Erev Shabbos Kodesh Re’eh Inspiration 5776

In this week’s parasha the Torah offers us a Segulah, loosely translated as a good luck charm, for one to  become wealthy. It is said (Devarim 14:2-23) עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ הַיֹּצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה שָׁנָה שָׁנָה: {כג} וְאָכַלְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם מַעְשַׂר דְּגָנְךָ תִּירֹשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ וּבְכֹרֹת בְּקָרְךָ וְצֹאנֶךָ לְמַעַן תִּלְמַד לְיִרְאָה אֶת יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ כָּל הַיָּמִים, you shall tithe the entire crop of your planting, the produce of the field, year by year. And you shall eat before HaShem, your G-d, in the place that he will choose to rest His Name there -the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, and the firstborn of your cattle and your flocks, so that you will learn to fear HaShem, your G-d, all the days. The Gemara (Taanis 9a) interprets the words עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר to mean give tithe to become rich. If this is the case, why does the Torah state that one who gives Maaser Sheini will become G-d fearing? Are there two blessings here or is the Torah teaching us something else?

As we commence the month of Elul, we begin reciting the chapter in Tehillim of L’Dovid HaShem Ori, where Dovid HaMelech informs us that HaShem is our trust and our strength. What does this message have to do with Elul?

In order to shed light on this chapter of Tehillim , it is worthwhile to examine the promise that HaShem made to Aviram Avinu, where He informed Avraham that the Jewish People would be enslaved in Egypt and after their years of bondage, they would go out with great wealth. The Vilna Gaon interprets the words (Bereishis 15:14) וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכֻשׁ גָּדוֹל, and afterwards they will leave with great wealth, to be referring to the Revelation of the Divine Presence upon liberation. The Vilna Gaon is teaching us that true wealth is spiritual growth and closeness to HaShem. While a person’s mind may be primarily focused on material wealth, the true aspirations of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is to proclaim HaShem’s glory throughout the world. The subsequent joy of Sukkos is not merely the joy associated with the yield on one’s produce. Rather, the Gemara (Sukkah ) states that one who did not witness the joy of the Simchas Bais HaShoeva, the festivities associated with the Drawing of the Water, did not witness joy in his lifetime. This refers to the joy of celebrating before HaShem in the Bais HaMikdash, where one achieves the ultimate closeness to HaShem. Similarly, Dovid HaMelech declares in L’Dovid HaShem Ori that his goal is to dwell in the House of HaShem all the days of his life. Our focus in Elul and the subsequent Yomim Noraim is to achieve spiritual wealth.

When one ascended to Yerushalayim and consumed Maaser Sheini, he was deriving spiritual pleasure. The Gemara derives from here that one who wishes to become “wealthy,” i.e. spiritually wealthy, with fear of Heaven, should tithe his produce and earnings. Can one become materialistically wealthy from tithing? We can suggest an answer to this question based on what is discussed regarding a different Segulah. The Rema (Yoreh Deah 265:11) writes that the Sandak at a Bris is akin to the Kohen who offered the Ketores, and the Rema understands this to mean that there is a Segulah for the Sandak to become wealthy. The Vilna Gaon (Ibid), however, writes that he did not see many who became wealthy from acting as a Sandak. Perhaps the Gaon understood that all these promises of wealth were not referring to material wealth (See Chasam Sofer Ibid 245 for a similar explanation, that the wealth referred to is the being satisfied with one’s portion). Rather, the Torah and the Chachamim were promising spiritual riches, which is the primary reason we serve HaShem.


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Re’eh 5776
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