Taste of Parasha
“And it will curry favor for him to atone for him.” (Leviticus 1:4). What is currying favor for whom?
The Malach Hamaves is the same entity created by G-d to prosecute a sinner; it is also the same entity that we refer to as the Yetzer Hora (Bava Basra 16a). G-d created this single entity in the world to give us a challenge. It is a common misconception that when you give in to temptation you have pleased the evil inclination and he will now leave you alone. The Ramban writes that in truth it is exactly the opposite. The more a person gives in to the Yetzer Hora the more he is tempted by it. As a creation of G-d, the Yetzer Hora himself would much rather see the revelation of G-d in this world. It is merely his duty to be the seducer / prosecutor / executioner. When a person chooses the right path and becomes Karov (close) to G-d, then even his evil inclination rejoices. For example, when a person brings a sin offering he sets himself on a good path; a path that brings him closer to G-d. Then it can be said about him (the Baal Teshuva) that it (the evil inclination) will curry favor for him and it will atone for him. I.e., then, the evil inclination too speaks positively on his behalf before the heavenly throne. Rav Yeruchom Levovitz Zt”l, learns from here: When a person uses his past experiences as motivation to repent and sets himself on the right path, then, as our sages teach, “Ze’donos ye’esu kiz’chuyos” sins become like merits.
Taste of Talmud
Pharaoh and his advisors schemed and planned against the Jews. They knew that G-d punishes measure for measure so they decided to harm the Jews in a way that G-d promised he would not punish the world – with water. They were mistaken because G-d only promised not to pour a flood onto the world. This did not preclude Him from throwing evil doers into water. The Mishna in Sota comments, “So too for good.” Simply read, this means that G-d will reward a person measure for measure for good as well. The Tosefta writes that G-d multiplies the reward for good deeds with a far greater ratio than the ratio of punishment for bad deeds. An example of this is the reward guaranteed righteous Jewish soldiers. Five of them will be able to vanquish 100 enemy soldiers (Leviticus 26:8). Another example is the reward given to Miriam for standing by the edge of the river in order to keep an eye on her brother Moshe. The Tosefta says that she was rewarded 500 times her good deed. Her reward was that when she was stricken with Tzaraas, the entire Jewish nation waited for her for seven days and did not travel until she recuperated. Tosafos learns from here that she must have actually waited for approximately 20.16 minutes, this would make her measure for measure ratio of reward 500 times her good deed. 7 days x 24 hours = 10,080 minutes, divided by 500 = 20.16 minutes.
Taste of Accounting
Tosafos (Sota 11a) asks a question from the story of the Meraglim. The Jews who complained about the land of Israel were punished, “yom lashana yom lashana” one year for every day of the Meraglim’s travels. This is an even greater ratio than 500 times their evil deed! Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipmann-Heller, Zt”l, in his classic commentary to the Mishna (Tosafos Yom-Tov, Sota 1:9) answers this question. He explains that the added years of wandering were actually an aspect of G-d’s mercy to those who were involved in the sin of the Meraglim. It was decreed that they would not enter the land, this was a punishment measure for measure for having despised the land. Had the Jews entered the land sooner, all of these men would have had to die an untimely death. By extending their travels in the desert, G-d forestalled the death of these men in a manner in which none of them had to die less than 60 years of age. We find this concept in the mercy shown to a Sota (unfaithful wife). Although she eventually will perish, if she had merits the merits would forestall her death. Rabbi Lipmann-Heller proves from here that forestalling a death sentence is actually an aspect of reward, not punishment. As my Grand-father always says, “I am not a celestial accountant,” however, we do know that there is reward and punishment, and, it is measure for measure.
Have A Great Shabbos!!
This week’s issue is dedicated as a merit for a Refuah Shelaima for all of Cholei Yisroel.