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

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Vol. 10   No. 35

This issue is sponsored anonymously.
May this Matan Torah be a repeat performance of Har Sinai -
'like one man with one heart'.

Parshas Naso
Incorporating Shevu'os

Special Korbonos
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and the Rambam, Hilchos Nezirus)

The Korban of A Sotah

The Korban of a Sotah, comprises a tenth of an Eifah (the measure of flour from which one separates Chalah) of barley flour. It is forbidden to add oil and frankincense to it, although such an omission would render most other Menachos invalid. And the reason for this is so that her Korban remains unadorned (without 'Hidur'). Oil after all, is called light, and the Sotah acted in darkness. Nor does she deserve to have her Korban scented with the beautiful fragrance of the frankincense. And besidess, the four Mothers, from whose ways she strayed, are compared to frankincense.

The Korban consisted of barley-flour (instead of the usual wheat-flour), because barley is animal food, and she behaved like an animal, which gives itself to any male that comes along.

The Sotah does not bring her own Korban. In fact, her husband brings it on her behalf, explains the Ramban, so that G-d should avenge his wife's infidelity towards him. And as for the barley, he says, that is a play on the word 'Se'orim', which also has connotations of a storm. Because G-d will let loose a storm of anger against this wicked prostitute. And he compares it to the barley-loaf in the soldier's dream (Shoftim 7:13/14), which they interpreted on behalf of Gid'on, to refer to the storm and confusion that the Midionite camp was about to suffer.

Even the earthenware vessel into which the water (which the Sotah subsequently drank) is placed, says the Ramban, signifies that she is destined to be smashed like an earthenware vessel, and the dust that is added, that she is about to return to dust.

The Ramban says nothing about the absence of oil from the Sotah's Korban, but the Chinuch himself attributes it to the fact that to whichever liquid one adds oil, it always rises to the top. This woman however, sunk so low, that such an analogy no longer suits her. She has been relegated from her position of a mistress to 'scum of the earth'. She is not worthy of adding to her Korban the very commodity that symbolises greatness, and with which kings and Kohanim Gedolim are anointed. This Mitzvah, the Chinuch concludes, applies only in the Beis-Hamikdash, in front of the Sanhedrin of seventy-one, and is therefore not relevant nowadays. A Kohen who pours oil on the Minchah of a Sotah has transgressed a La'av and is subject to Malkos.


The Korban of a Nazir and the Mitzvah of
Shaving and Bringing His Korban

A Tamei Nazir

Even though a Nazir who becomes Tamei during his term of Nezirus has to shave before bringing his Korbanos, the Ramban considers both the shaving of a Nazir Tamei and that of a Nazir Tahor, as one Mitzvah, as he does the shaving together with the Korban, in either case.

A Nazir Tamei shaves his head on the day that he becomes Tahor. Then on the eighth day, he brings two pigeons or two young doves, one of which the Kohen sacrifices as a Chatas, the other, as an Olah. In addition, he brings a male lamb as an Asham (a guilt-offering). After that, the Nazir begins his term of Nezirus all over again, before bringing another set of Korbanos at the termination of his Nezirus.


A Tahor Nazir

A Tahor Nazir who completes his Nezirus, is obligated to bring three Korbanos - a male lamb for an Olah, a female lamb for a Chatas (which he initially brings in the reverse order) and a ram for a Shelamim. When he brings them, he is obligated to shave off all his hair.

The reason for this, is because a major source of pride lies in one's hair, in the way one grooms it, and in the way one cuts it. One of the reasons that the Nazir is described as holy, is because he undertakes to curb his pride, and he does this by firstly letting his hair grow long, and secondly, by then cutting it all off, both of which uglify a person, thereby achieving the desired objective.

The Nazir shaves in the Ezras Nashim, in the vicinity of the 'Lishkas Nezirim' (the Nazir's Chamber), where the Nazir cooked his Sh'lomim, under which he placed his shaven hair.

He is only permitted to shave after the doors of the Azarah have been opened.

Even if the Nazir has not shaved his hair, as long as he brings his Korbanos, his Nezirus terminates. In fact, he is allowed to drink wine and become Tamei Meis the evening after bringing just one of his Korbanos, any one. Nevertheless, the Mitzvah to shave remains until he performs it.

A Tamei or a Tahor Nazir who shaves without using a razor, or who shaves and leaves two hairs, has not fulfilled the Mitzvah. If he shaved on the Shelamim (the ram), which turns out to be Pasul, he has not fulfilled the Mitzvah of shaving, either.

If however, he shaved on all three Korbanos, he will have fulfilled his Mitzvah even if just one of them is found to be Kasher. He does however, remain obligated to bring the remaining two animals at a later date.

Together with the ram of the Sh'lamim, the Nazir brings six and two-thirds Esronim of fine flour, which he bakes into twenty breads, ten loaves and ten wafers. One of each of these is waved together with the cooked foreleg of the Sh'lamim and given to the Kohen. The rest are eaten by the owner.

This Mitzvah applies in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash to both men and women.


Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

A Treasure-House of Torah

Both the Medrash and Zohar present a veritable flood of information on Parshas Naso, points out the Chidushei ha'Rim. Nor is it surprising, he explains, bearing in mind that Naso always follows Matan Torah.


The Three Eras

"Naso es rosh B'nei Gershon gam heim" (Raise the prerstige [count] the sons of Gershon, too) 4:22.

Why does the Torah use the expression ''gam heim'' (also they); and what's more, why does it omit any mention of 'nesi'us rosh' by the B'nei Merari, asks the Toras Moshe?

And he answers by interpreting the three sons of Levi as an analogy to the three different eras of K'lal Yisrael.

Kehas, he says, represents the period when Yisrael are one cohesive unit ("Kehas" means gathered together [like "ve'lo yikhas amim" in Vayechi]) in their land. That is when they are at the peak of nationhood ("and the sons of Kehas were "Am-ram"), and illuminate the world ("and Yitzhar" [which means light, like "Tzo'ar ta'aseh la'Teivah" in No'ach). And that is when they are strong in their attachment to G-d ("Chevron [attachment] and Uziel [strong]). Certainly then, the term 'Nesi'us Rosh' (with the connotation of raising their prestige) is appropriate.

Gershon represents the era when they are driven out from their land (gerushim [or perhaps it might refer to the fact that they are strangers in foreign lands [ger sham]). That is why the Torah writes 'also they', because during that period too, they are uplifted and elevated, since they negate themselves before the Chachamim and learn Torah from them, and it is as if they brought Korbanos before Hashem (see Menachos 110a). And this is hinted in the names of Gershon's sons Livni and Shimi (their sins became purified [Lavan - whitened] because they listened to the voice of their sages).

As for Merari, they represent the bitter times ("va'yemoru es chayeihem"), when Yisrael are trampled underfoot, and forced to yield to every fancy of their oppressors ("u'V'nei Merari Machli [who suffer all kinds of illnesses] u'Mushi [they are moved away from all the things that one needs to live] because 'mosh' means to move). This refers to the generation of Sh'mad (when our enemies try to force us to convert. Yet Yisrael sacrifice their lives for the sake of their Creator). With regard to such a generation, the term "Noso es rosh gam heim" is superfluous. For they are not secondary to their fathers, but superior to them, as Chazal have said 'No human being can stand on the level of the generation of Sh'mad'.


Don't Start with a Ger

"li'Me'ol ma'al ba'Hashem' (to deal falsely with G-d)'' (5:6).

The Torah is referring here to someone who steals from a Ger (a convert). So why does it speak about dealing falsely with G-d, asks the Seforno?

It is, he answers, because a Ger came to take shelter under the wings of the Shechinah. Consequently, to steal from him constitutes a tremendous Chilul Hashem (which would not be the case if he stole from a native Jew). Consequently, the Torah considers it as if he had stolen from G-d Himself (Kevayachol).


And the Owner Sinned Too

"And they shall confess the sin that they perpetrated" (5:6).

The Torah has used the singular form all along ("and he shall return" "and he shall give"). Why, asks the Melo ha'Omer, does it suddenly change to the plural?

And he answers with the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a, which accuses someone who deposits money with his friend without witnesses, of transgressing the sin of 'Lifnei Iver' (causing others to sin). This is because, should the man subsequently deny having received the money, he is at fault, and the blame for whatever transpires as a result, will be placed at his door. Consequently, the Torah writes here ''And they shall confess", for the owner too, needs to do Teshuvah for the role that he played in the sin.


Paying the Rightful Owner

"The stolen object which is returned to G-d, goes to the Kohen" (5:4).

The question arises, if Reuven stole something from a Ger, then why should he return it to the Kohen, who is after all, a perfect stranger? And what's more, what does the Torah mean when it writes that the object is 'returned to G-d'?

Reb Leib'l Charif explains it like this. It is well known that everybody's income is fixed on Rosh Hashanah. Consequently, when Reuven steals from Shimon, he obligates G-d (Kevayachol), to reimburse the latter's loss (unless he does so himself [see Sanhedrin 8]). That being the case, if the Ger dies before the thief returned what he stole, we can assume that G-d already paid the Ger, in which case, the One who is still owing is G-d. And since it is impossible to pay G-d directly, He orders the thief to pay his debt to His servants the Kohanim (just as He ordered us to give them our various tithes) because they act as His representatives.


Erstwhile Fools, Today's Wise Men

"When a man's wife goes astray" (4:5).

Based on the word 'sisteh' (which is rooted in that of 'Shoteh', a fool), Chazal state that a man does not sin unless a spirit of foolishness enters him.

How times have changed, says Rebbi Yozel Horowitz. In the olden days, one had to be a fool to go ahead and sin. Nowadays, one has to be a wise man in order to go ahead and perform a Mitzvah.


Asking for Trouble

"Any man whose wife goes astray" (8:12).

The Torah juxtaposes the Parshah of Sotah to that of Matnos Kehunah, explains Rashi, as a warning that someone who holds back his Matnos Kehunah should not be surprised if he then has to take his Sotah (wife) to the Kohen instead.

The G'ro explains the connection by first citing an earlier Rashi (5:10), who explained that anyone who holds back his Ma'asros (incorporating Matnos Kehunah), will end up with the Ma'asros (i.e. only one tenth of his original income). And that is what will happen here.

There is however, another reason why a person loses his money, as Shlomoh Hamelech taught us when he said in Mishlei (29:3) "And someone who keeps a harlot company will lose a fortune". Now he may really have lost his fortune on the first score, but that is not what his wife thinks. She is convinced that his poverty is the result of his immoral pursuits, in which case she not only justifies her own infidelity, but does so in the secure knowledge that the Sotah's curse will not happen to her. For so Chazal have said 'When the husband is himself not clean of sin, then the water does not examine his wife'.



In last week's main article (The Four Camps), we discussed certain aspects of the Camps of Yehudah and Reuven, but inadvertently omitted the equivalent details regarding the Camps of Efrayim and Dan. We duly apologise for the omission. Here are the missing details.

Efrayim, together with Binyamin and Menasheh, formed the camp of Gevurah (as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim "Before Efrayim, Binyamin and Menasheh arouse Your might"), since Gevurah comes after Torah and Teshuvah. And because Yeravam ben N'vat descended from Efrayim, they needed to be cured, which is why their camp symbolized that of Refa'el (together with Z'vadi'el and Achzi'el), and that is also why they encamped in the west, which is where the Shechinah (the antithesis of idolatry and its antidote) was situated.

Dan received the two golden calves that Yerav'am made. And because they brought darkness to the world with their idolatry, they encamped in the north, where the sun never shines. And with them was Asher, who provided oil to light up the darkness, and Naftali, who was "satiated with goodwill and full of G-d's blessing", all to atone for that sin. Appropiately, the corresponding angel is Uriel (the Angel of light, together with Daniel and Rema'el).


In the Gemara Shabbos (86a), Rebbi Yossi and the Rabbanan argue over whether the Torah was given on the sixth of Sivan (the Rabbanan) or on the seventh (Rebbi Yossi).

Bearing in mind that (with regard to Hilchos Nidah) we follow the opinion of Rebbi Yossi, the Magein Avraham has a problem with the fact that we celebrate Shevu'os on the sixth, and not on the seventh.

To answer the Magein Avaham's question, the Torah Temimah explains that Shevu'os was not given to us on a fixed date, but specifically on the fiftieth day of the Omer.

That is why the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (6b) states that Shevu'os can fall either on the fifth, on the sixth or on the seventh of Sivan, depending on whether Nisan and Iyar are both full months, the former is full and the latter, short, or both are full, respectively.

Rebbi Yossi holds that in the year that the Torah was given (2448), both months were short (so Rosh Chodesh Iyar fell on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Sivan, on Sunday, and the Torah was given on Shabbos, the seventh of Sivan). Whereas according to the Rabbanan, Nisan was a full month (so Rosh Chodesh Iyar fell on Sunday), and Iyar a short one (so Rosh Chodesh Sivan fell on Monday and the Torah was given on Shabbos the sixth).

The fact that we always celebrate Shevu'os on the sixth of Sivan (coinciding with the original Yom-tov) is because our calendar is fixed, like the opinion of Acheirim, according to whom the months follow a rigid pattern (Nisan is full, Iyar short, Sivan full, and so on). It is not because we hold like the Rabbanan.


The question arises as to why the Torah opted to connect Shevu'os with the counting of the Omer? Why did it decline to give it a specific date of its own, like Pesach and Succos?

A popupar explanation is that the Torah deliberately withheld any fixed date, because that might lead people to believe that Shevu'os was the day to re-affirm our allegiance to Torah. Whereas in reality, this is something that should be done every day (as our sages have taught 'Each day, the Mitzvos should be fresh in your eyes as if they had been given on that day').

And this is borne out by the fact that the only other Yom-tov that has no fixed date is Rosh Hashanah, where that same concept is equally applicable. There too, the Torah does not want us to wait until Rosh Hashanah, before taking stock of our deeds, and before reaffirming our loyalty to Hashem. This is something that should be done each and every day (as Rebbi teaches in Pirkei Avos, when he writes 'Repent one day before your death') . This idea now pertains both to the initial day that we swore our allegiance to G-d, and to the day that we acknowledge having broken our original oath, and are coming to repair the damage.


This intriguing explanation explains adequately why Shevu'os has no date. It does not however, explain the intrinsic connection between Shevu'os and Sefiras Ha'omer.

Rabeinu Bachye ascribes the fact that Shevu'os, unlike every other Yom-tov, does not have a Parshah of its own, to the fact that Shevu'os is the culmination of the Sefiras Ha'omer. (Indeed, that is why we do not recite 'Shehechiyanu' at the beginning of the Omer, as we explained in Parshas Emor.) In fact, he continues, Pesach and Shevu'os are considered like one Yom-tov, and the forty-nine days in between, Chol Ha'mo'ed.

The footnote there cites the source of this idea as the Ramban, who adds that Chazal refer to Shevu'os as 'Atzeres' precisely because it is to Pesach what Shemini Atzeres is to Succos.

This certainly answers our original Kashya. The Torah did not give Shevu'os a fixed date, because it is, at one and the same time, the culmination of the Omer and the final Yom-tov of Pesach, so that its date is automaticaly fixed. Perhaps this also explains why the Torah prescribes counting fifty days of the Omer (and not just forty-nine). Besides the fact that this is the Torah's date for Shevu'os, it is also the finale of the counting, as we just explained. As a matter of fact, the Torah first puts Sefiras Ha'omer next to Pesach and, in the next Pasuk, Shevu'os next to Sefiras Ha'omer, to hint that the three are really one entity, as we just explained.


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The Shevu'os Korban

The Korban of Sh'tei ha'Lechem was special in two regards; firstly, in that the Kohanim would add yeast so that it should rise and become Chametz, and secondly, that, unlike other Korbanos, it was eaten in its entirety by the Kohanim. Nothing was removed from the actual dough or from the loaves to go on the Mizbei'ach, in the way that the Kemitzah was removed from other Menachos.

As a matter of fact, these two characteristics are really one and the same, since "no yeast or honey were ever allowed on the Mizbei'ach".

That is not to say that nothing of the Sh'tei ha'Lechem Korban was given to Hashem. There is no such thing as a Korban of which Hashem receives nothing. Together with the Sh'tei ha'Lechem (and secondary to it), the Kohanim brought a series of animal sacrifices, similar to the Korban Musaf, and these were given, either whole or in part, to Hashem, as we shall see shortly. But the Two Loaves themselves were eaten in their entirety, by the Kohanim. Note, that animal sacrifices were brought with the Omer (on Pesach) as well, yet a Kometz was taken from the Korban Omer itself and brought together with oil and frankincense, on the Mizbei'ach. Not so the Sh'tei ha'Lechem.

They brought a burnt-offering consisting of seven lambs, one bull and two goats, a goat as a sin-offering and two lambs as a peace-offering.

This set of animals almost corresponded to the set that they brought for the Musaf (and that are listed in Pinchas). Almost, but not quite, since there, they brought two bulls and one ram, whilst here, it was vice-versa.

Another discrepancy is the switch in order that the Torah makes here, when it gives the seven lambs of the burnt-offering precedence over the bull and the rams. In fact, this is the only place where the Torah does this (another of Shevu'os' unique characteristics).

The Ha'amek Davar explains this phenomenon in the following way: The main objective of the Sh'tei ha'Lechem, he explains, was in order to appease Hashem, and to obtain His blessings for the harvest that fell due at this time of year. This, in keeping with Chazal, who explain that the purpose of the waving of the Omer was to dispel bad dews and rains, which would spoil the harvest, and the same, he explains, is true of the Sh'tei ha'Lechem.

In that case, he continues, explaining the Pasuk "And you shall bring together with the Loaves seven lambs ... ", the seven lambs shared the same objective. And what the Pasuk means when it continues "and one bull and two rams shall be for a burnt-offering ... " is that the bull and the rams will serve as a gift for Hashem, as burnt-offerings generally do.


Remember That Day

In one of the six 'Zechiros' (events that the Torah commands us to remember), the Torah writes "Only take care lest you forget the things which your eyes beheld, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And you shall inform your sons and your grandsons; the day that you stood before Hashem at Chorev!" (Devarim 9:10).

The Ibn Ezra explains that "the things which your eyes beheld" refers to the Ten Commandments, which, as the Torah itself testifies, Yisrael not only heard with their ears, but also saw with their eyes.

But what does the Torah mean by "the day that you stood before Hashem ... "?

Surely, it is what was said that is important, and not the day on which it was said?

The answer perhaps lies in the description of the events that occurred on that day both before the Torah was given (i.e. the mountain belching smoke and shaking violently and the tone of the automatic Shofar growing gradually louder and louder), and after it (the above, plus the people trembling and moving well back from the mountain and the dialogue between the people and Moshe). The Torah describes there how the people requested from Moshe that he speak with them rather than G-d, of whom they were terrified. And it describes Moshe's reply, praising that very fear of G-d, which he explained, was the essence of Ma'amad Har Sinai. And the Torah repeats this, perhaps even more elaborately, in Va'eschanan, immediately following the Aseres ha'Dibros.

It seems to me from all this that, in a nutshell, the object lesson of Ma'amad Har Sinai, over and above the giving of the Torah itself, was Yir'as Shamayim (the fear of G-d). As the Gemara writes in Shabbos, Yir'as Shamayim goes hand in hand with Torah-study, and that without it, one's Torah is valueless.

Note also, how the Torah refers to the things that the eyes beheld and their not departing from the heart. The eyes and the heart, say Chazal, are the two spies of the body. If they do the right thing, then the body responds accordingly. Perhaps here the message is that good eyes and a good heart are the essence of Yir'as Shamayim, which in turn, is the key to Matan Torah.

And that is what the Torah means when it orders us to remember not just the Giving of the Torah, but the day on which it was given.


(The Medrash Says)

Not Much Choice

When Yisrael sinned, G-d said 'I cannot destroy them (see Bechukosai 26:44), I cannot return them to Egypt (see Beshalach 14:13). Neither can I exchange them for another nation (see Pesachim 87b). What I can do is to make them suffer and purify them with hunger'. That is why the Navi writes "And it was in the days of the prophets, and there was a famine in the land".


Judging the Judges

"And it was in the days when the judges judged" (1:1).

Rebbi Yochanan (in Bava Basra 15b) derives from this double expression ("Sh'fot ha'Shoftim"), that not only were the judges no less guilty than those whom they were judging, but they were even worse than them. If a judge would order one of the litigants to return the 'splinter of wood' that he stole, the litigant would retort that the judge should first return the beam of wood that he had stolen (and to steal a beam of wood is obviously worse than stealing a splinter of wood).

It is not clear however, how Rebbi Yochanan ties up with the Medrash which discusses the identities of the judges. Rav says that the judges were none other than Barak and Devorah, whereas in the opinion of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi, they were Shamgar and Ehud (all four Tzadikim, and unlikely to have been guilty of the sins of which we are speaking).

Now the two Medrashim are clearly referring to two different connotations of "Shoftim". What is not however clear is, whether they actually argue over the word's meaning, or whether, in this case, they both ascribe to it a dual meaning.


Living in Eretz Yisrael

"And a man went from Beis-Lechem to sojourn in the fields of Mo'av" (1:1).

Come and see, says the Medrash, the affection that G-d bears towards Eretz Yisrael - In Ezra the Pasuk writes "And the entire congregation arrived in Yerushalayim", together with their horses, their camels and their mules. Whereas here, the Navi refers to the departure of Elimelech, without a word about the possessions that he took with him.


Weak in Faith

The Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim refers to Machlon and Chilyon as 'Yo'ash and Saraf'. Their real names, the Gemara in Bava Basra explains, were Machlon and Chilyon, and the Pasuk refers to them by those names because they despaired (from the word 'Yi'ush') of G-d's redemption, and because they deserved to be burned (Saraf) for the lack of faith which caused them to remain in Mo'av for so many years. Notice how the Pasuk ends with the words "and they remained there" (see following piece).


Getting One's Priorities Right

"And they arrived in the fields of Mo'av, and they remained there" (1:2).

Based on another Medrash, which interprets 'fields' as town, the Medrash explains how they first arrived in town, then, observing the terrible promiscuity that prevailed there, they moved to the cities (where the situation was much better). However, when they discovered the problem with obtaining water, they moved back to the town (which explains why the Pasuk records their arrival in town twice).


From Bad to Worse

One sin leads to another. So, having left Eretz Yisrael (without sufficient justification), deciding to live in the town despite the rampant promiscuity, despairing of Divine redemption and settling down in Mo'av, they hit rock bottom, when they went on to marry Mo'avi women.


Name = Personality

"And the name of the man was Elimelech ... " (1:2).

Rebbi Meir used to extrapolate from names, says the Medrash (even when people have only one name and not two).

Elimelech - 'Eilai Malchus' (sovereignty will come to me).

Naomi - her deeds were beautiful.

Machlon and Chilyon - were destined to be blotted out and destroyed from the world.

Another Medrash explains that Orpah was so called, because she turned her back ('Oref' means the back of the neck) on Naomi. And Rus was called by that name, because she merited that David descended from her, who satiated ('Rivah') Hashem with songs and praises. Whilst yet another Medrash ascribes her name to the fact that she saw (abided by) all the words of her mother-in-law.

Perhaps we may add that the name 'Bo'az' (bo az) hints to his inner strength, relating to the Medrash later (3:8), which describes how he overcame the tremendous urge to perform Yibum with Rus there and then. Indeed, Chazal have defined a strong man as one who overcomes his Yeitzer-ha'Ra.

Furthermore, the Gemara in Sotah expounds the name Orpah quite differently, though (like the Gemara in Bava Basra, which we quoted earlier in 'Weak in Faith'), this is based on the fact that she had two names, and has nothing to do with Rebbi Meir, whose opinion we are currently discussing.

Rav and Shmuel argue here over the name 'Orpah', to whom the Pasuk in Shmuel refers as 'Horpah'. One says that her real name was Horpah, and that the Pasuk here calls her Orpah, because (within hours of leaving Naomi) all the men were committing sodomy with her.

Whilst the other says that her real name was Orpah, and that the Pasuk in Shmuel refers to her as Horpah, because all the men were threshing her like pounded grain ('horifos').


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