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

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Vol. 15   No. 36

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Gerona Freidal bas Shmuel Dovid Levinson z"l

Parshas Naso
Incorporating Shavu'os

The Torah's Not for Me

The Medrash describes how the nations of the world declined to accept the Torah when, in reply to their query as to what was written in it, G-d cited to each nation a Mitzvah that it objected to. He told Eisav that it contained the prohibition of murder, to which they replied that their father was an inveterate murderer, and that was why his father Yitzchak blessed him that he should live by the sword. To Amon and Mo'av he cited the Isur of adultery, to which they replied that they were born from an act of adultery. And when he informed Yishmael that the Torah forbids theft, they replied that theft was their father's way of life, and that the angel had already informed his father Avraham, that this was the lifestyle that he would adopt.

What sort of response is that, asks the Or ha'Chayim? Since when does the argument that a person's father sinned permit him to follow in his father's footsteps? Or to quote the Gemara 'Is it because one ate garlic and exudes a foul smell that one is permitted to eat even more garlic and to exude a smell that is even more putrid'?

And stranger still, by what token did G-d accept their answer?


To resolve these difficulties, the Or ha'Chayim explains that there are some people (and nations) who are inherently evil and others who are inherently good. And what's more, he says, it is their deeds that demonstrate to which category they belongs. That being the case, the above nations were not only telling the truth, but also presenting arguments that were perfectly justifiable. Eisav was a habitual murderer, which is why his father blessed him that he would live by the sword (not the other way round), and Amon & Mo'av, by virtue of their birth, were inveterate adulterers, whereas Yishmael was a kleptomaniac, as emerges from the Angel's B'rachah that he would be a wild man. These evil traits were an integral part of their being, and that there was no way that they could eliminate them from their system.

Each of these nations suffered from its respective weakness, as we just explained, and G-d deliberately quoted them the Pasuk that most tested that weakness. He knew that they would not be able to answer in the affirmative, and so He deprived them of any chance of earning the reward for any initial acceptance of the Torah, by immediately eliciting from them a negative response. And with the same stroke, He made sure that not even for one moment did these evil nations have even the slightest connection with the inheritance that He had reserved for His people Yisrael.

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Parshah Pearls

The Work of Service

" … to perform the work of service and the work of burden" (4:47).

"The work of service" says Rashi, refers to the singing and the playing of instruments, which was secondary to the service of the Korbanos; whereas "the work of burden" refers to the transportation of the Mishkan in the Desert.

The Rosh however, explains that "the work of service" refers to the Shechitah of the animals, the Skinning and the cutting-up of the animals, which were all part of the Avodas ha'Korbanos, but which was performed by the Levi'im, as the Pasuk writes in Ezra, and in Divrei ha'Yamim (in connection with the Pesach that Chizkiyah brought.


The Voice that Moshe Heard

"And he heard the Voice …from on the lid … from between the two Cherubs" (7:89).

See Rashi.

The Rosh explains that when Moshe stood outside the Ohel Mo'ed, it seemed to that the Voice emanated from between the Cherubs. And indeed it is perfectly normal, he says, for a person whois standing outside a house, and who hears a voice coming from inside it not to know from whereabout inside the house the voice is emanating.


A Minchah of Remembrance

" … and he shall bring her Minchah for her … he shall not pour on it oil, nor shell he place on it frankincense, for it is a Minchah of jealousies, a Minchah of remembrance, a reminder of iniquity" (5:15).

Other meal-offerings, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains, came as an atonement; that is why they one added oil and frankincense, for the Korban to go straight up as a pleasant aroma (of acceptance). Not so this meal-offering, which came, not to evoke merit, but rather, to remember sin. That is why her Minchah was not enhanced like the other Menachos.



" … and he shall atone for that what he 'sinned' regarding himself (me'asher choto al ha'nefesh)" (6:11).

Alternatively, says the Da'as Zekeinim, 'me'asher choto al ha'nefesh' might be translates as 'for having deprived himself', similar to the same word in Shoftim (20:16), where the Navi writes (in connection with the soldiers of Binyamin) "aiming at a hair and not missing the mark".


Blessing & Guarding

"May Hashem bless you and guard you" (6:24).

" … bless you" with money, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, "and guard you", so that you will be able to perform the Mitzvos. Alternatively, he adds, "He will bless you" with sons, and "guard you" with daughters, for, as Chazal have taught, daughters need to be protected.


With Express Permission

(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim M.T)

"On the seventh day, the Nasi of the B'nei Efrayim … " (7:48).

The seventh day of the inauguration in fact, was Shabbos, since we know that the first day was synonymous with the first day of the creation. Hashem told Yosef that his descendent would merit bringing his personal Korban on Shabbos, a unique privilege that no individual other than him would ever share, because he kept Shabbos before the Torah was given (as Chazal extrapolate from the words in Mikeitz "u'tevo'ach tevach ve'hochein"),.


The Pasuk writes in Tehilim (60:9) "Gil'ad is Mine, Menasheh is Mine, Efrayim is the stronghold of My head, and Yehudah is My lawgiver". Resh Lakish explains this as follows: Should somebody ask you what right Eliyahu (ha'Gil'adi) had to build a Bamah on Mount Carmel at the time that Bamos were forbidden, tell him "Gil'ad is Mine", implying that what Eliyahu did, he did by Divine command.

Should somebody ask you by what right Gid'on (who belonged to the tribe of Menasheh) committed seven sins (by sacrificing a bull that had been worshipped and one that had been designated for idolatry, building an altar, cutting wood from an asheirah [an idol-tree], bringing a Korban by night, even though he was not a Kohen, and by bringing it among the priests of idolatry, tell him that "Menasheh is Mine", everything that Gid'on did, he did by Divine Command (as is evident from the Pasuk in Shoftim 6:25/26).

And should somebody ask you by what right Yehoshua (who was from Efrayim) broke the Shabbos during the siege of Yericho, tell him "Efrayim is the stronghold of My head", that he did this by Divine command (seeing as the seven days that he was ordered to march round the town would inevitably include a Shabbos). And because Yericho was captured on Shabbos, Yehoshua declared everything in it Hekdesh. Here too, Elishama ben Amihud, the Prince of Efrayim, received express permission to bring his private Korban on Shabbos.

And finally, should anybody ask you how David, who came from the tribe of Yehudah could possibly transgress a Torah law (by the episode with Uri'ah and bas-Sheva), tell him "and Yehudah is My lawgiver", that, like a Rebbe who teaches children, taught My children the art of Teshuvah, as he himself wrote in Tehilim (51:15) "I will teach the sinners Your ways". Indeed, the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah concludes that David was in fact, not worthy of the sin that he performed with bas-Sheva, and it only happened to him in order to give an opening to Ba'alei-Teshuvah.

* * *


"From male to female you shall sent out (of the camp)" (5:3) … just as Adam and Chavah were sent out of Gan Eden. And this is followed by the Parshah of Sotah, because when the snake was intimate with Chavah, its thighs fell (as the Pasuk states there "You shall walk on your belly"), which is then followed by the Parshah of Nazir, because of the bitter fruit that Adam ha'Rishon ate - grapes!


"A man or woman who contravenes any Of the sins of man (Adam) … " (5:6) … The Pasuk juxtaposes 'the sins of Adam' next to the Parshah of 'sending the Teme'im out of the camp', because it is on account of the the sin of Adam ha'Rishon, who ate the forbidden fruit, the snake, who tricked Chavah and Chavah, who spoke evil about Adam, that all three were punished; the snake with Tzara'as (mentioned first in the previous Parshah), the woman with Zivus (mentioned second) and Adam, with death (last mentioned is 'Tamei la'nefesh').


"And all Terumah … which they bring to the Kohen, shell belong to him (the Kohen)" (5:9). The Sifri explains that 'Terumah' in this case, refers to Bikurim (see Rashi). A fine hint lies in the word 'yakrivu' (the very word from which the above is derived) whose Gematriyah is the equivalent of 'Heim ha'Bikurim').


"And the Kohen shall take water … and from the dust that will be on the floor of the Mishkan" (5:17) … With obvious reference to the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos, the Yerushalmi explains that the water hints at 'where the woman came', the dust, at 'where she is going to' and the writing (mentioned in Pasuk 23), to 'the One before Whom she is going to have to give a reckoning for her deeds'.


" … and in the hand of the Kohen shall be the bitter cursing ('ha'me'or'rim') water" (5:18) … the gematriyah of the word "ha'me'or'rim" equals two hundred and forty-eight times two, a hint that the water would examine both her limbs and those of her lover.


"All the days of the Neder of his Nezirus … he shall be holy (kodosh yih'yeh), he shall grow the hair of his head" (6:5) … The Gematriyah of "yih'yeh" is thirty, Chazal's source for the ruling that the minimum duration of Nezirus is thirty days. The Ba'al ha'Turim adds that the word 'Neder' and Nazir' (in one form or another) appears thirty times in the Parshah.


" … They are the princes of the tribes, they are the ones who stood at the countings. And they brought their sacrifes … " (heim ho'omdim al ha'pekudim. Vayovi'u es korbonom [7:2/3]) … The last letters of the words heim ho'omdim al ha'pekudim" spell 'meisim', whereas the last letters of "ha'pekudim. Vayovi'u es korbonom" spell 'mosom' - a hint that they would die not long afterwards (when, following their departure from Har Sinai, they grumbled, the Pasuk records how a Divine fire burned those at the edge of the camp, which, according to Chazal, refers to the princes (see Rashi, Beha'aloscho 11:1).

* * *


No Tosfos Yom-Tov on Shavu'os

"And you shall call on this very day (be'eztem ha'yom ha'zeh) it shall be for you a holy convocation … " (23:21).

The word "be'eztem", the Ha'amek Davar explains, generally comes to limit the context either to the day or to the night. Where neither is possible, such as here, where Shavu'os begins in the evening, like every other Yom-Tov does, then it comes to preclude Tosfos Yom-Tov (adding a few minutes to the Yom-Tov before nightfall. And that, he says, explains the Minhag not to Daven Ma'ariv on Shavu'os before nightfall (even where it is customary to do so on Shabbos and on other Yamim-Tovim. The Magein Avraham ascribes this Minhag to the concept of "Temimos" (complete days) that applies during the Sefiras ha'Omer; which bringing in Shavu'os early would contravene.

But the above author refutes this on two scores: Firstly, he says, if that was so, then the same ought to apply every night between Pesach and Shavu'os; secondly, because "Temimos" is written in connection with the weeks (since the Torah writes "sheva Shabbosos Temimos tih'yenoh"), whereas the concept of hours (i.e. parts of a day) is confined to days, and does not apply to weeks.

One can however, support the Magein Avraham from the Halachah, which does contend with 'Temimos' with regard to each day. In fact, that is why the Shulchan Aruch rules that one is required to count at night-time, and even to count as close as possible to nightfall - precisely in order to fulfill Temimos (see Mishnah B'rurah 489:2 [See also Menachos 66a]).


In his notes, the Ha'amek Davar comments that this Pasuk ("be'Etzem") teaches us that, on Shabbos and other Yamim-Tovim, where the Torah does omits it, one is permitted to Daven and to make Kidush early (like the Gemara specifically states in B'rachos 24b). And this in turn, is either because of Tosfos Shabbos and Yom-Tov, in which case, Melachah becomes forbidden then too; or (according to the Rif and Rambam, who do not hold of Tosfos Shabbos and Yom-Tov), s'tam (and Melachah is still permitted until Safek nightfall).


A Day of Distinction

Rosh Chodesh Sivan is of course special, no less than every other Rosh-Chodesh. The third, fourth and fifth of Sivan are special in that they constitute the 'Sheloshes Yemei Hagboloh' (The three days of fencing off the mounting, representing the direct preparation for Shavu'os. At first glance, the second of Sivan does not seem to have any special characteristics. Yet it bears the title 'Yom Meyuchas' (a Day of Distinction) by virtue of the fact that it sits in between two special days, and it is on that merit that we do not recite Tachanun on it.

'Good for the Tzadik and good for his neighbour', our sages have taught us. How much more so if one's neighbours on both sides are Tzadikim.


An Everlasting Statute

The Torah writes (in connection with the Sefiras ha'Omer) "an everlasting statute in all your dwelling places", Rabeinu Bachye (citing the Ramban) explains, because both the Omer (on Pesach) and the Sh'tei ha'Lechem are dependent on it (he might have added that nothing else is), so we might otherwise have thought that nowadays, when neither Mitzvah applies, perhaps Shavu'os is not applicable either; nor might it apply in Chutz la'Aretz even in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash, since the Omer and the Sh'tei ha'Lechem can only be brought in Eretz Yisrael.

Having taught us that it nevertheless is, however, the Torah no longer needs to insert this phrase regarding Rosh Hashanah and Succos, seeing as all the Yamim-Tovim are inter-related, and what applies to one, applies to the other.

It does however, insert it with regard to Yom-Kipur. This is because the major Kaparah revolves around the Korbanos, and if not for the Pasuk, we might have thought that if there are no Korbanos, there is no atonement.

Although the Torah does not mention "an everlasting statute … " with regard to Pesach (for the same reason that it does not mention it with regard to Rosh Hashanah and Succos). It does however, do so in Parshas Bo, because the Pesach in Egypt evolved entirely around the Korban Pesach (which at that time, could still be sacrificed in Egypt), in which case, if not for the specific Pasuk, we would have concluded that it will not apply when we are in exile.


Forbidden Melachos on Yom-Tov

Reaping, grinding, harvesting grapes, squeezing juice from fruit and hunting are all forbidden on Yom-Tov, says the Tur in Si'man 495, in spite of the fact that they fall under the heading of Ochel Nefesh.

The reason that the Chachamim forbade it, he says, is because people tend to reap their crops, to harvest their grapes and press them, and to grind, in large quantities. So Chazal were afraid that if they were permitted, they would spend Yom=Tov reaping the entire crop, harvesting their entire vineyards and pressing all the grapes, thereby forgoing Simchas Yom-Tov.

* * *

Megilas Rus -
What the Medrash Says

"Go, my daughter" (2:2).

R. Yanai commented that Rus was already forty , yet the Pasuk refers to her as 'bas' . 'One only calls a woman 'bas' up to the age of forty (see Torah Temimah).

"And she went and she came" (2:2).

R. Elazar explained that Rus would go and come back, go and come back, until she found decent people to travel with (see also Rashi).

"May Hashem be with you" (2:4).

From here we see that Bo'az instituted the concept of greeting with the Name of Hashem.

"She is a Moabite woman" (2:6).

You say that her deeds are refined and nice, the man who was in charge of the harvesters said to Bo'az.. But is she not a Moabite woman , and it is only because her mistress has had some influence over her (see Torah Temimah).

"It was surely told to me (hugeid hugad li)" (2:11).

Bo'az had been told about Rus exemplary behaviour in the house, as well as in the field.

" … that you came to take shelter under His wings" (2:12).

'Come and see', says Rebbi Chasa, 'how great is the power of Tzadikim of Tzedakah and of those who perform Chesed . And so the Pasuk in Tehilim (36) says "How precious is Your kindness, o G-d, and people take shelter in the shadow of Your Wings". " ... and I am not (even) like one of your maidservants" (2:14).

'Chas ve'Shalom', Bo'az replied. 'You are not from the maidservants; You are from the mothers!'

"And she ate and was satisfied and she left over" (2:14).

He hinted to her, says R. Elazar … "and she ate", in the days of David; "and she was satisfied" … in the days of Shlomoh; "and she left over" … in the days of Chizkiyahu.

According to others, "she ate "and was satisfied and she left over refers to the days of David and Shlomoh, to the days of Chizkiyahu and the days of Rebbi, respectively. Because so said Mar - the stable-hand of Rebbi was wealthier than Shavur Malka , King of Persia.

The Medrash, on the other hand, connects the three phrases with this World, the days of Mashi'ach and the era of Techi'as ha'Meisim.

"And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law 'May he be blessed to Hashem" (2:20).

One should never cease blessing an old man, says R. Yochanan. Bo'az was eighty years old, and had no Children; but as soon as Naomi prayed on his behalf, he had children.

"And Rus the Moabite woman said … " (2:21) .

Do we not know that Rus was from Mo'av?

To be sure, we do, says the Medrash. But the Pasuk wanted to stress the fact that she was. Bo'az had told her to stick to his girls, yet quoted him as having said 'to his boys', a mistake that reflected Moabite culture.

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