Rav Kanievsky Shlita
Leviticus 26:5 “Your threshing will last until the vintage, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your food to satiety, and you will live in security in your land.”
Rashi – you will eat your food to satiety: One will eat only a little [food], but it will become blessed in one’s innards. — [Torath Kohanim 26:6]
Question: After the promise that we will eat to satiety – why is this added bracha (One will eat only a little [food], but it will become blessed in one’s innards) necessary?
Rav Kanievsky: The less time its needed to eat the more one can learn!
אומרים בזמר נעשה אדם נעשה בעבוריך, על רבי שמעון בר יוחאי. ומפרשים שיש כאן כמו גזירה שוה, נעשה אדם, נעשה ונשמע.
רבי שמעון בר יחאי = זהו נעשה ונשמע
In the song regarding Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, we say that the words “We will make man,” was said regarding Rashbi. The commentators say that the words “We will make man are parallel to the words נעשה ונשמע, “we will do and we will listen,“ that were said by the Giving of the Torah.
בראשית ר”ת רבי שמעון בר יוחאי תורתו אומנתו
The Gemara states regarding Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his kind that “his Torah is his craft. “
בבראשית = רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The word Bereishis equals in gematria the words Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = נפטר בל”ג בעומר וחוגגים היומא דהילולא
The words Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai equal in gematria the words “he passed away on Lag BaOmer and we celebrate his passing.”
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = כח שעת הדחק
The words Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai equal in gematria the words “the power of ‘a time of distress,’ as the Gemara often states that one can rely on Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in a time of distress.
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = ויקרא אל משה וידבר
Regarding the words ויקרא אל משה, Rashi writes that this word is a term of affection that HaShem used to call Moshe. We can suggest that Rashi is demonstrating that in order to comprehend the concept of the sacrificial offerings, one must first know what it means to be close to HaShem. Similarly, prior to Shavuos and accepting the Torah, we celebrate Lag BaOmer, the passing of the great Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who was the model for Torah study. The words Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai equal in gematria the words “and He called to Moshe and He spoke.”
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = זה יומא דהילולא בכל שנה בל”ג בעומר
The words Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai equal in gematria the words “this is the celebration of his passing, every year on Lag BAOmer.
נחבא ובנו במערה מפני רומיים = זה רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The words “he and his son hid in the cave from the Romans equal in gematria the words “this is Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
אז שמן ששון = הוא אדונינו רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The words “then was oil, joy,”equal in gematria the words “he is our master Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = הוא האדם חכמה עשית
The words Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai equal in gematria the words, “he is THE man, (with) wisdom You made him.”
בראשית ר”ת אתה יצרת רבי שמעון תכלית בעולמך
The word Bereishis forms an acrostic for the words, “You created Rabbi Shimon, the ultimate goal of Your world.”
יש בו תורה = זה ברבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The words, “in him there is Torah,” equal in gematria the words, “this is Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
ובנו למדו תורה יומם ולילה = זהו רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The words, “(he) and his son studied Torah day and night,” equal in gematria the words, “this is Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = הוא היה היסוד תורה בעל פה (עיין פרי צדיק לל”ג בעומר)
The words, “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai,” equal in gematria the words, “he was was the foundation of Torah Shebeal Peh (the Oral Law) [See Reb Tzadok HaKohen from Lublin in Pri Tzaddik to Lag BAOmer]
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = זהו שכל העולם כדאי הוא בשבילו
The words, “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai,” equal in gematria the words, “this is that that the entire world is worthy because of him.”
שבת ר”ת שמעון בנו תורה
The word “Shabbos,” forms an acrostic for the words, “Shimon (and) his son (study) Torah [based on the Medrash that states that one should make Torah study the focus on Shabbos.]
השר שלום מבעלז זצוק”ל אמר של”ג בעומר במירון הוא כיוה”כ. מירון = כפור
The Sar Shalom of Belz said that Lag BaOmer in Meiron, the burial site of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, is akin to Yom Kippur. The word “Meiron” equals in gematria the word “Kippur.”
במירון מילוי בי”ת מ”ם יו”ד רי”ש וא”ו נו”ן = טמון אדנינו רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The word “in Meiron,” when spelling out each letter, equals in gematria the words, “our master Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is hidden,” i.e. buried there.
מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה = בהלולאה רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The words of the famous dictum, “it is a great mitzvah to always be happy,” equal in gematria the words, “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
רבי שמעון בר יוחאי = במירון היו שמחים בלילה וכל יום
The words, “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai,” equal in gematria the words, “in Meiron they rejoiced at night and all day.”
ל”ג לעומר מילוי למ”ד גימ”ל למ”ד עיי”ן וא”ו מ”ם רי”ש = ביום רבי שמעון בר יוחאי
The words, “Lag LaOMer,” when spelling out each letter, equal in gematria the words, “on the day (of) Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
“Rabbi Elazar said, ‘Anyone who performs charity and justice is considered as if he filled the whole world in its entirety with kindness.’”
BT Sukka 49b
In an important and well-known midrash, Rabbi Zeira said of the Book of Ruth, “This scroll does not contain the laws of impurity or purity, or prohibitions or permissions, so why was it written? To teach you how good is the reward for those who do kindness!” [Ruth Rabba 2:14]. Ruth’s kindness to her mother-in-law is extraordinary, as is Boaz’ kindness to Ruth. As a couple, their final kindness – to rehabilitate Naomi through the birth of a grandchild that she names with the help of her friends – makes perfect sense. Two kind people in union can more than double the impact of their goodness.
Ever have a bad day that takes an unusual turn because of a small act of kindness? Sure you have. Moments like that make us wonder about the magic of kindness. And here Rabbi Elazar tells us that we don’t even realize the full power of kindness because if we did, we’d know that it not only transforms our day but that one some level, it transforms the world. How can it be that one act of kindness fills the entire world with kindness? The talmudic statement found above is supported by a biblical proof from Psalms about God, who “loves charity and justice; the earth is full of the kindness of the Lord (33:5).
To answer this, we turn to a number of other statements that Rabbi Elazar makes on the very same folio page of Talmud: “One who performs acts of charity is greater than one who offers sacrifices, as it is stated, ‘To perform charity and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than an offering’” (Proverbs 21:3). God wants us to give more to each other than to make divine offerings. And Rabbi Elazar keeps going: “Acts of kindness are greater than charity, as it is stated, ‘Sow to yourselves according to charity, and reap according to kindness (Hosea 10:12). If a person sows he is uncertain whether he will or will not eat. If a person reaps, he will definitely eat.’” You can give charity and not be sure if it will have the desired effect. But if you do an act of kindness you can always be sure that your warmth, affection, generosity and concern will touch someone.
To this, the Sages added that acts of kindness are superior to charity in three respects: Charity can be performed only with one’s money while acts of kindness can be performed both with one’s person and with his money. Charity is given to the poor while acts of kindness are performed both for the poor and for the rich. Charity is given to the living while acts of kindness are performed both for the living and for the dead.
These statements all place acts of kindness within a competition for what behaviors yield the most results, impact others most and engage the majority of our own resources. Kindness wins each time. Kindness involves the totality of ourselves in relationship to the totality of another, rich or poor, living or dead. Acts of kindness offer us more ways to express goodness than any other way we might engage others.
And the winner is (drumroll please)…kindness. Such goes the commercial for kindness. This does not, however, explain why kindness changes the world, only why kindness may change the one who offers it and the beneficiary of it.
When you think about that bad day you’re having, your mind creates a landscape of pessimism. You imagine that whatever can go wrong will go wrong and then even when good things happen, you manage to twist their meaning or ignore them in preference to the emotional narrative you have created around personal failure. Your gloom and doom begin to wear away at the rosy picture you may have had of the world at large. Any act of cruelty or insensitivity – from a newspaper article about genocide to a simple episode of road rage – confirms this mental spiral descent. Suddenly, a stranger does something unexpected and full of grace, and the downward plunge you were taking has to recalibrate itself. Maybe the world is not that bad after all, if a total stranger can reach out and do something nice for me or for someone else. Maybe I have to revisit the interpretation of events that I have conjured and come up with a landscape of greater optimism. It is not that the world has changed because of one act of kindness. It is that you have changed your view of the world through an act of kindness.
Desmond Tutu once said: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” In honor of Shavuot, let’s overwhelm the world today. Do something unusually kind today for someone you don’t know. You never know. It may change the world.
Reprinted from the blog “Weekly Jewish Wisdom.” Reprinted with the permission of its author. To subscribe, go to ericabrown.com.
Erica is the author of 10 books. Her latest book is Take Your Soul to Work: 365 Meditations on Every Day Leadership (Simon and Schuster, December 2015). She is also the author of Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death (Simon and Schuster), which won both the Wilbur and Nautilus awards for spiritual writing. She authored Leadership in the Wilderness (OU/Koren). Her previous books include Inspired Jewish Leadership, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Spiritual Boredom, Confronting Scandal and co-author of The Case for Jewish Peoplehood (all through Jewish Lights), In the Narrow Places: Daily Inspiration for the Three Weeks (OU Press/Koren) and Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe (OU/Koren) and Seder Talk: A Conversational Haggada (OU/Koren)
“Six years you shall sow your field and harvest your crops, but the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of strict rest for the land, you must not sow your field.” (Lev. 25:3)
The first thing is to realize is your zero (Ephes).