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Parshas Re'eh - Converse, Inverse, & Contrapositive    24 Av 5783

08/11/2023 08:37:02 AM


This Dvar Torah is in the merit of a refuah sheleima for Tzvi Yeshayahu ben Toba Rochel

There is a principle in Jewish tradition that states” כל המוסיף גורע”,- loosely translated as “anyone who adds, subtracts”. Thinking about this truism, I wondered…is the opposite “whoever takes away, adds”? I searched online and found the following:

The truth value of the converse of a statement is not always the same as the original statement. For example, the converse of "All tigers are mammals" is "All mammals are tigers." This is certainly not true. The converse of a definition, however, must always be true. `

To form the converse of the conditional statement, interchange the hypothesis and the conclusion. For example, the converse of "If it rains, then they cancel school" is "If they cancel school, then it rains." To form the inverse of the conditional statement, take the negation of both the hypothesis and the conclusion. The inverse of “If it rains, then they cancel school” is “If it does not rain, then they do not cancel school.” To form the contrapositive of the conditional statement, interchange the hypothesis and the conclusion of the inverse statement. The contrapositive of "If it rains, then they cancel school" is "If they do not cancel school, then it does not rain."

This all evolved from some major rule changes in major league baseball. The three biggest changes are the pitch clock, larger bases, and making the shift illegal. Initially, there was concern regarding the impact these changes would have on the game and its players. I read an article recently which stated that everyone is happy with these rules and that these rule changes have had a very positive impact on the game. In addition, reports are now coming in from individual players and the teams regarding how the players are healthier and are not as fatigued as they were in the past. (Please contact me if you want to know all the details why). So, I found my answer to the question: “if you take away something, do you gain?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” We see this through viewing a case from the baseball rules change of 2023.

It is interesting to note the original source of the statement of “whoever adds, subtracts”.  The Gemara Sanhedrin 29a has the following discussion about judges advancing a claim on behalf of someone, but only if the individual is a generally upstanding Jew. On the other hand, the judges do not advance a claim on behalf of an inciter, i.e., one who is accused of inciting others to idol worship, referred to as a Meisis. The braisa teaches: If the defendant did not advance a claim that he was teasing the plaintiff, the judges do not advance this claim for him. Apparently, he stated his admission seriously. But in cases of capital law, even if the defendant did not advance any claim on his own behalf, the judges advance a claim on his behalf. But the judges do not advance claims on behalf of an inciter. The Gemara asks: What is different about an inciter, causing the court to not seek to deem him innocent? Rabbi Chama bar Chanina says: I heard at the lecture of Rabbi Chiyya bar Abba that an inciter is different, as the Merciful One states concerning him: “Neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him” (Deuteronomy 13:9). In this unique case, the court is not required to try to deem him innocent.

Reb Shmuel bar Nacḥman says that Rebbi Yonasan says: From where is it derived that the judges do not advance a claim on behalf of an inciter? It is derived from the incident of the primordial snake who tempted Chava; he was the first inciter. As Rebbi Simlai says: The snake could have advanced many claims on its own behalf, but it did not claim them. And for what reason the Holy One, Blessed be He, did not advance these claims for it, deeming the snake exempt from punishment? Because the snake did not advance these claims itself.

The Gemara asks: What could he have said? The Gemara answers: The snake could have said that it is not to blame, as when there is a contradiction between the statement of the teacher and the statement of the student, whose statement should one listen to? One should listen to the statement of the teacher. Since God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve should have heeded God’s words and not those of the snake. Chizkiya says: From where is it derived that anyone who adds, subtracts? It is derived from a verse, stated by Eve: “God has said: You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it” (Genesis 3:3), whereas God had actually rendered prohibited only eating from the tree but not touching it, as it is stated: “But of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it” (Genesis 2:17). Because Eve added that there was a prohibition against touching the tree, the snake showed her that touching it does not cause her to die, and so, she consequently sinned by eating from it as well. Chava added on to Hashem’s words, consequently bringing death to the world. Nevertheless, we see the snake is the Meisis, the inciter. The punishment for someone who incites and causes others to sin is read this week on Shabbos.

The Torah in this week’s Parshas Re’eh states in Devarim 13:7 "כי יסיתך אחיך בן אמך או בנך או בתך או אשת חיקך או רעך אשר כנפשך בסתר לאמר, נלכה ונעבדה אלוהים אחרים אשר לא ידעת אתה ואבותיך"  “[This is what you must do] if your blood brother. your son, your daughter, your bosom wife, or your closest friend secretly tries to act as a missionary among you, and says, ‘Let us go worship a new god. Let us have a spiritual experience previously unknown by you or your fathers”. The word Meisis or meseth is explained by the Radak as “he tries to convince you”. The Targum explains this as: “he tries to mislead you” and the Rashbam explains, “He gives you bad advice.” The common denominator is that everyone agrees the primary purpose is to make a Jew stray from Hashem. This was the essence of the snake luring Chava away  from Hashem. True, it was the physical appearance and temptation to which she was drawn,  but this was only a façade created by the Nachash to lure her away, causing  Chava and Adom to sin.

Chaza”l explain that the root of the Meisis is the idea of silence or secrecy. There are several forces working to draw us away from Hashem and from our Judaism. Unfortunately, it is not only the stranger or the non-Jew who is tries persistently to do this; there are Jews who  repeatedly work to convince others that it is not necessary to be so observant or to spend so much time learning or even to daven. We ask for the Brachos of the beginning of the parsha to give us all the ability and the strength to recognize a snake and its true colors and kill its impact physically before it kills us spiritually.       

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784