Friday, June 13, 2014

nesachim and challah

Sorry, have not felt much like writing.

Right after the sin of the meraglim we have the parsha of nesachim and the mitzvah of challah.  The Midrash comments as follows:

פתח ר' חנינא (קהלת ט) לך אכול בשמחה לחמך ושתה בלב טוב יינך מהו כי כבר רצה האלהים את מעשיך אכול בשמחה לחמך זו פרשת חלה ושתה בלב טוב יינך זו פרשת נסכים מהו כי כבר רצה וגו' זו הכנסת ישראל לארץ שנא' כי תבאו אל הארץ 

In other words, nesachim and challah were a sign that “kvar ratzah Elokim es ma’asecha” (as the pasuk in Koheles ends), of G-d’s acceptance of the Jewish people despite their failings.   

The Ishbitzer points out that the pasuk in Koheles first refers to bread and then to wine, yet the order in the Torah is reversed – first we have the parsha of nesachim, which involves pouring wine on the mizbeyach, and then afterwards we have the parsha of challah, which is taken when baking bread.  Why does the Torah reverse the order from the order in Koheles?

Challah represents yiras shamayim, wanting to be extra careful and go the extra mile for G-d.  The farmer already took out terumah, took our ma’aser, took out ma’aser sheni or ma’aser ani – he’s shown that he remembers that his crops are dependent on G-d.  Now he comes to bake his bread and he’s still not satisfied – let’s take off one more portion and give it to the kohen just to be safe. 

Nesachim represent the depths of the heart.  The gemara in Sukkah tells us that the wine poured on the mizbeyach went down a hole straight into the deepest depths of the earth. 

In an ideal world challah comes before nesachim, we would build up our yiras shamayim until we felt it penetrate down into the depths of the soul. 

Post-cheit hameraglim is what happens when the the ideal has been shattered.  You can’t talk about building up yiras shamayim until it penetrates down into the heart if you think, “heimasu es levaveinu,” that the heart is completely corrupt and unredeemable.  The Torah therefore reverses the order.  First comes the parsha of nesachim – there is still something down there in the depths that can be reached.  The cheit of a Jew is only on the surface and never fully corrupts the soul.  Once Klal Yisrael absorbed that lesson and believed that they still had a connection, then the Torah gives the parsha of challah and talks about rebuilding yiras shamayim.

The gemara (Brachos 14) says that a person who reads kri’as shema without tefillin is like a person who offers a korban without the nesachim that go with it.  What’s the comparison?  When a person wraps tefillin around his head and his arm he shows that his mind and heart and the actions he takes with his hands are all connected – what he is saying is part of how he thinks, acts, and feels; it’s not just words coming out of his lips.  In light of the Ishbitzer perhaps the gemara means that just as the nesachim drip down to the deepest depths, it’s the donning of tefillin that shows that the message of shema is part of the essence of the person.  (See Shem m’Shmuel for a different interpretation.)


  1. Or you can answer tadir vsheino tadir, tadir kodem. Yes nesachem should come first but challah happens more often, so thats why its mentioned first.

  2. Anonymous10:13 AM

    I love when you post Torah from the Ishbitzer. I once said over an Ishbitzer that I saw on your blog (I looked it up inside also) at a yeshiva shabbos meal at my Rosh Yeshiva's house. It was the one about Yosef revealing himself, and how the brothers' situation was reversed instantly, because there was never really a threat in the first place, and how galus is like this...I'm sure you remember, it's one of my favorite pieces I've ever seen.

    Anyway, my Rosh Yeshiva was blown away by this Ishbitzer and a year or two later, a chaver told me that he said it over in my name during his Maharal shiur. One of my proudest moments, all due to your blog, so thanks and keep posting Ishbitzer Torah, it's awesome.

  3. Whos your ry that gives a maharal shiur? (If you dont mind me asking)

    1. RY = ? I have never been in anyone's maharal shiur.
      Tadir/matzuy is a factor when two mitzvos are in front of you and you need to figure out which one to do first. I have never heard it applied to the order of parshiyos in the Torah. I don't think your rule will stand a test if we go through parshiyos like kedoshim, ki tavo, etc. where there are a lot of mitzvos.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Not you chaim, shmuel