Behar – Bechukossai 5778


אם בחקתי תלכו (ויקרא כו:ג)

If you will go in My decrees… (Vayikra 26:3)

Rashi explains with the oft quoted words, שתהיו עמלים בתורה, that you should be laboring in Torah.
The text of the prayer of thanks recited upon completing a Masechta says,”מודים אנחנו לפניך ה’…ששמת חלקינו מיושבי בית המדרש…אנו עמלים והם עמלים, אנו עמלים ומקבלים שכר והם עמלים ואינם מקבלים שכר”, “we express gratitude before You Hashem, that you have placed my portion with those who dwell in the study hall; we toil and they toil, we toil and receive a reward, while they we toil and they do not receive a reward.” How can this statement that “they work and don’t receive reward” be understood? People surely get paid for their work. No one is expected to work for free. Also, why is אנו עמלים, etc., repeated? It could have simply statedאנו עמלים ומקבלים שכר without the introduction of אנו עמלים והם עמלים. Lastly, what is the meaning of the letter “מ” in the word מיושבי”“? This language implies that we are from among those who dwell in the study hall, but there are others as well. Who are these others being referred to here?
The Ohr Hachayim (Chaifetz Hashem Brachos 28b) explains as follows. Even though there are a few people fortunate enough to spend the entire day in the walls of the Beis Medrash, this is not the case for the great majority. Generally, people have to go out to work so they can put food on their table and fulfill their familial responsibilities. The Siyum prayer is focusing on this group of the general populace. Not only “full-time” learners are required to thank Hashem for enabling them to learn. Even “part-time” learners must appreciate their lot. If they were wise enough to be קובע עתים, to make set times for learning in the time available to them, then they must praise Hashem for having this opportunity. This is the meaning of the “מ” in the sentence, ששמת חלקינו מיושבי בית המדרש, that You placed our lot among those that sit in the Beis Medrash. It implies that we are only from among those that sit in the Beis Medrash, but there are also others. The “מ” is alluding to the select few people who spend all their time learning. We are saying that even “I”, who only spends part of the day learning, must still feel gratitude towards Hashem.
But this gratitude is not merely for the hours spent learning, adds the Ohr Hachayim. Rather, it even includes the time spent in the work force. Someone who is קובע עתים in his free time, when he isn’t working, is demonstrating that the entire purpose of his working is just מכשירי הלימוד, a way to enable his learning. Since אם אין קמח אין תורה, without food to sustain his body he cannot learn, he is therefore forced to go work. His “preparation” for Torah is tantamount to learning, and it is as if he learns the entire day.
This is what we mean by saying that we both labor, but people working in other fields don’t get rewarded. Even when we say “We toil”, we mean the labor of working, not toiling in learning. The seemingly superfluous introduction is meant to emphasize that we both do the same thing. We both go to work. We both labor in the work force. Yet our reward is still different. The reward mentioned here refers to שכר for learning Torah. Of course people get paid for their work. We, however, get rewarded for that work as if we were learning then. On the other hand, people who are not קובע עתים, whose working is obviously not to enable learning, do not get שכר for working.


(ואם המר ימיר בהמה בבהמה והיה הוא ותמורתו יהיה קודש (ויקרא כג:י

“And if he does substitute one animal for another animal, then it and
its substitute shall be holy” (Vayikra 23:10)

ר’ יוסי בר’ יהודה אומר עשה שוגג כמזיד בתמורה … מאי טעמא דר’ יוסי בר’ יהודה אמר קרא, ‘יהיה קודש’ לרבות שוגג כמזיד
(תמורה יז.)

“Rav Yose b’Rav Yehuda said, “(The Torah) treated an unintentional act like an intentional
one regarding Temurah. What is Rav Yose b’Rav Yehuda’s reason? The Pasuk says,
‘It shall be holy,’ to include the unintentional like the intentional.” (Temurah 17a)

The Torah is teaching the concept called Temurah, whereby one animal’s Kedusha is transferred to another animal. The above Gemara extrapolates from this Pasuk that Temurah can descend onto an animal even mistakenly. Elsewhere, the Gemara (Nazir 30b) discusses a parallel concept called הקדש בטעות, mistaken Hekdesh, as it relates to this Pasuk. The classic example of this is the following case. A person declared the first black animal to exit his house to be Hekdesh, and instead, the first animal to exit was white. If Hekdesh can be applied even mistakenly, then the white animal will actually become Kodesh.
Indeed, Beis Shammai maintains that a case of mistaken Hekdesh may be inferred from mistaken Temurah.
Beis Hillel, however, differs and says that the two cases are not comparable. Temurah is possible because of the pre-existing Kedusha on the first animal, and therefore will actuate even by mistake, whereas Hekdesh is limited in trying to create that Kedusha from scratch and cannot create it in error. The Halacha follows Beis Hillel, that it is not Kodesh.
Beis Hillel’s opinion would seem to be the more understandable of the two. However, Tosafos (Nazir 31a s.v. Keitzad) explains Beis Shammai’s logic as follows. If it is indeed possible to resolve the apparent discrepancy between what happened and what the person said, then this should be done to preserve the power of Hekdesh. For example, in the above case of the black animal and the white animal, it can be assumed that he intended the first animal out of his house to be Hekdesh. He expected this to be the black animal. However, now that the white one was in actuality the first to exit, because he primarily had in mind the first animal (not its color), the white one is considered Hekdesh.
This idea is applicable in many diverse situations, including Tzedaka, Nedarim, Nazir, community funds, etc. One such situation is Terumah. When one meant to declare some grain Terumah but instead declared it Maaser, or vice versa, the Terumah/Maaser is not created, because it is like a case of הקדש בטעות, which according to Beis Hillel is not Kodesh.
However, there is a case in which the Terumah will apply despite his having said Maaser. The Poskim discuss whether the person actually intended to mentally effect the mistake that he expressed verbally. Interestingly, the Chazon Ish (Maaseros 7:25) writes that in a case where he did not miscalculate – that is, he intended both to say Terumah and yet have Maaser result – there is a contradiction between mind and mouth, and the verbal is taken as conclusive.
Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Derech Emunah Terumos 4:16 §386) appends this point of the Chazon Ish with the following footnote: If he did indeed miscalculate but not overtly, and he thought that Terumah is actually referred to as “Maaser,” then his thoughts will be considered superior to his words and the grain will become Terumah, despite his mistaken Maaser declaration!
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Maadanei Aretz Terumos 4:16) discusses this at length and explains that this is only possible because his thoughts may be understood to be in conformance with his words. This idea is comparable to the logic of Beis Shammai, yet applicable in the world of Halacha. Beis Shammai held that if it is possible to avert a head-on collision between the two parts of his statement, then this is done to uphold Hekdesh. Likewise, in this instance, if a clash between his thoughts and his words can be avoided, his thoughts are treated as primary. This is contrary to Beis Hillel’s general rule that words are more significant, and serves to maintain the Hekdesh in both his thoughts and words.