King Shlomo writes in Mishlei (9:1), "With all forms of wisdom she
did build her house; she carved out its seven pillars." R' Yaakov Sakly
z"l (Spain; 14th century) comments: It is well known that both the
meshalim / parables and the nimshalim / morals of King Shlomo deserve
study, for the parable is not randomly chosen and it has its own
importance. Indeed, the more important the lesson to be taught, the more
important the subject of the parable should be. In the words of Mishlei
(25:11), "Like golden apples carved on silver platters." True, silver is
not as valuable as gold, but it is nevertheless a worthy material on which
to serve golden apples. [On the other hand, one would not serve golden
apples on paper plates.]
In our verse, the parable is about a woman. R' Sakly explains that
King Shlomo is acknowledging the special role that women play in the
development of human civilization. No other creature needs its food
prepared or its home cared for in the manner that humans do, and this is a
role filled by the woman. Thus, "With all forms of wisdom she did build
her house." What is the meaning of, "She carved out its seven pillars"?
R' Sakly explains that a basic house requires only four pillars-one at
each corner. Thus, "seven pillars" signifies a larger, more luxurious
home. When a man has a large house and is able to host guests (as one
should), this, too, is to the credit of the woman of the house.
The nimshal of our verse is wisdom in general, and Torah in
particular. In those contexts, the number seven refers to many things,
including: the "seven wisdoms," the seven books of the Torah (see Shabbat
115b), and the seven "places" where Hashem gave the Torah: (1) from His
mouth; (2) face-to-face; (3) from the heavens; (4) at Har Sinai [as
mentioned in the opening verse of our parashah]; (5) in the Ohel Mo'ed;
(6) in Trans Jordan; and (7) in Zion, as it is written (Yeshayah 2:3),
"From Zion the Torah shall go forth." (Torat Ha'minchah)
"You shall sanctify the year of the fiftieth year . . . and each
of you shall return to his ancestral heritage . . ." (Vayikra
Why is the word "year" mentioned twice? R' Yechezkel Shraga
Lifschutz-Halberstam z"l (the Stropkover Rebbe) explains:
During the 49 days of the Omer, we are supposed to be preparing
ourselves to receive the Torah on Shavuot, the 50th day. But what if
Shavuot comes and we realize that we have not prepared at all? It is
written in certain works that one should not become depressed, for, on
Shavuot itself, one can make-up all of the spiritual gains that he should
have accomplished during the Omer.
The same thing, says the Stropkover Rebbe, is true of the Yovel /
Jubilee year, which has additional holiness compared to other years. The
repetition of the word "year" in our verse teaches that one can attain in
one year everything that he should have achieved in the preceding 49
years. This is similar to that which Rambam writes: "Even the repentance
of one who does not repent until he is on his death bed is accepted."
[Ed. note: Rambam does write, however, that such a repentance is not as
meaningful as a repentance that occurs in one's youth, when one's drives
Why is it that one can repent in his old age after a lifetime of
sinning? Why is it that one can accomplish in a short time (in the 50th
year or on Shavuot) what one should have spent a long time accomplishing?
Our verse tells us the answer: Such a person is merely returning to his
ancestral heritage. In reality, no Jew ever lets go of that heritage
completely, whether he realizes it or not. (Divrei Yechezkel Shraga Vol.
"If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments . .
Rashi writes that "If you will follow My decrees" refers to toiling
in Torah study. If so, writes R' Akiva Yosef Schlesinger z"l (Hungary and
Yerushalayim; died 1922), we can understand why this verse follows
immediately after the verse, "My Sabbaths you shall observe."
Specifically, the Midrash Tanna D'vei Eliyahu states that the primary time
for Torah study is on Shabbat, when one is free from work. (Torat
"Then they will confess their sin and the sin of their
forefathers, for the treachery with which they betrayed Me . . .
I, too, will behave toward them with casualness, and I will
bring them into the land of their enemies." (26:40-41)
Why, if Bnei Yisrael confess their sins, will Hashem behave toward
them with casualness and bring them to the land of their enemies? R'
Moshe Freidiger z"l (communal leader in Pest, Hungary) explains:
Teshuvah means confessing one's sins and not making excuses. Here,
Bnei Yisrael will confess, but they will justify their actions by saying
that their forefathers acted the same way. Such "teshuvah" will be
rejected. (Quoted in Otzrot Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot)
"Ten miracles were performed for our ancestors in [connection
with] the Holy Temple: . . . (10) No man ever said to his
fellow, `The space is too narrow for me to stay overnight in
Yerushalayim'." (Chapter 5)
R' Chaim Palagi z'l (1788-1868; rabbi of Izmir, Turkey) notes that
the early commentaries offer three explanations of this statement:
Rashi z"l explains that Yerushalayim provided adequate sustenance for
all of its inhabitants and no resident of Yerushalayim had difficulty
earning a living there.
Rabbeinu Yonah z"l explains that there was adequate room in
Yerushalayim for all Jews who came there.
Others explain that, no matter how crowded Yerushalayim was, the air
was always fresh.
R' Palagi observes that these three praises of Yerushalayim are
alluded to in the words of Birkat Hamazon, in which all of Eretz Yisrael
is described as "chemdah, tovah, ur'chavah." "Chemdah" means "desirable,"
a reference to the pleasant air. "Tovah" means "good," and it refers to
the availability of a livelihood. Finally, "rechavah" means, "wide-open,"
a reference to there being enough space for all Jews. (Haggadah Shel
Pesach Pninei Rav Chaim Palagi p.380)
R' Avraham Azulai z"l (the Chessed L'Avraham; died 1643 in Chevron)
interprets the mishnah as referring to pilgrims who came to Yerushalayim
for the Shalosh Regalim. He notes that the words of the mishnah were
carefully chosen. Not only did no one ever say, "There is no room for
me," no one even complained that "There is space, but it's too narrow to
Moreover, writes R' Azulai, it is human nature to complain before
trying the accommodations and to acknowledge in the morning that they were
not so bad after all. Nevertheless, not only did no one ever say, upon
awakening in the morning, "The space was too narrow," no one ever said
before laying down to sleep, "I don't know how I'll get a good night's
sleep in such a narrow space." (Peirush Al Masechet Avot)
This Week in History, Halachah, and Minhag
23 Iyar was observed as a fast day in Worms (Vermiza) in
commemoration of the massacres of Jews by Crusaders in 4856 (1096).
(Luach Davar B'ito p.990)
This date is listed in Megilat Ta'anit as a day when fasting is
prohibited in commemoration of the salvation that took place on this date.
Specifically, the Chashmonaim expelled the Greeks and their allies from
the fortress from which they had terrorized the inhabitants of
25 Iyar (the 40th day of the Omer): R' Yechezkel Halberstam (the
Shiniva Rebbe; died 1899) would eat dairy today because the gematria of
"chalav" / milk is 40. (Likkutei Divrei Yechezkel Ha'chadash)
26 Iyar (41st day of the Omer): Some have the custom to visit the
grave of Yosef Ha'tzaddik (son of Yaakov Avinu) in Shechem on this day
because Yosef was the paradigm of morality alluded to by the kabbalistic
attribute associated with this day of the Omer ("Yesod she'b'yesod").
(Luach Davar B'ito p.995)
On this Hebrew date, World War II ended in Europe. (Hostilities
ended after sunset on May 8, 1945; thus, the 26th of Iyar had already
28 Iyar is listed in Megilat Ta'anit as a day when fasting is
prohibited in commemoration of the salvation that took place on this date.
Specifically, the Greek occupiers of Eretz Yisrael and their Jewish allies
used to decorate their places of idol worship, as well as their stores and
homes, with floral wreaths in honor of their gods. They also used to sing
songs in public that honored their idols. On this date, the Chashmonaim
put a stop to these practices.
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
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