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

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Vol. 20   No. 33

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Aharon ben Shlomo z"l whose Yohrzeit is 26 Iyar
Elsie bas Henry z"l whose Yohrzeit is 7 Sivan
and Devorah bas Moshe z"l whose Yohrzeit is 29 Sivan
by their family

Parshas Naso

Mano'ach's Wife and Mano'ach

"And there was a man from Tzar'ah, from the family of Dan, and his wife, who was barren, and was unable to bear children. An angel of G-d appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold you are barren ; but you will become pregnant and give birth to a son" (Shoftim, 13:1/2).

The Haftarah describes how an angel appeared to the wife of Mano'ach, whose name is not revealed, and informed her that, whereas up until now, she had been barren, she was about to become pregnant and give birth to a son. As from that moment, he instructed her to abstain from drinking wine and from eating anything that was Tamei, since that son was destined to be a Nazir from birth, who would never be allowed to cut his hair. And he added that her son would save Yisrael from the P'lishtim under whose iron rule they had been living for the last forty years.

When Mano'ach's wife informed him what the angel (whom she described as a man of G-d, of angelic appearance) had said, he prayed to G-d for the angel to return and to inform him personally what he had told his wife.

The angel did return! He appeared once again to the wife (whom the Medrash names as Tzlalpanis), who informed her husband, and led him to the angel. The angel simply repeated what he had originally told the woman.


The story up to this point is strange. If the angel appeared initially to Mano'ach's wife and not to Mano'ach, it may well be because, not only were the instructions on how to prepare for Shimshon's birth directed at her and not at him, but also because the onus of bringing him up as a Nazir until he became old enough to adopt responsibility for his own actions lay on her.

But why was Mano'ach not satisfied with what his wife told him? Why did he request that the man of G-d returns?

And what is even more difficult to understand is why G-d granted him his request, particularly, as the angel merely said to Mano'ach that he should accept what he had initially told his wife, adding nothing new!

And finally, now that G-d did concede to Mano'ach's request, why did the angel appear once again to his wife, and not to Mano'ach himself?


The Medrash tells us that a). both Mano'ach and his wife were righteous and were worthy of seeing an angel, and b). that they had had an argument as to which of them was barren. In fact, it was Tzlalpanis who was barren, as the angel specifically told her. Moreover, the reason that he appeared to her was in order to point this out to her, thereby making peace between her and her husband.

One more thing; When Mano'ach first met the angel, he asked him to tell him about the boy and what they were supposed to do with him (See Rashi), even though the angel had instructed Tzlalpanis more about what she had to do before he was even born than what was to be done to him after his birth.


With these pieces of information, let us examine the story with fresh eyes, and we will see how all the questions will fall away.

As we explained, according to the Medrash, the angel appeared to Tzlalpanis to make peace between her and her husband. When she told him about her encounter with the angel, and what the angel had instructed her, he had doubts. Another Medrash attributes those doubts to the fact that women have a tendency to convey reports randomly, without paying attention to detail, and can therefore not always be relied upon to give over the facts accurately.

As we explained, the angel had said little about what to do with the baby after he was born. Perhaps Mano'ach expected such a unique form of Nazir (Nezirus from birth was a new innovation) to have a special set of rules and regulations, which his wife had failed to tell him about. And that was why he requested that the angel should return to inform him personally what he was expected to do.

The angel did indeed return to verify what his wife had told him.

And he appeared to her, because she had conveyed his message accurately. On the other hand, he did appear a second time, even though he had nothing to add, because Mano'ach was a Tzadik, and G-d fulfills the requests of a Tzadik, and also because seeing an angel per se is a great merit, and like his wife, the righteous Mano'ach was worthy of such a revelation. (See also Parshah Pearls [last pearl])

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Parshah Pearls

Service of a Service

"To serve the service of a service " (4:47).

Rashi explains this in connection with the instruments which the Levi'im played as they sang. And the reason that the Torah refers to this Avodah as 'the service of a service' is because the singing was never performed on its own, only simultaneously with the wine-offering, which was poured on the Mizbei'ach each morning and afternoon together with the Korban Tamid.

The Gemara in Erchin (11a) issues the same D'rashah with regard to the singing itself. And it is unclear as to why Rashi mentions the instruments, which, according to one opinion (which the Rambam cites le'Halachah), could be performed by anybody (even slaves), and not specifically by the Levi'im.


The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains that 'the service of a service' pertains to the Shechitah, the stripping of the skin and cutting the animal into pieces (all in connection with the Korban Tamid). All of these were part of the Avodah of the Kohanim, and the Torah here is designating the Levi'im to assist them.


Birchas Kohanim
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"So you shall say to the B'nei Yisrael, say to them (omor lohem) 6:23.

One of the things that we learn from the words "say to them", is that not only does the Chazan read out the entire Birchas Kohanim word for word ahead of the Kohanim, but that he must call them to come and Duchen (i.e. by announcing 'Kohanim'). In fact, not only are the Kohanim not obligated to go up to Duchen until they have been called, but they also transgress the Mitzvah of 'Koh Sevorchu'once they have been called to do so.

And it is by the same token that, based on the Yerushalmi, Kohanim who for some reason or other are unable to Duchen that day, simply leave the Shul before the Chazen calls them,in which case they have not transgressed the Mitzvah.


Omor with a 'Vav'


The word "Omor" is written with a 'Vav', from which the Chachamim learn that a Kohen must Duchen with a full heart (and not in any way begrudgingly).

Perhaps this is the source for the insertion of the word 'with love' in the B'rachah of Birchas Kohanim, which describes the manner in which the Kohanim are fulfilling this Mitzvah.

Incidentally, I heard that this concept is hinted in the words of Birchas Kohanim. This is because the 'Beis Alef'(three), corresponds to the number of words in the first Pasuk ("Yevorech'cho"), The 'Hey (five),to the words in the second Pasuk ("Yo'er") and the 'Beis Hey'(seven), corresponds to the number of words in the third Pasuk ('Yiso').


Blessing All the Limbs


When the Kohanim bless the people, their entire bodies are blessed, and this is hinted by the Gematriyah, which is be'Gematriyah two hundred and forty-eight - the number of limbs in a man's body.

In fact, the author points out, the Gematriyah of "Omor"is two hundred and forty-seven. The missing one is represented by the word ("omor"), he explains. He adds that the missing one (which is hinted in the word) represents the heart, which in turn, represents the Shechinah. And the Shechinah in turn, rests on the fingertips of the Kohanim when they Duchen.


Yehudah First

"And it was that the one who brought his Korban on the first day was Nachshon ben Aminadav for the Tribe of Yehudah" (7:12)

This implies, says The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, that in fact, Nachshon ought not to have been the first to bring, since his Tribe Yehudah, was younger than Re'uven and Shimon. Yet the Torah gave his Tribe precedence, as Rashi explained earlier (See also Parshah Pearls, Bamidbar [2:9]).

Alternatively, it was because he was the brother-in-law of Aharon, the Kohen Gadol.


Next Comes Yasachar

"On the second day Nesan'el ben Tzu'ar, Prince of Yisachar, brought" (7:18).

(See Rashi).

The Da'as Zekeinim explains that G-d ordered him to bring second, because the members of his tribe were wise in Torah, as the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim 1 (12:32) teaches us.


Two Tzadikim

As we explained in the main article, the Medrash refers both to Mano'ach and to his wife (Tzlalpanis) as Tzadikim. One observation there goes so far as to say that wherever the Pasuk uses the term 'Ish Echad' (as it does here), the person concerned was unique in his generation.

The question arises, that since the Navi relates nothing about their lives and achievements, in what way were they Tzadikim? The answer is that it is not what we know about a person that earns him the title 'Tzadik', but rather what G-d knows about him!

There are numerous people, today as well as of old, of whom we know nothing, yet in the eyes of G-d they are Tzadikim because they live righteous lives, much as the Mishnah says in Pirkei Avos (4:1)'Who is a mighty man? One who quashes his Yeitzer ha'Ra' (even if nobody else knows about it)!

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