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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Third Category of Mitzvot and Sins

Today I heard two wonderful shiurim (Torah classes) in my Shiloh neighborhood.  The first was in the synagogue during our weekly sit-down kiddush-shiur.  I must admit that I rarely stay for it and am glad that I did today.  Rabbi Amnon Chedri spoke about the Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week.

Numbers Chapter 33 בְּמִדְבַּר
נג וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וִישַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ: כִּי לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ. 53 And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it.

For decades I've considered לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech lecha Go! to be my favorite line. Genesis Chapter 12 בְּרֵאשִׁית
א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ. 1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.
ב וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ, וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ; וֶהְיֵה, בְּרָכָה. 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.

This week's line is the continuation.  It's not enough to visit Israel as a tourist.  Biculturalism is also forbidden.
נב וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם, וְאִבַּדְתֶּם, אֵת כָּל-מַשְׂכִּיֹּתָם; וְאֵת כָּל-צַלְמֵי מַסֵּכֹתָם תְּאַבֵּדוּ, וְאֵת כָּל-בָּמוֹתָם תַּשְׁמִידוּ. 52 then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places.
נה וְאִם-לֹא תוֹרִישׁוּ אֶת-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם--וְהָיָה אֲשֶׁר תּוֹתִירוּ מֵהֶם, לְשִׂכִּים בְּעֵינֵיכֶם וְלִצְנִינִם בְּצִדֵּיכֶם; וְצָרְרוּ אֶתְכֶם--עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹשְׁבִים בָּהּ. 55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that ye let remain of them be as thorns in your eyes, and as pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land wherein ye dwell.
נו וְהָיָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּמִּיתִי לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם--אֶעֱשֶׂה לָכֶם. {פ} 56 And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so will I do unto you. {P}

And if this wasn't enough "food for thought," later in the afternoon Rabbi Dov Berkovits gave a shiur, class to the group of women I study with.  He compared the sins behind the fasts of the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av.  The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz is because of sins against the Torah, and it's a "short fast," only from the beginning of day until dark.  The Fast of the 9th of Av is against ארץ ישראל Eretz Yisrael, the Land and it's a 25 hour fast with additional restrictions.  Sinning against the Land is more serious than sinning against the Torah.

As I listened I was reminded of the differences in trying to repent for the classic two types of sin, between man and G-d and between man and man.  It's much easier to repent when we've sinned against G-d.  We can always find G-d and do תשובה teshuva, repent, but if we sin against our fellow man, G-d can't forgive us.  We must find the victim.  When listening to HaRav Dov's talk, I realized that there's a third category of sin and mitzvah.  It's between man and the Land of Israel. 

The Jewish People was supposed to enter The Land of Israel immediately after leaving Egypt.  If the "spies" had done their job correctly, we would have entered in the summer, around the month of Av. But because of their sins, we fast on Tisha b'Av, the 9th of Av.

Another reason why, unlike mourning a person, the mourning during the Three Weeks gets more and more severe.  When a person dies, we must learn to live without him/her, so the process of mourning takes that into account.  The mourning we do for the בית-המקדש Beit HaMikdash, Holy Temple is the opposite.  We are never supposed to make peace with the fact that we have no Temple, no King.  There are important Torah-mitzvot/commandments we haven't yet fulfilled.

Once we do them, the 9th of Av will become a great holiday.


Hadassa said...

How is sinning against the Land not sinning against the Tora? We only have the Land because of rights granted to us by the Tora. Is it more accurate to say that sinning against the Land is more serious than idolatry? (One of the sins of the 17th of Tammuz is the Golden Calf.)
I wasn't sure what the sins of the 17th of Tammuz were so I searched and found the following article. It's interesting and gives another interpretation of the differences between the fasts.

Batya said...

Hadassa, interesting article.
The Torah has categories of sin, G-d, man and The Land.