Parashat Behar-Bechukotai

Paying forward By Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky
Lending with interest is something that (for Jews) is prohibited. Hashem demands a certain relationship between brothers and sisters that prevents them from profiting from those who – through their misfortune – need loans. So the Torah commands us this week: “If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him — proselyte or resident — so that he can live with you. Do not take from him interest and increase; and you shall fear your G-d — and let your brother live with you. Do not give him your money for interest, and do not give your food for increase.” (Leviticus 25:35-37). The Torah then juxtaposes what seems to be a veiled admonition by reasserting Hashem’s omnipotent authority in the context of the prohibition of taking interest: “I am Hashem, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be God unto you” (ibid v. 38).
What connection could exist between the prohibition against taking interest from Jews and the exodus from Egypt?
Rabbi Paysach Krohn relates the story of a 40-year old man who passed away and left a young widow and orphans. The oldest son, Yosef, took the helm of his father’s business as the breadwinner for the surviving children. It was not easy; competitors took advantage of his na’vet and inexperience.
One day, in the midst of his struggles, a Mr. Hans approached him with an envelope. It contained two thousand dollars. Yosef was taken aback. “Please,” he said, “I am working to make a living. I do not want any charity!” Mr. Hans explained. “Take it as a loan. When things get better you can repay me.” It took almost two years, but the time came when Yosef was on his feet. He went to see Mr. Hans. In his hand was an envelope containing two thousand dollars. “I am not taking the money,” said Mr. Hans. “But,” retorted Yosef, “you said it was only a loan!” Hans smiled and nodded his head. “It was, but sit down and let me explain. “A while back I was in difficult straits. A fellow named Mr. Stein came to me with money. I, like you, did not want to accept it. Mr. Stein assured me that the money was merely a loan, and I accepted it. Within a few years, I was able to pay it back. “When I approached Mr. Stein, he refused to accept the money.” Hans continued his story. “When I began arguing with him, he explained. I want you to pay it back, but pay it in the following manner: When you see someone else struggling, lend him the two thousand dollars. And when he comes to pay it back, you too shall refuse. Then explain to him the terms I just told you.
Yosef understood the message and followed the instructions. Somewhere out there in our community, those two thousand dollars are floating around, while waiting to be returned, rather loaned, once again. The K’tav Sofer explains: When we left Egypt, we should have left with just the shirts on our backs. But this was not so. We left with gold and silver from the Egyptians, and after the splitting of the Yam Suf our portfolios increased measurably with the Egyptian booty that washed ashore. G-d gave all of that to us. But he stipulated one minor request. When we take the wealth He gave us and pass it around, we are asked not to derive any benefit from it. We are told lend it to your brothers without a profit. We owe the Almighty for all we have. The least we can do is pay it forward without interest.
facts of life: take this serious
“The darkest clouds have the most rain!”
By Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l
It says in this week parsha  I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit.
The Ramban writes about the many beautiful effects of nature from rain falling in its proper time. The entire world is enhanced! The air is purified, the oceans swell, the trees bear fruit and the flowers blossom. The crops grow and mankind is satiated. These are all direct and indirect blessings that come from rain (GESHEM). In fact, the entire world is truly dependent on the blessing of rain. Just as the world was set into motion, only after Adam Harishon the first man prayed for rain, so too, it is rain that brings gpa (bounty) into this world. It is an awesome gift from Hashem and a blessing will come if we follow the ways of the Torah. With this in mind, I would like to ask you a personal question. The last time you opened your eyes in the morning and saw dark clouds and rain pouring from the sky, what was your reaction? Did you jump out of bed with great enthusiasm, or did you moan and groan and mutter something about getting wet as you pulled the covers back over your head? Imagine how you would feel if you bought your children a beautiful and expensive gift and all they did was complain! Instead of a thank you, all you get are grumpy children, completely ignoring your wonderful gift! How terrible would that be? Well isn’t that what we are doing to our Father in Shamayim, who literally “showers” us with His abundant blessings of rain, and instead of seeing it as a blessing, we perceive it as a curse? Sometimes in life, a blessing can be wet, messy, uncomfortable, noisy or in many ways inconvenient! Our job though, is to recognize the blessings in our lives and appreciate them! We must appreciate rain and thank Hashem for the many blessings it brings! R’ Avigdor Miller zt”l was known to say, “The darkest clouds have the most rain!” Our vision is often “clouded” as we tend to complain about the darkness rather than see the light. We complain about our jobs, our spouses and our children! We turn our blessings into curses because we don’t focus on the blessing! Let us realize Hashem’s berachot and appreciate His kindness to us! Guess what!
simcha corner
I think weekends are made in china ….
They do not last long
The story is told of the atheist who accosted a rabbi.
“Do you believe in life after death?”
The rabbi has no time to reply.
“Well it’s a load of rubbish!” shouted the Atheist. “I believe in science, evolution, survival of the fittest, and when we die, that’s it! No eternal life, no judgment, and no G-d!” The Atheist continues his assault against the rabbi tirelessly.
“Eternal life! Eternal life! Ha! Its all pie in the sky when you die. When I die that’s it, the end, no eternal life, no nothing.” He continues, until he reaches his climax, “I will be buried six feet under when I die and that’s it! Nothing! Caput! When I die I am utterly convinced that that will be the end of me!”
“Well thank G-d for that” replies the rabbi.
torah thoughts and pearls of wisdom from PIRKEI AVOT
Rav Elyashiv Distinguishes Between Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma’s And Bilam’s Similar Reaction To Money
The Mishna in Pirkei Avot (5:22) warns not to be greedy like Bilam. The Medrash Rabba proves that Bilam was greedy because he put money on the highest pedestal by saying even “if he received a house full of gold and silver he can defy Hashem’s word.”
Strangely in the following Perek the Mishna tells a story of Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma who while on the road bumped into a person who offered him a vast fortune to come live in his city. His reply, eerily similar to Bilam, was that if he was given “all the gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls in the world he would only live in a Makom Torah. Why was this different than Bilam’s attitude?
Rav Elyashiv in the Divrei Aggada answers that Bilam wanted to curse Bnei Yisroel but to show how tightly his powers were restricted he wanted to show that even the most important thing in the world cannot move him. That “thing” should have been life itself. By speaking of money he placed it ahead of life on his priority list.
Rav Yosi however was offered money to do something that was in his power to do if he chose. Not to go live in a city that is not a Makon Torah does not require one to give up his life. Therefore he responded that no pleasures in the entire world would lure him away from his precious Torah because money was not important to him.
Parsha Summary
First Aliyah: Parshas BeHar begins with the laws of Shemitah and Yovel. The land lay fallow every 7th year, and after the 49th year, (7×7) it lay fallow a 2nd year for the 50th as well.
second Aliya: Hashem (G-d) promises (25:21-22) that He will provide for the nation, regardless of the land being fallow. No one will go hungry. The return, at Yovel, of all hereditary lands to their original owners is commanded.
third Aliya: The difference between the sale of a property in a walled city vs. an unwalled city is established. Continuing the theme of providing and dependency, we are commanded to provide for our impoverished brethren. Just as Hashem provides for us, we must provide for each other.
fourth Aliya: The freeing of all Jewish slaves at the Yovel is detailed. The Torah discusses redeeming a Jewish slave from a non-Jewish owner, and the formula for how much to pay the non-Jewish master. We begin reading BeChukotai. The opening verses describe the wondrous successes awaiting the nation, so long as they follow Hashem’s Mitzvot.
fifth Aliya: This Aliya is called the Tocheche – The Rebuke. It is a lengthy description of the terrible punishments awaiting the nation, if they do not follow the Torah. It is customary for the Baal Koreh (Reader) to have this Aliya, and to read it faster and more quietly than the rest of the Parsha.
sixth Aliya: The established prices for endowments of individual worth, or that of an animal, are listed.
seventh Aliya: The final portion deals with endowments of property to the Bait Hamikdash.