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

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Vol. 14   No. 32

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Rav Yisrael ben HaRav Yehuda Leib zt"l

Parshas Naso

The Inaugural Sacrifice of
Nachshon ben Aminadav,
Prince of Yehudah

Facts and Figures

In the Pasuk "ve'Korbano, Ka'aras Kesef Achas" - 7:13) says the Ba'al ha'Turim, the extra 'Vav' in the word "ve'Korbano", represents the six things that were taken away from Adam ha'Rishon after he sinned, and which will be returned to him, with the coming of Mashi'ach (who will descend from Nachshon ben Aminadav): the shine of his face, eternal life, his height (from the ground to the heaven), the fruit of the ground, the fruit of the trees and the light via which one could see from one end of the world to the other, and which Hashem subsequently hid.


The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explain that the peace-offering that Nachshon ben Aminadav brought corresponds to the Torah, as the Pasuk writes in Mishlei (3:17) "And all its paths are peace". And it is in that light that they ascribe the two bulls in the Pasuk (7:17) to the two Luchos, the five rams and the five he-goats to the five commandments on each of the two Luchos, and the five lambs to the five Books of the Torah.

Then, commenting on the missing 'Vav' in the word "atudim" (he-goats), they dismiss the contention that they heard, ascribing this to the six major firsts that took place on this auspicious day (first for the Kehunah, first for the Princes, first for the Korbanos, first for the months, first for the Exodus from Egypt and first for the prohibition of the Bamos) on the basis of the well-known Medrash that the first of Nisan, in fact, took ten crowns (and not just six). And they conclude that the extra 'Vav' in "ve'Korbono" (that we discussed earlier) comes to create the impression that Nachshon was of secondary importance (as if someone had preceded him) to prevent him from becoming proud (the Chizkuni adds that for the same reason, he is not referred to here as 'Nasi'), whereas the missing 'Vav' in "Atudim" hints at the six great Tzadikim that were destined to descend from him (David, Chananyah, Misha'el & Azaryah, Dani'el and Mashi'ach). In similar vein, another Medrash, commenting on the six barley-grains that Bo'az gave Rus when she visited him in the barn, cites the six Tzadikim who would descend from Rus (and Bo'az, who was a direct descendent of Nachshon ben Aminadav). Only this Medrash, counting Chananyah, Misha'el & Azaryah as one, adds Chizkiyahu and Yoshiyahu to the above list.

The Ba'al ha'Turim, on the other hand, as an alternative to what we quoted him earlier as saying, ascribes the extra 'Vav' to the six descendents of Yehudah (each of whom he says, was blessed with six B'rachos). And as for the missing 'Vav', that hints at the six B'rachos that pertained specifically to David Hamelech ("He knows how to play the harp, a mighty man of valour, a man of war, with a deep understanding, a handsome man and G-d is with him" [Shmuel 1 16:18]).


According to the Circumstances

Why did they bring such a meager Korban, asks the Medrash? One bull? One ram … ?

The Da'as Zekeinim … cites the Mashal of a king on his travels, who stopped at an inn, where he was served a meal; a fine meal, but a far cry from the lavish banquets that he enjoyed at home. When he queried his servants about this, they replied "Our Master the King; on a journey, we honour you 'according to the travels, according to the inn'. But wait until we return to the palace and see to what extent we will honour you then!"

When the Mishkan was erected, the Princes brought a relatively small Korban. "Is this how you honour Me", Hashem asked them? "With one bull, and one ram … "?

"Master of the World", they replied, "We are currently traveling in the desert. And it is by desert standards that we honour You. Just wait until the Beis-Hamikdash is built, and see how we will honour You then!"

Indeed, after completing the Beis-Hamikdash, the Pasuk describes how Shlomoh Hamelech sacrificed "twenty-two thousand bulls and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep to inaugurate the House of G-d" (Melachim 1 8:63).

And about Ezra too (who lived in times of dire poverty), the Pasuk writes "And to inaugurate the House of G-d, they brought a hundred bulls, two hundred rams and four hundred sheep" (Ezra 6:17).

* * *

Parsha Pearls

Going to the Kohen Willy-Nilly

"And a man's Kodshim shall belong to him … A man whose wife goes astray … And the man shall bring his wife to the Kohen (5:10, 12 &15).

The Medrash, commenting on the sequence of the Pesukim, explains that someone who withholds his Matnos Kehunah, will eventually have to pay the Kohen a visit - with his wife.

The G'ro explains this with the Gemara in B'rochos (63a), which explains the above Pasuk "And a man's Kodshim shall belong to him" to mean that someone who withholds his T'rumos and Ma'asros from the Kohen and the Levi will end up with those Ma'asros (i.e. his field will yield only one tenth of its usual harvest).

When his wife sees his fortunes declining however, she will jump to other conclusions. Based on a Pasuk in Mishlei (29:3), 'One who hosts prostitutes will lose a fortune", she will assume that her husband must be guilty of prostitution. That being the case, she will no longer have reason to be afraid of drinking the 'cursing waters' of the Sotah, for Chazal specifically say that the water will only take affect on the Sotah if the Sotah's husband is innocent, and she knows it. It emerges that the man's actions will result in the water of the Sotah losing its power of deterrence, and will encourage his wife to become a Sotah. That is why Chazal said that 'someone who withholds his Matnos Kehunah, will eventually have to pay the Kohen a visit - with his wife' (P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro).


The Dubno Maggid explains the above Chazal with the parable of a brilliant man who had mastered many trades and professions. Yet when he arrived in a small village, he told the villagers that he was a Chovesh (a dresser of wounds). When his friend asked him why he picked specifically on such an inauspicious proffession, he replied that the people in the village were simple people, who would not have fully appreciated it if he had told them that he was a doctor or a lawyer. But a dresser of wounds, that was something that they could all understand and appreciate.

Likewise in our case. Most people appreciate the special status of a Kohen, and so they present him with their Matnos Kehunah. Not so the man who declines to give the Kohen his dues. He clearly does not appreciate the Kohen's characteristics. So Hashem takes over, and ensures that he will appear before the Kohen whether he likes it or not. That way, he will meet the Kohen for entirely different reasons than those originally intended, and he will learn about his greatness that way.


A True King

"A man or woman who expresses …who takes a Nazarite vow of abstinence for Hashem" (6:1).

The I'bn Ezra connects the word "Nazir" to 'Neizer', which means a crown (Indeed, a few Pesukim later, the Torah writes "because the crown of his G-d is on his head" [6:7]).

What this means is that man as a whole is a slave to his desires. The true king, who wears the crown of freedom on his head, is one who is free from the yoke of uninhibited pursuit of the pleasures of this world.

Such a person is a Nazir, who has taken a vow to do just that.

This conforms with the words of R. Yehudah ha'Levi, who wrote in a song 'The slaves of time are genuine slaves; A slave of Hashem alone is free' (P'ninei Torah).


Where were Shimshon's Parents?

"All the days of his Nezirus, whatever is made from the wine-producing vine, from pips to skin, he shall not eat" (6:4). The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro cites the Pasuk in Shoftim (14:5/6) which describes how Shimshon killed a lion with his bare hands, and that he did not inform his parents of what he had done. Strange, asks the G'ro, when the Pasuk has just informed us that on that particular trip, Shimshon was accompanying his parents. So how is it possible that they were unaware of his spectacular feat? Indeed, the Pasuk specifically states that the lion came 'towards him' and not ('towards them')!

The answer says the G'ro, lies in the fact that this incident took place in the vineyards of Timnah. Now Shimshom, as we know, was a Nazir, and as the Gemara in Shabbos (and in other places) teaches, we tell a Nazir to make a detour, to avoid walking through a vineyard. Consequently, one may safely assume that whereas Shimshon's parents took the direct route through the vineyard, Shimshon himself walked round it, and that was when he encountered the lion, an episode of which they knew nothing.


Shalom & Unity

"So you shall bless the B'nei Yisrael, say to them. Hashem will bless you … " (6:23).

Hashem did not find a vessel containing B'rachah that can match Shalom, say Chazal in the last Mishnah in Shas. When there is peace, comments the No'am Megadim, there is unity; and when there is no unity, there is no peace. The two are inseparable.

"So you shall bless Yisrael", he explains. You will be able to bless Yisrael with (the ultimate B'rachah) peace, only if you will be able to say to them "Hashem will bless you" (in the singular), because they present a united front. Indeed, all the B'rachos end in the singular, even though the Kohanim are blessing the public ("Yevarechcho Hashem ve'yishmerecho".

"Yo'er Hashem Ponov eilecho vi'yechuneko". "Yiso Hashem Ponov eilecho, ve'yoseim l'cho sholom").

Just as Rashi explains in Yisro, regarding the Pasuk (19:2) " … and Yisrael encamped in front of the mountain" (written in the singular "va'Yichan Yisrael") 'Like one man, with one heart".


Avoiding a Safek B'rachah

"Hashem will lift His Face to you (favour you) and grant you peace" (6:26).

The Gemara in B'rachos (20b) cites the angels, who asked Hashem how He could write such a thing in the Torah, when elsewhere (Eikev 10:17) the Torah specifically states that He neither favours anyone nor does He take accept bribery? To which Hashem replied 'Shall I not favour Yisrael, who recite Birchas ha'Mozon after eating a k'Zayis or a k'Beitzah, even though I wrote in the Torah "and you shall eat and be satisfied (but not over a mere k'Zayis or k'Beitzah)".

The phrase a 'k'Zayis or a k'Beitzah' is most puzzling, asks the G'ro and for a number of reasons. If Yisrael Bensch after a k'Zayis, why is it necessary to mention a k'Beitzah? And since when is there such a thing as a Safek (a doubt) in the Eyes of Hashem?

We dealt with this issue some years ago, citing a different answer of the G'ro.

Rashi on the Gemara, explains that the k'Zayis and the k'Beitzah comprise the opinion of Rebbi Meir and R. Yehudah, respectively, who agree that the Rabbanan obligated Birchas ha'Mazon, even without being fully satisfied, only they argue over whether the Rabbinical Shi'ur is a k'Zayis or a k'Beitzah. In that case, the k'Zayis and the k'Beitzah mentioned by Hashem, refer to two different people, following the two above-mentioned opinions, in which case both questions are answered.

The G'ro however, explains the issue even with regard to one person. And he cites a Halachah that just as it is forbidden to eat without a B'rachah, so too, it is forbidden to cause an unnecessary B'rachah.

And with that, he continues, what Hashem was saying was that Yisrael are initially careful to eat a k'Zayis, in order to be able to recite Birchas ha'Mazon (like R. Meir). The problem with this however, is that since, according to the opinion of R. Yehudah, one does not Bensch on less than a k'Beitzah, they are afraid to eat a k'Zayis, and end up eating a k'Beitzah, in order to avoid reciting a possible B'rachah in vain.


Carrying Donkeys

" … because the holy service is incumbent upon them , they shall carry on their shoulders" (7:9).

The Pasuk certainly implies that the reason for the command obliging the B'nei K'has to carry the holy vessels on their shoulders, rather than on animal-led wagons (like Gershon and Merari did), was out of deference to the holiness of the vessels concerned.

The Rashbaz offers another reason, based on the fact that the Aron carried those who carried it, as is well-known. Imagine if the Aron had been transported on a wagon led by donkeys (it is not clear why the author mentions donkeys, and not oxen, which in fact were used, to transport the dismantled sections of the Mishkan). It would have had to carry the donkeys that carried it - and that would certainly have been most degrading, for the Aron to do.

* * *


"And because that man did not give his T'rumos and Ma'asros, he now has to bring his wife to the Kohen; and because she fed the adulterer fine foods, she is now forced to bring the Korban that is fixed for her to bring out of her own pocket, one tenth of an Eifah, three Sa'ah of barley flour, which is animal food … " (5:15).


" … and from the dust that is on the floor of the Mishkan (a reminder that the end of all flesh is dust) the Kohen shall take and put in the water" (5:17).


"Speak with Aharon and with his sons and say to them 'This is how you shall bless B'nei Yisrael when you spread out your hands on the Duchan; these are the words that you shall say to them 'Yevorech'cho Hashem ve'Yishmerecho ' " (6:23).


"May Hashem bless you in all your business ventures and guard you from Lilin, and Mezay'in, B'nei Tiharerei and B'nei Tzafrirei, Mazikin and T'loy (various species of demons and spirits). May Hashem shine his pleasant Countenance upon you when you study Torah, and may He reveal to you the hidden aspects of Torah, and take pity on you. May Hashem look upon you favourably when you Daven to Him, and may He place upon you peace in all your borders" (6:25-27).


"And the Korban that he brought: one silver dish with thick walls, a hundred and thirty Sela'im … and one silver bowl with thick walls, seventy Sela'im … " (7:13).


"One spoon weighing ten silver Sela'im, but made of good-quality gold, which he brought filled with incense … " (7:14).


"This is the inauguration of the anointing of the Mizbei'ach, on the day that they anointed it, paid for by the Princes of Yisrael, twelve silver dishes (corresponding to the twelve tribes); twelve silver bowls (corresponding to the twelve princes of Yisrael), and twelve golden spoons (corresponding to the twelve Mazalos [constellations])" 7:84.


"A hundred and thirty Sela'im was the weight of each silver dish, (corresponding to the age of Yocheved when she gave birth to Moshe), whereas each bowl weighed seventy Sela'im (corresponding to the seventy Elders of the Sanhedrin ha'Gadol) … " (7:85).


"Twelve golden spoons (corresponding to the Princes of Yisrael) filled with high-quality Ketores ha'Samim, each spoon weighing ten Sela'im (corresponding to the Ten Commandments); the total weight of the golden spoons equaled a hundred and twenty Sela'im (corresponding to the years of Moshe the Prophet's life)" (7:86).


"All the bulls for the burned-offering numbered twelve (for the leaders of the tribes), the twelve rams (signifying the destruction of the twelve Princes of Yishmael) the twelve lambs (signifying the destruction of the twelve Princes of Persia), and their flour-offerings, (to remove hunger from the world); and the twelve goats for the sin-offering (to atone for the sins of the Twelve Tribes)" 7:87.


"And all the bulls for the peace-offering numbered twenty-four (corresponding to the twenty-four groups of Kohanim); sixty rams (corresponding to Yitzchak's sixty years when he fathered Ya'akov), sixty he-goats (corresponding to the sixty letters in Birchas Kohanim), and sixty lambs (corresponding to the sixty times ten thousand of K'lal Yisrael) … " (7:88).

* * *

(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 385:
The Mitzvah of Sotah

It is a Mitzvah for the husband to bring his wife who is a Sotah to the Kohen, to enable him to fulfill the Torah's instructions concerning her. A Sotah, as the Torah explains, is a woman whose husband issued her with the appropriate warning (as we will explain shortly). And, as the Chachamim explain, the word "Sotah" indicates that she has gone astray from her husband, since in the majority of cases, the husband's warning is the result of his wife's licentiousness. That is why, following her husband's warning, she adopts the title 'Sotah'. The Pasuk that serves as the basis of this Mitzvah is "A man whose wife goes astray … Then the man shall bring his wife to the Kohen" (Noso 5:12/15).

A reason for this Mitzvah … It is plain for all to see that it is a most praiseworthy thing for a nation to have such a strategy that drives all gnawing suspicions of their wives faithlessness from their hearts, to have the means to know with certainly whether they committed adultery or not. This is something that no other nation on earth possesses. About them the Pasuk in Mishlei (30:20) says "She ate and wiped her mouth and said 'I did not sin'!" For who will reveal "when their daughters commit harlotry and their daughters-in-law adultery" (Hoshei'a 4:14)?"

In contrast, our people have been sanctified in all manner of holiness, and what's more, Hashem gave us a sign by which to know that which is hidden from the other nations of the world. As a result of this, love and a flawless peace will increase between a man and his wife, and our children will be holy. It is not necessary to elaborate further on this topic, since it is clear to every thinking person.

And it is precisely because this issue is a national miracle, as well as being a mark of esteem among them, that it ceased to function as soon as Yisrael became spoiled with sin, as the Mishnah says in Sotah (Chapter 9 Mishnah 9) 'When the adulterers increased, the water of the Sotah ceased, as the Pasuk says in Hoshei'a (4:14) "I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry … ". What the Pasuk means is that this great miracle (of the water 'examining' the woman, in the event that she is guilty of adultery) will no longer occur.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah … Chazal have said that the Kinuy (warning) entails the husband saying to his wife in the presence of two witnesses 'Don't seclude yourself with so-and-so', even if the man is her own father or brother, a gentile or a slave, and even if it is a man who cannot have children. In the event that she ignores her husband's warning and secludes herself with the man concerned in front of two witnesses, for a period long enough to have sinned (which Chazal assess as the time it takes to roast an egg and to eat it), she is forbidden to her husband, until she has drunk the 'bitter water', and the matter has been clarified. At the time when there is no 'bitter water', she is forbidden to him forever, and goes out without a Kesubah. But if the man merely warned his wife not to speak with so-and-so, this is not considered a Kinuy, and she is permitted to remain with him, even if she then secluded herself with him … If after warning her in the presence of two witnesses, the husband sees her contravening his warning (but there are no witnesses), she is forbidden to him and he is obligated to divorce her, and to give her a Kesubah; since without witnesses, he cannot make her drink the 'bitter water'. And the same applies to where he heard people saying that she committed adultery with the very man about whom he warned her, and it reaches a point that 'the women who spin by the light of the moon' corroborate the people's talk … There are certain cases where the husband is unable to warn his wife, in which case, Beis-Din perform the task on his behalf; such as where he became either a Cheresh or a Shoteh (a deaf-mute or demented), or if he is overseas or in jail. This will not suffice however, to make her drink the 'bitter water', but it will force her to lose her Kesubah (i.e. her marital rights). The case in point is when Beis-Din hear people talking about her having committed adultery with another man. They then call her and warn her not to seclude herself with him. Should she subsequently ignore their warning, they declare her forbidden to her husband forever, and tear up her Kesubah. And when her husband returns, he divorces her.

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