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

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Vol. 4 No. 37

Parshas Be'ha'aloscho

Moshe - Modest Man

"And the man Moshe was extremely modest, more than anyone else on the face of the earth." A beautiful hint lies in the word "onov" (modest), a hint that is highlighted by the omission of the "yud", which is normally present in the word. The word "onov", says the Da'as Zekeinim mi'ba'alei Tosfos, is spelled ayin, nun, vov, which, when added up, is equivalent to the number of limbs in a man's body - 248. Because Moshe Rabeinu was indeed humble with all his limbs. In other words, in spite of the fact that he had perfected every limb in his body, until each one was performing the mitzvah to which it corresponded (there are 248 positive mitzvos) to absolute perfection, he felt no sense of pride in that achievement. That perfection in turn, was achieved presumably, during his stay on Har Sinai, where he was alone with G-d Himself for 126 days (the numerical value of "onov", again minus the "yud").

This possuk is written in connection with the loshon ho'ra which Miriam and Aharon spoke about Moshe, and it is not at first clear as to why the Torah inserts it here. The Ramban offers two explanations. 1. Quoting the Ibn Ezra, he explains, because Miriam and Aharon actually attributed his separation from his wife to vanity, to some sort of superiority complex which stemmed from the feeling that he had been raised to a form of super-being at Har Sinai. The Torah therefore, corrects such a misconception by immediately informing us that, even assuming that Moshe Rabeinu had indeed become a sort of angel at Har Sinai ("And He sent an Angel: [Moshe] and He took us out of Egypt" [Ba'midbor 20:16]), nevertheless, Moshe Rabeinu in his incredible humility, certainly did not view it that way. Moshe, the "ish" (man - but often denoting tzaddik) was more humble than any "odom" (ordinary man - from the word "adomoh" - earth) on the face of the earth. No ordinary man, who has so little of which to be proud, could match the tzadik Moshe Rabeinu in his perfect modesty.

2. The possuk is telling us here, that Moshe Rabeinu in his modesty, did not respond to his brother and sister's lack of faith in him, since, as far as he was concerned, he had already forgiven them (in spite of the fact that they spoke in his presence [Ramban]). Yet Hashem was not so readily prepared to forego this slight on His chosen prophet. He was quick to react, to let them (and us) know the brunt of His feelings.

To develop this idea, one might even explain why Hashem found it necessary to intervene, although Moshe had already forgiven them. A person is usually silent to a verbal attack for one of two reasons: 1. Because "Silence is akin to admittance", and 2. Because he considers a reply simply an enhancement of "machlokes" (argumenta-tiveness). He prefers to remain silent for the sake of peace. Hashem therefore decided to intervene, to let everyone know that there was no truth in their allegations. It was the second of the two reasons which was responsible for Moshe Rabeinu's silence - and even if it was the first, it was only Moshe Rabeinu's unbelievable modesty that caused him to admit that he was vain - it was simply the fruits of his genuine modesty, but not in any way a reflection of his true motivation for separating from his wife. In fact, Hashem had already condoned Moshe Rabeinu's separation from his wife, when He told Moshe to tell the people - after Mattan Torah - to return to their tents (to their wives), but to Moshe, He said "But you, remain with Me."

Adapted from the Torah Temimah

The Tibe of Levi

The tribe of Levi is often singled out by the Torah for preferential treatment. They were the ones privileged to carry and to guard the Mishkon together with all its holy vessels, and they were the ones who were solely responsible for the smooth execution of the Avodoh in the Beis-Hamikdosh.

Whether it was connected with the offering of the sacrifices, the burning of the Ketores (spices), the lighting of the Menorah or the singing that accompanied the drink-offerings, it was one or the other of the branches of the tribe of Levi that carried out the required mission. And it was in order to grant the Levi'im freedom to concentrate on the Avodoh, that they were given no regular portion in Eretz Yisroel ("because I am their portion" said Hashem), and so that they should be spared any worries about parnosoh, the other tribes were obligated to provide them with "Trumos" (for the Cohanim) and "Ma'asros" (for the Levi'im).

Yet this does not appear to have been G-d's original plan. It was only after the episode of the "Eigel ha'Zohov" that the Levi'im - the only tribe to prove itself totally loyal to Hashem's cause - were chosen to replace the Bechorim. Clearly, it was the Bechorim then, who were initially intended to represent every family as G-d's chosen servants in His Holy House.

What makes this choice all the more remarkable is the fact that not so long before, Levi had joined Shimon his brother in the slaying of Shechem, an act that so angered their father Ya'akov, that, when he came to bless his sons, he decided to admonish them instead, depriving them of the B'rochoh which should have been theirs. Shimon, it would appear, failed to learn his lesson, whereas Levi seems to have taken his father's reprimand sufficiently to heart to become totally transformed - he even succeeded in rearing a family of outstanding tzaddikim, of the clalibre of Kehos, Amrom, Moshe, Aaron and Miriam; nor was it long before his descendants became the leading tribe in Egypt, model sages, scholars and saints, until eventually they proved their undivided loyalty to G-d at the Eigel, earning them the right to be termed "the chosen tribe". It just shows how far one can go in a short time, if one only puts one's mind to it!

The Quails

The Torah relates how the people spent two days and one night (thirty-six hours in all) collecting the quails, and how nobody collected less than ten piles (armfulls). The Gro explains it like this: those people who lived at the edge of the camp next to the desert could collect as many piles as they wanted, he remarks. But those who lived in the middle would have been less fortunate.

Chazal say that a person walks on average ten Parsah during a twelve hour day. Now the camp of Yisroel was three Parsah (twelve Mil) by three Parsah, which means that someone living in the middle would have to walk one and a half Parsah to leave the camp and one and a half Parsah on the return trip.

Someone who walks ten Parsah in twelve hours, will have walked thirty Parsah in thirty-six hours. Since any Jew living in the middle had to walk three Parsah each trip, it works out that he would have made exactly ten trips, carrying ten loads of quails, just as the Torah testifies.

To Issue Rulings.....

When Eldod and Meidod prophesied in the camp, Yehoshua bin Nun was incensed. Why? Because it is not respectful for a disciple to issue rulings in front of his Rebbi (to which prophesying without one's Rebbi's permission is comparable - Sanhedrin 17a).

.....In Front of One's Rebbi

The Gemoro in Eiruvin (63b) explains that Yehoshua died without sons because he said to Moshe, "My Master Moshe, put them (Eldod and Meidod) in jail!" He issued a ruling in front of his Rebbe, and for that, the punishment is to die without sons.


In the Ba'midbor edition, we wrote that, according to both Rebbi Yossi and the Rabbonon, the 49th day of the Omer occurred on the Friday.

This is in fact, not correct. According to Rebbi Yossi, in whose opinion Rosh Chodesh fell on Sunday, the 49th day of the Omer must have fallen on Friday, since, according to Chazal, Yisroel left Egypt on Thursday and, as we know, when Pesach falls on a Thursday, Shevu'os (which nowadays falls on the 6th Sivan, and not on the 7th) falls on a Friday, and the last day of the Omer is counted on Thursday. In that case,

Yisroel who left Egypt counted fifty days that year, and not forty-nine. According to the Rabbonon, in whose opinion Rosh Chodesh Sivan fell on Monday, we will have to say that they left Egypt not on Thursday, but on Friday. (Such an opinion is indeed quoted in Seider Ha'doros.) According to them, Yisroel will have counted 49 days that year as we do, and not fifty.

One could have explained the Rabbonon's opinion by saying that, even according to them, Yisroel left Egypt on Thursday. However, both Nisan and Iyar were full 30-day months, whereas, in the opinion of Rebbi Yossi, Iyar was only 29 days. But this is most unlikely, since Chazal stress that the months (then like now) followed a fixed pattern - Nisan full, Iyar short, Sivan full, etc., with the exception of Tamuz of the second year in the desert, which, by divine decree, was full, so that the spies should return on Erev Tish'oh be'Av, and that they should subsequently cry on Tish'oh be'Av night (Pesochim 77a).

50 Days

When Hashem spoke to Moshe at the burning bush, he told him that, as a sign that He had sent him, they would serve Hashem on that very same mountain, after leaving Egypt.

The Torah adds an extra 'nun' to the word "ta'avdu-n" (you will serve), a broad hint that Mattan Torah would take place fifty days after they left Egypt.

This hint, however, will only go according to the Rabbonon, because, according to Rebbi Yossi, Mattan Torah took place on the fifty-first day.
(Many thanks to William Lapp for pointing out the error.)

(Be'Ha'aloscho) (Zecharyah 2:14-4:7)

The Haftorah opens with G-d's promise that He would once again allow His Divine Presence to rest with the Jewish people in Yerusholayim. It then goes on to deal with Zecharyoh's vision of Yehoshua ben Yehotzodok, Cohen Godol, who stood accused by the Heavenly Court of raising no objection when his sons "married" non-Jewish women. This sin appears to have been common in the era prior to the redemption from Bovel, and it was Ezra who pressurised the people to separate from these women before returning to Eretz Yisroel.

The possuk refers to Yehoshua as a log of wood saved from the fire. This refers to an incident, in which two immoral confidence-tricksters, named Tzidkiyoh and Ach'ov, posing as prophets, attempted, in the name of G-d, to persuade Nevuchadnetzar's wife to have relations with them. If they were such godly men, Nevuchadnetzar challenged them, then they should be able to survive the heat of a furnace, just as Chananyoh, Mishoel and Azaryah had. Believing they might be saved, they argued that Chananyoh, Mishoel and Azaryah were three and they were only two. They therefore suggested that Yehoshua Cohen Godol be thrown into the furnace together with them. This was granted. They perished and he was saved, though his clothes were singed - for the reason mentioned above. Indeed, for the same reason, the Novi mentions here that Yehoshua was dressed in "dirty clothes". However, if he would remove those dirty clothes, i.e. he would induce his sons to separate from their wives, then his sin would be atoned for and he would be provided with a set of "clean clothes".

The Novi then goes on to speak about the cornerstone of the Beis-Ha'mikdosh, which Zerubovel (grandson of King Yehoyochin, who went into golus eleven years before the Churban, accompanied by one thousand outstanding talmidei-chachomim, among them, Mordechai) would set in place, in the presence of Yehoshua, and prophesies how each of the stones would be watched by seven eyes (i.e. intently guarded by the Divine Eye because of the many enemies who were intent on preventing its construction). The Redak quotes his father, who explains the "seven eyes" as referring to the seven tzadikim whose z'chus watched over that generation: Yehoshua Cohen Godol, Ezra, Zerubovel, Nechemyah and the three last prophets - Chaggai, Zecharyah and Mal'ochi. This will be followed by an era of safety and prosperity.

This last prophecy appears to be but a prelude to the prophecy that follows, in which the Angel who is addressing Zecharyah shows him a Menorah of seven branches which is automatically fed by two olive-oil wells. The seven branches represent the seven Heavens (leading to G-d's Throne) or the seven midos (Chessed, Gevurah, Tif'eres, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchus), and it is also possible that the seven eyes mentioned above symbolise these middos too.

It is this vision of the Menorah that obviously connected the Haftorah with the Parshah, particularly in light of the possuk, in which the Angel points out to Zerubovel how the building of the Beis-Ha'mikdosh was imminent, not through their acts of valour or strength, but by the spirit of G-d. For was this not the very reason that the miracles of Chanukah culminated in the burning of oil for eight days - to preclude any notion that we might have, that the miracle of the victory could perhaps be ascribed to the incredible acts of valour and feats of strength displayed by the Maccabim. The final scene of the display of miracles was therefore the burning of the oil for eight days. "For the lamp is mitzvah and Torah the light" (Mishlei 6:23). Everything goes after the conclusion (B'rochos 12a) - to teach us that it was the Spirit of God and of His Torah that brought about the victory over the Greeks.

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