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

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Vol. 17   No. 31

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Aharon ben Shlomo z"l
whose Yohrzeit is 27 Iyar
By his children

Parshas Bamidbar
(incorporating Shavu'os Supplement)

The Four Camps of the Shechinah
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Rabeinu Bachye explains how the four camps in the desert, each comprising three tribes, corresponds to the four Camps of Angels, each comprising three angels. Like the Camp of Yisrael, he explains, each angel led tens of thousands of angels, and they surrounded G-d's Throne in the same formation as that employed by Yisrael as they surrounded the Mishkan. The Camp of Yehudah comprised Yehudah, Yisacher and Zevulun, all of who are described as Torah scholars (see Tehilim, 60:9, Divrei Hayamim 1, 12:32 and Shoftim 5:14, respectively). This is hinted in the words "rishonoh yisa'u" (they will travel first), as the word "rishonoh" has connotations of wisdom (see Targum Yonoson on the word "Bereishis"). This was the counterpart of the Camp of Gavriel, including Azriel and Sham'iel, who went in front of the Shechinah, and which was called 'the Camp of Gavriel'. The comparison between the two Camps becomes even more apparent when we bear in mind that Yehudah's symbol was a lion (due to his strength) and Gavriel by definition, means 'the strong one of G-d'. Remarkably, says R. Bachye, the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim writes "Yehudah Gever be'echav" (a direct allusion to the connection between Yehudah and Gavriel).


After Yehudah came Reuven, the first Ba'al Teshuvah, since Teshuvah (which is based on Binah) follows Chochmah (Torah [just as it does in the first two B'rachos in the Amidah]). Shimon too, is in this camp, because he was born to Leah after Reuven, and so is Gad, since he was the firstborn of Le'ah's maidservant Zilpah. This corresponds to the Camp of Micha'el, Kochvi'al and Pedi'el, which, like the Camp of Reuven, is situated on the right-hand side of the Shechinah and which is called 'the Camp of Micha'el'. Moshe hinted this name in the Torah when he wrote in the Shirah "Mi Cho"mocho ba'eilim Hashem .. " and at the end of the Torah he wrote "Ein ko'Keil Yeshurun" - (Note, that the combination of the marked sections spells "Micho'el).

The connection between the two camps here too, is clear; since Micha'el, as is well-known, is the Angel of kindness, and the concept that a Ba'al Teshuvah is accepted is in itself, an incredible act of Chesed on the part of G-d.


The third Camp is that of Efrayim, which encamped on the west (the side where the Shchinah is to be found). Yerav'am ben N'vat, a descendent of Efrayim, sinned and caused the ten tribes to sin. Consequently, they needed an antidote (a cure) to counter the destruction that he wrought. Menasheh and Binyamin provided that antidote, joining with Efrayim to develop the strength ('Who is a strong man? One who overcomes his Yeitzer ha'Ra!'), as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (80:2) "Before Efrayim, Binyamin and Menasheh arouse Your might!"

Indeed, the author explains, it is befitting for inner strength to follow Torah and Teshuvah. And the corresponding Camp of angels is that of Refael (incorporating Zavdiel and Achzi'el), which encamped behind the Shechinah. Most appropriately, Refael would heal the damage of Yeravam ben N'vat. Refael too, Moshe hinted in the Torah when, following his sister Miriam being stricken with Tzara'as, he cried out to G-d "Keil na, r'fa na lah" (the letters of the second and fourth words spell 'Refael').


The fourth Camp, Machaneh Dan traveled and encamped in the north, the direction where the sun never shines (which is why it is called 'Tzofon', meaning 'hidden'), symbolizing the darkness that was shed by the two idols Yerav'am ben N'vat set up in Dan and Beis-Eil (Dan also housed the image of Michah that accompanied them in the desert). In addition, it is from the north that wealth comes to the world (symbolizing the gold from which the Golden Calf was manufactured). That explains why the tribe of Dan required an atonement and that G-d should shine upon them; and this in turn explains why Asher, who grew oil for the Menorah, was placed next to them, together with Naftali, about whom it is written "Naftali is satiated with goodwill, and full of the blessing of Hashem". The Camp of Dan corresponds to that of the angel Uriel (incorporating Daniel and Rama'el), to the left of the Shechinah, to illuminate the darkness caused by Yerav'am.

And here too, Uriel is hinted, this time in Tehilim, where David Hamelech wrote (in Hallel, in connection with atonement of the Korbanos) "Keil Hashem va'yo'er lonu" (where the word "va'yo'er plus the 'Lamed' in "lonu" spell Uriel).

See also the last Parshah Pearl.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

If Only the Gentiles Knew

If only the nations of the world were aware, says R. Bachye quoting Chazal, of how much they benefit from the Beis-Hamikdash, they would surround it with soldiers in order to guard it! Little do they realize that it is of greater benefit to them than it is to us. This is because Shlomoh Hamelech, upon completing it, inserted in his Tefilah "And also to the gentile, who is not from Your people Yisrael … You will listen from the Heaven and do whatever he asks of you!"; Whereas with regard to a Yisrael who Davens, he wrote "And you shall give to each man according to his ways, since you know his heart". 'Master of the World,' said Shlomoh, 'If he deserves it, give it to him; but not if he doesn't!'

For a Jew acknowledges G-d, and knows that G-d can do whatever He wishes. Consequently, in the event that his Tefilah is not answered, he attributes this to himself and to his sins.

Not so the gentile. If his prayers are not answered, he places the blame on G-d. 'I made the effort to come all this way to pray in G-d's House, and I discovered that it is no more capable of answering my prayers than my idols!' 'That being the case', Shlomoh concluded,'Do whatever the gentile asks of you!'

And it is not only the Beis-Hamikdash; it is also Yisrael. If not for them, the rain would not fall and the sun would not shine! As the Pasuk says in Yirmiyah (33:25) "Were it not for My covenant (with K'lal Yisrael), day and night, the laws of Heaven and earth I would not have established!"


For the Love of Ya'akov

"You shall count them according to their hosts" (1:3).

The Medrash connects this Pasuk with the Pasuk in Yeshayah (43:4), "Because you were precious in My eyes, you were honored and I loved you". Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu said to Ya'akov 'You are precious in My eyes, for I fixed your image in the Throne of My Glory, and because the angels praise Me using your name, when they say "Blessed be Hashem the G-d of Yisrael (alias Ya'akov) from this world till the next one!"

You are precious in My eyes, because although I did not count any of the other nations, you I counted.

This can be compared to a king who owned many granaries, to none of which he paid any attention, since they were all full of straw and stubble. One particular granary however, was full of wheat; So he instructed the overseer of his household to count how many Kurin and measures it contained. The King is G-d, the granary is Yisrael (as the Pasuk says in Yeshayah 21:10, "My threshing-floor … "), the wheat is His holy nation, and the overseer of his household, Moshe Rabeinu (as the Torah says "In all My house he is reliable). Likewise are the gentile nations compared to straw and stubble, as the Pasuk writes in Iyov (21:18) "May they be like straw before the wind and like stubble snatched by the wind". But Yisrael are like sifted wheat, they are righteous, as the Navi says in Yeshayah (60:21) "And your people are all righteous, they will forever inherit the land". That is why G-d takes note of their numbers.


The Levi'im and the Midas ha'Din

" … when the Mishkan travels, the Levi'im shall take it down, and when the Mishkan encamps, the Levi'im shall set it up, and the stranger who comes close shall die" (1:51).

R. Bachye has already mentioned on a number of occasions that whenever the Name of Hashem occurs backwards, it denotes the Midas ha'Din. The Pasuk here, he points out, after first hinting the hidden Name of Hashem (See footnote. Perhaps he is referring to the first letters of the opening words "U'vi'n'so'a Ha'Mishkan Yoridu Oso" backwords ['Alef', 'Yud', 'Hey' 'Vav']), the Torah hints the Name of Hashem backwards (in the same way) - twice, in the next eight words in the Pasuk - "Ha'Levi'im U'vachanos Ha'mishkan, Yakimu (oso), Ha'levi'im Ve'ha'zar Hakareiv Yumas", because the Midas ha'Din is poised to strike the stranger who dares to usurp the Avodah of the Levi'im, as happened to Uza in the times of David, for abusing his status as a Kohen and catching hold of the Aron as it appeared about to slide of the wagon on which it had been placed). Therefore the Pasuk describes Hashem's anger at Uza for not giving the Aron the respect that it was due. Haman too, tried to evoke the Midas ha'Din against Yisrael, when he said "ve'chol zeH einenU shoveH lI", only the Midas ha'Din turned against him ("ve'nahafoch hu'!)

R. Bachye also points out that by each of the two latter D'rashos (in our Pasuk), the second 'Hey' (which itself denotes Midas ha'Din) appears each time in the word "ha'Levi'im". Bear in mind that the Midah of the Levi'im is Midas ha'Din.


Two + Five + Eight + Eleven =

" …and the prince of the sons of Yisachar was Nesanel ben Tzu'ar."

Rabeinu Bachye notes how the name of each second tribe of the four Camps ends with the Name of G-d "Keil", as if to express the Divine character of each Camp individually. Hence, the name of the Prince of …

… Yisachar (of Machaneh Yehudah in the east) was Nesanel;

… Shimon (of Machaneh Reuven in the south) was Shlumiel;

… Menasheh (of Machaneh Efrayim in the west) was Gamliel;

…Asher (of Machaneh Dan in the north) was Pag'iel. These four tribes are listed second, both as regards traveling and as regards encamping.

He also observes that, remarkably, the Gematriyah of the four Camps in question (the second, the fifth, the eighth and the eleventh) adds up to twenty-six, the Gematriyah of Hashem's Holy Name (Havayah).


The Four Camps of the Shechinah

The four Chayos ha'Kodesh that support G-d's Throne, just like the formation of the four Camps in the desert, resembled that of the four camps of the Shechinah. Consequently, on the east was the Chayah called 'Aryeh' (Lion), the Camp of the Angel Gavriel and Machaneh Yehudah;

The Chayah 'Adam' (Man), the Camp of Micha'el and Machaneh Reuven was on the south;

The Chayah 'Shor' (Ox), the Camp of Refael and Machaneh Efrayim on the west; Whilst on the north was the Chayah 'Nesher' (Eagle), the Camp of Uriel and Machaneh Dan on the north.


The above order of angels (which is equivalent to the order that we cited them in the main article) is not the order listed by the Zohar. The order according to the Zohar, conforms with the order as they appear in K'ri'as Sh'ma she'al ha'Mitah … ' … on my right (on the south) Micha'el, on my left (on the north) Gavriel, in front of me (on the east) Uri'el, and behind me (on the west) Refael. Notice how R. Bachye has switched the order of the Camp of angels with those of the north (i.e. Gavriel and Uriel).

The order of the Zohar conforms beautifully with the directions, as Uriel (light) is in the east, where the sun rises, and Gavriel (Midas ha'Din) in the north, from which punishment emanates.

* * *

All About Shavu'os
(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

Z'man Matan Toroseinu

The reason that Shavu'os is referred to as 'the time (rather than 'the day) of the Giving of Our Torah', says the Yalkut Yitzchak, is because the sixth of Sivan was not the only day to which one can ascribe the giving of the Torah. From the third day of Sivan Moshe was ascending and descending Har Sinai, dealing with issues that were part and parcel of Matan Torah.

And besides, it was not the entire Torah that we received at Sinai on the sixth of Sivan, only part of it. In fact, the Torah was given in no less than eight instalments, he explains …

1. Six Mitzvos to Adam ha'Rishon;
2. Eiver min ha'Chai to Noach;
3. B'ris Milah to Avraham Avinu;
4. Gid ha'Nasheh to Ya'akov Avinu;
5. Yibum to Yehudah; 6. Kiddush ha'Chodesh, Korban Pesach and Pidyon B'chor in Egypt;
7. Shabbos, some Dinim (monetary laws) and Kibud Av-va'Eim at Marah, in the desert;

8. The rest of the Torah, at Har Sinai.


The Chag Without a Date

The Mateh Moshe, citing the Akeidah, gives two reasons as to why the Torah does not give a date for Shavu'os.

Firstly, he explains, it would not be appropriate to give a date on which to celebrate the Giving of the Torah, since Torah is not just a Mitzvah, it is something without which there would be no Mitzvos at all. It can be compared he explains, to belief in the existence of G-d, which some Poskim decline to list among the Taryag Mitzvos, because without the existence of G-d (Kevayachol) there would be no Mitzvos.

Secondly, he says, one is obligated to consider every day as if he had received it on that day (as Rashi explains in Eikev 11:13), as the Torah writes "Today you arrived at Har Sinai".


The Two Days of Preparation

G-d told Moshe to sanctify the people "today and tomorrow …". The Torah was given after two days of preparation, says the Yalkut Yitzchak, conforming to the Pasuk in Mishlei (8:30) "And I (says the Torah) was His delight day by day".

So too, is man formed of Chomer and Tzurah (matter and form); Torah is made up of the written Torah and the oral Torah (as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim "And a Double-bladed sword in their hands); so too, there are two Luchos, two groups of Mitzvos - Mitzvos Asei and Mitzvos lo Sa'aseh. "Day and night they will not rest" - And you shall study them by day and by night. And that explains, says the Yalkut Yitzchak, why the Torah begins with a 'Beis' (two).


The Torah was Given on the Third Day

And the Torah was given on the third day, says the Medrash Tanchuma, because the written Torah is in three parts - Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim, and so is the oral Torah - Talmud, Halachos, and Agados. The Torah was given via three mediums, Moshe, Aharon and Miriam. Tefilah consists of a triumvirate - evening (Ma'ariv), morning (Shachris) and afternoon (Minchah). There are three kedushos, (Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh) and three sections of Yisrael, Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisre'elim. Moshe comprises three letters, 'Mem', 'Shiyn' & 'Hey'. (There are three saviours (Moshe, Aharon and Miriam), and three forefathers. The Torah was given in the third month - Sivan, on Mount Siyn, which comprises three letters.


Te'omim (Twins)

The Medrash explains that the Torah was given in the month of Sivan, whose Mazel is 'Te'omim' (twins), to counter the nations of the world's claim that if the Torah had been given to them, they too would have observed it.

G-d's answer was forthcoming: 'See how I deliberately gave the Torah in the month of 'Te'omim', an open invitation to Eisav, to do Teshuvah and convert, and to join his twin brother Ya'akov in keeping the Torah.

Moreover, says the Shach, it symbolizes the intense love that G-d bears towards His people, Yisrael, whom He called "My dove My perfect one (Tamosi)", which Chazal read as (not "Tamosi" but) "Te'umosi" (My twin).

The concept of twins also explains, he says, why the Torah was given in the form of two (exactly equal) Luchos, Asei and Lo Sa'aseh, Tahor and Tamei, Kasher and Pasul, Mutar and Asur, the written Torah and the oral Torah.

The Pasuk in Iyov (41:8) states "Echad be'Echad yigoshu" (One touches one). The first "Echad" refers to Yisrael, as the Pasuk writes in Shmuel (2, 7:23) "and who is like Your people Yisrael, one nation in the land?" In addition, the Shach explains, the twelve tribes plus their father Yisrael equals thirteen, which is the Gematriyah of 'Echad'.

The other "Echad" refers to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, as the Torah writes "Sh'ma Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad!"


The Three-Month Waiting Period

Although Yisrael left Egypt in the third month (Nisan), the Chizkuni explains, they had to wait until the third month before Matan Torah (which is also known as the day of K'lal Yisrael's wedding to Hashem), based on the three-months waiting period that Chazal imposed on a woman who has converted, on one who has been in captivity and on a slave-girl who has been set free. Yisrael too were converts (they came under G-d's wings when they left Egypt), and had been redeemed from captivity and set free from slavery.


Why the Torah was Given in the Desert

The Torah was given in the desert, says the Medrash Lekach Tov, because it is a place that is Hefker (ownerless). So whoever wants it, can come and take it.

And it was deliberately not given in Eretz Yisrael, says the Medrash, so that the tribes should not squabble over whose territory it should be given in.


The Torah is Written in the Singular

The Aseres ha'Dibros are written in the singular, says the Medrash Lekach Tov, so that each person should say that they were given for him to observe, and not to let himself off the hook, by claiming that it is a communal obligation.

* * *

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Shavu'os Supplement

(Adapted from the Mo'adim ba'Halachah)

The Sh'tei ha'Lechem, the Two Loaves that were brought on Shavu'os (and eaten by the Kohanim) are unique, inasmuch as the Yom-Tov is named after them - 'Yom ha'Bikurim'. Rashi commenting on the Pasuk in Parshas Pinchas (28:26) "u've'Yom ha'Bikurim, be'hakrivchem Minchah Chadoshoh la'Hashem be'Shovu'oseichem", explains that the Yom-Tov of Shavu'os is called 'the first of the wheat-harvest' because of the Sh'tei ha'Lechem, which is the first of the Menachos (both wheat and barley) that is brought from the new wheat-harvest that year. In fact, the Sh'tei ha'Lechem also precedes Bikurim (the first-fruit brought from the seven species of fruit (which includes wheat and barley).

Elsewhere however (in Sanhedrin, 11b), Rashi interprets 'Yom ha'Bikurim' literally, in that Shavu'os is the opening date of the Mitzvah of Bikurim. (In Mishpatim [23:16], he presents both explanations.)

The N'tziv, commenting on the above Pasuk in Pinchas, concurs with this latter interpretation, when he writes that the Pasuk presents here the three major issues connected with the Chag: "u've'Yom ha'Bikurim" - the Mitvah of Bikurim; "be'hakrivchem Minchah Chadoshoh la'Hashem" - that of the Sh'tei ha'Lechem; "be'Shovu'oseichem" - the day following the seven weeks of Sefiras ha'Omer.

According to the latter explanation, says the author, even if the Torah does not actually name the Chag after the Sh'tei ha'Lechem, it nevertheless describes the essence of the day as "when you bring a new Minchah!"


The two names ('Bikurim' & 'Minchah Chadashah') given to the Sh'tei ha'Lechem incorporate a Mitzvah and an Isur; a Mitzvah to bring the Loaves from the new crops, and an Isur to bring any other Flour-Oferring from the new crops before the Sh'tei ha'Lechem have been brought.

The Omer (of barley, on Pesach) permitted new crops outside the Beis-Hamikdash (to be eaten by private individuals); the Sh'tei ha"Lechem, permitted them in the Beis-Hamikdash (to be brought as Korbonos).

A Minchah that one brings from the new crops before the Omer is Pasul; whereas after the Omer, but before the Sh'tei ha'Lechem, is Kasher.


The question arises as to whether the Isur of Chadash that pertains to bringing Korbanos from the new crops before the Sh'tei ha'lechem have been brought is an extention of the Isur Chadash that pertains to Hedyot before the Omer, or whether it is a new, independent Isur. You may well think, the author quips, that this is a 'Yeshivishe Chakirah' posed by the 'recent Acharonim'. But it is not. It is the Rashba in Menachos who poses the She'eilah, and who uses it to explain a Machlokes Tana'im (in connection with the previous dual ruling).

* * *



Targum Yonasan …

… lists ten major famines that G-d decreed upon the world, to rebuke its inhabitants, from the time of the Creation until the coming of Mashi'ach: The first took place in the days of Adam, and this was followed by those in the days of Lemech, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. The sixth famine took place in the days of Bo'az (alias Ivtzan the Tzadik), and then came the famines in the days of David, Eliyahu and Elisha in Shomron. The last famine, which will take place in the time of King Mashi'ach will differ from all the other famines, in that it will not be for food or even for water, for which the people will hunger, but to hear a word of prophecy from G-d (1:1).

… describes Rus as the daughter of Eglon, King of Mo'av, implying that she was literally his daughter, though Tosfos (states that she could only have been his granddaughter). He also attributes the untimely deaths of Machlon and Kilyon to the fact that they married non-Jewish wives (1:4/5).

… explains that Naomi was told that the famine in Eretz Yisrael had come to an end by an angel, and that it had ended on the merit of Ivtzan the Shofet and of the fervent Tefilah that he prayed for it to stop (1:6).

… defines the kindness that Rus and Orpah did with their respective husbands as declining to re-marry after their death, and the kindness that they did with Naomi as sustaining and looking after her (1:8).

… explains that Rus and Orpah's initial's insistence to return to Eretz Yisrael with Naomi was in order to convert (1:10).



Targum Yonasan …

… interprets Rus' comment that she was a stranger, as 'from the daughters of Mo'av, from a nation who is not permitted to marry into the congregation of G-d' (2:10).'

… explains Bo'az's answer like this: 'I was told by the sages that when G-d decreed (on Amon and Mo'av), He did not decree on the women, only on the men. And I was told via a prophecy that kings and prophets will descend from you, on account of the good that you did with your mother-in-law, by sustaining her following the death of your husband, and because you forsook your gods, your people, your father and your mother, and the land of your birth, and you went to convert …' (2:11) … explains the next Pasuk 'May G-d repay your good deed in this world, and may your reward in the World to Come be complete from before Hashem … and on that merit may you be spared from Gehinom, that your lot shall be together with that of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Le'ah' (2:12).

… explains Rus' reply like this ' … May I find favour in your eyes, my master, for you have consoled me by informing me that I am fit to enter the congregation of G-d, and because you spoke to me words of comfort, when you promised me that I will take shelter in the World to Come, just like the Tzadikim; whereas I do not possess the merit to own a portion in the World to Come even with one of your maidservants!' (2:13).

… translates 'and dip your bread in vinegar' as 'and dip your bread in a cooked dish that is cooked in vinegar' (2:14).



Targum Yonasan …

… explains that Naomi did not just tell Rus that she would arrange her future (i.e. her marriage to Bo'az), but she swore that she would (3:1)

… adds that Bo'az did not only eat, drink and feel happy following the winnowing of his crops, but he also blessed the G-d who had accepted his prayers and removed the famine from the land (3:7).

… explains that when Bo'az became aware that there was a woman lying at his feet, he controlled the natural impulse to react, but followed in the footsteps of Yosef ha'Tzadik, who refused to react to the overtures of his mistress, and the pious Paltiel ben Layish, who stuck a sword between himself and Michal bas Shaul, because he knew that she was David's wife, with whom he therefore refused to have relations (3:8).

… interprets "the first chesed" mentioned in the Pasuk as her conversion; whereas "the second kindness", he interprets as acting as if she was a Yevamah waiting for her Yavam to perform Yibum (by not having an affair with Bo'az's youthful servants, poor or rich, as the Pasuk specifically states [3:10]).

… translates "ki eishes chayil at" as a woman who has the strength to carry the yoke of G-d's Mitzvos (3:11). … interprets the "six barleys" that Bo'az gave Rus as six Sa'ah (the equivalent of almost nine hundred egg-volumes [see Rashi]), adding that G-d gave her the strength to carry so much. Then he writes that at the same time, he (Bo'az) was hinting to her that six Tzadikim were destined to descend from her, each of whom would be blessed with six blessings (see Rashi) - David, Daniel and his three friends (Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah), and King Mashi'ach.


* * *

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