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Parshas Behar 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 7:45 pm
May 9, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 26
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Dvar Torah

Don't Bother Hiding It 


By Rabbi Shmuel Sussman



"Es Kaspucha Lo Siten Lo B'neshech."

The Torah forbids us from loaning money with interest to other Jews. The verse ends by saying "I am Hashem your God, who took you out of Egypt". Rashi explains that Hashem is saying that I am the one who differentiated between a firstborn and a non-firstborn. So too, I know when one lends money with interest to a Jew and claims that he is lending money that belongs to a non-Jew. Rashi (Bamidbar 15:41) makes a similar comment on the verse regarding tichelis. The Torah commands us to put a string of blue tichelis (made with the blood of an animal called chilazon) on our tzitzis.  The Torah concludes with the words "I am Hashem your God, who took you out of Egypt." Rashi explains once again, that Hashem is saying that I am the one who differentiated between a firstborn and a non-firstborn. So too, I know when one is wearing real tichelis and one when is wearing imitation tichelis (which comes from the kala ilan plant). Rashi (Vayikra 19:36) makes the same comment yet a third time, regarding the law of having accurate scales. The Torah commands us to make sure that our scales are accurate. Once again, the Torah ends by saying "I am Hashem your God, who took you out of Egypt." Rashi interprets this too to mean that I am the one who differentiated between a firstborn and a non-firstborn. So too, I know when one's scales are accurate and when they aren't. The source of these three Rashis is a gemara (Bava Metzia 61b).

Rabbi Shimon Schwab (d. 1995), in his sefer Mayaan Beis Hashoeiva, asks the following. Why does the gemara understand that the verse alludes to the fact that Hashem knew exactly who was the firstborn were? Why doesn't the gemara pick any other aspect of the Exodus, e.g. the ten plagues? Rabbi Schwab explains that the unifying theme between these three verses is that they are examples of people trying to fool others. A major theme of the Exodus was that Hashem demonstrated clearly that it is He who runs the world and no one else. He quashed any notion that anyone else has a say in deciding world events. This message climaxed with the tenth plague, the death of the firstborns. It is impossible for a person to know who is really a firstborn and who isn't. The fact that only the real firstborns died was clear testimony that Hashem rules the world all by himself. Therefore, the gemara understood that when the Torah mentions "Yetzias Mitzrayim," the Exodus by these three commandments, it is referring to this idea, when Hashem revealed the truth about who is the authentic ruler of the world.

We must take this message of the Exodus from Egypt, which is so central to our faith, and apply it to our daily lives. There are so many things that we do to fool ourselves and others, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously. We must focus on our actions and ask ourselves, "What are we doing that is real, and what are we doing that is false?" In the merit of correcting our actions to be truthful, may Hashem reveal to the world once again that it is He who runs the world, and redeem us from this exile, speedily in our days.







Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Sefiras Haomer      Part 1



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi




The Torah [Vayikra 23:15- 16] says: "U'sefartem lachem me'macharas ha'Shabbos mee'yom havayeschem es omer ha'tenufa sheva shabasos temimos t'heyena. ad mee'macharas ha'Shabbos ha'sheveeis tisporu chameeshim yom (You shall count for yourself from the day after Shabbos; from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving, seven weeks they shall be complete.  Until the day after the seventh week you shall count fifty days)".  Elsewhere [Devarim 16:9] the Torah writes "Shivah shavous tispor luch (seven weeks you shall count)".


During the time of the Bais Hamikdash, when the korban omer was brought on the 16th of Nissan, there was a mitzvahme'deoraisa to count 49 days from the day the korbanomer was brought until Shavous.  Nowadays, that we sadly do not have the Bais Hamikdash, there is a machlokes whether the mitzvah to count remains a mitzvahme'deoraisa or is a mitzvah me'derabanun [enacted as a remembrance to what was done in the Bais Hamikdash].  Most Poskim hold that it is me'derabanun  (Be'ur Halachah 489:1 s.v. lis'por).


The Sefer Hachinuch [306] explains that the reason for this mitzvah as follows: The primary reason why the Jewish people were redeemed from Mitzrayim was in order to accept the Torah and to keep it. Therefore, Hashem commanded us to count, beginning the 1st day after we were redeemed [which is the 16th of Nissan, the Jewish people left Mitzrayim on the 15th of Nissan] up until the time that the Torah was given at Har Sinai [on Shavuos], in order to show how much we anticipate reaching the time when the Torah was given.  Similarly, the Medrash explains that the korban omer consisted of animal food [barley] and the korban that was brought on Shavuos consisted of human food [wheat].  Hashem was showing the Jewish people when they left Mitzrayim they were on a low spiritual level comparable to an animal.  Only after they received the Torah were they considered people.  Therefore, when counting we count "to the omer" to realize that without Torah we are comparable to an animal (Aruch Hashulchan 489:3).


Men are obligated to count (Shulchan Aruch 489:1).  Women are exempt, since this is a mitzvas asei she'hazman grama (time bound mitzvah) (Mishneh Berurah 489:3).  The common custom is that women do count, similar to other mitzvos asei she'hazman grama that women generally perform [e.g. listening to shofar, eating in the succah etc.] (Aruch Hashulchan 489:4).  The Mishneh Berurah [489:3] writes that the custom where he lived was that women count, but without reciting a brachah, since they generally do not understand what they are counting and also many times forget to count.  It is important to note that many Poskim hold that nowadays these reasons do not apply since it is common to have many reminders [e.g.  sefiras ha'omer calendars and electronic reminders].  Accordingly, some say women should count with a brachah (Koveitz Halachos 1:2 & ftnt. 2).  Children, who have reached the age of chinuch, should be taught to count.  A child who skips a day should continue counting without a brachah, just like an adult (Koveitz Halachos 1:3).










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