|Written by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
The passuk tells us that when one reaps the harvest of his land he shall not remove completely the corner of his field and he should also not gather his gleanings of his harvest but rather he should leave it for the poor. Rashi brings the Chazal which asks why did the Torah place these mitzvos of giving to the poor smack in the middle between two sets of Yomim Tovim, Pesach and Shavous on one side and Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succos on the other side? This comes to teach that whoever properly gives gleanings, forgettings, and the corner of the harvested field the poor it is considered as if he built the Beis Hamikdash and brought his offerings inside it.
We see the great significance of giving these agricultural presents from another source. The gemarrah in Yevamos 47 states that when a ger comes to convert one must tell him of all the pogroms, attacks and persecutions that will now possibly be addressed to him and become part of his daily experience. If nevertheless he accepts all this adversity by saying that he only wishes that he would be worthy of such a conversion and sacrifice, then we embrace him immediately and then tell him the mitzvos of leaving one’s corner of the gleanings and the forgettings for the poor. What is it in the nature of these mitzvos that create such a brilliant light as we see from these two sources? Let us ponder for one moment that If a ger is all ready to accept anti-Semitism to its fullest and to gladly be part of a holocaust if need be, can it be that he will find it so challenging to leave part of his field for the poor?
Moments of inspiration can uplift an individual to self-sacrifice not only his material wealth but his life as well. The real question is that when that inspiration wanes, does one still retain the original oomph and commitment that he possessed during the time of his accelerated aliya. During that magical moment one was willing to surrender his entire fortune to sanctify Hashem’s name. Afterwards however, he finds himself struggling to control his ever mounting irritation over the tsunami of meshulachim who seem to get on his nerves as they wave their hands in front of him asking to hand over a dollar or two of his hard earned money.
Yitzchak Avinu, who was 37 years old at the time of the Akeidah, reached incredible heights of spirit when he asked his father to tie him tightly on the alter so he would be unable to flinch when his father would shect him and thereby involuntarily invalidate himself as a korban. Yet, after the Akeidah we do not find him returning with his father to Eliezer and Yishmael who were waiting for them. Our Chazal say that instead, Yitzchak went to the Beis Medrash of Shem and Aiver to learn Torah. One might ask that after such a spiritual ascent of self-sacrifice does one have to go to the Beis Medrash and still become a masmid in learning? The answer is that the greater challenge of life is found in the everyday life of the small trivia deeds. Granted that sacrificing one’s life and fortune is commendable and one gains many madraigos instantly, however, the ntti gritty of every day challenges creates a “real madraiga – acquired” individual. Even after the Akaida, Yitzchak was worried about his yetzer harah overpowering him. so he fortified himself with spiritual ammunition to fight the evil inclination that was waiting to topple him.
It was the Alter from Nevardok who remarked that the Torah reading of Yom Kippur mincha really expresses this concept. By the time mincha comes around we already feel like malachim who have sprouted wings. After all that feverous davening and fasting how much higher can we go? Yet specifically at this time we read the parsha of forbidden relationships, infidelity, incest etc. which seem so removed from our thoughts during this holy day. It almost feels that this reading seems like an insult to our present madraiga. However Chazal want to remind us that we should not be deceived by this outstanding holy day of inspiration. Because underneath our hearts there still lurks that ugly possibility of falling into one of these decadences right after motzei Yom Kippur.
Yaakov Avinu was known as the Bechir Havos the choice of our three fathers. One of the reasons is that he had no magnanimous tests or ordeals in contrast to Avraham or Yitzchak. In fact his challenges for the most part of his life was living day to day with Lavan and still observing the Torah with the greatest allegiance, growing up with a brother Esav and still remaining steadfast as a true ben Torah, and facing personal and familial tragedies and setbacks, yet still staunch and unflinching in his being faithful to Hashem.
The Torah commands us to love Hashem with all one’s heart, soul, and middos. Now if one must love Hashem with all his soul which means even to the point where he must surrender it to Hashem if faced with the challenge of Kiddush Hashem, why is it necessary to command one to love Hashem with all his middos which seems so trivial to self-sacrifice? The answer is that to commit to a program of conquering and changing one’s middos is a greater difficult task that a “one shot” Kiddush Hashem. In the same vein the Imrei Emes of Ger comments that just as Chazal comment on the words bechol nafshecha that even in the situation where one’s life is taken away one must love Hashem, the same is true in the command of bechol levovcha, even when one’s heart is taken away from him. What scenario could that possibly be? For instance, let us take the case when one is not in the mood to daven or learn, or to help out one’s spouse, or to listen to one’s child’s seemingly silly concerns. His heart is not with him, yet he is commanded to do the act of chesed or the mitzvah even without his heart’s involvement. Now one should ask how can this be commanded with the same breath of “with all your soul”? The answer is that all your soul is tantamount to the Akeida while “with all your heart and middos” are tantamount to Yaakov’s life the choice of all the Avos.
Yes, the ger is inspired to convert and become a Yid even though it is riddled with incredible challenges of hate towards him. However, as inspired as he is, he must be brought down to earth with the seemingly small challenge of every day giving tzedakah to the poor. At the time of his geirus, this demand might seem almost ridiculous as he is thinking here I am giving up my prestigious comfortable of uncontrolled physical appetites and yet here you are asking me to ensure I give tzedakah daily? Yes, geirus is one thing but the little daily challenges are the true barometer of one’s spiritual ascent or descent. No wonder these mitzvos are esteemed as building the Beis Hamikdash and sacrificing korbanos within. A Beis Hamikdash cannot be built in one shot. It must involve toiling day to day, brick to brick, layer to layer, and only then will the Shechina of Hashem dwell inside.
The seed of Moshiach was transmitted through Rus the Mother of Royalty. The backdrop scene was Boaz’s fulfilling these mitzvos of gleanings and forgettings in his field. This was where their shidduch began. The lesson taught is that if we want to bring the geulah, then we must realize that it’s through the daily struggles and challenges, those without the glory and publicity, that will hasten his coming. Hashem also observes the mitzvos of the Torah. The Megalleh Amukos writes that becasue we leave the corner of the field for the poor, Hashem left a “corner” of the Beis Hamikdash – the Kosel Maaravi. These type of mitzvos will help rebuild entirely the Beis Hamikdash in our days.