Photo Credit: Jewish Press

“If your brother becomes impoverished and sells part of his ancestral heritage, his redeemer who is closest to him shall come and redeem his brother’s sale. If a man will have no redeemer…” (Vayikra 25:25-26).

These verses ostensibly concern an individual experiencing financial difficulty. Our Sages, however, tell us that the Torah is directing us to also help someone on a lower spiritual level than us, or who is downhearted, and needs chizuk.


A person’s spiritual condition is based partially on his own efforts in avodas Hashem and partially on the Torah he inherited from his parents: “The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Yaakov” (Devarim 33:4). We also know that maaseh avos siman labanim – the actions of the forefathers are a sign for their children. That is to say, the sterling character traits that made the deeds of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov so exemplary were bequeathed to us.

The Yismach Yisrael explains the pesukim quoted above as follows:

“If your brother becomes impoverished and sells part of his ancestral heritage”: A person sometimes becomes spiritually dispirited because he believes his sins are too many and that he has forfeited his G-d-given inheritance. But Rashi notes that the Torah states that he sold only “some” of his inherited property, not all. No matter how corrupt an individual may be, it is impossible for him to extinguish the “pintele Yid” inside him which only needs to be reignited.

“His redeemer who is closest to him shall come and redeem his brother’s sale”: It is the obligation of a friend to redeem him – i.e., to offer him encouragement and help, to imbue him with hope so he can be raised from the depths of despair.

“If a man will have no redeemer”: Rashi explains that every Jew has relatives, but some may not have a redeemer financially able to help them. Even if the individual committed such egregious sins that no friend or relative can redeem him, one must still proffer words of encouragement and assurance so that the individual does not give up all hope.

An evil king once sent a message to one of his Jewish constituents that he would be coming to his home for a meal. Understandably, the Jew went to great lengths to prepare a royal feast for the king.

When the king arrived and looked at the table that had been set for him, however, he began to shout. “Why didn’t you prepare for me the special imported cheese I like?” he said. The king cursed the Jew, beat him with cruel blows, and angrily stormed out.

The next day the king sent a message to another Jew that he would be coming to eat at his home. Of course, the first Jew hurried to his home to warn him that the king wanted special imported cheese on the table. The host went to great lengths to obtain the cheese. But when the king entered his home and inspected the table, he began to yell angrily, “Why didn’t you prepare the fruit that I love to eat?” He struck the Jew mercilessly and slammed the door.

The following day the king sent a message to a third Jew that he would be coming to his home for a meal. Naturally, the first two Jews hurried over to him to impress upon him the importance of providing the king with his desired cheese and fruit or suffer the consequences of a severe beating.

The third Jew, however, was wise and did not listen to them. Instead of driving himself mad, the Jew put out a black tablecloth on the table, along with a small lit candle and some hard bread. When the king entered the Jew’s home, he was puzzled. “What’s this?” he asked.

The Jew answered, “I know the truth. You don’t want the cheese, nor do you want the fruit. You don’t need my meat or fish. You just want to curse me and beat me up. So go right ahead!”

The mission of the yetzer hara is to cause man to err and stray. However, he disguises his motives. One day, he will discourage the person because he didn’t have proper kavanah during davening. The next day he will try to incite his anger by criticizing one of his workers. He will devise different ways to bring the individual to despair. The wise person will discern the machinations of the Evil Inclination and call his bluff.

Editor’s note: To learn Zera Shimshon with Rabbi Goldwasser Monday through Thursday, (at 4 p.m.), e-mail your phone number to [email protected]. You will be called directly; when you answer the phone, you will automatically join a live conference call (no pin number necessary). Duration of the call is 3-5 minutes.


Previous articleDear Dr. Yael
Next articleNYPD Investigates Anti-Semitic Incident at Brooklyn Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.