Due to the eighth day of Pesach falling out on Shabbos, Eretz Yisrael and CHU"L will be one parsha off for the next few weeks. Since we are based in Eretz Yisrael, we will be following their schedule. Please click here for a Dvar Torah and Podcast for this week's CHU"L parsha (Emor).
While the mitzvos written in Parshas Behar seem to be strictly technical and ordinary, there are underlying societal and cultural reasons to each of them. While some are more obviously spiritual, like Shemittah for example, others are harder to understand, like property buy-back laws. Another example is the issur of Ribbis, the prohibition against lending Jews money with interest.
At first glance it seems simple why you shouldn’t lend with interest; the money we are given is a gift from Hashem, he could just as easily given it to someone else. Therefore, it’s a responsibility to help those in need, and of course you can’t charge interest for that. However, at the same time, there are many other instances where a person uses their money and is not allowed to charge interest. A person is allowed to do business with their money, and charging interest is a form of business. So why is it completely forbidden to operate with interest in all dealings concerning fellow Jews?
The Kli Yakar gives a beautiful explanation to answer this question. Some people have jobs which pay a set salary at a certain time. However, many people’s income depends on the success of their various projects. These people are in reality being completely reliant on Hashem helping them be successful. Even if a person doesn’t choose to live this way, this circumstance provides him the opportunity to put a tremendous amount of faith in Hashem and raise his level of emunah and bitachon. Essentially, his job is helping further his relationship with Hashem.
Once you lend with interest, you lose this reliance on Hashem. It’s one thing to lend money while only getting the same amount in return; in that manner, you haven’t made any money. But lending with interest guarantees you a return, it’s the same as having a guaranteed salary. In which case, you lose that special connection with Hashem. While the Torah knew that some people would make money in a guaranteed fashion, it wasn’t going to set up a system where there was a mitzvah (to lend money) that would eventually end up lessening your connection to Hashem. By prohibiting Ribbis, all aspects of our lives continue to be opportunities to come closer to Hashem.
Click here for previous year's Dvar Torah for Parshas Behar
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