(8:2) “Behaloscha es-Ha’neros-When you light the lights.”
Rashi explains the connection between this Parsha and the end of the previous one. When Aaron saw all of the donations made by the Nesiim he felt bad that neither he nor his Shevet had any part of it. This is why the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah was directed exclusively towards him. The Ohr Hachaim asks why was it this mitzvah when there was so many others that Aharon had to perform? The Nesiim only brought their Korbaonos this one time, while Aharon and his descendants were to perform them for all time? He answers that the Mitzvah of cleaning and lighting the Menorah was even greater than bringing the Korbonos because each day it was necessary to dismantle the Menorah in order to clean it. So in effect Aharon, by reassembling the Menorah, was completing the Mishkon every day.
Another reason why this Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah was given to Aharon is because Aharon’s descendants would be there to light the Menorah once again after the defilement of the Beis Hamikdosh by the Greeks. And in the future when there would no longer be any sacrifices in the Beis Hamikdosh the lighting would continue through the Mitzvah of Chanukah.
(8:2) “Behaloscha es-Ha’neros-When you light the lights.” "When you cause to rise" The Posuk says that when lighting the flame should be placed above the wicks in order for the fire to cause the flame to rise up. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that this is a lesson for Kiruv. We are instructed to not only give the newly observant a taste of what religious life is about but to inspire, to ignite the fire within them.
The Ramban asks the question why would this command of lighting the menorah equal that which was done by the Nesiim? Theirs was brought of their own free will. Out of a feeling of love for Hashem, while Aharon was commanded to do this service whether he wanted to or not? It would seem to be a greater gift for Aharon to have been able to serve Hashem the way he wanted to, without being told how. The Gemarrah in Kiddushin (32:A) writes “Gadol Hametzuveh V’oseh M’mi Sh’ayno Metzuveh V’oseh-Greater is the one who is commanded and acts than the one who is not commanded and acts.”
Why is this so? The Shem Meshmuel writes that there are two parts to every mitzvah. There is that which is revealed and that which is hidden. The revealed part is the physical act of doing a mitzvah. The hidden part is the intent, the thoughts behind the actions. The same is true with the physical body. There is that which is hidden, the neshama, and that which is revealed, the body itself. When a person is engaged in performing the physical act of doing the mitzvah he is able to affect the spiritual world. His actions create tremendous spiritual spheres that in turn can effect the physical world. How is it possible for a mere flesh and blood to make changes in the spiritual world? Because when a person does a Mitzvah he is in effect acting as a messenger of Hashem. And we have a rule that the messenger of a person is equal to the one who appointed the messenger, in this case Hashem. He therefore becomes empowered to be able to affect the spiritual world. But if a person does a notable act, one that may even be the correct thing to do, but it was not a mitzvah, it was not commanded by Hashem, it can not affect the spiritual world. Therefore greater is the one who is commanded and acts than the one who is not commanded and acts.
There still remains two questions. One is if the other Nesiim gave their gifts of their own free will, what was preventing Aaron from doing the same? Why should he complain? He could have donated gifts as well? Second, what was so special about the lighting of the Menorah? He had several other duties in the Mishkon that he alone would perform? The Sifsei Kohen writes that since each of the Nesiim gave the exact same gift, they must have had Ruach Hakodesh. Aaron thought that this Ruach Hakodesh was withheld from him due to his participation in the Chet Ha’Eigel. But Hashem said that he would give him this special mitzvah of lighting the Menorah. Why this mitzvah? We see that the Torah did not phrase this mitzvah in the usual manner. It does not say B’hadlokas- when you light, but rather Behalosecha-when you cause to rise. The fire would be brought down just close enough to cause the flame to ignite on it’s own. This lesson was meant to apply to all mitzvos. Hashem sends down the inspiration, but it is up to the individual to make the mitzvah come alive. Just as each gift brought by the Nesiim was identical and yet the thought behind each one differed. So too each mitzvah must have within it the individual thought behind the mitzvah. The Shem M’shmuel explains the difference between the Kohen and the Levi. The Kohen brings down the fire from the spiritual world to the physical world through the korbonos. The Levi raises the physical world to the spiritual through shira (song). Thus Aaron and his shevet would be contributing to the Mishkon in the most special way by this mitzvah of lighting the Menorah.
According to this, if we are only supposed to do that which we are commanded, where do we find the individualism in life? The Torah alludes to this idea in the word “Behalosecha- when you cause to rise.” Each flame had to rise on its own. Just as each gift brought by the Nesiim was identical and yet the thought behind each one differed. So too each mitzvah must have within it the individual thought behind the mitzvah. This idea is alluded to by the olive oil used for the menorah. Only through squeezing the olive is the clear yellow oil produced that can bring light to the darkness. The same is true of the body and the soul. The body, like the olive, has the neshamah hidden inside. Just as the olive must be squeezed to bring out the oil inside, so too, the body must be squeezed to bring out the neshama inside. What squeezes the body? Performing mitzvas that the body does not really want to perform. The nature of the body is not to exert itself. The body would rather not get up at 5 am to go to the mikveh. But the neshama wants to do the will of Hashem. So through the willpower of the person’s mind one can overpower the body’s desires and bring out the neshama’s will.
Another answer as to why the mitzvah of the Menorah was given to appease Aharon could be the following from the Benei Yisaschar. The Torah writes (8:3) “Vayaas Kain-And so it was done.” In the beginning of the parsha it says “vayaas kain”. That Aharon did all he was instructed to do regarding the lighting of the Menorah. Why would I think otherwise? Why should I think he would make any changes? In Bereishis it says “vayehe kain” after each part of the creation was complete except by the creation of light. The reason was because Hashem hid the original light of creation for the tzadikim in the future.
It was up to man to decide whether to choose light or not. Hashem knew the outcome and removed that original light. When Aharon lit the Menorah he took from this hidden light. He chose light over darkness. This tiny flame remained with Klal Yisroel all of the forty years in the midbar. That’s why it says here “vayas kain” to complete what was missing by “Masse Bereishit”. This also explains the p'shat in Rashi who says that Aharon didn't change anything. “Vayaas kain” means that Aharon didn't change that original light of creation.
Alternatively Aaron was to uplift the Neshamas of Benei Yisroel. Very often a person will see a righteous person perform an act of exceptional piety. He might say “that is not me, I could never do something like that.” Aaron comes to tell us we can, we can change and be more. Vayas Kain-Aaron made the word “Kain/Yes” he changed our attitude to one of “Yes I can” When Rashi comments L’hagid Shvocho Shel Aaron Shlo Shina- To tell us the praise of Aaron that he did not change. This can be read differently - To praise Aaron that the word “Lo” changed to a Yes. That I can’t became I can!
The Oznayim L'Torah writes that the center flame lit the heavenly Menorah and it required special intent. Although this Menorah was constantly traveling Aaron was always able to connect precisely with his heavenly target.
(8:19) “Metoch Benei Yisroel-From amongst the children of Israel.” In this posuk the words “Benei Yisroel” appear five times. Rashi says that this is to show the love of Hashem for Benei Yisroel because their name is reiterated as many times as the Chamisha Chumshei Torah. What is the p'shat and why specifically here in this posuk, which is telling us about the service of the Levium in the Ohel Moed? The Torah just finished talking about the sacred duties and responsibilities of the Kohanim and Levium and Hashem didn't want the rest of Benei Yisroel to feel left out and feel bad that they don't have such a connection to Hashem. He therefore shows them his love for them here and compares them with the Chamishe Chumshe Torah as if to say that the Kohanim and Leviim have the “Keser Kehunah” and the “Keser Leviah.” Hashem is telling Klal Yisroel that even more than these kasarim is the “Keser Torah” which they have and they shouldn't feel bad.
(9:17) “U’Lifi H’Oslos H’Onan Me’al H’Ohel V’Acharei Kain Yisu-And whenever the cloud was lifted from atop the Tent, afterwards the Children of Israel would journey.” It would seem the words “Acharei Kain” are not needed? Why did the Torah not just say when the cloud lifted they would begin to travel? The Torah wanted to make certain that we understand that Benei Yisroel journeyed only at the direct command of Hashem. Once the cloud lifted “afterwards” they awaited the command of Hashem to travel. (Ohr HaChaim)
(10:35) Upside down “nun.” Rashi says it is to show that this posuk of “Vayhe Binso H’aron” is not in the proper place. It is written here to make a separation between one evil and another. The previous posuk of “Vayiso Mehar Hashem” is one evil. Why is that an evil? It could be that since they had just spent an entire year at Har Sinai they were not accustomed to the physical world with its real temptations. They were eating the Munn which satisfied on a spiritual level and as long as they were in the presence of Hashem this was not a problem. As soon as they left they began to complain about the lack of meat. It wasn't the meat that they complained about but rather the lack of the physical sustenance they craved. There is a principal that whenever Kiddisha leaves it creates a vacuum that is immediately replaced by Tumeh. So as soon as they left the influence of Hashem's presence there entered tumeh and Yetzer Hora. Thats why they wanted meat to satisfy their physical cravings. The Munn only satisfied their spiritual needs. But when they left Sinai they realized that they also had physical cravings. On the one hand they left the influence of the Shechina on the other side the evil was the “Misonnim”-they complained there was no meat. Two reasons for the nun the correct place for this posuk is fifty (nun) pesukim previous. To show this there is a nun and it's upside down. Right side up would infer fifty posukim later.(Netzsiv)
The Ohr Hachaim explains the posuk differently. He says that this posuk deals with the concept of the negative forces that entrapped the sparks of Kiddusha. The reason why Benei Yisroel had to travel to the Midbar was because that is the domain of these spiritually negative forces and other inhospitable places of the earth. They can be divided in to two categories. One is a seducer who tries to lure man into immoral and unethical behavior. The other consists of various types of destructive forces that simply attack and try to kill man. When the posuk says “Vayehe Binso Ha’aron” it refers to the Ark journeying while the sparks of kiddusha cleave to it. As a result of establishing contact with the Holy Ark it causes the captors to explode. This is the meaning of the use of the word “Vayehe” which usually introduces an element of sadness. In this case the sadness of the Kelipas destruction. The words “Kumah Hashem Veyafutzu Ovecha- Arise Hashem and scatter your enemies” the scattering of these “enemies” of Hashem the ones that merely want the destruction of man. “Veyanusu Mesonecha Mepanecha- Let those that hate you flee before you” are the seductive forces that attempt to make the servants of Hashem become disloyal to him. When the Ark stopped moving it meant that it had located those “sparks” and would be gathering them in. This can explain why at times they would camp for only a few days while at times the remained in one location for several years. “Uvenucha Yomar Shuvah Hashem Rivivos Alufe Yisroel- May Hashem (The Ark) bring back all the scattered sparks of Kiddusha in their tens of thousands.” The name Yisroel is equivalent to the term sanctity. This is also alluded to in the word “Aluf” which symbolizes something exalted.
R.Ari Kahn has a unique take on this issue. The Gemarrah Shabbos says that the two upside down “Nuns” were placed as a sign post that these two posukim are in the wrong place. According to those who hold there is no chronological order to the Torah, why would there now be concern for this particular order? Also that same Gemarrah says that the type of scroll that may be saved from a burning building on Shabbos is one that has the minimum amount of letters required to be considered a scroll. This is based on these two verses that contain 85 letters. We see that these two verses are considered a book by itself. The Midrash actually claims that there are indeed seven books of the Torah. Bereishis Shemos, Vayikra Bamidbar until these verses, these two verses, the rest of Bamidbar and Devarim. Why are these two verses considered a Sefer by themselves?
In order to understand this we must look at the context in which they appear. The Torah had been received, the Mishkan had been completed and consecrated, everything is in place for Klal Yisroel to begin marching into Eretz Yisroel. In fact they begin the march. Moshe tells his father in-law to join them. He even includes himself when saying we are going in. At this point the two parenthetical verses appear. What happens next is that the nation begins complaining. They complain about the traveling, they complain about the Munn, they complain about the lack of meat. Moshe hears the complaining and becomes literally suicidal. He says to Hashem (11:11-11:15)“Why have you afflicted your servant? Why have I not found favor in your eyes that you lay the burden of this entire people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I fathered them, that you should say to me, carry them in your bosom like a nursing parent carries the suckling child, to the land You swore to their fathers? From where should I have meat to give them? For they weep to me, saying ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry this entire nation alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if you deal thus with me, Kill me, I pray You, at once, if I have found favor in Your eyes; and let me not see my wretchedness.”
What caused this drastic turnaround in Moshe? Almost ten months earlier he was ready to give his life to save Klal Yisroel and now he prays for his own death? R.Soloveitchik explained the difference lies in two different aspects of Avodah Zora. When Klal Yisroel did the Eigel the problem was form. What form do we serve Hashem? Moshe felt that once they receive the Torah they would shift their form of worship. But now, upon seeing how the people behaved he understood that the problem was more deeply rooted. The effects of two hundred years of slavery had made deep in-roads into the people. They were not as far away from Mitzraim as he had imagined and hoped. Moshe had a premonition that neither he nor his entire generation would enter the Promised Land. For him, like so many other Jews, the Promised Land would remain just that, a promise.
But what about the two verses, the eighty-five letters that are called a complete book? The answer is they are the book that was never written. They are the first and last posuk of the book that should have been but was not. If not for the complaints of Klal Yisroel the first verse would have been what Moshe said upon entering the land. “Vayehe Binso Ha’aron-When the Aron would travel” Moshe would say “let all of Hashem’s enemies flee.” They never would have had to raise a weapon. All of the enemies would have fled. This first verse would have contained the beginning of the redemption. The second verse represents the last verse of the book, the end of the redemption. “When the Ark rested, he would say return the Myriad of thousands of Israel.” This would be the resurrection of the dead when all the souls will return to Hashem. There was supposed to be far more information in this book. But with these two verses Hashem leaves a sign, a reminder of what could have been or what should have been and what will be in the future.
The Ma’am Loez says the two nun's hint to Naseh Venishma by Har Sinai. The two nuns are upside down to hint that now Benei Yisroel are the opposite of what they were. The Naseh Venishma was turned upside down.
(9:20) "Al Pi Hashem Yachenu v'al Pi Hashem Yisu-By the word of Hashem they camped and by the word of Hashem they travelled." At times they remained camped for extended periods of time, while other times they camped only briefly. This was to teach us that in the future there will be a very long exile. We will need to have faith through the long Diaspora. Even though Hashem may delay, we have faith that one day we will journey into the promised land.
(10:18) "V'Noso Degel Machaneh Reuvein-Then journeyed the division of the camp of Reuvein." By each of the tribes the word "Benei" precedes the name of the tribe. However the word "Benei" is notably missing when introducing the tribe Reuvein? When Rochel died Yakov moved his bed into the tent of Bilah. This upset Reuvein who felt that his mother, Leah, would feel slighted. The Torah thus records (Bereishis 35:22) "Vayelech Reuvein Vayishkav es Bilah Pilegesh Aviv Vayishma Yisroel - V'yihu Benei Yisroel Shnaim Assar-Reuvein went and lay with Bilah his fathers concubine, and Israel heard - The sons of Jacob were twelve." Although most commentators suggest that Reuvein did not actually sleep with his father's wife, rather he merely intervened with his fathers sleeping arraignments by moved his father's bed into Leah's tent. The fact that the verse ends with "The sons of Jacob were twelve." would according to many commentators seem to suggest that despite this act, Reuvein was not cast out. The sons of Jacob were twelve."
However the Malbim writes that Menashe and Ephraim were destined to be conceived from Yakov that night. His interfering with his father's sleeping arrangements caused that they were not born to Yakov, and this was considered as if he had lain with his father's wife.(Arizal)
This explains why Yakov considered Menashe and Ephraim as his own sons (48:3) because they were supposed to have been born to him. "The sons of Jacob were twelve." means they were only twelve! This is why our verse omits the word "Benei" by the tribe of Reuvein. He caused a child (Benei) to be removed, from being born. (Nireh Li)
(10:29) " Vayomer Moshe L'Chovev-Moshe spoke to his father in law Chovev" Rashi says this name was given because he loved the Torah. This is the only place in the Torah where Yisro is called Chovev. This was to show that although Yisro returned to his land, it was not because of a lack of faith. He still loved the Torah.
(11:4) “V’Hosafsuf Asher B’Kirbo His’avu Taivoh-And the collection [of nationalities] among them began to have strong cravings.” At this point the Torah mentions how the Eruv Rav influenced Klal Yisroel first by mentioning the foods they used to eat in Egypt, and then complaining about the Munn. Until ultimately they complained about the intimate relations that now were forbidden to them. As it says in posuk (11:10) “Vayishma Moshe es-Ha’am Bocheh L’mishpchosav-And Moshe heard the people weep according to their families.” Rashi explains that “according to their families” means concerning their intimate relationships. Moshe responds by complaining to Hashem saying (11:11) “Why have you dealt poorly with me?” (11:12) “Have I given birth to these people?” (11:13)”From where do I have meat to give to this entire people?” (11:14) “I alone can no longer carry this entire people.” Hashem responds by saying that Moshe should gather 70 elders to which he would transfer some of the spirit that was upon Moshe. What is going on here? Did not Hashem provide the means for all ten Macos? Certainly Moshe did not doubt Hashem’s ability? And how were these elders going to help this situation? The Ramban explains that the Munn was given in the merit of Moshe. This was the food of angels. It was spiritual food. It was given physical form only for the purpose of Klal Yisroel. But at this point Klal Yisroel had just left from the spiritual high of being in the presence of Har Sinai for an entire year. This was a tremendous let down from an extremely lofty level. When the posuk says (11:4) “V’Hosafsuf Asher B’Kirbo His’avu Tavoh-And the collection [of nationalities] among them began to have strong cravings.” It means they began to crave cravings. The food we eat has an effect on us. Certain foods bring along certain characteristics with them that are intrinsic to the animals they came from. Animals follow their instinct, their nature. They don’t use their daas to act. Therefore by eating them we gain some of their nature. The Torah restricts certain animals because of the negative nature that they give off when eaten. This is why they wanted to eat meat. So what Moshe was saying here is “where will I get meat from?” When he was on Har Sinai he did not need to eat. He was on a level far above all of this. That is why the Munn fell in Moshe's zechus. He was totally removed from the physicality of ordinary eating. He said “how can I give them meat?” because he could not be the vehicle for this physicality. Hashem therefore said to assemble the 70 elders. They would become the vehicle to bring the physicality of the food to the nation.
(11:5) “Es Ha’Kishuim V’es H’Avatichim-The cucumbers and Melons.” Rashi says that the Munn did not have the taste of the items listed because it was harmful for nursing mothers. The question is, why did Hashem not allow the taste of these items in the Munn without the harmful side affects? Because had a mother been able to have every flavor in her munn she would not be giving up anything in bringing up her child. Hashem did not want them to lose touch with the concept of what it means to sacrifice for a child even in the desert.
(11:10) "Vayishma Moshe es Ha'am Bocheh L'Mishpachosom- Moshe heard the nation weeping in their family groups." The Kol Torah writes that the physical desire for relations with close relatives was extremely powerful in ancient times. It was not until Zachariyah that the Sages were permitted to reduce this basic instinct.
The question then is why here? These commands were given earlier at HarSinai? The Oznayim L' Torah writes that this demonstrates the powerful influence of a Holy place. It was only after leaving Har Sinai that such complaints could arise.
(11:17) "V'Otzalti Min Haruach Asher Olehoh-I will take some of the spirit that is upon you." After Moshe complains to Hashem that he cannot carry this nation of complainers any longer, Hashem replies that he will share some of Moshe's spirit with the 70 Elders. Why did Hashem not just give the Elders power on their own, why take it from Moshe? The answer is that Hashem wanted to show Moshe that he had the power all along.
(11:19) “Lo Yom Echod Tochlun, V’Lo Yomoyim, V’Lo Chmisha Yomim, V’Lo Asara Yomim, V’Lo Esrim Yom- Not for one day shall you eat, not two days, not five days, not ten days, not twenty days.” For a Torah that is known to have no extra letters contained in it, these words seem quite redundant? Why go through so many examples of days when merely saying “One Month” would have sufficed?
This response explains the nature of their sin. The complaint was that they “desired desire” The origin of desire is in the power of sight. We see something we imagine what it would be like and we act upon it. They could have had the Munn taste like meat. But it would never look like meat. A key ingredient to the desire of something is in how it appears to you. How the food is presented adds to the enjoyment of it. Our mission is to elevate the physical for a spiritual purpose. To use the Yetzer Horah for Kiddusha. This was missing from their request.
The Baalei Tosfes write that when the posuk enumerates the amount of days, it should be cumulative. The Torah is telling us all the days of the year that meat should be eaten - on Yom Tov and Shabbos! To elevate it. If we add one plus two plus five plus ten plus twenty plus the 29 day month gives us a total of 67 days. The total number of Shabbosim and Yom Tovim for the year. Rather than requesting meat for their base desires, these are the days that meat should be eaten.
(12:1) "Vatidabaer Miriam V'Aharon B'Moshe al Odos H'Isha-And Miriam and Aharon spoke against Moshe because of the Cushite woman." (12:3) "V'Ho'Ish Moshe Anav M'Ode- Now the man Moshe was very humble." After Miriam and Aharon spoke negatively towards Moshe we find that the Torah proclaim ms him to be most humble. This would not seem to be the proper response to their accusations towards him? The Kol Torah explains that Moshe had just gone through one of the darkest periods of his life. He was depressed over the constant complaints of Yisrael to the point that he asked Hashem to end his life. Then he hears Eldad and Maidad's prophecy that he would not lead the nation into the promised land. He approaches his brother and sister for comfort only to hear them speaks no against him. But the Torah tells us that all of this did not change who Moshe was. He remained the most humble of men.
(12:13) “Kel Na Refah Na La”-In the Gemarra Brachos it says we learn from this posuk that if someone is asking for a cure for his friend he doesn't have to mention his name because Miriam's name wasn't mentioned here. Our Rabbis ask, if this were true then we shouldn't have to daven because Hashem knows our thoughts. Therefore you must at least allude to the name. In this posuk “Refah Na” is in gematria Miriam Yocheved (Miriam and her mother). You don't have to say the name explicitly a “Remez” is enough.