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

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Vol. 19   No. 35

This issue is sponsored by Family Saperstein n"y
li"n Yuta Mirtza bas Dovid z"l (11 Sivan)
and Yehuda Zev ben Yisrael z"l (25 Sivan)

Parshas Beha'aloscha

When Yisrael Journeyed
(Adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

"And it was when the Aron would journey (Vay'hi bi'n'so'a ha'Aron), Moshe would say 'Arise Hashem, and let Your foes be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before You!' And when it rested, he would say (u've'Nuchoh yomar) 'Reside tranquilly Hashem, with the tens of thousands of Yisrael!'".


The Torah places the Parshah of "Vay'hi bi'neso'a ho'Oron" (10:3/4) in between two back-to-front Nunim. One reason for this, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, is because G-d wanted to take the tribes (whose total number of letters equals fifty [as we find with regard to the two stones of the Eifod]) across the Yarden (which was fifty Amos wide) into Eretz Yisrael. (See also Rashi, Pasuk 33). Unfortu-nately however, they sinned once again, and another opportunity to enter the land was lost. Alternatively, he adds, it is to indicate that these two Pesukim do not belong here, as the Gemara ex-plains in Shabbos, and the Torah inserts them to break between two punishments. The 'Nun' teaches us that it really belongs fifty Parshiyos away, and it is back-to-front (pointing backwards) to teach us that its correct location is fifty Parshiyos back (rather than forward). In fact, it belongs after the Pasuk in Bamidbar 2:17 (in connection with their departure from Har Sinai on the twentieth of Iyar, a year after they left Egypt) "And the Ohel Mo'ed traveled, the Camp of the Levi'im ".


Based on the well-known principle that the word "Vay'hi" often denotes sadness ('Woe'), the Ba'al ha'Turim explains the opening words to mean "Woe unto the nations, when Yisrael left Har Sinai to en-ter Eretz Yisrael!'. Which nations? The Gematriyah of "Vay'hi" is thirty-one, hint-ing at the thirty-one nations of Cana'an that Yisrael were on their way to destroy.


The Gematriyah of "bi'nso'a" is equivalent to that of 'Ya'akov', whose image (which is engraved underneath G-d's Throne of Glory) accompanied them on their journeys.


The word "u've'Nuchoh" ends with a 'Hey'' de-noting the four Camps of Yisrael plus the Camp of the Levi'im, which followed the Clouds of Glory through the desert.


A Complete Seifer

The Pasuk "Vay'hi bi'n'so'a" contains twelve words, as does that of "u'le'Chol ha'yad ha'chazokoh" (the last Pasuk in the Torah); whereas the Pasuk "u've'Nuchoh yomar" contains seven words, just as that of "Bereishis boro Elokim" (the first Pasuk in the Torah). This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that these two Pesukim are consid-ered a complete Seifer - like the opinion of Rebbi in Shabbos (117a), who, maintains that Seifer Bamid-bar is divided here into three Books, and that the Torah comprises seven S'farim, not five. And this is what the Pasuk in Mishlei (9:1) is referring to when it writes "He carved out its pillars, seven".

The Pesukim begin with a 'Vav' and end with a 'Lamed', because the Pasuk in Chavakuk 3:6) " for the ways of the world are His" - a hint that all travels are controlled by G-d, and take place under His jurisdiction.

Chazal say that an independent Parshah that con-tains eighty-five words (like that of "Vay'hi bi'n'so'a ha'aron") may be saved from a fire on Shabbos (i.e. carried into an area which has no Ei-ruv). And this is hinted by the fact that the very next Pasuk contains the phrase "and a fire of Hashem burned ". And that explains why, the Ba'al ha'Turim concludes, the Mitzvah of Milah (Gema-triyah 85) saves a person from the fire of Gehinom.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

The Rearguard of the Camps

"Then the banner of the camp of the B'nei Dan journeyed, the rearguard of all the camps" (10:25).

Based on the word 'me'asef' (which literally means the 'gatherer'), Rashi explains that in their ca-pacity as the largest camp (after that of Yehudah, the leading camp), they collected all the lost items left behind by the other camps and returned them to their owners.

As is well-known, there is a dispute as to whether the camps traveled in the same formation as they en-camped, or in a straight line, one behind the other.

Rashi's explanation, says the Riva, will only make sense according to the first opinion, in which case, due to their large numbers, they would have been able to fan out to cover the entire width of the camp. According to the other opinion, they would have been able to find lost objects, irrespective of their numbers.


The Seven Clouds

" the Cloud of G-d hovered over them by day when they journeyed from the camp" (10:34).

Rashi comments that the Torah mentions seven clouds in connection with their travels, four in the four directions (rendering them invisible to the other nations), one above (to protect them from the ele-ments) one below (to dry-clean their clothes even as they traveled) and one in front (to level all the hills and mountains in their path and to fill in all the pits). Not all seven clouds appear in this Parshah, says the Riva (nor does Rashi suggest that they do). As a matter of fact, he points out, only one appears here. The other six are scattered elsewhere, as the Sifri ex-plains; they appear in Parshas Pikudei and in Parshas Sh'lach-L'cha.


The Manna

"The people would pound it in a mortar, grind it in a mill, cook it in a pot or make it into cakes " (11:8).

Not really, comments Rashi. What the Torah means is that the Manna would be suitable for any of the above methods of preparation, if the Jews wanted. Otherwise, its natural taste was that of a honey-cake, as the Pasuk concludes.

Why, asks the Riva, does Rashi take the Pasuk out of context? Since the Torah specifically describes the various ways of preparing the Manna, what makes Rashi comment that this is not really what happened?

The answer, he explains, lies in the order in which the Pasuk presents the various possibilities. One doesn't pound and cook it first and then make it into cakes. Rather one first makes cakes and then breaks it into crumbs, and then pounds or grinds it before cooking it.

Clearly, that the Torah is therefore informing us is that it tasted like something that was pounded, ground, cooked or baked, all according to one's fancy.


Fair is Fair

" they (Eldad and Meidad) were among the nominees" (11:26).

Rashi explains that Moshe's intention was to take seventy-two slips of paper, on seventy of which he would write 'Zakein', leaving the other two blank, and place them in a box. Then each nominee would draw one slip of paper .

The Riva asks that the last two to draw their slips could claim that their chances of drawing a slip with the word 'Zakein' were reduced, since, by the law of averages, those who drew before them, with the ma-jority on their side, had more chance of drawing 'Zakein' than they did.

Here are two of the answers that he gives:

1. Citing the Rivan (Rashi's son-in-law) - that Moshe took, not seventy-two slips of paper, but sev-enty-four, on seventy two of which he wrote 'Zakein' and two of which he left blank. And this explains the Medrash, which describing the lottery, writes (in connection with the two elders who would have been rejected), states - Hakadosh-Baruch does not want you, because if He did, why did you not draw 'Zakein'? Others explain that there were not seventy-four slips of paper, but a hundred and forty-four, sev-enty-two with the word Zakein', and seventy-two blanks.

Needless to say, both of these explanations place the lottery into the realm of miracle, the one a little smaller, the other, larger.

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