SHABBAT KI TAVO
16 ELUL 5759 - 27,28 August '99
This weeks Torah Tidbids were received late and we were not able to post them up in the usual format.
HALACHIC TIMES FOR JERUSALEM
Correct for TT 382. Ranges are THU-THU, 14-21 Elul (AUG
26 - SEP 2)
Throughout the summer, the deaqdline for Sh'ma has been
late enough to not have to worry about saying itlate. All of a sudden, next Shabbat
(Nitzavim), people in such a minyan will have to remember to say Sh'ma in Korbanot or
before davening. And many will miss Shma-time until they get used to the change of the
clock. That is why we are bringing up the topic now. The earlier time means a longer Leil
Shabbat, longer Motza'eiShabbat, earlier suppers with the family on Shabbat and Chagim.
But the Jew coming out of Mitzrayim, and then receiving the Torah, cannot comply with the Mishna's instructions to read through the whole portion. At the Seder, we read the pasuk that speaks of Yaakov Avinu and family ending up in Egypt. We read about the terrible oppression we suffered at the hands of the Egyptians. Weread about our calling out to G-d, and we read of G-d's reaction, of His direct involvement in Y'tzi'at Mitzrayim. We analyze those four p'sukim and we sing G-d's praise for taking us out of Egypt.
But we cannot complete the parsha. Even though the Mishna tells us to. Only when we live in Eretz Yisrael and we have the Beit HaMikdash, and a majority of the Jews of the world live in Eretz Yisrael - then we will be able to recite the last pasuk of the Bikurim portion, thanking G-d for bringing us to this Land and givingus the blessings He promised.
As great as Yitzi'at Mitzrayim and Matan Torah were (are), without coming into Eretz Yisrael and living a Torah life in a Torah society, with the Beit HaMikdash and all that it includes, we are incomplete. And so is the Bikurim parsha at the Seder.
Our Jewish life wasn't complete until the first Beit haMikdash was built. Then it was complete (sort of) until the first destruction and exile. Then it wasn't until the Second Beit HaMikdash. And for a while it (almost) was.For almost 2000 years, our Jewish life has not been complete. And it isn't complete yet. We are B"Hheaded in the right direction. But we have a way to go.
Pesach and the passages of the Torah that deal with the Exodus and the Wilderness, are the beginning. The glorious, first steps towards our destiny. Bikurim represents the completeness we have yet to achieve.
Back to the Mishna in Arvei P'sachim (the name of the 10th chapter of P'sachim). The Mishna actually says: And then the father (Seder leader) is DOREISH from ARAMI OVEID AVI - AD SHEYIGMOR KOL HAPARSHA KULA, until he will finish (future tense) the entire portion. It does not say, until he finishes the portion. It is asif the Mishna recognizes that only in the future will we be able to recite the full Bikurim passage at the Seder. Bikurim is in the Beit HaMikdash only. Pesach is with or without a Beit HaMikdash.
Both types of Pesachs are celebrated, but we must
appreciate the differences. Each Kind of Pesach teaches us a lesson. The
"incomplete" Pesach tells us that we must express our appreciation to G-d for
what we have, even when it isn't everything. The Pesach of the future will tell us that
there is more than what we havenow. May we soon be privileged to the full Pesach with
Korban Pesach in the Beit HaMikdash, and to the bringing of Bikurim and the joyous
accompanying recitation, BB"A.
[14 Elul] Oldest existing ketuba written in the Western Hemisphere, 1643 (Yitzchak and Yehudit). Nazis decreed that Jews had no rights to moveable or immoveable property, 1940. Jews of Vilna confined to ghetto, 1941. 1668 Jews of Radomysl, Poland, executed by Nazis, 1941.
[August 26] The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were published (first installment), 1903, in Russia. (Years later, the great Jew-lover Henry Ford serialized articles based on the Protocols.) Nazis close all shuls and schools in Kovno ghetto, 1942.
[15 Elul] The right to public worship is denied to the Jews of New York, 1685. (44 years - almost to the day - later, the foundation was laid for the first synagogue structure in New York (and all of North America.) Yahrzeit of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, 1758. Russia decreed the draft of Jewish boys from the age of 12, 1827 (imaginehow many boys were lost because of this!)
[August 27] Jewish community of Posvol, Lithuania was massacred by the Nazis, 1941.
[16 Elul] Nazi decree forbidding non-Jews to work for Jews, 1940. Whole Jewish community of Meretsch, Lithuania, massacred by the Nazis, 1941. Illegal Jewish immigrants exiled to Mauritius by the British, were admitted into Eretz Yisrael, 1945.
[August 28] Jewish agricultural colony was established in Woodbine, New Jersey, 1891. There were attempts (mostly failures) to establish Jewish settlements in different parts of the world. Without a historical and religious link, how could they be expected to succeed?
[17 Elul] No'ach released the dove. The 10 Meraglim died. 2000 Jews of Caesaria murdered by the local population at the instigation of the Romans, 66 c.e.
[August 29] First printed edition of T'hilim with Radak, 1477. Many prominent Jews of England were hanged following discovery of the dead body of a gentile child, 1255.
[18 Elul] Shimon HaChashmona'i was elected Kohen Gadol and governor of the Jews, 141 b.c.e., marking the end of the struggle for independence and the beginning of the Hasmonian dynasty (which lasted for 206 years). Ethiopian Jews' holiday marking the deaths of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Yahrzeit of the Maharal of Prague,1609.
[August 30] First Knesset building was dedicated in Jerusalem, 1966.
[19 Elul] Anti-Jewish riots in Stockholm, Sweden (even there), 1852. Anti-Semitic speech by Charles Lindbergh on the radio, 1941, marked the introduction of anti-Semitism as a political tool in America.
[August 31] Directive No. 1 by Hitler ordered the attack on Poland on the next day, 1939. Ukrainian army massacred Jews of Kiev, 1919.
[20 Elul] Order by Charles VI to expel the Jews of France, 1394. Ghetto of Mir was liquidated, 1942. Yahrzeit of the Ponevezher Rav, 1969.
[September 1] World War II broke out, 1939. Mussolini canceled civil rights of Italian Jews and expelled all foreign-born Jews, 1938. Wearing the yellow star became obligatory for all Jews in the Reich, 1941. Jews of Frankfort on the Main were expelled, 1614.
[21 Elul] Many London Jews killed in anti-Jewish riots in "honor" of the coronation of King Richard I, 1189. Among the dead was R. Jacob of Orlean, a tosefist. German occupation of Piotrkow - Jewish population: 17,000. First ghetto in Poland was established there, 1939.
[September 2] Jews of Holland were emancipated, 1796.
Ed. note: Not everything that appears in Day by Day in Jewish History finds its way into this B"H Yom Yom column. Items that catch rings a bell of one kind or another are chosen. I sometimes read the name of a city in Eastern Europe and realize that I've never heard of it. Some reader of TT or another might recognize thename; someone might actually have lived there. A reader once told us that he now had a Yahrzeit to mark for relatives he had lost; for years, he only estimated. Whether or not the names of places ring a bell, every entry of a pogrom, massacre, ritual murder, and the like is a fulfillment of the mitzva in the Torah (endof last week's sedra) of LO TISHKACH - Do not forget. Never! Some of the other entries are there to give you food for thought. Some might evoke a snort of disgust; others, a smile.
DAY BY DAY IN JEWISH HISTORY
Last week in this column, it was reported that
freeze-dried coffee is not cooked during its manufacture and therefore is problematic on
Shabbat because of the prohibition of cooking. Several people called to say - yes it is.
So I called the Webbe Rebbe himself, who told me that he was misinformed last year when he
wrotethe email answer about freeze-dried coffee. He subsequently did some further checking
with coffee companies and discovered that freeze-dried coffee was indeed cooked during its
processing. Instant coffee - the old-fashioned kind as well as freeze-dried, may be made
on Shabbat with very hot water, because of the halachicprinciple for Shabbat - EIN BISHUL
ACHAR BISHUL, solid foods that have been cooked once cannot be cooked again.
The questions then are, whether a mouth spray needs to be free of non-kosher ingredients, and whether the glycerin of animal origin in a breath spray is considered treif or an inedible ingredient. There are different opinions among poskim on this issue.
Recommendation: Consult with your LOR (local Orthodox rabbi).
Look for the OU
A few Keebler products are OU. Some. Not all. Look for the OU.
Someone asked us about a Keebler product that has an OU on the original package and an OK on the Hebrew sticker-label. We're checking that one out.
Speaking of HEBREW STICKERS
Consumers are right in questioning such products. Something is usually amiss if there is no OU on the original packaging. Sometimes Israeli importers will identify a product as OU kosher, even though the product has a different Hashgacha, or none at all. Occasionally, an importer will bring in several varieties of a product, some of which are certified by OU and some not. The importer might print the same label forall the varieties, resulting in the mislabeling of some of the products. One importer tried to claim that he thought the OU meant kosher, but that it was not connected to a specific kashrut organization. The OU vigorously pursues the importers or manufacturers guilty, intentionally or accidentally, of claiming an OU whenthere is none. Alert consumers are very helpful in this matter.
Aside from Hebrew sticker-labels, there are now some
products that have special packaging made for the Israel market with both Hebrew and
English on them. Once in a while, this new integral packaging contains different
information between the two languages. Read labels, cans, boxes, packages carefully, and
let us know aboutany anomalies.
SDT - Bikurim were placed in a basket - TENE. Numeric value = 9+50+1 = 60. Baal HaTurim points out that the recommended amount to give as Bikurim is 1/60.
SDT - It is said of Bikurim: "Do this mitzva, for in its merit you will enter the Land". The Ari HaKadosh singles out Bikurim as the mitzva which is the "tikun" (repair) for the Sin of the Spies. Bikurim has a Torah-ordained, built-in recitation that helps us to focus our thoughts in a particular direction. With this recitation,the Jew identifies himself with his Jewish Heritage and announces to one and all the centrality of Eretz Yisrael in G-d's plans for the People of Israel.
Bikurim is one of the mitzvot expressly to be accompanied by simcha - the joy we are to feel when (hopefully not "if") we realize that all we have comes from G-d; the joy which we hopefully will have for all mitzvot. G-d's admonition later in the sedra is that "we fail to serve Him with joy".
All Land-related mitzvot are special. But Bikurim makes the statement that we are glad to be here. Being happy about the prospects of being in Eretz Yisrael grants us the "z'chut" to be here. Joyfully thanking G-d for being here helps "repair" the opposite attitude as expressed by the 10 spies and echoed by the multitude.Bikurim is a prime example of "Hakarat HaTov", recognition and acknowledgement of the good that was done for us by G- d. This lesson too must be applied to other areas of mitzvot and life in general. May we soon be privileged to bring Bikurim with all the joy and Jewish pride that says that we are truly pleased to be chosenby G-d as His People and that we are genuinely thankful for this wonderful Land.
The first four p'sukim of the Bikurim recitation form the main text for the Pesach Seder; they summarize the Egyptian enslavement and subsequent Exodus. The fifth pasuk speaks of coming to Eretz Yisrael. This corresponds to the fifth term of redemption and is represented by the cup of Eliyahu. We all bring Bikurim (includingthe Levi and the convert) with feelings of joy and thanks to G-d for all we have.
The pasuk implies that Lavan was responsible for our
going down into Egypt, yet Yaakov returned to his father's house after the time spent with
Lavan, and only many years later ended up in Mitzrayim. Commentators point out the
following sequence: Lavan deceived Yaakov and gave him Leah as a wife instead of his
beloved Rachel.When Yaakov subsequently married Rachel too, there developed a rivalry
between the two sisters. This rivalry transferred to the next generation in the form of
the problems between Yosef and his brothers. Yaakov's giving the Striped Coat to Yosef
fanned the jealousy that ultimately led to Yosef being sold into slavery.His descent into
Egypt later brought the whole family down there. Therefore, Lavan IS the appropriate
beginning of that process, hence the verse: ARAMI OVED AVI, VAYERED MITZRAIMA.
[SDT] The declaration referred to above is known as VIDUI MAASER, literally "confession of the tithe". The word "vidui" implies sin. Yet the statement that the individual makes seems completely free of sin. "I have removed the sacred from my home, and I have given to the Levi, the stranger, the orphan, the widow, as Youhave commanded; I have neither violated a commandment nor forgotten anything (that I was suppose to do). I have not eaten of the sacred foods improperly, nor have I defiled them in any way; I have listened to G-d's Voice; I have done all that I was commanded." Why would such a statement be referred to as Vidui?
HaRav Soloveichik Zt"l, suggested that the key word (twice uttered) is K'CHOL, like all, not KOL, all. The statement of Vidui Maaser declares that the person has done ALMOST all that has been required of him.
Furthermore, the statement implies that the individual did only that which he was required to do, and did not (often)go beyond the call of duty. These two implications might be responsible for the appellation VIDUI.
What an important message as we approach Rosh HaShana!
It is forbidden to eat Maaser Sheni (the second tithes of years 1,2, 4,5 of a Shmita cycle, which remain the owner's property but which must be eaten "with sanctity and ritual purity" in Jerusalem - or be redeemed) while one is a mourner  or while in a state of ritual impurity  (the person and/or the food). Itis also forbidden to use the redemption money of Ma'aser Sheni for purposes other than food and drink in Jerusalem .
The literal meaning of this prohibition is not to use the money for "the dead". This can narrowly apply to shrouds, casket, etc., but is also generalized to include all non-food uses.
We next call upon HaShem to "look down" upon
His People from on high and bless us and the Land of Israel. [We have kept our promise,
You keep Yours.]
PONDER THIS... Many times in the Torah, G-d
"asks" us to follow Him and keep His mitzvot. He doesn't always threaten us; He
just tells us what is the proper way for us to behave. And if we would be able to stick to
our commitment by G-d's asking alone, then we wouldn't need the terrible threats and
warnings of the Tochacha,of the second passage of the Sh'ma, and many other similar
portions. Wouldn't it be something really special if we were able to listen to G-d just
because He said something, not because we face dire consequences if we don't listen. The
sadder thing is that even with the terrible threats, we stray. Think about it.
Moshe, the kohanim and Leviim, say to all the people,
"on this very day you have become G-d's nation". Rashi says that the Torah
emphasized THIS VERY DAY, to teach us that our commitment to Torah and mitzvot should be
as if we have entered into a covenant with HaShem on this very day - every single day of
our lives. Weare challenged to refreshen our Judaism constantly.
Once again, Moshe Rabeinu tells us that following G-d's commandments will earn us superior status among the nations of the world. We will also be showered with blessings for hearkening to G-d's voice. We will flourish economically and agriculturally, and be blessed with a healthy increase in population.
Blessings begin with the letter BET - BARUCH. Curses
begin with the letter ALEF - ARUR. This is how some commentators explain the large BET of
the opening word of the Torah - B'reishit. G-d wanted to start the Torah on a note of
blessing, not the opposite. (On the other hand, the Aseret HaDibrot do begin with an Alef.
Perhapsthe strict nature of the Sinai Experience needed to begin with the more sober and
The blessings continue with the promise of victory over our enemies. G-d will "command" His blessings upon us and the Land, and will establish us as a holy nation. This, on condition that we keep the mitzvot and follow in G-d's ways.
[The Torah's expression "Vehalachta b'drachav" is repeated here - emulating G-d is defined as being kind, merciful, charitable, etc.]
The nations of the world will see the special relationship we have with G-d, and be appropriately reverent towards us. G-d's heavenly treasure-house will open for us and we will flourish. G-d's blessings are conditional upon keeping the mitzvot.
"But, if we don't listen to G-d..." Thus begins the "Tochacha". The admonition against disobedience of Torah. There is a custom of reading this part in a low voice because of how devastating it is to realize that G-d needs to warn us in such graphic terms, what will happen if the Jewish People do not remain faithful to Him. Unfortunately, we need these harsh words of reproach. Unfortunately, they have turned out to be prophetic more than once. The Tochacha is contained within one Aliya (resulting in the longest Aliya in the Torah) so as not to prolong the discomfort in hearing it.
The first portion of the Tochacha is the negative mirror image of the blessings previously pronounced in the Torah. The p'sukim then proliferate and describe in shocking and grisly detail that which will occur if we do not remain faithful to G-d. The final verse of the Aliya reiterates the "simple" but eloquent covenantwith G-d: Keep the Torah and all will be good, if not...
The contrast between the "good times" that
Bikurim conjures up and the terrible times as described in the Tochacha is overpowering
and frightening. It is the difference between contentment and respect on the one hand, and
despair, devastation, and degradation on the other. Prosperity in our own Land versus
poverty and exile.The key to the difference is Torah & Mitzvot. This is the message as
we come closer to Rosh HaShana.
"And G-d did not give you a heart to know, nor
eyes to see, nor ears to hear, until this very day."
Towards the end of the portion is the famous verses quoted in the introductory mishna to each chapter of Pirkei AVOT (actually it is a mishna from Sanhedrin), that indicates that all of Israel have a share in the world to come.
The concluding words of the haftara are enigmatic:
"...I Am G-d, in its (the redemption) time I will hasten it."
That depends upon us. If we enhance the overall
conditions of Jewish Life, increase Torah observance, improve relations between Jew and
his fellow, live in Eretz Yisrael in greater numbers - then we might be privileged to an
"early" arrival of the Mashiach and the Geula. If we do not lay the proper
groundwork for his coming,then he will come in his (pre-ordained) time.
This is a major part of our Elul challenge. We have it
within our power to hasten the Mashiach. Let's do it.
Reproach in this harsh form addresses that part of us that fears G- d, fears sin, and fears punishment. Those fears are the main motivation for one's undertaking of the path to Repentance.
But there is a flip side to the focus on the negative. 14 p'sukim earlier, we read: "And if you will listen to the Voice of G-d, your G-d, to preserve and do all of the mitzvot..., then you will have the upper hand vis-a-vis the nations of the world and all the blessings will come to you... because you listened to G-d."You are blessed in the city; you are blessed in the field; etc. This too is TOCHACHA, reproach of a kind, directed at the Jew whose motivation for T'shuva is not just fear of punishment, but Love of G-d. T'shuva mei'Ahava comes with the feeling of wanting to do what G-d wants, and being disappointed in oneself when onestrays from the path. Not (only) fear of punishment. But genuine regret for having let G-d down (so to speak), for not showing your love of Him in all that you do.
A Tochacha filled with horrors of Divine punishment is one thing. But a discription of G-d's promises to His people serves to reproach the one filled with Ahavat HaShem.
What motivates us to repent our sins? What puts us on the path to T'shuva? For some (and for a part in all of us) it is fear of sin and fear of punishment. But for some it is the higher form of motivation - Ahavat HaShem - love of G-d, that speaks so much more eloquently that the dreaded Tochacha.
This "positive form of reproach" does not
begin with chapter 28. Right at the beginning of the sedra we find the mitzva of Bikurim.
It is a perfect example of the ideal state of the Jew - mitzva- observant, in Eretz
Yisrael, with a Beit HaMikdash, with bountiful yield of the land, peace, tranquility,
security... and joyin who and what he is. What greater reproach can we have to shame us
and challenge us in a loving way to return to G-d and be privileged to all of G-d's
Similarly, the original system of Torah reading was
that the person called to the Torah would read aloud his portion. If someone did not know
how to read the Torah, then someone was on hand to read aloud and the Oleh would read
silently along with him. This resulted in people refusing the honor of an Aliya to avoid
embarrassment. Inspired by the mishna from Bikurim, the system followed in most
congregations around the world is that one person reads aloud for everyone. It is
important to know that the person called to the Torah is still required to read the
portion for which he is called; this he does quietly, as the "Baal Korei" (Baal
Kri'a) readsthe Torah aloud. The person receiving the Aliya should not be looking every
which way and just standing by as the Torah is read; it is his obligation to read
(quietly) every word. Remember, he is the one saying the brachot.
Rambam and others consider this to be the mitzva of moderating our behavior between extremes, e.g. to be neither very stingy nor excessively spendthrift. Extremes of most personality traits are to be avoided; middle-of- the-road qualities are generally considered praiseworthy and consistent with this mitzva.
Sefer Mitzvot Katan defines this mitzva as the Biblical command to visit the sick. We are commanded to emulate G-d in various ways - this specific verse commands Bikur Cholim. Rambam, on the other hand, would consider Bikur Cholim as one aspect of "Love thy neighbor..." and/or as part of G'milat Chasadim.
[It is important to note that the Torah repeatedly
reminds us that G-d's promises to the Avot are largely conditional upon our behavior. We
seem to forget this occasionally.]
Not only must we serve G-d motivated by the joy of
being Jewish and subject to G-d's commands, but we must never be glad to have the yoke of
Heaven removed from upon us by circumstances, and especially by choice.
IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHA - serve G-d with joy = 70+2+4+6 (82) + 1+400 (401) + 26 + 2+300+40+8+5 (355) = 864.
The FULL g'matriya of SIMCHA = 360 + 80 + 418 + 6 =
In chapter 4, Rabbi Yanai reminds us that we cannot
necessarily understand the tranquility of the wicked nor the trials and tribulations of
the righteous. During Elul and the Yamim Nora'im, one tends to do a lot of thinking,
self-inspection, re- evaluation of one's way of life. The confusing observations referred
to byRabbi Yanai can tend to lead a person to false conclusions in his thinking process.
If we believe that "G-d knows what He's doing", then everything else falls into
its proper place and perspective.
A theme that has shown up in other G'matriya matches in past weeks, makes another appearance in Ki Tavo. D'varim 26:11 tells us how to feel after having been privileged to bring Bikurim. We are living in Eretz Yisra'el, we have the Beit HaMik dash, and we have a prosperous yield of the ground. "And you shall rejoice inall the good that G-d has given you, you, your household, the Levi, the convert (stranger) among you." One of the necessary pre- requisites of our life in Eretz Yisra'el is the fulfillment of all that G-d commands us, including fighting the wars G-d has commanded us to wage. Bamidbar 36:3 - And Moshe spoke to the nationsaying, recruit from among yourselves men for the army, and fight against Midyan to avenge G-d's honor from Midyan. These two p'sukim share 3941 as their G'matriya,
Animals are created for our use, not our misuse. One of the prime uses of animals is Korbanot to G-d. D'varim 27:7 commands us to sacrifice a SHLAMIM offering and eat from it, and rejoice before G-d. Vayikra 24:18 states that if one strikes an animal and kills it, he shall pay "a life for a life". While this pasuk is notto be taken literally, it does emphasize the terrible waste and serious offense to G-d in His world of killing an animal (not for a Korban or for food, etc.) Both of these p'sukim have the same G'matriya, 2656. This is an example of contrasting ideas that G-match to say to us - One the one hand... but on the other hand...
Remember, I'm not claiming that what I'm about to say comes from the G'matriya-match, but rather the GM pushed me to think in a particular direction. In our sedra, D'varim 28:1, it speaks of our listening to G-d's voice and keeping all of the mitzvot, then G-d will give us ascendancy over the other nations of the world.Vayikra 23:22 matches this pasuk with a value of 5960, and talks about the mitzvot of PE'AH and LEKET, agricultural mitzvot that at the same time teach us to be kind and charitable with those less fortunate than we, and also teach us that G-d is the Boss, the real owner of the land we call our own, and has the authorityto command us what to do with our produce. Perhaps, in some way, there is a comparison made between the specific mitzvot and the general command to keep all mitzvot. There are several different mitzvot that our Sages teach us are "equivalent to the whole Torah". Because of the concepts that PE'AH and LEKET, etc. teachus, we can say this about them.
D'varim 26:7, from the Bikurim Declaration, became more famous because of its place in the Pesach Hagada. "And we called out to G-d, the G-d of our ancestors, and He heard us..." To be sure, one of the major functions of prayer is to call out to G-d and ask for things we need. But there is more to prayer than that (of course).Yeshayahu 40:26 (Haftara, Shabbat Nachamu) tells us to lift our eyes heavenward and see Who has created all this. Acknowledging G-d for the wonders of creation is no less an important function of prayer. These 2 p'sukim have the same G'matriya, 3925. Again - it does not prove anything, it does not invent or innovate. TheseGMs just point you in a certain direction to think about something that might otherwise go unsaid, un-thought of, taken for granted.
And one more GM, this time a triple one. It is another in a long list of GMs related to the Bil'am-Balak episode. Bil'am and Balak definitely underestimated the specialness of Bnei Yisra'el and the uniqueness of our relationship with G-d. (In addi tion to overestimating their own abilities.) Bamidbar 23:27 contains oneof the suggestions of Balak that perhaps changing viewing location of the People will produce results. Bamidbar 24:14 contains Bil'am's parting words to Balak, offering to tell Balak what this People (the Jewish nation) will do to the nation of Balak in the future.
Bil'am left parting advice as to how to get G-d angry with us. Only then, can a Bil'am and Balak see the results they desired. The formula is simple. If we remain faithful and obedient to G-d, then no Balak and no Bil'am in the world can touch us. The one reciting the Vidui of Tithes states in D'varim 26:14 (partial pasuk) - "...I have listened to G-d's voice; I have doneall that is com manded of me." If we do that, then Balak's plan and Bil'am's advice will always come to nought. The three p'sukim mentioned here (2 whole ones and 1 partial) all have the same G'matriya, 2957.
A word of caution when it comes to G'matriya,
specifically the homemade variety that appear in this Treasures in the Sand column. Don't
read too much into them. They are not meant to say something new. They are meant to be a
nice "numerical confirmation" of existing ideas. They point to ideas to be
explored. Try any ofthem without the G'matriya. They should still "work".
Unlike the two other places where the Torah promises
rain and bumper crop for our keeping of the mitzvot, in Ji Tavo it just says that G-d will
open to us His good treasure house in the heavens (it will rain) and He will bless our
work. Although it makes no specific reference to a successful yield of the fields, R.
Auerbachfound an interesting G'matriya-match. YIFTACH HASHEM L'CHA ET OTZARO MIN
HASHAMAYIM = 2096. So does V'NAT'NA HA'ARETZ Y'VULAH, V'EITZ HASADEH YITEIN PIRYO = 2096.
(And he did his without help of a computer!)
But in Parshat Ki Tavo, Eretz Yisra'el and Mitzvot come together in dramatic ways. The parsha begins with Bikurim. Not the mitzva to bring Bikurim. That we find elsewhere. The "additional" mitzva of Bikurim - the requirement to recite the Bikurim Declaration when bringing Bikurim. And this is where the combination of EretzYisra'el and mitzvot is clearly presented. Aside from the fact that the mitzva can only be done in E. Yisra'el, aside from the fruit to be brought having to be only from the Seven Species that describe Eretz Yisra'el, aside from all that, we find that this mitzva of Bikurim is the joyous celebration of living in EretzYisra'el. Among the Mitzvot Ha'T'luyot Ba' Aretz, this is the one that requires a declaration. And this declaration brings the point across - Mitzvot are for the Jewish People to observe; Eretz Yisrael is THE place for the Jewish People and for mitzvot.
The same goes for Vidui Ma'aser. We make a verbal declaration that we have fulfilled all the details of the mitzvot in question. Look down upon us from on high, we ask G-d, and bless Your people AND the Land flowing with milk and honey, Eretz Yisra'el.
The Tochacha in Ki Tavo (and even more so in
B'chukotai) directly relates our success or failure in Life with our adherence to Torah
and mitzvot. And our tenure in the Land of Israel is also linked in the same manner.
Lesson #4. Getting to Know the Great Sanhedrin (part 2)
Lesson #3 discussed five cases, the judicial
jurisdiction of the Great Sanhedrin as it pertains to major transgressions by groups or
individuals. It focused on transgressions by groups or individuals. The focus now shifts
from the seriousness of the conduct and its possible national repercussions to the
important individualswho are accused of crimes. We now discuss the jurisdiction of capital
cases involving high officials.
 The high priest is the chief functionary and administrator of the Holy Temple and thus one of the two highest officials in the nation. Because of the importance of the position, the Great Sanhedrin judges all cases in which the high priest faces capital punishment. (Capital punishment cases will IY"H be described whendiscussing the jurisdiction of the Lesser Sanhedrin.) All other cases involving the high priest, whether civil or criminal potentially resulting in punishment other than death, are judged by those lower courts that ordinarily have jurisdiction over such matters. A criminal case in which the penalty is other than the deathpenalty may involve the punishment of flogging. (Flogging too, will IY"H be discussed in relation to jurisdiction of the beth din of three judges.)
 Another example of a major national official was a tribal president. Because of the significance of his position, the Great Sanhedrin has jurisdiction to judge a tribal president accused of a transgression entailing capital punishment. But all other cases involving the tribal president, whether civil or criminal potentiallyresulting in punishment other than death, are judged by those lower courts that ordinarily have jurisdiction over such matters.
 Although the kings of the Davidic dynasty are not given seats on the Great Sanhedrin, they are judged in lawsuits brought against them. The same does not apply to the kings of Israel, they may neither judge nor be judged.
 The second boundary case over which the Great Sanhedrin has jurisdiction involves the case of a person found slain in a field and his murderer is not known. The Torah states (Deuteronomy 21:1-9) that by way of expiation, the elders of the closest city are to take a heifer (see note at end of this article) to a roughvalley which has been neither plowed nor sown and there they are to break the heifers neck with an ax. The elders of the city wash their hands over the heifer that was axed and declare that they did not spill this blood. Not that anyone suspects that the elders of the city actually spilled this mans blood. But the merefact that they did not know of the visitor nor did they provide food or escort is indication that they have disregarded their responsibility.
Or else it may mean that if a known murderer traversed the land it was without their knowledge. The jurisdiction of the Great Sanhedrin is limited to the appointment of five of itsjudges to measure the distances to ascertain which is the closest city, but their judges do not actually participate in the ceremony of breaking the heifers neck or making the declaration that they did not spill this blood. They must measure the closest city even in cases where it is obvious which is the closest city.
The three categories: major transgressions by groups and individuals; capital punishment for high officials; and boundary determinations, comprise the jurisdictional functions of the Great Sanhedrin in the performance of its judicial functions.
Two weeks ago I was walking in downtown Jerusalem and met a man Ive known for many years. He told me he enjoyed reading the first lesson as it appeared in Torah Tidbits. He is from Boston and he was the dentist and a close friend of the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, zt"l. He told me that the Rav very often said thatmany people do not realize there is a fourth Shulhan Aruch, Hoshen haMishpat. Rabbi Aharon Rakafet, who is writing a definitive biography of the Rav, told me that he thinks that the Rav gave only two approbations to sefarim in his life. One of them was to a two volume set that Professor Neil Hecht of Boston UniversitySchool of Law and I wrote called Quint & Hecht on Jewish Jurisprudence; it deals exclusively with Shulhan Aruch Hoshen haMishpat, without any comparisons to other legal systems and without pandering, as he put it, to modern western taste. With this in mind, I am very grateful to Shai Solomon and Phil Chernofsky for givingour Jerusalem Institute of Jewish Law the opportunity to try to familiarize the readers of Torah Tidbits with the fourth Shulhan Aruch, Hoshen haMishpat.
The Shulhan Aruch includes only those laws that are practiced until the time that the Holy Temple is restored. Hopefully by the time this lesson appears in print, Meshiah will be here and the Shulhan Aruch will have to be expanded to include all the laws dealing with the Holy Temple and laws of ritual purity and the Greatand Lesser Sanhedrins and the laws of sanctifying the new moon by observations rather than the semi-permanent calendar we now follow, (Phil Chernofskys astute observations regarding the new moon are classical) and other laws that await the arrival of Meshiah.
After a few more introductory lessons we shall begin to discuss the actual laws of the Shulhan Aruch Hoshen haMishpat in the same sequence as they appear there. Some of the readers of Torah Tidbits have asked me to discuss specific topics, some of which were discussed by Rav Steinsaltz and myself in our semi-annual forumsin English. I thought it more orderly to follow the order of the Shulhan Aruch Hoshen haMishpat, for the present time at least.
Note (with Rabbi Quint's permission) on the term
HEIFER: The dictionary defines a heifer as a young cow at least one year old, that has not
produced a calf. The Mishna in Para (1:1) states: R. Eliezer says that the EGLA for this
mitzva must be within the first year. The Sages say, up to two years. We follow the latter
opinion.(Some explain that the tem EGLAT BAKAR indicates older than EGLA. Therefore, in
English, we would say CALF OR HEIFER for the mitzva of EGLA ARUFA.