Rabbi Frand on Parshas Behar
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi
Yissocher Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah
portion: Tape #460 Obligation of Checking One's Teffilin. Good
The Linkage Between Truth and the Exodus
In this week's parsha, the Torah states: "Do not give him your money for
interest, and do not give your food for increase. I am Hashem, your G-d,
Who took you out of the land of Egypt..." [Vayikra 25:37-38].
Rashi cites a Gemara that explains the connection between the
prohibition to charge interest and the Exodus: "I distinguished between
a firstborn and one who was not a firstborn. I also know and exact
punishment from one who lends to a Jew with interest and says that it
belongs to a non-Jew" [Bava Metzia 61b]. [While the Torah permits Jews to
lend and borrow commercially with non-Jews, meaning with interest, the
Torah demands that loans between Jews be interest-free.]
In other words, G-d knows the facts. If He could discern which person
was a first born and which person was not a first born during the Plague
of the Firstborn, He can certainly see through any false claims
involving interest transactions.
The Gemara has a similar exposition regarding two other pasukim.
Following the command of Tzizis in Parshas Shlach, the verse says: "I am
the L-rd, your G-d, who took you out from the Land of Egypt" [Bamidbar
15:41]. Why is this pasuk located in the chapter of Tzizis? Again, the
Talmud states "I am the One who distinguished between the drop that was
a first born and the drop that was not a first born. I will be able to
distinguish and punish someone who places strands of kaleh ilan (a cheap
imitation dye) on his clothing and claims it is (authentic) techeles."
[ibid]. In other words, G-d, who knew the authentic first born in Egypt,
will know and punish someone trying to sell fake techeles as the real
The Torah makes a similar exposition in a third place, in Parshas
Kedoshim: "You shall have correct scales, correct stones, a correct
ephah, and a correct hin - I am Hashem, your G-d, Who brought you forth
from the land of Egypt." [Vayikra 19:36]. Again, the Talmud says, the
connection is similar: The G-d, who was able to detect the identity of
the true first born in Egypt, will be able to detect any attempt to
falsify weights and measures and thereby cheat in business transactions.
Rav Shimon Schwab explains that the common denominator between the
expositions by the cases of interest, Tzizis, and weights and measures
is that all three represent attempts to deviate from the truth. The
Exodus from Egypt (Yetzias Mitzrayim) was the ultimate demonstration of
Truth in the world. At the moment of Exodus there was no faking and no
hiding. The Master of the Universe, who is the epitome and essence of
Truth, revealed Himself and at that moment, anything that was not true,
paid the price.
This G-d, who is the epitome of Truth, will punish those who try to be
deceptive - be it in interest transactions, be it in the sale of false
techeles, or be it in the use of false measures.
Rav Schwab added that this explains the universal custom of appending
the word "Emes" [Truth] to the end of the third chapter of Krias Shma.
We append the word "Emes" immediately after the pasuk that states "I am
the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the Land of Egypt, to be for you a
G-d; I am the L-rd your G-d".
In reality, the word Emes is not part of the recitation of Krias Shma.
It is the first word of the next paragraph (Emes v'Yatziv in the morning
or Emes v'Emunah at night). It is peculiar that this word should be
appended to the Biblically mandated recitation of Krias Shma, since it
is not part of the Biblical pasukim. In contrast, we make a clear
demarcation between the Biblically mandated portion of the
multi-paragraph Grace After Meals, and the additional Rabbinic
paragraphs, by inserting the word "Amen" following "Boneh Berachamav
Yerushalayim". Why do we blur the demarcation in Krias Shma by appending
the word Emes to the Biblical pasuk regarding the Exodus?
The answer is that the word 'Emes' is the essence of the whole idea of
Hashem taking us out of Egypt. During Yetzias Mitzrayim, G-d revealed
His Essence to us. His Essence is Truth. Consequently, immediately after
mentioning the Exodus, we append the word 'Emes'.
This write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher
Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah Portion. The
halachic topics covered for the current week's portion in this series
Tape # 011 - Rationing Medical Care
Tape # 012 - Can Teachers Strike?
Tape # 054 - Life Insurance: The Torah Policy
Tape # 055 - Candle Lighting & Havdalah: How Early & How Late?
Tape # 097 - "Ribis" Problems of Interest for the Jew in a
Tape # 098 - "Cheremei Tzibur": A Ban on Living in Germany?
Tape # 145 - Kidney Donations: Endangering Oneself to Save Another
Tape # 192 - Making Shabbos Early
Tape # 282 - The Physician's Obligation to Heal
Tape # 328 - Sh'mita and the Heter Mechira
Tape # 372 - Using Shuls As A Shortcut
Tape # 416 - Supporting Jewish Merchants
Tape # 460 - The Obligation of Checking One's Teffilin
Tape # 504 - Lag B'Omer
Tape # 548 - Marrying for Money
Tape # 592 - Ribis and the Non-Jew
Tape # 636 - The Kedusha of the Ezras Noshim
Tape # 680 - Is Ribis Ever Permitted?
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Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Torah.org.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Seattle, Washington.
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Yerushalayim.
Rav Frand Books and Audio Tapes are now available for sale! Thanks to www.yadyechiel.org and Artscroll.com.