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Bein Adam LeChaveiro - Help Your Fellow Man - Rabbi Elimelech Biderman shlit"a

The Ten Commandments concludes with , "Everything that belongs to your fellow man." The final words imply that this is the purpose of the entire Ten Commandments: to care for your fellow man, to think about what they need and to help in any way you can. The Rishonim say the Ten Commandments is an abridged version of the entire Torah. Thus, the final words are saying: The purpose of the entire Torah is to help your fellow man. The Smag writes that there are 613 letters in the Ten Commandments (not including the final two). Each letter of the Ten Commandments represents another mitzvah. Thus, the final two words seem to be saying that the entire Torah with all the 613 mitzvos is about doing favors for your fellow man. The Gemara (Shabbos 31.) tells: Someone came to Shamai and requested, "Convert me, on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot." Shamai pushed him away. He went to Hillel with the same request. Hillel converted him, and then he told him, "What you would hate if it were done to you don’t do so for your fellow man. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary. Go study." He taught him the entire Torah in one sentence: the entire Torah is about helping your fellow man, and being cautious not to harm them. And to a large extent, we see that it is so. As Rashi writes on this Gemara: most mitzvos are about being cautious not to harm your fellow man. Hashem gave us two tablets. Written on the first tablet are the obligations between man and Hashem, and the second tablet states the requirements between man and his fellow man. Many words are written on the first tablet, and very few words are on the second tablet.

The Mabit (Beis Elokim, Shaar HaYesodos ch.12) teaches that the words on the second tablet were written in very large letters, so those few words would fill the entire second tablet. Large letters shout, "Be careful and don’t miss these lessons." They were written largely to emphasize the importance of the mitzvos between man and his fellow man. Let's study some other examples from this week's parashah, which teach the importance of friendship and unity, and the caution we must have never to harm our fellow man: It states (20:23), "Don’t use stairs to go up to the mizbeiach (altar), so you won't reveal yourself…" Rashi explains, "This would be a disgrace [for the stairs]. Using a kal vechomer (fortiori), we learn an important lesson from this: Stones don’t have feelings; they aren't upset when someone disgraces them. Nevertheless, the Torah says that since they serve a purpose you shouldn’t disgrace them. Your fellow man was created in the image of your Creator and he is upset when he is disgraced. You must certainly be cautious."

It states (19:2), "The nation camped there in unison opposite the mountain." The mountain can represent the yetzer hara (evil inclination) (see Succah 52.). Reb Akiva Eigar zt'l and Rebbe Moshe Kobribner zt'l explain that the verse is saying, when the Jewish nation are in unison, that is their strength against the yetzer hara. The yetzer hara can't lure them into sins when the nation is united. It states (20:12), "Honor your father and your mother so you will live long…" Chazal say that living long means in Olam HaBa (the World to Come). The Sforno says that the reward for long life in Olam HaBa is for all of the first five commandments: for believing in Hashem, not worshiping idols, honoring parents, etc. The Torah writes it by 'Honor your father and your mother,' which was at the bottom of the first tablet, but the implication is for all mitzvos stated on that tablet. The Sforno writes, "But with regards to the next five commandments, that we shouldn’t harm our fellow man, not his body, honor, or money; not with deed, speech, or thought, keeping these mitzvos will protect him from punishment in this world and in the next world." This is as Rebbe Shlomke of Zvhil zt'l would say: The sins between man and G-d are punished in Olam HaBa. The sins between man and his fellow are punished in this world.

Notes: This is something that is known: When a person is a member of a beis medresh (study hall) where there is unity and friendship, this is a very strong protection against the yetzer hara (evil inclination). The yetzer hara can't draw him away from this stronghold, where he wants to be.

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