Parshas Behar 08

This weeks Parsha is Parshas Behar. The Parsha contains many varied mitzvohs. One of the commandments in the Parsha is the mitzvah – “Vchi yomuch achicha… vhechezakta bo… if your brother becomes improvised you should strengthen (support) in him.” (Leviticus 25:35) There is an obvious question: Why is the word bo –in him used? Wouldn’t the word oso – him be more correct? After all, the person helping is strengthening, or supporting the person who he is helping?

The Chafetz Chaim once asked a similar question: Why is it that we are taught in Proverbs that the Torah is “eitz chaim hi lmachazikim ba - a tree of life for those who strengthen in it” (Proverbs 3:18)? Wouldn’t it be more correct to refer to the Torah as a tree of life for those who strengthen it – the Torah?

The Chofetz Chaim explained that the person who supports Torah is not strengthening the Torah. Rather, the Torah is strengthening its supporter. This is similar to a person who grabs a tree to avoid falling into a hole. Would anyone say that the person is holding up the tree? Although he is certainly hanging onto the tree, the tree is what is saving him, not him saving the tree. Similarly, when a person supports Torah, he or she does not hold up the Torah. Rather, the Torah holds up him or her. The merit of supporting Torah is so great, it provides for the one who is doing it.

This is also true regarding the mitzvah of helping a poor person. The person who helps someone who is poor is in actuality helping himself. Our Sages express it in the following way: “More than what the rich person does for the poor person, the poor person does for the rich man”. (Medrash Rabba 34)

If we can realize this, and appreciate the benefit that we have from both supporting Torah and helping others, then we will hopefully come to a level where we actually feel Ahavas Chesed – love of doing kindness. Hopefully in this way the world can be lifted up and become a place of kindness and charity.