ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שדך בקצרך ולקט קצירך לא תלקט לעני ולגר תעזב אותם אני ה' אלוקיכם (כג:כב)
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not remove completely the corners of your field as you reap and you shall not gather the gleanings of your harvest; for the poor and for the Ger you shall leave them; I am HaShem your God (23:22)
Parshas Emor is one of the more familiar parshiyos because it contains a section referred to as the Parshas Hamoadim. Perek כג takes us through the entire cycle of the year beginning with Shabbos. It then continues with Pesach, the Omer offering and its counting, Shavuos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres, all along discussing the relevant mitzvos and karbanos. Right in the middle of the discussion, the Torah pauses and teaches us the halachos of leaving over leket and peah for the poor person and ger, before continuing on its discussion of Yom Tov.
Rashi quotes Rav Avdimi (Sifra) that explains this non-sequitur as follows: אמר ר' אבדימי ברבי יוסף, מה ראה הכתוב לתנה באמצע הרגלים — פסח ועצרת מכאן וראש השנה ויום הכפורים וחג מכאן — ? ללמדך שכל הנותן לקט שכחה ופאה לעני כראוי, מעלין עליו כאלו בנה בית המקדש והקריב קרבנותיו בתוכו-
The Torah is teaching us that if someone gives the matnas aniyim, it is regarded as though he had built the Beis Hamikdash and brought karbanos in it.
I brought up this question to my family and my son Shmuli offered that the Torah is teaching us that while you are enjoying a beautiful Yom Tov, with all that it has to offer, do not forget to think about those who don’t have. We mentioned this answer to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Mendel Brodsky shlita, and he smiled and said that this is a Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 6:18) וכשהוא אוכל ושותה חייב להאכיל לגר ליתום ולאלמנה עם שאר העניים האמללים. אבל מי שנועל דלתות חצרו ואוכל ושותה הוא ובניו ואשתו ואינו מאכיל ומשקה לעניים ולמרי נפש אין זו שמחת מצוה אלא שמחת כריסו- when he eats and drinks, he is obligated to feed the ger, orphan, widow and other poor people. However, one that closes his door and only feeds his family, neglecting the needy- this is not called the joy of yom tov, but rather the joy of his stomach!
Perhaps we can offer another explanation based on a gemara in Mesechta Yevamos (47a). When a gentile comes to Beis Din to become a ger, the Beis Din at first discourages and tries to dissuade the prospective convert. We don’t proselytize. We explain how consuming the mitzvos can be, and the difficulties of being a yid. We discuss different mitzvos with him to illustrate how demanding the Torah can be. In the middle of the list, the gemara mentions the laws of Matnas Aniim from our parsha which are far less demanding in comparison to the others on the list. The same question can be asked: why are these halachos mentioned at this point?
We all have moments of inspiration and elevation. For one, the high point may be sitting in a sukkah surrounded by family and friends, beautiful song and cheer, with the holy ushpizin crowning the moment. For another it may be the mighty blast of the shofar, or a little child asking the Mah Nishtana. For the next person it is the sweet sounds of Lecha Dodi on a Shabbos night or perhaps a really warm geshmak and hartzige davening. Of course we have not even touched upon the true happiness of the learning of a blatt gemara. The opportunities to be inspired are truly endless. Imagine the letdown and how spiritually deflating it must have been after leaving the glory of the Beis Hamikdash; having witnessed the Kohanim during their avoda accompanied by the Leviim singing the shirah, only to return to the farm and everyday life. Of course, we must do what we can to take it with us and make it a part of our fabric, but still, could it possibly be the same? For a potential convert as well, very often they see many exciting things and want to be a part of it all, so the Beis Din points out every day mitzvos as if to say that yiddishkeit is not just about the “highlights reel”.
This same message is taught to us as well. While talking about the high points; the Yomim Tovim, the Torah quickly reminds us of our daily lives, reminding us to share the same enthusiasm. True simcha of Yom Tov indeed has no parallel, but our task is to bring that simcha to all the rest of our mitzvah performance, not only a few times a year but every day of the year.
Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל