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

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Vol. 18   No. 35

This issue is sponsored jointly
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Alecsander Ziskind ben R' Aharon Baruch z"l
whose third Yohrzeit is on
13 Sivan, by his son
and in honour of the Bar Mitzvah of
Jacob Surovski n"y of San Diego
L'iluy Nishmas
Gavriel ben Yitzchak
whose Yohrzeit is 24 Iyar

Parshas Bamidbar

Fifty-Five Children Each
(Adapted from The Oznayim la'Torah)

From the Pasuk in Sh'mos (1:7) "And the B'nei Yisrael were fruitful, teemed, increased, and became mighty, very very much", Chazal extrapolate that the Jewish women in Egypt gave birth to sextuplets on a regular basis. Commenting on this Pasuk, the Oznayim la'Torah, records the following incident.

'A learned fool' (as he refers to the man concerned) once informed his (the Oznayim la'Torah's) Rebbe, the Gaon, R. Eliezer Gordon, Rosh Yeshivah of Telz, that he viewed the above Chazal as gross exaggeration. To be sure, he assured the Rosh Yeshivah, he believed what the Torah wrote, that Yisrael increased at an unnatural rate, After all, statistics (and who can argue with statistics?) proved that. After all, he conceded, if seventy people went down to Egypt, one would have expected that, after two hundred and ten years later, when they left, if they maintained a normal rate of growth, that their numbers would have reached some twelve hundred - perhaps even fifteen hundred, souls. But six hundred thousand males between twenty and sixty! And add to that the equivalent number of children and men over the age of sixty, plus approximately the same number of women again - making a total of almost two and a half million souls who left Egypt. This certainly bears out the Torah's statement.

But six in one go! That, he insisted, was simply not feasible!


The Rosh Yeshivah answered with a statistic (which he evidently considered sacrosanct) that proves, beyond any shadow of doubt, the veracity of Chazal's statement that every Jewish woman in Egypt gave birth to sextuplets each time that they had children. And he cited the Pasuk in this week's Parshah, Bamidbar, which lists twenty-two thousand plus a few hundred firstborn - out of a total of just over six hundred thousand men between the ages of twenty - one million, two hundred thousand including the children and the over sixties, as we explained. (The author comments that the Telzer Rav did not contend with the women, seeing as the firstborn too were exclusively males. Interestingly, he also ignored the Chazal, who explain that four fifths of the Jewish population died in Egypt, and the Targum Yonasan that describes how two hundred thousand men from the tribe of Efrayim left Egypt early and were killed by the P'lishtim).


In any event, the proportion of firstborn to the total number who left Egypt is truly remarkable, when we consider that, nowadays, a regular family comprises say, four children besides the firstborn. Whereas there, twenty-two thousand firstborn out of a total of six-hundred thousand, means that twenty-two thousand mothers in Egypt gave birth to twenty-two thousand firstborn plus six hundred thousand subsequent children - in which case each family was blessed with fifty-five children besides the firstborn. It also means that all the firstborn were boys (an additional phenomenon that requires clarification).

We know that the lifespan at that time was seventy to eighty years (as Moshe Rabeinu specifically wrote in "Tefilah le'Moshe" [Tehilim 90]). If we finally assume that each woman gave birth ten times during her child-bearing age (though it is unclear why he assumes that) it transpires that each woman would have had to bear six children at a time in order to arrive at those figures.

Needless to say, when the 'wise fool' heard the Telz Rosh Yeshivah's explanation, he was dumbfounded. There was nothing more to be said.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Riva)

Starting on a Good Note

"And G-d spoke to Moshe in Midbar Sinai on the first day of the second month (Iyar) " (1:1)

Because of G-d's love of K'lal Yisrael, comments Rashi, He constantly counts them.

The Bartenura explains that chronologically speaking, this Seifer ought to have begun with the Parshah of Pesach Sheini in Beha'aloscho (which was said in Nisan). Only, as Rashi points out there (9:1), that Parshah is based on the shame of Yisrael, and the Torah likes to begin a Seifer on a positive note. That is why it starts with the current Pasuk - to teach us the extent of G-d's love for His people.


Switching the Order

" and these are the names of the men who will stand with you: for (the tribe of) Re'uven " (1:5).

And the Torah follows with the tribe of Shimon and then Yehudah, according to the order of birth. Whereas in the Parshah of the Flags and in Pikudei, observes the Riva citing Rabeinu Tam from Orleans, it lists Shimon after Re'uven, according to their order of birth, but then it lists Gad, who was the firstborn of Le'ah's maidservant (Zilpah). And he suggests that this is because the counting there was connected with inheriting the land, and when it comes to inheriting the land, it is more logical to place Gad in the Camp of Re'uven, since they received their portion of land on the other side of the River Yarden together with Re'uven.

In that case, asks the Riva, why did the Torah not also include Menasheh in Re'uven's Camp, seeing as they too, received their portion of land on the other side of the Jordan River (just as Gad did)?

This is not a problem, he answers, when one bears in mind that it was only half of Menasheh who inherited their portion on the other side of the Yarden. Consequently, rather than list Menasheh as two tribes, the Torah opted to place them together with their brothers Efrayim and Binyamin, so that all the sons of Rachel should camp together under one flag.


Re'uven and Shimon

" by the number of the names according to their head-count (le'gulgelosom)" (1:20/22).

We find the expression "le'gulgelosom" only by Re'uven and Shimon, the Riva remarks. He ascribes this to the fact that the word has connotations of Kaporoh, and they were the two tribes that required atonement - Re'uven for switching the beds of Bilhah and Le'ah, and Shimon, for marrying his sister Dinah (as the Riva explained in Parshas Vayigash), According to the opinion in Sanhedrin that permits a ben No'ach to marry his maternal sister however, Shimon's sin was that of killing the inhabitants of Sh'chem that he performed in conjunction with his brother Levi. The latter had already received a full Kaporoh, following the sin of the Golden Calf, when they took upon themselves to kill those who had sinned.

Rabeinu Bachye suggests that Shimon's Kaporoh was for the major role that he played at the sale of Yosef, where he was the one who actually threw Yosef into the pit.

It is true that the Tribe of Shimon was destined to sin badly at Ba'al Pe'or (with the daughters of Mo'av), but that took place only many years later.


Something's Not Right

"These are the counted ones of the Levi'im, whom Moshe and Aharon counted " (3:39).

Commenting on the dots on the word "ve'Aharon", Rashi explains that Aharon was not counted (lo nimneh) in the number of the Levi'im.

The Riva queries this however, in that, dots on a word always come to qualify the inherent meaning of the word (i.e. to partially contradict it). One of the examples he cites is the dots on the word "u've'kumoh" in Vayeira, which teach us that although the Pasuk states that Lot did not know when his daughter got up, he was in fact aware when she did (See Rashi there 19:33).

But here, there seems to be no contradiction at all, seeing as the Pasuk is talking (not about Aharon being counted, but)about Aharon counting. In that case, dots telling us that Aharon was not counted are not connected to the word; moreover, from where does Rashi know to make this D'rashah in the first place?

To answer the question, the Riva suggests that when Rashi uses the expression 'lo nimneh' he does not mean that he was 'not counted' (from the Lashon of Minyan) but that he was not 'appointed' (from the Lashon 'minuy'). If that is so, then the dots do indeed contradict the word, since the dots come to inform us that Aharon was not appointed over the Levi'im, whereas the words themselves are informing us that Aharon together with Moshe counted the Levi'im, which in itself, is an appointment!

He concludes however, that it is difficult to explain the word in this way, because then, Rashi ought to have said, not 'she'lo nimnah im ha'Levi'im, but 'she'lo nimnah al minyan ha'Levi'im'.


Why the Levi'im were Not Counted

"Only (Ach) do not count (lo sifkod) the Tribe of Levi!" (1:49).

Rashi gives two explanations as to why the Levi'im were not counted together with rest of K'lal Yisrael: 1. Because in their capacity as the King's legion, it was befitting that they should be counted independently; 2. G-d foresaw that all those that were counted from the age of twenty to sixty were destined to die in the Desert, so He arranged for them to be counted from the age of thirty to fifty.

The Riva, citing the Ram from Coucy, adds a third reason, based on the fact that all those who were currently being counted, comprised those who were destined to serve in the army during the conquest of Cana'an. But the Levi'im who were appointed to serve in the Mishkan (as the Torah writes "Hafkeid es ha'Levi'im" - note the similarity between "Lo sifkod" and "Hafkeid" -) were exempt from serving in the army. Furthermore, he explains, since they were appointed to look after the vessels of the Mishkan, they were comparable to soldiers who were appointed to guard the camp, who were exempt from fighting.


The Bartenura, commenting on why Rashi opts to add a second explanation, points out that, according to the first explanation, the word "Ach"(excluding the tribe of Levi) is not entirely appropriate, seeing as they were counted too (albeit not together with the rest of Yisrael). Hence, Rashi adds the second explanation, precluding Levi from the count that incorporated all those who were destined to die in the desert.

* * *

(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 217:
Not to Harvest the Final Corner of One's Field (cont.)

This Mitzvah applies to both men and women, to Kohanim, as well as Levi'im and Yisre'eilim, but only in Eretz Yisrael, and when Yisrael are living there, as is the Din by T'rumos and Ma'asros, according to the opinion of the Rambam z.l., as we will explain in Parshas Shoftim, in the Mitzvah of separating T'rumah. Mi'de'Rabanan however, it applies in Chutz la'Aretz too. In fact, the Rambam writes that all Matnos Aniyim apply mi'de'Rabanan in Chutz la'Aretz. Anyone who contravenes this Mitzvah by failing to leave Pe'ah in his field, when it is inhabited has negated this Asei and is obligated to give from his crops the measure of Pe'ah to the poor. And should the crops get lost or burned before he has managed to do so, he receives Malkos for transgressing the La'av of "Do no finish the corner of your field" - since he is no longer able to rectify the La'av. But as long as some of the crops remain, he gives part of them to the poor, and he is Patur, seeing as this La'av falls under the category of 'La'av ha'Nitak la'asei' (a La'av that can be rectified by an Asei), as is explained in Pe'ah and Makos.


Mitzvah 215:
Not to Eat Nosar

It is forbidden to eat Nosar - the left-overs of Kodshim meat of a Korban that was brought accord to the Torah's specifications, after the designated time to eat it has expired. The Torah writes in this regard (in connection with the Milu'im, in Tetzaveh [29:34] "It shall not be eaten, because it is holy", which Chazal explain as 'Any Kodshim that becomes Pasul, one transgresses a La'av for eating it' - which the Torah hints by adding "because it is holy". The undisclosed items incorporate all Kodshim that was Kasher and became Pasul. This does not mean that Pigul and Nosar are considered one La'av, since they have two separate names, as the author already explained in Parshas Tzav by the Isur of Pigul (Mitzvah 144). Moreover, we find that the Torah presents them independently regarding punishment: In Tzav, in connection with Pigul, one Pasuk states "And if it shall be eaten ", and it continues " whoever eats from it shall bear his sin (an expression that denotes Kareis, as Chazal learn from Nosar). Whereas in Parshas Kedoshim, the Torah writes (19:6-8) " and whatever is left until the third day is invalidated, it shall not be accepted. And whoever eats it shall bear his sin, for he has defiled what is holy to G-d, he will be cut-off". Consequently, even though their combined warnings (i.e. the La'av) is learned from one Pasuk, this will not cause us to refrain from considering them as two La'avin. And this is why the Gemara in Me'ilah says that Pigul and Nosar do not combine (to make up a Shi'ur), because they are two separate La'avin (as the Gemara explains there), as there are some things that do not combine and some things that do.

A reason for the Mitzvah the author already presented in the Mitzvah of Pigul in Parshas Tzav (Ibid.).

Some Dinim of Nosar The Chachamim have explained that somebody who eats from the leftovers of the skin, the gravy, the spices, the offal, the crop (of a bird), the sinews, the horns, the hooves, the beak, the eggs (of a bird) or the plumage is not Chayav Kareis; nor is one Chayav Kareis if one drinks the leftover blood (regarding Nosar), the frankincense, the Ketores or the wood. One is Chayav Kareis however, if one eats a leftover embryo or placenta from a Korban. They also exempted Korbanos of gentiles (i.e. the Nedarim and Nedavos that one accepts from them) from the Din of Nosar and Pigul All other details concerning Mosar and Pigul are scattered throughout Seider Kodshim and in the Rambam (in the first Perek of Hilchos Pesulei ha'Mukdashin).


Mitzvah 218:
To Leave Leket in the Field

It is a Mitzvah to leave Leket - what falls from the scythe during harvesting or from one's hands during picking, for the poor, as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:9) "You shall leave it (Leket) for the poor and for the convert".

A reason for the Mitzvah - the author already wrote in the Mitzvah of Pe'ah (Mitzvah 216).

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah The Mishnah writes in Pe'ah (6"5) that 'One or two grains constitutes Leket, but not three', implying that if three grains or more fall from the hand of the harvester, all three belong to the owner. It transpires that Leket applies only to a minimal amount Moreover, the Din of Leket applies only to produce that fell from the harvester's hand without an Oneis; but if for example, the harvester dropped a grain of corn due to a thorn-prick, it is not considered Leket A Safek Leket is Leket, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (82:3) "give the poor and the needy the benefit of the doubt" - 'Be righteous with yours and give it to him! The Din of produce that one finds in ant-holes and grains of Leket that became mixed into a hay-stack are discussed in Maseches Pe'ah.

Regarding which location the Mitzvah Leket applies, to whom it applies and who is obligated to observe it, and the punishment for someone who negates it, the Din is equivalent to that of Pe'ah (which the author already discussed there [Ibid.]).


Mitzvah 219:
Not to Take the Grains that Fall During the Harvesting

It is forbidden to pick up the grains that fall during the harvesting. Rather, one is obligated to leave them for the poor, as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:10). This Mitzvah is connected to the MItzvas Asei (Mitzvah 218), in the same way as the Mitzvah of Pe'ah, as the author discussed there (216). Consequently, it is not subject to Malkos. All details that are relevant to this Mitzvah, the author already discussed in the Mitzvas Asei of Leket (Mitzvah 218).

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