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

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Vol. 18   No. 44

This issue is sponsored jointly
by the Braverman and Shapiro families
of Encino-Woodland Hills California
and Givat Ze'ev Israel
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Dovid Betzalel ben Lipa Hacohen z"l

Parshas Masei

(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

The Power of Deterrence

The Torah forbids taking a 'ransom' both from a murderer be'Meizid, to save him from the death-sentence, and from a murderer be'Shogeg from fleeing to a city of refuge.

The reasons for this, says Rebbi Menachem ha'Bavli, is twofold; firstly, he explains, because the very knowledge that a murderer will not be able to escape his due punishment will deter him from murdering in the first place; and secondly, because the Soul of the victim will not enter its final resting-place until revenge has been taken and justice performed with his murderer. This in turn, is due to the fact that it persists in its demands that G-d avenges its murder. And so, until justice is performed, the victim's Soul cannot be appeased and knows no peace - as we clearly see from the Spirit of Novos, which demanded the death-sentence against King Achav, and was denied entry into Gan Eden until it was carried out. And this explains why nothing, not even a pardon from the next of kin (on whom there lies a Mitzvah to avenge the victim's blood) or from Beis-Din, who are obligated to pass the death-sentence and to carry it out, will absolve him from the death sentence.

A further point that R. Menachem ha'Bavli raises is that if a murderer would be able to buy his way out and to go free, then any powerful man of means would feel free to murder his fellow-Jew and to pay his way to freedom.


It's All a Matter of Distance

Citing the Ramban, Rabeinu Bachye gives two reasons to explain why Eiver ha'Yarden (the East Bank) with its two and a half tribes, was allotted as many cites of refuge (three) as the West Bank of the Yarden (Eretz Yisrael proper), which housed nine and a half tribes. Firstly, he says, it was in deference to Moshe Rabeinu, who designated them; and secondly, because, despite the fact that Eiver ha'Yarden was the territory of the two kings, Sichon and Og, whereas that of the the rest of Eretz Yisrael, was governed by thirty-one kings, the former was a vast and specious territory as compared to the latter, where the towns were close to one another, so that the thirty-one kings ruled over relatively small areas. This is in keeping with Chazal who have taught us that every king made a point of acquiring a segment of Eretz Yisrael, irrespective of the minute size of the land over which he would then rule.


It's the Heart, for Better or for Worse

Rabeinu Bachye also comments that the fact that somebody who kills be'Shogeg must go into exile, and is not sentenced to death, drives home the importance of the heart in everything that we do. The heart, he says, is the most important part of the body. We see here that a person evades the death sentence simply because the body and the heart did not act in unison, the one by virtue of its movements, the other, by virtue of its intentions.

And what's more, he continues, the same will apply to the performing of a Mitzvah. There too, everything depends on the participation of the heart, on how much Kavanah one puts into a Mitzvah. Consequently, he says, somebody who performs a Mitzvah mot for the sake of Hashem will not receive any reward for his performance. Indeed, this is what David ha'Melech meant when he said in Tehilim (119) "And I will raise my hands to your Mitzvos that I love". And raising one's hands he explains, refers to Kavanah.

Perhaps, one may add, that is what Chazal mean when say (Sanhedrin 106b) 'Rachmana liba ba'I' (It is the heart that G-d wants!).



Over and above the six cities of refuge, the Levi'im also received forty-two additional cities, which had slightly different Halachic ramifications. The K'li Yakar points out that this corresponds to the forty-two journeys that are listed at the beginning of the Parshah (in addition, the word "vayis'u" [and they travelled] appears in the Parshah forty-two times). The other tribes were traveling on their way to inherit Eretz Yisrael. The Levi'im did not receive a portion like everybody else. therefore to compensate them, says the K'li Yakar, G-d gave them forty-two cities.

The Tzror ha'Mor adds that the forty-two journeys corresponds to the Name of Hashem comprising forty-two letters with which, according to some opinions, G-d created the world.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

The Outcome of Appeasement

" If you fail to drive out the inhabitants of the land they will become a thorn in your sides and they will oppress you (ve'tzor'ru Eschem)" 33:55.

On the word "ve'tzor'ru", Rashi simply comments 'as Targum translates it'.

The Riva explains that Rashi is coming to reject the other possible translation, namely 'they will bind you' (from the word "Tz'ror ha'Kesef" ( money that is wrapped into a bundle), because it is too mild a term. The nations that remain in the land will oppress them to the point that they bring about their exile - not just 'tie them up'.


What G-d Thinks
(Adapted from the Medrash Tanchuma Cited by the Rosh)

"Command B'nei Yisrael and say to them 'When you will come to the land of Cana'an" (34:2).

Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu said to Moshe 'This land is precious to Me' (as the Torah writes in Parshas Eikev 11:12 "The land that Hashem your G-d seeks, His eyes are always on it "). 'Yisrael too, are precious to Me' (as the Torah writes there 7:8) " because on account of G-d's love for you ".

Therefore He said: 'I will bring My children who are precious to Me to the land that is precious to Me'.

And from where do we know this? From the current Pasuk " when you will come to the land of Cana'an".

In this world, G-d said, due to Yisrael's sins, they were exiled from the gates of the city. But when the time arrives "Even if your rejected ones will be at the edge of the Heaven, from there will I fetch you!" (Nitzvim 30:4) and it is written in Yeshayah (35:10) "And those redeemed by G-d will return, and they will come to Tzi'on with jubilation!"


Yehudah, Shimon and Binyamin

"le'Mateh Yehudah Kalev ben Yefuneh ,,, u'le'Mateh Dan Nasi, Eldad ben Kisloni ben Yogli" (34:19 & 24).

By all the leaders the Torah adds the word "Nasi" except for the leaders of Yehudah, Shimon and Binyamin. The reason for this, remarks the Riva, is because Kalev has already been referred to as Nasi in Parshas Sh'lach l'Cha; the tribe of Shimon, because they lost its rights to the title, following the sin of their (former) Nasi Zimri, when he sinned with the Midyani woman, and Binyamin, on account of the (future) sin of 'Pilegesh be'Giv'ah' (which resulted in civil war and the virtual annihilation of the tribe).

Rabeinu Bachye concurs with the Riva's explanation., He also cites a Medrash however, which explains that the leader of Binyamin, Elidad ben Kislon, was alias Eldad, whom the Torah declines to refer to as Nasi, since he was a Navi, and a Navi is superior to a Nasi, so it would have been derogatory to refer to him as a Nasi.


Well-Planned Cities

"You shall designate (vehikrisem) for yourselves towns, towns of refuge they shall be for you " (35:11).

"vehikrisem" is an expression of preparation, Rashi explains, and he cites the Pasuk in Toldos (27:20), where Ya'akov said to Yitzchak "because Hashem prepared before me (Hikreh lefonecho) the way".

Rashi says this, the Riva explains, in order to avoid translating it as from the Lashon 'Mikreh' - by chance (haphazardly), This is because the Dinim connected with the Orei Miklat, such as designating then in precise locations equidistant from one another and signposting the roads that led to them, indicate that everything connected with them was anything but haphazard.


The Five Sisters

"And Machloh, Tirtzah, Choglah, Milkah and No'ah were married " (36:11).

Rashi explains that the Torah here lists the daughters of Tz'lofchad according to age, which is the order in which they married; whereas everywhere else (See Parshas Pinchas 27:1) the Torah lists them in order of their wisdom. This teaches us, Rashi concludes, that they were all equal.

The Riva points out that Rashi actually contradicts the Gemara in Bava Basra (120a), which presents his last statement as a conflicting opinion, and he learns it from the fact that the Torah writes "Vatih'yenah Machlah, Tirtzah ", implying that they were all on a par with each other ('havayah achas').

Moreover, it seems to me, that Rashi's concluding statement is, in and of itself, difficult to understand; if the Torah presents them as being different in age in one place, and different in wisdom in another, then in which regard were they equal?


It therefore seems to me that Rashi does not consider the second opinion in Bava Basra to be a conflicting one. The first opinion learns from the change of order from Pinchas to Mas'ei that the sisters' level of wisdom did not necessarily conform with their ages. Indeed, the Gemara extrapolates from this that one seats people at a Se'udah according to age (and this too, it would seem, is the order in which one marries off one's daughters, as was the case here); whereas in the Beis-ha'Medrash (or on the dias at any Torah gathering), they should be seated in order of wisdom.

Whereas the second opinion in Bava Basra, is referring to the level of righteousness of the five sisters. And it is in this connection that the Torah presents them as being equal.

* * *


"Cities of refuge (Arei miklat) they shall be for you" (36:11).

The word "miklat" appears five times in the Parshah, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, because the cities of refuge save the soul of the murderer (which has five names - Nefesh, Ru'ach, Neshamah, Chayah, Yechidah) from death.


" the land shall not receive atonement (lo yechupar) for the blood that was spilt on it (35:33)

The word "yechupar" occurs in three other places in T'nach: 1. In Yeshayah - 22:14 "that this sin will never be forgiven (yechupar) until the day you die"; 2. Ibid. 27:9 - "Therefore with this will the sin of Ya'akov be forgiven (yechupar)": In Mishlei, 16:6 - " with kindness and truth will sin be forgiven (yechupar aven)".

The Torah hints that for severe sins, Teshuvah and Yom Kipur leave one's sins hanging in abeyance, and death ultimately wipes the slate clean, whilst on the other hand, it is possible to circumvent this process by performing acts of chesed, as the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah teaches us. The Gemara there relates how although Rabah and Abaye were both descendents of Eli ha'Kohen, all of whom were destined to die by the age of twenty, yet Rabah lived till the age of forty, due to his diligent Torah-study whereas Abaya, who in addition, performed outstanding acts of Chesed, merited to live until the age of sixty.


"This is the thing (zeh ha'dovor) which G-d commanded the daughters of Tz'lofchod, they shall marry their cousins" (36:6). The Gematriyah of "Zeh ha'dovor" is equivalent to that of 'be'dor zeh' (in that generation), since the 'obligation' (see next Pearl) for women to marry members of the same tribe (known as 'Hasavas Nachalah' [the prohibition of transferring pme's inheritance from one tribe to another]) was confined to that generation only.


' ,,, Machlah, No'ah the daughters of Tz'lofchod were married to their cousins (li'v'nei dodeihen)" (36:11).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the Gematriyah of "li'v'nei dodeihen" is equivalent to that of 'le'hogun lohem' (to those who were suitable for them).

Although the Torah wrote (in Pasuk 6) that the daughters of Tz'lofchod were to marry men from their own tribe (i.e. the Tribe of Menasheh [Hasavas Nachlah - refer to previous Pearl]), the Gemara in Bava Basra (120a) explains that this was merely a good piece of advice; it was not obligatory.

That is why the Torah teaches us here that the daughters of Tz'lofchod (whom we already know, were Tzadkoniyos) acted righteously, by not only marrying into their tribe, as suggested by the Torah. They went one step further; by marrying husbands from their own family, who were Tzadikim like themselves.

* * *

Counting the Hours
(translated from the B'nei Yisaschar)

The B'nei Yisaschar, dividing up the three weeks between Shiv'ah-Asar be'Tamuz and Tish'ah be'Av, into the thirteen days in Tamuz and the nine days in Av, presents the following insights.

The thirteen days of Tamuz contain 312 hours, the equivalent of 12 x 26 (the Name Havayah of Hashem). Unfortunately, the Pasuk in Eichah (1:5) "Holchu Shevi (they went into captivity [Shevi = 312])" became a fact. And the Gemara says in Bava Basra (8b) that captivity encapsulates all the various types of suffering that a person can endure - pestilence, death by the sword and death by starvation.

With the awakening of the mercy inherent in all twelve possible combinations of the Name Havayah may Hashem return (yashev - 312) and have mercy on us.


The number of hours contained in the nine days of Av amount to 216, which is the Gematriyah of 'Gevurah' as well as of 'Yir'ah' (= 'Aryeh' which is the Mazel of the month of Av). And this is hinted in the Pasuk in Eichah "He is to me a bear lying in wait, a lion (Aryeh) in hiding", only the word Aryeh is read 'Ari', without the 'Hey'. The reason for this is because on Tish'ah be'Av afternoon, from Minchah-time and onwards, the son of David (Mashi'ach) is destined to be born, as the Yerushalmi writes in B'rachos. Consequently, during those last five hours of the day, the Dinim are sweetened, and so we read the word Aryeh, without the 'Hey'.

The sweetening is brought about by the three full Names of Hashem denoting Chesed (Gematriyah 72, as are the full Names of Hashem). Now 3x72=216 (Aryeh), corresponding to the number of hours in Av that we have just been discussing.


If we now add the number of hours of the twenty-two days, we will arrive at a total of 528. This is equivalent to the total number of chapters of Mishnayos (which are the key ('Mifte'ach' = 528), to the redemption. And this goes nicely with the Medrash, which says that 'The exiles will be redeemed solely on the merit of Mishnayos'. Mishnayos is known as 'Torah she'Be'al Peh'. The Pasuk in Tehilim (39:3) compares Galus to silence, so the key to Ge'ulah lies in speech - in reciting the words of 'Torah she'Be'al Peh', then what was hitherto closed becomes open. And this is hinted in the Pasuk in Hoshei'a "Also if they will learn Mishnah (Gam ki yisnu - though that is not the literal meaning of the Navi's words), I will gather them".

In fact, says the B'nei Yisaschar, there are only 523 chapters of Mishnayos (not 528)? But if one adds the five chapters of Tosefta that appear in the form of Mishnayos (i.e. the fourth chapter of Bikurim, Perek 'Kinyan ha'Torah' of Pirkei Avos (chapter six) and the B'raysos cited in Pesachim [56a], Kidushin 82a and Sotah 49b), one ends up with 528.

This discrepancy too, however, can be explained with what we wrote earlier, the author explains. Because the 528 hours of the twenty-two days incorporate the last five hours of Tish'ah be'Av, which are already sweetened with the birth of Mashi'ach (as we explained there). Consequently, the 523 real Mishnayos correspond to the 523 hours up those last five hours, whereas the five B'raysos correspond to those last five hours.

(to be cont.)

* * *

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