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Parshas Behar/Bechukosai - Mind Your Own Business, Not God's Business              26 Iyar 5778

05/11/18 09:11:53


I heard a story from my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Wein YB”L, about the Chofetz Chaim. There was a man who owned a dry goods store in Radun. This individual made a decent to above average living for the time. One day, someone opened a store across the street from his store which caused him deep concern. (There was absolutely no issue of Hasagas Gevul – economic competition - in this case). Every day after opening his store, he would peek out of his window to see who was going into the competitor’s store. Were any of his regular patrons going to shop there? As the weeks went by, he felt that the support he had received from many of his long-time customers was slowly ebbing away. At one point he felt that he was making only half the profit he had been accustomed to earning before the other individual opened his store. As his paranoia grew, he stood outside his store watching, staring down anyone who entered the store across the street. He would even stop people walking past his own store, questioning them about what they were buying across the street and what were the prices compared to his own?

Finally,he decided to visit the saintly Chofetz Chaim and ask what he could possibly do in this situation because it was driving him crazy. Rav Yisroel Meir Kagan listened carefully and intently to the man’s issue. After a few minutes the Chofetz Chaim told this person what the problem was and what the solution is to be. The Chofetz Chaim said, “Before the other store opened, you made a living because you only had to mind one store or business. Now you are constantly worrying and watching over the other store as well. Since you are now watching and ‘working’ two businesses, your store is only producing half the amount!” The moral of the story is to mind your own business. The reflection of someone minding his own business and not looking elsewhere demonstrates faith and emunah in Hashem. Deep down, we know we are to receive exactly what we need to live on for the year. We waste so much time and effort trying to control the ‘other’ and neglect our basic work ethic. On top of the monetary loss, a person loses years of life due to self-inflicted anxiety. God can make both businesses not only survive but thrive. In order to develop the understanding and acceptance that Hashem controls everything, we must learn mussar to train our thinking.

The first parsha of this week is replete with Mitzvos that completely rely on having emumah and bitachon - faith and security in Hashem. The challenge to many of the following Mitzvos is that they go against nature and our normal way of thinking. Here are just a few Mitzvos which emphasize that we totally rely on HaShem so that we will be rewarded in greater ways not only in the next world but even immediately in this world: 1. Not to perform work on the land during Shemita; 2. Not to perform work on the vineyard during Shemita; 3. Not to harvest the products during Shemita as normally done in other years. 4. Not to harvest the grapes of one’s vineyard as normally done in other years, but rather to treat the vineyard like Hefker – as though it is ownerless; 5. Not to work the land during Yovel – the Jubilee; 6. Not to harvest the products during Yovel, as normally done in other years, but rather to treat like Hefker, as though it were ownerless; 7. Not to harvest the fruits of one’s orchard during Yovel as normally done in other years; 8. Not to cheat someone in business; 9. Not to sell a field in Eretz Yisrael forever; 10. Not to change the zones/allotments of the outskirts of the Levite cities; and 11. Not to lend money with interest. The common thread among all these Mitzvos is that a person feels he worked for it, he earned it, and he shouldn’t have to give it away. Towards the end of the section the Torah warns in 25:18: ‘Keep my decrees and safeguard My laws. If you keep these decrees, you will live in the land securely.’ But as Rashi clearly indicates because of transgressing the laws of the rest of year Israel is exiled. As it states later in Vayikra 26:34: ‘Then shall the land be paid her Sabbaths….and repay her Sabbaths.’ The seventy years of the Babylonian exile correspond to the seventy rest years which were not observed. But no matter how bad God’s children may act, our Father in Heaven figures out a way to rejoin His children and never abandon them, as can be realized from the following elucidation.

In the first of this week’s two parshios Behar/Bechukosai, the Torah states in Vayikra 25:29 “V’Ish Ki Yimkor Beis Moshav Ir Chomah, V’Haysa Geulaso Ad Tome Shnas Mimaro, Yamim T’hiyeh Geulaso”: “When a man sells a residential house in a walled city, he shall be able to redeem it until the end of one year after he has sold it. He has one full year to the day to redeem it”. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains this verse, referring to the ultimate redemption and not merely the redemption of an individual’s home. Through Remez/hint of the words the passuk is broken up into three parts. The word ‘V’Ish/the Man means God as He is referred in Az Yashir: ‘Hashem Ish Milchama. The next section of selling a house denotes the place where Hashem dwells speaks of the Beis HaMikdash. The Ir Chomah, a walled city, signifies Yerushalayim, which according to the Midrash was already walled when Yehoshua first conquered the land. Why or what is the significance of this interpretation? The reason is so that later in history it can be redeemed. As Chazal explained, God took out His fury on the wood and the stones of the Temple for if He took His fury out against the people, no Jew would have survived. Logically, if there are no Jews left then there is no need for a Beis HaMikdash or the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, this was the redemption of Am Yisrael - the Jewish people - and as a result the need for the rebuilding of the second Beis HaMikdash and resettling of Yerushalayim.

This all took place after the first Beis HaMikdash and for almost two thousand years we are still waiting for the rebuilding of the Third Temple. However, nineteen years after HKB”H returned the Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people, we had access to half the city of Jerusalem. Only nineteen years later the entire city was unified under Jewish sovereignty. Now, fifty-one years since the reunification of the city of Jerusalem it once again sparkling as the city of Gold. As we recognize Yom Yerushalayim, we should thank Hashem and pray for the last piece of the trio: to rebuild the Bayis Shlishi speedily in our day, Amen!

Wed, October 23 2019 24 Tishrei 5780