SALT - Tuesday, 9 Iyar 5779 - May 14, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
            Parashat Behar discusses the case of a person who was compelled to sell part of his portion in the Land of Israel due to financial straits, and the Torah grants this individual the opportunity to buy the land back, even if the buyer does not wish to return it.  The first case addressed is that of a “go’el” – literally, “redeemer” – referring to a blood relative who has the means to assist his kin who has fallen upon hard times, and buys the property back from the buyer.  The Torah then writes, “And a man who does not have a redeemer, and he succeeds and comes upon the amount for his redemption…” (25:26).  If the person has no relative who is both able and willing to redeem his property, but his fortune is eventually reversed and he obtains sufficient funds, then he himself can repurchase the land from the buyer.  In both cases, the Torah instructs, the value of the years that have passed since the original transaction is deducted from the original sale price, as the buyer had benefitted from the land during the interim period.
            The Siftei Tzadik (Rav Pinchas Menachem of Piltz, grandson of the Chiddushei Ha-Rim) suggests reading the phrase “and he succeeds and comes upon the amount” as not merely a description of a foreseen scenario, but also the Torah’s reassurance to the financially struggling individual.  Upon falling into dire straits that compel him to sell his family estate, and after seeing that he has nobody to help him recover his lost property, this person may likely fall into despair.  The Torah therefore assures him that as hopeless as the situation appears, he can trust that if nobody else assists him, he will, eventually, be able to recover the land on his own.
            We might add that this reassurance also contains within it an admonition.  In the case of a person whose relatives refuse to lend him the assistance he needs, his instinctive reaction might be to wallow in self-pity, resentment and despair, instead of trusting in his ability to change his situation.  After first looking around for assistance, only to find that none was forthcoming, the individual might trap himself in his resentment and sorrow, and resign himself to a condition of hardship.  The Torah therefore instructs a person who has no “go’el” to trust in his capacity to gradually change his situation, to realize that even if nobody is helping him, he is still able to help himself.  Rather than feel helplessly dependent on others, the individual is told to work towards improving his situation, to patiently but earnestly strive to recover and rebuild, and not to remain forever chained by a feeling of dependency on the grace of others.