12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” Avraham, the ultimate Baal Teshuva, is about to transform his entire being. Go to yourself M'artzecha-from your land- go from the physicality of this world, Moladditcha-from your birthplace-from the character traits you were born with. U’mibeis Avicha-From your fathers home-from all of the negative teachings that you were raised with.

   (12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” Hashem commanded Avraham to go to himself, to set out on establishing a name for himself and for Hashem. Most commentators include this as the third of the ten trials of faith which Hashem tested Avraham. In the very next posuk Hashem tells Avraham that he will make him into a great nation, bless him, and make his name great. What type of test is this? Being offered all these rewards, anyone would follow Hashem’s directives? Perhaps Hashem’s test was to see the true motivation behind Avraham’s actions. Would he perform the will of Hashem solely for the sake of Hashem, or for the rewards? Only Hashem can know the motivations of the heart. This could also explain another question about this test.

   According to Pirke D’Rebbe Eliezer the first of Avraham’s trials was having to hide underground from Nimrod for thirteen years, because he sought to kill Avraham for his beliefs. The second trial for him was being thrown into the fiery furnace again because of his beliefs, but he would not renounce Hashem. However the Torah never mentions these tests outright. The first mention of a test is the third one of “Lech Lecha” to uproot himself and move to another country. Why aren’t the first two mentioned?

   The Gemarra in Kiddushin (31B) says “Gadol Hametzuveh V’oseh M’me Sh’ayno Metzuveh V’oseh-Greater is one who is commanded to act and does so than one who is not commanded and does so.” Why isn’t a mitzvah performed voluntarily, when not commanded, a greater display of one’s desire to fulfill Hashem’s word than a mitzvah done when commanded? The ultimate level in performing a mitzvah is if it is done solely because it is the will of Hashem, without any ulterior motives. Even though doing a mitzvah when not commanded does display a great desire to do Hashem’s will to Avraham, it still stems from self-motivation and not Divine decree. This perhaps can answer the question of the first two tests not being mentioned in the Torah. Because they were not commanded to Avraham, by Hashem they didn’t show how Avraham performed the will of Hashem. They came from his own initiative. But the trial of “Lech Lecha” not only displayed Avraham’s performance of Hashem’s will, it showed how even in the face of reward, his motivations were pure. The ability to negate one’s self for Hashem is at the root of what a Jew is. The trial of “Lech Lecha” is the first mentioned in the Torah because it was the beginning of the process that would eventually correct the original sin of Adom. At least in some part, the sin of Adom was to second guess Hashem to believe that he could serve Hashem better through his own actions. Avraham placed into the spiritual genetics of Klal Yisroel this ability to negate himself to the will of Hashem. The words “Lech Lecha” equal 104 in gematria (including the letters) the same as the words “Nediv Leibo” (a giving heart).

   (12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” The parsha begins with Hashem telling Avraham to leave his home and that he will make him into a great nation, he will bless him and make his name great and “you will be a bracha.” In all there are seven blessings that were bestowed on Avraham at this time. This became the source for the “Sheva Brochos” we have for newlyweds to this very day. Just as Avraham left his fathers home to start a new life, so too newlyweds leave their childhood homes and embark on a new life, We therefore emulate the actions of Hashem when we perform a Sheva Brochos for a newly wed couple.

   (12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” The parsha begins with Hashem telling Avraham to leave his home and that he will make him into a great nation, he will bless him and make his name great and “you will be a Bracha.” Rashi says what it means when it says he will make you into a great nation is what we say in Shemone Esrei “the G-D of Avraham”, I will bless you, that is what we say “the G-D of Yitzchok”, I will make your name great that is what we say “the G-D of Yakov”. So Rashi goes on to say that you would think we should finish off with all of them. Meaning the Bracha in Shemone Esrei “Mogain Avraham” should end with “Mogain Avraham, Yitzchok and Yakov”. That is what it means when it says and you will be a Bracha. We finish off the Bracha with Avraham alone not the other Avos.  

The Kotzker Rebbe says this is talking about the end of time. There are three things that sustain the world’s existence. Torah, Avodah and Gamilas Chesed. Each of the Avos represented one of these Midos. Avraham was the Midah of Chesed. Yitzchok the Midah of Avodah and Yakov was Torah. You might think that since Klal Yisroel received these traits from the Avos, that they would endure, that these Midos would still be with us at the end of history. But we see that through the generations the Midah of Torah is diminished the Midah of Avodah is diminished. Only this Midah of Chesed is as strong if not stronger than it was in the past. More Tzaddaka is given nowadays then ever before in Jewish history. That is the meaning of “you will be a Bracha.” That Avraham's Midah of Chesed will be what sustains the world at the end of time. We are commanded to learn Torah. But how many of us will be the Gadol Ha’dor. However with regard to Chesed each of us have the capability to become giants in this trait. This is what will bring the Geulah,

   But there is another way to view this comment. R.Shimon Shkop interprets this in light of historical events that began to develop in his days. Each of the Avos has a character trait in which they excelled beyond the others. Avraham was unique in that he was brought up in a home that was devoid of belief in the true Hashem. He was thus a true seeker and finder of the spiritual truth. He was the originator of the first Kiruv movement, bringing people closer to Hashem. This is the intention of the words “B’cho Chosmin.” At the end of days it will be the “Chasimoh” the closing act, it will be Avraham’s trait that brings Moshiach, the final Teshuvah movement.

   (12:1) “Lech Lecha M’artzecha Umimoladitcha U’mibeis Avicha-Go to yourself from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house.” This is the first mentioning of the Ten trials of Avraham. The question is did he pass the test? According to the Ramban he did not. Hashem told him to go to “the land that He will show him.” Eretz Canaan, but as soon as he got there he became faced with a famine and left. Hashem never told him he could leave.

The Ramban maintains that had Avraham not left Eretz Yisroel no future generation would have been forced into exile.

   The Oznayim L’Torah writes that Avraham didn’t leave because of personal discomfort G-d forbid. But rather his concern was for his Yeshiva. Avraham was in the business of bringing people close to Hashem. As such he would make a lavish spread to attract people to his home. When the famine struck this became impossible for him to continue, so he left for Mitzrayim. This can help explain how Avraham could say to his wife as they were traveling down to Mitzrayim, “Imri Nah Achosi At L’mann Yitav Li Bavurech V’choysa Nafshi B’glalech-Say that you are my sister in order that it be well with me for your sake and that I may live on account of you.” Rashi says the words “L’mann Yitav Li” means “They will give me gifts.” Would we dare say that by mentioning the gifts first Avraham was more concerned with physical gifts than his very life? But according to what we said we can explain his words as follows. That it may be well for me (ie. the Egyptians will give me gifts) so that I may maintain my Yeshiva, then V’choysa Nafshi my life long mission may remain alive.

Lech Lecha B’gematria is 100. The blessings in the following verses, that he would become a great nation etc. would be realized when he would be 100 years old. When Yitzchok will be born.(Baal Haturim) Also Avraham was to be a Tikun for the previous generations. The Dore of The Mabel, The Dore Enosh, and the Dore Hafloge. The first letters of each of these generations are Mem, Aleph and Hey. Which spells Maeyah (100).

   The fact that Bris =612 in Gematria shows that the Mitzvah of Milah is equal to the rest of the Mitzvos in the Torah.

If Avraham did all the mitzvahs in the Torah, why did he wait until he was 99 years old before doing this Mitzvah of Bris Milah? The Gemarra in Kiddushin (31B) says “Gadol Hametzuveh V’oseh M’me Sh’ayno Metzuveh V’oseh-Greater is one who is commanded to act and does so than one who is not commanded and does so.”  Because doing a mitzvah when you are not commanded to is not as great as doing it when commanded. Since Bris Milah, unlike other Mitzvahs can only be done once in a lifetime, Avraham waited to be commanded.

We know that Avram could not have children. But Avraham could after his name was changed. What about Ishmael? He was already born at this point? And he was still called Avram?

The answer is that Avram feared he would have no son as an heir. Therefore Hashem assured him that Avram would not have a son who would be an heir but Avraham would. Another answer is that the astrological sign concerned Avram & Sarah as a pair could have no children. But Avram and Hagar was something else.

     (12:5) “Vayikach Avram es Sarai-Ves Hanefesh Asher Asu B’choron-And Avram took his wife Sarai and the souls that he made in Charan.” Did they make souls or did they teach students? Why are the students called souls? The Gemarrah says “Olam Chessed Yiboneh-the world is built on Chessed” And it points out that the Torah begins with Chessed and ends with Chessed. Following the sin of Adom and Chava Hashem expelled them from Gan Eden. He could have said you are on your own; I want nothing to do with you. But instead He made them clothes of leather. He showed them special care and concern. He extended to Adom and Chava a special Chessed.

   At the end of the Torah we read that Hashem personally buried Moshe Rabeinu which is called Chessed Shel Emes a true Chessed because the recipient cannot repay the kindness done to him. Hashem put into man the capacity to emulate Hashem. Just as He is kind, man has that capacity to be kind as well. There is a type of Chessed that is unique to man. An animal will show compassion and concern because that is how the Creator designed them. A mother cat will protect her offspring but that same cat will not protect the offspring of another. Humans however are completely different. They were given the free will to choose to do Chessed. This character trait was something that was lost in the generations prior to Avraham. It was supposed to be the hallmark of every human being not just the Jewish people. Instead man chose to be not like Hashem but to be like the other animals in the world, concerned only about himself, his own needs, his own desires, and his own survival.

   When the Posuk says “Vayikach Avram es Sarai-Ves Hanefesh Asher Asu B’choron-And Avram took his wife Sarai and the souls that he made in Charan.” It means that Avram and Sarah awoke in their students the divine qualities that Hashem instilled in the human race. They taught them how to care for more than just themselves, how to do chessed, how to emulate Hashem. Therefore Hashem rewarded them by giving their children a lifestyle of Torah and Mitzvos that trains them to do even more Chessed.

   The Shelah writes that the "Souls" refer to the souls created from intimacy that did not produce children. The souls that their intimacy brought down to this world were not in vain. They were placed in other embryos and these souls later went on to become converts.

   Why does the Posuk mention that they left the land of Canaan and they arrived in the land of Canaan? Avram and his family did not stop along the way but came directly to their intended destination. This is meant to point out the contrast to Terach who also left for Canaan but only got as far as Charan.(Radak/Soforno)

     (12:6) “V’Ha'Canaani Az B’Aretz- The descendants of Canaan were in the land.” This tells us they were conquering the land from the descendants of Shem who were given it from Noach after the flood. So when Hashem says he will give the land of Canaan to Benei Yisroel, he is giving it back to the rightful owners, since Canaan stole it from them originally.

   The question is why did they merit having possession of Eretz Yisroel? Why did they merit having it called by their name? Canaan was the cursed nation, how could they obtain the most blessed land? The Sefer Otzer Chaim quotes the Ramban and says that Hashem gave this land to Canaan for safekeeping. They should have been like an Eved to watch it for Yisrael. Avdus for Canaan was not only punishment but also a Tikun for him. Noach’s idea was that he would have a fourth son after the flood, which would be the Eved of the first three sons. They would be able to devote their lives to more spiritual pursuits free of worry. Just like Yissachar and Zevoulon. Cham ruined this idea so Noach cursed his fourth son, Canaan, to be an Eved to his brothers. However he would only remain cursed if he Canaan, wasn’t Machniya himself, humble himself to his brothers. If he would be their Eved as was Noach’s original plan, this Orur (cursed) would turn into a Boruch (blessed). He would be like Zevoulon (and Eliezer who turned into a Boruch). Eretz Yisroel fell into the hands of Canaan for safekeeping. Canaan was supposed to be the trusted Eved to Benei Sheim. Then he would have been called Boruch. The Canaanim were able to have the land stay in their name because of two instances where they did humble themselves. First when Avraham was purchasing the burial plot for Sarah from Benei Chayse, who were descendants of Canaan, it says (23:6) “Nesi Elokim Atoh B’sochainy-You are a prince of Hashem in our midst.” And again when heard that Klal Yisroel was entering the land, they turned towards them. Hashem said “You turned towards my children- I’m naming the land after you.”

   The word Az equals eight hinting that the eighth generation will conquer the land. (Midrash Hagadol)

   (12:7) “Vayereh Hashem Aylav...Vayiven Shom Mizbeach L’Hashem Hanireh Aylav-Hashem appeared to him...and he built an altar to Hashem who appeared to him.” The posuk seems repetitive. It starts off with Hashem appearing to him and ends off with the words “Hashem who appeared to him?” Also why didn’t Avraham build an altar after the first encounter, when Hashem told him to leave his home and he would be blessed?

Perhaps there, by the first encounter, he was still in Golus. Now after reaching Eretz Yisroel he was being drawn closer and closer to the source of Kiddusha. This is why the Torah keeps mentioning his traveling south. The Tiferes Tzion writes that Eretz Yisroel has different levels of Kiddusha. He was thanking Hashem for now being privy to a higher level of prophecy. Reaching Har Moriah he built an altar. The words Ha’Nireh Aylav-Who appeared to him equal 308 as does the words Zeh Har Elokim-This is the mountain of Hashem

   (12 :10) “Vayehe Rov B'aretz- And there was a famine in the land.” This was the first famine in the history of the world. Avraham was preaching the virtues of monotheism. Yet no sooner does he arrive at the land Hashem is commanding him to dwell in and the first famine breaks out! How difficult this must have been for Avraham to endure. How did the inhabitants of Canaan view him and his preaching when his arrival seemed to bring such misfortune. Yet Avraham never wavered in his faith.

     (12:11) “Vayihe Kasher Hikriv Lovo Mitzroymah Vayomer el-Soray Ishto Henei-Nah Yodaty Ki Isha Yefas-Mareh Ott-And it occurred, as he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, Now I know that you are a woman of beautiful appearance.” The Beis Halevy says that Man has the ability, through his free will to be able to affect nature. Man, through his actions can change the spiritual standing of the entire world. When there is a Tzaddik in the world his actions raise up everyone else. On the other hand someone who gives in to temptation, causes everyone else to be more susceptible to temptation. We can see this in terms of places too. If a person travels to a country that is prone to certain Averous he can find that he is suddenly drawn to that specific Averah. Not that he must submit to it. But it suddenly becomes an issue. It could be that this is what the Torah is telling us here. Egypt at the time was called “Ervas Ha’aretz.” It was the most promiscuous land of that time. The Posuk mentions, “as he was about to enter Egypt.” It was then that he noticed his wife’s beauty. It was only then that the impurity of Egypt began to have an affect on them. And only then that it became an issue.

   At the end of last week’s Parsha the Torah tells us that Sarah was barren. One of the reasons for this is that Hashem’s nation needed a new creation. There had to be a break from the past and it’s harmful influences. Only a completely fresh source could create a new family of Ovday Hashem.

(12:13) “L'man Yitav Li Bavurech- In order for it to be well with me for your sake.” Rashi says this refers to gifts. Avraham was certainly not concerned with material wealth. However being a great prophet he perceived how his actions would affect future generations. The Ramban writes the principal of “Maase Avos Simin L';banim-The acts of our forefathers are a sign for their offspring.” When the nation of Israel would leave Egypt, it would leave with great wealth. This was an outgrowth of the events that took place here. Just as Avraham became rich because of his wife, so too Klal Yisroel merited great wealth because of the righteous women of that generation. Just as Sarah emerged unscathed from her encounter with Pharoh, so too the women of Klal Yisroel were unharmed during their long servitude in Mitzrayim.

   (13:1) “Vayal Avram MiMitzrayim Hu V’ishto V’Chol Asher Lo V’lot Imo Hanegbah-Avram went up from Egypt, He and his wife and all that was his, And Lot was with them, to the south.” The words "Lote Imo" hint to the fact that when Benei Yisroel left Egypt the Erev Rav went with them.

The Sifsei Chachomim writes that Avraham told Sarah to say she was his sister and that they were looking for her missing husband. This would insure that she be left alone. Why then did Pharoh take her? He did not believe her and thought she was just trying to put him off.

   (13:7) “ V'ha'Canani V'haprizi Oz Yosheiv B'aretz-the Cananites and the Perizites were dwelling in that land at that time.” Earlier (12:6) the Torah mentions that the Canaanites were in the land but records it differently here? In our verse the word Yoshev is added. The Chasam Sofer explains that when there is strife amongst Israel, the nations unite in peace. But when Israel is united Hashem keeps the nations of the world busy feuding with each other instead of directing their attention against Israel.

   (13:14) "V'Hashem Omar el-Avraham Acharei Hiporad-Lote-Hashem spoke to Avraham after he separated from Lote." Hashem does not speak with Avraham until Lote leaves. Lote became corrupt after becoming wealthy from the Egyptian spoils. The fact that he left is significant because until now he was Avraham's only heir. Now, that not being the case, Hashem is promising Avraham children not being concerned that Lote would interfere.

   (13:17) "Kum Hishalech B'aretz-Arise and walk through the land." Previously the posuk says "View the land" The Kli Yakar writes That one was for spiritual acquisition, the other for physical.  

   (14:1) “Vayihi Bimai Amrafel- And it was in the days of Amraphel.” The word “Vayihi” is always a loshon of tzaar. This is because they were the first to shed blood in war. The story of the four kings beating the five kings is the first recording of war in history, but Avraham making a Mizbe’ach precedes it. (13:18) “Vayiven Shom Mizbeach la'Hashem-He built there an Altar to Hashem.” The first letters of each spell SHALOM (peace). Avraham sensed that a tremendous negative thing was about to occur. So he prefaced it with a sign of something positive. It is interesting to note that the name Amraphel comes from the words Omer-Pol that means the one who said throw. This is referring to Nimrod who said throw Avraham into the fiery furnace. How is this connected to the war between the four kings? Rashi brings down a Midrash that says when the king of Sodom was miraculously rescued from the slime pits, many nations that previously did not believe in the miracle of Avraham’s rescue from the fiery furnace now believed. It was through the defeat of Amrapel(Nimrod) that the previous miracle became validated.

   The Midrash says that when Avraham was commanded to do Bris Milah, he consulted with three friends. Aner, Eshkol and Mamre whether to do it publicly during the day for a Kiddush Hashem or to do it secretly at night to avoid remarks by scoffers and to avoid attacks by his enemies. Aner told him “It’s dangerous you’re too old. Don't do the Bris at all.” Eshkol agreed with Aner. Only Mamre was encouraging and showed his Emunah by telling Avraham that as Hashem never forsook you in the past (the furnace, the war with the kings etc.) you should definitely listen to him here. His reward for this good advice was that Hashem said he would only appear to Avraham in “Alonai Mamre.”

   “Vaagadla Shemecha I will make your name great.” The Midrash says that Avraham minted a coin that was accepted throughout the world, a distinction held by only four people: Avraham, Yehoshua, Dovid and Mordechai. The coin had the likeness of Avraham and Sarah on one side and Yitzchok and Rivkah on the reverse.

   (14:12) “Vayikchu Lote, V’es Rechusho, Ben Achi Avram- They took Lote, and his possessions, the son of his brother. The order seems strange? It should read - “They took Lote his nephew, and his possessions.” The entire war was only because Lote was Avram’s nephew. This was a spiritual war against Avram who was drawing men away from idolatry. Hashem incited the kings to this invasion in order to aggrandize Avram’s name through their defeat and all would be attracted to the service of Hashem.

     (14:13) “Vayovo Hapolate-And there came the one that had escaped.”Rashi explains that this refers to Og who escaped the flood. The question is how he could have lived as long as he did being that he was a wicked person? His longevity was his punishment. Hashem punished him for wanting to kill Avraham by allowing him many years to see all of the offspring that came from Avraham.

     (14:15) “Vayaicholek Lohem Laylah-The night was divided for them.”Rashi writes that the night was divided in half. One half for saving Avraham, the other half to be set aside for the night of Pesach. The question is how are these two events connected? The Kol Torah writes that since Avraham unhesitatingly rushed to help Lote even though Lote openly abandoned Avraham's belief's, Hashem rewarded Avraham's descendants by saving them even when at times they were not worthy.

   The night was divided, light for Avraham and dark for the four kings. This later became part of Yetzias Mitzrayim. As it says during the plague of darkness "The children of Israel had light in all of their dwellings."

   (14:20) “Vayitane-Lo Maaser M’kol-And he gave a tenth of everything.” Avraham gave a tenth to Malchitzedek the king. How could that be when we know that Avraham didn't even take a shoestring from the spoils? One answer is it wasn't Avraham who gave the tenth but the king gave him a tenth. Another answer is that Avraham rescued the spoils and they became his possessions. He then gave the tenth but then afterward gave him the rest as well.

   Why did Avraham take from the king of Mitzraim but not from the king of Sodom? How did he know that Hashem was not making him rich through this? Avraham knew that Hashem's blessing would not come through human suffering. Since the king of Sodom was giving these gifts in gratitude for being rescued, Avraham knew it wasn’t Hashem’s blessing. But Pharoh gave gifts in order to gain favor from Avraham.

   (15:4) "Lo Yirash Zeh-This one will not inherit."Why is Avraham concerned? Hashem has already promised him offspring? Chizkuni writes that this answers Avraham's concern that at his advanced age, even were he to have a son, he would be raised by Eliezer.

   What would be wrong if Eliezer continued Avraham’s mission? Rashi comments that he was Doleh U’mashkeh-He preached Avraham’s monotheistic vision?” The next Posuk Hashem takes Avraham outside and tells him to gaze at the stars. What is the connection? Eliezer could repeat everything he learned from Avram, but never introduced anything new. Hashem thus says “your descendants will be like the stars.” Meaning just as each star has its own light to contribute, so too will be your offspring.

   (15:16) “Ki Lo Sholaim Avone H’Emorie Ad Heina-For the sins of the Emorite will not yet be full until then.” The fourth generation will return, but not until four hundred years. What was the sin of the Emorim? They saw the Egyptians slaughtering innocent children, enslaving a guiltless people with backbreaking servitude and did nothing to aid the victims. This should serve as a warning to the nations of the world who stood by while the Nazis built furnaces to burn six million innocent Jews. They witnessed without protest, doing nothing to save the victims.

(17:13) “Himoel Timoel es Yelid Baiso-He that is born of your household you shall surely circumcise. Chazal say that when Avraham was commanded to perform the Bris Milah he asked advice from Mamrei. How could Avraham have asked advice? The Midrash says that Avraham circumcised many babies before circumcising himself, but they all died, until his friend Mamrei advised him that it was only once he circumcised himself that he was permitted to circumcise others. This can be derived from the Posuk (17:13) “Himol Yimol Y’lid Beiso- You shall surely Circumcise all those born in your house.” Implying that one who has been circumcised may circumcise others. (Rosh)

   (17:26) “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh-On that very day.” On the day that Avraham did the Bris Milah it says “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh.” This day was the tenth of Tishrei (Yom Kippur). Every year Hashem sees the blood of Avraham's Milah and forgives all the sins of Yisroel. But if this day was Yom Kippur how was he able to perform the Bris Milah? The only time Milah can overrule Shabbos or Yom Tov is if it is preformed on the eighth day. Since this the Bris Milah was being done when Avraham was 99 years old, why was it done on Yom Tov? This could explain why the term “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh” is repeated in (17:23) and (17:26). The Torah wishes to emphasize that the bris took place on that very same day, the day that Hashem commanded him. Since it was the day that Avraham received the command it was equivalent to Bris B’zmano (circumcision in its proper time) and therefore permitted on Yom Tov.

   (17:26) “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh” is not listed ( Rashi in Devarim) as one of the three times this statement is mentioned in the Torah. The first being by Noach going into the Teivah, the second by Yetzias Mitzraim and the third by Moshe's death. It could be that these other three times involved an action by Hashem where his will was being challenged, whereas here it was a test for Avraham. Avraham thought that publicizing the Bris Milah might alienate the very people he sought to bring close to Hashem. Perhaps it would be better to do the Bris Milah at night or in private. In the end he performed the Bris Milah “B’etzem Hayom Hazeh-On that very day In broad daylight despite what others would say.

   We are not allowed to call Avraham - Avram after Hashem changed his name. A reason for that could be that if you add the names of Avraham Yitzchok and Yakov it equals 13 letters which equals Echod. (Hashem) If you use Avram without the letter Hey it is taking away from Hashem's name. In addition if you add the names of the Matriarchs it equals 13 as well. Combined they equal 26 again the name of Hashem.


(1:1)“Ayleh Ha’Devorim-These are the words. This is the only Sefer that begins with “Kol Yisroel” and ends with “Kol Yisroel” We begin the fifth Sefer of the Torah in the fifth month of the year. This corresponds to the fifth level of the Neshama. There are five levels of the soul. Nefesh Ruach, Neshama, Chaye & Yichidah. Yichidah, the final level, is oneness with Hashem. It is the most hidden of all the five levels and is the level that will be revealed in the future. After each of the four exiles another level was revealed. We are now in the final exile, that of Yishmael, and what will be revealed, will be revealed to Kol Yisrael-To all of Israel. Every member of Israel will experience his own redemption. The long exile of Edom that we have endured, was only endured in the merit of Torah. However the final exile will require Tefillah-Prayer to combat the strength of Yishmael’s prayers. Perhaps this is why the Sefer is called Devarim-words. Because in the final days it is the words of our Tefillos that will be most desired by Hashem.

    With this we might explain Moshe Rabeinu’s sin, that of the missed opportunity to sanctify Hashem’s name by speaking to the rock to draw water. Before entering the land of Israel, Hashem wanted a display of the power of words. Thirty-Eight years earlier it was negative words that prevented them from entering the land. Now Hashem gave Moshe the opportunity to correct the sin of the spies with words. “Shehakol Nihiye B’devoroh-All exists through His word.” would have new meaning upon entering the Holy Land. But that revelation was never made.

  Sefer Devarim is usually read in the fifth month of Av the Shabbos before Tisha B’av called Shabbos Chazon-The Shabbos of Vision. The entire Sefer is one of Moshe’s vision. Concealed in his words, the future is veiled. Scattered throughout, the secrets  of the final redemption await us.

    (1:1)“Ayleh Ha’Devorim-These are the words. The first words of the Sefer Devarim infer that “these” words are different from those that came before. What the Torah wished to stress was that only these words were said by Moshe without having to be commanded by Hashem. Whereas the first four books were said by Hashem himself including every single letter and detail.(Ohr Hachaim)

   The question is how can the Ohr Hachaim say this? The Gemarrah in Sanhedin says that if a person believes that the entire Torah is from heaven except one Posuk he is considered to have dishonored the word of Hashem. How can he say that Moshe said the entire Sefer of Devarim? The Kli Chemdah say's that Hashem gave the first four books to Moshe just as Hashem said them. But in the sefer Devarim Moshe expanded on the explanations of some of the Mitzvos himself. Afterwards Hashem commanded him to write the entire Torah down including Moshe's direct words.

   Now if Moshe said these words why are they not in chronological order? The reason is because all of the sins that Moshe recounts are all alluded to and not mentioned directly. The order was another attempt to spare the honor of Benei Yisroel.

   This Sefer was said on the last days of Moshe’s life. He began to speak to Klal Yisroel on the first day of Shevat and we know that he died on the seventh day of Adar. This means that this was the last thirty-six days of Moshe’s life. The Ohr Hachaim writes that this is alluded to in the word “Ayleh” which has the numerical value of thirty-six.

     The question arises as to why the Sefer Devarim is Moshe’s own words? What lesson are we meant to extract from this? We know that these were the last days of Moshe’s life. As such he had elevated himself to become the most complete human being that ever lived. Moshe Rabeinu was the model of what man can achieve. He went from a Kevad Peh-a heavy mouth, an inability to speak, to an orator whose words became part of the Torah. These words, according to the Abarbanel, are actually the oldest source of the Oral Torah extant. Moshe was on his last days, doing the Mitzvah of expounding on the written Torah.

    Sefer Devarim is called Mishneh Torah-The repetition of the Torah. Mainly because most of the laws contained in it have already been said or hinted at in the first four books. But according to what we have just said perhaps we can see a deeper understanding. When a person is Nifter the relatives left behind learn Mishnayos for the sake of that departed soul. The reason for this is that the letters of the words Mishneh are the same as that of the word Neshama. This highest form of Gematria is when the letters of two words are actually the same but just rearranged It would then come out that  calling Sefer Devarim - Mishneh Torah, means that this Sefer is the Neshama of the Torah, the soul of the Torah. How do we understand this?

   The soul is what gives life, what animates the physical body. The first four books are the body of the Torah. Sefer Devarim is the soul. It is the repetition of the written Torah expounded by man. The Torah unread and unlearned has no life of its own. However what Moshe accomplished in his final days was to set the example for us to follow. This is our mission, to give Torah life. By taking the written Torah and expounding upon it, by bringing out the depth buried in each and every letter, the Torah comes alive.

    We always read this Parsha on the Shabbos before Tisha B'av. The Gemarrah in Brachos says that since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh the Shechina is only found in the Daled Amos Shel Halacah-The four cubits of law. May we be worthy and able, through Torah study, to restore Hashem’s presence to the Mokom Hamikdosh speedily in our time.

   (1:5) “B’Ever H’Yardain B’Eretz Moav Hoyel Moshe B’aer es H’Torah-Across the Jordan in the land of Moav Moshe began to expound the Torah.” Why did Moshe wait until now to clarify the Torah? The Torah was received 38 years prior? The Chasam Sofer explains that Moshe knew that he was standing upon land that was elevated in Kiddusha equal to that of the Holy Land. The air of the Holy Land makes one wiser, he therefore felt it was an opportune time.

   (1:5) “B’aer es H’Torah-Moshe began to expound the Torah“ Rashi explains it means in 70 languages. Why would they need to hear the Torah in a language they don’t understand? The word            Loshon can mean 70 facets of Torah. (         Oznayim L’Torah)

   (1:11) “Yosef Aleichem Kochem Eleph Pamim-May Hashem add to you one thousand times.” Why did Moshe need to add to Hashem’s blessings? One answer is that Moshe’s blessings were unconditional wear as Hashem’s was dependent on merit.  Another answer is that Hashem’s blessings were for the future while Moshe’s were for this world.

   (1:14) “Vatomru Tov Hadovor Asher Debartah Lasos-You said it was good that which you proposed.”  When Moshe recounts the advise he received from his father in law Yisro regarding the appointment of judges, he said; “You decided the matter for your benefit.” Rashi says they should have said “ Our teacher Moshe! From whom is it better to learn, from you or from your student?” 

Moshe was aware of their thoughts. They knew Moshe was beyond reproach. If they would get an unfavorable judgement they could not bribe Moshe. So they were pleased with the plan suggested by Yisro. But it wasn’t just a matter of respect for Moshe Rabeinu, The teaching they would have received from Moshe was on a level that no other could come near. His light came from the Ohr Haganuz  He was the spiritual conduit to connect the Torah to this world. This is why, in Parshas Mattos, Moshe did not teach the laws of purifying vessels to the returning Jews after the war with Midyan. After seeing  the soldiers bringing back Midianite women, who had been the source of the problem in the first place, Moshe became very angry. This anger cost him his prophecy and resulted in the laws being taught by Elozar Hakohein instead. We know that the difference between Moshe and Yehoshua was compared to the difference between the sun and the moon. 

  By not learning the laws of Kashrus from Moshe, we lost vital information about the exile and how to survive it. Just as heat causes the taste to become absorbed in the walls of a vessel, requiring heat to remove it, likewise the heat of anger and the heat of passion cause a Jew to become more absorbed in exile, necessitating heat, or difficulties to extract him from exile. The greater the heat, the greater the absorption and the more severe the process of kashering.

   Taught by anyone else all that would get through would be the basic laws of Kashrus, not the message of the exile and how to avoid it.  Hence for more than 3,000 years we have been absorbed into exile, into our host societies, and in need of kashering. With Tisha B’av coming we need to recall all of the kashering we have undergone in exile until this point and contemplate the importance of Moshe Rabeinu even now. After all it will be his neshama that will be reincarnated into the Moshiach to guide us towards the end of days.

   (1:15)  “V’Ekach es Roshai Shivtaichem-So I took the heads of your tribes.”When Yisro gave his advise he gave Moshe seven qualifications. Here Moshe only mentions three? To teach us that a person does not need all of the qualifications to be accepted as judge.

   (1:22) “Vayachperu- Lanu es-Ha’aretz-Let them spy out the land.”  The term “Vayachperu”  is an unusual term. To spy out the land is usually said using the word “L’sur” However the word “Vayachperu” has the connotation of seeing negatively. The spies went to seek out the negativity of the land. This is the lesson Moshe was teaching as he admonished the nation.

  The Benei Yisroel was commanded not to do battle with the descendants of Essau because of the tremendous Kibud Av that Essau had for his father. Hashem was paying Essau his due in this world in order not to have to pay him in Olam Haboh. The question is if Essau really paid his father such respect why was he being paid only in this world? The Tiferes Tzion answers that the reward for a mitzvah depends on the motives of the person fulfilling it. If he is only doing it to satisfy his moral feeling of what is right instead of for the mitzvah, Hashem rewards such an act in this world. Since Essav honored his father only for this reason and not for the mitzvah, his descendants were only rewarded in this world.

   (1:22) “Es H’derech Asher Naalehu Bah-The road on which we should ascend.” Why did they need to determine which route to take if they had the clouds leading them? They heard Moshe say “Go up” excluding himself! Plus after the prophecy of Eldad and Medad saying Moshe would not be bringing them into the land, they lost faith.

  (1:36) “Zulasi Kalev Ben Yefuneh Hu Yirenah-Save for Calev Ben Yefuneh he shall see the land.”  We find that once again Yehoshua is not mentioned together with Calev as being the only one’s permitted to enter Ertez Yisroel. Rather two Posukim later the Torah writes (1:38) “Yehoshua bin Nun H’Omaid Lifanecha Hu Yavo Shama-Yehoshu bin Nun who stands before you, he shall come there.” In Parshas Shelach, as well, we find Yehoshua not mentioned the first time that Hashem reveals who will escape punishment from the incident of the spies. (Bamidbar 14:24) Only the second time the Torah mentions the exclusion from punishment does it say “except for Calev ... and Yehoshua.” (Bamidbar 14:30)

    Yehoshua was treated Midah Keneged Midah (measure for measure) because at first when the Meraglim spoke against Eretz Yisroel he did not speak up. He let Calev refute what the spies were saying. He assumed they would not listen to him because he was Moshe’s disciple. Only later did they both rent their clothing and say “The land is very good.” This is why he is mentioned separately. Another reason could be because he was the one who was destined to replace Moshe in leading the nation into the land. Therefore he thought they would assume he was biased when it came to speaking about Eretz Yisroel. Actually it was his appointment as leader that facilitated his being forgiven for his sin of not joining Calev at first in “following Hashem wholeheartedly.” The Talmud Yerushalmi explains “three are forgiven for their sins, one who becomes a bridegroom, one who converts and one who is appointed to a position of leadership. (Bikurim 3:3) R.Zalman Sorotzkin

   (1:44) “Vayetze Ho’mori-And the Amorim came down.” After the Meraglim return with their negative report about the land of Israel many Jews decided to attempt to go up into the land to conquer it even though they were told that Hashem would not be with them. Moshe is saying here, that the Amorim came down and battled them. The question is that if we look in Parshas Shelach (14:44) we find that it was Amalek and Canaan that battled them not Amorim? The Sharei Aahron answers this question by saying the following. Amalek and Canaan were at the bottom of the mountain the Amorim were above. When the Posuk says they went out it means that they informed the Amalekim of the fact that Klal Yisroel’s approach was imminent. Amalek therefore went to do battle with them. The reason why Amalek was mentioned in Parshas Shelach was because they were the ones who actually fought. What Moshe is telling us here is the real reason behind that. It was the Amorim who instigated the battle.

  (1:45) “Vatoshuvu Vativku Lifnei Hashem-You returned and wept before Hashem.”Generally the gates of repentance are not closed to the tears a person cries to Hashem. Nevertheless here the tears were not shed for repentance but out of self-pity.

   (2:3) “Penu Lochem Tzfonah-Turn your faces north” The Kol Torah explains this to mean advise  for surviving Golus. Keep yourselves hidden. The word Tzafune can also mean Kabbalah. The advise being to survive the long exile we must keep the Torah fresh therefore turn to that which has richness and depth. Kabbalah.

   (2:6) “Ochel Tishbru M’itom  B’Kesef V’Ochaltem V’Gam Mayim Tichru M’item B’Kesef U’Shsisem- You shall purchase food from them for money and eat it, also water shall you buy from them for money and drink it.”  It would seem somewhat redundant to say that the food and water purchased should be consumed? Why else would it be purchased if not for consumption?  The Sefer 

Ka’aras Kesef writes that Yisroel did not need to buy food or water from them. But Hashem commanded this in order for them to realize that they lacked nothing. All of the years that they were in the Midbar being sustained by the well of Miriam and the Munn from heaven, nothing was lacking. They tasted the water that they purchased and the food they bought, and found that what Hashem provided was superior to it. Hashem wanted them to appreciate what they had.

   (2:25) “Hayom Hazeh Achel Tais Pachdecha V'yirasecha al-Penei Ho'amim Tachas Kol-hashmayim-This day I will begin to put the dread and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the heaven.” What is the meaning of “This Day” and “under the heaven” Hashem had been performing miracles for Yisroel all along? What makes this day exceptional? Rashi says that Hashem caused the sun to stand still at noon for 36 hours. This was because they had just encountered Moav and Edom and left them unscathed. They had requested permission to cross their lands but were denied. It could have appeared as if they were incapable of conquering them. If they were now to face the seven nations of the land of Canaan that had 31 kings surely they would not succeed? Hashem therefore made this miracle now. The stopping of the sun signaled that their deity was under Hashem's rule and that Hashem was willing and able to battle on Klal Yisroel's behalf.

   (3:21) “Ves-Yehoshua Tzivisi B’ase Ha’he- I commanded Yehoshua at that time.”Out of the 31 times the name Yehoshua appears in the Torah, this is the only time it is spelled with an extra letter. The letter "Vav". R. Dovid Feinstein explains the extra letter to refer to prayer. Yehoshua had exceptional powers of prayer. Had he harnessed that power at the time he led the nation into the land he would have been able to do what the members of the great assembly did hundreds of years later, eradicate idolatry. For this reason he authored the second half of "Aleinu" which speaks of exactly that. A supplication for the abolishment of idolatry from the world.

Sefer Devorim is the only book since Bereishis that does not begin with the letter “Vav”. This is the only place in the Torah where the name of Yehoshua is spelled with an extra “Vav””perhaps the “Vav” that was missing from the beginning of the Sefer. Moshe is telling Yehoshua “Your eyes have seen everything Hashem has done to these two kings, so will Hashem do to all of the kings where you cross over. Do not fear them for Hashem, your G-d will wage war for you.” Hashem, will wage war for you, but you must remain connected to Hashem. That is the Vav H’chibor - the letter of attachment. If you remain connected to Hashem He will do battle for you. Perhaps we can suggest that at this point Moshe was commanding Yehoshua to become his replacement and just as he had added a letter of Hashem's name, the "Yud", to his name when he sent out the spies, changing Hoshea to Yehoshua, so too here he is adding another letter of Hashem's name to strengthen him for his new role. As the Parsha ends "Ki Hashem Elokeichem Hu H'Nilcham Lochem-Hashem your G-d He shall wage war for you.

   The Gematria of the name Yehoshua equals 391 in its normal spelling. The same as the phrase Gadol V’Atzum Mimenu-Great and stronger than us. This follows the world of Tevah, the laws of nature. By the laws of nature the 31 kings were bigger and stronger than us. But the name Yehoshua spelled with the extra “Vav” equals 397 in Gematria. The same as the phrase “Ki Hashem Elokeychem Hu H’Nilcham Lochem-Hashem your G-d will wage war for you.”



(33:1) “Ayleh MasseyBenei Yisroel-These are the journeys of the children of Israel.”   Why  is  the  name  of  this  weeks  Parsha called Massey, which refers to the traveling, when what the Torah really describes here is the camps that were set up? Also in the  very  second  Posuk (33:2) it says “Vayichtov Moshe es-Moitzaeyhem Le’Maseyhem Al-Pi Hashem V’Ayleh Maseyhem L’Motzaeyhem- And Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashem and these were the journeys according to the goings fourth.” Why is the  order  of   their  travels  reversed  from  the  way  it  appears  in  the  beginning?  The  Ohr Hachaim writes  that  the  going  fourth  was  for  a  purpose.  It  was  meant  for Yisroel  to  seek  out  sparks of  Kiddusha  that are trapped in a shell of Tumeh that make their home in the Midbar. It is the mission of Klal Yisroel to release them from this source by traveling through such places and acting as a magnet of Kiddusah to bring them back to their rightful place. According to the Zohar these sparks could be captured only while actively journeying not while they were encamped. Therefore it was the travels that the Torah mentions not the stops.

   According to this we can understand why the Torah wrote “their goings forth according to their journeys” They were going away from the physicality of their experience in Mitzraim and towards the spirituality of their journeys which was gathering in Kiddusha. R.Bachya sees the reverse repetition of this phrase as an allusion to the future redemption. What this means is that in the future it will be our “journeys according to the goings fourth”. The journeys ie. the long Golus, will be what will bring us to the eventual redemption. This is why according to the Megaleh Amukos the Roshe Tevei of the first words of the Parsha represents the four exiles we have endured. Ayleh Massey Beni Yisroel. Alef- Edom, Mem –Modai, Beis – Bavel, Yud – Yovan.

   (33:2) “Vatichtov Moshe...Al Pi Hashem-Moshe wrote ...At the bidding of Hashem.”What precisely did the Torah want to teach us here? Why do we need to be told that Moshe recorded these departures, Moshe wrote the entire Torah? According to the Ohr Hachaim it appears that the Torah wanted to inform us that Moshe did not record all these journeys on a single day, but that he recorded them as they occurred. He began recording when he was instructed to make Yisroel leave Egypt. He took notes of each departure and every encampment. Here Hashem told Moshe to include these private notes he had made in the Torah in the order he had previously recorded them. What the Torah describes here is a copy of all the notations made by Moshe throughout all these years.

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

   What was the purpose of recording all of these journeys? Perhaps it was to make Jews aware of how temporary any dwelling outside of Israel really is. To be a Jew is to be on a journey. That is how the Jewish story began when Avraham first heard the words “Lech Lecha”to leave where he was and to travel “to the land I will show you”. Every journey was to grow, to change. We are all on a journey. Without the journey, we do not grow. And life is growth. There is no way to avoid challenge and change. Life is a journey, not a destination. We should constantly set ourselves new challenges that take us closer to our goal. 

   (33:4) “U’Mitzrayim M’Kabrim-The Egyptians were burying” Why does the Torah need to mention this fact? This day designated the start of a new era, the era of the Weiss nation. Likewise the Egyptians had reached the end of their era. Thus burying their dead.


   The parsha lists forty two journeys that Klal Yisroel traveled in the Midbar. On the surface the number 42 doesn’t seem to have any special significance.  But as it says in Devarim  Lo Davar Rake Mikem –The Torah is not an empty pursuit from you.”  Meaning if there is something we cannot understand it is from you, our deficiency not the Torah’s.  The number forty two corresponds to the forty two letter name of Hashem. We also say a special Tefilah “Anah Bekoach” which is said before going up in Kiddusha. This tefilah has seven lines each containing six words. Forty two is “Mem Beis” which stands for Masseh Bereishis which the forty two letter name of Hashem is derived from. Also this Parsha is considered the end of the Torah since Devarim is really referred to as Mishneh Torah (repeating of the Torah). It therefore comes out that  the Torah begins with the letter Beis and the last parsha  begins with a mem together equaling 42.

    The Sefas Emes writes that in reality there were fifty journeys if you include the eight journeys backward that Klal Yisroel made when Aharon died. He then explains that the purpose of all these travels was to raise the nation from the fifty levels of Tumeh they were sunk into back in Mitzrayim Each journey elevating them another level. We can say the same with regard to Shabbos. In the lunar calendar there are fifty Shabbosim. Each Shabbos raises the spiritual level of the nation.

   The two tribes, Reuven and Gad wanted to take their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan River. But we also see that half of the Shevet Menashe was also given this area as a Yerusha? Why were they given this area? They had not been the ones who requested it in last weeks Parsha? Also why half of the tribe? It would seem that the Shevet Menashe were Talmidei Chachomim and that their presence was required for the sake of the other two tribes who needed to be close to a source of Kiddusha. The reason why only half of the tribe was sent there was because of an old debt that had to be repaid. When Yosef's son Menashe pursued the Tribes to demand back the goblet his father had planted there, he became the direct cause of the brothers' rending their clothes. Middah-Kineged-Middah (measure for measure) his portion was torn in half. Half of his inheritance was in Eretz Yisroel and the other half on the eastern side of the Jordan. In the future all the tribes will be in possession of a portion in Eretz Yisroel proper for Trans Jordan will be Eretz Yisroel proper.

   Why these two tribes chose to settle in a land less holy than Eretz Yisroel can perhaps be traced back to their spiritual roots. When was conceived his father Yakov thought he was joining with Rachel and his thoughts were to father his firstborn Yosef. But he was tricked by Lavan. This slight blemish became the spiritual seeds of his son Reuvein. Gad, as well was conceived with a slight spiritual blemish. When his mother Leah thought she had stopped giving birth, she gave her handmaid Zilpah to Yakov. Later on we find that she once again gave birth to another tribe. Had Gad been conceived by Leah there would have been enough spiritual might to have conquered Amalek. We see that Leah had the power of prayer and was able to overcome Essav. When she was younger people said that The elder daughter of Lavan was destined to marry the elder son of Yitzchok. She prayed not to fall into his hands and her prayers were able to overcome Essav.

   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  


  (30:3)  Ish Ki Yidor Nedar L’Hashem-When a man pledges a vow.” The Parsha begins with the Mitzvos of Nedarim. Since the last Parsha dealt with Korbonos of Yom Tov the connection between the two is that when a person vows to bring his Korbon he is obligated to fulfill his promise on the coming Yom Tov, when he visits the Beis Hamikdosh.

   The Sefas Emes writes through a vow Yisroel were given the power to endow an object with Holiness by mere words. This is one of the most elevated powers that man is capable of and is why it was placed near the end of the Torah.

           Regarding the Chet of the Eigel, Hashem swore to destroy whoever worships powers other than Hashem. Moshe in defense of Klal Yisroel reminded Hashem of the laws of annulling vows that he had taught him on Har Sinai. Moshe was described as “Ish Ha'elokim” he was privileged to be able to annul vows made by Hashem like an “Ish”/husband.

  (31:2) “Nikom Nikmas Benei Yisroel…Acher Teyasef El Amov-Avenge the revenge of Benei Yisroel..then be gathered to your people.” Moshe is told by Hashem to avenge Benei Yisroel against the Midyanim and then you will be gathered to your people. Moshe knew he could have prolonged his life by delaying to do this Mitzvah, but still he did not hesitate but immediately prepared the army for battle. In contrast when Yehoshua was told he would not die until the entire land of Israel was parceled out, he reasoned it would be to their advantage if he delayed defeating the thirty one kings in the land of Canaan. He knew that after he dies Benei Yisroel would have a downfall morally. As long as he was alive he could guide them. By delaying Benei Yisroel's settling in Eretz Yisroel, the land that has ten types of Keddusha, Hashem, Midda-Keneged-Midah made short by ten years the life of Yehoshua.

   The question is what connection is there between the avenging of Midian and Moshe’s death? Both are bound by the same posuk. The Gemarrah in Sotah writes that when Klal Yisroel sinned with the daughters of Moav they worshiped the idol Baal Peor. Moshe destroyed this idol and sunk it into the ground. Moshe Rabeinu was buried opposite this idol.  Each year on the anniversary of that sin the idol rises from the ground to accuse Klal Yisroel anew.  When it sees Moshe’s burial place it is returned back to the ground. This is the meaning of the Posuk when it says “Nikom Nikmas Benei Yisroel…Acher Teyasef El Amov-Avenge the revenge of Benei Yisroel..after being gathered to your people.” The word Acher literally means after. Moshe was to take revenge on Midian even after leaving this world.

   Billem was killed in this battle against Midian. What was Billem doing in Midian? When he discovered that his advice to seduce the Jews had caused the death of twenty four thousand Jews, he traveled to Midian to collect his fee. This would cost him his life. When the Jews, who were outnumbered, miraculously overpowered the enemy, Billem knew that he must flee. He used his powers of magic to attempt to save himself by enabling both he and the kings of Midian to fly. He flew up until he reached the Kisay Hakovod. Pinchas followed him there and raised the tzitz upon which were the words “Kodesh l'Hashem”. Billem and the kings fell to the earth and Pinchas killed them with his sword. Benei Yisroel killed the men if Midian but left the women alive. This angered Moshe because it was the women that caused them to sin. They marched all the women of Midian past the Tzit, whereupon the face of those guilty turned green and were killed.

    (32:1) “U’Mikneh Rav Haya L’benei Reuvein U’Libenei Gad –The children of Reuvein and the children of Gad had abundant livestock.” Thus begins the chapter of the request for land on the other side of the Jordan. The Benei Gad and Benei Reuvain asked for their portion of the land to be outside of Eretz Yisroel. How could they do this? They would be giving up almost half the mitzvos of the Torah? Secondly why was half of Shevet Menashe included in this deal? They never requested to be split in half? Thirdly the daughters of Tzelafchad had previously shown such intense desire for the land that the laws of inheritance were redefined in their honor. And yet we find that they wind up not receiving the land after all? They were from the tribe of Menashe that were split in half. Rashi in Bereishis (49:22) brings a Midrash that claims the daughters of Tzelafchad received land on the other side of the Jordan. They were asked to only marry within their tribe and wound up settling across the river outside the land. How can we understand this after all the struggles they went through and the love they had for the land?

     The answer lies in what seems to be a question of faith. The truth is that the questions being posed at the end of the 40 years in the desert were not any more agreeable to Hashem than the concerns raised by the nation 40 years earlier at the time of the Spies. In both instances the questions seemed to reflect on a lack of faith and trust in Hashem. Whether issues of strategy and warfare, or land divisions and pasture land, the assumption should have been that Hashem would provide the nation, the tribes, and each individual with exactly what they needed. If the tribes of Reuven and Gad happen to have large herds requiring pasture land one of two things should have happened. Either they would discover that their allotted portion in the Promised Land was sufficient for their needs; or, they would have to adjust their holdings to accommodate their apportioned section. The notion of asking to annex the trans-Jordan area to better accommodate their cattle holdings suggested a lack of trust and faith in G- d. That is why Moshe’s immediate response to their request was to accuse them of doing the same thing that the Spies had done! (31:10-16) However, the daughter’s of Tzlaphchad were the perfect contrast to the request of Reuven and Gad. They willingly placed their personal destinies in the hands of Hashem’s law. Whatever Moshe would rule in their case they would accept. Had Moshe ruled that they would not inherit their father’s portion of land they would have accepted Hashem’s decree. To their benefit Hashem informed Moshe that they could and would inherit their father’s portion. However, at the end of Bamidbar they were informed that it was conditional on their not marrying outside of the tribe of Menashe. This too they accepted unquestioningly as the law of Hashem. For the Daughters of Tzlaphchad, Hashem’s law defined what was in their best interest. If it wasn’t Hashem’s wish it could not be to their benefit. If it was Hashem’s wish it had to be for their benefit. Beyond Hashem’s law there were no other expectations or needs.

   Menashe was the older of Yoseph’s two sons. We are told that he was the “translator” at the time of Yoseph’s encounter with his brothers in Egypt. We are further told that Menashe was the one who spent more time with his father in issues of government and administration. Ephraim, on the other hand, appears to have been more involved in scholarly pursuits. I believe that we can conclude that Menashe was better trained to withstand the influences of the non-Jewish world than his brother Ephraim. Moshe attached Menashe to the tribes of Reuven and Gad because Menashe had the qualities of his father in surviving alone among the nations. It was Yoseph who remained so connected to the teachings of Yakov that he not only maintained his own level of righteousness, he was even able to raise his sons to such devotion that Yakov said, (Ber.48:5) “Ephraim and Menashe are to me like Reuven and Shimon!” To make sure that Reuven and Gad would maintain their levels of commitment and devotion in spite of being away from the rest of the nation Moshe sent ½ the tribe of Menashe to support them and protect them. Furthermore, as we saw from the Daughters of Tzlaphchad, the tribe of Menashe was endowed 

with a special love for Eretz Yisroel (Rashi 27:1). The love of Menashe for Eretz Yisroel would balance out the self-imposed distance of Gad and Reuven.

    The lesson of the end of Bamidbar is very obvious. Eretz Yisroel is ours because Hashem gave it to us to use in His service. We must trust that He provided us with all the necessary tools to accomplish our individual and collective missions. Adjusting Hashem’s plan to fit our concept of what we need or what should be stems from a lack of faith in Hashem and the acceptance that whatever we have is exactly what we need. It wasn’t by coincidence that the daughter’s of Tzlaphchad were born into the tribe of Menashe and that Menashe was the tribe Moshe trusted to balance out his concerns for the tribes of Reuven and Gad. It wasn’t by coincidence that the last words of the Torah (Sefer Devarim is basically a repetition of the first four books) teach us this lesson of faith in Hashem and the acceptance that whatever we have is exactly what we need.

    (32:1) “U’Mikneh Rav Haya L’benei Reuvein U’Libenei Gad –The children of Reuvein and the children of Gad had abundant livestock.” There is perhaps another approach to understanding the motives of these two tribes. The Benei Gad and Benei Reuvain asked for their portion of the land to be outside of Eretz Yisroel. How could they do this? They have waited over 200 years for this moment. They stood at the border of Eretz Yisroel and rejected it sight unseen? They would be giving up almost half the Mitzvos of the Torah? Secondly why was half of Shevet Menashe included in this deal? They never requested to be split in half; they never requested a portion of that land.

    If we look at Moshe’s response perhaps we can gain a new insight to this story. (32:20) “Im Tasun es Hadovar im Teichaltzu Lifnei Hashem-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…Five times the words “before Hashem” appear in this passage. What is Moshe trying to convey? We find the words “Lifnei Hashem- before Hashem” in Tehillim (96:13) ““Lifnei Hashem Ki Voh, Ki Voh Haretz Lishpot Teivel B’tzedek Vamim Bemunaso- Before Hashem he will have arrived, he will have arrived to judge the Earth, He will judge the world with righteousness, and peoples with His faithfulness.” The Posuk speaks of the time in the future when Moshiach will come and the entire world will see Hashem. The veil upon which Hashem is hidden in this world will be removed. Hashem will be visible in every tree and rock. Then He will judge the faithful. How does this connect to the request of these two tribes?

   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.”

    If this is correct, what went wrong? Why did they not bring Moshiach? In verse (32:24) Moshe tells them"V'Hayotze Mipichem Ta'asu-What comes from your mouths you shall do." They said they would be the vanguards, they would all arm themselves and lead the battle to conquer the land, they would all remain away from their families until the land was distributed and settled. However in verse 32:32 they say the following; "Nachnu Navore-We shall crossover" The abbreviated form of the word Anachnu is uncommon, and always has the connotation that something is missing. There are three places in the Torah where this deficient word is used.

(Bereishis 42:11) when Yakov's sons appeared before Yosef and said"All of us,sons of one man are we." (Nachnu) Because they meant to say there were two more brothers who were not with them. The "we" was incomplete.

(Shemos 16:7,8) Moshe and Aharon used this word to say V'Nachnu Moh "What are we?" Because there too, there is a connotation of something incomplete, "We are nothing".

 Here they originally intended to send the entire army across the Jordan to fight alongside their brethren. Moshe warned them to keep their word. They said (32:27) "V'avodov Yavru KOL-Chalutz Tzava L'fnei Hashem-And your servants shall cross over every armed person of the Leigon before Hashem." But when it came to actually going their response was (32:32)"Nachnu Navore Chalutzim-We shall cross over armed." Leaving out the word KOL.  

    Why did these two tribes, in particular, have vast herds of cattle? We know that Shevet Gad had a special closeness to the Munn. They ate the Munn exclusively not partaking in any other foods. Therefore their flocks remained untouched growing larger and larger over the 40 year period. Shevet Reuvein was the first born. He thus received a double portion of his fathers inheritance thereby giving him abundant cattle as well.

  (32:16) “Vayomru Gidros Tzone Nivneh L’Mikneinu Poh V’Arim L’tapeinu-They said we will build protection here for the cattle and cities for the children.” We find in Moshe’s response that he reverses the order saying that first they should look after the children and then take care of the cattle. Implying that they had their priorities wrong. However the Kli Yakar explains that 

this was a strategic move. If they would be attacked, the cattle would be the first point of contact giving them time to secure the children. Moshe, on the other hand reversed it saying by placing the children first you will be displaying your faith and lack of fear.

     According to the Or Hachaim the request was asked in a strange way. They said “Haretz Asher Hekah Hashem-the land that Hashem smote”? The reason that they made their request in such a way was so that their claim would not raise any objections from the other tribes. If the people as a whole had conquered the land in question by what right would they have to claim it for themselves? Secondly how could they have imagined that these two tribes would be allowed to live securely in a land that had already been conquered while the other tribes would have to face a war in order to secure their heritage? Therefore these two tribes were careful to make their request in such a way as to neutralize these objections. They said “Haretz asher hekah Hashem- The land that Hashem smote.” The tribes could not have any objection that the people as a whole had conquered it because that was not the case. Hashem did battle for them as a result these lands were Hashem's to allocate. As far as the second claim of their living securely, they said that such an argument would only be sound if Benei Yisroel had to conquer the Canaanites by their own effort. Seeing that Hashem was to do battle for them, the conquest of Canaan would proceed the same way as the lands of Sichon and Og. Therefore the other tribes were in no greater danger than before. As far as them requesting land outside of Eretz Yisroel the Rambam writes that the land of Israel comprises of every place conquered by a Jewish king or prophet provided that such a conquest had met with the approval of most of the nation. However if an individual or even a whole tribe had waged war on their neighbors and conquered even part of their land it would not be considered part of the Holy land even if the territory in question had been part of the lands promised to Avraham by Hashem. “In this case it is clear that since it was Hashem himself who had conquered the lands for them that it should be considered equal in terms of Kiddusha.

   The Arizal writes that Reuvein and Gad were never meant to receive a portion in Eretz Yisroel. they had a spiritual defect from birth and the land of Israel would only accept spiritually pure souls. When Yakov married Rochel, he was tricked into consummating his marriage with Leah instead. Therefore when Yakov was with Leah, his thoughts, after 84 years of abstaining from relations, was on Rochel. This caused a slight blemish in Reuvein’s spiritual genes. When Leah saw that she was no longer having children she gave her handmaid Zilpa to Yakov without telling him. The result was the birth of Gad. She was wrong for had she waited she would have given birth to Gad and once again there was a slight blemish in the spiritual genes.

   This leaves us with half the tribe of Menashe. Why only half? Yosef married Osnas, the child of Dinah and Shechem. Dinah had been rapped by Shechem and gave up the child produced from that union. Osnas wound up at the home of Potifar and became Yosef’s wife. Therefore when Yosef had two sons his spiritual genes went into Ephraim and Menashe, but part of Menashe received a slight defect from his mother which resulted in that tribe being split.

     (32:18) "Lo Noshuv El Botainu Ad Hisnachel Benei Yisroel es Nichaloso-We shall not return to our homes until the children of Israel will have inherited every man his inheritance."   In doing so they were adding an additional seven years before they could return to their homes. What was the purpose of adding more then Moshe commanded them to do? The Ohr Hachaim writes it was to show that they will not contest giving up their portion of land in Israel proper. The Emek Dovor says it would seem improper to have them settled in their land,, across Jordan while the rest of Israel were waiting to be settled.


There are only five Parshios that are named after people. Noach, Yisro, Balak, Korach and Pinchas.  The first letter of each name adds up to the gematria 242 the same as the word L’ora for light. Each one of these figures brought light, by way of a dramatic change to the world as a result of their actions.

   (16:2) "Vayakumu Lifnei Moshe- They rose up before Moshe. Anshe Shem-Men of renown." Rabbeinu Bachya raises several questions in connection with this whole episode. Firstly, how can we explain that Moshe, the loyal Shepherd of the people, who had repeatedly interceded on their behalf when the people had sinned, in this instance instead of interceding on their behalf when actually demanded an extreme penalty for the instigators? Why did he not spend his energy instead to get these people to repent their error? After all, there is no sin so severe that it cannot be expiated through sincere repentance by the Sinner?

    Furthermore why would their children, their babies, be mentioned as part of their sin? Surely any minor children of Doson and Avirom should not be held responsible for their parents actions?

   In order to do justice to these verses we must take a Kabalistic  approach involving the transmigration of souls. (Sod Hagilgul) This is where souls that have done great things, whether positive or negative, are returned to this world. Either to assist a worthy person to achieve a great undertaking or to be given an opportunity to correct certain sins of a past life. This is hinted to in the words of our verse. Anshe Shem-Men of renown." A similar expression was used in the narrative of the Tower of Bavel. (Bereishis where they are quoted as saying "Let us build a city and a tower whose top will be in the heaven so that we will make a name for ourselves." Onkelos translates "Vayikach Korach" as "V'espaleg" as in Dor Haflogeh. As a result Hashem scattered them across the globe and confused their language. The second chance given these souls was in Sodom where the verse hints to the "Men of the city, the men of Sodom" (19:4) The people of the city were the people of Sodom! Their evil actions caused Hashem to send  Malachim to destroy the entire area. Here in our verse we encounter the third and final chance given for these souls to redeem themselves. But they failed. When during Moshe's generation these people repeated their gross disobedience to Hashem a third time, Moshe does not pray for them to be saved because this is their third strike. Even their children must be removed for they had no further chance to expiate their sins, no further transmigration of souls. This too is hinted in the words "Vayakumu Lifnei Moshe- They rose up before Moshe". It should have said "Vayakumu el Moshe" instead we have the word "Lifnei-Before" What Moshe now faced had already happened before Moshe's time. (Rabeinu Bachya)

   The Mishna  in Pirkei Avos (5:17) says “A dispute that is for the sake of heaven is destined to endure- A dispute that is not for the sake of heaven is not destined to endure. Which is a dispute for the sake of heaven? The dispute between Hillel and Shamai. Which is a dispute that is not for the sake of heaven? The dispute between Korach and his company.” It would seem that the comparison is not equal? It should have said the dispute between Korach and Moshe? Not Korach and his followers? However when there is a dispute not for the sake of heaven they only can see one side. In their eyes there is no other side. When the aim of dispute is victory, both sides lose. Korach dies and Moshe’s authority was tarnished. But when the aim is the truth both sides gain. To be defeated by the truth is the only defeat that is also a victory.

   The first Machlokes in the Torah was (Bereishis 1:16) when there were two luminaries“Vayas Elokim es Shnei Ha’Moros Ha’Gedolim-And Hashem made the two great luminaries.”Rashi says they were both created equal “The light of the moon is equal to the light of the sun” But the moon was reduced when it complained that two kings cannot rule with one crown. The word Machlokes in Gematria  is 584, the same as the root of the very first Machlokes Ohr Ha’Levana K’Ohr Ha’Chama-The light of the moon is equal to the light of the sun.

   (16:1) “Vayikach Korach-And Korach took.” What exactly was it that he took? The Posuk does not mention anything being taken. Rashi says that it means he took himself to one side. Or possibly he took the leaders to one side, opposing Moshe. But perhaps we can suggest another explanation. The Arizal writes that the name Moshe, which equals 345 is the equivalent to the names Korach and Hevel. What does this mean? We know that after the sin of Adom the Torah tells us that Chavah had two additional children. Kayin and Hevel. They were the offshoots of Adom’s original personality but they were two opposite brothers. When Kayin was born his mother said “Ki Kanisi es Elokim- I have acquired a man of Hashem.” He was a man of Kinyin of acquiring. The name Kayin equals 130 the same as the word Hakanah to acquire. He was a taker who took for himself. When he brought a Korban for Hashem he brought inferior produce and kept the best for himself. Hevel on the other hand was the opposite. His name means nothingness, mist or smoke. He had completely given over of his personality. He took no initiative on his own. When the Torah mentions his sacrifice it says (Bereishis 4:4) “V’Hevel Heivi Gam Hu-And Hevel also brought.” meaning that if not for the fact that he saw his brother attempt to come closer to Hashem, he never would have thought of it on his own.

    Korach knew that he was a reincarnation of Kayin, so in order to fix, to be the Tikun for that Neshama, he felt that he had to take on some of his character traits. If you take the names Kayin (160) and Hevel (37) they equal 197. What was lacking in Korach’s view was the Kehuna which is what he sought for himself. The word L’kahano equals 111 which when added to the numerical value of Hevel and Kayin complete the name Korach (308).

    But Korach took too much for himself as Moshe said (16:7) “Rav Lochem Benei Levi-You have taken too much for yourselves sons of Levi.” The words “Vayikach Korach-And Korach took” equals 432 in gematria. They have the same numerical value as the words “Hamin Haeitz-From the tree” (Miluy) which is the phrase used after the Chet of the Eitz Hadas. What he took was the negative aspects of Kayin.  (The Eitz Hadaas.) 

   (16:1) “Vayikach Korach ben-Yitzhor ben-Kahos ben-Levi.” The Parsha begins by stating the lineage of Korach but stopping short of including Yakov. Rashi say's that Yakov prayed that his name would not be mentioned with Korach. The question is what difference does it make if Yakov’s name is mentioned? We still know that he was his great grandfather? Not mentioning his name does not erase his lineage? The Oznayim L’torah asks this question and gives the following answer. Yakov risked his life to obtain the birthright from his brother Essav. The privilege of performing the sacrifices in the temple could not remain in the hands of his firstborn brother. He therefore engineered its transfer to his descendants. This would have been a tremendous argument for Korach to use. He could have argued that in his claim for the priesthood he was acting in the same manner as his grandfather. This is what Yakov prayed for. He prayed that his name be not mentioned ie. That these ideas not enter into Korach’s mind.

   The Ibn Ezra explains that there is a deeper meaning in this. Korach's rebellion was an even greater attack on Yakov than it was on Moshe. In Parshas Toldos we learned that Yakov was the first to challenge the Bochor. He did this three times. First acquiring Essav's birthright then again by transferring Reuven's birthright to Yosef and finally by choosing Ephraim over Menashe. So if the firstborn had a claim as Korach maintained then the selection of Yakov over Essau as the chosen people should be void.

   The Midrash tells us that Korach saw that in the future his descendants would be great people. He therefore assumed that his claims, to replace Aaron must be correct. What he didn't see was that his descendants would do Teshuva. If Korach was so smart why didn't he think of this possibility? In addition when Moshe came to prove who Hashem had chosen he said, “If these men die a normal death than I am not sent by Hashem, but if a new form of death is brought into the world then you will know that all of these things have come through Hashem not me.” Why was there a need to have this new type of death? Why couldn't Hashem just create a plague as before?

    There is a type of spiritual genetics that a person gives over to his descendants. If a person reaches a 

certain level of Kiddusha, in some form this is transferred over to his offspring. The same is true of the negative aspects of a person’s actions. This too is passed on to his descendants. Korach thought that if his descendants were able to reach such high levels of Keddusha it must be due to the fact that they were not burdened by the negative baggage that he himself passed down. They would not have been able to do this if his attempt at the Kehuna was so wrong. Because even Teshuva would not be able to totally erase the tremendous negative acts that Korach had done. This is why a new type of death had to be created. A type of death that could wipe out any traces of negative spiritual genetics. So his descendants received a new start and were therefore able to reach the great levels that Korach envisioned.

   The question that emerges from al of this is how could Korach have such descendants? If indeed he was so off the mark with his Machlokes, how could he have produced a Shmuel Hanavi? R,Salant suggests that every act a person does is rewarded even if unintended. Korach caused there to be a tremendous Kiddush Hashem in the world. Even though this was not his intent, never the less, his act had to be repaid.

   The Shem M’shmuel asks why didn’t the merit of Korach’s great descendants protect him from his fate? The Gemarrah in Sanhedrin (104B) writes that “A son provides merit for his father.” Why, then, could their merit not stand for him to save him from punishment? The answer is found in another Gemarrah (Yoma 85B). The general principal in the laws of Teshuva:”One who says I will sin and then Yom Kippur will atone, Yom Kippur will not atone.” Korach’s mistake was rooted in the fact that he saw the future greatness that would come from him. Korach used this foreknowledge of his noble descendants to justify his sinful activities. Thus while a son may provide merit for his father, this principal can only be applied if the son is not the cause of that sin.

   (16:2) “Anshei Sheim-Men of renown” This phrase can be read as “Men who were experts in using the Sheim Hamiforesh. The words “Anshei Sheim-Men of renown”is 701 in Gematria the same as the words Megaleh Amukos-To reveal the depths.

   (16:22) “Vayomru Kael Elokai Ha’Ruchos L’Chol Basar Ho’Ish Echad Yechtah-They said G-d of the spirits of all flesh, shall  One man will sin.”  This reference to Hashem as “G-d of spirits of all flesh” is very unusual. Plus the phrase “shall one man sin” is in the future tense, but they had already sinned? R.Shimshon Astropolia writes that this is a reference to Yeshu. The word “Ho’Ish”  equals 316 the same as Yeshu.  He is the one who will sin in the future. The connection begins with Kayin. The ground that opened to accept the blood of Hevel now opened to receive Korach. The initial letters of Kayin  are Kuf Yud Nun and stand for Korach, Yeshu, Notzri. The idea behind this connection is that all three attempted to negatively change the world.

   (16:30) “Im Beriyah Yivrah Hashem- If a creation Hashem creates.” The Ohr Hachaim say's that these words are incorrect. It should have read “Im Hashem Yivrah Briyah-If Hashem creates a creation.” When Hashem created the world he created the mouth of the Earth. But after Hevel was killed and the earth accepted the spilled blood it was punished. The mouth of the earth was not permitted to open again until now by this incident with Korach. This is why the Posuk say's Beriyah Yivra, since this was a creation that had already existed but was restrained until now. The Shem Meshemuel say's that part of the Neshama of Hevel was reincarnated in Moshe. We have learned in Bereishis, Hevel became deserving to be the first man killed because when his Korban was accepted by the Shechina he gazed at the fire that came down. Moshe corrected that chet when he turned aside from gazing the Shechina at the burning bush. Korach had the blood of his brother on his hands. So it comes out that the Earth was now able to correct that Chet of accepting Kayin’s blood here by swallowing up Korach.

      (16:30) “Im Beriyah Yivrah Hashem- If a creation Hashem creates.” Moshe proclaims a test to prove conclusively that he acted only at Hashem’s command. The question is how would this be different then all of the other miraculous displays performed by Hashem through Moshe? The Maharal explains that this opening of the earth was no mere earthquake. Rather this was an event that was planned from the very beginning of creation. The Mishnah in Avos lists this as one of the ten things created on the eve of the first Shabbos at twilight. What the nation witnessed was so terrifying that no one could doubt the veracity of Moshe’s actions. When the earth opened up its mouth the entrance to Gehenom rose up to the earth’s surface and swallowed these men alive. If someone tried to flee, the opening of the earth pursued them. They saw what no living man had ever before seen.

   (16:3) “Vatikalu al-Moshe V’al-Aharon Vayomeru Rav Lochem-They gathered together against Moshe and against Aharon and said “It is too much for you.” Korach in accusing Moshe of taking too much for himself by appointing his brother as the Kohein Gadol, uses the words  Rav Lochem- It is too much for you. Moshe in reply accuses Korach of the same and even uses the same words. This perhaps we can say is the key to understanding what was Korach’s mistake? He argued that all of Yisroel stood at Har Sinai and heard the word of Hashem, therefore all of them are holy. Was this not true? Korach’s mistake was in the fact that he wished to negate the unity of the Torah. Chazal say that no individual can fulfill all 613 Mitzvos. There are Mitzvos that only apply to a Kohen and others that apply only to a man. It is only by being a collective unit that we can achieve this. Korach’s argument was divisive. He saw each individual as not being a part of the whole. In his lust for power and honor he was willing to sacrifice the lives of the 250 men plus Dathan and Avirah. Moshe had said that they each should bring a fire pan but only one of them will survive. Korach believed that he would be the one chosen but he did not care about the lives of the 252 men that would perish.

   This is why the punishment perfectly reflected his sin. For one who sees his fellow man only as an object to advance his own personal goals will in the end swallow anyone who stands in his way. This is why the earth swallowed him up. The very fact that the earth can provide a firm base for man to tread upon depends on the unification of each individual grain of sand into terra-firma. One who denies the need for this unity causes the grains to break apart and finds he himself swallowed up in it.

   The words Rav-Loch- You have taken too much hints at these 252 men that Korach caused to perish. The words Rav Loch B’gematria equal 252.

 (16:3) “Vatikalu al-Moshe V’al-Aharon Vayomeru Rav Lochem-They gathered together against Moshe and against Aharon and said “It is too much for you.” This is one of the most ludicrous charges that could have been leveled against Moshe. Everyone knew Moshe's humbleness. The Torah itself testifies to it. How could Korach make such a claim? We can see from Moshe's response why Korach picked the charge that he was an honor seeker. Moshe in reply accuses Korach of the same and even uses the same words. "Rav Lochem- It is too much for you." The reason is because of something the Talmud teaches us in Kiddushin (70a) "Kol Haposel, B'mumo Posel". When a person invalidates a person he invalidates him with his own shortcomings. In other words what Korach said about Moshe said more about Korach himself than it did about Moshe. This is why Korach chose this ludicrous charge that Moshe was an honor seeker. It is precisely because it was Korach himself who was seeking honor that he projected this personality fault onto Moshe.

   (16:27) “Unisheihem, Uveneihem, Vtapom- And their wives, and their children and their infants.” Rashi says that normally underage children are not held responsible until either 13 or 20 years old, yet here even the infants were punished? The reason is Machlokes-arguments. This comes to show how severe dispute is. These words are difficult to accept. Why would an innocent child need to be killed? Perhaps we can say that these were children that were never meant to be.The Posuk Rashi comments on are only referring to the children of Datan and Aviram. Datan and Aviram should have died in Mitzraim during the plague of darkness as did 80% of Klal Yisroel were it not for the fact that they were spared merely to serve as a counter balance to Moshe Rabeinu. This finally came to a head in the dispute with Korach’s men. Now that they are gone there is no need for their line to continue.

  (17:20) “ Matehu Yifrach-The chosen staff will sprout.” Hashem told Moshe to collect one staff from 

each tribe and place them in the tent of meeting. The tribe that is the chosen one will sprout almonds by morning. This would remain stored away for the future in case anyone would attempt to contest the priesthood. The numerical value of the words Matehu Yifrach equals Moshiach. The Hebrew word for almond is Shekaidim which has the same numerical value as the word Chashmonayim the future descendants of Aharon who upheld the Kiddusha and honor of Hashem.

   (17:23) “V’hinei Porach Mateh-Aharon...Vayigmol Shekaidim-Aharon’s staff blossomed and grew almonds.” After witnessing the miraculous events that just occurred, the earth opening, the fire descending, how could there still be any doubt? What's more how could the blossoming of almonds compare with an event that had been planned since the creation of the world?

   Perhaps we can say that until now everything they had witnessed was an angry response. Fire, death, earthquakes. Here for the first time they were witnessing a benevolent G-D. The blossoming of a dry piece of wood, this miracle would not only not destroy, it would remain fresh for thousands of years. If in the future the priesthood was ever again challenged this staff would be brought out with the fresh almonds still attached. This was a sign that the nation could relate to.

   What is the significance of almonds? Rashi says that they are the ones that grow quickest, just like the Kohen Gadol who must be quick in his service to Hashem. In addition, the letters of the word for almonds is Shekaidim. If you rearrange the letters of the word Shekaidim it spells Kedoshim. Aharon and his descendants were the carriers of Kiddusha in this world. This is what the almonds represented.

   (17:26) “Vayaas Moshe Kasher Tzivah Hashem Oso Kain Asah-Moshe did as Hashem commanded him, So he did.” Moshe is instructed to place the staff of Aharon before the Ark of testimony as safekeeping, as a sign for anyone who might think of rebellion. Why would I think that Moshe would not do as Hashem commanded? There are only three times in the Torah where these words are found. Here is the first. Later on in (20:27) it is repeated when Moshe is told to bring Aharon up to Har Hahor to die. And the last place is when Moshe is told to install Yehoshua as his replacement. In the later two cases we can clearly see why Moshe would hesitate completing Hashem’s words. But why in our Posuk should Moshe not be willing to comply? The Oznayim L’Torah writes that the following Posukim attest to what was happening. Klal Yisroel was complaining “We are all lost, everyone who approaches then Tabernacle will die.” On the surface these words seem hard to comprehend. As the Oznayim L’Torah explains what they were saying is if you place the staff of Aharon in the Holy of Holies we will never see it, and if we contest the priesthood we will die. On the other hand if we enter the sanctuary to see the staff we will die. Either way we are lost. Moshe’s response was not to listen to the nation but rather obey the word of Hashem. If a miracle is a daily occurrence it loses it’s uniqueness. Hashem therefore commanded that it only be brought out when absolutely necessary.


  (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 

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 L’Hoshea 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 YemeyBekurei 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) “V’avdi 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.