Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Behar Bechukosai

The following is a brief summary of some 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.

The vort that R' Frand said on the parsha this evening was yet another discussion of the famous question by Rashi of "Mah Inyan Shmittah Etzel Har Sinai?" But the answer was drastically different than any other answer I have heard.

R' Frand first quoted a short Medrash which linked the words "Vayidaber Hashem El Moshe B'Har Sinai" (the first pasuk of the parsha) with the pasuk proscribing against price fraud (Vayikra 25:14). However, the two are not actually linked as the pasuk beginning "Vayidaber Hashem El Moshe" is the start of the laws of Shemitta and the laws of price fraud don't begin until after the Shemitta discussion concludes. So why does the Medrash make this connection?

R' Frand addressed this by first quoting a long Medrash involving lashon hara and more specifically that the tongue can be used for positive or negative. The Medrash first used the example of a coal which if a person blows on it can start a fire or if he spits on it, will be extinguished. 

The second example has to do with produce which is tevel. If the person uses his mouth to pronounce parts of the produce as Terumah and Ma'aser the mouth saves his life. If not and he just eats the can mean Kares.

The third example cited by the Medrash was the famous Gemara about when R' Gamliel sent his servant Tevi to bring the best delicacy from the marketplace and he brought him tongue. He sent him another day to buy the lowest food...and he also brought back tongue. Tevi explained to R' Gamliel, the tongue can accomplish great things or cause bad things to occur.

R' Frand also told the Gemara about a feast that Rebbi prepared for his students at which he served tongue "prepared two ways." Some of the tongue was soft and other parts were hard. The students all took the soft tongue and left the hard portion behind. Rebbi admonished his students that when they dealt with others they should also use the soft tongue.

R' Frand then returned to Shemitta and Price Fraud by linking Shemitta with Lashon Hara. He quoted the Sfas Emes who explained that the purpose of Shemitta is to bring everyone to the same level. There are no land owners during Shemitta, the land is abandoned and anyone can come on someone else's property and take the produce growing there. Thus the line which usually divides between people (money) is erased during Shemitta and everyone is on the same level.

The concept of Ona'as Mammon (Price Fraud) and its "cousin"  Ona'as Devarim (Speaking cruelly to others) both are the antithesis of brotherly activity. Thus Moshe discusses them right after the discussion of Shemitta to underscore how they can divide what should be together. The Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of ignorance of Shemitta and baseless hatred. Both are items which drive wedges between people...and both need to be fixed to bring the Moshiach.

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