Ki Savo 5777

RABBI ZEV MEISELS

ארמי אובד אבי וירד מצרימה… : וירעו אותנו המצרים ויענונו ויתנו עלינו עבודה קשה:
ונצעק אל ה’ אלוקי אבותינו וישמע ה’ את קולנו וירא את ענינו ואת עמלנו ואת לחצנו:
ויוצאנו ה’ ממצרים ביד חזקה ובזרוע נטויה ובמורא גדול ובאותות ובמפתים:
ויבאנו אל המקום הזה ויתן לנו את הארץ הזאת ארץ זבת חלב ודבש:
ועתה הנה הבאתי את ראשית פרי האדמה אשר נתתה לי ה’…: (דברים כו:ה-י)

An Arami (Lavan) would have destroyed my father, and he descended to Mitzrayim… The Egyptians mistreated us and tortured us, and placed hard work upon us. Then we cried out to Hashem, the G-d of our forefathers, and Hashem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our travail, and our oppression. Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awesomeness, and with signs and with wonders. He brought us to this place, and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold! I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, O Hashem! (Devarim 26:5-10)

When performing the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, the owner of a field must say the above Pesukim aloud. At first glance, the formula of this declaration is quite interesting. Certainly, a person who has the good fortune to bring Bikkurim from the fruits of Eretz Yisrael is required to express his gratitude to Hashem – for giving us this land flowing with milk and honey and allowing us to eat its fruit and enjoy its abundant good. However, why was it necessary to thank and recount in detail the three historical stages leading up to the inhabiting of the land? First, the descent into Galus in Mitzrayim and the oppression Bnei Yisrael suffered there are depicted. Second, the Exodus from Mitzrayim is described. Finally, the entrance into Eretz Yisrael is mentioned.
In Perek Shirah (Chapter 3) the song of the wheat sheaf is “שיר המעלות ממעמקים קראתיך ה’ ” (תהלים קל), “A song of ascents: From the depths, I called You, Hashem” (Tehillim 130). This is sung in light of the fact that the earth was cursed due to the חטא עץ הדעת, the sin of the forbidden tree. After Adam HaRishon sinned, the ground was cursed to grow all kinds of thorns and thistles. Hence, when a farmer plants grains of wheat in the ground, they must pray to Hashem from the depths of the earth that the thorns and thistles will not prevent him from growing and sprouting.
After emerging from the depths of the earth, the sheaves of wheat sing their praise to Hashem, “From the depths I have called to you, Hashem.” For Hashem accepted their Tefillos from the depths of the earth, enabling them to grow and fulfill the task that He had assigned to them: to feed and nourish mankind.
The explanation may be that when a person witnesses this cycle of food growth, he gains a new understanding of Jewish history. Many ask why we must go into Galus at all. Why can Hashem not just give us the good He promised? By seeing the great growth and advancement that the wheat kernel has attained by going through its personal “Galus” in the ground, we can appreciate the Galus Mitzrayim. Only through the perfection and development attained in Galus can we inherit Eretz Yisrael.


RABBI YITZCHK ZEV JACOBS

ארור אשר לא יקים את דברי התורה הזאת (דברים כז:כו)

Cursed is he who does not uphold the words of this Torah (Devarim 27:26)

The Ramban asserts that this Pasuk is referring to performing Hagbah with the Sefer Torah in the correct manner. He bases this on the Yerushalmi (Sotah 7:4) which asks, “Is there a falling Torah (which would need upholding)? Rabbi Shimon ben Yakim says that this means the Chazzan (who must indeed support the Torah when replacing it in the Aron Kodesh, so it should not fall).” The Yerushalmi interprets the Pasuk as meaning the upholding of the Torah in a physical sense.
The Ramban then alters this Pshat slightly by suggesting his own take on the Chazzan’s upholding of the Torah. He says it denotes the Chazzan performing Hagbah. According to this opinion, “Chazzan” (or perhaps the Baal Koreh, according to Damesek Eliezer), would refer to the Magbiah. However, it would still be a reference to the physical support of the Torah. The Vilna Gaon on Shulchan Aruch correlates the understanding of this Ramban with the Yerushalmi, as he cites both as the source for this Halacha.
The Shulchan Aruch (134:2) outlines the procedure for Hagbah, “מראה פני כתיבת ספר תורה לעם העומדים לימינו ולשמאלו ומחזירו לפניו ולאחריו שמצוה על כל אנשים ונשים לראות הכתב…”, “He displays the written face of the Sefer Torah to those standing to his right and to his left and turns it around to those in front and back of him because it is a Mitzvah for all the men and women to see the script…” This Mechaber is essentially a direct quote from Maseches Sofrim (14:14), one of the earliest sources for performing the Hagbah.
The uncertainty here is twofold. What is the correct method of exhibiting the Sefer to the congregation? Is it by turning oneself around in a full rotation while holding the Sefer Torah aloft, or is it perhaps enough to angle the Sefer first to one side and then to the other, without making a full circle? Furthermore, as a rule we say that “כל פינות שאתה פונה לא יהא אלא לימין”, ”All one’s turns should only be made to the right.” How is this directive applied in this case? Does one first show the people standing to his right (which involves making a turn to the left), or does he actually turn to his right side (which will show the Torah to the left-standing people)?
There seem to be two distinct groups of Poskim ruling on this She’aila. R’ Menashe Klein in Mishneh Halachos (Vol. 11, Tshuvah 103) takes the stance of defending what he terms the Minhag HaOlam, the general custom of angling first to the left side (thereby showing those standing on the right) and then to the right (showing those on the left).
However, other Poskim, led preeminently by the Maamar Mordechai on this Siman, maintain that the proper approach is to turn a full circle in a clockwise direction — essentially the beginning of a right turn. The Mishna Berura (134:9) would seem to share this opinion when he quotes the Pri Chadash and other Acharonim, “יקיף ממזרח לדרום”, “He should rotate from eastward to southward.”
There are several problems and solutions with both opinions. Briefly:
• A cursory reading of the Shulchan Aruch (“He displays … the Sefer Torah to those standing to his right and to his left”) supports the second opinion; that is, one turns in specific directions. However, the wording of “turns it around to those in front and back of him” might imply that a full circle is required.
• The rule of turning to the right is simply understood as doing just that, turning to the right! But significantly, that does not produce the Shulchan Aruch-mandated result of “showing the Torah” first to those standing to his right. The second opinion would counter: if right is interpreted to mean moving in a rightward direction, as in when turning clockwise, the contradiction is averted.
• The Bach offers another possible argument which supports the first opinion. The Shulchan Aruch et al. were all using Sephardi Sifrei Torah, which face outwards, during Hagbah. Therefore, a right turn actually does show the Torah to those on the right. Using the Ashkenazi Sifrei Torah, which face inwards during Hagbah, yields a different result, and Ashkenazim must conduct themselves accordingly.
As is usual in these situations, a Halachic authority should be consulted for guidance.