By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
When discussing the Creation, the Torah informs us of a drama which took place when the trees were being created. The posuk states, “Eitz pri oseh pri l’minahu – Fruit trees that make fruit according to its own kind.” Rashi dissects the words eitz pri oseh pri. He explains that originally, Hashem instructed the ground to produce each tree to taste like its own fruit. Thus, the apple tree’s bark would taste like apple and the pear tree’s bark would taste like pears. But, the earth disobeyed and produced tasty fruits but the wood did not share in the taste of its fruit. Rashi then says that when man sinned, and was cursed, Hashem cursed the earth as well, for its earlier sin and it thence forward produced weeds such as thorns and thistles.
The Chasam Sofer, zt”l, zy”a, asks the obvious question. Why did Hashem wait to punish the ground until man sinned? Why didn’t he punish it immediately when it disobeyed the Divine command? The Chasam Sofer gives an important answer. He explains that since the produce of the earth was given to mankind, if Hashem would have punished the earth right away, it would have generated harm and discomfort to man. As of that time, man did not yet deserve to suffer such a discomfort and loss. It was only after man sinned, then man also was deserving of punishment, and only then did Hashem collect the debt from the ground as well.
This is the meaning of the verse, “Mishpotei Hashem emes, tzadku yachad – The justice of Hashem is truth coming together in righteousness.” Hashem doesn’t do anything to someone if it will have repercussions to another who doesn’t deserve it.
There is a very practical application of this dynamic. The Gemora teaches us in Yevomos, “Hashorui b’lo isha shorui b’lo choma – One who lives without a wife lives without a wall of protection.” Why is this so? How does a wife protect her husband? The answer is in the aforementioned dynamic. Let’s say a man speaks lashon hara, doesn’t learn enough Torah, and talks during davening. Hashem wants to punish him by taking away some of his livelihood. But, that would impact upon his wife as well. Since she doesn’t deserve to suffer from her husband’s loss of livelihood, it would be unfair. Thus, she protects her husband.
Along these lines, the Gemora says, “Why did Nadav and Avihu die? Because they weren’t married.” But, that’s not was the Torah says. The Torah states that Nadav and Avihu died because they brought a foreign fire on the altar. How can the Gemora say a different reason? The answer is that they indeed died because they brought the foreign fire but, if they had been married, they wouldn’t have died because their wives wouldn’t have deserved to lose them. This is one of the reasons why a kallah, bride, walks seven times around her chasson, groom. It is not only to indicate that just as the wall of Yericho came down after we went around it seven times, she too is symbolizing that all walls should disappear between them and they should be as one. There is also an opposite symbolism. She goes around her future husband seven times to signify that she is building layers and layers of protection around him for now that she is his wife even if he deserves punishment, if she doesn’t merit that the punishment should affect her, she will then save her husband and spare him from retribution.
Reb Shlome of Bobov, the late Bobover Rebbe, zt”l, zy”a, says there’s only one place in the Torah where it uses the phrase lo tov, it is not good, and that is, “Lo tov ehyo ha-adom l’vado – It is not good for man to be alone.” May we merit to live long lives with our spouses to enjoy life together with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Please learn, give tzedaka, and daven l’iluy nishmas of Miriam Liba bas Aharon.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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