Sign up to TorahFax


Thursday, Iyar 11, 5782 (26th day of the Omer)/ May 12, 2022


In this week's Parsha, Emor, the Torah commands us about the observance of the holidays, "And the L-rd spoke to Moshe, saying: speak to the children of Israel and say to them: The appointed seasons of the L-rd you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My appointed festivals." 


The Torah begins with the mitzvah of observing Shabbat.  Then the Torah goes on to describe the holiday of Pesach (Passover); the Omer sacrifice; the mitzvah of counting the Omer for a period of seven weeks; the holiday of Shavuot and the sacrifice of the Two Breads on Shavuot; Rosh Hashanah; the sounding of the Shofar; fasting on Yom Kippur - the day of atonement; Sukkot and its mitzvot and the mitzvah of Lulav and Etrog. 


However, in between describing the service in the Holy Temple for Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah the Torah commands about the mitzvah of giving charity - helping the poor. 


The Torah says, "And when you reap the harvest of your land you shall not completely reap the corner of your field and the gleaning of your harvest you shall not gather; for the poor and for the stranger (convert) you shall leave them: I am the L-rd your G-d."  


Q.  Why did the Torah tell us about the mitzvah of charity while speaking about the holidays and their particular sacrifices?


A.  According to our sages this is to teach us the greatness of the mitzvah of charity.  "For G-d credits whoever gives charity as if they built the Holy Temple and presented offerings therein."  In other words, the Torah considers a gift to the poor as a gift to G-d!


The Midrash tells that Rabbi Akiva was once traveling on a ship when he noticed in the distance another ship which was sinking.  Rabbi Akiva knew that there was a scholar on the sinking ship who would no doubt drown.  But when Rabbi Akiva came to shore and visited the synagogue, he saw the man engaged in study! "How were you saved from the sinking ship?" Rabbi Akiva asked him.


"Your prayers must have helped me for I was thrown from wave to wave until I found myself on shore."


"What good deed did you do to merit being saved?" asked Rabbi Akiva.


"As I boarded the ship, a poor man came and asked for food.  I gave him a loaf of bread.  The poor man said to me, 'Just like you have saved my life, may G-d save your life.'"


Upon hearing this Rabbi Akiva reminded everyone the words of King Solomon, "Cast your bread upon the water and in time you will find it!"