Erev Shabbos Kodesh Eikev Inspiration 5776

In this week’s parasha we read the second passage of Shema, where it is said (Devarim 11:13-15) וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל מִצְוֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱ-לֹהֵיכֶם וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם: {יד} וְנָתַתִּי מְטַר אַרְצְכֶם בְּעִתּוֹ יוֹרֶה וּמַלְקוֹשׁ וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ וְתִירשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ: {טו} וְנָתַתִּי עֵשֶׂב בְּשָׂדְךָ לִבְהֶמְתֶּךָ וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ, And it will be that if you hearken to My commandments that I command you today to love HaShem, your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, the I shall provide rain for your Land in its proper time, the early and the late rains, that you may gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. I shall provide grass in your field for your cattle and you will eat and you will be satisfied. In Parashas Bechukosai the Torah echoes similar theme, stating that if we toil in Torah study, we will be rewarded with timely rains and the earth giving forth its yield. Yet, there is one subtle difference. In our parasha the Torah states וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ, that you may gather in your grain, implying that we have to work the land, whereas in Bechukosai it appears that the work will be done for us. Indeed, the Ramban (Ibid) writes that those blessings will only occur in the זמן השלימות, i.e. post Moshiach’s arrival. We can therefore say that here the Torah is referring to the pre-Messianic Era when we are still required to work.

I would like, however, to suggest a different interpretation that will shed light on our entire service of HaShem. The Gemara (Brachos 35b) cites a dispute between Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who maintains that one must be preoccupied in Torah study and make his livelihood secondary, whereas Rabbi Yishmael posits that one has to incorporate work into Torah study, as it is said וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ. (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai interprets this verse to be referring to a time when the Jewish People are not fulfilling HaShem’s will and they do not earn the reward of having their work performed by others.) What does this mean that one should incorporate one’s work in to Torah study?

The answer to this question can be found in the word that the Torah uses to commence this passage, and that is the word וְהָיָה, literally translated as “and it will be.” The Gemara states that the word והיה connotes a sense of joy. The Maharal explains that the letter וא”ו transforms the word היה, which means it was, i.e. a status of no hope or future, to something that one anticipates, thus giving one a sense of joy. We can add that the word וְהָיָה contains the letters of HaShem’s Name. Furthermore, the first letters of the words יוֹרֶה וּמַלְקוֹשׁ וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ equals 26, the sum of the letters of HaShem’s Name. The Mishna (Avos 2:2) states יָפֶה תַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה עִם דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ  שֶׁיְּגִיעַת שְׁנֵיהֶם מְשַׁכַּחַת עוון, Torah study is good with work, as the toil in them causes one’s sins to be forgotten. This dictum can be applied to the verse here, that if one incorporates the Name of HaShem in the joy of Torah study and mitzvah performance and in his work, then he will earn all the rewards mentioned here, and the וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ is no longer a burden but an act of joy, as his livelihood supports his Torah study and mitzvah performance. While this level is still deemed to be pre-Messianic Era, we can certainly be proud of our achievements in Torah study, mitzvah performance and in earning a livelihood if all of our actions are performed with joy.
HaShem should gladden our hearts in this time period that is referred to as the שבע דנחמתא, the seven weeks of comfort, and we should merit the ultimate joy with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a JOYOUS Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Eikev 5776
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