Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: TARYAG MITZVOS Category:TAAMEI HAMITZVOS Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Sat, 27 Nov 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Sefer HaChinuch - What Does Killing an Animal Do For Us?

To bring a Korban is considered the pinnacle of Avodas Hashem in this world. The word Korban is from the word Karov, as it brings us close to Hashem. Tefila, which is one of the three pillars of the world, is merely a replacement for Korbanos now that the Bais HaMikdash is not standing. What is it about animal slaughter that has this incredible spiritual effect? Since when does Hashem desire us to engage in violent and bloody activity?

The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the only thing separating us from animals is our intelligence. Other than that we are both physical beings that like to indulge in worldly pleasures. A human is meant to use his intelligence to serve Hashem, and when we go astray it is because we have ignored our intelligence and acted like an animal.

Our intellect is eternal and will always remain, long after our physical bodies have expired and become part of the dust of the earth. When we do an aveira we need a reminder of this lesson. We take an animal, which represents our mortal half, and burn it to remind us that it is pointless to serve our physical half. We would be wise to concentrate our efforts on our intellect, the part that makes us unique and eternal.

As our intellect is a Cheilek Elokai MiMaal, a spark from Hashem, when we choose our intellect over our bodies we are by definition becoming closer to Hashem. That is the definition of a Korban.

Sun, 15 Mar 2015 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayeilech: Kli Yakar - Why Is Hakhel On Succos Of Motza'ei Shmitta
The Kli Yakar says that Hakhel is meant to bring Shalom to Klal Yisroel as a prerequisite for tshuva. Tshuva is always more readily accepted when it come from a Tzibbur that lives in harmony and Achdus with each other.

The most auspicious time for this is right after Shmitta on Succos. The reason, says that Kli Yakar, is that the uneven distribution of wealth is the biggest source of friction among people. During Shmitta this factor is greatly minimized as no one owns the land and the poor and rich both eat off the land together without any lines demarcating ownership. Everything is Hefker to everyone on Shmitta.

Furthermore on Succos the rich leave their luxurious homes and together with the poor, every member of Klal Yisroel moves into a temporary hut, leveling the playing field in this all too competitive area. Succos is a time of true achdus, especially after Shmitta, and the perfect time for a dramatic call to tshuva and achdus by the King, the leader ofthe nation.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Ki Seitzei: Avnei Nezer - When The Bird Uses His Sechel

The Avnei Nezer of Sochatchov gives a unique reason for the mitzva of Shiluach HaKein. He says that all the living creatures are subservient to man because man has Sechel or intelligence while other creatures are purely physical. Man's purpose in this world is for his intelligence to conquer materialism internally within himself, and therefore gives him power of the material world around him.

The essential difference between intelligence and materialism is that intelligence allows you to think about things other than your own physical needs. When the bird sits on her egg, she does it out of pity on her child. This pity is akin to Sechel as it is an act of giving to another. While the bird is acting out in a manner akin to Sechel, man may not display superiority over it. Only when the bird takes its Sechel and flies away may you take the egg. (Iturei Torah)

Fri, 20 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Kedoshim: Kli Yakar - Orla, Why Wait Three Years For Your Fruit? The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim says on of the reasons why we have the issur of Orla which assurs us from eating the fruit of tree that grow during its first four years after planting is because the Emoriim used all sorts of Kishuf with the fruits during the first three years of a tree to make it grow faster.  Therefore the Torah forbids the fruits of the first three years.

The Kli Yakar says the reason is Zecher L'Maaseh Bireishis.  He says that everything was created on the first day of creation but only came out on the day that the Torah says it was created.  Fruits, the Torah tells us were created on the third day.  Even so they were not visible until the fourth day when the sun and moon were hung in the sky and ripened the fruit.  Fruits are assur for three years as a Zecher for the three days that they were covered in the ground and not visible in the creation.  Orla means to be covered.  

On the fourth day they were clearly visible but by who?  There were no animal or people to eat them.  Their entire existence was solely to sing Hashem's praise.  This is why the fourth year of produce is Kodesh Hilulim Lashem, it sings the praise of Hashem and must be eaten only in Yerushalayim.

By the fifth day the animals were created and enjoyed the fruits.  Therefore during the fifth year the fruits are permitted to us without any restrictions of Orla.  However says the Kli Yakar, unlike he fourth year where it says (Kedoshim 19:24), "Kol Piryo" all the fruits, in the fifth year it says "Tochlu Es Piryo" without the word "Kol", to remind us that we still need to share it with those who are less fortunate.  And just to assure us that after this long wait we will not be hurt financially by spreading the wealth, the pasuk ends, Ani Hashem Elokeichem and I will repay you!

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Radvaz Offers Insight On The Mitzva Of Bris Mila The Radvaz in his sefer on Taamei HaMitzvos, called Metzudas Dovid, offers a number of insights into the Mitzva of Mila.  The reason for this mitzva, he says, is to weaken the organ that represents a persons basest desires.  We cut it and let the blood flow to show us that one of our main challenges in life is to curb our Ta'avos.  We weaken our Yetzer Hara which makes his home in our blood.  This, he says, explains the medrash that says that someone who has relations with an Arel, someone who is not circumcised, will have trouble separating from him.

He also says that Hashem wanted to differentiate Bnei Yisroel from the other nations, not only on a spiritual level but also in the physical sense.  Moreover it is also a way to have Hashem's stamp ingrained into our bodies.  No matter what or where we are, we have this mitzva with us.

If the skin of the Urla is a bad thing, why did Hashem create us with it?  To this he answers that we are not born perfect.  We are put on earth to perfect ourselves.  Hakol Bi'dei Shamayim Chutz MiYiras Shamayim.  Hashem dictates many things in our life but to fear Hashem is our choice alone.  A the earliest age we learn that we are not perfect and it our job to make sure we become that way.

Tue, 04 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shoftim: Moreh Nevuchim - It Is All Part Of The Hunt

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (3:40) says that the reason for the whole procedure of the Egla Arufa is to make our roads safe, reveal the killer, and remove him from our midst. Therefore explains the Rambam, we make a drawn out ceremony so that all the neighboring townspeople come out with the Zekeinim and declare that they don't know the murderer and that they are not harboring a criminal in their midst. This ceremony will make them realize how bad an aveira it is. Then if they do know something, they will come forward.

Another benefit says the Rambam, is to cause a commotion and get the people talking. Maybe through this, clues will emerge that will lead to the killer.

Lastly says the Rambam, by forbidding planting ever again in the field where the Arifa is done, you can be assured that the owner of the field will do everything in his power to find the person who committed the murder and save his property.

Fri, 05 Sep 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Matos: Torah War Strategy - Battle To The End? “VaYitzbi’u Al Midyan KaAsher Tziva Hashem”, they fought Midyan the way Hashem commanded.  The Sifri says that when you wage war on a city do not surround it on all for sides.  Surround it from three sides and leave a fourth side to allow the enemy to escape.  The Smag and the Ramban both hold that this is one of the 248 mitzvos Aseh.  The Rambam (Milachim 6:7) brings this down L’Halacha but does not count it among the Mitzvos Aseh.

The Radvaz on the Rambam says the reason for this Mitzva is to allow people to flee death.  It is the last chance for Rachamim.  This last gesture is granted despite the fact that they were already offered to surrender and live in peace yet refused.  All this says the Radvaz, is because the ways of the Torah are “Sholom”.

The Ramban gives the same reason as the Radvaz and adds another strategic reason.  If someone has their back to the wall with no way of escape, they will fight viciously until the bitter end.  Do not strengthen their resolve against you, says the Ramban.  Let them know there is another option.

Fri, 25 Jul 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rambam, Rabbeinu Bachaye, Netziv - The Sound of The Trumpets

The Rambam says it is a mitzvah in the Torah to cry out over any distress that occurs to Klal Yisrael.  It is a means of repentance to cry out at times of distress and blow on the trumpets.  Through this the people become aware that it was their bad deeds that brought their distress. The pasuk says, “Your sins inclined these (distresses), and your iniquities withheld the good from you.” (Yirmiyah 5:25) This [awareness] will be reason for the distress to be removed from them.  However, if they don’t cry out or blow trumpets, and instead say this occurrence is a part of nature and the distress is happenstance, that is a cruel {perspective] and causes them to continue with their bad deeds and will bring on them further distress. That is what is meant by the Torah “And if you follow me with nonchalance, I will also follow you with angry nonchalance.” (Vayikra 26:27)  This means that Hashem when bring distress on Klal Yisroel to prompt them to do teshuva and it is shrugged off as coincidence Hashem Yisborach will bring on us the fury of that nonchalance.

The Truah blast represents the Midas Hadin and it is that characteristic that brings us victory in battle. (Rabbeinu Bachaye)

By means of blowing on the trumpets the angels will plead for us and recall our good deeds in front of the Kisei Hakavod. (Netziv)

Wed, 11 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bamidbar - When is Stealing Punishable By Death? The Parsha of Bamidbar is bereft of Mitzvos according to the Rambam; however the Bahag does count one Mitzvah from this Parsha among the Taryag Mitzvos; the prohibition of stealing one of the Kli Sharess. Besides the prohibition of Geneiva, there is a special prohibition of stealing one of the Kli Sharess and the punishment for doing so is severe, Kana'im Pogim Bo (the zealous among us may kill him). This is not a Chiyuv Misah in the classical sense as the he may only be killed while he is the act of committing the Aveira, but once he has already committed the Aveira he may no longer be killed. In some ways the Chiyuv Misah of Kana'im Pogim Bo is more stringent than a regular Chiyuv Misah because no Eidim or Hasra’ah is needed.

Why is the punishment for this Aveira so severe? The Sefer Kinas Sofrim says that it is because of Chilul Hashem. Stealing one of the Kli Sharess from the Mishkan or Bais HaMikdash profanes the name of Hashem and the Aveira of Chilul Hashem is punished severely. When an Aveira is committed that causes a Chilul Hashem it is punished more severely than it would have been punished otherwise.

Tue, 27 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Behar: Maharal and Kli Yakar on Lending With Interest The Maharal in Nesivos Olam (45) says that lending money is a means of bonding Klal Yisroel into one nation. When each person receives from one another it promotes unity and bonds Klal Yisroel into a union. Lending with interest advances the exact opposite effect as the term Neshoch means to bite. Ribis has the potential of destroying a person’s life just as the bite of a snake a snake potentially can kill a person. When a person lends with interest not only does it not promote unity but also it fosters enmity and discord between one man and another.
The Kli Yakar says that Torah prohibits lending with interest because it results in the lender removing his trust from Hashem Yisborach. Normally a businessman puts his faith in Hashem because he is not guaranteed success in his endeavors and thus he turns to Hashem for Heavenly assistance. However a person that lends with interest is guaranteed that he will profit from his money and that results in a person forgetting that only Hashem Yisborach provides him with success and profit.

Fri, 16 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000 The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (3:48) says that the reason why the torah forbids us to slaughter a cow or sheep and its child in the same day, is to prevent the suffering of the mother of seeing her child killed. To make sure this doesn't happen the torah forbids it even if the mother cow doesn't actually witness the slaughter.

Although a cow has no "seichel", the Rambam explains that pity on one's children is instinctive and not logical therefore it affects animals as well.  

Why does the torah only forbid this by a cow and sheep and not other animals?  The Rambam explains that other animals are separated from their children when they finish nursing them.  However these domesticated animals always remains with their mother on the estate of the owner.  Therefore their connection remains even after the baby no longer nurses from its mother.

Thu, 08 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000 The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (3:47) has a very interesting take on Tumah and Tahara.  He explains that the Bais haMikdash is a place where one should be awed in its presence and fearful of it, U'Mikdashi Tira'u (VaYikra 19:30).  Like all things that awe us, when we get used to it, the awe "wears off".  Hashem does not want us to get to comfotable in the Bais HaMikdash so he he places great restrictions on admittance.  

Tumah and Tahara are the keys.   Hashem placed Tumah all around us to make sure that we cannot just walk in to the Bais HaMikdash whenever we want.  It will be a rare occasion that we find ourselves completely tahor.  If you haven't touched a neveila then you probably have come across a dead creature in your house.  If not then you or your wife are probably in a natural state of tumah and you are diqualified.  Then there is the whole hassle of purifying yourself from getting anywhere near a dead person, then Zav, Mitzora, etc..  In short staying Tahor is not easy.  All these restrictions ensure that when a person does finally enter the Bais HaMikdash he will enter with humility and awe of the holiness of the place that he stands in.  

This is just the way Hashem wants it with the exception of Kohanim who must do the avodah in the Bais HaMikdash.  Kohanim must be careful to stay tahor to assure their admittance.  Hashem is sympathetic to the pain of those grieving over family and therefore a Kohen may become tamei to his closest relatives.  However the Kohen Gadol who single handedly carries the burden of the entire nation on his shoulders cannot even afford this luxury.

Wed, 07 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Am Yisroel - Crushed Like Olives, Rise Like Oil

The Mitzvah of the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan and the Bais ha'Mikdash symbolized the supremacy of Klal Yisrael over the other nations. Klal Yisrael is compared to the olive. Jjust as oil rises over all other liquids and does not mix with them so too Klal Yisrael can never mix with the other nations. Just as the olive is crushed, so too Klal Yisrael is oppressed and tortured by the nations but eventually we rise to the top and are a light to the nations by means of the Torah which is referred to as Shemen Zayis Zach. (Tzror ha'Mor)

Mon, 11 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Lechem Ha'Panim - Keeping Challah On The Table Friday Night After the Se'udah

The Sefer HaChinuch says that the reason for this Mitzvah is that bread is the staple of life and nothing requires bracha from Hashem Yisborach more than the bread which is our main source of sustenance. How do we go about receiving bracha from Hashem Yisborach? The bracha of Hashem will take effect on the object of the Mitzvah as the Gemara says (Rosh HaShana 16a) "bring before me the Minchas Omer on Pesach so that the grain in the field will be blessed, pour water before me on Succos so that the rainfall of the year will be blessed, blow in front of me a Shofar from a ram in order that the Akeidas Yitzchak will be remembered. Consequently by carrying out the will of Hashem with the Mitzvah of the Lechem ha'Panim we will be zocheh to Siyata Dishmaya for our bread that we eat and is the symbol of sustenance.

It is brought down from the Arizal that since all the bracha for the whole week comes down on Shabbos, therefore we should leave the challah on the table all night in order for the bracha on our food to have a place to come to.

Fri, 08 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Mitzva 79: Judges! Give Charity on Your Own Time... and Dime

Rashi says that a judge shall not say, since the litigant is a poor person and the wealthy person is obligated to support him, I will side with the poor person in judgment and that way he will have an easy method of supporting himself.

The Bechor Shor says, do not attempt to be overly righteous and use your status as a judge as an opportunity to give charity to the poor. It is forbidden for a judge to show any favoritism at all as a judge. There are plenty of opportunities to give charity without subverting a judgment in order to accomplish that.

From here we see that perverse acts have no excuse; even if you want to be a Tzaddik. Don't be a Tzaddik on "Yenems" Cheshbon. You are more than welcome to write your own check if you really feel so bad.

Tue, 29 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tu B'Shvat: We Save the Whales... But We Are Not Ordinary Environmentalists

The Chinuch says that the aveira of cutting down a fruit tree is too teach us to love things which are good and have a purpose. We should stay far away from being destructive. He says that the middah of Chasidim and Anshei Maaseh is to love peace and pursue the good of every man and not to destroy even a single mustard seed. Pious people are saddened by seeing any form of destruction. Resha'im on the other hand love destruction and are thrilled by the destruction of the world.

The Tomer Devora, in a number of places, says that every single thing that Hashem created should be respected. If He didn't care every second about its continued existence it would cease to exist for another moment. Therefore mistreating anything in this world is an insult to Hashem. It is as if Hashem, the master creator, is saying to us "look at my beautiful handiwork" and we are answering "My goodness, how ugly and useless." Is there a bigger insult?

Humble people look at everything Hashem created and say to themselves that everything in creation is more important than they are. They see themselves as the lowest of all creation and therefore treat everything respectfully. Even wanton killing of bugs is not acceptable. One should not even tear off a leaf from a tree without good reason.

He further says that the only time destruction is permitted, is to raise something to a higher form of creation. So for example an animal (Chai) is permitted to be killed in order to feed a person (Midaber). The animal, through the person, lifts himself up from Chai to Midaber. This of course is only if the person does mitzvos and learns Torah. Otherwise he is no better than the animal and has no right to kill it.

 So what point separates us from environmentalist that value nature to the extent that they can shed human blood to save a blade of grass?  We respect nature because it is the work of Hashem.  They kill for nature because it is their Hashem.

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas VaYeilech - Mitzvas Hakhel: What Is The King Going To Speak About? - Mitzva #612

Invitations go out. Men, women, and even children come to the Bais Hamikdash. The King will address the nation for the first time in seven years. The stage is built the trumpets blow. All stand in silence to hear what the King will say. Will he make a new decree? Will he review the state of the nation? He opens up a Sefer Torah reads from Chumash Devarim says a few Brachos and the event is over.

Disappointment? Not at all. The Torah IS the state of the nation, the essence of our existence, our pride, and our glory. Traditionally any gathering of Jews for any reason or topic should be opened with Divrei Torah because at the end of the day that is all that counts.

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Ki Savo: Bikurim and Giving It Back - Mitzva # 606

Hashem Yisborach did not want that after we conquer Eretz Yisrael from the Kinanim that thoughts of haughtiness and conceit will come to mind, thinking that we conquered Eretz Yisrael with our own might and the strength of our hand. Therefore Hashem commanded us with the Mitzvah of Bikurim in order to teach us that the land was not given to us as an inheritance, rather it was given to us as a gift - but only on condition that we keep the Mitzvos and serve Hashem. When we read the Parshah of Bikurim we are giving acknowledgment and thanks to Hashem Yisborach for giving us the land as a gift and we are acknowledging that the land is not ours by inheritance, it was given to us conditionally if we keep His Mitzvos. (Kli Yakar)

The Torah commands us to bring Bikurim every year from the first of our fruits in order to teach us an important lesson in Emunah. A person should have in mind that nothing is truly his; everything in this world belongs to Hashem Yisborach as the Pasuk says "To Hashem is the world and its occupants." A person should not think that his property is his own and he collected it with his power and the strength of his hand. Such an attitude is the removal of the yoke of fear of Heaven from his back. In order to keep this important precept of faith in mind Hashem commanded us that every year we shall bring Bikurim to Hashem Yisborach and read out loud the Parshah of Bikurim and thank Hashem for all of the goodness that he bestowed upon us. (Abarbanel)

Mon, 27 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Chalitza: What's The Deal With The Shoes? - Parshas Ki Seitzei Mitzva #599

When the brother fulfills the Mitzvah of Yibum he keeps the memory of his brother alive by bearing children for his brother. However when he chooses not to do the Mitzvah of Yibum he does not bear children for his brother and his brother's memory will inevitably fade away. Therefore it is necessary to mourn for the brother and the Yavamah is commanded to take off the shoe of the Yavam as an act of mourning. . (Rabbeinu Bachyah)

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Mitzvas Ma'akeh: You Chose Your Own Life - Parshas Ki Seitzei Mitzva #546

Rabbeinu Bachaya says that the Midrash says that if a person falls from your roof it was predestines from the time of Creation, even so we must ensure that we will not be the cause of his fall. The Midrash is teaching us that everyone was created by the will of Hashem Yisborach and all of the occurrences in everyone's life are predestined from the beginning of the Creation. Not only is everything that will occur predestined, but also the method of a person's death is also predestined.

A person's livelihood is also in the same category, including whether a person will make a nice livelihood or will struggle and whether a person will be independent or will be dependent on others for their livelihood. Our sages teach us that a person at the time of his creation is given knowledge of the future occurrence of his life and acquiesces to his creation- a person is created willingly. With respect to this concept our sages teach us that a person is destined to fall from the six days of Creation, yet even so there is a great punishment for the person that caused it.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Shiluach HaKen: Why Chase The Mother Bird Away? - Parshas Ki Seitzei Mitzva # 545

The eggs in the nest and the small chicks are for the most part not fit for eating, and by virtue of the obligation to send the mother away, most of the time the person won't end up taking the eggs since they are anyway not so good for eating. If the Torah is so merciful towards these small beings certainly one should be merciful to bigger beings such as one's fellow man. One should not ask how can we give a reason for Shiluach ha'Ken when the Mishna says that one who says that Hashem Yisborach is merciful on the Ken Tzipor shall be silenced. The answer is that Mishna follows the opinion that the Mitzvos do not have a reason and we are explaining the Mitzvos according to the opinion that the Mitzvos do have a reason. (Rambam- Moreh Nevuchim)

The Torah is training us with this Mitzvah not to be cruel and unfeeling. (Ramban)

Alternatively the reason for the Mitzvah is to teach us a lesson in Divine Providence, that we shall not do any action that may lead to the extinction of an entire species. The Divine Providence of Hashem Yisborach guarantees the continued existence of each species. Although only the human specie merits individual Divine Providence for each and every individual however Hashem does guard the existence of watch specie of animal collectively. The purpose of this Mitzvah is to teach us to keep in mind this important concept in Divine Providence. (Re'ah)

Mon, 20 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Sharp Dressed Kohen - Parshas Shoftim - Mitzva #508 Reishis HaGeiz The role of the Kohanim among the people is not only to do the Avodah but also to influence the people and to direct them down the path of Avodas Hashem. It is therefore imperative that the Kohanim dress respectfully so that their outward appearance does not in any way detract from their influence that they are trying to exert over the people.

Fri, 17 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Seven Terrible Nations: Parshas Shoftim - Mitzva #528 We are obligated to kill a member of the seven nations if we can do so without putting ourselves at risk. Even though that Dovid ha'Melech killed very many of them and almost completely wiped them out, there are still some of them left that are mixed up among the nations and if we find them we must kill them.

The seven nations that lived in Eretz Yisrael prior to its capture at the hands of Yehoshua Bin Nun were rooted in the terrible evil of idol worship and it is part of their very fiber. Not only did they originate many types of idol worship but they also engaged in all types of abominations that are hated by Hashem Yisborach. Therefore the Torah instructs to wipe them off the face of the earth so that there will be no trace left of their evildoings.

We should not ask the question that if these seven nations were inevitably going to be wiped off the earth why did Hashem Yisborach create them at all? The answer is that nothing is inevitable everyone has free choice and these seven nations chose to go down the path of evildoing and destruction. Another possible answer is that Hashem Yisborach created them because of one Tzadik who descended from them (such as Iyov, who according to Rashi in Parshas Korach was from the seven nations). Hashem Yisborach sometimes created entire nations for the sole purpose of one Tzadik because Hashem Yisborach does not need to toil at all and He does whatever He chooses. (Chinuch)

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Eating With Tzadikim - Parshas Re'eh Mitzva #442

It is a Mitzvah to eat Ma'aser Sheni and Bechoros in Yerushalayim in from of Hashem Yisborach. This is a very important Mitzvah as the Pasuk says that it is for the purpose of teaching us to fear Hashem Yisborach. When we bring our Ma'aser Sheni and Bechoros to Yerushalayim we will find the Kohanim and Leviyim- the teachers of Torah and they will teach us Avodah and Yirah. (Ramban in Sefer ha'Mitzvos and Rabbeinu Bachyah)

Tue, 07 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Why Would A Jew Destroy The Mizbayach? Parshas Re'eh Mitzva #437

It is forbidden to demolish the Mizbayach or to erase the name of Hashem. R. Yishmael says would it cross anyone's mind that a Jewish person would demolish the Mizbayach? Instead the Pasuk is teaching is not to engage in the deeds of the Goyim and cause the Mizbayach to be destroyed. (Rashi)

If a person treats divine objects with the proper respect and honor, his heart will be filled with fear and trepidation of Hashem Yisborach. (Chinuch)

Mon, 06 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
There Is No Place Like Yerushalayim! - Parshas Re'eh Mitzva #439

The Chizkuni say that reason Torah does not allow bringing Korbonos anywhere outside Yerushalayim. The reason for this Mitzvah is because sacrificing on the Bamos (altars) outside of Yerushalayim will eventually cause Klal Yisrael to refrain from ascending to Yerushalayim for the Regel. Inevitably it will also cause Klal Yisrael to start bring sacrifices to Avodah Zorah.

The Abarbanel warns that a Korban that is brought anywhere other than Yerushalayim will not bring the person any success since it is being brought against the will of Hashem.

Sun, 05 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Why Would A Jew Destroy The Mizbayach? Parshas Re'eh Mitzva #437

It is forbidden to demolish the Mizbayach or to erase the name of Hashem. R. Yishmael says would it cross anyone's mind that a Jewish person would demolish the Mizbayach? Instead the Pasuk is teaching is not to engage in the deeds of the Goyim and cause the Mizbayach to be destroyed. (Rashi)

If a person treats divine objects with the proper respect and honor, his heart will be filled with fear and trepidation of Hashem Yisborach. (Chinuch)

Sun, 05 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas V'Eschanan Mitzva 418: The Big Diference between Fearing Punishment and Loving Reward The Kinas Sofrim asks why is it that the Rambam says you earn the Mitzva of fearing Hashem even if you only fear punishment and not Hashem's awe, but by the mitzva of loving H-shem if you love Hashem because you will be rewarded you do not have the mitzva? Your love of Hashem needs to be a pure unadulterated feeling of love for no ulterior motive.  He answers that love for the sake of reward is not love of H-shem rather love of oneself whereas fear of punishment is fear of the one who will punish you.

Thu, 26 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Va'Eshchanan Mitzva 424: Hashem Doesn't Need To Prove Anything to You. DON'T TEST HIM!

The Ramban says on the pasuk "Lo Sinasu Es Hashem" that it is forbidden to put the Torah and the Nevi'im to a test. It is not proper to make our service of Hashem conditional on success and prosperity or on a sign or miracle. It is also not proper to serve Hashem with doubts and misgivings. Instead a person should make up his mind to serve Hashem with a complete heart regardless of whether he will meet up with success or not.

It is possible for a person to serve Hashem properly and follows the ways of the Torah and still have misfortune befall him. Such a person should believe that all occurrences that befall him are just and righteous. A person should react to unfortunate occurrences with equanimity and acceptance.

Wed, 25 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
The Chazzan Who Couldn't Sing - Mitzva #414 Parshas Devarim

A Chazzan who is a ben torah, yireh shamayim, and has all the other qualifications brought down in the Shulchan Aruch is wonderful to have but...he better know how to sing. Same thing with judges. Political appointments are assur. You must choose qualified people.

The Rambam says that appointing a judge who is not fitting, or is not knowledgeable in the wisdom of the Torah, even if he is a wonderful person with many qualities, it is transgression of a Lo Saseh. Chazal say ‘One may want to appoint a person as judge because of his attractiveness, or because of his might, or as a result of his being a relative, if he does so the judge will end up acquitting the guilty and convicting the innocent; not out of malice but rather out of ignorance. Chazal say anyone who appoints a judge who is not fit for the position is as if he planted an Asheirah tree. Chazal also teach us that the Pasuk that says ‘Do not make with Me Gods of gold or silver' is referring to a judge who is appointed because of his wealth.

Tue, 17 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Levi'im And Murderers, Neighbors By Accident? - Mitzva Parshas Maasei

Klal Yisrael is commanded to give Shevet Levi cities to live in because Shevet Levi was not given a portion in Eretz Yisrael. Among those cities that were given to the Levi'im were cities that served as cities of refuge for those that murdered unintentionally. The Levi'im were of such great stature their cities were chosen to serve as cities of refuge because the great holiness of their places of residence has the potential to atone for the murderer.

Another reason why the cities of the Levi'im were used for refuge is because of the sublime character traits and great wisdom of the Levi'im. Since the Levi'im were of such great stature there is little concern that the Levi'im would take revenge on the murderer even if one of their own was the victim. (Chinuch)

The Kli Yakar says the cities of the Levi'im were used for Arei Miklat in order to make life easier for the exiled murderers. Normally when a person is exiled from his land he faces the prospect of being regarded as a refugee. However that concern is alleviated by virtue of being exile to the cities of the Levi'im who are also regarded as refugees since they do not have a portion in Eretz Yisrael. Thus there is no concern that the Levi'im will regard the murderers as refugees since they themselves are refugees. For the same reason Yosef displaced the residents of Mitzrayim at the time that the Shevatim came down to Mitzrayim so that they could not mock the Shevatim for being refugees.

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Commuting Sentences: Bleeding Hearts Not Invited - Mitzva Parshas Masei

It is assur to allow a murderer to pay his way out of his punishment by giving redemption. The Chinuch explains that if it would be permitted to allow him to redeem himself, the threat of punishment would vanish and those that have sufficient money would have no fear of punishment. The inevitable result of such a policy would be that people would kill with impunity knowing that they could always buy their way out of punishment.

Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsh expounds on the idea that the Dinim to put someone to death murder or to send him to an Ir Miklat for murdering unintentionally, are not laws that were enacted by man. These laws were given to us by Hashem in the Torah and we have no right to commute the sentence of the violator in any way at all. We our merely instruments to carry out the will of Hashem and we have no right to assert our own agenda at all.

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Mikva For Murder: The Purifying Powers Of Arei Miklat - Mitzva # 410 Parshas Masei

The Meshech Chochma reveals the deeper idea behind the Ir Miklat. Murdering unintentionally he says, brings tumah to the Neshama and going to galus in the Arei Miklat purifies the neshama just like a Mikvah purifies the body. This type of Tahara is effective even in death and for that reason Chazal say that if the murderer dies before he runs to an Ir Miklat his bones are brought there for burial.

The murderer may not leave the Ir Miklat immediately because the tahara is only completed upon the death of the Kohen Gadol. Just like if someone immerses in a Mikvah he may not eat Terumah immediately and he must wait until nightfall, so too someone who is exiled to an Ir Miklat, although the process of purifying his Neshama starts immediately, it is not completed until the Kohen Gadol dies.

Tue, 10 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Korban Tamid - The Secret Behind Torah and Parnasa: Mitzva # 401 Parshas Pinchas

The Netziv says that the Korban Tamid that was brought each morning and evening in the Midbar was a representation of the light of the Torah. The morning Tamid represents the written Torah and the Tamid of the evening represent the oral Torah. However after Klal Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael the Tamid took on a new meaning. It was brought for the purpose of conveying the blessing of livelihood to Klal Yisrael.

Mon, 02 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
3 Reasons Why Hashem Wants To Distance Us From the Dead? - Mitzva # 398 Parshas Chukas

The Torah is stricter with the Tu'mah of a Meis than with any other Tu'mah. The reason for the stringency says the Bechor Shor is so that the relatives of the Meis will not spend too much time with the Meis and go overboard with their mourning. Alternatively so that people will not transgress the prohibition of making requests of the Me'isim or of using a Baal Ov. Another reason is to protect the dignity of the Me'isim so that people will use the skin to make leather flasks or to use the bones to make utensils.

Mon, 18 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
The Chemistry of Water and The Paradox of Para Adumah - Mitzva # 399 Parshas Chukas

How can it be that the same water and ashes of the Parah Adumah that purifies the Tamei also conveys Tum'ah to those that are Tahor? The Kli Yaker answers that it is the nature of all organisms to be energized by its diametrical opposite. Therefore even though water conveys purity but a food item is not susceptible to Tum'ah until it comes into contact with water. The purity of the water energizes the force of Tum'ah which is its opposite.

Another example is that our sages teach us that the evil inclination persecutes Klal Yisrael more than the other nations. In particular Torah scholars are a favorite target of the evil inclination for the reason that they are his exact opposite and that energizes the evil inclination to persecute them. Therefore the water that symbolizes purity is mixed with the ashes that symbolize Tum'ah. When the mixture is sprinkled on someone Tamei he is affected by his opposite which is the pure water and he becomes Tahor while a person that is Tahor is affected by his opposite which is the Tamei ashes and he becomes Tamei.

Sun, 17 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Kohanim and Leviyim, Whose Payroll Are They On? - Mitzva # 390 Parshas Korach

The Kohanim are not like the Leviyim who are regarded as hired hands of Klal Yisrael and are given the Maaser as wages for their Avodah. The Kohanim do not do the Avodah in exchange for the Matnas Kehunah. The gifts that are given to Kohanim are just that; gifts, but they are not regarded as wages to the Kohen. Even if the Matnas Kehunah were not given to the Kohen they would have Kedushah and would be forbidden to a Yisrael. Therefore they are not wages given to the Kohen because they never belonged to the Yisroel at all.

This is contrast to the Ma'aser given to the Levi as the Ma'aser has no Kedushah and thus is permitted to non-Kohanim. Since the Avodah of the Kohanim is not on exchange for any wages it is an Avodah of great holiness and honor. The Avodah is of such holiness that a non-Kohen that does the Avodah is put to death. as opposed to the Avodah of the Leviyim, if a non-Levi does the Avodah he is not Chayav Misah. The Avodah of the Leviyim doesn't have the same holiness and therefore there is no Chiyuv Misha for a Zar that does their Avodah. (Netziv)

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Levi'im: They Got A Good Deal! - Mitzva # 395 Parshas Korach

The Leviyim are given the Maaser as a compensation for not being given a portion in Eretz Yisrael. They receive even more than their share because their portion in Eretz Yisrael would have been only 1/12 and now they are receiving 1/10 of the produce. Additionally they received the Ma'aser so that they will be free to guard the Bais ha'Mikdash and will not have to spend their time plowing and planting. (Bechor Shor)

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Bais HaMikdash Inc. - A Well Run Operation: Mitzva # 389 Parshas Korach

Look at every well run company and you will see a common thread among them. It is a stable environment with very little turnover of employees. Highly specialized employees are happy in their roles and they are very good at what they do.

It is a Mitzva for the Levi'im to do Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash. Some of the Levi'im perform the Avodah of the Shir (song) while others are the gatekeepers. The Chinuch says it is a great honor for the King that there should be specified people that are permanently appointed to serve in His palace and that it is not necessary for anyone else to have a role in His service. It is a dishonor to the King that there should be a constant changing of the guards, instead the same people should be perpetual servants for the King.

Tue, 12 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000  The primary purpose of the guarding of the Mikdash is to keep non-Kohanim away from the Avodah. However in addition there is another purpose which is so that the Kohanim and Leviyim will be vigilant to carry out the Avodah in the manner that it is laid down by the Torah without injecting any ides of their own. (R. Shamshon Raphael Hirsh)   

The Kohanim and Leviyim are commanded to guard the Mikdash and constantly patrol around the Mikdash for the entire night every single night. The guarding of the Mikdash is for the purpose of honoring it and glorifying and it is not because we are in fear of the enemy. (Chinuch)

The guarding of the Bais ha'Mikdash is to elevate the status of the Mikdash as the Midrash states a palace that doesn't have guards can't be compared to a palace that does have guards. (Rabbeinu Bachyah)

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shelach Mitzva # 385: Take Challah and Enhance Your Pleasures

No facet of our lives is bereft of Avodas Hashem. Even our basic needs can be steeped with Holiness. The Chinuch says a person's life depends on eating bread so Hashem wants to infuse this mundane necessary activity with Kedusha. Therefore He commanded us to separate a piece of the dough and give it to the Kohen. This not only helps in the world to come but also adds bracha to the physical dough itself.

It is brought down that the letters of Chalah (Ches, Lamed, Hey) is an acronym for Chelek L'Olam Habah. Maybe not coincidentally it also is Chelek L'Olam HaZeh.

Similarly, the gemara says that food of Jews has a special ingredient called "Shabbos". We all know that when cooking and baking food for Shabbos if one has in mind that it is special for Shabbos and says L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh, the food has a special heavenly taste on Shabbos.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shlach Mitzva #387: Netziv - Cashing In On Mitzvos You Perform

In the Parsha of Tzitzis we are commanded not to stray after the heart and the eyes. The gemara interprets this to mean heresy and prohibited relationships. In a novel interpretation the Netziv says this pasuk is not only applicable to committing Aveiros but also to performing the Mitzvos. If a person does a Mitzvah but strays after his heart and eyes and does the Mitzvah for a different purpose other than because Hashem commanded us to do this Mitzvah he has not fulfilled his obligation for this Mitzvah.

What a shame it is for a person who spends a lifetime doing Chesed, Kibud Av V'Eim and thousands of other mitzvos yet pass up the opportunity to receive eternal reward. Know your taryag mitzvos and have them in mind always since you are doing them anyway!

Tue, 05 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shlach: Tzitzis and Some Secrets Behind Them (4, 5, 8, 8) The Baal Haturim says that Hashem commanded us to make 4 Tzitzis at the four corners of the garment so that whichever way one turns he will be reminded of the Mitzvos. Every one of the Tzitzis has 5 knots to remind is of the five books of the Torah. There are 8 strings to remind us not to commit transgressions with any one of the eight limbs that prompt is to do Aveiros, the ears eyes, mouth, nose, hands, feet, ervah and the heart. If one successfully guards himself from transgression he will merit ascending above 8 heavens and if one commits transgressions he will be judged with 8 punishments, punshishment to the body in the grave (Chibut HaKever) and the seven levels of Gehinom.

Mon, 04 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Mitzva # 365: Sotah - The Magic Potion

Klal Yisrael is unique among the nations that the Torah gave us a method of discovering the truth regarding a woman whose actions have resulted in suspicion. Klal Yisrael is sanctified in every way and therefore Hashem granted us a miraculous method of clearing up the suspicion of the husband through the "Mai Sotah" or Mayim HaMararim"; the cursed water. By means of this Mitzvah, harmony and love will be restored to the Jewish home and out children will be holy. (Chinuch)

Fri, 25 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Mitzva # 377: Korban Nazir - What Did He Do Wrong?

A Nazir is on a very high level as a result of separating himself from some of the enjoyments of this world. He is on such a high level that the Pasuk compares him to a Navi. The Ramban says that since he is now descending from this great level he must bring a Korban as Kaparah for giving up his Nezirus instead of continuing on as a Nazir.

Another approach is quite the opposite.  The Nazir's separating himself from enjoyment is his aveira.  Hashem created everything for people to use.  We should learn how to properly utilize it to serve Hashem and not ban it altogether.  This is not the Jewish way.  While the Nazir has attained a special level of kedusha, the Torah makes a point of showing that there are better ways of doing it.

Fri, 25 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Aseres HaDibros: Do Not Make a Pesel - Is Hashem Too Busy For Our Trivial Needs? Although many people understand that there is no power in the world outside of Hashem, yet they mistakenly believe that considering Hashem's greatness and all encompassing power it would not be proper to daven to Hashem for every minor detail of their life. Instead they choose to pray to an intermediary, such as one of the hosts in the heavens. They honor the intermediary, bow down to it and bless it in the hopes that it will do their bidding and be an intermediary between Hashem and themselves. The intermediary is referred to as a pesel (invalid). It does not have any power of its own it is only an intermediary therefore it is referred to as an invalid. This is the mistake that was made by the majority of those that worshipped avoda zora.

Sun, 20 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Aseres Hadibros: Lo Sirtzach - Who Has the Right To End Life? When someone is killed it diminishes the presence of Hashem in this world.  Man was made in the image of Hashem.  Even if a person has given up on his life and begs you to kill him, it is not permissible to kill him.  Each person has a G-dly neshamsa, and it is not only forbidden to kill others but it is also forbidden to commit suicide.  You may not forfeit your own life because you do not have the right to take away the image and presence of Hashem in this world.

Thu, 17 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Aseres Hadibros: 3 Good Reasons To Honor Your Parents

Chinuch - One of the most important character traits is to recognize and repay those that have done good things Hashem for us (hakaros hatov). A failure to have hakaros hatov is a an extreme lack of character and integrity. We must have hakaros hatov both to Hashem and to our fellow man. Certainly our parents who brought us into the world and put so much effort into us deserve every honor we could possibly give them.

Ramban - Although Hashem created us, our parents had a share in our creation. Hashem is our first father, and our parent is also our father. Honoring our parents is compared to the honor we must give to Hakadosh Boruch Hu. We must give honor to our parents with some of the same ways we honor Hakadosh Boruch Hu.

Aruch Hashulchan - The mitzvah to honor your parents is a mitzvah sichli (logical mitzvah). However, we are obligated to keep this mitzvah because Hashem commanded us, not because it seems logical to us. Therefore the torah says (Devarim 5:16), honor your father and mother as Hashem your G-d commanded you. Meaning to say, don't keep this mitzvah because it is logical but because Hashem commanded us.

Tue, 15 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Aseres Hadibros: Anochi Hashem - Is It A Mitzva? If Yes How Do You Believe?

The Bahag does not count this among the Taryag Mitzvos. The reason given by the Ramban is that believing in Hashem is the fundamental belief upon which the Mitzvos were given and therefore not counted among them. It is merely a prerequisite to start doing all the mitzvos.

Opinions vary widely whether belief through tradition is sufficient or one must know through proof that Hashem exists. The Radvaz in his Metzudas Dovid says that by learning Kabalah one fulfills the Mitzvah.

Sun, 13 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Mitzva #330 Counting the Years of Yovel - Practical and Prudent Bais Din is required to count the year of Yovel the night of Rosh Hashana just like we count the omer.  The Ramban gives a very practical reason fo this mitzvah.  He says the purpose of this Mitzvah is so that the Bais Din will not lose count of the years of the Yovel.

The Chinuch takes a more philisophical approach and says that Hashem Yisborach wants us to keep in mind that everything is His and eventually everything will revert back to the place that it was intended to go because it all belongs to Hashem. By keeping this concept in mind we will distance ourselves from stealing our friend's field since we know that everything returns to its intended place eventually.

Thu, 10 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000