Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 15   No. 35

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
HaRav Dovid ben Avraham z"l

Parshas Bamidbar

A Month to Settle Down
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

The K'li Yakar, commenting on the opening Pasuk in the Parshah, points out that, whereas the Pasuk here relates that G-d spoke with Moshe in the Ohel Mo'ed, a similar Pasuk at the beginning of Vayikra, speaks about Him calling Moshe from the Ohel Mo'ed.

He cites Rashi (Naso 7:89), who addresses a similar discrepancy (between the Pasuk there and the Pasuk in Vayikra), and who after citing a third (compromise) Pasuk, goes on to explain that although Moshe entered the Ohel Mo'ed, G-d's Voice did not speak to him there, but from the Kodesh Kodshim, from the lid of the Aron.


The K'li Yakar however, accepts both Pesukim at surface value. And he resolves the apparent discrepancy by ascribing them to two different times. In Vayikra, he explains, G-d spoke to Moshe from the Ohel Mo'ed, whilst Moshe stood outside, because it was said on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, when the Cloud of Glory, which had just descended, was still resting on the Ohel Mo'ed, preventing Moshe's entry. Whereas in the current Parshah, which refers to Rosh Chodesh Iyar, one month later, when the Cloud had settled in its place in the Ohel Mo'ed, and disappeared from view, Moshe was able to enter the Ohel Mo'ed, and that was where G-d spoke to him.

Interestingly, Rashi himself gives a similar answer (though not quite the same) at the end of Pikudei.


In the current Parshah, the Torah has already specified the location, when it says "in the Desert of Sinai", and the reason that it adds "be'Ohel Mo'ed", says the K'li Yakar, is to give the reason for the census that is about to take place, namely, the Hashra'as ha'Shechinah (the resting of the Shechinah) in the Ohel Mo'ed. The words 'Hashra'as ha'Shechinah' imply on a fixed basis, and like we find with regard to a person becoming a member of a community, the minimum time period for this is thirty days. Consequently, although the Shechinah came down on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the census was only called for Rosh Chodesh Iyar.


And the connection between the census and the Hashra'as ha'Shechinah, explains the K'li Yakar, begins with the Chazal, which teaches us that the Shechinah rests on a minimum of twenty-two thousand people (see Rashi in Beha'aloscha 10:36), corresponding to the Camp of the Levi'im and that of the Camp of angels who descended on to Har Sinai at Matan Torah. That is why it was necessary to count Yisrael, to ascertain that each tribe contained that number for the Shechinah to rest on them.

But the story does not end there, for, as the author points out, Rabeinu Bachye writes in this Parshah that wherever the Shechinah rests, there you will find the four Camps (Micha'el, Gavriel, Uriel and Refa'el). On the other hand, the Seifer ha'Pardes speaks of twenty-eight camps of the Shechinah. It would seem, says the K'li Yakar, that he arrives at that number, by ascribing the Glory of G-d, with its four camps, to each of the seven Clouds of Glory, making a total of twenty-eight camps. Multiplied by twenty-two thousand, this add up to six hundred and sixteen thousand., and it was this number to which the Camp of Yisrael needed to correspond which indeed they did, if we add the twenty-two thousand members of the tribe of the Tribe of Levi on to the six hundred and three thousand of the twelve tribes (the author himself explains the extra nine-thousand).


Engagement & Marriage
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

Based on various statements of Chazal and the Medrash, the K'li Yakar explains how the giving of the Torah is considered the engagement of K'lal Yisrael to Hashem, whereas the completion of the Mishkan was their wedding. Hence the Pasuk in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah "Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe, moroshoh Kehilas Ya'akov", on which the Chachamim comment 'Do not read "moroshoh", but 'me'orasah' (betrothed). And Hashem betrothed them, not with a ring, but with the Torah.

Then, when the Mishkan was finally set up, the Torah writes "And on the day when Moshe finished setting up the Mishkan ", on which Rashi comments (based on the word "ke'Chaloso") that 'Yisrael were handed to G-d like a Kalah to a Choson (on their wedding day)'. It was the day that they set up house together, as it were - in the House of G-d.

And it is due to the above sequence that the Torah sees fit to insert the date that this Parshah took place. Why is that? Because as we learn from Lavan, the minimum period between the engagement and the marriage is ten months (see Vayeitzei 24:55) - perhaps G-d was in a hurry to wed His beloved K'lal Yisrael (Kevayachol) and could not wait the full year - and as, the Gemara teaches us in Kesubos (8a), the time-period of a wedding is thirty days. Consequently, seeing as the engagement between G-d and Yisrael took place on Rosh Chodesh Sivan (the day they arrived at Har Sinai), the ten month period, during which time Yisrael had time to prepare the twenty-four books of T'nach - the bride's ornaments, terminated on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, when the Mishkan was set up (the wedding), and the thirty-day period, on Rosh Chodesh Iyar (the day about which we are currently speaking). And this is the day on which the wedding-period ended, the day on which G-d wrote Yisrael the Kesubah (i.e. Eretz Yisrael), to ascertain the date from which their right to claim came into effect, from the purchasers (the seven nations of Cana'an), who became obligated to pay when Yisrael claimed it.

Alternatively, if one reckons the ten months from Rosh Chodesh Tamuz, when G-d handed Moshe the Luchos, then the ten-month period will terminate directly on Rosh-Chodesh Iyar. And in the event that Yisrael, on account of their sins, would be exiled from the land, they would be able to reclaim it with their 'document', seeing as it predated the rights of whoever would subsequently take it over.

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Parshah Pearls

Every Census is Different

" by number of the names count them according to their hosts, you and Aharon" (1:2/3).

The Torah mentions "by number of the names", comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, to stress the fact that Yisrael retained their Jewish names in Egypt (one of the major merits that enabled the redemption to take place). That explains why it does not occur in the census in Pinchas, which took place in the fortieth year, long after the Exodus from Egypt.

And the reason that Aharon was not involved in the first census in Ki Sisa, he explains, is because he was responsible for the Eigel ha'Zahav, which was the reason that they needed to be counted in the first place.


Why Begin with Reuven

"And Reuven, the firstborn of Yisrael were (in number) " (1:20).

The Torah needs to add "the firstborn of Yisrael", says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., to explain why it is they and not Yehudah (who traveled first) who was the first to be counted.


The Head-Count

"And Reuven, the firstborn of Yisrael were (in number) by number of the names according to the head-count " (Ibid.) The Torah adds this by Reuven and Shimon, says the Da'as Zekeinim, because Ya'akov Avinu scolded them, and they needed an atonement - and the word 'head count' (Gulgo'les) is mentioned in connection with the half-Shekalim, which came to atone.


The Misshapen 'Lamed'

" by number of the names according to the head-count " (1:22).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the 'Lamed' of "le'Gulgelosam" written in connection with Shimon in the Seifer-Torah is bent downwards. This is because the Nasi of the tribe (Zimri ben Salu) sinned, causing many members of his tribe to fall. And the fact that is occurs in the 'Lamed', causing the tallest of the letters to be reduced, hints at the fact that his tribe produced neither a king nor a Shofet.

In addition, the second 'Lamed' of the word is tall and upright like a saw, and has no cap (like a regular 'Lamed' does), because the Nasi of the tribe taught Yisrael promiscuity, 'with an uncovered head' (brazenly) and 'standing upright' (arrogantly).


Traditionally Speaking

"Each man shall encamp by his banner, according to the insignias of their father's household" (2:2).

According to the sign, Rashi explains, which their father Ya'akov had handed to them, when they carried him from Egypt to bury him 'Yehudah, Yisachar and Zevulun on the east, Reuven, Shimon and Gad on the south '.

Moreover, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, he even hinted to them which tribe would lead on each side. It was all those to whom he spoke directly (in the second person) when he blessed them - "Reuven, you are my firstborn"; "Yehudah, your brothers will acknowledge you"; Yosef: "From the G-d of your father, and He will help you"; Dan: "For Your salvation I hoped Hashem".


About the Camp of Yisrael

" at a distance around the Tent of Meeting they shall encamp" (Ibid.)

The gematriyah of 'at a distance around the Tent' (mi'neged soviv le'Ohel) says the ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'le'alpayim Amah' (which is the distance from the Ohel Mo'ed that they actually encamped.

"The following Pasuk begins with the word "and those who encamped" (suggesting two camps). To teach us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the four camps surrounded the Ohel Mo'ed in the same formation as the four camps of angels surround the Divine Throne in Heaven. That is what the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim means when it writes (with reference to the Camp of Yisrael). Indeed, Chazal describe how Yisrael saw the four camps of angels encamped around the G-d's Throne, and they had a desire to follow suit; and their request was granted.

* * *


"The banner of the camp of Efrayim " (2:18).

The Pasuk begins with a 'Daled' and ends with a 'Daled', hinting at the four times that Ya'akov put Efrayim before Menasheh, corresponding to which the Torah did likewise - regarding the banners, the princes, the Korbanos and the tribes.


" they (the Tribe of Dan) shall be the last ("lo'acharonoh") to travel according to their banners they shall travel" (2:31).

We find the same word in Koheles (1:11) " and also for the latter ones that will be, there is no recollection", because Amalek castrated many members of the tribe of Dan on account of the image of Michah that they had with them.


"And the Levi'im were not counted among the B'nei Yisrael" (2:33).

There are 'Tagin' on the Hey, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to teach us that on the five occasions in the Torah that Yisrael were counted, the Levi'im were not counted together with them.


"The sons of Aharon the firstborn Nadav and Avihu " (3:2).

There is a stroke between the words 'ha'bechor' and 'Nadav'. This is because, seeing as the fact that Nadav was the firstborn was meaningless, since he died without children anyway, it must be that "ha'bechor" refers, not to Nadav, but to Aharon.


"And they (the Tribe of K'has) will live (ve'choyu) and not die" (4:19).

The word "ve'chayu" also appears in Zecharyah (in connection with Mashi'ach. 10:9) " and they will live (ve'choyu) with their children and they will return", a hint that in the days of Mashi'ach, the Angel of Death will be nullified.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 91:
Bringing Bikurim

It is a Mitzvah to bring Bikurim to the Beis-Hamikdash. This is the first fruit to ripen on the tree, that one is obligated to bring there and to give it to the Kohen. However, not all fruit-trees are subject to Bikurim min ha'Torah, only the seven species for which Eretz Yisrael is praised: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (23:19) "The first of the first-fruits of your land you shall bring to the House of Hashem your G-d ", which our sages interpret with reference to the seven species exclusively. It would seem that hey arrived at this conclusion from the fact that, on the one hand, the Torah does not mention any other species other than these, whilst on the other, it obligates us to bring the first-fruits, without specifying from which species to bring them, it is logical to assume that it is referring to those species that it has informed us elsewhere, grow in Eretz Yisrael, and for which it has declared the land praiseworthy. Alternatively, it is a tradition that they specified these seven fruits.

And how did they bring Bikurim? Those who lived close to Yerushalayim would bring the fruit whilst it was still fresh, whereas those who lived further away dried it first.

A reason for the Mitzvah is to bring Hashem to the height of our rejoicing, and to remember and know that all the B'rachos that we receive are from Him. Therefore we are commanded to bring to those who serve in His house the first of the fruit that ripens on the trees. And by virtue of this remembrance, of accepting His Kingdom and our acknowledgement to him that the fruit and all the other good things come from Him, we will become worthy of blessing and our fruit crop will be blessed. Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah The Gemara in Makos forbids a Zar (a non-Kohen) to eat Bikurim from the moment the Bikurim enters Yerushalayim from which fruits one is obligated to bring mi'de'Rabbanan that Bikurim is given to the Kohanim of the Mishmar (group of) Kohanim that happened to be serving that week that they require a K'li , which is given to the Kohen in the event that it is made of wood (bur not if it is made of gold) that the owner may not bring the fruit placed in the basket haphazardly, but arranged in an orderly fashion that is pleasing to look at, and this includes placing foliage or leaves in between one species and the other and by placing figs on top of the basket and surrounding the rim with grapes In one's hands one holds pigeons and doves in honour of the Bikurim. These one subsequently gives to the Kohanim as a gift How one brought the Bikurim and the joy that accompanied those who brought them and those who went out to greet them when they arrived on the outskirts of Yerushalayim and songs that they sang close to the city, and all the other details, are described in the fourth chapter of Maseches Bikurim.

This mitzvah applies in the time that the Beis-Hamikdash stood, to men, with regard to the fruit of Eretz Yisrael, Syria and Eiver ha'Yarden (the East Bank), but not to the fruit of Chutz la'Aretz. Someone who contravenes it has transgressed an Asei.

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