Are you looking for a thought-provoking, interactive, text-based, in-person parshah class in Queens? On Monday evenings at 7:05-8:05 p.m., participants of all ages and backgrounds gather at the home of Rebbetzin Trani Rosenblatt, at 147-36 69th Road, in Kew Gardens Hills, to enjoy an informative parshah class with Rabbi Avraham Dovid Garber, rav of Yeshiva Kesser Torah and Founder of Our Jewish Children, which provides tuition assistance for yeshivah to children who would otherwise go to public school. The class leaves the participants with practical musar ideas to apply to daily life.
Rabbi Garber’s goal is for the participants to ask questions and to notice questions in the text. Everyone is encouraged to participate and think of possible answers. He also provides the interpretations of the m’farshim and lessons we can glean from the parshah.
Rabbi Garber noted that in Parshas Ki Seitzei there are 513 mitzvos discussed. It has more mitzvos than any other parshah in the Torah. The class began with someone reading the p’sukim dealing with the mitzvah of returning a lost object. He began with Chapter 22, sentence number one. The text states that you shall not see your brother’s ox or sheep driven away and hide yourself from them; you shall surely bring them back to your brother. Surely return it to your brother. The questions is: Why does it need the extra word “surely”? Also, what does the text mean by “your brother”? And what does it mean to hide yourself? Who is your brother? Rabbi Garber explained that all Jewish people are described as brothers. Every Jew is considered your brother – we are all related.
For each of the questions below, the class was asked to think of possible answers, and then Rabbi Garber provided the classical m’farshim.
“Don’t hide yourself” means you should not avoid the responsibility of returning it. Rashi says hiding means you cover your eyes like you never saw it and pretend you never saw it. Rabbi Garber explained that Hashavas Aveidah contains both a positive and a negative commandment. The negative commandment is to not hide yourself when you see something and the positive one is to return it.
The Hebrew word in the pasuk says “nidachim,” which in English is “driven away.” Why is that word added into the mitzvah? What is it adding to the mitzvah of Hashavas Aveidah? Rabbi Garber explained that it is teaching us that if the sheep or ox is wandering, or the object is somehow moving away or hard to reach, you are still obligated to chase after it. The double language of “you should surely return it,” according the Gemara, is teaching us that the lost object or animal could run away again and again, but we still have to keep on returning it.
The second pasuk in chapter 22 says that if your brother is not near you, and you know him not, then you shall gather it into your house, and it shall be with you until your brother requires it and you shall return it to him. Here we learn that we have an obligation to watch over a lost object and to take care of it until the owner is found. He spoke about the Talmudic term for signs to determine who the rightful owner is.
Next, the class delved into the mitzvah of shooing away the mother bird. The question was posed of what this mitzvah is teaching us. Some people felt it was teaching sensitivity to the mother bird’s loss. Rabbi Garber shared that it was inculcating a midah of kindness into us. He shared the teaching of the Sefer HaChinuch that actions have a profound effect on our behavior, and Judaism is filled with actions that help to shape our character.
As always, there were lively discussions, and back and forth, and the class ended with positive ideas to apply to life.
To donate to Our Jewish Children, go to www.ourjewishchildren.com.
By Susie Garber