ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Haftorah: "I Knew that it was the Word of Hashem"

הרב אברהם ריבלין, המשגיח הרוחני לשעבר

This week's parsha, Parshat Behar, deals with mitzvot of chesed that are intended to help a poor person who was forced to sell himself or his property. One of these mitzvot is the law pertaining to the redemption of a field that was sold on account of the owner's becoming poor. It grants the right to the owner or his relatives to redeem the field back from the buyer. The Torah does not want one person to become rich due to the temporary financial pressure of his friends, and to take advantage of this opportunity to increase his wealth.

Following in the footsteps of the parsha, Yirmiya relates (in the Haftorah) a case of redeeming the field of his cousin, Chanamel. Hashem says to Yirmiya: "Behold, Chanamel, the son of your uncle, Shallum, is coming to you to say: Buy for yourself my field that is in Anatot; for upon you is the law of redemption, to buy it.'" (Yirmiya 32:7) This is what actually occurred: "My cousin Chanamel came to me, according to the word of Hashem, to the Courtyard of Confinement, and he said to me, 'Please buy for yourself my field that is in Anatot, that is in the territory of Binyamin, for yours is the law of inheritance and yours is the [law of] redemption; buy [it] for yourself.' And I knew that it was the word of Hashem." (32:8)

The conclusion of Yirmiya's statement is very difficult – "I knew that it was the word of Hashem." Did Yirmiya doubt his prophecy? After all, as the Abarbanel writes, "The prophets were not doubtful of their prophecy, and the prophecy [itself] would inform them that it was a prophecy through the force of the feeling." The prophet does not need to wait for the fulfillment of the prophecy to say, "I knew that it was the word of Hashem."

A second question can be asked on Yirmiya's words later in verse 25: "You said to me, my Lord, Hashem/Elokim, 'Buy a field for yourself with money.'" Where did Hashem command Yirmiya to buy the field? The Metzudot explains: "Why did you inform me of Chanamel's coming? It is as if you told me thereby that I should buy the field from him." Based on this, Abarbanel explains that the phrase, "I knew that it was the word of Hashem," does not refer to the prophecy as a whole, but rather to the command to purchase the field. Although this command was not given explicitly, Yirmiya concluded from the prophecy that it is G-d's will. However, what remains difficult according to their approach is why was this not said before Chanamel came, and why do the verses indicate that only from Chanamel's coming and his words did Yirmiya understand that this was the word of Hashem?

In order to understand this, let us preface a third question. Was Yirmiya, in fact, obligated to buy the field from Chanamel? Is this the law of redemption? The mitzvah in the Torah talks of redeeming a field that was sold to an outside party, not of direct purchase from the relative. It is true that it is possible to infer this logically from here, "If I would have sold it to another – you would have the right of redemption to redeem it from him; certainly it is proper for you to buy it from me." (Radak, Mahari Kara) However, there is no halachic basis for the claim, "for upon you is the law of redemption, to buy it." A mitzvah of this sort is mentioned neither in the Torah, nor in Chazal, nor in the Rambam.

The Malbim solves these three questions nicely through a very careful reading of the text. He explains that Yirmiya was uncertain as to the meaning of G-d's words in v. 7: "Behold, Chanamel ... is coming to you to say: Buy for yourself my field that is in Anatot; for upon you is the law of redemption, to buy it." Is the latter half of this verse the continuation of Chanamel's statement – in which case there is no command from Hashem to buy the field (nor is there a mitzvah in the Torah to buy, as above), or was Chanamel's statement only the words, "Buy for yourself my field that is in Anatot," and then comes G-d's command to buy: "for upon you is the law of redemption, to buy it."

Yirmiya decided to resolve this question based on Chanamel's language. If Chanamel would cite the exact words of Hashem in the prophecy, it is a sign that G-d's words were intended to quote Chanamel, and then there is no command to Yirmiya to buy. However, if Chanamel would only paraphrase, Yirmiya would understand that the end of v. 7 is a command from G-d to buy, and so it was. The Malbim infers this from v. 8: "My cousin Chanamel came to me, according to the word of Hashem." The coming of Chanamel was according to the word of Hashem, but the words of Chanamel were not according to the word of Hashem in v. 7. Chanamel said, "for yours is the law of inheritance and yours is the [law of] redemption; buy [it] for yourself," which is not a direct quote of the prophecy. Thus, Yirmiya understood only after Chanamel came that the expression, "for upon you is the law of redemption, to buy it," is not part of Chanamel's words, but rather G-d's command to buy. This is what Yirmiya said, "I knew that it was the word of Hashem" – and not the words of Chanamel, and therefore he bought the field as he was commanded by G-d.

 

 

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