Naso 5778


פרשת נשא

Parshas Naso

The Torah is Given to All Jews and
We are All Able to Observe it in its Entirety

וכל תרומה לכל קדשי בני ישראל אשר יקריבו לכהן לי לו יהיה, ואיש את קדשיו לו יהיו איש אשר יתן לכהן לו יהיה – “And all that is raised up (terumah) to all the holy things that the children of Israel bring to the Kohen, it shall be his. A man’s holy things shall be his: and what a man gives to the Kohen, it shall be his [1].”

The pasuk here makes note three times ‘it shall be his.’ What does this mean?

Pirkei Avos (Ethics of Our Fathers), in the section called Kinyan Torah [2], begins: “Rabbi Meir said, ‘anyone who engages in Torah study for its own sake (lishma) merits many things (which cannot be specified publicly).”

Allow me to expound in order to explain both the pesukim and the Mishnah.

The 613 mitzvos include some that are applicable only to Kohanim, some only to Levites, and some only to the king or Kohen Gadol. There are other mitzvos that are applicable only to one who has land or a house. As such, how is it possible for one individual to fulfill all the mitzvos?

One way is through Klal Yisrael as a whole. All of Israel is responsible for one another[3], and through Klal Yisroel’s joint observance, all receive reward. The entire nation of Israel is considered as one whole person, as it says[4]: “ואתן צאני צאן מרעיתי אדם אתם -You are My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are Man.” Just as a single person has a head, eyes, and a heart – so too, collectively in Klal Yisroel, there are those who are called “the heads of the congregation” and others “the eyes of the congregation.” The righteous are the heart of Israel. Each person has to observe the mitzvos that are relevant to him and all combined – Bnei Yisroel is a whole person. An individual Jew cannot himsel, single-handedly fulfill all of the mitzvos of the Torah.

The second way one can observe all the mitzvos is through Torah study. The Gemarah[5] teaches “Rabbi Yitzchak said: ‘What is the significance of the pesukim [6] ‘This is the law of the sin-offering,’ and ‘This is the law of the guilt-offering?’ They teach that whoever occupies himself with the study of the laws of the sin-offering, it is as though he were offering a sin-offering; and whoever occupies himself with the study of the laws of the guilt-offering, it is as though he offered a guilt-offering.”

It is understood that in order for Torah study to count as actual fulfillment of the mitzvos, true intent to perform the mitzvos (by the hand of he who is studying) is necessary.

At this point the words of the Mishnah gain a deeper meaning. “Anyone who engages in Torah study for its own sake (lishma) merits many things.” What do the words for its own sake imply? The word “lishma” actually means “for her name.” And, the name of the Torah is “Torah” and not &ldquo:Chochma” (wisdom). The word, “Torah,” is from the root of “hora’ah,” which means “to teach.” The Torah should not be pursued for intellectual pursuits. Rather, it is a means to ascertain the way Hashem wants us to conduct ourselves. This is the meaning of “anyone who engages in Torah lishma (in order to observe it’s commandments) merits many things” – he now can merit, through his study of Torah, to do many mitzvos.

Last but not least, the third way to complete all the mitzvos is as the Gemarah [7] clarifies: if a person had the will and intent to perform a mitzvah but through forces beyond his control he was deterred from executing the mitzvah the pasuk elevates his intent to be as if he actually performed the mitzvah. It is implicit, that in order for the third reason to actually count as fulfillment of the mitzvah at hand, true intent to execute the mitzvah is necessary.

This also is true for the first reason. The person who is vicariously completing the observance of the Torah in its entirety via the actions of those to whom a mitzvah pertains must be scrupulous in his observance of the mitzvos that he, himself, is able to do. If he does not perform those mitzvos that pertain to him and that he can fulfill, what logic allows him to automatically reap benefit from someone else’s observance?

As such, the first two reasons are in essence incorporated in the third reason – that each Jew be totally committed to observing the Torah and all its Mitzvos.

This is what the pasuk is hinting to us. “And all that is raised up (terumah) to all the holy things that the children of Israel bring to the Kohen “ refers to the mitzvos of the Israelites that the Kohanim cannot perform for the Kohain is not obligated to donate the Terumah tithe as is the Israelite. Nonetheless “it shall be his,” even the kohanim have a part in this mitzvah merely by being a part of Klal Yisroel. This is also true in reverse; the Israelite participates vicariously in the mitzvos that obligate the Kohen.

The next pasuk reads “A man’s holy things shall be his: and what a man gives to the Kohen, it shall be his.” This is a clause that means that the actual mitzvos of another group can only be the other’s if we see that he is scrupulous in his mitzvah observance in regard to other mitzvos. This is the meaning of “and what a man gives to the Kohen.” When we see that he gives to the Kohen then we can say that the Kohen’s mitzvos “shall be his.”

Some clarification is still needed as to why the pasuk repeats the phrase “it shall be his” three times. It may be suggested that this is to demonstrate that there are three ways that one who is incapable of performing a specific mitzvah can nonetheless merit the fulfillment of all of the 613 mitzvos and that they shall be “his”, as if he actually personally completed the mitzvah.

This is a truly befitting lesson for the Shabbos following Shavuos – the time we received the Torah. Reb Yisroel of Ruzhin [8] said, “The Shabbos after Shavuos is referred to (in Yiddish) as ‘Shabbos noch Shavuos.’ In Yiddish ‘Noch’ means after and it also means ‘another.’ This alludes to the fact that the Shabbos after Shavuos is another Shavuos during which we can still tap into and draw down the awesome light of Shavuos itself.” Therefore at this time that we are still in the Shavuos mode we learn the lesson that although it is physically impossible for each individual to observe the entire Torah, we were given various methods to make this (virtually, if not actually) possible.

[1] Bamidbar / Numbers 5:9-10
[2] The 6th Chapter, although technically not a part of Pirkei Avos. It consists of a collection of writings from the period of the Mishnah but not incorporated into the Mishnah proper.
[3] See Tractate Shevuos 39A
[4] Yechezkel 34:31
[5] See Tractate Menachos 110A
[6] Vayikra / Leviticus 6:18, and Vayikra 7:1
[7] Tractate Berachos 6A, also see Tractate Kiddushin 39B
[8] Rabbi Yisroel of Ruzhin (1797-1850), known as “The Holy Ruzhiner.” Rabbi Yisroel was a great-grandson of Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch, he was recognized by all chasidim of his generation as one of the greatest Chasidic masters.