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Parshas Behar Bechukosai 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 7:39 pm
May 9, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 23
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Dvar Torah

Miraculous or Just Plain Normal 

By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 


                 Parshas Bechukosai begins with the blessings that will be bestowed upon the Jewish Nation if they follow Hashem's decrees and observe His commandments. Among them is the blessing that Hashem will provide rain in "its proper time." The Meshech Chochma quotes the Medrash in Toras Kohanim that explains that the "proper time" is Friday night, when everyone is home and unaffected by undesirable weather. The Medrash goes on to describe that this phenomenon occurred in the times of Shlomtzion the Queen and Shimon ben Shetach. During that era the Jews faithfully followed the Torah's commandments. They therefore were blessed with rain every Friday night and their produce grew to greater size. The leaders of that generation decided to store away some of the produce so that generations to come would be able to see the dividends of choosing to live without sin. One can ask, was their way of life supernatural, or normal, since it occurred on a regular basis?


The Meshech Chochma tells us that is was in fact natural, because nature depends on how we follow the Torah. "Imbechukosaiteleichu" is literally translated "If you will 'travel' in My decrees." If we travel the Torah way in a straight manner, nature too will function in a straight manner.


We can take this idea further by adding the words of the Maharal. The Maharal reasoned that the term "travel" is used in this verse because just as one travels from place to place, so too one who travels the path of Torah study will be able to penetrate to deeper levels of understanding. We can therefore conclude: if nature is based on our level of Torah observance, and if our level of Torah increases, so too nature will increase and become the norm, as it was during the time of Shlomtzion the Queen.


The Meshech Chochma points out that from the above we can understand the need for miracles, for what we consider today supernatural can become the norm, causing us to forget that every second of the "natural" functioning of the world is a miracle. The reason there are miracles is to remind us that what we think is normal, is really not.


We can conclude with the following: The Gemarah in Shabbos says that if one recites Hallel every day it is as if he is blaspheming Hashem. On the other hand the Gemarah in Berachos tells us that if one recites the prayer of "TehilaL'Dovid" (i.e. Ashrei) every day he is guaranteed a portion in the World to Come. The explanation for this is that Hallel is an expression of appreciation for unusual miracles, whereas TehilaL'Dovid is a prayer thanking Hashem for the natural function of the world. If one recites only Hallel every day he is denying the Hand of Hashem in even the most minute aspects of the running of nature. Tehila L'Dovid is our expression of recognition for the everyday miracle of nature. May we merit to be on the level where we need reminders in the positive, such as supernatural miracles, rather than the negative in the form of punishment, and at the same time never forget the miracles of daily living.



Dvar Halacha


The Laws of Sefiras Ha'omer  part 3


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


One should preferably stand while reciting the brachah and counting (Shulchan Aruch 489:1, Mishneh Berurah 489:6, Aruch Hashulchan 489:4).  This is alluded to in the Torah [Devarim 16:9] "May'hachol cher'mash b'kammah" (when the sickle is first put), Chazal understood to be read "B'komah (standing)" (Shaar Hatziyon 489:7).  Another reason is brought in the Zohar [Tetzaveh 183a] says that sefira is an very important, just like Shemoneh Esrei.  Therefore, we stand just like Shemoneh Esrei (Aruch Hashulchan 489:4).


Therefore, one should be careful not to be lean on anything while counting (Koveitz Halachos 6:1).  If one did not stand, he has nevertheless fulfilled his mitzvah (Mishneh Berurah 489:6, Aruch Hashulchan 489:4).  Someone who finds it difficult to stand [for example, an older person] may l'chatchila count while sitting down (Koveitz Halachos 6:1).


One should not interrupt in between the reciting of the brachah and the counting. This includes even a silent interruption of more than toch k'day dee'bor, or saying something that is not sefira related (Mishneh Berurah 489:29).


One may count in any language, as long as he understands what he is saying.  If one counted using a language that he does not understand, he has not fulfilled his obligation, even if he counted in Hebrew (Mishneh Berurah 489:5).  Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, understands that when counting in Hebrew he is not yotzei only in a situation that he had no idea what he was saying.  However, if he was aware that he was counting even though he did not understand the exact translation of the words, he has fulfilled his obligation (Koveitz Halachos 6:5).  One may not fulfill his obligation of counting with either thinking or writing (Koveitz Halachos 6:3-4).


As mentioned, when the Torah refers to the mitzvah of counting sefira, there is a mention of both days and weeks.  Therefore, the mitzvah requires counting both the days and the weeks of the Omer (Gemara Menachos 66a, Shulchan Aruch 489:1 & Mishneh Berurah 489:7).  The first 7 days, one only mentions the day.  Starting from the 8th day we mention both the day and the week.


If after from the 7th day, one accidently only mentioned the day and not the week [for example, on the 12th day one counted "today is the 12th day of the Omer" and did not say "today is the 12th day, which is 1 week and 5 days of the Omer"] there is a machlokes whether he has fulfilled his obligation.  Therefore, one should recount that night without a brachah [and continue counting with a brachah the next night].  If after the 7th day, one accidently just counted the weeks [for example he said "today is 1 week and 5 days of the Omer], he has not fulfilled his obligation, and should recount that night with a brachah [for it is as if he never counted] (Mishneh Berurah 489:7).


If one counted using roshei tay'vos (an acronym) [for example, instead of saying "today is the 12th day etc.", he said "today is yud bais yom etc." there is a machlokes whether he has fulfilled his obligation or not.  Therefore, he should recount that night without a brachah [and continue counting with a brachah the following night (Be'ur Halachah 489:1 s.v. moneh v'holaich).


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