By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
This shall be yours what is set aside for their gifts from all the wavings of the children of Israel
“Blessed are You Hashem our God Master of the Universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to take trumot and maasrot.” This parsha provides us with a detailed description of the giving of the trumot to the Kohanim and the maasrot to the Leviim. These offerings highlight the hierarchical relationships between the classes of Kohen, Levite, and Israelite. Also, when we contemplate the way the truma is taken versus the way maser is taken we find interesting differences linked to the spiritual missions of each group. Although halacha provides general guidelines to the percentage of produce that should be taken for truma, halacha also stipulates that ideally truma should not be taken by exact measurement. In contrast, maser should be taken in exact measurement, as Raban Gamliel says in Pirkei Avot: “do not regularly separate maser by estimate”.
According to the kabbalists, the Kohen represents the attribute of kindness (associated with our father Avraham), while the Levite represents the attribute of judgment (attributed to our father Yitzchak). When we contemplate the non-exact method of taking truma, we find that it fits exactly with the attribute of kindness; calling for giving lovingly without specified restriction. In contrast, the maser is given specifically in exactitude as befitting the Levites’ attribute of judgment; calling for exact “justice” and measurement. While truma makes one exercise internal “boundless” love for HaShem so-to-speak, the maser balances this connection to Hashem by emphasizing the obligatory aspect of “taking on the yoke of Heaven” and obeying the specified and “measured” Divine command – a matter more closely related to the fear or awe of God.
Just as we see that the Torah distinguishes between the Kohanim from the Levites in regard to the holiness of produce that comes from the Land of Israel, so too we can see an allocation of 48 cities in the Land of Israel specially divided between the Kohanim and the Levites in the book of Yehoshua. Among the cities of the Kohanim, we notice that only one city of these 13 “Kohanic Cities” is both mentioned first, elaborated on, and titled “the Refuge City”. In contrast, all the other Refuge Cities are under Levite, not Kohanic jurisdiction, even though they are “prized”at being at the top of the other lists of Levite cities. This city is no other than Hebron, which represents Patriarchal kindness – “And He remembers the kindness of the Patriarchs and brings a redeemer for their descendants for the sake of His Name with love”. Indeed, the power of the Refuge City to shelter even a negligent murderer is directly rooted to the attribute of kindness associated with the kohanim, for this shelter is given only as long as the “Kohen Gadol lives”. Therefore, when we support Hebron we are in a sense supporting the “kohanic light of kindness inherent in the Holy Land”, and in turn we are enlightened by the kind spirit of Hebron imbued in the kindness of the Patriarchs. Indeed, this is Hebron, the City of Kindness, the City of Patriarchal love.
One of the rabbinic figures of Hebron who both rounded support for Hebron’s Jewish community about 400 years ago, and whose name also hints to the attribute of kindness, was Rabbi Avraham Gedilia. As we mentioned before, Avraham was the Patriarch of kindness and also the term “gedula”, as in “Gedilia”, is also associated with the attribute of kindness according to the kabbalists. Rabbi Avraham Gedilia was an emissary for Hebron’s Jewish Community in Italy, Holland, Germsny, and in Southern Europe. He is described as the “full all-encompassing wiseman, the great Rabbi, the excellent judge.”
Real Stories from the Holy Land #260
We had been married for seven months, and my wife still had not conceived. We went to the tomb of R. Meir (“Baal Hanes”) in Teverya, and there my wife prayed and promised that if she be granted a son she would call him “Meir” in the name of R. Meir. A week later, my wife conceived…” (Y.S)
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 124.