Rechush Gadol


By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

It is well known that when Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim they were laden with riches, rechush gadol. Did the Shevet Levi, who did not work in Mitzrayim, also get the rechush gadol? The simple understanding of the posuk tells us that Hashem promised the Bnei Yisroel that they will work hard and be tormented after which they will leave with a rechush gadol. It would therefore stand to reason that Shevet Levi was not included. The Kli Yakar and Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh bring support to this line of thinking by saying that the reason the bnei Yisroel received rechus gadol is similar to the mitzvah of Hanaka.” Hanaka refers to the money and gifts that are given to a slave when he is freed to start him off in the free world. Shevet Levi, who did not work, should therefore not be included in this mitzvah. On the other hand, when Moshe commanded Bnei Yirsroel to ask the Mitzriyim for gold and silver, he used the language beaznei haam” which would seem to include the Leviim.

This question may be explained with a chakirah. Was the decree of making Bnei Yisroel work and be tormented a decree on the klal”(group as a whole) or was it a decree on every single individual Jew. If we say it was a decree on the public as a whole, then it would include those who did not actually work since they would be included as part of the klal.” 

We can bring a couple of proofs to this reasoning. The Rambam in Perek Yud Bais, Hilchos Shgagos, halacha alef discusses the korban tzibbur. If one shevet made a mistake, but they are a majority of Klal Yisroel then the din is that all shevatim are required to bring a korban despite the fact that they did not sin. They are considered part of the klal. Everyone above twenty at the time of the meraglim was punished despite the fact that some of them were not part of the aveirah.

This is a mussar haskel based on the Gemara in Kiddushindaf mem, amud bais. The gemara quotes Rav Elazar ben Rav Shimon who says the world is judged based on the majority. A person must assume that the world is fifty percent good and fifty percent bad. We must look at the person in question who could do a mitzvah or aveirah in the same manner. If the person goes ahead and does a mitzvah, he can turn the whole world to be a majority of good. From this we understand that a person is part of the tzibbur. The Gemara in Taanis ,daf yud alef, amud alef says that one who is metzaar himself with the tzibbur will be zocheh to see the nechama of the tzibbur. The importance of being part of the tzibbur is seen here. Understanding that every person is truly part of the tzibbur explains to us that Shevet Levi, who felt the pain of the Bnei Yisroel who were working, was zocheh to rechush gadol.

It is interesting to note that we don’t celebrate the inyan of rechush gadol. It could be that is because there is no zecher of it! Let us hope we are zocheh to the rechush gadol of mitzvos like Moshe Rabbeinu who looked to grab mitzvos whenever and wherever he was able to.

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