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Parshas Ki Seitzei 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 7:37 pm
August 16, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 33
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Dvar Torah

A Legacy of Kindness


By Rabbi Yosef Prupas


           In this weeks parsha we find the well known halacha, "a Moavi or an Ammoni shall not enter the Nation of Hashem forever. Because of the fact that they did greet you with bread and water... and because they hired Bilam... to curse you." The Ramban explains that this prohibition is a consequence of the lack of gratitude they displayed to the descendants of Avraham, to whom they owe their very existence. It was in Avraham's merit that their forefather Lot and his daughters had been saved from the destruction of Sedom.


The above is troubling for two reasons. Firstly, because your great-great-grandfather did a favor for my great-great-grandfather, I am eternally expected to reciprocate? Secondly, why would this failure result in such harsh repercussions?



To understand this we must first define the mitzvah of hakaras hatov, recognizing the good done for you. Rav Yitzchak Hutner, zt"l (PachadYitzchakRoshHashanahMa'amarGimmel) explains that when examining the laws governing hakaras hatov one realizes the depth of this mitzvah. There is a law which states that if one finds two lost objects, one belonging to his father and the other to his rebbe, and he is only capable of returning one of the objects, he should return that of his rebbe. The reason is that the honor of one's rebbe supersedes that of his father, "for your father brought you into this world, whereas your rebbe brings you into the next." [This changes if one's father hired the rebbe. In that case he channels his greater hakaras hatov to his father and therefore his father's lost object takes precedence.] What we learn from the above is that hakarashatov is not just reciprocation of the good done for you; it is a mitzvah with halachic ramifications.



Another angle in understanding hakaras hatov is revealed to us from a Gemarah in BavaMetzia. Our sages tell us that all the kindness that Avraham did for his guests and the manner which this chesed was performed was reciprocated by Hashem to the Jewish people in the desert. Those acts that Avraham performed himself, Hashem performed for B'nei Yisroel Himself. What Avraham did through a messenger, Hashem, too, brought it about through a messenger. The Maharal asks why only in regard to the mitzvah of inviting guests do we find Hashem repaying it in this parallel manner? The Maharal answers that gemiluschasadim, benevolence, is unique amongst the mitzvos, for it bears fruit even in this world. The seed of an apple, when planted, results in more apples. Similarly with gemiluschasadim, when one does good for another he is planting seeds of kindness in his friend which sprout forth similar acts of kindness in return. This does not extend only to his friend but even to the following generations, for the tree keeps on bearing fruit. Rav Hutner continues that one can understand from this that if one is unkind to someone by causing pain or damage, it is terrible in and of itself; but if one takes taking that seed of kindness that was planted inside him by his friend and does not reciprocate that good, thereby ruining that seed, that is "achzarious," cruelty. For he is not only destroying the present he is destroying the future.



Based on the above we can answer our two questions. The reason one has to reciprocate the good done to one's forefather is because chesed is not just a favor; it is a seed planted with ramifications for years to come. Just as Avraham performed chesed in this world and Hashem did chesed in return for his descendants, so does one have to reciprocate the good even to subsequent generations. The reason the Ammoni and Moavi can't join the Jewish people, is because of the cruelty they displayed as nation, taking the seed of kindness planted years before and destroying it. A nation who is cruel by nature cannot join a nation who is by nature merciful, for the chemistry is not compatible. May the seed of kindness implanted in our souls by our forefather Avraham flourish for us and generations to come.    







Dvar Halacha


 Halachos of Teshuva: Bein Adam L'Chaveiro  

part 1


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


With the approaching Yomim Norayim, thoughts of doing a proper teshuva (repentance) is at the front of many people's minds.  Many times we sin and regret our choices; we want to do teshuva, but are not aware of how to properly accomplish this.


Teshuva is a mitzvas asei me'doraisa (Biblical commandment). The Torah [Bamidbar 5:7] says "V'hisvadoo es chatosum asher asu" (and they shall confess their sin which they committed).  Just as with other mitzvos, the only way to keep it properly is to know the halachos of the mitzvah [e.g. it is impossible to properly keep the mitzvah of Shabbos without the knowledge of HilchosShabbos (See Introduction to Mishneh Berurah vol. 3)]. The same is true regarding the mitzvah of teshuva.


The Rambam [Hilchos Teshuva 2:7] writes that even though there is a mitzvah to do teshuva each day of the year, on Yom Kippur one is required to do teshuva. Therefore, if one did not do teshuva on Yom Kippur, he has violated a mitzvas asei (see also Sefer Hachinuch 364).


The Mishnah [Yoma 85b] teaches that Yom Kippur atones for sins between man and Hashem, however not sins against one's fellow man.  Therefore, one who wronged someone is obligated to appease him (Shulchan Aruch 606:1).


It is important to note: if someone wronged another person, in addition to violating a mitzvah of bein adam l'chaveiro (interpersonal relationships), one has also violated a mitzvas bein adam l'makom (between man and G-d).  Therefore, even if one appeased the other person, one is still obligated to repent on the bein adam l'makom aspect of the aveira (Rambam Hilchos Teshuva 1:1, Shaarei Teshuva 1:45 & Shulchan Aruch 606:2).


One is only obligated to appease his fellow man if one caused damage to him (Sefer Chafetz Chaim Lashon Hara 4:12 quoting Shaarei Teshuva 207).  For instance, if one said something insulting about someone, however, it was not in front of him [and therefore he was not insulted], nor did it lead to any damage, etc. he would not need to ask forgiveness.  

If one did cause harm to someone, even if that person did not know about it, one is obligated to ask for forgiveness (Sefer Chafetz Chaim 4:12).  Therefore, if someone said rechilus about someone, if he sees the listener believes him, one is required to ask forgiveness from who he spoke about, because this most probably resulted in some form of damage etc. (Sefer Chafetz Chaim 2:4: BM"C 4).


If one wronged a katan (minor) the custom is to ask forgiveness.  Additionally, when the katan reaches adulthood (13 year old boy or 12 year old girl), one is obligated to ask him again, since a minor's forgiveness, is not a halachically binding (Koveitz Halachos[Piskei Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a] 25:17).






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