Among the sections of this week's parashah is the second
paragraph of the daily Kriat Shema - "Ve'hayah eem shamoa." The
mishnah (Berachot 2:2) states that the order in which we read the
three paragraphs of Shema (which is not the order in which they
appear in the Torah) is based on the following: First we accept
G-d's sovereignty, the subject of the first paragraph, and only
then do we accept the yoke of the mitzvot, the subject of the
second paragraph. (The third paragraph is not discussed here.)
R' Shlomo Kluger z"l (see page 4) elaborates on this and also
explains why the blessing which we recite immediately before
Shema speaks of G-d's love for us. Hashem does not need our
mitzvot. As we say in the first verse of Shema, "He is One,"
implying that He is complete and perfect, and needs nothing. We
must acknowledge this before we accept the yoke of mitzvot, for
otherwise our acceptance of the mitzvot would be misguided.
If Hashem does not need our mitzvah performance, why did He
give us the mitzvot? Because He loves us and wants to give us
opportunities to earn reward. This love is described in the
berachah before Shema. After we acknowledge that love, we return
it by accepting His sovereignty and affirming our own obligation
to love Him (in the second verse of the first paragraph,
"Ve'ahavta"). Only after establishing that the basis of our
relationship with Hashem is our mutual love is it appropriate to
accept the commandments (in the second paragraph of Shema).
(Yeriot Shlomo in Siddur Bet Yaakov p. 62a)
"It shall come to pass as a result of your hearkening to
these ordinances, and you will observe and perform them;
Hashem, your G-d, will safeguard for you the covenant and
the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will
love you, bless you, and multiply you . . ." (7:12-13)
R' Avraham Berish Flahm z"l (1804-1873; leading disseminator of
the teachings of the "Dubno Maggid") writes: The mishnah (Peah
These are the things whose fruits man eats in This
World and whose principal is preserved for the World-to-
Come: Honoring one's father and mother, acts of
kindness, and bringing about peace between man and his
Why does man "eat the fruits" of these mitzvot in This World?
Are we not taught that the reward for all mitzvot is given in the
R' Flahm explains: There are two types of mitzvot - those which
are "bein adam la'Makom" / between man and G-d, and those which
are "bein adam la'chavero" / between man and his fellow man.
However, within the latter type of mitzvah there are two aspects:
(1) a bein adam la'Makom aspect, i.e., the fact that His Will is
being done, and (2) a bein adam la'chavero aspect, i.e., the fact
that another person benefits from the mitzvah.
All of the mitzvot listed in the above mishnah are mitzvot from
which another person benefits. For such mitzvot, one does
receive some reward in This World, just has he has brought
pleasure to others in This World. At the same time, the mishnah
teaches, the reward for the fact that G-d's Will is being done,
is preserved for the World-to-Come.
In the last verse of last week's parashah we read, "You shall
observe the commandment, and the decrees and the ordinances that
I commanded you today, to perform them." "Decrees" ("chukim"),
writes R' Flahm, refers to mitzvot which are between man and G-d,
while "ordinances" ("mishpatim") are the rational mitzvot which
are between man and his fellow man. The Torah appears to equate
these two types of mitzvot by mentioning them in one verse.
Moreover, the verse seems to imply, "Perform both of these types
of mitzvot only because 'I commanded you'." It seems that Hashem
has no interest except that His Will be done; He is not
interested in the benefit received by others from our mitzvot.
And, if that is true, it follows that there is no reward for
mitzvot in This World (contrary to the teaching of the above
The first verses of our parashah (quoted above) resolve this
seeming contradiction. "It shall come to pass as a result of
your hearkening to these _ordinances_ - i.e., the rational
mitzvot which are between man and his fellow man - Hashem, your G-
d, will love you, bless you, and multiply you . . ." These are
all rewards which are given in This World for performing
"ordinances," the rational mitzvot which are between man and his
fellow man. One does receive reward in This World for the
pleasure that he gives to others through his performance of
certain mitzvot. The verse in last week's parashah addressed
only half of the mitzvah (the bein adam la'Makom aspect), while
our verse addresses the other half (the bein adam la'chavero
(Shemen Ha'mor II, ch. 6, "Roshei Besamim" n. 2)
"And you will eat, and you will be satiated, and you shall
bless Hashem your G-d . . . " (8:10)
In his work on Torah-derived table manners, R' Bachya ben Asher
(14th century; Spain) writes: When one finishes eating he should
remain at the table for some time, as Chazal said (Berachot 54b),
"If one extends his meal, his life will be extended." Why?
Because the longer a person sits at the table, the greater the
likelihood that a poor person will chance by and will be fed. In
this vein, the prophet Yechezkel (41:22) uses the words "altar"
and "table" interchangeably, and Chazal explain that just as
one's sins are atoned for upon the altar, so they are forgiven
when one feeds the poor at his table. (So great is this mitzvah,
writes R' Bachya, that some people had their coffins built from
the wood of their table so that the boards could "testify" on
their behalf before the Heavenly court.)
One is obligated to say "Divrei Torah" / word of Torah while
sitting at the table. The Sages taught (Avot, ch. 3) that if one
eats at a table where Divrei Torah are said it is as if he has
eaten at G-d's table, but if he eats at a table where no Divrei
Torah are said it is as if he ate from sacrifices brought before
idols. Why did the Sages use such harsh words about one who does
not speak Divrei Torah at his table? Because man needs constant
reminding that he was not created in order to eat and to drink,
but rather in order to study Torah.
(Shulchan Shel Arbah)
"And you shall teach them to your sons, to speak about
them . . ." (11:9)
Rashi writes: "'To speak about them' -- From the time that
your son knows how to speak, teach him Torah (for example, the
verse, 'Moshe commanded us the Torah, the inheritance of the
congregation of Israel'). The purpose of this is to accustom the
child to devote his speech to Torah."
Ramban interprets this verse similarly, asking, "What is the
difference between the command in our verse and that found in
last week's parashah, "And you shall repeat them to your sons,
and you shall speak of them"? The answer is that the earlier
verse contains two separate commands: The first, that a man
should teach his sons Torah, and second, that one's speech should
be devoted to Torah. However, how do we know the extent of a
father's obligation? This is learned from our verse, stating
that "you shall teach them to your sons, to speak about them,"
meaning, that a father must ensure that his sons devote their
speech to Torah.
(R' Shmuel Deutsch, Birkat Kohen section 85)
R' Shlomo Kluger z"l
R' Shlomo Kluger was one of the leading halachic authorities
and among the most prolific writers of the 19th century. R'
Kluger wrote of himself, "Praises to G-d, I have approximately
115 large works on Tanach and the entire Talmud, and commentaries
on the early and later poskim / halachic authorities." It should
be noted that R' Kluger lived 25 years after writing these words,
so that his total literary output may have been much greater.
Ha'eleph Lecha Shlomo, his best-known work of halachic responsa,
has 1,008 chapters.
R' Kluger was born in 1786 to R' Yehuda Aharon, rabbi of
Komarow. R' Yehuda Aharon was a sickly man who died before age
40, leaving his son a homeless orphan. One day, R' Yaakov Kranz
(the "Dubno Maggid") met the young boy wandering the streets of
Zamosc, Poland, and he took him in. (Interestingly, in his work
Chochmat Shlomo, Even Ha'ezer 1:1, R' Kluger analyzes whether one
fulfills the mitzvah to "be fruitful and multiply" through
The Dubno Maggid arranged teachers for his charge, including
R' Mordechai Rabin, rabbi of Zamosc, and R' Yosef Hochgelernter.
The Maggid himself taught R' Kluger the aggadic (i.e., non-legal)
parts of the Torah, meeting with him in regular Friday night
At the young age of 22, R' Kluger was already sitting on batei
din / rabbinical courts with more seasoned scholars. However,
not until he was 36 did he receive his first appointment as a
town rabbi, in Kelokow, Galicia. Later, a certain R' Yosef Yozpa
suggested that R' Kluger apply for the then-vacant rabbinate of
Brody, and R' Yosef wrote R' Kluger a letter of introduction to
R' Ephraim Zalman Margaliot. (R' Margaliot was a businessman, and
was Brody's leading scholar. His works include the popular
Sha'arei Ephraim and Mateh Ephraim.) R' Margaliot interviewed R'
Kluger and declared that R' Kluger was the first person who had
ever bested him in a scholarly discussion. He later wrote of R'
The rabbi, the great and sharp genius, Sinai [i.e., having
far-ranging knowledge] and uprooter of mountains [i.e.,
having a sharp intellect], the famous one, our teacher R'
Shlomo, may his light shine, who several years ago came to
reside honorably in our city, and he was raised and
elevated at the suggestion of the great and lofty ones of
the city to be the head of the bet din and the teacher of
righteousness and speaker of truth [i.e., lecturer on
moral subjects] - his name is 'Shlomo' and his Torah is
'shleimah' (whole), fortunate is the man who gave birth to
him . . .
R' Kluger remained in Brody until his death in 1869. (Source:
Gedolei Ha'dorot p. 665)
Rikki and Nat Lewin
in memory of his mother,
Pessil bat R' Naftoli a"h