Behar – Bechukossai 5777

RABBI AVROHOM PARMETT

The Pasuk in Tehillim (103:20) states, ברכו ה’ מלאכיו גבורי כח עשי דברו לשמע בקול דברו – “Hashem blesses His Malachim, [who are] mighty of strength, who heed His word, to listen to the voice of His word.”
On the words “גבורי כח עשי דברו” , the Yalkut quotes the following: ר’ יצחק נפחא אמר, אלו שומרישביעית, בנוהג שבעולם אדם עושה מצוה ליום א’ לשבתא’ לחודש א’, וזה רואה שדהו בור וכרמו בור ושותק, הישלך גבור חיל גדול מזה. – “R’ Yitzchok Nafcha says this Pasuk is referring to those who keep Shemitta; the way of the world is that a person performs a Mitzvah for one day, one week, or [even] one month, yet a Shomer Shemitta sees his field fallow and vineyard fallow, and yet remains silent. Is there a greater ‘mighty one of success’ than him?”

The Yalkut draws a parallel between Malachim, whom the Pasuk describes as “מלאכיו גבורי כח” , and Shomrei Shemitta, who are considered the paradigms of גבורי כח .

One may infer from the terminology “היש לך גיבור חיל גדולמזה” that there is no better example of strength than that of a Shomer Shemitta. Even the Malachim themselves do not measure up in this regard. What specifically sets them above all other גבורי כח ?

One explanation may be that the purpose of Malachim is to actively perform duties as they were commanded by Hashem. The Malbim (ibid.) defines a Malach as one who is sent to carry out honorable missions. The Malach is an active “doer” who fulfills Hashem’s commandment by performing actions. Moreover, he is assigned specifically to distinguished endeavors. In contrast, the farmer who keeps Shemitta is the opposite. He fulfills the Mitzvah not by doing, but by remaining passive while watching his field deteriorate. He cannot feel the satisfaction of seeing fruits of his actions; rather, he is left with what seems to be the negative result of being passive and “neglecting” his field. Yet despite this challenge, he is שותק , silent, and accepts the Mitzvah with no misgivings.

The Chofetz Chaim quotes the Vilna Gaon, who says that for every moment a person refrains from speaking negatively, he merits reward that even a Malach cannot conceptualize. The Malachim are distinguished by steadfastly performing Hashem’s will through positive actions. Remaining passively silent when faced with a difficult test – such as watching one’s own field deteriorate during Shemittah – seems beyond even their capacity.

Perhaps there is another explanation. Farming as a profession is unique in that a farmer feels a direct correlation between the work he puts in and the ensuing results. The more effort he expends in plowing, planting, and harvesting, the more crops he can typically expect. This is unlike a shopkeeper, for example, who is more dependent on how many customers he can attract, how well he persuades them, competition, trends, etc. This renders a farmer especially vulnerable to the mindset of כחיועצם ידי )דברים ח:יז( , that his prosperity is due entirely to his own efforts, forgetting that Hashem is the true source of his success. When a farmer keeps Shemitta, it is likely difficult for him to watch his field deteriorate due to his passivity, leading him to believe that the reason he was successful until now was only because of the work of his hands. It will seem as if he is successful when he is actively working, and unsuccessful when he refrains.
If, despite this, he remains silent and does not subscribe to these thoughts, he is a true גבור כח . Malachim do not face this type of challenge. As previously mentioned, they are involved exclusively in honorable tasks. They cannot relate to the Nisayon of a farmer facing the seemingly non-glorious predisposition of looking on silently as his field wilts away.
According to this, we may also explain why the Yalkut refers to Shomrei Shemitta not only as גבורי כח , those with strength of might, but also as גבורי חיל , those with strength of success. The word חיל is used in the Pasuk וזכרת את ה’ אלוקיך כי הוא הנותן לך כח לעשות חיל )דברים ח:יח( – “You shall remember Hashem, your G-d, that He is the One Who gives strength to succeed,” which is the Torah’s response to one who believes, “כחי ועצם ידי ”. The farmer who staunchly keeps Shemitta without any qualms and remains silent instead of thinking כחי ועצם ידי is someone who has mastered the concept of success and its true Source, Hashem. This is a true גבור חיל



RABBI AVROHOM MILLER

When It Rains, It Pours
If someone told you that we can learn Hilchos Shabbos from the “Morton’s Salt Girl”, you probably would answer him by quoting the first Rashi in this week’s Parsha: “מה ענין שמיטה אצל הר סיני” . But just as Rashi has an answer to that question, we too can find a connection.

First, some history. Many years ago, the Morton Salt Company was trying to solve a persistent problem. Salt is hygroscopic, i.e., it has a physical property that causes it to absorb water from the air around it. When water is absorbed, the salt clumps, causing salt shakers in those days to be of very little value.
In 1911, the company solved this problem by adding magnesium carbonate, an anti-caking agent, to their product, resulting in free-flowing salt. In order to promote the anti-caking properties of the salt, the advertising agency came up with the idea of a little umbrella-wielding girl, accidently pouring salt in the rain. This demonstrated the value of Morton salt – it will pour easily, even if you’re standing in a rainstorm. Hence the motto: “When it rains, it pours.” The ad debuted in 1914.

Now the connection to Shabbos. Even this free-flowing salt can clump together if left in a salt shaker in an area with high humidity. The method of preventing this is to put some raw grains of rice into the salt shaker with the salt. The rice absorbs the moisture, ensuring the free-flowing property of the salt.

Is it permissible to use this salt shaker on Shabbos, due to the issue of Borer? The most fundamental rules of Borer dictate that one select only the good from the bad, for immediate use, and only by hand, not with a tool. Just as one is forbidden to use a slotted spoon to remove small pieces of vegetable from liquid, so too it should be forbidden to use the salt shaker. In essence, the cover is acting as a strainer by preventing the rice from leaving the shaker.

To answer this question, let us first define the parameters of a Borer utensil. If one selects with a utensil used primarily for selection (strainer, sieve), he has transgressed Borer Min HaTorah, since this is the normal manner of selection. Any other utensil which facilitates selection is Rabbinically prohibited, even when choosing the good, because it resembles the use of a strainer. An example given is a תמחוי , a large serving plate. By shaking the plate, the good food is separated from the bad.

Sometimes, even a spoon can be a Borer utensil. Removing all the cream from milk with a spoon is prohibited, even with intention to use the cream (Mishna Berura 319:62). However, removing cholent from gravy with a spoon is permitted, as this is considered “Derech Achilah”, the manner of eating (ibid., 319:66). Igros Moshe (O.C. 1:124) explains that in the former example, the spoon assists in the separation. One cannot select cream from milk very easily by hand. In the latter case, the selection can be accomplished just as easily by hand; the purpose of the utensil is in order not to dirty one’s hands or to be more hygienic. Therefore, it is not Borer by utensil.

Let us now return to our salt shaker. Even though it resembles a strainer, since its primary purpose is to sprinkle salt, at most it would be a Rabbinic prohibition. It is obvious that the shaker assists in the Borer. If one held the mixture in his hand, it would be difficult to sprinkle only the salt. Therefore, it should qualify as a Borer utensil. This is indeed the opinion of Rav Aharon Kotler and Rav Moshe Feinstein (quoted in Halachos of Shabbos, R’ Eider, p. 196).

It should be added that although one has no conscious intent to be Borer, this is of no consequence. This is a classic example of a פסיק רישא דניחא ליה – a Melacha will definitely occur while performing a permissible act, and the ensuing Melacha is beneficial. Such an action is viewed as if there is intent for the Melacha, and is forbidden.
On the other hand, there are Poskim who permit this shaker to be used. Although it does facilitate the selection, the shaker was not intended for Borer, even on an occasional basis. This incidental Borer does not qualify the shaker as a Borer utensil, and is permitted for immediate use of the salt (Rav Elyashiv, quoted in Shvus Yitzchok).
Another rationale given is that any utensil which, by its very nature, is used immediately prior to eating cannot be classified as a Borer utensil. Use of such a utensil is viewed as “Derech Achilah” (Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Otzros HaShabbos 3:106).

For a final ruling, consult your Rav.