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Judaism, Torah and Talmud


Parasha No. 32
Behar: “in mount ”

Vayikra (Leviticus) 25, 1 - 26, 2

Klal ufrat, love in words and in deeds


- Stages in the method of study
- First stage: the mitzvot and the main meaning of the parasha
- Second stage: analysis according to Rashi
- How to elaborate questions on the text
- Rashi's method
- The rule of klal ufrat
- Rashi's teaching
- What does Rashi tell us about mount Sinai?
- Third stage
- From study to prayer
- The moral lesson in the rule of klal ufrat
- A particular case
- Every Jew is important for Israel
Integration exercises

Listen to the parasha chanted
(ORT link): Ashkenazi

Listen to the parasha chanted
(Alliance link):Sephardi

Listen to the haftara chanted
(ORT link): Ashkenazi


The Hebrew vocabulary
The meaning of your Hebrew name and that of others
The various Jewish communities
The Jews who are in prison
The Jews who are being persecuted
Jewish children who are suffering
Israel in all its aspects: tourism, society, regions, employment, integration, administration, economics, education, politics, etc.
Our biblical history
How to live our lives connected to the history of our people


Stages in the method of study

We shall follow the 4 stages of the traditional Jewish method of study:
- understand the overall theme and the mitzvot given in the parasha, in the context of the preceding parashiot;
t- hen study the meaning of the peshat with Rashi;
- discover the richness of the Torah;
- understand our role in this life and the laws which regulate the devekut (adhesion) to Hashem in life, study and prayer.

First stage: the mitzvot and the overall meaning of the parasha

The parasha describes mitzvot 326 to 349, which relate to the shemita year, which entails letting the land lie fallow every 7 years and man's obligations during this period.
The issue here has nothing to do with ecology, but rather with the extension of holiness which we have seen develop in the Cohen Gadol (the high priest) and then amongst every member of the people.
Now this holiness is extended to the workplace, production and commerce
This is because there is a real connection between the land and the passage of time, which goes according to a rhythm of 50 divided into seven weeks ; this involves a dissemination of holiness through man's concrete and spiritual work, which we have seen during the period of the Omer.
The Shla stresses that the aim is holiness: "vekidashtem et shenat hahamishim, ye shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (Vayikra 25, 10).
This represents the social administration of holiness in the workplace, notably regarding:
commercial transactions (25, 14; mitzvot 337-338);
the sale of the land;
the prohibition against demanding interest for loans to one's compatriots (25, 37; mitzva 343);
employer/employee relations (25, 39-53; mitzvot 344-348)).

In all this, it is clear that respect for man is also respect for the Creator in whose image and likeness man was made and, as such, the last mitzva is self-evident: "thou shalt not place any figured stone in your land, to bow down to unto it, for I am Hashem thy Elokim" (26, 1-2; mitzva 349).


Second stage: analysis of the text according to Rashi

1. Rashi looks for the meaning in a particular detail of the text. Here he notes that one phrase precedes all the subjects listed above: the parasha begins with these words:
"ayedaber Hashem el Moshe behar Sinai…And Hashem spoke unto Moses in mount Sinai."

2. Rashi then shows us how to formulate a question and draw a lesson from it:
ma ignan shemita etzel har Sinai, what is the link between the shemita year and mount Sinai?
vahalo ko hamitzvot neemeru misinai, for were not all the mitzvot said at Sinai?
ella ma shemita neemeru kelaloteya ve dikdukeya misinai, but this is to tell us that the shemita year was given, as described in the parasha, with all its general and particular rules at Sinai.
af kulan neemeru kelalotehen vedikdukehen misinai, and thus everything else, with their general and particular rules, was said at Sinai.
kakh shenuya beTorat Cohanim, as explains the Torat Coahanim."

Let us examine the middrash Torat Cohanim, since we know that it is always important to look into the sources used by Rashi. We note that he has copied the text of the middrash, with one modification.
Rashi added just one word: ufirtoteya "all the general and particular rules."
We know that Rashi's method consists in communicating his understanding of the text through one modification in the transcription of the source he uses, which is usually a middrash: he usually chooses the modification which best illustrates his understanding of the peshat.

The rule of klal ufrat

Rashi teaches us there a rule for the interpretation of the Torah, which is the fifth of Hillel's 7 rules, that of klal ufrat, which is elaborated in Rabbi Yishmael's rules (7-11), particularly rule no. 8. Students should refer to chapter 11 of Lev Gompers in order to fully understand these important rules governing the interpretation of the Torah.
Here are the words of the 8th rule, the klal ufrat. This rule is so important that it is read every morning in the Sephardi prayers, in the section on the 13 middot or rules of interpretation, just before the first kaddish:
vekhol davar shehaya bikhlal, veyatza min ha kelal lelammed, lo lelammed al atzmo yeatza, ella lelammed al hakelal kulo yatza.
"Everything which is in the general rule and which is given separately as a teaching, does not teach about itself, but about the whole rule from which it derives."
To simplify, let's look at an example: one could say that "this rule applies to all Jews and to those with red hair." The general rule (klal) is "all Jews" and the particular (prat) is "those with red hair." The klal ufrat rule means that when a general category is followed by a specific category, the latter does not have to be added as it is already included in the general category: its function is to show that the general category must be understood solely in the context of the specific category. In the above example, this would mean that the rule applies solely to all Jews with red hair: everything that is taught regarding this particular category applies to the whole category.

[Let us examine this rule based on the sources]
First example

Vayikra, Leviticus 1, 2 says:
adam ki yakriv… min habehema, min habakar u min hatzon
"When any man of you bringeth an offering unto Hashem, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle (klal), even of the herd or of the flock" (prat, specific: only the latter are commanded).
The Torah describes first what is common to all categories, the klal, then the specific category, the prat. In this verse, the details given last constitute the sole rule and are not considered as an illustration of the general rule.

Second example
Analyze Devarim, Deuteronomy 22, 12.

Third example

in Baba Kama, page 54a, lines 3 and 4 describe both the example and the rule:
eima venafal klal… shor vehamor prat.. klal u prat ein bikhlal ella ma she bifrat
"Can one say "and it fall" is intended as a generalization, while and "ox or an ass" a specification (prat), and where a generalization is followed by a specification, the generalization does not apply to anything save what is enumerated in the specification..?"

Fourth to sixth examples

analyze pages 54b and 62b of Baba Kama or page 85a, where the two terms categories are most apart: the klal ufrat rule is never applied unless the general and the specific are in the same verse.

The importance of this analytical process demonstrates that it is not the generalization or the rule which take precedence: they are necessary but they must submit themselves to the specific case. This represents the introduction of morality into social life. While appearing to deal with linguistics and laws of interpretation, this rule gives us a teaching of immense moral significance.
This is why the renowned intelligence of Jews and their contribution to morality in the world have always gone together, and this is why Jews have always been opponents of totalitarian regimes.

Some conclusions

1. All Jews who pray and read these 13 laws of interpretation called middot, know that they correspond to the 13 characteristics of Hashem, which are also called middot.

2. Thus man's thoughts, actions and nature are in harmony with the world. This is the great gift of Torah study, for those who are willing to set aside their intellectual pride and study Jewish scholarship.

3. By studying these detailed rules, applying them to the study of the Torah or the Gemara, and including them in prayer, we can achieve a state of harmony which is that of our likeness with the Creator, with his life (berakha) and his qualities (middot).

4. The Sages, in Peri Etz Hayim, express this when they write that the generality klal is the whole of the Torah (Tiferet) and the prat is its limited but firm application (malkut).

5. Even if we are not aware of this state of harmony, it exists through our desire to live according to the Torah and disseminates life and fruitfulness.

Let's continue examining Rashi's commentary

A second question arises: what is Rashi telling us with regard to mount Sinai?

It is this: "Be extremely careful for, behind this "specific" question about the shemita (letting the land lie fallow every 7th year in order that it too may have a Shabbat), the Torah, in this very verse, discloses through this example a rule of interpretation which enables you to understand the whole of the Torah. It provides an important tool to understanding the Torah."

Here is the explanation
1. This is a rare case where a specific injunction (the shemita), with all its accompanying details, is described as having been given at Sinai. Let's call this event, a "particular case," a prat within the rule.
2. At the same time, the last sentence of the book of Vayikra (27, 34) indicates to us the "general" fact that all these mitzvot were given at Sinai: ella hamitzvot asher tziva Hashem et-Moshe el-bene Yisrael behar Sinai.
3. Since the Torah never repeats itself without reason, it is giving us here an additional teaching.
We shall find out what this teaching is, since we know the rule: "when there is a general rule and a specific case associated with the general rule is given, the specific case is the standard by which the general rule should be understood, and there is no exception to this."
Thus in the present case:
1. The general rule given at the end of the book states only that all the mitzvot were given at Sinai.
2. But the specific case within this rule, described at the beginning of the parasha, tells us that it (the shemita) was given to Moshe with its general rules and specific cases, as described at length in the Torah.
3. We can therefore conclude that Moshe received at Sinai all the mitzvot without exception, with their general rules (as indicated at the end of the book of Vayikra) and in the smallest details regarding their accomplishment and meaning.
Hillel calls this the klal ufrat rule (general and particular). Rabbi Nehunia, the master of Rabbi Yishmael interpreted the entire Torah according to this rule and transmitted his method to his disciple. This is what makes his commentary so rich and practical, and this is why he is studied during the period of the Omer.

Clearly, this changes our understanding of the Torah, the mitzvot and their realization, for it teaches us that:
- there is harmony in the details of the mitzvot,
- this teaching was given to Moshe,
- and it was handed down to us through the chain of transmission,
- each one of us is a link in he chain of transmission, understanding and realization,
- we still have much to study.


Third stage

Those who view Rashi as a strict grammarian concerned with detailed elaborations and rules, have not understood the importance of his method, which is that only detailed study enables us to uncover the meaning of the Torah and to attain life.

They also do not understand that, as notes the Shla, Rashi only speaks from within the Ruah hakodesh, the divine spirit: therefore his message is never only an elaboration of a grammatical or linguistic point.

His detailed clarifications resemble the precision of a key: if you do not possess the key which corresponds to the lock in the door, you will be unable to open it. In the case of a less important room, if the key is inaccurate, it is still possible to open the door for the lock is just a temporary one. In contrast, only the most accurate key will open the lock which leads to the treasure and those who do not have it will not be able to open it. The same goes for the Torah, as notes Rav Guikatilia in all his books and in the introduction to Shaarei Ora.


From study to prayer

We now understand why, as a result of Rashi's outstanding opening commentary, the rules of Rabbi Yishmael have become part of the morning prayer, shaarit: in the preparatory phase, following the recitation of the components of the holy incense and the sacrifices (korbanot), and just before the recitation of the 4 qualities of man according to Yehuda ben Teima, all this enables man, with a lelav shalem, a full heart, to reach the first kaddish in the morning prayer which elevates the work accomplished by the people in prayer to the second, higher level, which is one of praise and union (hodu, barukh she amar, etc.).

Thus this detailed study of the Torah by Rashi and his followers, which ignorant antisemites call "Talmudic niceties," takes us not into the study of grammar or academic linguistics but into the union of prayer and life.

The tools provided by Rashi, Hillel and Rabbi Yishmael and the fact that the anshei knesset hadedola inserted this rule into the morning prayer help us to understand this important Jewish principle of the general and the particular.


The principle of the general and the particular

The Sages have written extensively on this theme:
The general rule, the klal, represents the general will of Hakadosh Barukh Hu to communicate his Torah through the intermediary of his people devoted to the study of His Torah (refer to Peri Etz Hayim):
The second part, "what differs from the general rule, the specific case, the prat," relates to the realization in this world of the will of Hashem and ours.
This is expressed in the verse preceding the amida: Adonai sefatai tiftah ufi yagid tehilatekha, Hashem, Thou shalt open my lips and my tongue will praise Thee.
This precise detail regarding realization in study, prayer and action, teaches us about the general, immense love found in the Torah (klal) and which Hashem wishes to communicate to us.
And this teaches us that this is the case for all the mitzvot and every individual mitzva. These are the doors which Rashi has opened for us, this what we mean when we say "a Rashi."
He adds: these are the rules of study and of halakha that will lead us to the union with Hashem, to which He invites us and which He has revealed to us in the tiniest detail of existence and human relations.
Every individual must be heard, respected and valued, otherwise the klal, the whole will ipso facto be destroyed: the creator himself, in whose likeness we have been made, would also be harmed.

What prayer can express such beauty? Only the morning prayer, written by our Sages.
Let's read again Rashi's commentary:
vekhol davar she haya bikhlal veyatza min hakelal lelammed, lo lelammed al atzmo yatza, ella lelammed al hakelal kulo yatza.
"Everything which is in the general rule and which is given separately as a teaching, does not teach about itself, but about the whole rule from which it derives."
Once we have understood this, each word in this rule of study becomes as beautiful as the words of lekha dodi. This is the condition for the realization of the Torah - respect for each individual.
How rich is the Torah; we have discovered so much and yet we have only studied the first few words of the parasha: vayedaber hashem el Moshe behar sinai.


My personal commentary. Every Jew has a role to play in Israel.

Since the above sentence is followed in the text by the word lemor (saying), we are all free to express in our own way how we interpret the Creators divine plan .
In my view, this means that for those who value the Torah (the stage called klal), which they have the privilege of studying and applying to their lives (stage called prat), they can improve the klal by their individuality. If this element is lacking, then the entire body of the people is affected and harmed.
Life is often very hard in Israel and many who come to live here suffer deeply from the gap that exists between their expectations and ideal and daily reality. Criticism is justified and come easily.
But if every idealistic individual comes and makes his own special contribution, which only he can bring to the world, then it will be much easier for us to confront the challenges before us.

It is said: if your brother succumbs under the burden he is carrying, you must not remain indifferent but go to his aid. This commandment is found in verse 25, 35:
vekhi yamukh ankha u mata yado imakh, vehehezakta bo ger ve toshav vahai imakh
"If thy brother be waxen poor and his means fail with thee, then thou shalt uphold him, as a stranger and a settler shall he live with thee."
Given this context of helping others cope with life in this land which the Creator gave us, Israel is not a country where one holidays, dreams or retires ; our country, Israel, is a place where each one of us counts, and where our absence is felt by others and ourselves. This is a place where someone's absence impoverishes the human and divine aspect of the country.
If a Jew has an ideal view of education and social life and does not bring his idealism to Israel in order improve it, is missed here.
Every who loves Israel, this land of our heritage, of our values, this world sanctuary of blessings, is missed for forces are at work to liquidate the country and its identity.
Those in prison are also missed ; every day we count the days of their sentence together with them on Modia's home page and in our hearts. Jewish children taken away from their people against their wishes are also missed (see "martyred children" on the home page). Nor do we forget the large numbers of Jewish children who were taken away from their people during the Shoah, in order to save their lives, and who were never returned to their people: we know of many who belong to various churches but who know their origins and suffer in silence, because they feel they cannot change their lives after so many years.

This also explains why Modia devotes many pages to discovering the rich culture of the different Jewish communities, with their masters, traditions, customs, ways of chanting the Torah, names, etc. They deserve equal respect and are equally worthy of being studied.
Each letter of the Torah should be studied.
Each facet of the land of Israel should be studied through the Torah.
Each facet of the Jewish people should be studied through the Torah.
Text-land-people are the three dimensions of Jewish identity, and each dimension must be known, respected, loved, and shared.
We are still far from accomplishing our mission. The Ethics of the Fathers (Pikei Avot), which we read every day during the counting of the Omer, tell us: you are not commanded to finish the task, but you are commanded not to abstain from it.
We can begin first by teaching our children that "success" does not mean the amount of money they will make. "My son is a success" (i.e. he has made money. But what about the rest? I don't understand what you mean).

After having discussed the mitzvot and their meaning at the highest level, the Shla concludes that what is important is to help one's fellow man. All else is false and devoid of meaning. Children are not fooled when they reach the age when they seek an ideal and judge their parents. The halftara of the next parasha, Behukotai, describes the happiness we can find if we have the audacity to choose this way and not to play a double game (Jeremiah 16, 19 - 17, 14).

We now understand why the parasha ends with: lo taasu lakhem elilim, "You shall make you no idols." This means: do not delude yourselves, by falsifying Me and My Torah. Not respecting others means harming the Creator for man was made in his likeness.
Note that the prophet says this to Jews who live in the land of Israel and not just to those who do not.
Permit me to make a statement that is not easy to accept. It is made by someone who works with people who suffer social and psychological problems in Israel, who has personally witnessed human tragedies, social and domestic violence, and has seen poor people abandoned and humiliated. Israel is today a country that has one of the highest gaps between rich and poor, as the President of the Knesset recently pointed out. This is proof that something is wrong in the collective education of the people. Do not say to me: you shouldn't publicize such things, for this would be like tampering with the verses of the Torah.
In the book of Vaykira, the Torah and Rashi have given us the keys to renew the world. Study the Sages in order to understand the very specificity of this Torah of life: work on your middot. The period of the Omer is the time for this self-work.

Improving our middot, modestly and practically, is a way of renewing the world. For He does not abandon us, the guardian of Israel.

Integration exercises
study the Hebrew text and the English translations in this commentary.
formulate questions which arise from this commentary.
re-read the parasha from the perspective of this commentary.
pass on what you learn to those who know less than you.
discuss ideas relating to this parasha with family and friends.

Vocabulary on the general and the particular

an individual, a unity, detail: yahid, prat
details: peratim, pratim
particularly, especially: bifrat
small details: prate pratim
in all its details: le khol pratav
the protocol (of a reunion): prate-kol
small change: perete
detailed report (telephone calls): ha perut
private (domain): prati

the whole, a collective, a public, a general rule: kelal
totally: klal
an important rule: klal gadol
absolutely: bikhlal
it's the rule: ze ha klal
an exception: yotze min ha klal
there is no rule without an exception: ein klal she ein bo yotze min ha klal
the general interest: iniane ha klal
all Jews: klal Yisrael
general (adjective, as in director-general, general assembly): klali


- Psychology and Repentance
   (in french)

Part 15

Part 16

- Jerusalem excavations
- Terror and counseling
- Peace and peoples
- Israel and Iran
- Visual study & song on snow
for, through our union with the song of nature, the plan of Creation will be fulfilled

Poem: to be moon

In french

Avec Modia, vivez
vos vacances en Israël,
Texte et photos

- Par Modia, arrivez au Kotel
- La vie du Kotel
- Prières au Kotel
- Fête au Kotel
- La destruction du Temple
- Photos rares et émouvantes des abords du Temple
- Synagogues de Jérusalem
- Maisons de Jérusalem
- Les fleurs de Jérusalem
- Ici, tout sur Jérusalem
- "Le" texte sur Jérusalem
- Voir et visiter Israël
- Voyage dans le Nord d'Israël
- Belle carte d'Israël
- Jérusalem et les nations

- Vacances en Israël sur Modia
- Le Kotel en film direct
- et ici aussi, autre caméra

- Trahison historique:
L'antique synagogue de Jéricho


Part 17

- Love towards all people
- Light in war
- Before the hanukiah
- Land of Israel
- Jerusalem excavations 2007
  Proof of the lies propagated
  by the media

In french - Hope in Israel

Part 20
"Encounters with God
in the real"

- You are planning a tour in Israel - Photos
- My photos and judaism
- New year of beauty
- Flowers
Gallery photos

Part 21

- My english songs


Rav Professor
Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour
(Dipur, in hebrew)

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