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I Seek My Brother

Reflections is sponsored in honor of Harriet Reiter. May she grow from strength to strength

Reflections is also dedicated in memory of Marissa Reiter Proctor a"h [Chaya Miriam bas Zev HaLevi] , a young woman who embodied the thought present here. May her neshama have an aliyah.  

 

Different Torah for Torah Folks! It comes from the same source, but it is refracted  through different lenses - and therefore it touches people in different ways - a beautiful notion expressed by the author of the Tanya in his introduction:

Those books on piety ... surely do not affect all people equally, for not all intellects and minds are alike, and the intellect of one man is not affected and aroused by that which affects and arouses the intellect of another. As our Sages have said, in reference to the blessing of "He who is wise in secrets" ordained by the Sages to be recited on [witnessing a gathering of] 600,000 Jews,]

As a sequel to a wonderful Ohr HaChaim (Morocco, Jerusalem; 1696-1743)[1], we present another of Rav Chayim Ibn Attar's thoughts that should touch all who want to reach out to other Jews.

Immediately following  the Torah's dramatic presentation of  shemitta and yovel, the text details an apparently unconnected set of halachos of land redemption. The Torah portrays the destitute landholder - who has to sell. [Vayikra, 25]

25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and sell some of his possession,

If there's a close enough relative out there, then a redemptive imperative exists

then shall his kinsman that is next unto him come, and shall redeem that which his brother hath sold.

And if the destitute one has a. no relatives [cf. Rashi] or b. no willing and/or able relatives, then he may yet discover wealth and he can self-redeem. Note that he is no longer called a brother, just a man.

26 And if a man have no one to redeem it, and he be waxen rich and find sufficient means to redeem it;

And a calculation must be made to see how much money he really owes [as each year in the buyer's hand has a dollar value]

27 then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; and he shall return unto his possession.

And if there are no relatives and the seller has no means, then the field will still eventually return - but only once in a Yovel:

28 But if he have not sufficient means to get it back for himself, then that which he hath sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee; and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession. {S}

In these halachos, we find the nexus between economics, chesed and  familial responsibility. We are family might be a nice song, but who is a real [close] relative - one who is willing too stand up and shell out money in time of his kin's need - A kin in need is a kin indeed. Enter Ohr Hachaim, who propels these halachos into a higher altitude:

Remember the following simple key [cf. Reflections Ki Tetze for an elaboration]

a. A tzaddik is a brother to Hashem [cf. Zohar on lema'an achai v'reai]

b. God's property is the beis hamikdash - that is where He dwells

Now read something beautiful:

1. When your Brother becomes poor - When Hashem becomes impoverished

Our deeds effect the celestial  worlds[2] ; When we veer from the path of the good, God becomes impoverished

2. And He sells His property - God's sells the beis hamikdash/mishkan (His place).

Because of our waywardness, he "sells" it to the nations of the world

3. And His closest relative comes to redeem it - The tzadik who is so very close to God [3] will redeem his Brother's sold property

That redemptions shall come when he awakens the hearts of man asking is it so good for you that sit on the outside- distant from your Father's table [cf. brachos 3a] - is it such a sweet life without that elevated chevra with whom you used to be so eat with [at your father's table]. Don't you miss Him and don't you miss them? . He he will evoke within his fellow man a passion for spirituality [and a repulsion for illusory pursuits]

4. But if the Man has no close relative - Hashem is the man [Hashem ish milchama,] - and if no one cares enough to stand up, guide and strengthen the nation to return her back to her father  - do not think that all hope is lost, rather ...

5. The Man will find his hand and will redeem his portion - That hand of Hashem connotes strength[4]- and through this,  redemption shall come

There are other ways to bring the Beis HaMikdash back - through exile and the suffering, a corrective for a nation gone awry.

6. And he shall calculate with his purchaser, and pay off the rest - Hashem shall calculate

Since the sale was because of our sins, [cf. yeshayahu  50:1] and a sins accrue debt, when the writ of debt is to be ripped up, one must calculate how much has been paid [through suffering] and how much needs to be repaid  with money - and this refers to the teshuva ... and so Hashem shall bring about as the redemption approaches

The birthpangs of mashiach is the time of return to His property[5]  - for both Hashem and his people. [Both Hashem and Bnei Yisrael are in Exile[6]].

Until now we have spoken of a hastened redemption, but if ....   

7. ...the Man does not have the means to redeem, then it shall be returned at Yovel - if Hashem sees that his people can not cope with exile and suffering [ they have no more koach, and therefore He can not use his yad] - then the redemption shall still come at the set time [b'itah] - even if the Jews will be completely wicked God forbid

Ohr Hachaim's notion does not only unlock for us the deep proximity between Shemitta [ whose neglect causes exile] and land redemption[7], it frames Jewish History and gives us a sneak preview to where it's all heading. Most significantly [for me] it also gives us a peek into the intimacy that a Jew can achieve with Hashem.  

To the extent that Hashem is not distant lawgiver ["an old man in the sky saying no" - cf. Roger Kamenetz: A  Jew in the Lotus] - but rather a brother - then we pine for His presence and feel a terrible loss in our life and the lives of all who miss out on His closeness. To the extent that we love God, we want to share the love.

A painful admission: I am jealous of those who feel Hashem's pain to the extent that they feel they must do something about it all the time. In them, burns the fire of love of God that I wish to have. Perhaps that is also worth something.  


[2] Cf. Megillah - [b'atzaltayim yimach hamikareh] and Nefesh HaChaim - Shaar 1

[3] Cf. Vayikra, 10:3 - through My close ones, shall I be sanctified

[4] [Cf. Devarim, 2:15 - the hand of Hashem was upon them

[5] Sanhedrin 98b

[6] Cf. Megilah 29

[7] As well as explain the shift from brother to man - for no one feels close enough to him to redeem him - there is no sense of brotherhood


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