PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 24
7 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
17 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 57
NUMBER OF WORDS: 737
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 2817
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 32:6-27
This week we study Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
You've heard of "Shabbat";
Well, Shmita is Shabbat for Eretz Yisroel. Every seventh year we are
forbidden to work the earth in Eretz Yisroel.
"Shmita" means to let go. When farmers "let
go" of the land for the Shmita year they show trust
that Hashem will take care of their livelihoods. It also
reminds farmers that Hashem, not the land, feeds their
Rosh Hashana of the seventh year, the Shmita year
begins. For an entire year, farmers do not plant, sow, plow or work
the ground. The only work he can do is to water plants enough to
keep them alive.
Now, there are still trees and plants that grow on their own.
But before Jewish farmers get any ideas, this produce is free
for all. Fruit that grows during Shmita year cannot be
sold. Anyone who wants to do some pitching in, is welcome. As
a matter of fact, the owner of an orchard has to leave the gates
unlocked. A farmer is only allowed to collect what he needs for
that day from the orchard.
Since this fruit is holy, you can't just dump the peels and
core. You have to let them return to the soil naturally. Vegetables,
on the other hand, have a different din (law) altogether.
Simply put, you can't eat them. That's because vegetables don't
usually grow on their own. Hashem doesn't want a few
dishonest people to plant vegetables and claim they grew on their
At the end of the Shmita year all loans are forgiven. This
Mitzvah applies to Jews in and out of the Eretz Yisroel.
Jewish calendar runs on a fifty year cycle. The fiftieth year is
called "Yovel". Yovel is a time for
a new beginning. First, on Yom Kippur of Yovel, Bait
Din blows a Shofar which is mimicked all over Eretz
Yisroel, announcing that all Jewish servants are now free!
Whether he's been serving for a day or he has an earring to show
his loyalty, he is sent home on Yom Kippur of Yovel.
Yovel time is also a signal for all the land in Eretz
Yisroel to revert back to their original owners.
When the Bnei Yisroel first entered Eretz Yisroel,
each family got a portion of land. For fifty years that land can
be leased or sold from one owner to another, but every owner knows
that in the fiftieth year the land goes back to the original owner.
Selling a house is a different story, however.
If the house is in a city that was walled in the time of Yehoshua,
(When Joshua originally conquered the land of Eretz Yisroel),
the seller has a year to change his mind and buy the house back
before he loses his options and the new owner gets to keep the
If the house is in a non-walled city, the house is treated as
land and may be redeemed anytime and reverts back to their original
owners at Yovel.
The only exception to the rule is a house belonging to a Levi.
The Leviyim settled in 48 cities throughout Eretz
Yisroel. If a Levi sells his house in one of those
cities, it is returned to him during Yovel.
The Torah warns that we must be careful to charge properly
when selling property in Eretz Yisroel. A land owner
must calculate according to how many years are left to Yovel,
and set a price accordingly.
As an added bonus, the Torah also reminds us to be
fair in all business, land deals or selling goods.
may be a sweet deal for land owners and servants but farmers get
a double dose of "keep the faith". You see, the forty-ninth
year is a Shmita year and the fiftieth year is a Shmita-like
year. That means for two years, farmers can't work the fields. That's
quite a feat, but then again, there is the promise Hashem
makes to those who keep the laws of Shmita... ...If you
let the land rest I'll grant you three brachot. When the
Torah gets tough, Hashem's got a Bracha
in mind... actually three.
First, there is the abundance clause, The year before Shmita
will be a real heaping harvest. Enough to last for two years plus,
as a bonus, it'll even cover the eighth year!
Second, the appetite clause, All stomachs will practically shrink!
Hashem promises that even if you only eat a little, you'll
be satisfied. Great for dieters!
Third, the protective clause, If you keep Shmita and
Yovel, Hashem will control the borders, and enemies will
stay away. On the other hand, the warning attached to it is, if
you blow it, enemies will push Klal Yisroel into Galut
Now the Torah goes back into the "Love your neighbor"
mode with a new command not to hurt a fellow Jew with mean or
misleading words. This time it's the Ger (convert) and
Ba'al Teshuva (one who once wasn't religious) that take
center stage. These two groups are singled out because both the
Ger and the Ba'al Teshuva have made a break with
Hashem wants us to be sensitive to people who may
be embarrassed or feel sensitive about something that makes them
not the same as others. If mixed up Mechel adds up 5 and 5 and
says it's 55, let it go! Don't remind him about the silly comment
the next day.
The Torah teaches that it's a Mitzvah to loan money
to people in need, on the condition, of course, that the person is
not a no good bum who will stiff you.|
But here's the catch, you've
got to loan out the money before the person becomes poor so he can
avoid asking for Tzedakah (charity).
When you loan out money, Hashem forbids a Jew to take any interest
from another Jew. This is called "Ribit".
Ribit is a concept with many hats.
If you say "I'll give you five bucks and you give me ten
back, that's Ribit.
If you lend out five bucks and get back five bucks and a pickle,
that pickle is Ribit.
Even a "Thank You" can be called Ribit.
Ribit makes lending money a tough Mitzvah,
but when it's done right this Mitzvah is a real deed
for all parties involved.
| In the old days
a poor Jew would sell himself as a servant to earn a little nest
egg of money. The pay was good and the master treated him well (the
Torah made sure of that) so it made sense. The problem
is that a Jew might get the idea to work in a Non-Jewish household.
That's forbidden. But, knowing human nature especially when it's
a desperate situation, The Torah sets up a Mitzvah
just in case.
If a person becomes a servant in a non-Jewish household, it's a Mitzvah
for his family to redeem him as fast as possible. If they can't
come up with the cash, it's a Mitzvah for any Jew to
redeem him. In the worst case, the Bait Din forces the
non-Jewish master to release him during Yovel.
The Torah is afraid that if a Jew serves in a non-Jewish
home he will be exposed to idols.
Idol-worshippers has some strange ways in the old days! Imagine
building stone floors to fall on and pillars of stone to pray
to. Hashem commands us not to build pillars nor to kneel
down on a stone floor while davening. The only stones a Jew can
kneel on are the stones on the floor of the Bait Hamikdash.
Tune in next week as we wrap up Vayikra with the winnings
and warnings about being a Jew in Eretz Yisroel in our
in the next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Mavin on Behar
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