The Shabbos Table – Re’eih: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: Yachid & Tzibur, Mitzvos & Midos

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,

It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:

-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel

-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.

-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.










Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)








“Yachid & Tzibur, Mitzvos & Morals”





Based on:

“Sichah – Parshas Re’eih” (2019, 5779)

“Sichah – Parshas Re’eih: Ba’al Tosif & Ba’al Tigra – A Model for B’nei Yeshiva” (2016, 5776)—parshas-reeh-baal-tosif-and-baal-tigra—a-model-for-bnei-yeshiva




Lashon Yachid vs. Lashon Rabbim


The Vilna Ga’on is cited as teaching a somewhat ironic rule of Torah SheB’ch’sav (Scripture), that when the Torah speaks in a Lashon Yachid (singular), it is actually addressing the collective Tzibur (congregation), whereas, when the Torah speaks in the Lashon Rabbim (plural), it is addressing each and every Yachid (individual) of Klal Yisrael. Accordingly, some Mitzvos are rendered in the singular addressed to the Tzibur, and others in the plural, addressed to each Yachid.

For example, when it comes to the Mitzvah of taking the Dalet Minim, the Gemara in Succah (41B) teaches that when the Torah commands “V’Lakachtem Lachem”-“And you (plural) shall take fir yourselves” (Vayikra 23:40), it refers to a “Lekichah B’Yad Kal Echad,” a taking in the hand of each and every individual (See Tosafos S.V. “V’Lakachtem”).



Repeated Mitzvos


In Parshas Re’eih, however, we find a stunning phenomenon, examples of familiar Mitzvos that are repeated, but which are addressed differently.





For example, when it comes to the Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer, the Torah commands in Parshas Emor, “U’Sefartem Lachem”-“and you shall count for yourselves” (Vayikra 23:15) which the Gemara in Menachos (65B), teaches is a command for a “Sefirah L’Chol Echad V’Echad,” a counting performed by everyone individually. And yet in Parshas Re’eih, the Torah states “Shiva Shavuos Tispor Lach”-“seven weeks shall you count for yourself” (Devarim 16:9), a command dependent on the calculation of Beis Din (Sifrei).

(Similarly, when it comes to counting the years of Yovel [Vayikra 25:8], “V’Safarta Lecha” is a command upon Klal Yisrael as a whole, carried about by the Sanhedrin, see Tosafos, Menachos 65B, S.V. “U’Sefartem…”)



Bal Tosif


Another example of this distinction can be found in the Issur of Bal Tosif (lit., “Don’t add on” to the Torah).

In Parshas Va’Es’chanan, the Torah already tells us, “Lo Sosifu…V’Lo Sigra’u” (Devarim 4:2), that one is not supposed to add onto or detract from the Mitzvos Hashem, and yet in Parshas Re’eih, the Torah repeats “Lo Soseif…V’Lo Sigra…” (Ibid. 13:1). Again, the Mitzvah is first written in Lashon Rabbim, and then repeated in Lashon Yachid.



Bal Tosif D’Hora’ah


Perhaps one can suggest that this is a basis for what the Rambam writes in Hilchos Mamrim. When describing the Issur of Bal Tosif, the Gemara in Rosh HaShannah (28B) describes individuals who performs Mitzvah B’Hosafah (lit., with addition), e.g. a Kohein who adds a fourth Brachah to Birchas Kohanim, an individual who adds a fifth Parsha to his Tefilin, a fifth Min with the Lulav and Esrog.

And yet, Rambam writes in Hilchos Mamrim (2:9) that there is another form of Bal Tosif; the Sanhedrin has a right and even an obligation to create Dinim D’Rabbanan, but they have to make it sufficiently clear that each Din is only a Din D’Rabbanan, and not a Din D’Orayisa. Should they attempt to convey that given Din D’Rabbanan is a D’Orayisa, the Sanhedrin would violate Bal Tosif. The Rambam gives an example of the prohibition of eating chicken and milk together, a Din D’Rabbanan. If the Sanhedrin were to declare that this in fact the meaning of the Pasuk “Lo Sivasheil G’di BaChaleiv Imo”-“Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk” (Devarim 14:21, and other places), the Sanhedrin violates Bal Tosif; not in terms of performance of a Mitzvah, but Bal Tosif D’Hora’ah (of ruling).



A Compelling Diyuk in the Rambam


The Ra’avad asks what the source is for such a Din of Bal Tosif D’Hora’ah. But, the answer may possibly be found in this distinction between the two times this Issur appears in the Torah.

A compelling Diyuk may be noted from the Rambam who, when describing the Issur of adding a fourth Brachah to Birchas Kohanim (See Hilchos Tefilah 14:12), quotes the Pasuk from Parshas Va’Es’chanan of “Lo Sosifu” (Devarim 4:2), the plural expression addressed to every Yachid B’Yisrael. And yet, when describing the Issur upon Beis Din of Bal Tosif D’Hora’ah, the Rambam quotes the Pasuk from Parshas Re’eih of “Lo Soseif” (Ibid. 13:1), the singular expression addressed to the collective Klal Yisrael, represented by Beis Din.



“Re’eih…Lifneichem…” – The Yachid & the Tzibur


The Vilna Ga’on (Aderes Eliyahu) points out another such a distinction in the very beginning of Parshas Re’eih:


“Re’eih Anochi Nosein Lifneichem HaYom Brachah U’Klalah”-“See (singular) that I place before you (plural) today, blessing and curse.”


Note the shift between “Re’eih” (“See”) which is in Lashon Yachid and “Lifneichem” (“before you”) which is in Lashon Rabbim. The Ga’on explains that the instruction of “Re’eih” corresponds to the collective experience of Kabbalas HaTorah. However, with the forthcoming Brachah and Klalah, the Torah begins to address the challenge of Bechirah, one’s choices. That, says the Ga’on, is “Lifneichem” in the plural, dependant on each and every individual.

A poignant lesson is the dual axis in which each of member of K’neses Yisrael functions, on the one hand, as individuals, and on the other hand, as members of a larger Tzibur. As an indivudual, one must grow loyally in Eisek BaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah, and Yiras Shamayim. And yet, if one is only concerned with his own growth and not be concerned for his responsibility towards the Tzibur, that would be a deficiency.



The Mitzvos & the Morals


And yet, perhaps there is another difference (*both between the shift in the opening Pasuk of Re’eih and) between the themes of Parshas Va’Es’chanan and Re’eih overall.

The theme of Va’Es’chanan itself which describes Kabbalas HaTorah, the Aseres HaDibros, the semblance of the Taryag Mitzvos, is in fact the Mitzvos Hashem. In the realm of Mitzvos, it is obvious and self-evident that one cannot add on to or subtract from the Torah.

The theme of Parshas Re’eih (*beginning from the Brachah and Klalah), however, is the exposure to the practices of pagan idolaters in Eretz Yisrael and the possible response of, “E’eseh Kein Gam Ani”-“I too will do likewise” (Devarim 12:30), that one might attempt incorporate what they do into his routine into a form of Avodah. The Torah speaks here not merely of particular Mitzvos, but in terms a broader approach to society and lifestyle; that maybe even apart from the Mitzvos Hashem, when it comes to morals, ethics, conduct, Nimusim (manners), one might argue that one can simply glean from… Here, the Torah admonishes us that there is also “Bal Tosif,” that just as the Toras Hashem so obviously informs the Mitzvos therein, recognize that the Torah also informs the Midos and the Hashkafos.



Even the Milei D’Avos


The Rav (R’ Ovadiah M’Bartenura) asks why it is that Maseches Avos begins with “Moshe Kibel Torah MiSinai” (“Moshe accepted the Torah from Sinai”). One would have thought that that would be the appropriate beginning of Seder Zera’im (Sha”s).

The Rav writes that it is obvious that “Moshe Kibel Torah MiSinai” dictates the Dinei Krias Shema, the Dinei Shabbos, etc. However, one might make the tragic mistake of thinking that Milei D’Avos (“matters of Fathers,” ethics) are societal conventions, not necessarily a function our Mesorah. Torah MiSinai does not merely inform the root Mitzvos, but all of the Nimusim and Hanhagos (practices). Yes, be a part of society, but make sure that that which is gleaned and integrated is absolutely appropriate, seamlessly consistent, and not in any way at odds with the Toras Hashem. The Midos HaTorah are informed by Kabbalas HaTorah just as much as the Mitzvos themselves.


Perhaps those are the differences between the two different Parshiyos of Bal Tosif and Bal Tigra, and perhaps between the Lashon Yachid and the Lashon Rabbim.

Asiyas HaMitzvos is something that binds each and every of us. But, when it comes to societal conventions, the Tzibur as a whole, one has to recognize that there is a Bal Tosif and a Bal Tigra. One has to travel cautiously when he enters the world at large, to make sure that everything that is incorporated is appropriate to enhance one’s engagement in the Toras Hashem. The Toras Hashem cannot only inform one’s Eisek BaTorah and Shmiras HaMitzvos, but rather, as Tosafos writes in Brachos (11B), “L’Olam Eino Miyayeish Daito Heimenah”-“in actuality, one does not give up his focus from it [Torah].” The Birchas HaTorah of the morning continues seamlessly throughout the day, not only at a time of absolute Mitzvah, but simply in terms of broadest conduct and how it is that one represents himself as an Eved Hashem.



The Mission Statement


The mission statement of a Ben HaYeshivah is to see to it that the Torah he learns in the beginning and end of the day is something that envelops every moment of each day, every aspect of his life, understanding the true meaning of “B’Chol Dirachecha Do’eihu”-“Know Him in all of your ways” (Mishlei 3:6).


We should be Zocheh to see to it that the concept of Bal Tosif and Bal Tigra which so clearly dictates every aspect of Mitzvos HaTorah should also reflect the Midos HaTorah, the Hashkafos HaTorah, carrying ourselves as true B’nei Torah, loyal to the Mitzvos and Midos of “Moshe Kibel Torah MiSinai.”


*In that Z’chus, we should merit the coming of the Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!