- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
- Hits: 115
The fourth Sefer of the Torah is referred to as Sefer HaPekudim-The Book of Numbers. There is clearly a lot of counting in this book. Why would Hashem need Moshe to count the people? Hashem knows the numbers? Moreover we know that Hashem does not approve of counting people either, as we find when Dovid HaMelech counted people, a plague resulted. The Gemara in (Yoma22b) quotes a verse in Hoshea (2:1) that says “Benei Yisroel should not be counted or measured.” The Gemara itself asks this question, because the verse begins “And the number of Benei Yisrael shall be as the sand of the sea, which shall not be counted or measured.” The first part implies that there is a number to be given to Bnei Yisroel, whereas the second part rules otherwise?
One answer given is that Hashem may count the people, but man may not. The question then is why? The phrase used is (1:2) “Mispar Shemos Kol Zachor L’Gilgilosom-The number of names every male according to their headcount.” This is an unusual phrase? The numerical value of the phrase Mispar Shemos-The number of names is 1128 the same as “Vhayu Mispar Beni Yisroel Kichol Hayam-The number of the Children of Israel will be as the sand on the shore.” They cannot be counted.
If Hashem was ordering a count He would have used the phrase Tisperu Osam- count them! But the Posuk reads (1:3) “M’Ben Esrim Shana V’Maalah...Tifkedu-From the age of twenty you shall count them.” which is a different word for counting. The word Pekidah means to consider, take note of something as in “Hashem Pokad es Sarah-Hashem took note of Sarah’s barrenness.” Thus the “Book of Numbers” is really the “Book of Considerations”! The counting of Pekidah serves to stress the value of the individual. Hashem, in considering each Jew is lifting each of them up. Now we can understand the Gemara, which says that it is only acceptable for Hashem to count the people, and not for man to do so. For it is only Hashem who is able to recognize the true value of every Jew. It is only He who gives everyone the correct consideration. The word L’Gilgilosom-Headcount has a numerical value of 536 the same as the word L’Alos-to lift up.
(1:1) “Vayidabaer Hashem el Moshe Bamidbar Sinai…B’echod L’chodesh Hasheni B’Shaneh Hashenis L’tzeisum M’eretz Mitzrayim- Hashem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai…On the first of the second month, in the second year after their exodus from the land of Egypt.” So begins the fourth Sefer of the Torah. What would logically be the verse that precedes this verse? If we look at the end of Sefer Shemos we find an event that took place just prior to this one. (Shemos 40:34) “Vayichas H’onan es-Ohel Moed u’Kovod Hashem Molei es H’mishkon-The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Hashem filled the Tabernacle.” This took place one month before the beginning of Sefer Bamidbar. The entire book of Vayikra could have been written after Bamidbar and we would not have noticed a difference.
The Ramban writes that the book of Shemos is the book of redemption. But the redemption is not complete until the presence of Hashem is returned to this world. The closeness to Hashem that man lost after the original sin needed to be restored. Once that had been accomplished the Sefer Vayikra serves as an instruction manual of how to maintain that closeness.
Sefer Bamidbar begins with a count of the people plus the directives of how they were to travel in formation through the dessert. The first ten chapters of Bamidbar all deal with the preparations of what should have come next, the marching into Eretz Yisroel. This is why Sefer Vayikra ends with the laws of Shemita plus the Tochacha. They were preparing to enter into the land. Up until the tenth chapter in Bamidbar everything was falling into place.
Chapter eleven is when things begins to fall apart. The people begin complaining for no valid reason. They want meat, they seek Taiva (desires) they are not content with the heavenly Munn. To the point that Moshe becomes so distraught that he tells Hashem (Bamidbar 11:15) “V’Im Kocha At-Oseh Li Horgaini Nah-And if this is how you deal with me-Kill me now!”
What was to have been the climactic ending turned into a series of missed opportunities and wrong turns. Instead of marching into the Promised Land the people were destined to wander for 40 years until every member of that generation died out. The question however is that if the Torah was given at Har Sinai in its entirety how can we say that the people changed course? How could the Torah intend them to march straight through when the outcome was already known? The answer is that the Torah like man has a body and a soul, a physical and spiritual side. On Har Sinai what Moshe received was the soul of the Torah the exact way the lessons were to be given over was not written down until the last day of Moshe’s life. Much of Torah is learned from the narration of the events that transpired. But if those events did not occur the lesson would have been taught in a different manner. If the sin of the Golden Calf did not happen we still would have had a Yom Kippur but from another source. Would Moshe have hit the rock if he already knew what was written in the Torah?
Through all of this the will of Hashem ultimately is done. We can either take the direct route to the Promised Land or the longer detour through the various exiles Israel has endured. This is the price of Bechira, having free choice.
(1:1) “Vayidabaer Hashem el Moshe Bamidbar Sinai-Hashem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai.” The word Bamidbar has the same letters as the word Midabaer - to speak. This could be the reason why this Parsha is always read before Shevous. Because the Chasam Sofer writes that Shevous is to Pesach what Shemini Atzeres is to Succos. Pesach was the freeing of speech and Shevous is the establishment of speech. We learn it from the first Posuk in chapter 3. It says “these are the offspring of Aharon and Moshe.” But only Aharon’s children are mentioned. Rashi writes that we see from here that someone who teaches others is as if he bore them. The power of speech is the tool with which Hashem created the world. It’s what separates man from the animals. By using speech a person can affect the course of another person’s life. What he hears can cause a profound effect forever. It can influence the way a person acts in the future and can cause a ripple effect to others as well. The extension of this is the idea behind the Mourner’s Kadesh, which is said in memory of a deceased person. Even after a person has passed on to the next world, his child’s merits can continue to earn him reward in the World to come, even though his own earning power has ceased. This week’s Parsha hints at how powerful sharing Torah can be.
(1:2) “Kol Zachor L’Gilgolosom- Every male according to their head count.” The word “L’Gilgolosom” has the same root as the word Gilgul which means a reincarnation of a soul. Moshe was able to look at every single male member of the nation, and determine how many reincarnations that soul would need to correct the failures of a previous life in order to attain perfection. He blessed each of them accordingly. The Gematria of the word “L’Gilgolosom” equals 536 the same as the words L’Mechilas Chet-the pardoning of sin.
(1:3) “M’ben Esrim Shana V’maloh Kol Yotze Tzvah-From twenty years and up all who are able to go to war.” This phrase is repeated in the counting of each tribe. Would it not have been
enough to mention it once? The Ksav V’kabalah asks this question and explains that this was a testimony to the purity of Klal Yisroel. Only those who are pure of heart, free of sin were permitted to go to war. This is why that phrase is repeated by each tribe, to attest to the purity of all of them.
(1:4) “V’Itchem Yiyu IshIsh L’mateh-And with you will be one man from each tribe.” The Minchas Ani interprets the verse homiletically. A man who considers himself “L’mateh” on the “Bottom” below others, who does not draw attention to himself, is truly a leader, a Rosh among men.
(1:18) “ Vayisyaldu al-Mishpechosom-And they established their genealogy.”They brought their birth certificates as the Egyptians kept meticulous records. We have a tendency to discount where we came from. Our generation tries to be independent, to break away from the past. We don’t become as great as we can because we don’t realize who we come from. The concept is not that I don’t need to work on myself because of where I come from, the concept is that because of my Yichus I have much to live up to. This is why the Pobove Rebbe would explain the words Vayisyaldu al-Mishpechosom as they gave birth to themselves based on their ancestry.
(1:22). “L’Benei Shimeon- Pekudav B’mispar Shemos-To the sons of Shimon ... their counted ones to the numbers of names” The word "their counted ones" ('pekudav') does not appear by any of the other tribes. Why does the Torah then use it specifically with regard to Shimon, asks the Birkas Avraham? Perhaps, he suggests, it is because the tribe was destined to be decimated in the fortieth year, after the episode with Zimri ben Salu. The Torah is therefore hinting here that although this was the number of souls that there were now (rendering Shimon one of the largest tribes), this would change drastically later (to render them one of the smallest tribes). We might add that the word "Pekudav" has connotations of missing (or being reduced), and that the Torah is therefore hinting that their numbers would later be reduced ( Ba'al ha'Turim Bereishis 50:24).
(1:30) “Lemate Zevulon” All of the tribes counted are accompanied by the prefix “vav” (umateh Naftali). Why is it omitted in the case of Mateh Zevulon? Zevulon engaged in commerce supporting the Shevet Yissascher. The Torah writes Zevulon without this prefix to show that shevet Zevulon is in no way inferior or secondary to Yessascher. He stands alone. This teaches us that he who supports Torah is just as great as he who studies himself.
Due to Zevulon's great merit why weren't they worthy to have an easier occupation than to be sailors and require them to venture so far from home?
The Gemara in Keddushin (82.) says that sailors, because of their perilous work are continually reminded that their lives are totally in Hashem's hands and they pray constantly to keep safe. As a result sailors have a strong appreciation of the value of Torah. This is one reason why Zevulon supported Yessascher. So Zevulon's difficult livelihood added to the great schar they had in supporting the Torah of Yissascher.
(1:44) “Vayihu Kol Hapikudin Shesh Meyous Eleph...All the countings totaled Six Hundred and three thousand, five hundred fifty.” The Zohar writes that the acronym of the word Yisroel stands for Yesh Shishim Ribuy Osious L'Torah-There are six hundred thousand letters in the Torah. There were six hundred thousand core Neshamos at the time of the birth of the nation. Therefore each Jew has a corresponding letter. But this count did not include Shevet Levi? How can the most honored tribe be excluded from having a portion of the Torah? Rabbi Zev Leff suggests the following. A Sefer Torah must be written with specific guidelines. Every column, every space, every line is calculated. There are on average 27 letters per line in a Sefer Torah. If you divide the number of souls 603,550 by the average amount of letters per line, you arrive at 22,273 lines which is the number for the Tribe of Levi. 22,273. This means that Shevet Levi is represented in the Torah as lines. Thus their role is to keep Yisroel in line. This could also be the explanation of the words that refer to the counting of Shevet Levi is (1:49) “B'toch Benei Yisroel-In the midst of Benei Yisroel.”
Ramban (3:39) The Leviim numbered only 22,000. Why was Shevet Levi smaller in numbers than the other Shfatim? The Sefer Sharei Ahron contains eight answers to this question. Here are two of them.
The Ramaban writes - When the Klal Yisroel was in Mitzraim, Shevet Levi didn't have to do hard labor like the rest of the Jews. In Shemos it says “The more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.” Hashem caused all the other Shvatim who were working to increase and multiply in a supernatural manner. Since the Leviim were not so afflicted they multiplied only by natural means. On the other hand Shevet Yehudah was the most populous of the Shevatim. This could perhaps be attributed to the fact that they suffered the most in Mitzraim. The Shevet Yehudah was the tribe of Malchus. So for them to experience slavery was of greater suffering than the other Shevatim, with the exception of Yosef, which was also a tribe of Malchus. When the sum of the tribes Efraim and Menashe are totaled we find they are the second most populaces.
The Kli Yakar answers that following the Gadol Hador who was Amram, Shevet Levi separated themselves from their wives for an extended period of time. This resulted in the that tribe having the least amount of descendants.
(1:49) “Ach es-Mateh Levi Lo Tifkod-But the shevet Levi do not count.” Rashi says that since Hashem knew that all those who were included in the counting would die in the Midbar, he did not want Shevet Levi to be included, because they did not sin by the Chet HaEigel. This seems rather strange because we know that the reason the Torah gives is due to the Chet Hameraglim? The Divrei Dovid explains that really Shevet Levi should have been included in the decree of the spies for when the destroyer is let loose it does not discriminate. The decree was for the entire generation of the Midbar. However the merit of not partaking in the sin of the Golden Calf saved them from this decree.
The Shem Meshmuel writes that there are two parts to every Mitzvah, that which is revealed, the actual act of a Mitzvah, and that which is hidden, the intent of the heart. The revealed aspect relates to the revealed world (Olam Hazeh). The hidden aspect relates to the hidden world (Olam Habo). Just as in man there is the hidden part, the Neshama, and the revealed part, the Guf. So a Mitzvah performed physically without intent is like a body without a soul. The same is true in reverse. A soul without a body cannot perform any Mitzvos. We use the physical world to amend the spiritual spheres. The way we are able to accomplish this is through acting as Hashem’s agent. The Gemarrah says Sheluchei Adam Kimoso. The agent of a person is equated to the person himself. Therefore if we are Hashem’s agents we can affect the spiritual realms by fulfilling his commands. This can shed some light on the statement Hashem said at Matan Torah (Shemos 19:5) “V’Atoh Im Shamoa Tishm’u B’koli U’Shemartem es Brisi-If you will listen to my voice and guard my covenant.” If you will listen is the part of Mitzvos that has to do with the mind, with comprehending the Mitzvos as to the intent with which they must be performed. Guard my covenant is the part that has to do with physically performing the Mitzvos. We see that Hashem placed the Hearing before the doing. And yet when Klal Yisroel said Nasseh V’Nishma, (We will do and we will hear, placing the doing before the hearing) Hashem said “who revealed
this secret to my children, this phrase that is used by the malachim?” The point is that from Hashem’s perspective Klal Yisroel comes first. That hearing and perceiving Hashem’s will on a deeper level, is what completes a man. The doing of his will is for Hashem’s sake. It affects the spiritual realms. But Klal Yisroel at that point, by Matan Torah, was on the level of the Malachim, who do Hashem’s will first then entertain the intellect.
If this is correct then we can understand the words of the Midrash that says after the Chet H’Eigel Klal Yisroel fell from this exalted level of Naaseh. They no longer look to satisfy Hashem’s will before their own. Why does the Midrash say that they only lost the Naaseh aspect of this level? Because the commentaries explain that the intent of Klal Yisroel was not to worship Idolatry. What they were seeking was a replacement for Moshe Rabeinu, whom they thought had died. The Satan had shown them a vision of Moshe being carried away on his death bed. But based upon what we said earlier regarding Mitzvos affecting the spiritual world, this is only true if Hashem commanded the Mitzvah. The act of making the Eigel, even if justified, was not an act commanded by Hashem. It was only to satisfy their need for an intermediary. With this in mind we can return to the original question. Why Rashi connects this sin with that of the Meraglim. By the Meraglim the motivation for that sin was to remain under Hashem’s care. They wished to dwell in the theory of the Torah, in the Shemiya, rather than the actual doing of the mitzvos which is what conquering Eretz Yisroel would have brought about. So it comes out that the sin of the spies was a test to see if they had overcome the mistake of the Eigel. While the sin of the Eigel caused the sin of the Meraglim.
Shevet Levi on the other hand was not involved with the Chet HaEigel. They proved their loyalty to Hashem at that time and for all times. When Moshe descended with the Luchos and saw the Eigel he proclaimed (Shemos 32:26) “Mi L’Hashem Aylie-Whoever is for Hashem come to me.” At which point the entire Shevet Levi gathered to Moshe’s side. They never wavered in their faith in Hashem. Therefore Hashem said that Shevet Levi will be mine. Their mission in this world would be the service of Hashem for they had shown themselves to be worthy. They had not fallen from the status that Klal Yisroel reached by Matan Torah which was the level of Adam before the Chet of the Eitz Hadaas, a level where the body and soul wanted the same thing. The words (3:6) “Hakrev es Mateh Levi-Bring Shevet Levi near” equals in gematria 812 (counting the words) which is the same as the word V’lasos-and to do. Their Naaseh (doing) was proven to be faithful. There was no need for them to work the land as the rest of Klal Yisroel did. This is why they were not represented in the sending of the spies. One, because they had no portion in the land, and two, because there was no need to test them after the Chet HaEigel.
(1:54) “Vayasu Benei Yisroel K’kol Asher Tziva Hashem es Moshe Kain Asu-The children of Israel did everything that Hashem comanded them, so they did.” These last words appear to be extra? Rather it comes to highlight that they immediately took their places and allowed the tribe of Levi to enter. They all wanted to be close to Hashem, but they followed his command.
(2:17) “K’asher Yachanu Kain Yisa’u-As they encamp so shall they journey.” The arrangement BeneiYisroel followed when they encamped was required also during travel. Some suggest that underlying this verse is a profound concept relevant to the observance of Shabbos, namely the impact it can have on the other six days of the week. The nature and quality of one’s “encampment” his day of rest when he pauses from the frantic pursuit of a livelihood that occupies him throughout the week, will determine the way he travels during the next six days. If a person spends his Shabbos simply indulging in food and sitting around idly, then it cannot possibly have any kind of spiritual impact upon the upcoming week. The next six days will be just like his Shabbat-mundane and without any meaning. If however one spends Shabbos as a day of spiritual growth, then this is how he will “travel” during the coming week. The rest of the week will assume a meaningful spiritual quality.
(3:4) “Vayomus Nadav V’Avihu Lifnei Hashem-Nadav and Avihu died before Hashem.” Only Hashem knew why they died. If so, the fact that they brought an alien fire was not sufficient reason for their death.
The reason is that the two young Kohanim spoke against Moshe and Aaron and said “When will these two old men die so we can take over leadership of the generation?”(Sanhedrin 52A)
In punishment Hashem killed them in a way that everyone could understand the offering of the alien fire that represents a new and unauthorized form of service. There was justice in this in that their twisted outlook was truly an “Aish Zarah” in contrast to Aish Das (fire of religion) of Moshe. The words “Vayomus Nadav V’Avihu Lifnei Hashem” equal B’Gematria 739. The same as the word L’Kitores (the incense).
(3:15-16) “Kol Zachar M’ben-Chodesh Vomaleh Tifkidaim-Every male from the age of one month and above you shall count.-Vayifkod Osom Moshe Al-Pi Hashem-And Moshe counted them according to the word of Hashem.” Rashi says that once they leave the category of a viable child, they are to be counted. Later on in the parsha when Moshe is told to count the first born he writes. “Once they have left the questionable status of a viable child.” Why are there two different terms used to describe basically the same thing? The first counting was not done by Moshe. Rashi says that Moshe said to Hashem. “How can I go into their tents to know their numbers?” This was resolved by a Bas Kol issued from each tent proclaiming how many children were in each family. This is the meaning of the words Al Pi Hashem. But by the counting of the first-born it just says, “Kasher Tzivah Hashem-As Hashem commanded.” (3:42). Since this counting was by Hashem there was no doubt as to the child’s viability. Whereas by the first born the counting was done by natural means, therefore it uses the term Sofek (doubt). If this is the reason that Rashi gives for there to be a Bas Kol, why wasn’t it necessary by the first born as well? They too were counted from one month and up? Yet there is no mention of Al Pi Hashem there?
To answer this we must look to the beginning of the parsha. (1:2) “S’ou es-Rosh Kol Adas Benei Yisroel-B’mispar Shemos-Take a census of the entire assembly of the children of Israel- by number of the names.” The term “Mispar Shemos-the number of their names.” Appears twelve more times in this section. And again in posuk 18. By the Leviim it is omitted. (3:15) But with reference to the first born (3:40) it says “Sah es Mispar Shemos-Count the number of their names.” The reasoning is that the names of all the Jews in this census was recorded so that when they reached Eretz Yisroel they would know how to apportion the land. For we find at the end of parshas Pinchas it says (26:53) “L’Ayleh Taicholek H’aretz B’nachalah B’mispar Shemos-To these shall the land be divided as an inheritance, according to the number of names.” This refers to the written names of those who were counted in our parsha forty years earlier. So the counting here was done by writing down each name. It was therefore unnecessary for Moshe to enter the tents of Klal Yisroel or the first born. But because all of those counted at this time were destined to die in the Midbar, only by having the names recorded were they able to determine how to apportion the land. And since Shevet Levi was not included in the division of the land, their names were not recorded. It therefore became necessary for a personal counting. The Leviim were brought closer to Hashem through this census, therefore the Divine Presence took part in their counting. By the first born, they were being distanced from Hashem, because they were being replaced by the Leviim. Therefore the Divine Presence did not take part in their counting.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
- Hits: 239
The Parsha begins with the words “ Im Bechukosaye Teilech. If you will go in my ways.” We read this portion of the Torah every year before Matan Torah. This is in order to put the curses that are contained in this weeks parsha behind us before the new year. In fact they are read twice. Once before Rosh Hashana and once before Matan Torah. The question is what is the connection of these curses to Matan Torah?
We know that whenever a person sins he creates a Malach Rah, a bad Angel, that causes bad things to occur to him. Every time something bad happens to a person it's for a reason. Even the smallest thing such as pulling the wrong coin out of one’s pocket is a form of punishment for some transgression, or if a person were to stub his toe. All of these things are considered paying off the debts of sin. Except in the case where a person says all of these things are just happening by accident. They are not part of any master plan but just plain bad luck. If a person doesn't attribute these happenings to Hashem then Hashem say's I will leave you to your random luck. I won't play a hand in your fate. Then any misfortunes that occur are not removed as payment for the debt of his sins. This is born out by the verse (26:21) "V'Im Teilchu Imi Keri-If you will behave with me casually." The word "Keri" has the same numerical value as the words "Derech HaTeva. (She'ris Yisroel)
This is why we read from this portion prior to Matan Torah. We want the curses to come in the meaning full way. So that they can reduce our debts and we can enter the New Year with a fresh beginning.
(26:5) “V’achaltem Lachmacha L’Sova-You will eat your bread and be saisfied.” Rashi says that the blessing will be inside of you. Whatever amount you have will satisfy you. However the verse before says that Hashem will bless your crops to be abundant. If there is abundant food why do we need the blessing of “V’achaltem Lachmacha L’Sova-You will eat your bread and be saisfied.”? There is an additional blessing here. There are times when a person can have abundance and still not be satisfied. The blessing here is two fold. There will be plenty and you will be satisfied.
(26:13) “V’ani Hashem Asher Hotzaisi M’Eretz Mitzrayim-I am Hashem who took you out of Egypt.” Why not proclaim the G-d who created the world? The previous verse mentions that Hashem will walk with us and we will be His people. What is the connection here? How can we reach such a level as to walk along side of Hashem? Because Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, out from being mere slaves.
“V’Olech Eschem Komimyus-And you will walk upright.”You will be able to go into Eretz Yisroel not horizontal as in a box. But rather upright.
(26:31) “V’Lo Areyach B’Reiach Nichoach-I will not savor the fragrance of your sweet odors.” This phrase “Reiach Nichoach” is found frequently in the Torah. It is explained by Rashi to mean that Hashem is pleased that He commands and Yisrael follows. But if there is no temple and no sacrifices being brought, of course Hashem will not savor their sweet smells? The Ohr Hachaim explains this to mean that Hashem will not even be pleased with the good deeds of the Jewish people at that time.
(26:40) "V'Hisvadu es Avonom ...B'Maalom Asher Mo'alu Bi Vaf Asher Holchu Imi Keri-You will confess your sins...for the unfaithfulness with which they betrayed me and also for walking contrary to me." What is the difference between being unfaithful and walking contrary to Hashem? In Posuk 43 it gives two reasons for the curses. Shmita and not learning Torah. Perhaps this is referring to these two sins. Waking contrary to Hashem is not learning Torah as in the beginning of this Parsha "I'm Bechukosai Teylechu." Shmitah refers to being unfaithful, not believing that Hashem will provide during the Shmita year.
(26:42) “V’zocharty es Bris Yakov V’af es Brisi Yitzchok V’af es Brisi Avraham Ezkor V’Haaretz Ezkor- I will remember my covenant with Yakov and also my covenant with Yitzchok and also my covenant with Avraham I will remember, and I will remember the land.” There are several difficulties that present themselves with this posuk. 1. Why are the Avos mentioned in reverse order? 2. Why is the land mentioned? 3. Why is there no mention of remembrance by Yizchok? And why is Yakov’s name spelled full with the “Vav”?
The Ramban develops a theme that the two Tochachot refer to two different time periods. The first, in this Parsha, refers to the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdosh. The second in Parshas KiSavo, predicts the conditions of the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh. The Ramban proves this theme by bringing many examples from the Posukim in the Tochacha. For example “Az Tirtzeh Ha’aretz es Shabsoseha-Then the land shall make up for it’s Shabosos” (26:34) in the first Tochacha refers to the Golus Bavel, the seventy years of Golus between the first and second Temples paralleled the seventy Shmita years that were not kept during the first Beis Hamikdosh. By contrast, in the second Tochacha it states “V’hefitzcha Hashem B’chol H’Amim Miktzei H’aretz V’ad K’tzei H’aretz- Hashem will scatter you among all the peoples from one end of the Earth to the other end of the Earth” (28:64) This occurred when Titus took captives from Eretz Yisroel and spread them across many countries. He took the younger captives and left their parents weeping as it says. “Bonecha U’binosecha Nosnim L’am Acher V’einechah R’ous Vein Lel Yodechah-Your sons and daughters shall be given to another people, your eyes shall see and your hands will be powerless.” (28:32)
If we take the Ramban’s theme a step further we can suggest that there is a third Tochacha, which Rashi states was the harshest curse of them all. (31:18) “V’anochi Haster Aster Ponai-I will surely hide my face.” This is what Moshe Rabbeinu said, near the end of the Torah, before giving over the leadership to Yehoshua. The most often asked question about the Shoah was “How could Hashem let such unimaginable suffering befall his people?” In other words how could Hashem hide his face, as it were, from his people?
If we now look at the Posuk, the order of the Avos makes sense. Each covenant refers to the three periods we discussed and in that order. Yakov represents the Midah of Emes. The first Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because of Avodah Zorah, false Gods which is the opposite of truth. The second Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because of groundless hatred.
Yitzchok’s Midah was Gevura-strength. That generation had individual strength but they channeled it only towards themselves like Essav who took that Midah of strength and used it to conquer anyone who stood in his path. This could be why the punishment of the second Beis Hamikdosh, was carried out by the descendants of Essav namely Rome.
Avraham had the Midah of Chessed. He was able to spread that Chessed to his surrounding nations without himself becoming assimilated. The European Jewry experienced tremendous freedoms to express their Yiddishkeit, but unlike Avraham, many who became involved with the building of their host nations became assimilated.
This then explains the order of the Avos in this Posuk. But with regard to the mentioning of the land perhaps we can say that as we see today, the entire world is involved with the Mid-East. This tiny piece of land is the basis of conflict around the world. The fact that Klal Yisroel is connected to the land and will never again give it up, could be what the end of the posuk is referring to. “V’Haaretz Ezkor- I will remember the land.” I will remember the sacrifice that Klal Yisroel makes to keep the land and perhaps through this the redemption will come.
We now are left with two questions. Why the “vav” in Yakov’s name? And why is there no mention of remembering by Yitzchok? Rashi explains both of these questions as follows. Yitzchok needs no remembering because his ashes from the Akeidah remain gathered before Hashem constantly. Secondly this is one of five places that Yakov took the letter “Vav” from Eliyahu Hanavi's name as collateral in order to insure the eventual redemption of his descendants. The question remains though regarding Yitzchok as to why? Why was this act of the Akeidah different than so many acts of Kiddush Hashem that are recorded in the Torah? So different that it remains a constant reminder before Hashem? Was not Avraham’s self sacrifice at Ur Kasdim as great? The image of Yakov is said to be on the very throne of Hashem. Is that not enough of a reminder?
The Maharal answers that Yitzchok so negated his physical existence that his soul actually left his body. He became the first case of Techiyas Hamaisim in the Torah. Yitzchok, was the first Jew born of two Jewish parents, was the paradigm of all future Jews to follow. All of his R’mach Avarim were given over to the service of Hashem. This possibility of reincarnation had to be instilled into Klal Yisroel from the start.
According to what we have said, that Yakov’s name is spelled with a “Vav” to insure the eventual redemption of his descendants. We may suggest that this Posuk hints to when that eventual redemption will take place. “V’zocharty es Bris Yakov-- I will remember my covenant with Yakov.” When will He remember? The Goan of Vilna writes that for every Posuk in the Torah there is a corresponding year in history. The world as we know it is predicted to remain for six thousand years. However there aren’t six thousand Posukim in the Torah. There are only 5846 according to the Bible Scholar. What does this mean? We have a principal that says Acharis K'Reishis-The last is like the first. Just as the first redemption, Yetzias Mitzraim was shortened, (Originally we were destined to serve in Egypt for 400 years but we were redeemed after 210 years) so too the final redemption will be shortened. If we calculate the Gematria of this Posuk (26:42) “V’zocharty es Bris Yakov V’af es Brisi Yitzchok V’af es Brisi Avraham Ezkor V’Haaretz Ezkor” it equals 5288. What is missing to bring Moshiach is the Zechira of Yitzchok’s Mesiras Nefesh. The difference between 5846 (the amount of Posukim in the Torah) and 5288 (the Gematria of this Posuk) is 558 which equals Kol Ramach H’avarim –All 248 limbs. This represents the essence of who Yitzchak was. His willingness to sacrifice himself totally to Hashem. The willingness of Klal Yisroel to sacrifice their entire being, that Mesiras Nefesh is what is needed to bring the final Geula.
(26:45) “Vzocharty Lochem Bris Reshonim Asher Hotzaisi Osom M’Ertez Mitzrayim L’Aynei H’Goyim Lihiyos Lochem L’Elokim- And I will remember for them the covenant of the First ones, those who I have taken out of Egypt before the eyes of the nations to be G-d unto them.” This verse needs expounding. Who is the remembering connected to? Rashi says it is the Tribes. But the Posuk says “who I have taken out of Mitzrayim”? The twelve tribes never left there, but rather died there. It can’t mean Bnei Yisroel because that is who is being spoken to? This occurs before the sin of the spies and the decree of death for that generation!
The Meshech Chochma writes that it refers to the bones of the tribes that were taken out of Egypt as a reminder that we belong in Eretz Yisroel. We should not think that Hashem will allow us to assimilate totally. Whenever we came close to assimilation, Hashem would cause us to be exiled. The Meshech Chochma wrote that Berlin is not Jerusalem and thus predicted the Holocaust.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(25:1) “Vayidabaer Hashem el-Moshe Behar Sinai-Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai.” Rashi asks why is this din of Shmita mentioned as coming from Sinai, weren't all the Mitzvos from Sinai? He answers that just as here the details were given, so too all the Mitzvos that were given at Sinai even if the details weren't mentioned they were given at Sinai. But there is another reason for it's being mentioned. At Sinai Benei Yisroel reached a level so great that they would not have needed to worry about earthly pursuits. This too was what the Shmita year meant. If they keep the Mitzvos, then in the year of Shmita they won’t need to worry about food. It was this Mitzvah that encompassed the idea of totally relying on Hashem. Of leaving one’s means of sustenance entirely in the hands of his own Emunah. This is also why the Posuk refers to the Shmitah year as Shabbos L’Hashem. In so doing the Torah likens it to the weekly Shabbos. Just as Shabbos is a day that should be devoted to Hashem through prayer, Torah study and refraining from empty pursuits, so too the Shabbos year should not be a time of idleness and emptiness, but spiritual growth.
We need a weekly Shabbos to remind us of our purpose in going through the six work days. But we also need a Shabbos of years to absorb the Emunah into our bones. The Shmita year resembles the earth before the sin.. Just as the earth before the sin produced food without labor. So too the Shmita years produces without labor.
The word Shmita has the numerical value of 364. If you calculate the number of Shabbosim there are in 7 years (52 x 7) it equals 364. But since the solar year has 52 weeks plus one day, it comes out that every seven years there is one extra Shabbos? This could be why by Yovel the Posuk says Shabbos Shabbosom an extra Shabbos.
The Amida of the week days contain the same eighteen blessings for all three daily prayers. Shacharis, Mincha and Maariv. The same is true with regards to the Amida of Yom Tov. However Shabbos is the exception. Each of the Shabbos prayers are different. The evening prayer corresponds to the original Shabbos of creation. A perfect time void of sin. The Morning prayer is a reminder of the giving of the Torah at Sinai, where Klal Yisroel attained the level of Adom before the sin. The afternoon prayer corresponds to the future Shabbos, when Moshiach will herald in the new world order.
There are three types of Shabbosim. The first is the weekly Shabbos we have that represents the end of physical creation. The second is Shmita it is the Shabbos that happens every seven years. This is the Shabbos that is embedded in history. It represents the end of time when Hashem will be able to rest from the labor of moving history to its destination. Just as the weekly Shabbos is a time to reflect on our goal in life, so too the Shmita is reminiscent of our ultimate goal in Messianic times. The Yovel is the third Shabbos. It comes every fifty years and presents the Shabbos as the contact point between creation and Hashem, when all of mankind will once again unite with the creator. It is the Shabbos of the higher world, the realm of eight which is beyond our natural world of seven..
The first Mishneh in Avos says “Moshe Kibel Torah M’Sinai-Moshe received the Torah from Sinai.” The question is didn’t Moshe receive the Torah on Sinai. What is the meaning of “from Sinai”? The Nesivos Sholom answers that Sinai here does not refer to the mountain but rather the experience. The heavens opened wide and the entire nation experienced Hashem in a way that was never again repeated. The sages teach that they had such absolute clarity of faith that they 'saw' the words of Hashem. They had no doubts about Hashem’s existence. This is what the Mishneh is teaching. Moshe received the Torah from Sinai Of course the Torah was received from Hashem. But the level of Emunah that was reached through the experience at Sinai served as the conduit through which the Torah could and would flow down to us all.
(25:2) “Veshavsah Ha’aretz Shabbos L’Hashem- The land shall observe a Shabbos rest for Hashem.” Rashi says for the name of Hashem, just as it was stated by the Shabbos of Bereishis. What does this mean? What is the connection to the Shabbos of Bereishis? We know that the first Shabbos was not commanded to anyone. It was a Shabbos to Hashem. The purpose of the creation of the physical world was for the spiritual, represented by Shabbos. The Ramban writes that the comparison between Shemitah and Shabbos is that both bear testimony to Hashem’s creation of the universe in six days and His rest on the seventh. The years of the Shimitah cycle allude to the six thousand years of this world’s existence climaxed by the seventh millennium, which will be a period of Moshiach, of peace and tranquility. If Shmita relates to Shabbos and the six days of the week relate to the 6,000 years the world is destined to exist, what then is Yovel related to?
Rabeinu Bachya writes that seven times seven years refers to the ultimate Yovel after 49,000 years which is the lifespan of the universe. This concept in turn could incorporate the concept discussed at length by the Ohr Hachaim in which the author is at pains to prove that our universe is not the first of these seven cycles but is already the fifth such cycle, previous cycles having contained lower forms of life only, including prehistoric man.
(25:2) "Ki Sovo el H’aretz Asher Ani Nosain Lochem V’Shovsah H’aretz Shabbos L’Hashem-When you enter the land that I will give to you, then the land will keep a Shabbos to Hashem" Why is the first year upon entering the land, a Shabbos year? The Shmita year mirrors the earth before the first sin. Produce came without effort. This is the ideal, to take us back to Adom before the sin. An entire year was needed to drive home the message that everything comes from Hashem. After spending forty years of having all of their physical needs provided for them by Hashem, Klal Yisroel knew that upon entering the land they would be required to come back to reality. Perhaps this is the reason for the Shabbos year at the start. To highlight that this is the goal.
The words “V’Shavtah Ha’artez Shabbos L’Hashem” equal “Vayishbos B’Yom Ha’Shevii M’Kol Melachto.” (1767)
(25:9) “Vehavartah Shofar Teruah B’chodesh Hashevi B’asser Lachodesh B’Yom Hakipurim-And you shall sound the shofar in the seventh month on the tenth day on Yom Kippur.” The Posuk is telling us that we must blow shofar to herald in the Yovel year. The question is why wait until the tenth? Why isn’t it counted from the first of the month, from Rosh Hashana? The Midrash says that this was done in order for the slaves to prepare themselves for freedom. From Rosh Hashana on they no longer worked but they were not yet free. They would sit at their masters table and eat from their food until Yom Kippur. This has a dual effect in that it also softens the blow for the master who goes through the hardship of relinquishing his slave.
The Maharal explains that just like Yom Kippur returns things to their original state, so too does Yovel. When a person sins he falls under the rule of the Yetzer Horah and is no longer under the domain of Hashem. The Yetzer Horah rules over the physical body. So by going through a Yom Kippur, where a person negates the physical to the extent that he is compared to an angel, he returns to Hashem and is now able to accept freedom.
(25:19) "V'ochaltem L'sova-You shall eat your fill." Rashi says that the blessings will be in the stomach, such that a person will be satisfied with less. The Kasav Sofer asks why should the blessing be to be satisfied with less? Why shouldn't there be plenty of food for everyone? He answers that people who become accustomed to excessive amounts of everything, whether food, money or luxuries, can never really feel secure. Having become dependent on more than enough they will feel deprived with anything less. Therefore the blessing is that people will not gorge themselves to excess but still be satisfied.
The Soforno distinguishes between one who trusts in Hashem, who does not question, "what will we eat in the seventh year?" and he who questions. The one who does not question will indeed, have less produce, however, it's nutritional value will far exceed that of a regular year. He will have less, but he will require less. Less will be more. The believer whose belief is not as strong will ask the question and will receive a Heavenly response in the way of a greater yield in the sixth year. His crops will be plentiful, enough to last him through the following year. Nonetheless, these crops will be of normal quality, un-enhanced by Heavenly intervention.
(25:38) “Losase Lochem es-Eretz Canaan L’hiyos Lochem L’elokim-To give you the land and to be your G-d.” Rashi comments that whoever lives in Israel, Hashem is his G-d and whoever leaves Eretz Yisroel is likened to an Idol worshipper. One can only be fully Jewish in Israel and one who leaves loses part of his Jewish identity. (Oznayim L’Torah)
(25:30) “B’Iyar Asher Lo Chomah-In a city that has a wall.” Rashi writes that the word Lo is read with a “Vav” but is written with an Aleph. This would mean that the Torah writes “no wall” but it means “there is a wall.” What is the meaning of this? Why would the Torah write it one way but mean the opposite? To understand this we must first understand what the walled cities were. When Yehoshua entered Eretz Yisroel he sanctified all those cities that were walled at the time. This miracle represented the fact that no human effort could stand in the way of the will of Hashem. On the other hand those walls built by the Jews contained no Kiddusha because they represented the lack of faith placed in Hashem’s ability to protect them. So it comes out that the walls built by the gentiles, Lo spelled with an aleph, are viewed by the Torah as “Lo Chomah” no wall.. When read with a Vav meaning a wall built by the Jews, it is saying Lo-to him Chomah-a wall. In other words this wall was built for him (Lo) for his security which is a lack of/ Emunah in Hashem. The selling of a house referred to here is not your typical sale where someone wishes to move up to a nicer home. Anyone who sold an ancestral dwelling did so only under the pressure of financial concerns. This follows after the warnings of a person who sells himself as a slave. Any home sold of the walled cities that were sanctified by Yehoshua could be redeemed in the first year only. After that they were lost and would not return to its original owner even at Yovel.
The Parsha goes on to speak about the need to support the poor. When a person gives charity he gets more than he gives. He gives a small material amount but receives an inestimable wealth of spiritual merits. In Pirkei Avos it says there are ten things that were created each stronger than the next-1.rock, 2.iron, 3.fire, 4.water, 5.clouds, 6.wind, 7.the body, 8.fear, 9.death, 10.Tzedaka, which is stronger than all of the rest. The Maharal asks “why is Tzedaka stronger than the other things listed?” He explains that the first nine are naturally strong, whereas Tzedaka's strength is not a physical one. It bears the Kiddusha of a Mitzvah. Therefore it can even overpower death, which is bound by the confines of nature.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(21:1) “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe Dabaer el Hakohanim Benei Aharon-Hashem said to Moshe, speak to the Kohanim the son’s of Aharon.” Why does the Torah need to mention that they were the son’s of Aharon? Who else would be called Kohanim? Rav Yonasan Eyebeshutz answers that Moshe had the status of a Kohen at this time but since he was not a descendant of Aaron, he was not instructed to avoid becoming Tameh. Pinchas was able to kill Zimri even though he was a descendant of Aharon because he was not yet a Kohen. Based on this interpretation the Posuk reads; speak to the kohanim- this excludes Pinchas, the sons of Aharon- this excludes Moshe. Rav Yonasan goes on to explain that precisely because Moshe was able to become Tameh by killing Zimri he was faulted by Hashem for not doing so. Instead Pinchas killed Zimri since he too was able to become he did not become Tameh, so too, no one would ever become Tameh for him.
(21:1) “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe Dabaer el Hakohanim Benei Aharon-Hashem said to Moshe, speak to the Kohanim the son’s of Aharon.” The Kohanim are exalted above the rest of Yisroel. This the posuk reads "Speak to the Kohanim," tell them they are the sons of Aharon and must continue to conduct themselves accordingly.
(21:1) “V’amarta Aleyhem L’Nefesh Lo Yitamoh B’amov-Tell them, each of you shall not contaminate yourselves to the soul of a corpse among his people.” Why is the Torah using the word “Nefesh” to describe the contaminate? Is it not the corpse that contains the contamination?
The Baal H’Akeida writes that the concept of Tumas Mase is derived from the power of the sparks of the Neshama that are not able to separate themselves from the physical body, after they had been joined and connected to it, having become one with the Guf. Therefore if the soul would be able to detach itself completely there would not be any spiritual contamination or Tumas Mase. This is the meaning of the usage of the words “L’Nefesh Lo Yitamoh” the prohibition the Torah refers to is of the Nefesh. That it is through the soul connection that remains in the body that produces this Tumeh.
The Ohr Hachaim writes that the reason the term "Nefesh" is used is to teach us that even a small amount of blood can render a Kohen Tamei for the Nefesh is in the blood.
(21:2) “Ki Im L’Shearoh H’koreiv Aylav-Except for the relative who is closest to him.” The Kohein may not contaminate himself with anyone other than those closest to him. The verse goes on to list these relatives. Mother, Father, Son , Daughter and unmarried sister. Oddly missing is a wife? Rashi explains “Ayin Shearoh Elah Ishto-There is no closer relative than a wife.” The Gematria of the word Shearoh is equal to Zivug min H’Shomayim.(507)
Man’s relationship with his relatives is based on the past. They all came from the same root. However his relationship with his wife is based on the future. The future is always more precious than the past, for that which has already happened no longer exists. No one can bring it back or improve on it. Yet we still have a chance to improve the future. (Oznayim L'Torah)
(21:6) "Kol Ish Asher Bo Mume Mzerah Aharon Hakohen lo Yigash L'Hakriv-Any man from the sons of Aharon the Kohen who has a physical defect shall not come close to perform the service"
The Kli Yakar writes that every defect is the result of sin. They were able the look at the defect and know what sin caused it. However a defect from birth was also restricted in order not to embarrass those barred from service.
(21:17) "Lechem Elokav-Food of G-d." What is meant by this expression "Food of G-d"?
When Yisroel stood at Mount Sinai they had reached a pinnacle in history. They had overcome the original sin. Not since the dawn of creation had man ever attained such closeness to the Creator. The purpose of bringing sacrifices to the Creator of the world is in order to reconnect to Him. The word Korbon is from the word Korov/close. The sacrifices are called the "Food of G-d" because just as food connects the physical body to the spiritual soul, so too the sacrifices reconnect Klal Yisroel with Hashem. Lechem Elokav is equal to 130 the same as the word Sulam-Ladder which is the connection of the upper and lower.
(22:28) “Oso V’es Binoh Lo Sishchatu B’Yom Echad-You may not slaughter it and its offspring in one day.” If one person kills the mother animal and another the offspring on the same day, both are culpable. There is an amazing link between the individual Jew and the rest of the nation. The Jewish people share one soul. In the eyes of heaven, all the Jewish people bear responsibility for each other. Here we find the slaughtering of the parent animal by one individual had an effect on the collective soul of the nation including every individual Jew. (Oznayim L’Torah)
(23:3) “Sheyshes Yomim Tai’Aseh Melacha-For six days work shall be done” This chapter is devoted to the Yomim Tovim. The commentaries ask why does it begins with Shabbos, and in particular with the six days of work? Rashi explains that this is to teach us that whoever observes Yom Tov is considered as if he observed Shabbos.
The Gerer Rebbe answers the question in a different way. We know that if a person touches something Tameh he becomes Tameh. Depending on the different degrees of Tumeh that the person touches is the degree of Tumeh he incurs. But what if it were reversed? What if he touches Kiddusha? There is a Gemarrah in Zevachim (87a) that says whoever touches the holy objects of the Mishkon becomes holy and is capable of spreading that holiness. If we look for the source of Kiddusha in the world, we find that at the six days of creation the first mention of Kiddusha is with regard to Shabbos.(Bereishis 2:3) “Vayivorech Elokim es-Yom Hasheve Vayikadesh Oso-Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” Shabbos is the source of Kiddusha in the world. By keeping Shabbos a person is able to spread that Kiddusha into the rest of creation. Through this the Sanhedrin was able to establish the times when Yom Tov would occur. As such, Shabbos acts like the sacred objects in the Mikdosh; whatever touches it becomes holy and is able to spread that holiness. This concept can be seen in the wording of the following excerpt from the Yom Tov prayers. Mikadesh Ha’Shabbos Yisroel V’Hazmanim-He sanctifies Shabbos, Israel and the festivals. First comes Shabbos then Israel and then the festivals. Shabbos is the source of Kiddusha which is then transferred to Yisroel to elevate the mundane.
In the Torah, the day of the month that we celebrate Shavous is not mentioned; it depends entirely on the counting of Yisroel. We count 49 days, then the 50th day is the Chag. There is no set time to learn Torah as by other Mitzvos for the Torah is “Above time”. With regard to the study of Torah it says “Vihigisa Bo Yomam Volayla-That you should occupy yourself with it day and night.” The day is before the night. This is not the order of Bereishis which says “Vayehe Erev Vayehe Boker” the night is mentioned before the day. This shows us that the Torah is not bound by
(23:11) "Mimochoras H'Shabbos-On the day after Pesach" Why is Pesach referred to as Shabbos? The Oznayim L'Torah writes that because we were on the 49th level of Tumeh, We were undeserving of redemption. So too, Shabbos arrives as a gift, undeserving with or without our participation. Hashem himself needed to take us out of Mitzrayim. This created a closeness to Him that was like Yom Shekulo Shabbos.
(23:15) “U’Sefartem Lochem M’mochros H’Shabbos-You shall count for yourselves from the day after Shabbos.”Hashem had raised them to the lofty levels of angels. He then returned to His heavenly abode leaving man to fall from this high level. Now that they had experienced “a day that was entirely Shabbos” they began to yearn for that closeness again. (Oznayim L'Torah)
Many commentators have struggled to explain why the word Shabbos in this verse is really referring to the first day of Pesach? In Bereishis on the eve of the first Shabbos Hashem intended for man to obey His first command and enter Shabbos in a pure and holy state. This would have been the completion and perfection of all of creation. However Man failed and creation was thrown into a downward spiral. Through Hashem’s Chesed Man was allowed to remain in Gan Eden for Shabbos. The work to rebuild the relationship would thus begin on the eighth day, the day following that first Shabbos - M’Mochros H’Shabbos.
(23:28) "B'etzem Hayom Hazeh-On this very day" Why is this phrase repeated here with regard to Yom Kippur? We might have thought that the forgiving of sin can only be accomplished when there is a temple standing. The Torah therefore tells us B'etzem Hayom Hazeh it is the essence of the day itself with or without the temple.(R.Bechaya)
(23:28) “L’Chapear Aleichem-To provide you atonement.” The Baal H’Rokeach writes that the word Kapora is written 24 times in the Parshas of Acharei and Emore. This corresponds to the 24 prohibitions of Arayos in Acharei and the 24 hours in the day. Plus, he adds, the 24 times the word “Ochel” is found in Bereishis from the time Hashem commanded Adom to eat from all of the trees in the garden (Lochem Yihiyeh L’Ochloh), until Hashem expels man from the garden lest he eat from the “Tree of life” (V’ochel V’chai L’Olam)
What is the connection of all of these? Both of these Parshios deal with the Kohanim, the priests. They represent the apex of man. The Torah prescribes that they represent all mankind in the service of the Temple. They are to be holy and thus abstain from any illicit behavior (Arayos). They are to correct the original sin which robbed mankind of time. Where he once was to live for ever, he now was reduced to being subject to time. Plus the 24 times the word Ochel is mentioned, with regard to the sin of eating the forbidden fruit, is countered by the 24 times the word Kapora is written.
(23:39) “Ach B’Chamishe Assur Yom-But on the fifteenth day.”The Torah has just finished speaking of the festival of Succos and has summarized the section with the two verses (37-38). Yet in this verse it once again begins to speak of a festival of seven days. Why does the Torah add this second passage about the festival of Succos? Although this section adds the additional Mitzvos of the Four Species and the details of the Mitzvah of the Succah, all these things could have been included in the first section? Why does the Torah seemingly end the section on Succos and then begin a new section on the same topic? And why does the second section begin with the word “Ach” which is meant to exclude something? What is being excluded?
There are two reasons for the festival of Succos:
1- It is the continuation of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. In case Israel have been sentenced to exile, they exile themselves by leaving their homes into a Succah. The first section completes the atonement of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Therefore the Torah uses the terminology, “On the fifteenth of “this” month ie. the month of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. That is why there is no mention of joy in the first section. It is the continuation of the Days of Awe.
2- However Succos has a secondary purpose, namely when you gather in your crops. We need to thank Hashem for all the good He as given us. The second reason - rejoicing and thanksgiving - is the opposite of the first reason - voluntary, symbolic exile to atone for a possible verdict of real exile. For this reason the second section begins with the word “Ach” as an expression of the festivals alternate purpose, excluding the first reason and transforming the festival from sighing to rejoicing.
(23:29-30) "V'Nichrisah M'Ameha..V'Chol Ha'Nefesh Asher Taseh Kol-Melacha B'Etzem H'yom H'zeh V'Havaditi. Es HaNefesh HaHu Mikerev Amoh-Any soul who will do work on this very day, I will destroy that soul from among its people." The Soforno writes that from the two expressions of dealing with someone who transgresses Yom Kippur, there are two types of punishments. For someone who eats the punishment may be Koros- spiritually cut off. He may just be a glutton. However one who works on Yom Kippur shows contempt for Hashem's wishes.
(23:40) "Pri Eitz Hadar-The fruit of a tree of splendor." These words have the same numerical value as the word Esroigim. The verse could have said "Pri Hadar" but includes the word Eitz. This teaches us that the tree and the fruit have the same taste.
(23:42) “Ba’Sucos Taishvu Shivas Yomim Kol-Hoezrach B’Yisroel-You shall dwell in the Sukos seven days, every native born Israelite”. What is the term “Kol-Hoezrach” meant to teach us?
We don’t find this term by any of the other Moadim mentioned here. The Kli Yakar writes that it has to do with the fact that Sukkos is a time of gathering in the crops. A time when a person can tend to forget Hashem, feeling that he has a full storehouse. This is the time when he needs the lesson of Sukkos. It is the lesson of leaving the protection of his home to dwell in the protection of Hashem. Since the land belonged only to those native born Israelites the Posuk says “Kol-Hoezrach”.
But perhaps we can offer a different explanation. In Posuk thirty three, (23:33) the Torah begins to teach the Mitzvah of Sukkos through Posuk 36 at which point the Torah concludes with “Ayleh Moadei Hashem-These are the appointed times of Hashem”. Referring to all of the Moadim listed in this Parsha beginning with 23:1. In 21:39 the Torah returns to Sukkos saying “Ach B’chamishe Asa Yom speaking here of the Sukkos of Achris Hayomim. In the future all the nations of the world will come to Yerushalayim to bring sacrifices on Sukkos. Any nation that will not be present will not have rain. But what the Posuk is hinting at here is that the real mitzvah of Sukkah will only be for the Jews. Because we know that after Hashem’s revelation in the Messianic age, all the nations of the world will complain that had they received the Torah they too would have kept the Mitzvos. So at that time Hashem will give the Mitzvah of Sukkah to them. But they will not be able to carry it out. This is why the word “Kol-Hoezrach” is used in the second mentioning of Sukkos. Only the natural born Jews will truly be connected to the Mitzvah of Sukkos.
The Zohar has a different take on this. The repetition and the mentioning of “Kol-Hoezrach” is meant to include the Ushpizin that come each night. That is why the future tense is used. “In Succos you shall dwell” -will dwell in the future.
(24:10) “Vayetze Ben Eisha Yisraelis Vehu Ben Eish Mitzri-The son of an Israelite woman went out, and he was the son of an Egyptian man.” The Torah here tells us that they did not know what to do with this man who cursed Hashem using the Shem Hamiforesh. And that they put him under guard until they could hear from Hashem what was to be done with him. Later it time and it is above the time that was created. So the time of the giving of the Torah is not listed as a certain day of the month like the other holidays because the days of the month are times and the Torah which is “Above Time” is given on the “50th day” because the number 50 is “Above Time”. Succos and Pesach are for seven days but Shevuous is one day to show us that Torah is “Above Time”. For if Shevuous would be seven days there would be a set time for learning Torah. Shevous can fall out on any day of the week, it has no set time or set day.
says that Hashem told Moshe to take the man outside and stone him. In between the Torah tells us the laws concerning one who curses Hashem. Then in posuk (24:23) “Vayotziu es Hamikalel el Mechutz Lamachaneh -U’Benei Yisroel Asu Kasher Tzivah Hashem es Moshe-They took the blasphemer outside the camp-and Benei Yisroel did as Hashem commanded Moshe.” It would seem that Benei Yisroel did the job that was commanded to Moshe. Why did Moshe need to ask Hashem what to do? We know that a person who curses his parents is stoned, how much more so if he curses Hashem? Why did Benei Yisroel need to do the job instead of Moshe? Plus why was it necessary for the Torah to tell us that Benei Yisroel did as Hashem commanded Moshe?
We know that this son of an Egyptian man was born from the only illicit union that occurred during the entire servitude in Egypt. While Moshe was in Mitzraim he came across an Egyptian beating a Jew. He understood what had transpired. The Egyptian posed as this man and had slept with his wife. Now that the Jew had become aware of this incident the Egyptian was beating him. Moshe it says looked “Ko V’Ko” he looked into the future to see if any converts would come from him. After ascertaining that no one was to come from him, he killed him using the Shem Hamiforesh. In our parsha this Jew who cursed was the son of that union. That’s why the Posuk tells us his father was an Egyptian. When he was told that he could not pitch his tent in his fathers Shevet he went to the Beis Din who ruled that he had no right to pitch tent there since his father was not a Jew. At which point he found out that Moshe was the one who killed his real father using the Shem Hamiforesh. He therefore went out from the Beis Din and cursed Hashem. Moshe did not want to be the one who pronounced sentence on this Jew. It would come out that he killed the father and the son. That when he looked into the future to see if anyone would come out of this Egyptian he did see someone. This Jew! So by killing him himself he was assuring that what he had previously done held up. This is why it says that they asked Hashem what to do with him. This is also why it was Benei Yisroel and not Moshe that took him out to be stoned.
They used to lift and show the Lechem Haponim to the Oleh Regel and say to them this shows Hashem's love for you, the bread is taken away as fresh as it is set down.
Why is it that they were shown this particular miracle of the bread that would stay fresh the whole week?
The answer to this question is the same answer to the question of why did the Munn fall each day and not just once a year? Because like a king that loves his son, Hashem loves Benei Yisroel so much that he wanted them to come out each day to meet with him. The proof is that if the bread could stay fresh and warm a whole week later, then the Munn too could have remained fresh all year long. The Lechem Haponim was shown to the nation as a symbol of Hashem's love for his people.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(14:2) “Zos Tihiyeh Toras Hamitzora B’yom Taharoso-This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his cleansing.”
The Chovos H’livovos writes that when someone speaks Loshon Hora against his friend his Mitzvos are taken away and given to the person about whom he spoke. When the Torah writes “This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his cleansing.” it means that only after he becomes Tahor is his Torah really his. Up until this time it belonged to the one whom he spoke Loshon Hora about.
When a person’s home became afflicted with Tzaras he would have to summon the Kohen to check if the house was Tameh. But first the house would have to be emptied of all of its contents to avoid making them Tameh. Rashi says that the Tzaras that afflicts a person’s house was really a blessing for Benei Yisroel because during the entire forty years that they spent in the Midbar the residents of Canaan hid their valuables in the walls of their homes. So when they would break the walls they would uncover the treasures hidden within.
The question is if the Tzaras came because of a sin that was committed why would he receive a reward? Perhaps the reason that the Tzaras came in the first place was because this person was stingy with his possessions. If he were asked to borrow a saw he would answer that he has no saw. If we were asked to borrow a set of dishes he would answer that he had no extra set of dishes. Now when this house became afflicted and the entire contents had to be removed everyone was able to see his possessions. This was a correction for his stinginess. The treasures that were found also became a correction for him because he was not permitted to keep all that he found but rather since it belonged to all of Klal Yisroel he was required to distribute it all, a little at a time. This would help correct his stinginess by forcing him to be generous.
(14:21) "V'Im Dal Hu Vein V'Yado Maseges- If he is poor and his means are not sufficient." This seems somewhat redundant? The Chizkuni writes that there are two types of "Dal" one physical the other spiritual. The Kol Torah writes that he might be spiritually poor doing Mitzvos by rote.This teaches us that a rich man bringing a poor man's offering is not fulfilling his obligation. The word "Dal" can also mean his fortune has become depleted. This can be expected from someone who has been isolated from his community. He may still have means to live a rich life but not what he had become accustomed to.
(14:33) "“Vayidabaer Hashem el-Moshe Vel Aharon Ki Sova el Ha’aretz-Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon when you enter the land.” Moshe and Aharon were not going to be entering the land. But Hashem wanted to attribute these to them and that's why Aharon is included.
The Chasam Sofer offers a different explanation. He says that the posuk begins with “Vayidabaer Hashem el-Moshe Vel Aharon Ki Sova el Ha’aretz-Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon when you enter the land.” We know that since Moshe was a Levi and Aharon was a Kohen neither of them would be receiving a share of Eretz Yisroel. He therefore explains the verse to be speaking about the future.
A person who contracts Tzoras is considered dead. “B’yom Taharoso-On the day of Purification” means it is as if he was resurrected. In the days of Moshiach after reincarnation when both Moshe and Aharon will be living in the land they will have received a portion of it. At that time all the treasures will all be revealed. This is why the verse uses the word “Tihiyeh” in the future tense.
What does it mean to have Tzoras in the times of Moshiach and to break walls to find treasure? Perhaps we can say that it means in the days of Moshiach we will break through the barriers that prevented us from seeing how the Tzarus we had to endure really was a part of arriving at the point Hashem wanted us to be at all along. This is the treasure that awaits us all. Only the Jewish nation was subject to this type of outbreak. Only the pure Jewish nation received rewards. If not for Pharoh’s refusal to let Yisrael go, there would never have been the revelation of the 10 Macos. Only through the Tzarus were we able to arrive at the destination. The words “Toras Hamitzora equals 1411 in gematria the same as the words “V’Yadu Kol H’aretz Ki Yesh Elokim B’Yisroel-All the world will recognize that G-d (Elokim) is amongst Israel.”
The word Metzorah comes from the words Motze Rah- to bring out evil. The Kli Yakar writes that there are three sins punished by Tzaras, Haughtiness, Loshen Hora and Ayin Hora. In order to purify oneself the Metzorah must shave off the hair from his head because he was haughty and wanted to be the head of everything. Next he must shave of his beard because it failed to guard his mouth, which it surrounds, from uttering Loshon Hora. Finally he must shave his eyebrows that failed to keep his eyes from Ayin Hora. He then shaves off all of the hair from his body then go to a Mikveh to purify himself and once again have off all of the hair from his body removed. This is to prevent him from once again speaking evil about another.
The question is why must he repeat the shaving procedure and how does removing hair relate to his speaking evil? The Ben Ish Chai addresses these questions. He says that the person who speaks evil is lacking in his Emunah. He thinks that his fellow man is his competition. That whatever his friend has takes away from what he could have had. But the truth is that no man can touch even a thread of hair from someone else unless it was preordained by Hashem. When one looks at a persons hair it appears as one unit. Only when separated can we see that each hair was rooted in the skin. This is meant to teach this lesson. It only appears to be as one but in reality each follicle of hair has its own root. This process is repeated to drive home this message.
The atonement for the Metzorah is to bring a sacrifice of two birds. One bird is slaughtered and the other is set free. Rashi explains the choice of birds, as opposed to any other animal, is because birds are always chirping and chattering. Thus to cleanse the person who was always chattering to people, we slaughter the chattering bird. But if that is the case why do we need the second bird. If we are to set it free why bother going through the procedure in the first place? The answer is that there are two types of speech. The negative, destructive speech and the positive inspiring form of speech. There are many ways to use speech in a positive way. For Mitzvos, making Brochos, for learning Torah, The lesson we are to take from this is that it’s not enough to guard your tongue from negative speech. One must actively use the power of speech in a positive vain to make a difference in the world.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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The Parsha begins with the laws of Tumeh. Just as the original creation of the world, humans were created after the animals, so too the laws of man follow the laws of the animals.(Rashi)
The words Tamey and Tahor have no real parallels in English or in any other secular language, and we have to delve more deeply into the Hebrew in order to even begin to comprehend how it can be applied to the concept of Kashrut. The following is based on the work Derech Hashem, authored by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, better known as the"Ramchal,".
The word Tamey originates in the Hebrew word Atum, which means "impermeable" or "sealed off." In the world of the immediate present it is all too easy to present the flavor of what the word implies. When the Torah employs the concept of being sealed off it does so in a spiritual sense; tamey refers to a person or creature or substance that is sealed off from the spiritual; it is impermeable to Divine emanation or light.
When Hashem created the world, He was faced with a dilemma. If He created a universe completely open to His Divine light, such a universe would be overwhelmed by the brightness of this light and would cling to Hashem, unable or unwilling to separate. On the other hand, if creation was impermeable to Divine light it could not survive. A created universe has no inertia. It needs the constant input of the fresh energy that we describe as the Divine light in order to continue to exist.
Besides, not only were these extremes impractical, they also defeated the purpose of creation. Hashem wanted the universe to contain the possibility of connecting to Him through a process of free choice. This required a built in possibility of separating from Him and still continuing to survive. Some restriction to the need for constant exposure to the emanation of the Divine light had to be part of the universe's basic design.
So Hashem made a creation that is a mixture of Tamey and Tohar, of substances that are porous mixed with those that are impenetrable. The part of creation that is permeable to His Light is known as Tahor; but a portion was designed to exist in a state of spiritual darkness; the portion we call Tamey. Since both parts are combined into a single entity, creation as an entirety can function without either being totally overwhelmed by Hashem's emanations or in any way bereft of them.
The Tamey portion of creation that is impermeable to the Divine light keeps the whole thing from fading back into the source, while the Tohar portion that is permeable can connect back to the source so that Hashem is able to keep creation going.
Not only does this solve the problem of maintaining the universe in existence in a state of partial separation, it also offers the built in possibility of free choice. As anyone can connect to the Tamey, a part of the universe that exists only in a state of separation from Hashem, there is a built in existential alternative to clinging to the Divine Presence.
Kashrut is an excellent way to bring this down to earth. We derive the energy for continued life from the things we eat. If we eat the Tamey, we are choosing to live in separation from Hashem by definition; if we wish to connect we must only consume that which is Tohar.
There is a Midrash which states if a person merits it, then they say to him, “you preceded all the works of Creation.' And if not then they say to him, 'the mosquito preceded you.”
We know that in Bereishis, the creation of man is last. So how can one say to a person "you preceded all the works of Creation?" We also need to explain what's wrong with being last. On the contrary, "saving the best for last" comes from an old saying of our Sages: "the last is most important!"
The Bais Yitzchak answers these questions, with a story of a gathering of philosophers devoted to studying and understanding all of the components of the natural world. They determined that everything in the world has a purpose. As we know today, complex ecosystems depend upon the interactions of every plant and animal within them, and the disappearance of even a single species can throw an entire system out of balance.
Other species are especially valuable in the service of man: horses and donkeys, for example. Various plants provide us with food; even poisonous varieties often have medical value when used externally.
This conclusion was finally reached after great effort over a long period of time. They were delighted to have discovered a true structure in all that had been created, and were ready to celebrate. One of them, however, was not satisfied. When they had all gathered at the party, he stood up and reminded them that they had failed to determine the purpose of one extremely important species: Homo-sapiens. “What was the purpose of creating humans, and does the world need us?”
So they chewed on that one for a while, and came up with no physical contribution made by humans to the rest of the world. We are not providers of natural resources -- we consume them. We cut trees and slaughter animals, destroying and eating while contributing nothing in return. Even human waste is useless, unlike the waste of many animals.
What do we conclude from that? If we decide that there is no great purpose to Creation, that it represents merely the random quirks of natural selection, then we conclude that humans are indeed destroyers. But the real purpose of man is not physical, but spiritual. We know this, however, not because we invested years of study into the natural order, but because the Torah tells us that had no nation accepted the Torah, the Creation of the world would have had no purpose. We exist not to provide physical contributions to the world, but spiritual.
When a person makes bread and separates challah from it, makes the blessing when slaughtering an animal, or makes a blessing upon kosher food on his or her table, this sanctifies the act of eating and consumption, and in so doing brings spiritual value to all the natural phenomena that went into the production of those foods. The person is then not a mere consumer or destroyer, but the provider of final perfection.
This being the case, then we understand the Midrash with which we began. "If a person merits it" - if he or she invests in spiritual pursuits and brings spiritual perfection to the world, then they say "you preceded all the works of Creation." Meaning, the world was created for the sake of this person and what he or she has done with the physical resources it provides. So although the physical Creation of all else came first, the reason for it all, the initial consideration upon which all of Creation was based, was indeed this person. And if not, if a person ignores the purpose of Creation, then "the mosquito preceded you." Even the lowly mosquito was here on earth first, so what right do you have to come and dominate and destroy it, or any other thing, afterwards? Every one of us has the tools in hand to bring perfection to the world!
(12:2) “Isha Ki Sazria V’Yalda Zachor V’tameh Shivas Yomim-If a woman conceives and bears a child she shall be impure for seven days.” The period of impurity differs for the birth of a male child versus that of a female. Many Torah critics complain of the Torah’s bias towards the male. But this concept of impurity needs clarification. Impurity sets in when a void of Kiddusha occurs. When a woman gives birth the soul she had been carrying in the form of that child leaves her creating a void of Kiddusha and tumah automatically replaces it. An example of this is in the body of man. Man has been endowed with a soul. But when a man dies and that soul leaves his body, a tremendous Tumah sets in. This is why a Kohein is not permitted to enter a cemetery. The Kohein represents man at his highest and most holy point. For him to be in contact with Tumeh would go against his role in this world to be a connecting point to Hashem.
Another example is that of the Tumah one experiences upon waking up in the morning. There is a need to wash the hands to remove that Tumah. The reason is because when a person sleeps a part of his Neshama leaves his body. This is why
sleep is considered one sixtieth of death. Since part of the Neshama leaves, a void is created which is immediately filled by Tumah.
The first childbirth ever recorded in history was when Chava gave birth to Kayin. The name Kayin is explained to come from her declaration (Bereshis 4:1) “Kanisi Ish es-Hashem-I have acquired an attribute of Hashem.” Just as Hashem has the ability to create, woman now has exhibited that ability to create. It is for this reason that the period of impurity for a female child is twice that of a male. For when a female soul is removed from the mother a greater degree of Kiddusha is lost. A Kiddusha that is more likened to Hashem in its capacity to create, than a male.
After the birth of a son, a woman is Tameh for seven days. The very next Posuk records that on the eighth day he should be circumcised. The close proximity of the seven and eight teaches us that the woman who observes the seven day Niddah laws will be blessed with sons who will be circumcised on the eighth day.
The previous Parsha ended with the details of kosher and non-kosher animals. But for eating non-kosher animals one is not punished with Tzoras. Hashem causes that public rebuke for the gossip and slander that devours people and their reputations. We can see people being very careful about what they eat but lax about what they say. Yet Hashem does not bring Tzaras on someone who devours pork, only one who devours people.
Tzaras was not a physical disease, it was spiritual. It revealed a hidden aspect of creation that was unique to the nation of Israel. The words “Toras HaMetzora” equal 1411 which also equal “Vayeidah Kol H’Eretz Ki Yesh Hashem B’Yisroel-All the world will know that Hashem is with Yisroel.
Tzaras was brought on the people in an era when few people spoke loshon hora. Yet today when there is little care taken about what people say we don’t see Tzaras? Tzaras was a divine warning to a person who was basically healthy; that he had done a bad thing It was a blessing as much as a punishment because it alerted him to a problem and forced him to deal with it. Now we live in a time where people are on a level where the sins that cause Tzaras are rampant. They don’t deserve this Divine reminder that something is wrong.
(12:8) “V’Lokcha Sh’tai Sorim...Echod L’Olah V’Echod L’Chatos-Take two Turtle Doves..One for an elevation offering and one for a sin offering.” The actual order of the sacrifices is reversed? First we must remove the sin, only then can we come closer to Hashem through the elevation offering. Why then does the Torah write them listing the elevation offering before the sin offering? Perhaps we can say that coming closer to Hashem is the goal. Even though we must remove sin to get there, by listing the elevation offering first, we proclaim our intent from the start.
There are two forms of Loshon Hora. The Ohr Hachaim says one that is true but forbidden to say brings about Tzaras that is called Baheress, which comes from the word to clarify. The person wants to clarify his gossip. The second type is the slander which is totally untrue. This is punished by Seis a worse form of Tzaras. One is just on the surface the other is below the skin indicating that there is a more severe problem with the person.
(13:13) "V'Roh Hakohein V'Hinei Kisiso Hatzoras es Kol H'Basar-The Kohein shall look and behold the affliction has covered the entire his entire flesh." Why does the Kohein declare the person pure when his entire flesh becomes covered with the affliction? The Kol Torah explains that the Moshiach will only come after all governments of the world become total heretics. This verse supports this as G-d's salvation is closest to man when his ordeal reaches its greatest intensity. It is then that the turning point in his destiny occurs.
(13:33) “V’hisgaloch-He must shave.” The person wishing to become pure must shave his entire body. The word “Hisgalach” is spelled with a large letter Gimmel. The Otzer Chaim says that this is a hint to the law that permits taking a haircut on the 33rd. day of the Omer because this is the 33rd Posuk. The Arizal says that from here we Remez that a boy receives his first haircut in his third year corresponding to the large Gimmel which has a numerical value of three.
(13:47) "Wool and Linen" (13:48) "Linen and Wool" regarding wool listed first it is the material further from the body. The Tumeh comes first on what is more distant from the person. In the second case the order is what's is more valued.