PARSHAS KEDOSHIM תשע”ה
In Parshas Kedoshim we find the famous dictum of Rabbi Akivaואהבת לרעך כמוך love your neighbor as yourself. We are all familiar with the story of the potential convert who approaches Hillel and asks to learn the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel answered him that the essence of this mitzvah is the foundation of the entire Torah. The rest go out and learn.
Question. Why does the Torah write the word רעך with the prefix of the letter lamed? Would it not have been sufficient to simply say ואהבת רעך כמוך ?
A subcategory of this mitzvah is הוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות that one is obligated to judge his friend favorably (Pirkei Avos 1,6). What is the meaning of this seemingly superfluous word לכף זכות ? This week the Tolna Rebbe Shilita on the yartzeit of Reb Dovid Tona ztl told over the story of the Imrei Emes ztl from Gur that he was once addressing this question to one of his chassidim and he suddenly took a shoehorn from his pocket and then began explaining the answer. Holding up the shoehorn to the chossid, the Rebbe said that this object is used to help one put on a shoe when there is a snug fit. The shoehorn stretches the shoe in order to facilitate the foot’s insert. The shoehorn helps one to kvetch it in the shoe, which under normal circumstances, would be a feat quite impossible. So too, said the Imrei Emes, the art of Limud Zechus must be used like this shoe horn. Sometimes it is very difficult and challenging to look favorably at a situation which involves friction between you and your friend or relative. The only way to judge his or her actions and intentions in a good light is to use your judgment and reasoning as a shoehorn. Even if you have to kvetch and build a complex pilpul in order not to condemn a fellow Yid, then you must do so.
There is yet a deeper meaning from where this term of כף in this Chazal comes from. Adam Harishon ate from the Aitz Hadaas through the persuasive seduction of the Nachash which claimed that Hashem was fearful of Adam’s competition. Hashem ate from the Aitz Hadaas and was enabled to create the worlds. The reason why He prohibited you from eating of its fruit is to restrain you from also becoming a creator of worlds. Adam believed this false claim and he ate the fruit. By doing so he failed to judge Hashem favorably as he should have. Hashem is perfect and His only desire is to benefit Man to the ultimate. If the Aitz Hadaas was really beneficial for Man then Hashem would have gladly allowed and even encouraged him to eat from it. If He didn’t, then that was a clear indication that it was not Man’s best interest to partake from it.
Chazal (Chagigah 12) say on the passuk (Tehillim 139,5)ותשת עליך כפכה that Hashem placed His palm on Adam Harishon’s head and diminished his spiritual dimensions and stature. Why did Hashem use His palm specifically to diminish Man? We can say that Hashem wanted Adam to always remember that his greatness was dwarfed only because he did not use the “Shoehorn Reasoning” when it came to perceive Hashem in a good light. The downfall of Man came about because he did not judge using the כף to come to zechus and he was therefore punished midah keneged midah.
The meforshim explain that the gematriah of כף is one hundred. Originally Adam Harishon possessed a stature of two hundred cubits but was dwarfed to one hundred amos. The Meshech Chachmah writes that corresponding to these one hundred lost amos, Dovid Hamelech who received a life of seventy years from Adam Harishon instituted to recite one hundred berachos daily (Bamidbar Rabbah 18,21). According to our explanation, Adam Harishon lost these one hundred amos due to his lack of a good eye in interpreting Hashem’s intentions and actions. Therefore the tikkun came about by benching Hashem with one hundred daily berachos thereby recognizing that Hashem is constantly benefitting us and seeks our ultimate good and shelaimus. As the passuk says (Mishlei 22,9) טוב עין הוא יבורך upon which Chazal write טוב עין יברך a good eye bentches and does not hold back berachos from others. Reciting berachos trains us to acquire a good eye.
In the mitzvah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך the word כמוך can be read as two, כמו – ך translating to mean like the כף. The Torah is therefore instructing us to love your neighbor by using the shoehorn that facilitates the processing of a judgment with a good eye and interpreting the glass half full instead of half empty. We must realize that this is not a small thing. For every time we use that mental shoehorn we bring about tikkun to the chait of Adam who failed to use the chof.
We can now understand the prefix of the letter lamed before the word רעך. The letter lamed means to learn. In order to judge your fellow Yid meritoriously one must learn how to accomplish this for it doesn’t come naturally. One must study the technique and the סברות behind judging Yidden favorably and only then will he be successful in this task. There was once a Rebbe who said that every name of every parsha hints to the mitzvah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך. Immediately one of his chassidim asked smilingly “Rebbe what can you say about Parshas Balak?” The Rebbe smiled back and said “That’s an easy one. בלק is the acronym באהבת לרעך קמוך”. The chosid protested “But Rebbe that is not the correct spelling?” The Rebbe was silent for a moment and then he shot back with the sharp mussar that this chossid needed to hear. “If one truly loves Yidden he will be able to kvetch even a square into a circle as long as he comes out with a כף זכות.
כמוך with the word adds up to the gematriah of אני יהו’ the ending words of the passuk ואהבת לרעך כמוך. If we strive to be to relate to our fellow Yid כמו – ך by using a mental shoe horn and be a מטיב even when there is little reason to do so, Hashem will repay you and give you also the benefit of the doubt when you are being judged by Him.
The passuk says כף אחת עשרה זהב מלאה קטרת (Bamidbar 7,14). We can suggest that the interpretation is that by merely using the shoehorn once has a worth of ten golden pieces, plus it is full with incense. The incense which was placed on this spoon contained the chelbanah, a spice which possessed a foul smelling scent. Yet mixed together with other pleasant smelling spices the chelbanah became unnoticed as it now took on a pleasant scent. So too, by using the mental כף of persuasion, the person that would have normally been quickly slapped with the verdict of guilty for what “looks” like an intentional hurtful remark, because of your ahavas Yisrael he is now enveloped with a pleasant smell derived from all the added shoehorns you inserted in your judgment of him.
I am almost sure that the Imrei Emes carried with him his kaf not only to put on his shoes if at all. Rather this was an important visual lesson that he felt necessary to transmit to every Yid he met, an insight that we all need to learn in order to hasten the bringing of the geulah shelaimah.
Gut Shabbos Rav Brazil