Parshat Ki Teze
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
To the Covert to the Orphan and the Widow it Shall Be
“Satisfy us with Your goodness…”
This prayer is said in our prayers of Shabbat, the day when the Holy Presence is revealed unto us and “satisfies” us as the “Shabbat Queen.” Our Sages also teach that material sustenance and satisfaction throughout the week also come in consequence due to the meals of Shabbat. In a number of sources (see Brachot 14 and Tanhuma Behalotcha 7) we see that our Sages homiletically interpret the word for “satisfy” – which contains the verb root s.v.a – as also indicating the number seven, “sheva”, for non-vowelled writing “sin” and “shin” are identical, and therefore they may be interchanged in homiletic interpretation. Therefore, we may say that the satisfaction, “svia” [verb root s.v.a], of the Shabbat is rooted to the identity of Shabbat being the “seventh day,” “hashvi’i”, of the same verb root s.v.a. In a similar way, we can contemplate the seventh year in the Land of Israel, the Shmita year, which brings satisfaction and sustenance to the poor, as the Torah says that on this year “the poor shall eat [the produce of the Shmita] year.” Just as the Holy Presence is accentuated on Shabbat, thereby providing spiritual and material satisfaction, so too it is the accentuation of the Holy Presence on the Shmita year in the Holy Land that provides satisfaction to those who are usually downtrodden and unsatisfied.
In truth, we see in this parsha that the satisfaction provided by the Land of Israel to the poor is not limited to the Shmita year. All agricultural gifts to the poor, such as shicheha of produce, grapes, or olives, as mentioned in this parsha, are applicable only in the Land of Israel on a Biblical level. If the Torah wishes to teach us only to make gestures of kindness towards the needy, it would follow that the commandment of shicheha should apply Biblically in the Diaspora too. However, from the unique connection of these gifts to the Land of Israel we may see how it is the “satisfying” nature of the Holy Land which provides for the needy, i.e those who would otherwise be not satisfied. In this way we may say that, just as on Shabbat the Holy Presence “satisfies” the soul and body in realm of time, so too the Holy Presence in the Land of Israel satisfies the soul and body in the realm of location. However, there are different levels in regard to the manifestation of this Presence. Therefore throughout the 7-year Shmita cycle specific gifts through specific criteria, such as peah, leket, and shicheha, are given to the poor, while on the Shmita year, when there is a special manifestation of the Holy Presence in the Land, a much more general “sustenance and satisfaction” is provided, thereby rendering all produce of the Land “ownerless” and open for the consumption of the needy throughout the entire year.
Even though we may not be poor on a material level, we can always see ourselves as “needy” for spiritual “satisfaction,” as the Divine Light is infinite, and we are always “needy” for self-perfection. It is in our Holy Land that we can indeed achieve spiritual satisfaction, which in turn illuminates our consciousness to realize our “neediness” towards even higher spiritual levels, causing a continuous process of joy and satisfaction along with the thirst and aspiration for more. Upon Hebron it is said “Hebron was built “seven years before Zoan of Egypt.” Based on the homiletics of our Sages on the word “seven” – “sheva” – we may also say that there is a special power of “satisfaction” – “svia” – that lies with Hebron. Indeed, just as the Holy Land provides satisfaction, so too Hebron, the Beacon of the Holy Land, provides special spiritual and material satisfaction even more [as hinted by the word “before”] than “Zoan of Egypt”, upon which it is said “like the paradise of Hashem, like the land of Egypt.” (Gen. 13, 10)
This parsha contains many laws that are discussed at length by the poskim. One of the great poskim of Hebron was Rabbi Yosef Abuhav. Rabbi Abuhav was born in Venice approximately in 5400 (1640). In absence of his father, he assumed the position as the Rosh Yeshiva at his father’s yeshiva. In 5460 (1700) he moved to Hebron, where he also passed away. His Torah works were not printed, but many of his halachic rulings are mentioned in the Hida’s sefer “Haim Shaal”. The Hida praises him extensively.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #277
“One week I had been making great effort in evaluating and calculating tithes that I give towards charity. On Shabbat of that week I was called to the Torah for an aliyah which begins “you shall give tithes.”
Sources: Rambam Matnot Aniim ch. 1, Sefer Hebron 119
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