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

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Vol. 8   No. 32

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Reb Yehudah ben he'Chaver Chayim Katzenshtein z.l.
whose 15th Yohrzeit is on the 23 Adar.

Parshas Beha'aloscho

Eldad and Meidad

Rashi explains that, in order to pick seventy elders from the twelve tribes, Moshe initially picked seventy-two, six from each tribe, though inevitably, two of these men would not be chosen, leaving two of the tribes with only five representatives, whilst the other ten tribes would each have six. So what did Moshe do? He took seventy-two ballot papers; on seventy he wrote 'Zokein', and two he left blank. Then he intended to ask each of the seventy-two men to take a ballot paper, leaving the ultimate choice as to which two to eliminate, to G-d.


The Or ha'Chayim suggests that Moshe actually carried out his original plan. The lots were drawn and Eldad and Meidad were the two who drew the blank papers. However, so embarrassed were they, that whereas everyone else in the camp went to the Ohel Mo'ed to witness the conclusion of the episode, they remained in the camp. And it was to compensate them for their embarrassment that Hashem conferred upon them a level of prophecy that was even higher than that of their colleagues.


That is not however, the explanation of Rashi and most other commentaries. According to them, Moshe never actually needed to draw lots, because "they remained in the camp" means that Eldad and Meidad never left it in the first place, withdrawing of their own accord from the ballot, on the grounds that they were unworthy of the honor. This is truly reminiscent of Moshe Rabeinu himself, who tried to withdraw from being chosen as G-d's representative at the Burning Bush, on the very same grounds. And in keeping with Chazal, who have taught us that honor pursues those who genuinely try to run away from it, Moshe in his time became greater than even he could have imagined. And the same now happened to Eldad and Meidad. According to Rashi then, it was due to their remarkable humility (rather than to compensate them for their embarrassment) that they merited a higher level of prophecy than the chosen elders.


Eldad prophesied that Moshe would die in the desert, and that Yehoshua would lead Yisroel into Eretz Yisrael, says the Targum Yonasan, and Meidad prophesied about the quails that would fall the next day. Whereas both of them prophesied about the battle of Gog and Mogog that is destined to take place before the coming of Mashi'ach.

The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains that the prophesy of Eldad and Meidad was superior to that of the others in three ways: 1. Whereas the chosen elders prophesied only what would happen on the following day, they were prophesying what would happen many years later ('Moshe Meis Yehoshu'a Machnis'); 2. The other elders are not mentioned by name, they are; 3. The power of prophecy of the other elders ceased (because it stemmed from Moshe), Eldad and Meidad's, which came directly from G-d, remained intact. A fourth distinction, cited by Rabeinu Bachye, is that, whereas the other elders were not destined to enter Eretz Yisrael, Eldad and Meidad were.


Who were Eldad and Meidad? According to Yonasan ben Uziel, they were brothers, sons of Elitzafan bar Parnach, who would later be appointed Nasi of Zevulun in the fortieth year in the Desert, before entering Eretz Yisrael. Strange as it may sound, they were actually half brothers of Moshe and Aharon. When Amram divorced Yocheved, Elitzafan married her, and she bore them before Moshe was born. This is incomprehensible however, both from a halachic and a practical point of view (on the grounds that a) when did Amram remarry her? b) How could he remarry her? and c) When was Moshe then born?). This is particularly astonishing in light of Chazal, who maintain that Amram took Yocheved back almost immediately, and Targum Yonasan himself (Sh'mos 2:1) explains the pasuk there in this way.

It is more likely therefore, that Elitzafan bar Parnach married Yocheved after Amram's death (Rashi in Rosh Hashanah, cited by the Pirush Yonasan).

See also the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, in whose opinion Amram divorced Yocheved (his aunt) after Matan Torah, when the halachos of incest were taught and she became forbidden to him. And that was when Elitzafan bar Parnach married her.


A final opinion cited by many commentaries (including the Da'as Zekeinim) is that of the Tanchuma, that Eldad and Meidad were neither brothers, nor were they related to Moshe and Aharon. In fact, Eldad was alias Elidad ben Kislon and Meidad, Kemuel ben Shiftan (future princes of the tribes of Binyamin and Efrayim, respectively).


Parshah Pearls

Adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim
That's How Tall It Was!

"ve'Zeh ma'aseh ha'Menorah" (8:4).

The numerical value of "ve'Zeh" is eighteen, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, corresponding to the height of the Menorah - eighteen tefachim.


The Five Groups

The Torah mentions "Yisrael" five times in the pasuk "vo'Etnah es ha'Levi'im" (8:19).

This corresponds, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to the five groups into which Yisrael was divided: Kohanim, Levi'im, Yisre'eilim, geirim and avodim meshuchrorim (slaves who had been set free). See also Rashi.


The Seven Mishkonos

"And on the day that the Mishkan was erected ... '. Seven times the word "ha'Mishkan appears, a hint to the seven dwellings of Hashem. Presumably, he is referring to the Mishkan in the desert, Gilgol, Shiloh, Nov, Giv'on, the first and the second Batei Mikdash. Perhaps the third Bet Hamikdash does not fall under the heading of "Mishkan".


Only for Moshe

" ... through the hand of Moshe. ... Make for you two trumpets" (9:23/10:2).

A hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that only Moshe would have jurisdiction over the trumpets, which would be hidden at his death.


Z'chus Avos

"ve'Chi Sovo'u milchamah be'artzechem" (10:9).

The letters of "sovo'u" also spell 'Ovos', whose merit would stand them in good stead whenever they would fight their enemies (Ba'al ha'Turim).


On Shabbos, on Yom-Tov and All

"u've'Yom Simchaschem u've'Mo'adeichem u've'Roshei Chodsheichem" (10:10). These are the days on which the trumpets were blown as they brought the special sacrifices of the day.

Based on the Chazal which interprets "u've'Yom Simchaschem" as Shabbos, the Ba'al ha'Turim comments "Simchaschem" has the same numerical value as 'Gam be'yom ha'Shabbos'; "u've'Mo'adeichem" has an extra 'vav', because "Mo'adeichem" incorporates the six Yomim-tovim 'Pesach, Shavu'os, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur, Sukos and Shemini Atzeres'.


Two Ways of Travelling

On two occasions, the Torah uses the expression "va'Yiso'u" ('and they traveled); here (10:25), where the word appears at the end of the sentence, and in Vayishlach (35:5), where it appears at the beginning, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim.

In Vayishlach, where Ya'akov had just destroyed the idols which they had captured from Sh'chem, the Torah places it at the beginning of the sentence, denoting that they traveled high-handedly (with Divine protection). Here on the other hand, where the image of Michah (from the tribe of Dan) accompanied them on their travels, Dan was expelled from the area within the Clouds of Glory. And to symbolize their having to travel without Divine protection, the word "va'Yiso'u" is written at the end of the sentence.


Good for Good

The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the Torah writes 'Tovah' (goodness - in one form or another), five times (in connection with Yisro) to hint at the five hundred amos square of Doshnah of Yericho that was subsequently given to his descendents.

In addition, the five words "ve'heitavnu", "tov", "ha'tov", "yeitiv", "ve'heitavnu" add up to the same numerical value as "bi'Yericho".


The Two Back-to-Front Nunin

One of the explanations of the two 'Nunin' given by the Ba'al ha'Turim is, that according to the plan, Hashem was about to lead Yisrael, whose twelve tribes comprized fifty letters, across the Jordan River, which was fifty amos wide )Ba'al ha'Turim).


"Vayehi bi'Neso'a ho'Oron ... ".

"And when they encamped, he would say ... " (10:36).

The word "And when they encamped" ("u've'Nu'choh") contains an extra 'hey', corresponding to the four flags plus the tribe of Levi, says the Ba'al ha'Turim.

There are twelve words in the posuk of "Vayehi bi'Neso'a ho'Oron ... ", just like there are in the last posuk in the Torah; whereas there are seven words in the pasuk of "u've'Nu'choh yomar", just like there are in the first posuk of the Torah , a hint that this parshah, comprising these two pesukim, is considered a Sefer-Torah on its own.

And in the very next posuk, the Torah writes about a fire burning, to hint that any parshah containing eighty-five letters (like this one), may be saved from a fire, even into a courtyard which has no Eiruv.


The Seventy Men

"Gather for Me seventy men ... " (11:16).

These seventy men, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, corresponded to the seventy souls that went down to Egypt, and the seventy basic nations of the world, and the seventy Names of G-d (which he proceeds to enumerate), and the seventy names of K'lal Yisrael (which he enumerates too).


No Shechitah Necessary

"Will sheep and cattle be Shechted for them ... Even if all the fish of the sea were to be gathered for them" (11:22).

This is one of the sources from which we derive that fish do not require Shechitah.

But that does not mean that they may be eaten alive. In fact, one transgresses the La'av of 'bal teshaktzu' (not abominating oneself ) by doing so.

The Ba'al ha'Turim derives the prohibition from the Pasuk itself. "Ye'aseif" does not just mean 'gathered' (as it usually does), but has connotations of dying, as in the pasuk written in connection with Yishmael "va'Yigva, va'Yomos, va'Ye'asef" (Bereishis 25:17).


The Most Humble of Them All

"And the man Moshe was very humble ... " (12:3).

The word for "humble" is "anav", which should have been spelt 'ayin' 'nun' 'yud' 'vav', but is missing a 'yud'.

This prompts the Ba'al ha'Turim to comment that the numerical value of the word is 126, which corresponds to the number of days that Moshe spent on Har Sinai (according to Rebbi Yossi, in whose opinion the Torah was given on the seventh of Sivan, and whose opinion we follow). First the Torah writes that the Cloud covered Moshe for six days (from Rosh Chodesh until the sixth - even though he continued to ascend and descend the Mountain during that time); and then he spent another three times forty (totaling 120) days there.


With most people, the unique privilege of being alone with G-d on Har Sinai and being elevated to the rank of 'Angel', would have gone to their heads. With Moshe Rabeinu however, it had quite the opposite effect. That very same privilege brought him to the highest levels of humility. And the reason for this is, because the closer Moshe came to Hashem, the more he was able to fathom His greatness.

The next step follows. As the S'fas Emes writes, a human being has been given two eyes and not just one, in order for him to perceive with one, G-d's greatness, and with the other, his own smallness. And that is precisely what Moshe Rabeinu subsequently did.

No wonder then, considering the close view of Hashem that Moshe merited at Har Sinai, that the Torah is able to describe Moshe as the most humble person who ever lived, since his humility matched his perception of G-d.


The Amidah

(Part VII)

We interrupted our regular article on Tefilah to make way for Hilchos Sh'mitah, when it became relevant. We are now taking up our cue where we left off, and continue with the prelude to the Amidah.


Tefilah is d'Oraysa

Even though the Gemoro in B'rochos describes tefilah as being de'Rabbonon, that is only as far as the text of tefilah and the obligation to daven three times a day is concerned. Davening once a day is an obligation stemming from various pesukim that command us to 'serve Hashem' (see for example, Sh'mos 23:25), which, as the Rambam explains, are a direct reference to tefilah, and which teach us to daven to Hashem once a day.

Much of the takanos chachomim regarding tefilah is based on the concept that the order of tefilah replaces the Korban Tomid (the bi-daily sacrifice which was brought without fail, each day of the year), which is temporarily unavailable to us. In fact, our Shacharis, Minchah and Ma'ariv represent the one lamb brought each morning and afternoon and the burning of the fat pieces which continued into the night.

In fact, it is in the parshah of the Mishkan (in Pikudei, 40:27) that the Ba'al ha'Turim, commenting on the numerous times that the Torah writes "ka'asher tzivah Hashem es Moshe", comments: 'This corresponds to Moshe's request to blot him out from G-d's Book. Eighteen times, all in all, the Torah writes this phrase or a slight variation of it, corresponding to which Chazal instituted eighteen b'rochos in the Amidah, and the b'rochoh of 've'Lamalshinim' which was only added later, corresponds to the posuk "ka'asher tzivoh Hashem kein osu". The total number of words contained in all of these phrases equals a hundred and thirteen, which is equivalent to the total number of words contained in the endings of all the nineteen b'rochos ('Boruch Ato Hashem, Mogen Avrohom', then 'Boruch Ato Hashem, Mechayeh h'Meisim').

The word 'leiv' (heart) also appears in the Torah one hundred and thirteen times, because tefilah must come from the heart (not just from the mouth).


Avodah she'ba'Lev

It has often occurred to me that whereas many people will pick up a seifer and learn during Davening, one rarely sees the reverse. How often does one see someone picking up a Sidur to daven during learning?

This can be attributed to a number of causes. But above all, it would seem that this is one of the many tricks of the Yeitzer ha'Ra to distract a person from davening properly (and make no mistake, strictly speaking, it is halachically incorrect to learn as long as davening is in progress). Because when we learn Torah, we serve Hashem principally with our minds, with the intention of taking what we learn to heart later. Davening, on the other hand, is described as Avodah she'ba'Lev (the 'Service of the Heart'), and Chazal have already taught us that 'Rachmana Liba Ba'i' ('G'd wants our hearts'), and it is from the heart that our prayers must permeate our minds. In similar vein, it has been said that whereas Torah is Hashem's method of communicating with us, tefilah is our method of communicating with Him. Of what use, one must ask oneself constantly, is any form of communication that does not come from the heart and therefore lacks sincerity?

That is why the Yeitzer ha'Ra will do everything in his power to interfere with Tefilah. When it suits him, he will even resort to frumkeit (known as 'the frume Yeitzer ha'Ra'). He will say 'Learn kinderlech, because learning is the biggest Mitzvah!'. The Yeitzer ha'Ra knows that by weakening our Tefilos, he weakens the link between ourselves and our Creator, a link that can only be forged through Tefilah.


Interestingly, anything which disturbs our Tefilah, interferes with our success in all areas, even that of Torah study, like we find with the early Chasidim, who, Chazal teach us, would succeed in their learning in a way that belies comprehension, precisely because they would spend three hours at each Tefilah. In the long run it appears, that learning during Davening is self-defeating, whereas total concentration on one's tefilah will help one to grow in Torah as well.


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