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Ascribing Value

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Bechukosai by Rabbi Reuven Weiner

"דַבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ כִּי יַפְלִא נֶדֶר בְּעֶרְכְּךָ נְפָשֹׁת לַה' ''  וַיִקְרָא כ''ז:ב'

“Speak to Bnei Yisrael and say to them: ‘When a man will express a vow to God regarding a valuation of souls.’ ”  Vayikra 27:2

After the Tochachah, the Torah discusses various kinds of donations to Hekdesh (money, animals, fields). Some of these are connected to Yovel – i.e. the donation of fields. Ramban explains that this is the connection from the beginning of Parashas Behar (שְׁמִיטָה אֵצֶל הַר סִינַי) to the end of Parashas Bechukosai.

The Torah starts with the donations of Arachim, giving a person’s “value” to Hekdesh, based only on age and gender, as opposed to דָמִים – one’s monetary/cash worth on the slave market. Throughout the entire section, the word ''עֶרֶךְ'' (value) is always written as "עֶרְכְּךָ'', with the suffix which means “your” – nine times! But why?

Rav Shlomo Wolbe, in his Chumash Shiurim, explains, in the name of the Maharal. In the Shabbos morning davening we say "אֵין כְּעֶרְכְּךָ...בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶה וְאֵין זוּלָתֶךָ...לְחַיֵי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא". "There is nothing at all comparable to You in עוֹלָם הַבָּא – the World to Come", but while we are in עוֹלָם הַזֶה – this world, we declare that there is nothing as valued as You. This world is called Olam HaErchin, since the physical is tangible and apparent. In this situation, it is our mission to find what deserves to be valued. The answer is Hashem and His Torah. Hashem wants each and every one of us to choose Him above everything else. Hashem wants to know what is valuable to you – עֶרְכְּךָ. Values are subjective to our opinion and Hashem rewards us for our choice. Only later, in Olam HaBa, יְמוֹת הַמָשִׁיחַ and תְּחִיַת הַמֵתִים (as in the words of the Siddur), it is perfectly clear to all what is the only true value – Hashem.

Actually, the Ba’al HaTurim shows that parallel to the 143 curses in the Tochachos (45 in Bechukosai and 98 in Ki Savo) are the sum of 143 Shekalim (50, 30, etc.) of all types of erchin, which atone for the curses. The Kli Yakar adds that donations to Hekdesh immediately follow the Tochachah, as people unfortunately tend to give to tzeddakah only when suffering occurs.

Growing up in our Yeshiva years involved first acquiring an appreciation for what is important (honesty, discipline, respect for authority, love of knowledge, etc.), and what is most important – following Hashem’s ways, fulfilling His mitzvos, and as much as possible delving into the Torah. "כִּי הֵם חַיֵינוּ וְאוֹרֶךְ יָמֵינוּ וּבָהֶם יֶהֶגֶה יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה" My high school years at HTC definitely gave me and my classmates the “lift-off” to grow and to choose proper “value-making” decisions.


Rabbi Reuven Weiner (FYHS 1974), is the son of Rabbi Arnold Aaron Weiner, founder of AFTA, who received Semichah from Rav Chaim Kreiswirth in Beis HaMidrash LaTorah, and grandson of Meyer S. Weiner, who greatly helped the Yeshiva in its founding years. Rabbi Weiner studied at Yeshivas Mercaz HaTorah under Rabbi Aryeh Rottman, and learned for many years in Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim.  He currently learns in Kollel in Yerushalayim and has given a Daf Yomi shiur for many years. He lives with his family in Har Nof, Yerushalayim.                                                                  

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