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

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Vol. 17   No. 36

This issue is sponsored jointly
with wishes for a Refu'ah Sh'leimah for
Shoshana bas Chana n"y
Dovid ben Sarah n"y
l'iluy Nishmas
Michoel ben Avraham Nosson HaLevi (Hirshberg) Hamilton z"l
whose first Yohrzeit was 2 Tammuz
by his loving wife, children,
grandchildren and great grandchildren

Parshas Chukas

Sh'lomoh's Wisdom
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

After stating that things that were not revealed to Moshe were revealed to R. Akiva, R. Bachye, citing the Medrash Tanchuma, quotes Sh'lomoh ha'Melech, who said in Koheles (7:23) "All this I put to the test in my wisdom. I said that I was wise, but it is far from me!" "I said that I was wise", as the Navi writes in Melachim (8:9) "And G-d gave wisdom to Sh'lomoh" and he continues (8:10) "And the wisdom of Sh'lomoh exceeded the wisdom of all the people of the East (who were expert in astrology and that of 'Ti'ar' [a type of communication with a bird by that name who could read the stars]), and the wisdom of Egypt". In defining the wisdom of Egypt, the Medrash relates how, when Sh'lomoh wanted to build the Beis-Hamikdash, he asked Par'oh Nechei to supply him with craftsmen to assist in the building, and for whose services he would pay. The crafty king consulted his astrologers, with whose help he sent Sh'lomoh ha'Melech craftsmen all of whom were destined to die within the year. When they arrived, Sh'lomoh saw with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh what Par'oh had done. He provided them all with shrouds and sent them back with the message that if it was because he could not afford the shrouds of so many people that he sent them to him, then here were the shrouds (with his compliments).

The Navi continues " … and he was wiser than all men (Adam) than Eisan ha'Ezrachi, than Heiman, Kalkal and Darda, B'nei Mochol".

Wiser than Adam, R. Bachye continues, refers to Adam ha'Rishon. And he elaborates with the story connected with his creation. When the angels protested "What is man that You will remember him?", G-d replied that the man that He was about to create was in fact, wiser than them. To prove His point, G-d then gathered all the animals, the Chayos and the birds, and asked the angels what their names were. When they were unable to give an answer (since the albeit vast knowledge of the angels is restricted to what is revealed, but does not extend to hidden things), he asked Adam the same question, he proceeded to name each one - 'This one ought to be called "Ari", that one "Shor", this one "Sus", that one "Chamor" and that one "Gamal" '. Using the mastery over the letters and words of the 'Alef Beis' with which he was created (no, he wasn't a cave-man), he named each and every animal according to the name that suited its characteristics (e.g. each one according to its strength, its swiftness, its cruel nature or its placidity).

'And what's your name?' G-d asked Adam. 'My name is "Adam", because I was created from Adamah (earth).'

'What will I then be called,'?

'Your name is "Hashem" (denoting the eternal Master).'


'Because You are the Master of all the creations!'

That is why the Pasuk in Yeshayah states "I am Hashem that is My Name" - 'That is the Name that Adam ha'Rishon called Me!

That is the name that I agreed to be called by all My creations!'


" … More than Eisan ha'Ezrachi" - refers to Avraham Avinu (who came from the east); whilst "… Heiman" refers to Moshe Rabeinu, about whom the Torah writes "be'Chol beisi ne'eman hu' (in all of My house he is loyal)'.

And finally, Sh'lomoh was wiser than "Kalkal" and "Darda B'nei Mochol" with reference to Yosef, who sustained Egypt ("Vayechalkel Yosef") and the generation of the desert (otherwise known as "Dor De'ah", the knowledgeable generation), respectively.

Yosef's knowledge can be summed up in the Medrash, which describes how the Egyptians were initially reluctant to accept him as king, as Par'oh suggested, assuming that the knowledge and intelligence of a slave must be rather limited. So they brought seventy pieces of paper, on which they wrote notes in seventy languages, and placed them before Yosef. Picking up one note at a time, Yosef read back to them every note, and finally began speaking to them in Lashon ha'Kodesh, a language with which none of them was acquainted - as is hinted in the Pasuk in Tehilim "He placed it as a testimony for Yehosef when he went out over the land of Egypt, when I heard a language that I did not know". Note that Yosef is spelt with an extra 'Hey', so that it contains all three letters that comprise G-d's four-letter Name.

And finally, he was wiser than "Darda" - the Dor ha'Midbar, whom the Shechinah had forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf.


"And he spoke three thousand parables, and his song was a thousand and five" (Ibid 12). But how is this possible, asks Rav Shmuel bar Nachmeni, when the total number of Pesukim in all of Sh'lomoh ha'Melech's Sefarim combined falls short of eight hundred? What he therefore means is that on each Pasuk that he wrote he said many interpretations and many parables.

"And he spoke about the wood and he spoke about the animals and the birds" (Ibid 13).

"And he spoke about the trees". Why, Sh'lomoh asked, does the purification ceremony of a Metzora requires the tallest of the tall (a piece of cedar wood) and the smallest of the small (a hyssop-twig)? - And he replied that it is when a person raises his esteem like a cedar that he contracts Tzara'as, and that when he subsequently makes himself small like a hyssop, he will be cured with a twig of hyssop.


"And he spoke about the animals and the birds …" - Why is it, he asked, that an animal become permitted when its two Simanim are Shechted, whereas with a bird, one will suffice? And he answered that it is because animals were created from earth, whereas birds were created either from water (see footnote in R. Bachye) or from mud (a combination of earth and water).

" … and about the vermin and the fish" - Why it is that someone who traps or Shechts one of the eight Sheratzim (listed in the Torah) on Shabbos is Chayav, whereas if he traps or Shechts any of the other species, he is Patur? Because the eight species have skins, whereas the other species don't!

And as for the fish not requiring Shechitah at all, this is because the Torah writes in Beha'aloscha "Will sheep and cattle be Shechted for them. Will all the fish of the sea be gathered for them"?, indicating that sheep and cattle require Shechitah, fish don't!


"In all these matters", Shlomoh ha'Melech concluded, "I found the answers, but when it came to the Parah Adumah, I did not! I thought I was wise, but it is distant (ve'hi rechokoh) from me!" Note, that the Gematriyah of "ve'hi rechokoh" is equivalent to that of 'Parah Adumah!'

Remarkable, Sh'lomoh ha'Melech did not know the reasoning behind the Parah Adumah, whereas R. Akiva did, as we pointed out earlier.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

A Red Midget

" … and they shall take to you a cow that is completely red, that has no blemish … " (19:2).

The Pasuk is speaking exclusively about a cow whose colour is not completely red (i.e. that has at least two black or other coloured hairs, as Rashi explains). This, says Rabeinu Bachye, comes to preclude a cow that is exceptionally small, which is no less Kasher than a full-size one.


The Nine Red Cows


To date, R. Bachye informs us, nine red cows have been brought from the time that Elazar ha'Kohen prepared the first one in the desert, up until the destruction of the second Beis-Hamikdash. They were brought by … Moshe & Ezra. Then Shimon ha'Tzadik & Yochanan Kohen Gadol each brought two. And the last three were brought by Aliuhini, Chanam'el ha'Mitzri and Yishmael ben Fiabi (three Kohanim Gedolim, to be assumed). There will be a tenth one, says the author, which will be brought by Mashi'ach.

It is interesting to note that throughout the four hundred and ten years that the first Beis-Hamikdash stood, they brought only one Parah Adumah, as opposed to eight that were brought during four hundred and twenty years of the second Beis-Hamikdash.


The Yeitzer-HaRa Tools

There are four things, says R. Bachye, on which the Yeitzer-HaRa challenges us. By each of these the Torah uses the word "Chukah".

; 1. Eishes Ach; 2 Kilayim (Sha'atnez); 3. The Sa'ir ha'Mishtalei'ach; 4. The Parah Adumah.

Why it is that on the one hand …

… a man is not permitted to marry his deceased brother's wife; yet if the latter dies childless, leaving his wife a widow, it becomes a Mitzvah to perform Yibum.

… one is forbidden to wear a mixture of wool and linen, whilst on the other, a (white) linen garment with four corners requires, inter alia, a dark-blue woollen thread on each corner.

… the Az'azel Goat, is taken out to the desert to be killed, yet on the other hand, it atones for the people, enabling them to live.

… almost all the people who deal with the preparation of the Red Heifer from beginning to end, become Tamei, yet the Cow itself renders those who are Tamei, Tahor.


The Three Things

"Whoever touches a dead person … he shall be purified through it (the ashes of the Parah Adumah" [19:11/12]).

From here the Minhag emerges, says R. Bachye, to wash one's hands after burying a Meis, a ceremony that is reminiscent of that of the ashes of the Parah Adumah. Furthermore, he explains, it is a reminder to avoid rendering oneself Tamei, as the Navi Yechezkel says (36:8) "And I will sprinkle on you pure water and you will become pure … ".

Also the Minhag to pull out grass hints at Techi'as ha'Meisim, for the grass tends to wither at night-time whereas it sprouts in the morning, as the Pasuk says in Tehilim (72:47). "And they will sprout from the city like the grass of the field."


Who is Called Adam?

"A man (Adam) who dies in the tent … whoever comes into the tent… shall be Tamei for seven days" (19:14).

R. Bachye explains that the Torah uses the word 'tent' (even though people generally live in houses), because it is speaking to the people of that generation, all of whom lived in tents.

And, citing the opinion of R. Shimon in Yevamos (61a), he adds that from the word "Adam" Chazal confine the Din of Tum'as Ohel to the corpses of B'nei Yisrael, who are called 'Adam' ('Atem k'ru'yim Adam … ').

To reconcile this with the Pasuk in Matos (31:40), which specifically refers to the Midyanites as "Adam", he explains that the Pasuk there does so in order to differentiate between the animals and the people that were captured there.


Wot, No Bread? Wot, No Water?

"And the people spoke against G-d and against Moshe, and they said … for there is no bread and no water"

What on earth were they talking about, asks R. Bachye? The Manna fell every day, and Miriam's well had just begun to flow again on the merit of Moshe? So how could they make such a statement?


Their complaint, he explains, had nothing to do with a shortage of food and water. It concerned their unusual way of life. Other nations, they were complaining, received their basic needs, irrespective of their behaviour; They did not have to be good in order to receive their bread, and did not lose it when they strayed from G-d's chosen path! Whereas they (Yisrael) were unique, in that they did not receive their staple diet for more than a day at a time, Their larders were never stocked like those of other people. See how even their water supply, which others had available at all times, was subject to Divine mercy. No sooner had Miriam died, than the well stopped providing them with water. What K'lal Yisrael resented therefore, was to be constantly accountable for their deeds before receiving their daily bread ration. They wanted to be free to choose their own lifestyle, and to have constant access to their food, regardless of their actions, just like everybody else.

To make matters worse, they grumbled about the wonderful Manna - "Our souls are sick of this bread that does not satisfy"! 'How can a person possibly take in and not excrete!' they cried.

This is how they dared speak about the special food that G-d provided them in the desert (a place where no food at all was otherwise available)! Yes, G-d gave them special treatment by providing them with a daily portion of special bread, in a most unique and dignified manner. Yet they managed to find fault with it.


And why did G-d sustain them in this way?

He simply wanted to train this potentially unique generation (the 'Dor Dei'ah', as they are called - see main article) in the Midah of Bitachon. He wanted them to learn to trust in Him implicitly, to know that if they have enough food for today, they do not need to worry about tomorrow, because just as G-d sustained them today, so He will sustain them tomorrow, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (123:2) "Behold like the eyes of slaves that are turned towards their master, so are our eyes turned towards Hashem our G-d … ".

But they were not interested about raising their spiritual level. All they wanted was to live natural lives, just like everybody else.

* * *


'And Amalek, who was living in a land in the south, and who came and changed (his identity) and ruled in Arad, because Aharon had died, and the Pillar of Cloud that led them on his merit had departed … , and that Yisrael were coming by the same route as the Spies (had used), the location where they had rebelled against the Master of the World; because when the Spies returned, Yisrael were encamped in Kadeish (Barnei'a). They then travelled back (six camps) from Kadeish to Moseiros. Forty years they traveled from Moseiros until they arrived again in Kadeish by way of the Spies … So they came and waged war with Yisrael, from whom they took many captives' (21:1).


'A Heavenly Voice fell from the sky, and announced "Let all people come and see how many kindnesses I performed on behalf of the people (Yisrael); I redeemed them and took them out of Egypt and I sent them Manna from Heaven; and now they are complaining about it! There is the snake, on which I decreed at the beginning of the Creation that his food will comprise dust. It has not complained about its means of sustenance, but My people have! Therefore let the snakes who have not complained about their food come and bite the people who have!" ' (21:6).


'From there (Iyei ha'Avarim) they travelled, and they encamped in a valley where grew (a variety of herbs) willows, ''Gali' and "Sigli" ' (21:12).


'Therefore it is said in the Seifer Torah, where there are written the battles of G-d - Es and Hav (two Metzora'im), who were stricken with Tzara'as and who were therefore sent to the outskirts of the Camp; they informed Yisrael how Edom and Mo'av had hidden among the mountains to ambush the people of Beis Yisrael and to destroy them, but G-d had hinted to the mountains to come together … ' (21:14).


' … the flow of the river of blood stretched as far as the dwellings of Or (the capitol of Mo'av), whose inhabitants were saved from this destruction, because they were not party to that plot … ' (21:15).


'So Yisrael sang the praise of this song when the well that was given to them on the merit of Miriam, after it was hidden and went away. "Come up o well! Come up o well!" they sang to it; and it came up' (21:17).


'The well that the fathers of the world - Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov dug , the princes of old dug it, the heads of the people, Moshe and Aharon, the Sofrim (leaders) of the people drew it (from its source) with their staffs … ' (21:18).


'And once it was given to them as a gift it went up with them to the top of the high places, and from the high places it went with them to the valley, whence it went round the entire camp of Yisrael, and provided water for each and every person at the entrance of his tent' (21:19).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'chinuch)

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

Mitzvah 452:
Not to Eat the Limb of a Live Animal (cont.)

Someone who eats a k'zayios of Eiver min ha'Chai is subject to malkos, Even if he ate a complete limb, if it measures a k'Zayis, he is Chayav; less than a k'Zayis, he is Patur … If one cuts off from the limb a k'Zais of flesh, sinews and bones and eats it, he is subject to Malkos, even though it only contains a minimal amount of Basar. But if, after severing the limb, he takes it apart and eats just the flesh, then he is only Chayav if he eats a full k'Zayis of flesh; the bones and sinews that he eats together with the flesh will not supplement the Shi'ur of a k'Zayis, since the limb is no longer the way it was when it was created … Similarly, if one divides the limb into pieces and then proceeds to eat it piece by piece, he is only Chayav provided he ate a k'Zayis of flesh … Someone who takes a k'Zayis of Eiver min ha'Chai, including flesh, sinews and bones and eats it, is Chayav, even though it breaks up into pieces in his mouth before he manages to swallow it, since that is the way one generally eats it … If, whilst severing a k'Zayis of Eiver min ha'Chai, one inflicts a wound that renders the animal a T'reifah (or if the animal was a T'reifah already), whoever eats that k'Zayis is subject to two sets of Malkos, one for Eiver min ha'Chai, and one for T'reifah. And by the same token, if one severs a k'Zayis of Cheilev from a live animal and eats it, one will be subject to Malkos for eating Cheilev over and above the Malkos that he receives for having eaten Eiver min ha'Chai. And if one severs a k'Zayis of Cheilev from an animal that is s T'reifah, he will receive three sets of Malkos, one for Eiver min ha'Chai, one for Cheilev and one for T'reifah … A piece of flesh or a limb of an animal that is loose that will not re-grow on to the animal is considered to be detached and may not be eaten even in the event that the animal is then Shechted, though eating it is not subject to Malkos. If, on the other hand, the animal then died by itself, it is as if the piece of flesh or the limb was detached, and one will receive Malkos for eating it (because of Eiver min ha'Chai). That is the Din if the piece of flesh or the limb is unable to re-grow; If it is, then, assuming tha animal is subsequently Shechted, it may be eaten.

* * *

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