We find at the end of this weeks Parsha the Mitzvah of Aray Miklot, cities of refuge that were created for Benei Yisroel. Of the six cities half of them were to be placed in the territories of the two and a half tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan. It would seem that their separation from the Kiddusha of the rest of Yisroel caused them to have a greater incidence of murder in their midst. But there is a deeper understanding to this. When Benei Reuvein and Benei Gad agreed to fight along side the rest of Klal Yisroel they volunteered to remain even until the lands were divided to the nine and a half tribes a period of an extra seven years that Moshe never requested. This means that for fourteen years the children of these two tribes grew up without a father. This created many children at risk and was the cause of much bloodshed on the other side of the Jordan and the subsequent need for the additional Aray Miklot.

The last Mitzvah in Sefer Bamidbar is the Mitzvah of driving out the residing gentile nations of the land. The Torah warns that if you do not remove them they will constantly be a thorn in your eyes. This was a lesson never learned, as we see today, much of the non-Jewish element in the land of Israel is far more than a mere thorn in our eyes.


Chazak, Chazak V'nischazek

  • The Parsha begins with the laws of vows. Then it goes on to the war against Midian after which Moshe is told he is to die. What Reuvein and Gad saw was that it is possible to annul a vow. Perhaps Hashem can change his vow of refusing Moshe entry into the land? After all he was standing on what was to be Eretz Yisroel in the future. What Reuvein and Gad wanted was to bring the Moshiach now! Avraham was promised the lands of ten nations. Klal Yisroel was given only seven at this time. The other three nations were destined to become part of Eretz Yisroel when Moshiach comes. That is the lands on the other side of the Jordan. So they said we will take our place with our brothers and battle the enemies of Hashem and when we come back this will be our inheritance. They sensed that they had a connection to the land they were upon. The fact that Hashem permitted them to settle there proves that perhaps they were right, this was their destiny. The opening statement made by them “U’Mikneh Rav Haya L’benei Reuvein U’Libenei Gad –The children of Reuvein and the children of Gad had abundant livestock.”can be read alternatively as they acquired a bond with their “RAV” with Moshe Rabeinu. They could not break that bond.

    Moshe responded “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before Hashem.” Moshe replies that if they arm themselves before Hashem, and cross the Jordan before Hashem, and conquer the land before Hashem. He wants to know if this is really their intention. He then gives them half the tribe of Menashe. (32:33) “Vayiten Lohem Moshe L’vinei Gad U’Livnei Ruvein U’lichatzi Shevet Menashe ben Yosef-So Moshe gave to them - to the children of Gad and to the children of Ruvein and to half the tribe of Menashe the son of Yosef.” Why does the Torah mention that Menashe is the son of Yosef? They never requested to be split in half; they never requested a portion of that land. But the reason is because in order for the Moshiach ben Dovid to come, the Moshiach ben Yosef must come first. Manshe is connected to Moshiach ben Yosef. That’s why he was placed together with Reuvein and Gad. Everything was now in place. But did they really believe? Moshe responds with the words “before Hashem” five times. The Gematria of the words “Lifnei Hashem” equals 196 five times equals 980 the same as the words “Ani Mamin B’vias Hamoshiach-I believe in the coming of the Moshiach.”


   (25:11) “Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Kohen.” The Parsha begins by tracing the genealogy of Pinchas back to Aaron. Why was it necessary to mention his grandfather? The reason is because people doubted the sincerity of Pinchas’ actions. Perhaps since he descended from Yisro his deeds were not Leshaim Shomayim? Hashem therefore wished to publicize that he was a Tzaddik the son of a Tzaddik. Also Hashem wanted to heal some of the residual bad feelings that might have existed against Aaron who at the time he made the Eigel had inadvertently become the cause of many Jewish deaths. Now a grandson of Aharon had come and saved many more lives than Aaron had ever even indirectly caused to be lost.

   (25:11) “Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Cohen-Pinchas the son of Elozer the son of Aharon the Cohen.” Pinchas was virtually an unknown public figure. This perhaps is why his name is spelled with a small Yud to indicate that he was a simple man. After all Moshe and Aharon stood up for Klal Yisroel several times and yet they were not awarded a Bris Sholeim? But it was expected of them as leaders to stand up for their people. Pinchas on the other hand was a common Jew. His acts therefore stand out all the more.

But there is a deeper message here. Pinchas through this act of zealotry merited to be one of only nine people to enter the next world without dying. The understanding of this is that when a person so negates his very essence for the sake of heaven, death is no longer an issue, its not needed for the Tikun of that Neshama. Pinchas, took his life into his own hands and risked everything by killing Zimri. Perhaps we can say that this is why he was given the priesthood. This is akin to the type of sacrifices performed by the Kohanim in the Beis Hamikdosh. We find the expression “Raiach Nechoach L’Hashem-A satisfying aroma to Hashem." frequently used there. If we look at the first mention of this concept in the Torah we can glean a better understanding of its root. At the end of Parshas Noach we find the first mention of a “satisfying aroma.” After the flood, when Noach emerged from the ark, he brought a sacrifice which was totally consumed. Perhaps we could suggest that this phrase is used only in a case where there is no gain for the one performing the sacrifice. Every subsequent mention of a “satisfying aroma” is either by a Korban Olah or Mincha each of which is totally consumed. The owner has no share in the sacrifice. Giving of themselves totally with nothing in return is the ultimate expression of sacrifice.

   Of the 33 times, “Raiach Nechoach L’Hashem-A satisfying aroma to Hashem” appears in the Torah it is only spelled with the letter “Hey” as the definite article in front of the word Nichoach once (Reach Ha'Nichoach). This is the first mention of this “satisfying aroma” in the Torah, This is the essence of who Pinchas was, ready to be totally consumed for the sake of heaven. The numerical value of the name Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Kohen equals 956. The same as the verse (Bereishis 8:21)Vayorech Hashem es Raiach Hanichoach-Hashem smelled the pleasing aroma.” What pleasing aroma was it that pleased Hashem? That of the total negation of Pinchas to Hashem and thus connecting totally with Hashem with no barriers of physicality in the way.

   Pinchas attains the pedigree of a Kohen after performing this act even though the Halacha is that a Kohen that has killed someone is no longer eligible to serve as a Kohen. The idea behind this is that when someone takes another person’s life he is erasing the likeness of Hashem from the world. The job of the Kohen is to increase the awareness of Hashem in this world. Therefore he becomes excluded from the priestly service. However in the case of Pinchas, his act insured that the Tzelem Elokim would continue. (Tzror Hamoror)

   (25:12) “Lechain Emore Hininy Nosain lo es Bris Sholaim”. Hashem say’s that He is giving to Pinchas this Bris Sholaim! What does this mean for Pinchas and why is the letter “Vav” of the word Shalaim broken in half in the Sefer Torah? There is a Machlokes about this letter “Vav”. One holds it's a short “Vav” one holds it's a split “Vav”. The word Shalaim equals 376 the same as the words “Zehu Moshiach.” The Zohar say’s that Pinchas is Eliyahu, who will announce the coming of Moshiach, and that he never died. How could this be? We know that there is a Gizairah (a decree) for all mankind to eventually experience death. How could Pinchas be exempt from it? At the time of this incident where he killed the Nassi of Shevet Shimon and the princess of Midian, he became so terrified that his neshama left him. Earlier when Nadav and Avihu died it say's that their Neshamas remained hovering around Klal Yisroel. When they saw the Neshama of Pinchas leaving him they entered into his body. This is how he was able to get around the Gezairah of death. He fulfilled the Gezairah of death through this act. How was it possible for two neshamas to enter into one body? We know that a person who is not married is considered incomplete. Nadav and Avihu never married, so each was only half a Zivug. Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Cohen-Pinchas now became like a son of Aharon through the Neshamas of Nadav and Avihu.

   What is the connection between Pinchas and Nadav and Avihu? There are various interpretations as to the exact nature of the sin which caused their death. But there is one common theme. Nadav and Avihu had an intense desire to draw close to Hashem. We know that Nadav and Avihu were also zealots. They went beyond the limitations of their status. They were impatient with the ways of Aharon and Moshe to the point that they overstepped their bounds. They would issue Halachic opinions in Moshe’s presence. They advocated a bolder approach to coming close to Hashem. This is why the Posuk tells us (16:1) “B’kirvosom Lifnei Hashem V’yomusu” they died when they attempted to come close to Hashem. Pinchas also had this zealous desire to draw close to Hashem, and he too, acted without authorization from Moshe. The law, which he carried out, was by its very nature one which transcends legal authority. It is the type of law that is accepted but not taught. (Shabbos 12b) It had to be an act of spontaneous zeal, and not of calculated vengeance. The Neshamas of Nadav and Avihu were looking for a body to enter that would rectify their own sins. They found a kindred spirit in Pinchas. He displayed the same zeal to come close to Hashem but was able to channel it in a manner favorable to Hashem.

   Throughout the generations Eliyahu has frequently visited Klal Yisroel. At the end of time he will come to announce the coming of Moshiach and bring the ultimate Shalom to the world. This is what Pinchas did. By standing up for Hashem he brought peace. Now we can explain the one who say's that the letter “Vav” is short holds that there is only peace at the end of time when Moshiach will come. The “Vav” in the word Shalaim is short. This could also be looked at as the letter “Yud” thus spelling the word Shelim which equals 380 in Gematria. The understanding is that since the Gemarrah says that there were 80 Kohanim Gedolim in the first Beis Hamikdosh and 300 in the second and all were descendants of Pinchas, this is alluded to in the word Shelim. The one who say's the “Vav” is split believes that as long as the Shalaim is incomplete there can be no total peace in the world.

   Why the letter “Vav”? The letter “Vav” is the letter that joins together. But on a deeper level the Midrash explains that there are five times in the Torah where the name of Yakov is spelled with an extra letter “Vav” and there are five times when the name of Eliyahu is spelled without the letter “Vav.” This signifies that Yakov took five “Vav’s” away from Eliyahu as a bond to ensure that Eliyahu would someday redeem Yakov’s sons. Therefore the meaning of the broken “Vav” is that for the time being any peace we may see is incomplete. In order to enjoy true everlasting peace we must wait for the arrival of Eliyahu to redeem us and reclaim the “Vav’s” that were taken as a pledge. (Baal Haturim)

     (25:11) “Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Cohen-Pinchas the son of Elozer the son of Aharon the Cohen.” Why was it that Pinchas received the priesthood for his role in stopping a national sin? We find a similar situation when the tribe of Levi acted zealously by the Chet H'Eigel. Yet they were not similarly rewarded? Why did he merit becoming Eliyahu Hanavi? To answer this we must look back to the origins of Jewish history. In Bereishis, when Avraham was still named Avram, His father brought him to Nimrod for destroying his idols. This was the first of Avraham’s ten trials. He was offered to serve the idol or be thrown into the fiery furnace. As we know he chose the latter and survived but his brother Horon did not. Horon figured that if Avraham survived he would be willing to give up his life but if he did not survive he would worship the idol. This was not a totally pure expression of devotion. But as we know in the spiritual world no righteous act is lost. His self-sacrifice was given a second chance to fulfill its destiny in the form of Aharon. Aharon, whose name contains the letters of Horon, was a reincarnation of Horon in order to rectify and fulfill that area in which his Neshama fell short. That opportunity took form when Moshe failed to return from the mountain on time. Klal Yisroel was given a vision of Moshe being carried off on his deathbed and they wanted to create a replacement for him. Chur, Aharon’s nephew, attempted to prevent the national sin but was stoned to death. When Aharon saw this he thought it would be better to stall the nation",” rather than risk the possibility of receiving the same fate as his nephew. The sin of killing the Kohen Gadol would be a sin too great for the nation to overcome. But he was wrong. He did not count on the strength of the Meserus Nefesh he would have performed, to protect him. Had he stood up to the crowds he would have prevailed. He would have corrected the soul of Horon and fulfilled his life’s mission. But this did not come about until 39 years later through his grandson Pinchas. At this point in time Pinchas faced a test that would save Klal Yisroel then and in the future. By putting his life on the line he not only survived the test but was granted eternal life in the form of Eliyahu Hanavi, to form the link for the final Gulah.

         (24:14) “Veshaim Ish Yisroel-The name of the Israelite was.” Why the mentioning of the name of the sinner? And why is he called “Ish Yisroel?” This is a hint that even after such a tremendously sinful act as was done by Zimri, he was still considered Ish Yisroel. He had not been totally uprooted from his holy origin. The word Hamokah refers to what Pinchas had done to him. By adding the words Es Hamidyanis the Torah indicates that it was this relationship that was lost. Normally the effects of such a sin would cling to a person’s Neshama and would not be easily removed. This act of clinging to his soul is described by the term Hakoh, a fatal blow. This teaches that by becoming Pinchas' victim Zimri's soul was released from the negative spiritual force his soul had absorbed from Kosbi. His death acted as atonement and as soon as she departed from him physically, Zimri's soul no longer bore the imprint of that association. This is why he can now be called Ish Yisroel.

   Pinchas was the grandson of Aharon who was by nature an Ohaiv Shalom V'rodaif Shalom- a lover of peace and a pursuer of peace. Pinchas' nature was the same as Aharon’s. He was not a hot headed individual but a man of peace. Because of this he was considered a true Kanoi (Zealot).

   How was it that Pinchas was able to stop the plague by his actions? And why were all of the deaths from one Shevet? We know that Billem is the one who advised Balak to entice Benei Yisroel into sinning with the princesses of Midyan. The Zohar writes that Billem was the antithesis of Moshe. He used his powers of speech to cast a spell on Klal Yisroel. It was Shevet Shimon that was particularly susceptible to this form of pollution because of their spiritual nature. The name Shimon, in Hebrew, comes from the word Shemah which means to listen or hear. The tribe of Shimon served Hashem through the power of hearing. Therefore, they were more susceptible than the other tribes to absorbing the pollution of Billem’s speech.

In last weeks Parsha it says (25:7) “Vayar Pinchas-And Pinchas saw” What he saw was the letter “Mem” floating above the tent. This letter was emitted by Billem and was about to join two other letters “Vav” and “Tav” which would spell the word “Maves-Death.” Pinchas saw this and acted quickly to avert any further disaster. He connected the letter “Mem” to his own name, which equals 208 and increased its value to 248. The same as the word “Ramach” (spear). He now not only had a physical spear but a spiritual one too! This enabled him to break Billem’s spell.

   The Gemarrah in Nazir (23b) compares the actions of Zimri to those of Tamar (the daughter-in-law of Yehudah) and just as her actions were L’Shaim Shomayim so too were Zimri’s. But while hers produced the forerunner of the Moshiach, his caused the death of thousands of Jews.      

   The Ohr Hachaim comments regarding the laws of Yefas Tohar ( A beautiful woman permitted to an Israeli soldier in times of war) that sometimes a Neshama that has it’s source in a very high place becomes trapped in the shell of Tumeh and that an association with a righteous person can free that Neshama and cause it to return to Kiddusha, to convert. The fact that the Torah writes the laws of Yefas Tohar is otherwise very difficult to understand. The only people who were permitted to go to war were those of the highest spiritual levels. Anyone with the slightest degree of sin was told to remain home. How could such a person be attracted to the sight of a beautiful woman? The Ohr Hachaim explains that this righteous person possessed the sensitivity to be able to pick up on a person with this type of Neshama. The type that had become trapped in the shell of Tumeh and through association with a righteous person could become freed. This perhaps is what Zimri thought when he was attracted to Kozby. The reason he was attracted to her was for the purpose of freeing a trapped soul. That perhaps he was destined to produce offspring that were great people. We find this by Yehoshua, who married a prostitute, and yet great people were produced from that union.

 (25:17) “Tzoror es Hamidyanim- Treat them as enemies.” Of the two nations that Israel encountered, the first Amalek, endangered them physically, while the second, Midian, put their souls in danger. (Kol Torah)

     Hashem instructs Moshe “Tzoror es Hamidyanim- Treat them as enemies.” the loshon used is in the singular. Then it says “vehekisem osom” they should smite them which is a plural form? The reason is because originally Midian sent their kings daughter to try to snare Moshe himself. They thought that the best way to cause Israel to have a downfall would be if they could get to their leader. So it was a personal thing that Hashem told Moshe to avenge. Therefore the use of the singular. But when that didn't work they tried to entice Klal Yisroel, and thus the use of the plural, they should collectively smite Midian.

   (26:5) “Reuvein Bochor Yisrael Benei Reuvain Chanoch Mishpachas H’chanoci”   The parsha lists the genealogy of Benei Yisroel and attests to its purity by adding the letters of Hashem's name to the beginning and end of each shevet. The letter "hey" is found in the word for woman “Isha”. And the letter “yud” is found in the word for man “Ish. The question is why does the “hey” appear first placing woman ahead of man in this praise? The answer is just that. In Mitzraim it was the women that were the most responsible for maintaining the purity of Benei Yisroel. It is for this reason that they are mentioned first.

   Throughout the sojourn in the Midbar the women always rose to the challenge. By the sin of the golden calf they refused to donate their gold. By the building of the Mishkon they were the first to donate their gold. They remained steadfast when the Meraglim slandered Eretz Yisroel. Why were the women able to withstand every challenge while the men seem to have failed so many tests?

At the creation of man and woman in Bereishis we find when man was naming all of the animals, he found no match for himself. Hashem then created woman for him. He named her Isha for she came from Ish. The name Ish comes from the word Aish. Man is likened to fire for he is at times able to accomplish tremendous things, but like fire he can also be very destructive if left unchecked. This is the job of the woman. To keep the fire of man focused and in line. The Gematria of the word Isha is the same as the word Mussar. This could explain the measure for measure of the deaths of Aharon's two sons Nadav and Avihu. They were killed by fire, they refused to marry! Without the Isha to contain the fire they were consumed by it. The same letters of Isha are used by the first sacrifice brought in the Mishkon. " Reiach Nichoach Ishei L'Hashem " Fire being used for the first time for its ultimate purpose.

   We learned with regard to the Macos in Mitzraim that every Plague that they experienced had the exact opposite effect on Benei Yisroel. If they experienced darkness the Jews experienced light. It even say's that by the Makeh of the first born, Benei Yisroel also experienced a momentary death and were immediately reincarnated. This is why Hashem himself had to perform that particular Makeh. Because resurrection of the dead is one of the three keys that are held exclusively by Hashem. But there was one aspect of the Macos Bechoros whose opposite effect we don't readily see. When the Bechorim were dying Rashi say's there was not one house that did not experience death. Because the Mitzriim were very promiscuous they had many first born from different husbands. So in many homes they would find several children dead. This was an additional pain that the Mitzriim had to experience. We find the opposite reaction in this week’s Parsha. Hashem here is testifying to the purity of Klal Yisroel by adding the letters of his name to the names of each Shevet. Why was this brought down here at the end of the wanderings in the Midbar? After the incident with Kosbi the nations of the world had an opening to point a finger at the purity of Klal Yisroel. Therefore Hashem at this point testified by placing his name at the beginning and end of each family name.

   (26:11) U’Benei Korach lo Masu- And the children of Korach did not die.” The Posuk says that the children of Korach did not die. Rashi comments that they did Teshuva and were given a higher place in Gehinom. If they did Teshuva why were they not forgiven in full? The answer is that a person can do Teshuva on his own Avairos but the negative influence he affects to others can’t be so easily erased.

   (26:33) “U’Telaphchad ben Chaifer Lo-Hayu Bonim- Tzelaphchad the son of Chaifer had no sons.” When the daughters of Tzelaphchad came to Moshe they had a good claim. If their mother doesn't have to perform Yivum because she had daughters then why can't daughters be good enough for Yerusha? The Halocha was hidden from Moshe. Why was it necessary for the Halacha to be hidden? Hashem didn't want Moshe to feel that he was on a very high Madrege because he had separated himself from his wife all the years of the Midbar. These daughters of Tzelaphchad were around forty years old and were not yet married. If they had been married they would not have been entitled to a Yerusha. They chose not be married because they didn't want to lower their standards. Not because they couldn't find husbands. They were on a very high madrege. When Moshe saw this in them he realized that his separation from his wife was not as great a feat as their voluntary abstention was, since his was commanded by Hashem while they chose not to be married. In the end they did finally marry and Hashem granted them many children even though they were past the normal age for child bearing.

   This incident of the daughters of Tzelaphchad is the fifth and final case where a Halacha was brought about through a story. There was the one who cursed Hashem, Pesach Shenei, the Mekoshesh, and the Eigel. Each one of these cases is reflected in the letters of Menatzpach. The letters of the Aleph Beis that are doubled, they appear one way in the middle of a word and another way at the end of a word. Mem-the wood gatherer, Nun- the one who cursed Hashem, Tzadik- the daughters of Tzelaphchad, Phey-Pesach Sheni and Chuf-was the Eigel. According to Pirkei D’ Rebeliezer each of these letters were used for a different Geulah. The end letters relate to the end of an era. What is the connection? We know that Pinchas was a zealot, he was pro-active. So too were the daughters of Tzelaphchad. They did not wait for the Halacha to come to them but rather initiated the question themselves. This is the lesson we must learn here. We too must we be pro-active when it comes to bringing the Moshiach. We must take the initiative in order for the final geulah to come.

   We also learn the Halochos of Yerusha from here. What is the purpose of the laws of inheritance? We know that everyone is sent to this world with a mission to accomplish. Along with that mission we are given certain tools to work with. We don't all complete our mission but even if we do, we still want our legacy to continue on. The one best suited to do that is our offspring, they carry within them our spiritual genetics. So when a person passes on, the Torah mandates that those tools, be it physical or spiritual, get passed on to the descendants most eligible to continue that person's Tafkid.

   Moshe Rabeinu was told that he would not be taking the nation into the promised land. His first response was to not think of himself but rather to ask Hashem to appoint a leader who could complete his work. He thought that one of his children would be selected for this task. But Hashem told him to appoint Yehoshua. For he never wavered from Moshe"s side. From this we see that Yichus is not necessarily enough. What greater Yichus could there be than the son of Moshe Rabeinu? But we learn that its not enough to be born to greatness, its what you do with it that counts the most.

   (26:46) "Serach Bas Asher" Why was she singled out here? Serach was the only person alive who had seen Yakov Avinu. She was the one who notified Yakov that his son was still alive. She was able to testify in Mitzrayim about the authenticity of Moshe. Whenever a challenge arose against Moshe, she was there as a witness. Now as Klal Yisroel were poised to finally enter the promised land the nation knew what she had been saying was true.

   (26:59) “V’Sheim Eishes Amrom Yocheved Bas Levi-The name of the wife of Amrom was Yocheved daughter of Levi.” Yocheved is mentioned here perhaps due to her extreme longevity. Born between the walls amongst the 70 souls entering Mitzrayim, she merited entry into Eretz Yisrael some 250 years later. (210 years of servitude plus 40 years in the desert.) Seder Olam

   (27:5) “Vayakrev Moshe es Mishpatan-Moshe brought their claim before Hashem.” Why is there a “Nun” at the end of the word Mishpat? Just as the fiftieth, “Nun” level of Daas was hidden from Moshe, so too was this law.

   (27:15) " Vayidabaer Moshe el Hahsem Leimore-Moshe spoke to Hashem Saying" Who was Hashem supposed to tell? The Yalkut Reuveini explains that nothing is established here that is not decreed above. Moshe was so concerned with the welfare of Klal Yisroel that he asked that in Shomayim Hashem announce who would be his replacement.

   The Midrash writes that after incident with Korach who accused Moshe of nepotism, Moshe requested his sons not replace him.

   (27:20) “V’nosatoh M’hodchah Alov-And you shall place some of your splendor upon him.” When Moshe was told that he would not lead Klal Yisroel into the land, but would die there in the Midbar, his first reaction was for Hashem to appoint a successor to him. Rashi brings down the Gemarrah (Bava Basra 85a) that says “the elders of the generation said the face of Moshe was like the sun while the face of Yehoshua was like the moon.” Why is it that the “Elders” said? Some people thought that Yehoshua was as great as Moshe but was of a lesser stature only because of his youth. But when he would reach Moshe’s age he too could be as great. This is the perspective of youth. The Elders on the other hand, had seen Moshe when he was younger and were able to compare him to Yehoshua. They said even at Yehoshua”s age Moshe was on a much higher level, and that the difference between them was like the difference between the sun and the moon. On a deeper level we can say that Moshe was like the sun in that even after the sun has set it still cares for the inhabitants of the earth by giving its light indirectly through the moon. Moshe, even after his passing gives his light indirectly through the Torah that he left behind.

   The name given a Parsha usually expresses the essence of what the Parsha contains. This week’s parsha is named Pinchas but the events that brought him to the front stage of Jewish history took place at the end of last week’s Parsha? Secondly we find that after Pinchas receives the priesthood the Parsha goes on to count Benei Yisroel and validate their lineage followed by the division of the land and the story of the daughters of Tzelafchad. What connection is there between all of these various events?

   From the very beginning of the Parsha we see a hint to what the essence of the Parsha is.     (25:11) “Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Cohen-Pinchas the son of Elozer the son of Aharon the Cohen.” Not only is Pinchas’ lineage mentioned but that of his grandfather as well. What we learn here is the power of spiritual genetics. Pinchas, as we know had two grandfathers. He could have followed a different path for his life, yet he chose to follow Hashem. It says in the Shulchan Orech that every person has a unique portion of Torah that he must reveal in the world. And that until that Neshama completes what it needs to reveal, it comes back to this world again and again.

   The daughters of Tzelafchad best exemplify this concept for on the surface they appear to be only interested in obtaining material wealth. But there is much more to the concept of inheritance than just mere land. Rabbi Dessler explains that everyone is sent to this world with something to accomplish. Parents and children are linked spiritually as well as physically they inherit their spiritual potential from their parents and in general the tasks that were assigned to the fathers fit the sons. The assignment of property by Divine Providence is related to a person's spiritual mission in the world. If I am assigned a task, I must be given the means to accomplish it and one of these means is property. Inasmuch as fathers and sons are assigned similar tasks, and as the property of the father is a function of his task, sons inherit their father's property. This rule applies to inheritance in general; it applies particularly to the division of the Land of Israel among the tribes. The people of Israel were divided into twelve distinct tribes because the overall spiritual mission of the Jewish nation is broken down into component parts. Each tribe does its part and between them all, the Kingdom of G-d is established.

     The Divine hand was in evidence during every stage of the division of the land. The twelve portions were drawn up with the help of the Urim Vetumim. They were put into a box and the names of the twelve tribes were placed in a second box. The heads of the tribes each drew two lots, one from the box of names and a second one from the box containing the shares. Miraculously, each of the tribal chieftains managed to pick the name of his own particular tribe out of the box of names. To reinforce the miracle, as the tribal heads drew the lot from the box containing the shares, the lots themselves declared in a loud voice, "I am the share with the following borders and I was intended for such and such a tribe" (Baba Batra, 122a). Thus the term “Al Pi Hagorel-Through the mouth of the lottery” the lottery literally spoke. In spiritual terms the miracle has the following interpretation. Each tribe was assigned the portion of land it required to fulfill its unique mission in the overall context of the Jewish people in the most productive fashion. This interpretation is reinforced by a consideration of the manner in which the internal division process within the tribes was arranged. But what purpose did this miracle serve? It showed that we can not escape our destiny. We may think that events that shape our lives occur at random but that is not the case. Hashem is guiding us through these events for a purpose. We may take an active role to have His will fulfilled or we may let it come through an unlikely source not expected. The daughters of Tzelafchad merited having these laws revealed through them.

   The spiritual legacy is what this Parsha is all about. This could be why the Gematria of the name “Pinchas ben Elozer ben Aharon H’Cohen-Pinchas the son of Elozer the son of Aharon the Cohen.” Is equal to the words “Tikun Ha’neshama-Correction of the soul

(26:9)- "Ubinei Eliav Nimuel V'Doson V"Aviram- The sons of Eliav Nimuel and Dosan and Aviram" Why would the Torah mention Doson and Aviram if they are not included in the counting? The Oznayim L"Torah writes that the Torah is confirming the purity of Israel. That although the women of Israel managed to retain their virtue in the face of Egyptian persecution there was one exception where a woman was unfaithful to her husband and consorted with an Egyptian man. This woman was Shelomis bas Divri the mother of the blasphemer. The Midrash explains that she was the wife of Doson and the blasphemer was the product of her relations with her Egyptian partner. Since they could not be included in the testimony that Hashem gave to vouch for the virtue of all the women of Israel, they had to be mentioned separately.

   (26:19)- “Benei Yehudah Ayre V’Onan Vayomus-The sons of Yehuda were Ayre and Onan and they died.” The Ohr Hachaim writes that the death of Yehudah’s two sons mentioned here is a reference to the destruction of both temples. Departure of the Shchina from the Temple is described as death. Just as death of a body is the departure of the soul, so the departure of the Holy Presence of Hashem is the death of the Temple. The causes, of course, were the sins of the Jewish people. Instead of being filled with Hashem’s presence, the respective Temples were filled with the negative spiritual forces created through those sins. The original sins of Ayre and Onan became the cause of the destruction of both Temples. The Talmud in Shabbos (62) states that the Jews were causing their beds to become evil-smelling with semen, committing the same sin as Ayre, who was wasting his semen. (Bereishis 37:7) Onan’s sin, which is held responsible for the destruction of the second Temple, (senseless hatred) was that he despised his brother and did not want to perpetuate his name by performing Yivum.

(27:10)- "Olas Shabbos B'Sbabbto-The Burnt offering of Shabbos." This is referring to the Musaf offering added on Shabbos. Each of the daily sacrifices are brought in the merit of one of the patriarchs. The Zohar makes a connection between the name Yoseph and the Musaf offering, both of which are based on the same root, meaning to add. Just as Musaf means to add, the name Yoseph means add. When Joseph was born his mother immediately took advantage of that blessing to ask for another child, so she named him Joseph, meaning he will add. This is based on the principle that the occasion of a blessing bodes well for additional blessings. The additional prayers on the Sabbath and festivals is a kind of spiritual bonus for which the people have the right to wish during the holy and blessed days. On the Sabbath day the soul itself has an additional bonus the Neshama Yeseirah- Additional Soul that we receive on Shabbos. This extra soul enables him to feel all the benefits of the Sabbath more deeply. This exultation is evoked when the congregation sings the Mussaf Kiddusha prayer and it lasts throughout the Sabbath day.

(29:1) “U’Bachodesh Ha’Shivi” The Parsha ends with a listing of all the Jewish holidays of the year. Including in order Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret. All together there are 21 festive days. The Apter Rav notes that there are 21 days between Shiva Aser B’Tamuz and Tisha B’av which correspond to 21 holidays mentioned in the Parsha. These 21 days that we mourn the absence of the Beis Hamikdosh will one day be celebrated with the festive sacrifices mentioned in our Parsha. However if we include Tisha B’av there are 22 days during Bein HaMesarim? Perhaps we can say that in the future Tisha B’av will become a festive day. We will celebrate the birth of Moshiach and the 22nd festive day of the year.


   (23:10) "Mi Mona Ofar Yakov Umispar es Rova Yisroel- Who can count the dust of Yakov or number the stock of Israszzel." The verse uses two terms for counting, plus both names for Benei Yisroel, Yakov and Yisroel. Billem saw that Israel would in the future survive the annihilation of the world where the nations would be destroyed. Yakov represents those who would physically survive the destruction and Yisroel represents the spiritual, those who will be resurrected from the dust and be rejoined with the other survivors.

   (24:5) “Ma Tovu Ohelecha Yakov Mishkinosecha Yisroel-How good are your tents, Yakov Your dewlling places Israel". The Posuk uses the names of Yakov/Yisroel as well as the words Tents for temporary encampments and Dwelling connected to the eternity of Israel. This prophecy was the culmination of three attempts to curse, each turning into blessings. But the final message is a transformed blessing. The tents are temporary hinting at this temporary world. Thus the use of the name Yakov. The use of the word Mishkan connotes the eternal, the next world and thus the use of the name Yisroel.

   (22:2) “Vayar Balak ben Tzipur-Balak son of Tzipur saw.” How could Balak see anything through the protection of the Anani Hakovod? The Ohr Hachaim writes that the key lies in his name. Balak Ben Tzippur.. He used the Tzipur/Bird to penetrate the clouds. Balak wanted to negate the future of Klal Yisroel, but in the end he wound up insuring it. By offering 42 sacrifices even though for the wrong reason, the act was not left unrewarded. His descendant was Rus forerunner of the Davidic dynasty and Moshiach.

(22:2) “Vayar Balak ben Tzipur-Balak son of Tzipur saw.” Why is this Parsha named after Balak? It would seem that the main thrust of this Torah portion deals with Billem and his attempt to harm Klal Yisroel. In addition why does the Torah begin speaking of Balak and only later in verse 4 are we told who he was? (22:4) “U’Balak ben Tzipur Melech L’Moav B’ase Hahee- And Balak was the king of Moav at that time.”

One answer given is that has we named the Parsha after Billem, no lesson would have been learned. Billed attempted to harm Yisroel and he became harmed. However now that we name the Parsha after Balak we can learn the following lesson. The one who initiates the sinful act, will ultimately see the hand of justice.

   Vayar Balak means Balak had vision. He traveled to Moav to explain the gravity of how they were affected. But Balak did not come to merely frighten them. He had a plan. He had an acquaintance, the well known sorcerer Billem, who would certainly agree to come help him out. Not with bows and arrows, which had already failed in Sichon’s battle with Israel, but rather using speech as a weapon. Moav was so impressed with Balak’s perception and foresight that they immediately made him their ruler, at least temporarily, despite the hostility between their two nations. Therefore when Balak first saw these events he was not yet King of Moav. It was only in verse 4, after inciting fear and disgust among them by informing them of his thoughts on the matter, was he then temporarily appointed king. The fact that Balak was the main protagonist behind all of these events is perhaps the reason the Parsha is named after him.

   Billem was one of the three advisors to Pharoh in Egypt when Pharoh was trying to decide how to deal with the Jewish problem. He was the one who counseled Pharoh to drown the male babies. After Egypt’s downfall he left. Billem was like a mercenary. He went wherever the money was. The name Billem comes from a contraction of two words Bli-Am without a nation. He was a man without any ties. He was only out for himself. How is it that someone like Billem was able to communicate with Hashem? The Midrash says in order that the nations of the world should not be able to complain that had they had a prophet they too would have obeyed Hashem, Billem was granted prophecy. Although he was able to communicate with Hashem, the fact that he was without a nation showed that all of his efforts were self-motivated.

   The question still remains however. How could Hashem have given prophecy to such a lowly person? The answer is that we only know Billem after he received prophecy. Originally he was considered a great man. Hashem selected him on the basis of his potential greatness. It was through this power of prophecy that he became corrupt and turned evil. But if he was a man with all of this potential and also given this gift what went wrong? Prophecy is not based on the individual alone. But rather it is the culmination of all the spiritual aspirations of the people he represented. In this case, the nations of the world and since they were corrupt this manifested itself in him as well.

   Actually Billem was supposed to inspire the nations of the world. All of the events in this week’s portion were his tests to see if he would faithfully carry out the will of Hashem to the nations of the world. They were to recognize Klal Yisroel’s role as the chosen people. This is why his eventual blessings are really tidings for the future, for the days of the Moshiach. Three times he attempted to curse Israel and each became a powerful blessing for the future. Had he carried out Hashem’s will, he would have lifted the rest of mankind to perfection.

   The question is why this message is being told through Billem? The common thought is that man needs a savior. G-d has to save man because man cannot accomplish this on his own. Therefore Moshiach is a necessary part of existence and since we can’t get anywhere by ourselves, G-d has to uplift man and rescue him from himself. The Jewish thought is that we were created to work for our Olam Habo. We have Bechira (free choice) and life is a Nisoyin (a Test) and that is the purpose of life in this world, to provide a platform for those tests. What then is Yemos Hamoshiach (the days of Moshiach)? The Rambam says that the days of Moshiach are a period of time tacked on to human history where things are the way they were meant to be. Had Billem succeeded in carrying out his message correctly the world would have recognized Hashem. All of humanity would be studying the word of Hashem and there would be the proper flow of blessing from heaven.

   If that is the case what is the purpose of having the days of Moshiach? If we are sent here to earn our just reward in this world through making the right choices, what is the point in having the days of Moshiach? This is the message in the prophecy of Billem. He is the Navi/Prophet of the nations of the world. At the time of Moshiach the nations of the world will be inspired to be what they should have been. They will be in the proper alignment with us and us with them. They will accept our mission of being a Kingdom of priests and thus the proper flow from heaven will insure world peace. This is why, according to the Baal Haturim, Billem built seven altars as a tribute to the seven Noachide laws fulfilled by the nations of the world.

   This could have been accomplished much sooner had Billem succeeded in his mission of prophecy. The role of the Messiah is not for Israel’s benefit but rather for the benefit and perfection of the gentile world. This is why the incident with the mouth of Billem's donkey being opened is one of the ten things that were created during the first six days of creation right before Shabbos at dusk. Well before there ever was a Klal Yisroel on the scene. Each of these ten things has a special purpose. They are all created between day and night between the six days of creation and the Holiness of Shabbos. In other words between this mundane world and the spiritual Kiddusha of the next world. Everything that was created during the first six days was done as an ongoing act. As the Posuk says “Ashere Borah Elokim Lasos” Which Hashem created to recreate. They were all placed in this world with the notion that they would perpetuate themselves. They were set up to carry out Hashem's will according to the laws of nature, which Hashem put forth. These ten things, created on the sixth day at dusk, had their purpose suspended for use at some time in the future when called upon by Hashem even if that purpose was above the laws of nature. The words "Pi H'Asone-The mouth of the donkey" is numerically equal to "L'Asid Lovo-The future days to come"

   The Sefas Emes writes that the Ten Mamorous was uttered at the beginning of creation; the ten things created Erev Shabbos completed the creation. The physical world was brought into being at the start but there had to be a spiritual connection to the source. Shabbos was the goal of creation. Therefore at the onset of the first Shabbos, of creation, the connections to the spiritual world had to be set in order to ultimately bring the world back to it’s source, to it’s purpose.

   Only Moshe was able to see his prophecy clearly. All other prophets have a tainted view of their message. They each define the words of Hashem with some of their own slant. It was for this reason that Hashem caused the donkey of Billem to speak. This would insure that there would be no diversion of Hashem’s words.

   (22:3) “Vayogar Moav Mifnei Ho’am Ki Rav Hu...Vayokotz Mifnei Benei Yisroel - And Moav became very frightened of the people because they were many. Digusted in the face of Benei Yisroel” The Kli Yakar writes that the word Ho’am refers to the Eruv Rav as in the words “ Ki Rav Hu” Benei Yisroel are mentioned as well for their power. Both factors contributed to the terror facing Moav.

(22:22)Vayichar Af Elokim Ki Holech Hu- Hashem became angry” Why did Hashem become angry if he told Billem to go and why the use of the extra word "Hu"? Hashem wanted Billem to give over the prophecy he was destined to give. It was his duty as a prophet not to withhold the word of Hashem. But when He saw that was still not Billem’s intent, He became angry. The words "Ki Holech Hu" implies that he was going for his own agenda.(Ohr Hachaim)

   (22:28) “Vayiftach Hashem es Pi H’Osone- Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey." Why did Hashem have to open the mouth of the donkey and what great wisdom did the donkey have to convey? All he said was why did you hit me these three times? Hashem wanted to show Billem that only He has the power of speech, that he is the one who controls everything. Billem thought that he had the power to say anything he wished even if it was against the will of Hashem. So by opening the mouth of the donkey Hashem was showing him that it is He who gives speech even to a donkey if He so chooses. What the donkey had to say was an allusion to the fact that Benei Yisroel will in the future come to Yerushalaim three times a year to bring Korbonos. It was through the merit of the Akeidah that Yisroel were saved. The Jews who travel three times a year to the place of the Akeidah.

   This reference to the Shalosh Regalim is perhaps the key to what message the donkey was to convey. “These three times”-Rashi says that this was a hint that he wanted to uproot the Jewish nation. The Arizal adapts this idea to suggest that Billem’s intention was to eliminate the observance of the three festivals. Why this mitzvah more than any other? There is a Mishnah in Avos (5:22) that says that whoever has these three characteristics is a Talmud of Billem. They are an evil eye, an arrogant spirit and an insatiable soul. Each one of these corresponds to the three cardinal sins, idolatry, murder and sexual immorality. An arrogant spirit is akin to Idolatry. It’s a form of self-worship. Murder stems from the evil eye. If a person desires his enemy’s possessions with enough fervor, then he may be prepared to get them in any way. Lust obviously underlies all sexual immorality. Each of these three things is the antithesis of the three things, which are the foundation of the world. Torah, Avodah and Gimilus Chesed. The three festivals were granted to Klal Yisroel as a means of fighting these cardinal sins.

   Pesach was the time when Klal Yisroel were first drawn away from the Idol worship of Egypt. The mitzvah of eating matzoth, the food of the poor, hints at the humble spirit that was the prerequisite to quell the haughtiness within us.

   Shevuos, the time of the giving of the Torah, represents the rejection of sexual immorality. The Rambam explains that inappropriate sexual thoughts fill the heads of those empty of wisdom. It is therefore that in preparation for the receipt of the Torah, the Jews were required to separate themselves from their wives.

   Succos corresponds to the rejection of jealousy and the evil eye. It is the time when we set aside all differences with our contemporaries, which have their root in jealousy. We therefore bind together the four species, which symbolize our ability to live with all types of Jews. Only when there is that Achdus can the Klal function at its best. Only when each person can perform his different but crucial role, without jealousy of each other, with a “good eye”, can we then come to the Messianic age, which is what Succos portends.

   It is precisely these three festivals that represent the complete opposite of the personality of Billem. He tried to eliminate the observance of these festivals, more than any of the other Mitzvos. This could perhaps explain the importance of “The mouth of the donkey.” Billem stood opposed to the three foundations of the world.

   There were three other occasions where a reference is made to a Chamor-donkey. The first is by the Akeidah where is says Avraham rose up early and saddled his donkey. The second is by Moshe when he returned to Mitzraim to liberate the Jews. The last is the reference to the Moshiach who will arrive riding a white donkey. In the case of Billem it does not use the word Chamor for a donkey it uses the word Asone. In fact the only place in the entire Torah where the word Asone is found is here in the Parsha of Billem and it’s used ten times! What is the difference between these two usages? The Maharal explains that the word Chamor-donkey is related to the word Chomer-physicality. This means that riding on Chamor is like riding on the physical world. Each of these three giants of Jewish history was above the physical laws of nature. That cannot be said of Billem. He was so steeped in his physicality that he was even intimate with his animal.

   After Balak saw what Benei Yisroel did to the Amorim he knew that they could not fight against Benei Yisroel in a physical way. They decided to combat them with the power of speech. So they commissioned Billem who was known to be the negative counterpart of Moshe Rabeinu. His power was that of speech. Hashem created the mouth of this donkey from the dawn of creation and suspended its use until precisely this moment in history. What message was to be learned by this miraculous speaking animal? Billem was the spiritual leader of the gentile world. If he could be shown that the power of speech all originates from Hashem, it would be a tremendous tikun for the nations of the world. Three times Billem attempted to curse Klal Yisroel and each time the Klalah was turned to Bracha. The curse was transformed to a blessing. This was the message Billem was sent. The word H’asone” is equal in Gematria to the words M’klalah L’bracha.-From curse to blessing.

   If Billem was able to curse and bless people why did he not bless the people of Midian and Moav? They were afraid of Benei Yisroel and because of that fear wanted Billem to curse them. They could have protected themselves with a blessing instead, since Hashem was not letting Billem curse Yisroel? Really Billem could not do these things on his own. He had no power to curse or bless. His strength was in his ability as a prophet to know Hashem intimately. He was able to tell when Hashem was angered and about to take action. At that precise moment he would curse someone or something making it look as if his curse was taking effect. Otherwise what need was there for him to seek payment from Balak. He could have blessed himself to have riches.

   (22:12) Hashem said to Billem, “Don’t go with them.” Later on in Posuk 20 Hashem say's to Billem "rise up and go with them". And then in Posuk 22 it says that Hashem was angry with Billem because he went? To reconcile these conflicting statements the Viilna Goan writes that in Posuk 12 it states "Lo Selech Imohem" do not go with them. But in Posuk 20 it reads "Kum Lech Etem" rise up, go with them. There is a basic difference between Etem and Imohem. Im denotes "with" in the sense of the same intent. Etem on the other hand would signify along with but without a common intent. Initially Hashem told Billem Lo Selech Imohem "don't go with them" with the same intent of cursing Yisrael. When Billem insisted on going, Hashem told him Lech Etem, Etem, but not Imohem, meaning go but not with the same intentions. Billem, however, went Im Sharay Moav, for the purpose of cursing Yisrael. As a result Hashem was angry that he went. Ultimately, the angel told Billem "Lech Im Ha'anashim, go with the men" (Posuk 35) using the word Im. Rashi explains," The way a person desires to go, is the way he is led." This means that since he insisted on going he would receive the same punishment that was in store for them.

   (22:41) ,Vayar M'Shom Kitzei Ho'am-He saw from there the edge of the nation." How could Billem see the nation if they were under the protection of the clouds? The Ohr Hachaim writes that Billem used the Tzipour to penetrate the cloud coverage. Others say that it refers to the tribe of Dan who were forced outside of the clouds because of the idol that was brought along.

   (23:8) "Mah Eikev Lo Kova Aeil- How can I curse a nation that Hashem has not cursed." Writes the Kli Yakar How can I curse a nation that does not curse Hashem? When misfortune befalls Israel, they do not blame Hashem.

   ( 23:10) Mi Manna Ofar Yakov- Who can count the dust of Yakov?” R.Bechaye writes that this is referring to those who will rise from the dust at the end of days. This is what Billem desired when he said “ Usihe Acharis Kimohu- May my end be like his.”

   (23:13) Efes Kotzeihu Sireh- Part of them will be visible.” Billem thought that the Clouds of Glory were protecting them. However one tribe was out of that protection. That was Shevt Dan. Perhaps he could have his curse befall them.

   (24:4) "N'ume Billem Beno V'or U'nume H'gever Shesum Ho'Ayin-The words of Billem son of Beor,,the words of the man with the open eye."There are two interpretations of the "Open Eye" One that Billem could detect the brief moment of each day when Hashem got angry. The other is that Billem was blind in one eye. How do we reconcile these two? Most normal people have two eyes which function to give us depth of field. But on a spiritual level, one eye is to see the positive, the other to see the negative. Billem only had the latter. He could find the negative in every situation.

   (24:5) “Ma Tovu Ohelecha Yakov-How good are your tents, Yakov". The Gemara in Bava Basra (60a) states that this was an expression of admiration for the tents of Benei Yisroel because he saw that their doors did not face each other. However the Gemara in Sanhedrin (105b) says that from this blessing we learn that Billem secretly wished that the Jewish people would have no synagogues. How do we reconcile the two?

   Chazal state that Billem really intended to curse Yisrael. In this Posuk he meant to say that since the Jewish people lived such exemplary lives they didn't need any synagogues, yeshivos or institutions because of the upbringing they received at home. But this was really a curse because in reality a child cannot rely exclusively on the teachings at home. A student needs a Rebbe and the association with other students. Therefore Hashem turned Billem's curse into a blessing, so that yeshivos and their Rebbeim will never cease from Klal Yisroel. (R.Moishe Feinstein)

   The Kol Torah explains that from seeing the tents set up modestly, Billem got the idea to cause Yisrael to sin through debauchery.

   (24:9) “Mivorechecha Boruch-Those who bless will be blessed” These words are reversed from that which Yitzchok blessed. (Bereishis 27:29) Rashi there explains that the righteous begin with the bad and end with the good. They suffer in this world to insure their portion in the world to come. Whereas the Rishoim prefer having this world now. The Ramban comments that we should not ask from Avraham where it begins with the blessings, because there after saying those who curse you will be cursed, it returns to a blessing by saying through you the people will be blessed. (V’Nivarchu B’cha)


   (19:2) “Zos Chukas H’Torah-These are the statutes of the Torah.” This week’s Parsha deals with death. The ashes of the Para Adumah purify someone who came into contact with death. The death of Miriam and Aharon and the decree of Moshe’s death are all major themes here. With this Parsha the Sefer Bamidbar seems to change direction. Until now we have been dealing with the generation that emerged from Egypt. But from here on, the remainder of the Chumash recounts the history of the next generation. All of the events described from here on take place in the 40th year of the Midbar wanderings. The point of this transition is the Mitzvah of the Para Haduma. It is called a “Chok” because the meaning behind it has eluded even the greatest of minds. Rashi says that no reason is given for these “Chukim”. Yet he does say that if the nations of the world would mock the Torah saying, look at these Mitzvos that make no sense, we precede this by saying that although they are a Chok beyond our comprehension, Klal Yisroel were still willing to comply. This could be the connection to last week’s Parsha. In Parshas Korach we learned that Korach challenged Moshe by using his own logic. He would tear down anything he could not understand. If a room is full of Torah scrolls how can it need a Mezuzah? This is why our Parsha begins with “Chukim” these are laws beyond human comprehension.

   (19:2) “Zos Chukas H’Torah-Vayikchu Aylecha Para Adumah-These are the statutes of the Torah-Take for yourselves a red cow.” Why is this particular “Chok” used here? Why Para Adumah? The answer is that when a person comes into contact with death, it can have very traumatic effects on him. A person begins to feel his own mortality. We find in the very next Parsha that (20:1) “Vayavou Benei-Yisroel Kol-Ho’aidah-And all of Benei Yisroel came the whole congregation.” What does the words “Kol-H’Aidah mean? It would seem to be extra. Rash explains that it means that all those who were destined to die in the Midbar had passed away. This was the end of the forty years of wandering. Now after seeing the passing of an entire generation Hashem wanted to show them there can still be life.  The Parah Haduma was red like blood, which is the life force. It had to be a matured animal yet never worked. It represented the most pure form of physicality. It had to be burned outside of the Beis Hamikdosh, the place of the utmost spirituality. And when it was finally broken down to its lowest level, that of ashes, it became mixed with Mayim Chaim, life-giving waters. This was meant to teach Klal Yisroel that there can be life even after death.  

      Hashem placed the well of Miriam (the rock) into the Yam Kineret. The Midrash says it is  in the midst of the sea there is a rock riddled with holes similar to a sieve that used to be the well of Miriam. The old Beis Hamedrash near Teverye was built so that its main entrance would face the direction of the well of Miriam and that a person entering the Bais Hamedrash would remember how Hashem provided the Jews with water in the Midbar and fortify himself with trust in Hashem.

   The Midrash says that the Malach Hamoves had no power over six Tzadikim who passed away by a divine kiss; Avraham, Yitzchok, Yakov, Moshe, Aaron, and Miriam. The question is why did Miriam have to die in the Midbar? The reason for Moshe and Aharon’s death is given. But Miriam’s death occurred before the incident of hitting the rock? Up until this point none of the women died in the Midbar. They were not included in the sin of the Eigel or the Meraglim. In addition what lesson do we learn from the fact that the well dried up immediately after her death? Plus sadly, we do not find that Klal Yisroel mourned for her.

    The Gemarrah in Taanis (9a) says that the “Dor Deyeh” received three gifts in the merits of its three great leaders: Miriam - the well, Aharon - the Ananei Hakovod, Moshe - the Munn. Why are these three leaders associated with these particular gifts?

   They personified the three pillars, which uphold the world Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim. Moshe was the giver of the Torah, its teacher. Therefore in his merit they received the Munn whose daily gift alleviated the necessity of earning a living and whose ingestion aided them in Torah study. Aaron personified Avodah his devotion to the Korbonos brought the Shechina to Klal Yisroel. The Ananei Hakoved was provided in his Zechus for it represented the Shechina which dwelt with the Jewish people. Miriam excelled in Gemilus Chasadim. Even as a small girl she assisted her mother as a midwife and she gave food to the poor. Because of her Chesed Hashem provided the Jews with water, the most vital necessity. But even more than necessity, water represents the spirituality Hashem is constantly giving. The Gemarrah says all three were taken away. Why? We can understand this according to the Gemarrah in Sotah (10a), which lists five gifts that were given to great people but taken away due to a lack of appreciation for them. Perhaps this is the lesson we must learn here.

    Klal Yisroel did not even know that the gifts were in the merit of their great leaders until after they were taken away. We find right after the incident of Mey Meriva that Moshe sent word to Edom requesting permission to cross their land. He pleaded that as brothers they know all the travail that had befallen Klal Yisroel. He said we will travel on the “Kings Highway - Derech Hamelech.” But the king of Edom sent back word not to pass through. The very next Posuk we find Benei Yisroel saying “We will go up by the highway Bimisilah but please let us pass through On Foot” (20:19). What was it that they were adding? Moshe had already said we would travel on the Kings Highway? What is the meaning of going on their feet? The Sefas Emes writes that the Edomites feared the Clouds of Glory, the Ananei Hakovod.  These clouds would transform their terrain. It would flatten mountains and level valleys as it passed. Their land would be unrecognizable to them after Israel passed through! To alleviate there objection Klal Yisroel was willing to forgo their formation, which was 12 mil by 12 mil and traverse a narrow pathway through the mountains without their cloud protection. There were seven clouds. One went ahead of the camp and the other six surrounded them on all sides, including beneath them. When they said "On our feet" they meant on the ground, not walking on a cloud as they had until now.They took for granted the gift of the Ananei Hakovod. The very next verse describes the death of Aharon and the subsequent removal of the Ananei Hakovod. The Gematria of  Derech Hamelech equals 319. The Gematria of B’misila equals 137. The difference between what Moshe said and what Klal Yisroel said is 182, which equals the word B'Ananni with the clouds. They didn’t appreciate their gift so it was taken away. 

   Later on in the Parsha, Klal Yisroel once again complains, this time about the Munn, which came in the merit of Moshe. (21:5)V'nafsheinu Kotzoh B'lechem Haklokel-And our soul loathes this light bread.” The result of this was the decree of Moshe’s death and the removal of the final gift. The Munn.

   This leaves us with Miriam and the gift of the well. But why is Miriam’s gift unique? Why was her special merit removed first and without any explanation?

   We know that when Hashem created the world it was originally covered with water. Scientists in their search for life beyond our planet begin with the search for water without which there can be no life. Chazal tell us that Aine Mayim Ellah Torah-There is no water except for Torah. The physical world cannot exist without Torah/Water. But we know the world also exists because of Chessed. As it says Olam Chessed Yiboneh-The world is built on Chessed. This was Miriam’s gift. Everything we have in this world is a Chesed of Hashem. Miriam and the well represented this life giving force in the Midbar. The Midbar was a desolate place. Eretz Lo Zaruah -a place where nothing grew. It was the place that contained the most concentration of negativity. And yet the Midrash says that there was such an abundance of water that wherever the well went new vegetation began to sprout. That is why according to the Ohr Hachaim it was necessary for Klal Yisroel to wander through the Midbar.  This is what the well of Miriam represented, new life, fruit. This is why the Gematria of Miriam is Peri-fruit. Her’s was the most basic Chessed it was the gift of life. The first command given to the physical world was to produce fruit. Yet nothing broke through the earth until Man was created to appreciate it. This gift went unappreciated and therefore it was taken away. (20:1-2) “Vatomos Shom Miriam Vatikover Shom-V’lo Hayah Mayim-Miriam died there and was buried there- And there was no water.” There was no water meaning there were no tears for her. (Oznayim L’torah)

    Klal Yisroel stood poised at the brink of entering the land promised to their forefathers. They were about to transcend into a new level of existence, one that would no longer rely on the open miracles of the Midbar. Now was when the lesson of appreciation needed to be taught. But the lesson was lost. No one mourned. All three gifts were thus removed from the nation. All three leaders had to end their leadership and in the end Klal Yisroel would know what it had lost.  The lesson we must learn is to appreciate all of the gifts we are given. Everything in life, large or small is a gift from Hashem, which must be appreciated.

   (20:1) “Vatomos Shom Miriam Vatikover Shom-Miriam died there and was buried there” Why was Miriam not permitted to be buried in the land? All of the women of that generation survived the Midbar? We know that the remnants of the original son’s of Yakov were brought to Eretz Yisroel to be buried in their own portion.   The portion where Miriam was buried was on the other side of the Jordan. The place where the future cities of refuge would be established. Since Miriam was a Bas Levi this was  her portion!

   Rashi writes that the reason the death of Miriam follows the laws of Parah Adumah is to teach us that just as a sacrifice atones, so too the death of the righteous atone. The question is why bring this lesson here by Miriam? The laws of the Parah Adumah were given when they first left Egypt, while now 38 years later, the death of Miriam is recorded. The answer is that Miriam exemplified not only atonement but purification as well. Miriam was forever involved in uniting husband and wife. First with her father, when she was merely six years old, by advising him to remarry her mother which directly resulted in the birth of Moshe. Again when she learned that Moshe separated from his wife. Her whole intent in speaking against Moshe was for the sake of her sister-in-law. Even the well which came in her merit was more than just to satisfy the drinking needs of the nation. It served to unite husband and wife by being a Mikveh.

  All three gifts were restored in the merit of Moshe. If so, why did we need to connect them with Aaron and Miriam? Why couldn’t Moshe have brought these miracles to Klal Yisroel himself? The answer is that Aaron and Miriam were needed to bring these miracles down to this world. Once that was done through each one of their special Midos, then Moshe was able to bring them back. But they, Aaron and Miriam, were needed to bring them into the world in the first place.  

 Immediately following Miriam’s death we learn that the Be’ar (the well) dried up and became hidden from Klal Yisroel.  The Midrash relates that while Moshe and Aharon were in mourning, groups of Benei Yisroel approached them complaining that while they mourn their sister they would soon be mourning a nation due their lack of water. This brought on the incident of Mey Meriva which was the cause of Moshe’s subsequent sin and decree of death before entering Eretz Yisroel.

  How would speaking to the rock be more of a lesson than hitting the rock? R.Zaidel Epstein offers a unique perspective.  Speaking to the rock and thus causing water to emerge would be considered a Razton, a willing act. Hitting the rock would be considered Hechrech, compulsion or force. Both acts teach the importance of listening to Hashem, but if we only learn to listen to Hashem when we are under duress it is not as compelling as if listening to Hashem willingly.

   We have to examine this well of Miriam. It was one of the ten things created Erev Shabbos before sunset. There was some sort of lesson that had to be learned from speaking to the rock as opposed to hitting the rock as was done on previous occasions. What was this great transgression that Moshe did? How is his punishment Midah Keneged Midah?  The Sefas Emes writes that as the Ten Mamorous were uttered at the beginning of creation; the ten things created Erev Shabbos was the completion of the creation. The physical world was brought into being at the start but there had to be a spiritual connection to the source. Shabbos was the goal of creation. Therefore at the onset of the first Shabbos of creation the connections to the spiritual world had to be set in order to ultimately bring the world back to its source, to its purpose. This is perhaps the understanding of the Be’ar.  The concept of a stone, one of the most physical of things bringing forth water, one of the most spiritual things, is perhaps one of the most important ideas we need to understand. This can capsulate our existence. We are physical beings endowed with a Neshama that we must use to elevate our existence. We are placed here to take the physical world and elevate it to the highest levels attainable to draw the spiritual out of the physical. This defines man and differentiates him from the animal world. Klal Yisroel in their infancy was originally shown this in the form of striking the rock. They had recently been delivered from servitude and were on the lowest of spiritual levels. In this week’s Parsha Klal Yisroel were at the brink of fulfilling their goal of entering Eretz Yisroel of transcending into a new level of existence. They had completed forty years of Torah study and Hashem wanted to teach them that it is the power of their Torah that transforms their physical world. Moshe was to teach them a lesson in Torah and then speak to the rock thereby demonstrating this new level of Kiddusha their Torah had elevated them to.

   What went wrong? It’s not clear exactly what was said when Moshe and Aharon were approached. But there was a confrontation. That is why the incident is called the waters of strife. According to some the Erev Rav wanted Moshe to perform a miracle on any rock, not necessarily the rock. To which he replied (20:10) “Hamin Haselah Hazeh Notze Lochem Mayim-From this rock you wish to extract water?” The Sefas Emes makes an analogy of the words “Hamin Haselah” and the words “Hamin Ha’etz” (Bereishis 3:11) which refers to the original sin of Adom. Both have the same Gematria (260). Moshe wanted the lesson to come from the Eitz Ha’chaim, which is the Torah, rather than from the Eitz Ha’das Tov V’rah. Moshe was the connection of this source of spirituality. Through him all of the Torah was transmitted. His essence was in his name (Shemos 2:10) “Ki Min Hamayim M’shesihu-Because from the water he was drawn” This failure was at the core of who Moshe was. The mission to transcend the nation into the next stage and bring them into Eretz Yisroel could not now be realized. This perhaps is the Midah Keneged Midah. Hashem tells Moshe and Aharon (Bamidbar 20:12) “Yaan Lo-H’emantem Bi L’Hakdishainy L’aynei Bnei Yisroel Lochain Lo Soviu es-Hakohol Hazeh el-Ha’aretz Asher -Nosati Lohem” Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Through the Be’ar, the mouth of which was one of the ten things created at the beginning of time, which was the transcendence from the physical back to the spiritual, Moshe was punished. At this juncture, Klal Yisroel stood at the threshold of a new existence. Until now they had experienced a totally spiritual form of life. Through this they were able to grow and prepare for this next step. That of putting into action the Torah they had been learning and using it to elevate the physical world that was the land they were about to enter. At this moment they had to learn the lesson of the Be’ar. Moshe Rabeinu was not permitted to enter the land. On Moshe Rabeinu’s level this was a just punishment. Perhaps it was more the shortcomings of this new generation of Klal Yisroel. But as their spiritual leader the responsibility rested with him.

    It is said that in the future Moshe will ultimately lead the generation that died in the Midbar to the Promised Land. This could be the reason why Moshe, Aharon and Miriam were all put to rest in the midbar rather than being brought into Eretz Yisroel as were the twelve Shevotim. All three of them were of a different generation and perhaps that was their destiny. (Bamidbar 20:24) “Yai’osef Aharon el-Amov-To be gathered unto the nation”. In the future they will be gathered unto the nation together with all of the returning exiles.

    The Oznayim L'Torah writes that Moshe was to teach them a Mishnah of Torah. The lesson for them was that through learning Torah water would be provided. Hashem wanted there to be a new type of miracle and not a continuation of the previous situation. Speech as a means to affect the physical world rather than action, hitting the rock. By not doing this a tremendous opportunity was lost to make a Kiddush Hashem. It became a Chilul Hashem instead.

  (20:8) “Kach es Hamateh V'hakael es Ho'Aidah-V’debartem el-Haselah-Take the Staff and gather the congregation..and speak to the rock.”  What purpose was the staff to serve and what was Moshe to say to the rock? Aharon and Moshe each had his own staff. When Hashem wanted Moshe or Aharon to take his own staff, He would say "Matecha - your staff" (see Shemot 7:9). Since in this Pasuk it says "Hamateh - the staff," obviously it was a special one with unique qualities.  Here the word Aidah is used with reference to Benei Yisroel. But it in verse 10 We find Moshe gathers "Hakahal" The difference between the two is that the word "Aidah" implies a disorganized group. From this Moshe knew that they would not be receptive to the spiritual message he was charged to impart upon them. (Oznayim L'Torah)

   In Parashat Korach, Moshe told the leaders of each tribe to bring a staff to be put in the Tabernacle. On each would be written the name of the tribal leader, with Aharon's name written on the staff of the tribe of Levi. The staff belonging to the one who was Divinely chosen would blossom. The staff of Aharon blossomed and produced almonds and eventually was put next to the Aron for posterity. It was this staff that Moshe was to take. This corresponds to the verse, "Moshe took the staff from before G-d" (20:9). The purpose of taking the staff was to show it to the rock as if to say, "Learn this lesson; just as this dry piece of wood suddenly became moist and alive in order to sanctify Hashem's name, so should you sanctify Hashem's name by giving water, even though it is not your nature." (Vedibarta Bam)

  (20:8) "V'Hishkisa es H'Aidah V'es B'iram-And give drink to the assembly and their animals."

There is a difference between speaking to the rock and hitting the rock. Speaking is spiritual and produces unspecified amounts of water. Hitting the rock is physical and produced an abundance of water. Hashem wanted the former which would have had a spiritual affect on the nation.  When Hashem told Moshe to take his staff, speak to the rock and bring forth water for them, He separated the people from the animals using the word V’es between the people and the animals. Later (20:11) the verse reads "V'Hishkisa H'Aidah U'B'iram-And give drink to the assembly and their animals." Without the word "Es" separating between man and animal. Because the request was improper, they behaved like animals, they were treated the same as a



(13:2) “Shelach-Send out.” The incident concerning the spies is the forbearer of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. The numerical value of the word Shelach is equal to 338. Not coincidently the year of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh was 3338.

   The Sefas Emes writes that Hashem created the world and He creates situations in which the world can attain perfection. Through the Exodus came the birth of Klal Yisroel and now the world would be headed for that perfection. That perfection was to take place in two stages. The first stage was to receive the Torah. Klal Yisroel marched on to Har Sinai and after counting forty nine days stood at the foot of the mountain ready for Kabolas H’Torah. The second stage was to take that Torah and enter the land of Israel. Klal Yisroel and the Holy Land together would bring the ultimate perfection of the world. After leaving Mitzrayim, Klal Yisroel was anxious to reach that first stage, to receive the Torah. But we don’t find that same enthusiasm for the second stage. Klal Yisroel were reluctant to leave the lofty position in the desert, the spiritually high level they had attained, for a life of seemingly mundane existence. They felt this would be a step down from where they were. But in fact this is the purpose of us being here. From the time before man is born his neshama wishes to remain in heaven. But as soon as it comes into man it wishes to cling to every moment of life in this world. In fact the only way to insure a place the World to Come is through taking the physical and elevating it. This is what the spies could not see. Hashem’s command was to place the Torah with the help of Klal Yisroel into the land. “ Shelach Lecha Anoshim V’Yosuru es-H’oretz- send out men and bring Torah to the land. The word Yosuru in this verse refers to Torah.

     (13:2) “Shelach Lecha Anoshim-Send for yourself people.”The Kli Yakar comments that we find a similar phrase in Bereishis when Hashem tells Avraham Lech Lecha” There Rashi comments the word “Lecha” implies for your good and for your benefit. In our case there does not seem to be any benefit in sending out the spies? Why does the same word not imply the same meaning? He answers that by Moshe being denied entry into the land, he would have died in the second year out of Mitzrayim. By sending the spies it comes out to be for Moshe’s benefit in that he was able to live another forty years.

(13:2) “Shelach Lecha Anoshim-Send for yourself people.” Why does this section immediately follow the section about Miriam? Rashi quotes the Midrash Tanchuma that these evil people witnessed how Miriam was punished for the words spoken against her brother, but they didn’t learn from it.

   What was the Loshon Hora that Miriam spoke about her brother? We know that after Matan Torah Hashem wanted Klal Yisroel to be Mamleches Kohanim- a Kingdom of Priest. The Kohein eats from the sacrifice and the owner receives atonement. He takes the physical world and elevates it. This was to be the role of all Jews. Moshe was above all physicality. When the command to Klal Yisroel was given to return to their tents after Matan Torah, Hashem said to Moshe V’atoh Po Omaid Imodi-You remain here with me. Klal Yisroel was to return to the physical world and use the Torah to elevate it. But Moshe was beyond that. According to some of the commentaries he didn’t need to even eat or drink the rest of his life. This was what his sister Miriam didn’t understand about her brother. How could he teach them to use the Torah to elevate the physical world when he himself was not partaking of it? But that was what Hashem wanted of him. This was also the mistake of the Miraglim. They felt it was beneath them to stoop down to a physical existence. They wished to remain in the Midbar where they could spend the entire day immersed in the spiritual world, with Hashem providing all of their needs. This was a mistake that cost them their lives.

Chazal teach us that the women of that generation were righteous, and it was their merit that redeemed us from Egypt. They also had a tremendous love for the land, but the men did not. They rejected the land. The women also refused to give their jewelry for the worship of the Golden Calf. They remained consistently devoted to Hashem’s Torah and to his servant Moshe. Every time a new rebellion broke out the women upheld Moshe’s position and supported his leadership.

   This is perhaps the background to the Gemarrah that says the men of that generation went so far as to warn their wives not to be secluded with Moshe. It is impossible to think that anything in Moshe’s behavior would provoke such strange jealousy. But the explanation is that whenever the men criticized Moshe’s leadership they would hear their wives speak with such admiration of Moshe that it caused them to become jealous. They would each ask themselves; Why does she speak so highly of him? Why can she not tolerate any criticism of him?

   Until now the women were opposed to any criticism of Moshe Rabeinu. They did not want any other leader or any other G-d. When Moshe went up to Har Sinai they waited for him to come down. These women, like Jewish women in every generation, had strong influence on their husbands and did not permit any rebellion against Moshe or his policies.

All of this ended when Miriam spoke Loshon Horah. She spoke about the fact that Moshe did not maintain marital relations with his wife, but had separated from her, after receiving communication from Hashem. This caused uproar among women in the camp, who feared that such conduct would become common among Yisroel. Now when the men rose up against Moshe the women no longer protested. It was as if the women silently acquiesced. All of this occurred because of what Miriam said about Moshe. This is why it has become one of the six Zechiras and why this section of the spies follows the section of Miriam.

   It is interesting to note that in the entire Parsha of the Miraglim the word Miraglim does not appear even once? Perhaps we can say the following. The sin of the Meraglim was that they wished to stay in the theory of Torah rather than actually go into Eretz Yisroel and practice what they learned.

   The Shem MiShmuel uses the nature of the sojourn in the desert as compared to their

settlement in Eretz Yisrael, to explain the behavior of the Meraglim. As long as they were in the desert living purely spiritual lives, they could achieve the necessary levels of Kedusha. However, once they crossed the Jordan they would have to earn their food, clothing and housing through natural means. They did not believe in their own spiritual ability to transform these material things into holy things, Kodesh, therefore they wished to remain in the unnatural world of the desert. They did not believe that they could make Olam Hazeh into Olam Habo. The mission of Klal Yisroel is to take the physical, the Olam Hazeh, and elevate it into the spiritual, Olam Habo. Both are needed to achieve this goal. They knew that upon entering into Eretz Yisroel all of this would change. They did not understand that once they entered the land they would use the physical to make the Olam Hazeh into Olam Habo. The Gematria of the word Meraglim is equal to the words “Olam Hazeh V’Olam Habo.” This was missing in them and is missing in the Parsha.

 (13:2) “Shelach Lecha Anoshim-Send for yourself people.” Many of the commentators deal with the question of what exactly was the sin of the spies and what was their motivation. The fact that they didn’t want to leave the protection of the Midbar, that they wanted to remain in the theory of Torah rather than the actual doing of the mitzvos, could be their motivation. Their sin, speaking Loshon Hora about the land was certainly one. But perhaps worse was the negative perception they attributed to everything they saw. (13:32) “Eretz Ocheles Yoshveha-A land that devours its inhabitants.” They witnessed funerals everywhere they went. The inhabitants of Canaan had a custom of not burying their dead. What they did was accumulate their dead until such time when a great person passed away. In this instance it was Iyov. They believed that with the merit of a great person the souls of their departed would be swept along and gain entry into heaven. What the Meraglim failed to see was what was beyond the exterior. Hashem was providing them with cover in order not to be detected. The Gemarrah in Berachos says that everything Hashem does is ultimately for the good. The Meraglim set out with a negative outlook and therefore saw everything in a negative light.

   This sin can be traced back to the very first sin, of the Eitz Hadas. The first words immediately following the eating of the Eitz says (Bereishis 3:7) “Vatipokachnah Aynei-And there eyes were opened.” Their vision was now a mixture of Tov V’rah, of good and evil. It was now difficult to see Hashem in everything, to see the good in the world, to even see the good in the evil. This now became man’s mission. Had Adom been able to hold out until Shabbos arrived, he would have been permitted to eat from the Eitz Hadas. Shabbos would have added that dimension to the creation that was needed to bring the exterior physical world back to its spiritual roots. The gematria of the words “Vatipokachnah Aynei-And there eyes were opened.” equals 789. The same as the words “Shelach Lecha Anoshim”

   (13:16) “Vayikra Moshe L’Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua-And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshua.” Prior to the departure of the twelve spies, Moshe Rabbeinu changed the name of his disciple Hoshea to Yehoshua. That changed contained within it a prayer that Hashem save Yehoshua from the plot of the spies. The question is, why did he pray for Yehoshua alone and not for Calev and the others? Also it remains to be explained why Moshe agreed to send the spies in the first place if he was aware of a plot to malign Eretz Yisrael?

(13:16) “Vayikra Moshe L’Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua-And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshua.”

   There are four people in the Torah who had a letter added to their names. Avraham, Sarah, Yisro and Yehoshua. Yehoshua had the letter "Yud" added. Avraham the letter "Hey" Yisro the letter "Vav" and Sarah the letter "Hey". All of these extra letters comprise the name of Hashem "Yud Hey Vav Hey." The understanding is that all of these people brought souls closer to Hashem. Avraham and Sarah began the Kiruv movement. Yisro was the first person to convert after the giving of the Torah. Yehoshua converted people as well. Hashem repaid these acts by giving a part of His name to each of them.



   The Vilna Gaon in Emuna VeHashgacha explains that there are three ways in which Hashem manifests His Divine Providence. The first is called Hanhagah Nissis, the manifestation of overt miracles. This was the manner in which Hashem related to us during the forty years in the desert. A Cloud of Glory accompanied us by day and a pillar of fire by night; we ate the Heaven-sent Manna; and our thirst was quenched by water from a well that flowed from a rock, which accompanied us on our journey. When we sinned, Divine retribution followed immediately in an unmistakable fashion.

   The second type of Divine Providence is called Hanhagas Nissim Nistarim. In this stage, Hashem relates to us through hidden miracles. This describes the manner in which Hashem related to us in Ertez Yisrael, prior to our exile. At that time, a direct relationship between nature and Torah observance was evident. When we kept the Mitzvos and toiled in Torah, the rains fell in their proper times and amounts, health and wealth were our lot; and when we sinned, drought and famine followed. Since our exile from Eretz Yisrael, we have experienced the third type of Divine Providence, Hester Panim. In this stage, Hashem hides His face from us and our ability to see Hashem’s Divine Providence in the world becomes impaired.

   The Vilna Gaon explains that the various manifestations of Divine Providence differ only in our perception. In reality, Hashem controls and guides the world equally in each phase. Hashem merely hides His face in the latter period. In the desert Klal Yisroel were aware that upon entering Eretz Yisrael the manner in which Hashem related to us would change from one of open miracles to one of miracles within nature. Munn would no longer descend from the heavens; rather we would plow and plant and harvest in order to eat. A well would no longer accompany us; rather we would depend on rainfall to quench our thirst. Their mistake, however, was to reason that if their lives were apparently subject to the same natural order as the rest of the world, then their ultimate success or failure depended on their own military prowess. This was their error.

   It was this mistaken outlook from which Moshe prayed that Yehoshua would be spared because Yehoshua was the one who would lead Klal Yisroel into the land. Moshe reasoned that he could better prove to the people their mistake by letting them actually see Eretz Yisrael. He hoped that they would realize the impossibility of conquering Eretz Yisrael with their own might. And yet Hashem had assured them that they would in fact conquer the land. They should have concluded that Hashem obviously planned to continue aiding them, even if in a less openly miraculous fashion. The name Yehoshua means- May Hashem save you. This divine name of Hashem means the synthesis of the natural and spiritual worlds. The Yud represents Olam Habo of creation while the Hey represents Olam Hazeh. Moshe prayed that Yehoshua see the veil of how Hashem works in nature to perform His will. This is why nature-Hatevah and Elokim have the same numerical value. It was for this reason that the letter Yud was added to his name.

   (13:16')- “Vayikra Moshe LHoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua.-And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshu.” Rashi says it was to Daven for him- that Hashem should aid Yehoshua in the matter of the Meraglim.  Why did Moshe Daven for Yehoshua and not for Calev?

The Kli Yakar says that Yehoshua was from the tribe of Yoseph who spoke negatively about his brothers. Moshe was afraid that he would go in the footsteps of his Grandfather and speak negatively about Eretz Yisroel.

The Chafetz Chaim (along with Midrashim) says that when a person finds himself in the company of people of a lesser moral stature there are two approaches. One is to state his opinion every step of the way and be confrontational. The second is to remain silent and only speak out when the right opportunity presents itself. Each approach has its pro’s and con’s. The first approach could be beneficial in keeping a person from becoming influenced by his surroundings. If he keeps himself strong and protests every step of the way it is less likely that they will affect him. On the other hand if makes his opinion known there is the possibility of them finding a way to counter his opinion with logic of their own. They might find ways to persuade him to see things their way. The second approach could be beneficial in that the other people will think he is just as much apart of their plan as they are and not try to change him. He could then wait for the most opportune time to have his words make the greatest impact. The flip side of this is that there is the possibility of his becoming influenced by his surroundings.

   This represents how Calev and Yehoshua each had their own way of handling situations: Yehoshua would speak his mind publicly and would have totally differed with the Meraglim openly. He therefore needed the Tefilla of Moshe, which was a Tefilla that the Meraglim wouldn't physically harm him once they would hear his protests. Calev, on the other hand, wouldn't openly differ with them for two reasons: 1- So that they wouldn't harm or even kill him. And 2- In order to eventually get them to listen to his opinion, he would, at first, appear to agree with them and then would say his true opinion in front of the Nation. Therefore, Moshe didn't have to Daven for him that they wouldn't harm him. (Calev, himself, was afraid they would harm him. This is why he went to Daven at Moras Hamachpela. In the end, it did happen this way. When the Meraglim returned from their trip, it was only Yehoshua alone who had a dissenting opinion. Calev appeared to agree with them. Calev then said, “Is this the only thing that “Ben Amram” did to us!” This got their attention in a positive way and then Calev was able to silence them. This could be the understanding of the words Hashem used to describe Calev (14:24)”V’avdy Kaleiv Ekev Hayisah Ruach Acheres-But my servant Calev has a different spirit in him.” Rashi explains this means Echod b’peh V’echod B’lev-One way in his heart and another in his mouth. He differed with the Meraglim in his heart and would wait to reveal his true intention. But, meanwhile outwardly, with his speech, he seemed to agree with them.

   We find that the name of Calev is mentioned first at times and the name of Yehoshua   is sometimes mentioned first. This is to teach us that they were equal. But we see that Yehoshua was the one chosen to lead Klal Yisroel after Moshe? How can we say they were equal? What it means is that they were equal in their approach. But in order to be a leader in Klal Yisroel one could not be Echod b’peh V’echod B’lev-One way in his heart and another in his mouth.

   How was Calev able to withstand the peer pressure of the other Meraglim? When they first arrived in Eretz Yisrael The posuk reads (13:22)“Vayavo ad Chevron-He arrived at Chevron.” Rashi learns from the singular use of the word he came, that it refers to Calev. His first order of business was to pray at the Moros Hamachpelah, to pray at the graves of the Avos. Later on the Posuk says (14:24)”V’avdy Kaleiv Ekev Hayisah Ruach Acheres-But my servant Calev has a different spirit in him.” What is this other spirit that he possessed? The Arizal writes that he was a Gilgulim of Eliezer Eved Avraham.The name Kaleiv ben Yefuneh equals Avraham in Gematria. The words Ruach Acheres equals Anachnu Benei Bonov Shel Avraham- we are the grandchildren of Avraham. We are the grandchildren not just Calev, meaning anyone has the capability to receive this spirit of our ancestors.

   This could perhaps also explain a question at the end of the Parsha where we find the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. Rashi there explains that Tzitis are equal to all of the 613 Mitzvos and the numerical value of the word Tzitzis equals 600. The problem is that this is true if the word Tzitzis is spelled with two Yuds, which is not the case all three times, that it is mentioned here. The Rebenu Bachyah answers that the third time Tzitzis is mentioned its written L’Tzitzis it’s spelled with a Lamed which equals 30. So if you add up all three times the word Tzitzis is written it averages 600. We have said that the Yud represents Olam Habo of creation while the Hey represents Olam Hazeh. Why do we call the other world “the world to come” rather than the other world or even the next world? If Olam Hazeh means this world then the appropriate term should have been the other world? Olam Habo means the world that is not yet made. By performing Mitzvos in this world we are creating our next world. The world to come means not yet here. Perhaps though we can say that the reason the word Tzitzis is spelled without the yud is because through the 613 Mitzvos it becomes our job to make the Yud of the world to come, to build our own Olam Habo.

 There is a connection between the Chet of the Meraglim and the Chet of the Eigel. With regard to the Chet of the Eigel that there is mention of that generation not going into Eretz Yisroel except for the Leviim. But this punishment was really only said by the Meraglim? Why should it also apply to the chet of the Eigel? The answer is that they are connected. The Tiferes Tzion writes that the incident of the Meraglim determined whether or not Benei Yisroel had done a complete teshuva for the chet of the Eigel. By the Eigel they erred in thinking that Hashem needs intermediaries to run the universe. They thought that when they saw Moshe lying on his deathbed being carried away, that they would now need something tangible to direct their prayers to. That was the purpose in making the Eigel. That is also why right after they were forgiven for the Chet they were given the mitzvah to build the Mishkon so as to have a place to direct their prayers. By the Meraglim they should have had emunah that Hashem would conquer Eretz Yisroel with open miracles. The sin of the Meraglim proved that Benei Yisroel had not fully repented from the Chet of the Eigel. Therefore the death decree originally said by the Eigel was now to be enacted.

   (13:11) “L’mateh Yosef L’mateh Menashe-From the tribe of Yosef from the tribe Menashe.” Why is it that the Torah mentions Menashe with Yosef and not Efraim? Because since Yosef had once called his brothers spies, so too Menashe, had once called the tribes spies. During the time when Yosef was testing his brothers, Menashe was sent to retrieve them by falsely accusing them of being spies. But Efraim was not part of any of this. He therefore was able to have a descendant (Kaleiv) who could distance himself from these spies.

   The Arizal writes that when Yosef accused his brothers of being spies, he was not talking about the present, but actually referring to the future. The souls of the ten sons of Yakov were transmigrated into the ten people chosen by Moshe to tour Eretz Yisroel. Among the ten brothers who stood before Yosef was Yehudah, the ancestor of Kalev, who did not participate with the other spies. Since Yosef accused them all of being spies although one was actually innocent, he in turn was punished that one of his children would be involved with the spies. Menashe was the interpreter at the time when the brothers stood before Yosef. He also said the words “Meraglim Atem-You are spies.” Therefore the Torah emphasized that Gaddi son of Susi represented both Yosef and Menashe, because they both accused Yehudah unjustly.

(13:16) “Vayikra Moshe LHoshea Bin Nun Yehoshuah- And Moshe called Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshuah.” Why is it that Moshe found it necessary to assist Yehoshua and not any of the other tribes? One answer could be that since the prophecy, foretold by Eldad and Meidad, about Yehoshua replacing Moshe to lead Klal Yisroel into the land, would have an effect on Yehoshua’s judgment. Therefore Moshe felt that adding a letter would strengthen his resolve.  

   (13:20) “Hyesh Bah Eitz Im Ayin- See if there is a tree or not.”   The Zohar explains the word “Eitz” to mean “the tree,” the Eitz Hachaim in Gan Eden. It says that the men sent to spy the land were all righteous men. What went wrong? How could they have been corrupted so quickly? After hearing the prophecy that Moshe would not be leading the people into the land but would die in the desert, they misunderstood Moshe’s words to mean they should be looking for Gan Eden, for the Tree, the Eitz Hachaim. By doing so they would be able to bypass the decree of death against Moshe and go into the land with him. When the tree was not found they returned with the plan to discourage entry into Eretz Yisroel.

   (13:20) “Hyesh Bah Eitz Im Ayin V’hischazaktem V’lokachtem M’pri H’aretz-See if there are trees or not And you shall strengthen yourselves and take from the fruits of the land.” The question is if there are no trees how are they to take fruits? Rashi explains that trees, refers to men of merit. The Chasam Sofer explains that if there are trees ie. men of merit then how can we tell if the fruits are good because of the land. Perhaps it is in the merit of these men? But if there are no trees (men of merit) than you should take the fruits to see how good the land is. The Satmar Rebbe answers that this posuk is telling us how to know if men are men of merit. It is only by looking at the fruits of the trees, by looking at their fruits. Through the children we can tell the stature of a man.

   (13:20) “V’hischazaktem V’lokachtem M’pri H’aretz V’hayomim Yemey Bekurei Anavim-And you shall strengthen yourselves and take from the fruits of the land and the days were the days of the first-ripe grapes.” Why would there be a need to strengthen themselves before taking fruits? What is the Torah trying to convey with this term? From the end of the verse we learn that these were the days prior to Tishabav. Moshe knew that these were days when the Yezter Hora is strong. He therefore instructed them to strengthen themselves through the fruits of the land. Eretz Yisroel contains an intrinsic spirituality that they could tap into. This is hinted at in the words “V’hayomim YemeyBekurei Anavim- and the days were the days of the first-ripe grapes.” The word Bekurei also can mean prior. The letters prior or before the letters of Anavim spell Smael, the Soton. These were the days of the Soton.  

   When the Meraglim came upon the fruits of the land Kalaiv reminded them that Moshe had instructed them to bring some back. They refused not wanting to show the merits of the land, until Kalaiv threatened force. That is why they chose tremendously oversized fruits in order to tell the people that they could not survive there. This is also why each of the Meraglim took part in carrying the fruits except Kalaiv and Yehoshua.

(13:24) “L’Mokom Hahu Koroh Nachal Eshkol al Odos H’Eshkol Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel-That place was called the valley of Eshkol because of the cluster which the children of Yisroel cut down from there.” The Kli Yakar writes that this was the turning point in the mission of the spies. The words “Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel- which the children of Yisroel cut down from there” Can be read as - the children of Yisroel were cut off from there. The intent was not to showcase the tremendous fruits of the land. Rather the intent was to show just as these fruits are abnormal so too the people of the land are abnormal and we cannot conquer it.

   (13:26) " Vayeichu Vayvo'u-They went and they came." What is this double speak? This leads to another question. If the spies were fulfilling a Shelichus why weren't they protected? As we know a Sheluchei Mitzvah Aynon Nezikin- A messengers is protected. But this is the meaning of the words "Vayeichu Vayvo'u-They went and they came." they went as a messenger and they came with their own agenda. Because they had their own agenda they were not protected.

   There is a difference of opinion regarding how many spies actually went into the land. According to most commentators it was twelve. Rabbi Akiva maintains there were 24. The posuk says (13:2) “Ish Echad Ish Echad-One man one man” from each tribe. The double use of this phrase implies two men from each tribe. The question therefore arises, but we know that a quorum of ten men is learned out from the ten spies? How can R.Akiva say there were 24?

   There is a Gemorrah in Brochos that says Habo L’taheir M’sayin Oso-If a person wishes to better himself they aid him.” What does it mean they aid him? It should say He helps him in the singular form. But the meaning is as follows. There is a concept called Transmigration of souls (Ibur Neshamas) where the souls of previous Tzadikim are sent to accompany and assist a person attempting a worthy but difficult task. There is a story about the Arizal who once stood up for a student of his that had just entered the room. When questioned about this he responded that he saw the Neshama of Pinchas ben Yair enter the room with his student. What had happened was that this student had just finished risking his life to perform the mitzvah of Pidyan Shevuyin. Assisting him on that task was Pinchas ben Yair. The Arizal sensed this and stood up when he entered the room.

   Another case of Ibur Neshamas is by Aharon H’kohein. We have a rule “Ain Kateger Nasseh Saneiger- The prosecutor may not be the defender. Aharon was not permitted to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur wearing gold because of his role in the sin of the Golden Calf. This may be true of Ahron’s role as Kohein Gadol but what about all of the future Kohanim that were not involved in the Sin of the golden calf? Why could they not enter wearing gold? The answer is that every subsequent Kohein that entered the Holy of Holies did not enter alone. The soul of Aharon accompanied them. Therefore every future Kohein Gadol entered wearing white. With this we can understand the Posuk that says “B’zos Yovo Aharon el Hakodesh-With this Aharon would enter into the sanctuary.” The word B’zos has the numerical value of 410, the exact number of years that the first Beis Hamikdosh stood. The question then is why is only the first Beis Hamikdosh hinted at and not the second? The answer is that only during the first Beis Hamikdosh was Aharon accompanying the Kohein Gadol. All subsequent Kohanim of the second Temple were not worthy and did not benefit from Aharon’s assistance

   With this we can answer the original question of this week’s Parsha. R.Akiva says there were 24 Meraglim. This is true Ish Echad Ish Echad one man plus one transmigrated soul for each shevet. In Bereishis, when Yosef accused his brothers of being spies he said the words “Meraglim Atem” referring to his brothers, but it was to be taken literally. Their souls would in the future transmigrate into the spies of our Parsha. But when they reached the Valley of Eshkol the children of Yisroel were cut off (Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel) from the original sons of Yakov. Thus they no longer were 24 men. This is the meaning of the words “Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel-That Benei Yisroel were cut off from there.” The heavenly assistance was removed and they were left with only ten. It comes out from this that when the spies said the land is too difficult to conquer the people there are too mighty, they were right. It was impossible for them to overcome such obstacles. It was only with the help of Hashem that they would succeed. This is a very important lesson we need to learn here. Whenever we are faced with a daunting task and feel that it is impossible to achieve, we must begin, go forward and Hashem will send us the help that is needed.

   (13:30) “Vyahas Kaleiv es-Ha’am…Vayomer Oloh Naleh- Ki Yochol Nuchal Lo-Kalev silenced the people and said we shall surely ascend for we can surely do it.” Rashi says even if our destination would be heaven and he were to say make ladders and go up there, we would succeed in all his words.(Sotah 35a) What is the meaning of this Gemarrah? On a simple level Kalev meant even if the walls of the Canaanite cities are as high as the heavens as the spies are quoted as saying in Devarim (1:28) they would prevail. The Sefas Emes says that the spies understood that the time was not yet right to enter the Land. But it says in Koheles (3:1) “Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under heaven.” It is only under heaven, that is, within the realm of natural cause and effect, that man can calculate if the time is right for something or not. But Moshe ascended to heaven itself to receive the Torah. Under his leadership the intensity of Divine Providence over the nation of Israel was such that they could not be said to be under the heaven. This is what Kalev meant by saying “we could make ladders and go up there.” If Moshe tells us to do it, even to the heavens, that is even beyond the natural plane where cause and effect as we perceive it does not apply.

   (13:30) “Vyahas Kaleiv es-Ha’am el-Moshe- Kalev silenced the people to Moshe.” Why is Moshe mentioned? It could just have said Kalev silenced the people? Rashi says this enabled him to quiet the people. They thought he was going to speak against Moshe as the other spies had done. He said “is this the only thing that the son of Amram did?” He then proceeded to list all of the miracles that Moshe did for them. The Meshech Chochma explains it differently. We learned in the previous Parsha that Eldad and Meidad said prophecy that Moshe would not lead them into Eretz Yisroel. Up until this point all of their experiences had been through Moshe. Now that they heard he would not lead them into the land they feared that Hashem would not perform miracles in the same manner as before. This is the meaning of the words “Kalev silenced the people to Moshe.” He silenced their complaints about not being able to conquer the land without Moshe. “Vayomer Oloh Naleh- Ki Yochol Nuchal Lo- and he said we shall surely ascend for we can surely do it” Klal Yisroel can do it. We see this from the fact that during the entire forty years in the desert, while Hashem was angry with that generation, that Hashem didn’t speak to Moshe. It wasn’t until the entire generation died out that we find Hashem once again speaks to Moshe. We see from here that it was due to the merits of Klal Yisroel that Moshe was able to perform so many of the miracles.

   (14:24) “Vavdi Kolev Eikev Hoysah Ruach Acheres Emo-And your servant Kalev has a different spirit in him.” In this posuk it say's that Kalev had a different spirit in him and Hashem will be bringing him into the land. The question is what is this different spirit mentioned with regard to Kalev? The Kol Torah says that the posuk is referring to Miriam his wife. She had tremendous confidence in Yisroel plus a great love for the land. This aided Kalev to withstand the influence of the spies. Some believe that Kalev had a second wife as well. Basya Bas Pharaoh.

The Malbim says that this different spirit was acquired from his visit to the Moros Hamachpela. We see that the first thing he did upon entering Eretz Yisroel was to pray to the Avos for strength. Even though this was a dangerous endeavor. We learn from this that the dead have the ability to give strength to the living and affect our world. The words Ruach Acheres is equal to 823 in Gematria the same as Anachnu Benei Bonav Shel Avraham- We are descendants of Avraham. Kolev kept his connection to the Avos close to his heart.

We know that a Sheliach for a Mitzvah is protected. If so why were the Meraglim not protected? Perhaps we can say that since Kalev is called Hashem’s servant, only he remained true to his mission. The words Ruach Acheres equals 823 the same as the words Sheluchey Mitzvah Aynon Nezikim-A messenger for a mitzvah is protected.

The Arizal writes that he was a Gilgulim of Eliezer Eved Avraham. The words Ruach Acheres Emo equals 870 the same as B’Gilgul Neshamos-The transmigration of souls.    

   Why is Yehoshua not mentioned here since he too was able to enter into Eretz Yisroel? The answer is that just as Yehoshua delayed in his response to the spies’ slander, Midah keneged Midah Hashem delayed including him when he mentioned who would enter the land. We learn from here the gravity of delaying a Mitzvah. There is a story of a great Rav who visited one of his students in a dream after he passed away. In the dream he was standing at the entrance to Gan Eden but not going in. The student asked him why he was not going in? He replied that during his life he would not dress in his Shabbos clothing at the start of Shabbos, but would delay putting them on. His punishment for this was to stand at the entrance of Olam Habo and not enter until Shabbos morning.

   (14:34) “Arbaim Yom-Yom L’shana Yom L’shana-Forty days a day for a year a day for a year.” There is a famous rule written by the Ramban which states “Maseh Avos Simin L’bonim-The events of our forefathers are sign for the descendants.” Every event recorded in the Torah and particularly in Sefer Bereishis is the root of some future event. Where can this decree of 40 years of wandering be rooted? R.M’yuchas, a Rishon from Greece writes that when Yakov was being transported back to Israel for burial, the route they took was identical to that of Klal Yisroel while they wandered through the wilderness. The formation of the tribes was identical. The Egyptian people that accompanied them for the funeral were reminiscent of the Erev Rav that followed Klal Yisroel through the desert. The forty days it took to embalm Yakov correlates to the forty years they spent in the Midbar. In fact this would explain the double loshon used “Yom L’shana Yom L’shana- a day for a year a day for a year.” One day for the current sin, and one day for the sins of the past.

   Non of the Jews died before the age of 60 for their punishment was to die in the wilderness not to die prematurely. Therefore those who were 20 years old at the time needed 40 years to complete their punishment.

   Rabeinu Bachya writes that this is meant to teach us the mercy Hashem has even when He metes out punishment. It would have been impossible for the spies to cover the entire land of Israel in just 40 days. Therefore Hashem made a miracle that they would be able to accomplish this in that short of a time. Obviously Hashem knew in advance what the punishment was to be. He therefore made each days travel enough that it would cover a year.

     (14:34) “Arbaim Yom-Yom L’shana Yom L’shana-Forty days a day for a year a day for a year.” Really it should say a year for a day not a day for a year? The decree was to wander the desert for forty years? The word “Yom” is referring to the day Tisha B’av the one day of each year that Yisroel died. (Soforno)

   The night after the Meraglim returned and spoke Loshon Hora about Eretz Yisroel was the ninth of Av. They all returned to their tents and cried. Even the heads of Sanhedrin complained to Moshe saying that they would rather die in the desert than be killed by Idol worshipers in Eretz Yisroel. So Hashem said it will be as you wish. You will all pass away in the wilderness. Part of the punishment went to their son's, having to wander in the wilderness for forty years until all the men of that generation who were above the age of twenty reached sixty and died. Each year on the night of Tishabav the men who reached the age of sixty would dig their own graves and rest in them till morning. Afterward Moshe would call out “All those alive arise!” But still that generation was on such a very high level, having heard Hashem's voice at Har Sinai, that they resembled Angels and in death their bodies did not decay. For accepting Hashem's decree to the extent of preparing their own graves, their sins were atoned and they retained Olam Haboh.

   (14:40) "Asher Omar Hashem Ki Chatanu- That Hashem said we sinned." Many ask why their repentance was not accepted? They now we're saying " We are ready to go up to the place that Hashem has spoken, for we have sinned." From these words we see they were not sincere. If you connect the words "Hashem has Spoken" with the words " we have sinned" it reads; Hashem said we sinned, but we say we have done nothing wrong. Their Teshuva was not sincere.

The Parsha ends with the mitzvah of Tzitzis. (16:39) V'lo Sosuru Acharei L'vavechem V'acharei Eynechem-And you shall not spy after your heart and after your eyes.”What is the connection between this mitzvah and the Meraglim? Rashi explains that Tzitis are equal to all of the 613 mitzvos and the numerical value of the word Tzitzis equals 600. We add the eight strands and the five knots and come up with 613. The problem is that this is a very unusual way of using Gematria? It seems to be forced? But that is exactly the answer. Why does the posuk of Tzitzis first mention the heart and then the eyes? This brings us back to the beginning of the Parsha. The sin of the Meraglim was one of vision. They saw what they wanted to see. When they entered the land they had preconceived ideas about what they would find. They followed their hearts and subsequently their eyes found what they wanted to see. The same holds true about the Gematria. If you are looking for 613, for kiddusha then you will find a way to make it work.