.

Rabbi Frand noted that the Shulchan Orech (493) writes that people who are not normally makpid on Pas Akum should eat Pas Yisrael during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva. The obvious question is - why is this imposed during the days of awe? Either the bread is acceptable or it isn't, so why do we change for the Aseres Yimei Teshuva.

R' Frand answered in the name of the Tolner Rebbi who notes that many times the halacha states that a "Ba'al Nefesh" should be careful. What is a "Ba'al Nefesh"? Rabbi Frand answered based on a Rashi in Niddah who states that even though something is permitted, a Ba'al Nefesh will abstain. R' Frand offered another answer that a Ba'al Nefesh is someone who is concerned about his soul. 

R' Frand closed the thought by quoting the Rambam who explains that a Ba'al Teshuva is a different person. The previous day, the person was distant from Hashem. But now that the person has come close to Hashem, he is a different person. During the Aseres Yimei Teshuva, the person changes. The change begins on Rosh Hashanah and the person becomes a Ba'al Nefesh because he worries about his soul. Once he becomes a Ba'al Nefesh, he also changes what he eats in order to protect his soul.

The next thought had to do with section of the Shemoneh Esreh on Rosh Hashanah that is called Malchios. The gemara in Rosh Hashanah (32) states that in the name of Rebbi that we learn it from pesukim in Parshas Emor where it says I am Hashem your G-d and immediately thereafter (32:23) the Torah writes, the laws of Rosh Hashanah.

R' Frand observed that within a discussion of the holidays in Parshas Emor are the rules of agricultural charity - Leket, Shichicha and Pe'ah. These laws come immediately before the laws of Rosh Hashanah and  the agricultural laws end with a cognizance of Hashem. But why is this the source for Malchios? It seems like a stretch to make this the root of this section of the Shemoneh Esreh on Rosh Hashanah.

R' Frand gave two proofs as to the importance of these laws. The first was from a gemara which states that anyone who gives the agricultural charity, it is as if the person built the Beis Hamikdash and offered sacrifices there. This is not said by any other form of charity.

The second proof was quoted from Vayikrah Rabbah, where it is written that whomever does not destroy the corner of his fields will be judged favorably on Rosh Hashanah. Again, a powerful reinforcement for the agricultural charity law.

R' Frand then summed up by noting that there is a fundamental difference between agricultural charity and regular tzedakah. When a person gives regular charity, there is a personal satisfaction as the giver decides who he will donate to and sees his money distributed as he sees fit. On the other hand, the agricultural charity belongs to the poor man - it is his to take and the owner is powerless to stop him. This says to the owner of the field - the field is not really yours - it belongs to Hashem and he is in charge. This is what malchios is all about.

R' Frand noted that it is difficult in our times to recognize the power of a King. We don't have kings, we are in control. The avodah on Rosh Hashanah recognizes that Hashem is in charge and we are not in control. This is the link to the agricultural charity - the field is Hashem's and He decides that part of it belongs to the poor man. By accepting this and allotting the poor man his Pe'ah, it is like we have built the Beis Hamikdash and offered sacrifices there.

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