Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Behar Leviticus 25-26)
26:1 You shall not make idols for yourselves and you shall not erect for yourselves a statue or an offering stone. And you shall not place in your land a stone slab to prostrate (yourselves) upon it, for I am Hashem your G-D.
Rashi writes that verses fourteen through forty-seven of the previous chapter suggest a story of someone whose spiritual shortfall prompted Heaven to make him experience a series of financial calamities, each worse than the one before it.
Specifically, he will first need to sell personal items (25:14). If he does not repent then he will come to sell his ancestral land (25:15). If he does not mend his ways he will feel the need to sell his home (25:29). If he still does not repent then he will come to borrow with interest (25:36). And if he still does not change then he will sell himself into bondage (25:39), to a Jew and then to a non-Jew (25:37).
Rashi identifies the spiritual shortfall that triggered these misfortunes. He says that the person coveted wealth and became suspected as one who was not keeping the laws of the Sabbatical Year.
Note that the person was only suspected by his peers as not observing the Sabbatical Year. This raises the bar for how we are expected to behave, a nation that experiences the miracle of surviving and even thriving through the Sabbatical Years.
It is interesting that Rashi adds the flaw of coveting money. At first glance this does not appear to be connected to anything in our weekly Torah reading.
The following came to mind.
The cessation of farming for the entire Sabbatical Year is a test of one's confidence in G-D that He will provide for ones needs and those of his family. For those who have not developed this confidence it can be likened to living on the edge for an extended period. But one who has a substantial cash reserve is typically insulated. He can come to feel secure and in control of his fate.
Coveting and accumulating money can indicate a lack of confidence in G-D's promise to care for us during the Sabbatical Year. And if others see a person accumulate wealth around this period then the enthusiasm that they will need to survive and thrive may cool off.
Therefore, if the person continues to accumulate wealth despite his falling into ill fortune a number of times then Heaven lets him slide into bondage, where all will see that his fate is under the control of another person.
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