Rabbi Frand on Parshas Behar/Bechukosai
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi
Yissochar Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah
portion: Tape # 11, Rationing Medical Care. Good Shabbos!
Make Peace and Greet Moshiach
Parshas Bechukosai contains words of blessing and words of rebuke.
The Parsha begins with the message that the world is set up, such
that, if the Jewish people keep G-d's mitzvos, blessings will come
automatically. Rains will fall at the most convenient of times, ...,
..., and the Jewish people will be able to rest securely in their
The Toras Kohanim on this pasuk [verse] asks, "Does this mean we will
only dwell securely in Eretz Yisroel, but not in Chutz L'Aretz? What
does this mean -- we do have food and drink?" The Toras Kohanim
answers that if there is no peace, there is nothing. As long as we
are living in exile under a foreign government, there is no Shalom.
Without Shalom there is nothing. Shalom is equivalent to everything,
the Toras Kohanim continues, as we say in our prayers, "He Makes
Shalom and Creates Everything".
As we all know, without Shalom -- Shalom in a community or Shalom in
a family -- Shalom between communities and between nations, nothing
has any worth. This is not just a Toras Kohanim, this is a Mishneh -
- the last Mishneh in Shas [Uktzin 3:12]. "The Holy One, Blessed be
He, found no vessel to hold Blessing for Israel other than (the
vessel of) Peace."
The Kesav Sofer explains, that when there is no peace, it is usually
because people are jealous of their neighbors. When people are
constantly comparing themselves to the Joneses or the Goldbergs or
the Cohens, then they will never be happy. People will never be
satisfied, no matter how many blessings, no matter how much food and
drink they have. If one is being eaten up by that "cancer" which is
called kin'ah [jealousy], then he will never ever have an
appreciation for what he possess. Therefore, there is no vessel
which can hold the blessings -- other than the vessel of peace.
Today, we have in Klal Yisroel a lack of Shalom, even, unfortunately,
among our own people. And if we are lacking Shalom, we cannot
appreciate our blessings.
In 1980, Rav Yaakov traveled to the Knessiah Gedolah (of Agudath
Israel) in Jerusalem. At that particular time in his life, Rav
Yaakov felt extremely weak. Rav Yaakov did not feel that he was
physically up to making the trip to Eretz Yisroel. But, Rav Yaakov's
arm was twisted, he was prevailed upon, and he made the trip. [He
was so concerned about his health, that he felt he would not make it
back home. He even left word that if he were to die in Eretz
Yisroel, he wanted to be buried there, of course.]
Because of his physical condition, Rav Yaakov did not travel around
much, nor did he give shiurim, while in Eretz Yisroel. However, Rav
Yaakov said, "I want to go to one Yeshiva -- I want to go to Yeshivas
Kol Yaakov." Rav Yaakov was taken to this Yeshiva and he got up to
speak. Rav Yaakov was crying as he told the students, "My entire
life I wanted to great Moshiach. I now feel that I won't have this
merit; I don't feel that I'll live much longer. But, if I can't
greet Moshiach, at least I want to be among a group of people that I
know for sure, will be among those who greet Moshiach. I know that
this Yeshiva will be among those that will greet him."
What was so special about this Yeshiva? Did they know Shas by heart?
In Kol Yaakov, are all the Bochrim careful to be on time when
davening [daily prayer] starts? Not necessarily. This Yeshiva was
so special because they make peace between Ashkenazic and Sephardic
bochrim. It was one Yeshiva that had both students of European-
Russian descent and of Spanish-Turkish-North African descent and they
made Shalom between these two (sometimes at odds) segments of the
We must take this advice from Rav Yaakov. If we want a Segulah that
we will be from those who greet Moshiach, we must take action to make
Shalom -- between husband and wife; between man and his fellow;
between Chassidim and Misnagdim. Make Shalom, and, Rav Yaakov says,
be among those who greet Moshiach.
Good News in the Middle of the Tochacha
There is a very long and interesting Ramba"n in this week's Parsha.
The Ramba"n tries to show that all the terrible things in the
Tochacha, that the Torah predicts will happen, if we do not keep the
mitzvos, did indeed happen.
For instance, the Ramba"n says that the pasuk "G-d will return you to
Egypt in boats" refers to the days of Titus when the Jews were loaded
onto boats and shipped as slaves to Egypt. The Ramba"n brings many
different examples ... "The King which you will appoint over
yourself..." refers to Agrippa. The pasuk hints at the fact that he
was not worthy of being a King.
Finally, the Ramba"n says that the pasuk [26:32] "I will make
desolate the Land, and your enemies who dwell upon it will be
desolate" (V'shamemu aleha oyeveichem hayoshvim bah) is not a Curse,
rather it is a Blessing. It is "Good News" in the middle of the
Tochacha. The pasuk tells us that our Holy Land will not accept our
enemies upon it. This, says the Ramba"n, is a great proof (of the
Divine Hand) and Promise for us. "For there cannot be found
throughout the world a land that had been so good and fertile (which
now became so desolate and inhospitable)".
If you want to be a Believer, says the Ramba"n, all you have to do is
look at Eretz Yisroel. Look what happened there for 2000 years when
it was occupied by Arabs and by Romans and by Turks and by the
British. It had been the most beautiful and under foreign dominion
it became the most desolate. The Torah assured us, that from the day
we left Eretz Yisroel, it would not accept any other nation or
populace. They all tried to settle it, but none were successful.
This is what the Torah means when it says "Your enemies will be
desolate upon it". No nation will ever be successful in inhabiting
Eretz Yisroel, except Klal Yisroel.
What would happen, if the Indians came to the Federal Government and
said "You know, 200 years ago we made a silly mistake. We sold you
Manhattan Island at a rock bottom price -- $24. We realize you're
entitled to a profit, we'll give you $48 for Manhattan. We'll give
you 48 million dollars? We'll give you 48 billion dollars?" Guess
what? No sale. What has happened to Manhattan Island in those 200
years? For what it is worth now, there is no way the Government
would ever consider giving it back.
Imagine if the Goyim would have been successful in making Eretz
Yisroel profitable. Imagine if in 1948, it was a beautiful and
productive land. Would they have consented to returning it to the
Jewish People? But as the Ramba"n says, they were not able. In
1948, when we came to ask, "Can we have the land back?" "You mean
that strip of land, that's hard like iron, in which nothing grows?
That worthless strip of land in the middle of the dessert? Good Luck
with it!". This is Divine Providence, as promised by the Torah in
this week's parsha.
I have always wondered - one looks in the Middle East -- Saudi
Arabia has oil, Quatar, Iraq, Yemen, every country has oil. Egypt
even has oil. How is it, that from our Holy Land, the choicest of
all lands we can not squeeze a drop of oil? This is "The Eyes of the
L-rd are upon it from the start of the year to its end"?
But what would have been in 1948, if the British were sitting on a
Saudi Arabia? What would have been if they were sitting on Kuwait?
Obviously they would not have been so eager to give up black gold.
This is part of "Your enemies will be desolate upon it".
The upshot of all of this, is that if we seek a lesson in Emunah, if
one does not believe in G-d for all the other miracles and wonders
that He has done... Just look at this Ramba"n, just look at this
Pasuk, just look at that Land. If one's eyes are open and one is not
blind, one will see the Hand of G-d and the Divine Providence upon us
and upon all the Jewish people.
Chutz L'Aretz -- Outside the Land (of Israel)
Shalom -- Peace
Shas -- All of Talmud; acronym for Shisha Sidrei, Six Orders (of the
Moshiach -- Messiah
Segulah -- A treasure (used in the context of having special merit)
Tochacha -- (Section of the Torah dealing with) rebuke (for sins)
Emunah -- Belief (in G-d)
Hashgocha Prottes -- Personal Divine Providence
Personalities & Sources:
Kesav Sofer--Rav Avrohom Shmuel Binyomin Sofer of Pressburg (1815-79)
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky--(1891-1986) Lithuania, Toronto, New York City.
Ramba"n -- Rav Moshe ben Nachman (1194-1270); Spain; Eretz Yisroel.
This week's write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi
Yissochar Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah
portion (#11). The corresponding halachic portion for this tape is: #11 Rationing Medical Care. The other halachic portions for Parshas Behar/Bechukosai from the Commuter Chavrusah Series are:
Also Available: Mesorah / Artscroll has published a collection
of Rabbi Frand's essays. The book is entitled: