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

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Vol. 20   No. 35

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmos
Yeshaya ben Baruch z"l
and his wife Henna bas R' Yisrael z"l

Parshas Beha'aloscho

Like a Child Runs Away from School

" they traveled from the Mountain of G-d, a journey of three days, and the Aron of G-d traveled before them, a journey of three days, to seek for them rest." (10:33).

Rashi interprets "a journey of three days" to mean that they actually covered a journey of three days in one day (otherwise, the word "journey" is superfluous). And he attributes this to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu's keenness to bring them to Eretz Yisrael as quickly as possible. Indeed, had they not proceeded to sin, the Ramban comments, they would, in all likelihood have entered Eretz Yisrael immediately. According to the simple P'shat, that explains why the Torah continues " Arise Hashem, and may your enemies scatter, and may those who hate You flee before You". Had they not sinned, Yisrael would not have had to fight; the Cana'anim would simply have scattered and fled, as the commentaries point out (See also Devarim 1:8). In no time at all, the Land would have been in their hands and they would have settled down in it.

But alas, that was not to be. Yisrael sinned, again and again, culminating in the sending of the spies. And those sins served as a catalyst that would change their destiny forever. Not only did that generation not enter Eretz Yisrael, but died in the desert. Not only did their children have to wait forty years before they were able to enter. Instead of entering Eretz Yisrael and simply taking possession of it, they were forced to fight for it - battles that they never quite finished. And that led to other problems that eventually resulted in the destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash.

And that sequence of tragedies began with this Pasuk, as Rashi explains, citing the Gemara in Shabbos (116a), which explains that the Torah inserts this Pasuk here, out of place, only to divide between one punishment and another. The Gemara there explains that the second punishment (which the Ramban interprets as 'sin') is the people's complaining about the constant traveling - see Rashi [in chapter 11, Pasuk 1), and the first, their traveling from the Mountain of G-d (Har Sinai). But since that does not appear to be sinful, Rashi connects it with the desire for meat (in Pasuk 4), which it somehow connects with their departure from Har Sinai.


The Ramban however, rejects Rashi's explanation, inasmuch as it inverts the order of the punishments as they appear in the Chumash, listing Pasuk 4 as the first punishment and Pasuk 1 as the second one.

He therefore concurs with Tosfos in Shabbos, who explains the first sin with the Medrash - that Yisrael were happy to leave Har Sinai, like a child who runs from school. They ran from Har Sinai, he explains, because it was the Mountain of G-d, for fear that He might give them even more Mitzvos.

And he concludes that the Torah inserted the two Pesukim "Vayehi bi'neso'a" and "u've'Nuchoh yomar" to prevent three punishments from appearing in a row, so that Yisrael should not have a Chazakah of punishments.


We learned earlier, that according to the Ramban, the word 'punishments' used by Chazal in this instance, refers to sins - since there is no mention of punishment following the sin of leaving Har Sinai joyfully.

The Rosh however disagrees. (Incidentally, like Tosfos, the Rosh refers to two punishments, as the Gemara says, and not three, though admittedly, they do not deal with the fact that, after the break, we are left with two punishments anyway). He explains that the Gemara really does mean two 'punishments', and he cites a Medrash. The Medrash relates how, when they left Har Sinai, they actually went back eight journeys, until G-d stopped them, and many people died as a result. This, he says, is the punishment to which the Gemara is referring.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

Tefilas ha'Derech

"Arise Hashem, and let your enemies scatter, and those who hate You flee before You" (10:35).

Moshe prayed here for the enemies who had gathered to attack Yisrael to scatter, so that no two of them should remain together, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, and that should their initial attack succeed, they should flee and be unable to regroup.

This he says, was their Tefilas ha'Derech.


Moshe Was Ready to Give Up

" that You say to me 'carry them in your bosom!' " (11:13).

If not for that, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, Moshe would have given up and fled.

" ve'al er'eh be'ro'osi (11:15).

Unlike Rashi, the Da'as Zekeinim translates this as "and let me not see the evil that will befall me!" In other words, Moshe, in his distress, was stating that he would rather die there and then, than fade away at the hands of the rebellious people.


Moshe's Humility

"And the man Moshe was extremely humble (Anav me'od) " (12:3).

The Da'as Zekeinim explains that the Pasuk mentions this here, because, although Moshe was aware of his brother and sister's conversation, he declined to react. That is why G-d had to intervene on his behalf.

Moreover, he points out, the word "Anav" is missing a 'Vav', so that the word is spelt 'Ayin, Nun Vav', which, when written out in full (Ayin is spelt 'Ayin 'Yud' Nun' ), adds up to two hundred and forty-eight, the number of limbs in a man's body. This teaches us that Moshe's unique humility extended to every limb in his body!


Nothing to Do with Moshe

"And G-d said to Moshe, Aharon and Miriam suddenly " (13:4).

He called them suddenly, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, giving Moshe no time to Daven. In this way, he says, they would know that it was G-d's decision to intervene on behalf of Moshe, and not on account of Moshe's Tefilos.

* * *


"Am I the father of this people like a nurse (ho'omein) carries a baby " (11:12).

The Tagin (crowns) on the 'Hey' of the word "ho'Omein", the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, symbolizes the five things that a father acquires on behalf of his son (with his merit) - Good looks, strength, wealth, wisdom and long life (Pirkei Avos 6:8) (See Ba'al ha'Turim, who quotes a Pasuk in support of each one.)

And just as he acquires these five things if he is worthy, so too, does he acquire the opposite if he is not. Hence the Pasuk writes in connection with Yo'av "And there will fall on the head of Yoav, and there will not cease from Yo'av's house 'a Zav, a Metzora, someone who holds a spindle (see R'dak), who falls by the sword and who lacks food".

"A Zav" (who is weak) corresponds to 'strength'

"a Metzora"(who appears ugly in the eyes of those who see him), to good looks

"someone who holds a spindle" (which is symbolical of someone who is too stupid to study a good profession), to wisdom "one who falls by the sword," to long life, and

"someone who is short of bread", to wealthy.


"Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Yisrael" (11:16).

The number seventy, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is a most auspicious number. Here, he explains, it corresponds to the seventy souls that accompanied Ya'akov down to Egypt, the seventy nations, the seventy Names of G-d and the seventy names of Yisrael (both of which he lists) and the seventy names of Yerushalayim.


" and I will 'siphon off' some of the spirit that is upon you and place it upon them" (11:17).

"I will neither choose them", said G-d, "nor will I place My spirit upon them. For I told you that you alone will carry them, and it was you who said that you cannot . So you pick those who will carry you and place some of your spirit upon them".

Hence the Torah writes (in Pasuk 25) " and He siphoned off some of the spirit that was on him and placed it upon them". Regarding Eldad and Meidad however, who were not included in those seventy men, the Torah writes there (in Pasuk 26) "And the Spirit rested upon them". This refers (not to the spirit of Moshe, but) to the Spirit of G-d. That explains why, when Yehoshua complained to Moshe, the latter replied "Would that the entire people of G-d be prophets (like Eldad and Meidad)!" Presumably it also explains why the prophecy of Eldad and Meidad was superior to that of the seventy prophets in a number of ways, as Chazal explain (See Da'as Zekeinim 11:27).

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