FedTalks Parshas Behar – Rabbi D Tugendhaft – Transcript
We often hear about people saying they want to eradicate poverty and stamp out poverty. In this week’s parsha, parshas Bahar, we really do speak about that, but of course, as always, there’s much more than meets the eye. We’re told “vechi yomoch ochicho umoto yodoi imoch”- if your brother becomes impoverished and his hand can’t afford the things, he needs with you – “vehechezakto boi”- strengthen him. “Ger vetoshav”- even if he is a newcomer or whether he is a resident. “Vechai imoch”- and he should live with you.
If we look carefully at the pasuk, we see that there is a repetition. It says “vechi yomoch ochicho”, “vechi yodoi”. “He becomes impoverished” and “he can’t afford things”. Surely this is the same thing, just said twice? Then again at the end of the pasuk, it says “vehechezakto boi”- you should strengthen him. And then it says “vechai imoch”- and he should live with you. It seems to be a repetition. And then in the middle of the pasuk it says “imoch”. “Umoto yodoi imoch”- with you. Why is that word mentioned over here?
I saw a beautiful explanation in the sefer Dorash Dovid, where he says as follows:
Actually, there are two types of poverty. There isn’t just physical poverty, but there is spiritual poverty as well. When a person doesn’t realise the incredible neshomo that he has, when he or she doesn’t realise the incredible gift that we have to be a member of klal Yisroel, Torah and mitzvos, that is also a type of poverty. And the posuk is speaking about both types of poverty.
“Vechi yomoch ochicho” that is talking about spiritual poverty. They don’t realise how amazing it is to be a yid, how meaningful it is to be a yid, how we are preparing our oilom habo whilst having, as well as that, a wonderful olam haze. And “vechi yomoch ochico”, they don’t realise, they become impoverished, spiritually. “Umoto yodoi”- and their hand, their physical hand, cannot afford the things that they need, that is the physical poverty.
It has to be “imoch”, that you really feel for them, they are with you, you try and empathise, you try and work out “what will it take”.
With that, we can understand the continuation of the posuk. “Vehechezakto boi”- you should strengthen him or her. This is talking about spirituality, ruchniyus. How can you help them become closer to Hashem. How can we help them appreciate the beauty and the meaning of Torah and mitzvos, how easy and doable it is. How can we become a role model? And in addition, “vechai imoch”, what can we do for their parnosso, how can we help this person physically as well.
So yes, we have to eradicate poverty, but both types of poverty.
There is a friend, somebody who I know, he told me how he became frum. He was on a plane once on the way back from Eretz Yisroel. And there was a yid sitting next to him, with a long beard. It turned out that he was a maggid shiur in a yeshiva. And he had such a warm smile and he was so interested in his life. And he asked him “how are you doing?”. The yid, the ben Torah, asked this secular yid “how are you doing? Tell me how things are going!”. They struck up a relationship, they came back to England. They kept in phone contact, that was of course followed up by a Shabbos meal. And now there is a whole extra family of bnei Torah. Why? Because he realised “vechi yomoch ochico”, he realised that this person was missing Torah and mitzvos. “Vehechezakto boi”, so he gave him chizuk.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu should help each and every one of us that we should be in a position where we are able to provide for others physically and spiritually and we should be zoiche to do this and bring great nachas to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and we should be zoiche to eradicate all these types of poverty.
Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos!