This Shabbat we will be reading the two last Torah portions, Be’Har & Be’Hukotay of the book of Va’Yikra.
In the Torah portion Be’Har there is a verse that calls to help others:
וכי ימוך אחיך ומטה ידו עמך והחזקת בו, גר ותושב וחי עמך
“And if your brother shall become poor, and his means fail with you, you shall uphold him: as a stranger and a settler he shall live with you.” (Leviticus 25:35)
R’ Moshe ben Chaim Alshikh comments on this verse:
In this Torah portion most of the verses are written in the plural form.
But this verse appears in the singular form.
“And if your brother shall become poor… you shall uphold him”.
In English both singular and plural “you” are expressed by the same word.
In Hebrew the singular “you” is:
ATA – אתה for masculine.
AT – את for feminine.
(In plural it is אתם – ATEM for masculine and אתן – ATEN for feminine).
Consequently, the conjugation of verbs combined with the respective pronoun differs accordingly.
It is not written “you (pl.) shall uphold him – והחזקתם,”
but rather “you (sing.) shall uphold him – והחזקת.”
The reason it is in the singular form, because many times when a person needs help, the people around, who are able to help may think:
“Well, there are many others who can help this person. I don’t need to worry about it. Someone else will help him“
Therefore, the Torah wants to tell us explicitly:
Everyone personally needs to help a poor person, as if he were the only one capable of doing so.
In the Torah portion Be’Hukotai the Torah tells about the blessings that will be bestowed upon the Jewish nation if the Children of Israel will keep the laws of the Torah.
והשיג לכם דיש את בציר, ובציר ישיג את זרע
ואכלתם לחמכם לשבע וישבתם לבטח בארצכם
“Your threshing shall reach to the vintage, and the vintage shall reach to the sowing time; you shall eat your bread to satisfaction and dwell securely in your land.” (26:5)
The Midrash says about the saying “you shall eat your bread to satisfaction” that the special blessing is in the produce of the land of Israel, that the person is able to eat a little, but he will be satisfied quickly and then he will not need to eat a lot.
Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch would say on this verse:
The person needs food in order to keep his physical body in existence, but whoever eats with appropriate intention can elevate the food to a spiritual level.
It is not by coincidence that the letters of the word “food” (MACHaL) – מאכל in Hebrew are the same letters of the word “angel” (MaLACH) – מלאך.
Also with the blessing on the bread:
המוציא לחם מן הארץ
“Who brings forth bread from the earth” – there is a hint that it is possible “to bring forth” the bread from its level of “the earth” in order to elevate it to a spiritual level.
And maybe the common motive between the two paragraph is:
The first verse of the bible states:
בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
Our sages comment that “Earth” represents the material aspect of the creation while “Heaven” represent the spiritual aspect of the creation.
When one can elevate himself above the personal materialistic view of the reality he is able to do both:
To bring himself closer to the other human beings providing them with necessary help, as well as to bring the “Earth” closer to “Heaven“.
להחזיק – “Lehakh’zik” – Uphold/hold, has the root חזק
חזק – “Khazak” – strong
מחזיק מפתחות – “Makhzik Maftekhot” – key holder
חוזק – “Khozek” – strength
חזקה – “Khezkah” – power (exponent in numbers)
שתיים בחזקת 6 – “sh’tayim be’khezkat shesh” (as per below)
אחזקה – “Akhzakah” – maintenance
Wishing all of you a peaceful and healthy weekend.
Yoel & Orly
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