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

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 18   No. 37

This issue is sponsored
by Family Saperstein "
" " (" )
" (" )

Parshas Beha'aloscho

Moshe's Question
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

When Yisrael grumbled about the lack of meat, G-d instructed Moshe to inform them that, at one and the same time he would satisfy their desire and kill them within thirty days. Moshe's reply, querying G-d's response is unclear, and Rashi cites the Machlokes between Rebbi Akiva and his Talmid Rebbi Shimon on how to interpret it.

Rebbi Akiva, he explains, takes Moshe's words at surface value - that even if the people were to Shecht all their sheep and cattle, it would not suffice to feed and satisfy six hundred thousand people for thirty days!

Rebbi Shimon on the other hand, cannot accept that Moshe Rabeinu, of all people would issue such a blasphemous statement (which casts doubt on G-d's ability to do whatever He sees fit).

He therefore explains Moshe's question in a completely different light. It just didn't seem right, he explains, for G-d to perform such an incredible miracle for an entire nation and then to kill them all in the process. And he compares it to feeding a donkey a kur (thirty Sa'ah) of barley and then promptly cutting off its head.

To which G-d replied that since the people doubted His ability to satisfy their desires, He would defend His Name and fulfil their wishes - to demonstrate once and for all that there was nothing that He could not do, before issuing them their just deserts, irrespective of how inappropriate this may seem to be.


To soften the question on Rebbi Akiva, the K'li Yakar suggests that perhaps what Rashi meant was, not that Moshe for one moment doubted G-d's ability to fulfil His words, but that he issued a statement that conveyed the impression that he did. (Likewise one can explain Avraham Avinu's question "How do I know that I will inherit the land?", where what he really meant to ask was on what merit his descendents would inherit it yet corresponding to the four words that he uttered, Yisrael would have to suffer four hundred years exile - because what he said conveyed the impression that he was querying G-d's promise).


In any event, says the K'li Yakar, most commentaries explain the Pasuk differently than the two above-mentioned explanations presented by Rashi. And he issues the following explanation (an explanation that virtually tallies with that of the Seforno, whom he does not mention by name) as the one that is the most appropriate: Bearing in mind that it was not meat that they wanted, but to grumble (the Seforno says to test Hashem, as the Pasuk explains in Tehilim [78:18]), how would providing them with meat stop them from grumbling, seeing as they were not short of meat, they would simply find something else to grumble about (or to test Hashem) as Chazal have said 'A person who has a hundred Zuz wants two hundred; Give him two hundred and he will want four hundred!' The only way to stop them would be to remove the current Yeitzer ha'Ra, and that is something that G-d does not do for - 'Everything is in the Hands of G-d, barring the fear of G-d!'). That is why Moshe said "If all the sheep and cattle would be Shechted for them (which in itself was feasible), would it satisfy them? If all the fish in the sea were to be gathered for them (which in itself was feasible), would it satisfy them? It was satisfying them that was not deasible.

And that is why G-d answered - "Is the Hand of Hashem lacking?", the Seforno explains - 'You will see, that they will eat the meat that I will send them of their own accord, and of their own accord they will soon become sick of it, without any coercion on My part!'; a clear demonstration that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that G-d cannot do.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

All Seven Lights

" towards the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps shine" (8:2).

According to Rashi, who explains that 'the face of the Menorah' refers to the middle lamp and that the wicks of the three eastern lamps and of the three western lamps faced the middle one, comments the Riva, the Torah ought to have said " shall the six lamps shine"?

What the Torah seems to be saying, he answers, is that the six lamps on the six branches shall shine towards the middle lamp, and so shall the middle lamp itself, by virtue of the fact that it will shine upwards (in the same direction as the stem to which it was attached) and will not turn in any other direction.

The above explanation goes according to those who hold that the Menorah stood from North to south. According to those who maintain that it stood from east to west, what the Pasuk means is that the wicks of all seven lamps were to face towards the west, which it calls "p'nei ha'Menorah" (the front of the Menorah), as Rashi explains in Shabbos.


The Rashbam however, has a totally different explanation. In his opinion, according to those who hold that the Menorah stood from north to south, the 'face of the Menorah' refers to the Poroches (the Holy Curtain that divided between the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodshim), in which case all the wicks were placed facing westwards; whereas according to those who maintain that it stood from east to west, the face of the Menorah refers to the Shulchan, which stood on the north side of the Kodesh, and all the wicks were turned facing northwards.


The Second Bull

" and a second bull you shall take as a sin-offering" (8:8).

Based on his explanation (in Pasuk 7) that the entire ceremony of the Levi'im's inauguration was an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, Rashi comments that the command to bring a bull as a sin-offering rather than a goat (which is the communal sin-offering for idolatry) was a ruling for that time only (a horo'as sho'oh).

Since when, asks the Riva, does one bring a goat for idolatry that the people worshipped be'Meizid (with intent to sin), seeing as a sin-offering is generally confined to a sin that one perpetrates be'Shogeg?

That is correct, he answers, but what Rashi means is that now that the Torah prescribed a sin offering to atone for the Golden Calf as if they had sinned be'Shogeg, it ought to have prescribed a goat.

Rabeinu Tam however, answers the initial question with another question. Commenting on the Pasuk in Ki Sissa "These are your gods who brought you out (asher he'elucho) of Egypt", citing the people's reaction to the appearance of the Golden Calf, he quotes Chazal, who comment that had they not used the plural ("asher he'elucho" - rather than the singular 'asher 'he'elcho '), implying that G-d was involved in the Exodus too, they would have all been wiped out.

Yet the Pasuk in Tehilim, with reference to exactly the same event, describes how they grumbled in their tents and proclaimed "These are your gods who brought you out (asher he'elcho) of the land of Egypt ". Note how here, "he'elcho" is written in the singular!?

To resolve the contradiction, Rabeinu Tam explains that there were indeed two groups in K'lal Yisrael: The most pervert among them actually accepted the Golden Calf as a deity, and they are the ones who referred to it in the singular; But there were also those who rejected it as a god. They did however, ascribe supernatural powers to the Golden Calf.

Consequently, they are considered as having sinned be'Shogeg, and it was on their behalf that the Levi'im now brought a bull rather than a goat, as Rashi explains.


Upon Retiring

" from the age of fifty he shall retire from the legion of work (in which) he shall no longer serve" (8:25).

He retires, Rashi explains, from the service of carrying (the Holy Vessels) on the shoulders, but he returns to close the gates, to sing and to load the wagons, as the Torah continues "And he shall serve together with his brothers" (as per Unklus' translation).

Rashi's explanation refers to the B'nei K'has exclusively, the Riva explains, This is because, as far as the B'nei Gershon and the B'nei Merari are concerned, it makes no sense to say that 'he returns to close the gates', since that is what they did in the first place, as Rashi himself will say shortly.

What happened in fact, the Riva explains, was that every Levi who reached retiring age (fifty) became disqualified from serving in the particular service that he had performed until then. Consequently, the B'nei K'has, who initially carried the Holy Vessels on their shoulders, became disqualified from that service when they turned fifty, and they returned to load the wagons; whereas the B'nei Gershon and the B'nei Merari, who had previously dismantled the Mishkan and loaded it on to the wagons, became ineligible to do so at the age of fifty, but they returned to sing and to guard the gates.

When Rashi writes that they returned to close the gates, he is referring to the period of Mishkan Shiloh and not that of the Beis Hamikdash; whereas loading the wagons pertains to the era of the Mishkan in the desert.


Two Silver Trumpets

"Make for yourself two silver trumpets" (10:2).

The reason that the trumpets were made of silver and not of gold, the Riva explains, is due to the principle that 'G-d has pity on the money of Yisrael', and is modest in his financial demands on the community.

Alternatively, he adds, it was because, as the Pasuk goes on to explain, the trumpets served to remind G-d of our needs, and as we know, gold, tends to remind Him of the Golden Calf. Consequently, the trumpets would not have served their purpose had they been made of gold.


Weeping Postponed

"And Moshe heard the people weeping in family groups" (11:10).

Quoting Chazal, Rashi explains that they were weeping over incest that had become forbidden to them.

But why did they only weep now, asks the Riva, seeing as the prohibition came into effect at Matan Torah that took place a year earlier?

And he answers that when they heard about the prohibition, they restrained themselves in order not to disturb the Simchah of Matan Torah.


Two Kinds of Sins

"Even if You will Shecht for them sheep and cattle, will it satisfy them" (11:22).

This is how Rashi, citing Rebbi Akiva, interprets the Pasuk, suggesting that somehow G-d was not able to satisfy Yisrael's needs - which is why R. Shimon sharply disagrees with his Rebbe.

Rashi then asks whether this question, which Moshe put to G-d deliberately, was not worse than that of the Water of Merivah, for which he was severely punished, even though his sin there was inadvertent?

And he answers that this was because the sin of Mei Merivah was performed in public, whereas the dialogue here took place in private.

The Riva queries this from Chazal, who say that someone who sins secretly will be punished in public, insinuating that a sin performed in private is worse than one performed in public?

To which he answers that Chazal are speaking there where there is no Chilul Hashem, whereas Moshe's sin at Mei Merivah involved Chilul Hashem.

I would suggest that there is a difference between somebody who sins in private and someone who sins in secret, inasmuch as the latter is more afraid of man than he is of G-d, as opposed to the former, who is equally afraid of both. Indeed, that is in essence, what Chazal say to explain why a Ganav (a thief who steals secretly) is worse than a robber (who steals openly). That being the case, Chazal's statement concerning someone who sins secretly has nothing to do with Moshe's sin, which may well have been performed in private, but it was not performed in secret!


How to Stop them Prophesying

"My master Moshe, stop them (k'lo'eim)" 31:28.

Involve them in communal affairs, Rashi explains, and they will stop automatically.

How, asks the Riva, will that prevent them from prophesying?

To answer the question, he explains that the excessive trouble that goes with communal activism would inevitably cause them to become sad, and, as Chazal have taught, the Shechinah does not rest on a person who is sad or lazy; only on a someone who is happy! Consequently, they will be unable to prophesy.

According to this explanation, the Riva points out, the word "k'lo'eim" means (not 'put them in jail', as Unklus translates it, but) 'stop them' (as we translated it).

* * *


"And Moshe told the B'nei Yisrael to bring (la'asos) the (Korban) Pesach" (9:4).

The word "la'asos", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is written without the 'Vav'; a hint that this was the only Korban Pesach that Yisrael brought throughout the forty years that they spent in the desert.


"And there were men who were Tamei Tum'as Meis ( anoshim asher hoyu temei'im le'nefesh odom) " (9:7).

Some say that the people involved were those who were responsible for transporting Yosef's coffin to Eretz Yisrael. According to others, they had buried a meis Mitzvah (somebody who had died suddenly and there were no relatives on hand to bury him).

In light of these two explanations, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes a. that the Gematriyah of "anoshim asher hoyu temei'im le'nefesh odom" is equivalent to that of 'Eilu she'hoyu nos'in arono shel Yosef' (they were the ones who carried Yoesf's coffin), and b. that "asher hoyu temei'im" is equivalent to 'zeh le'meis Mitvah'!


" any man who is a long distance (derech rechokah [from the Beis ha'Mikdash]) 9:10.

Based on Rashi, who explains that the dot on the 'Hey' qualifies 'a long distance' to mean 'outside the threshold of the Azarah during the time of the Shechitah of the Korban Pesach', the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the word 'rochok' (as if the 'Hey' was not written) has the same Gematriyah as 'zeh me'iskupah' (this is from the threshold).


" and he refrains (ve'chodal) from bringing the Pesach, that person shall be cut off (ve'nichr'esoh ha'nefesh ha'hi) from his people (Chayav Kareis)" 9:13.

The same word (ve'chodal) appears in Tehilim (49:9) " and it will cease forever". 'Forever' sometimes refers to the fifty years of the Yovel. The Torah is therefore hinting here that someone who fails to bring the Korban Pesach, and who is Chayav Kareis will die before he reaches the age of fifty.

The last letters of "ve'nichr'soH ha'nefeSh ha'hI" spell 'ishoh', a hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that a woman is subject to the same punishments as a man, should she transgress the Mitzvos of the Torah.


"And it shall be that that if you (Yisro) will accompany us, then that good that G-d will do with us, we will do with you" (10:32).

Including two times in Pasuk 29, the word 'good' and its derivatives are mentioned five times, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains - "ve'heitavnu", "tov", "ha'tov, "yeitiv" and "ve'heitavnu".

The five times hints at the five hundred Amos square that were given to Yisro and his descendents (the only Geirim to enjoy such a privilege) in Eretz Yisrael.

In addition, he points out, the Gematriyah of the five words is equivalent to that of 'bi'Yericho'!

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

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

Mitzvah 220:
Leaving a Corner of One's Vineyard

It is a Mitzvah to leave a corner of one's vineyard intact. That corner, the Torah refers to as 'Ol'los'. This means that one is obligated to leave all the incomplete clusters of grapes in the vineyard as Pe'ah, as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:10) " for the poor and the convert you shall leave them" after having stated " and you shall not take the Ol'los of your vineyard" (Ibid.) This is the opinion of the Rambam z.l., that Ol'los of the vineyard are in place of Pe'ah of other trees. The Ramban however, disagrees; The author will elaborate on their Machlokes in the following Mitzvah. He will also discuss the source for Pe'ah on all trees, together with other details of the Mitzvah as he customarily does.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel