Parashas Ki Seitzei

In this week’s parashah, the Torah says (Devarim 25:13): “You shall not have (לא יהיה לך) in your pouch one weight and another weight, a large one and a small one.” The Midrash expounds (Vayikra Rabbah 15:7): “If you do so, you will not have (לא יהיה לך) what to do business with, what to buy and what to sell.” The Maggid explains this Midrash via one of Shlomo HaMelech’s teachings (Mishlei 3:31-33): “Do not envy the pillager, and do not choose any of his ways. … Hashem’s curse is upon the house of the wicked, while the abode of the righteous He blesses.” When a person enters this world, the Maggid notes, Hashem brings into the world along with him his means of sustenance. Thus the Gemara says (Niddah 31b): “When a male (זכר) comes into the world, his loaf comes into his hand: the word זכר can be broken up to read זה כר (this is a loaf).” Similarly, Shlomo HaMelech teaches elsewhere (Mishlei 5:15): “Drink water from your own cistern and flowing water from your own well.” Hashem, the Chief Provider, has the capacity to bless each person with what he needs.
In general, the Maggid says, the source of a person’s designated portion of blessing is called his “house.” Thus, when Elisha came to aid Ovadiah’s impoverished widow, he asked her (Melachim Beis 4:2): “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And the Sages refer to a family’s portion of blessing as ברכת הבית  – “blessing of the house” (Kesuvos 103a). A righteous person sustains himself through his house, that is, through the assets that Hashem granted him. A wicked person, on the other hand, leaves aside his own source of blessing and endeavors to sustain himself through assets that Hashem granted others, by means of stealing and cheating. This type of behavior is reflected in Hashem’s lament (Yirmiyah 2:13): “They have forsaken Me, the source of living waters, to dig for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot hold the water.” The wicked person abandons his own portion, and nothing he possesses is his. Regarding this situation, Michah exclaims (verse 6:10): “Are there still stores of wickedness in the house of the wicked, or a lean measure that provokes anger?” When a person takes from other people’s property, the flow of Divine blessing to his own property ceases. Our Sages teach (Avos 4:1): “Who is rich? One who rejoices in his portion” – in his own portion, and not in that of others.
The Maggid brings out the point further with a parable. Two brothers inherited an estate from their father. One of the brothers made his living through his portion of the estate. He planted his fields, tended his vineyards, and sustained himself through the produce. The other brother left aside his portion of the estate and set out to make his living as a merchant. He traveled long distances for business trips. In periods when he was successful, he made a nice living. But in periods when he could not travel for one reason or another, he found himself stuck at home with fields overrun with weeds and no income at all. The parallel is clear.
Shlomo HaMelech tells us: “Do not envy the pillager, and do not choose any of his ways.” Shlomo is warning us not to follow the path of the pillager and try to make a living off of other people’s property, for if we do so, our own portion that Hashem set aside for us will lie fallow, and we will ultimately be left empty-handed. And thus, “Hashem’s curse is upon the house of the wicked.” By contrast, “the abode of the righteous He blesses” – as David HaMelech says (Tehillim 112:3): “Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.” We can now appreciate the message of the Midrash: “You shall not have in your pouch one weight and another weight, a large one and a small one. If you do so, you will not have.” If you seek to sustain yourself by cheating others and pilfering from their portion, you will not have any blessing in your house – you will lose the portion that Hashem designated for you, and in the end you will not have anything.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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