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

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Vol. 21   No. 35

This issue is sponsored in honour of
the forthcoming Bar Mitzvah of
Baruch Tzvi Gordon n"y

Parshas Naso

Nezirus Shimshon
Based on the Haftarah

(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

"And now take care not to drink wine or strong wine or to eat anything that is Tamei. For you are about to give birth to a son; a razor shall not pass over his head, since the boy will be a Nazir of G-d from birth and he will begin to deliver Yisrael from the hand of the P'lishtim" (Shoftim, 13:3/4).

A regular Nazir must fulfil three obligations:- he may not drink wine (or eat any products of a grape-vine), shave, or render himself Tamei Meis. Following the instructions of the angel, Shimshon would be forbidden to drink wine (the angel actually issued the prohibition on the mother) or to shave, but nothing was said about not becoming Tamei Meis. The prohibition against eating Tamei foods, Rashi explains, referred to food that a Nazir may not eat, and had nothing to do with Tum'as Meis.

Indeed, the Oznayim la'Torah explains, Shimshon was permitted to render himself Tamei Meis. Nor was it practical to prohibit it, considering that he was destined to fight and kill the P'lishtim, in which case not having physical contact with a dead P'lishti would have been all but impossible.


The Husband of Mano'ach's Wife

"And Mano'ach prayed to Hashem and he said, 'Please Hashem, Let the man of G-d whom you sent come to us again and instruct as to what to do with the boy who is born' " (13:8).

After appearing to Mano'ach's wife and issuing her with the instructions concerning the boy that she was about to conceive, Mano'ach, who had misgivings about her version of the story, asked Hashem to send the man of G-d (he would only discover later that it was an angel) once more - to both of them, to verify all that his wife had told him.

How odd, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, that G-d answered his prayer and the angel did indeed appear a second time, only not to both of them, but once again to Mano'ach's wife! Moreover, when his wife did lead him to the angel, the latter merely ordered them to adhere to his previous instructions, ignoring Mano'ach's request for more details concerning the boy.

Not only that, but even what he had told Mano'ach's wife the first time - that the boy would be a Nazir from birth, he declined to repeat this in the presence of Mano'ach!


To answer the question, the author cites the Gemara in Nazir Daf 3, that a Nazir is obligated to observe three prohibitions (as we explained in the opening paragraph of 'Nezirus Shimshon'), and that someone who undertakes to observe even just one of them becomes a fully-fledged Nazir and must observe all three. And the reason that Shimshon was permitted to render himself Tamei Meis (as we explained above), says the Rambam, is because it was not Shimshon who undertook Nezirus, but the angel who did so on his behalf.

In addition, one needs to bear in mind that if a father (but not a mother) accepts Nezirus on behalf of his son, the Nezirus goes into effect.

Consequently, says the Oznayim la'Torah, G-d made a point of sending the angel, twice, not to Mano'ach, but to his wife. He suspected that if Mano'ach would hear the instructions personally, he would accept Nezirus on behalf of the son after his birth, thereby rendering Shimshon a fully-fledged Nazir - even as regards not becoming a tamei meis - something that G-d did not wish to happen, as we have already explained. And it is for the same reason that the angel did not repeat to Mano'ach the fact that his son was to be a Nazir from birth.


It seems to me that on a more simple level, one can explain that G-d appeared to Mano'ach's wife on both occasions because she was more worthy to receive the Shechinah than her husband.

This is borne out by the fact that she corrected Mano'ach, and explained why they could not possibly be destined to die for having seen an angel. Moreover, there is an opinion in the Gemara which describes Mano'ach as an 'am ho'oretz' - because he walked behind his wife (See Eiruvin, 13b).

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

Sending the Temei'im out of the Camp

"Command the B'nei Yisrael and they shall send from the camp all who have Tzara'as " (5:2).

Rashi informs us that this Parshah was said on the day that the Mishkan was erected (on Rosh Chodesh Nisan).

In that case, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, why is it mentioned here - considering that Parshas Bamidbar was said a month later on Rosh Chodesh Iyar?

In his first answer, the author explains that it is only after having discussed the three camps and the purpose that each camp served, which the Torah did in Bamidbar, that it is appropriate to talk about sending the Temei'im out of the camp.


Rashi explains that the camp referred to in the current Pasuk actually incorporates all three camps, the Machaneh Shechinah - within the hangings of the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodshim, the Machaneh Leviyah, the area where Gershon, K'has and Merari encamped, and Machaneh Yisrael, the area that housed the twelve tribes.

The Metzora was sent out of all three camps, the Zav out of Machaneh Shechinah and Machaneh Leviyah and the Tamei Meis out of Machaneh Yisrael exclusively.


A Different Tack


Although nobody disputes the three Machanos and the areas in which they were located and from which they were sent, the Oznayim la'Torah, citing the Sifri, maintains that the camp to which the Pasuk is referring here is the Machaneh Shechinah (an explanation to which the Rambam subscribes), and the Pasuk is teaching us that all three Temei'im had to leave that camp.

And from the fact that, in the next two Pesukim, the Torah mentions the word "Machaneh" twice ("el mi'Chutz la'Machaneh Teshal'chum" and "vi'yeshalchu osam el mi'chutz la'machaneh", we learn that the Zav must also leave the Machaneh Leviyah, and the Metzora, even the Machaneh Yisrael.

The reason for the distinction is based on the fact that, on the one hand, Tum'as Meis, unlike the Tum'ah of a Zav, is not an intrinsic Tum'ah and a Tamei Meis may therefore remain in the Machaneh Leviyah. A Metzora (whose Tum'ah is intrinsic like that of a Zav) on the other hand, must also tear his clothes and not cut his hair, in addition to the fact that he may not indulge in marital relations (as the Gemara explains in Pesachim 67).


Who Were the Metzora'im?


The Oznayim la'Torah, quoting the Y'fas To'ar cites a Medrash which explains that the Metzora'im in the desert were in fact the people who worshipped the Golden Calf. They were initially sentenced to death (See Rashi, Ki Sissa, 22:20), only for some reason, their death sentence was commuted to Tzara'as (bear in mind that Chazal compare a Metzora to a dead person).

With this, he explains, we can understand the juxtaposition of this Parshah ("Kol Tzaru'a") to that of the Levi'im. The Levi'im, on the one hand, were elevated to serve G-d, following the self-sacrifice that they displayed when they killed those who were Chayav Misah at the hand of Beis-Din, whilst on the other, those who were Chayav Misah bi'Yedei Shamayim, were smitten with Tzara'as.


Birchas Kohanim

Speak to Aharon and to his sons saying 'So shall you bless the B'nei Yisrael " (6:22).


Quoting his brother-in-law R. Aharon Volkin, the Av Beis-Din of Pinsk (Hey'd), the Oznayim la'Torah cites the Gemara in Sotah (38) to explain why G-d chose the Kohanim to bless Yisrael. And he points out that this is all the more remarkable, when we consider that even a simple Kohen has the power to bless the community, even if it consists of the greatest sages in Yisrael!

Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi there explains that one only gives the Kos shel B'rachah (of Birchas ha'Mazon) to the host, because he has proved himself to be a generous person, and the fulfilment of a B'rachah is dependent on the goodness of heart of the one who issues it.

That being the case, says the author, we can be sure that the Kohanim will bless the people generously (as the word 'be'ahavah' in the B'rachah that they recite indicates). Why is that? Because their livelihood depends on that of the people, he explains. The more successful the harvest, the more Matnos Kehunah they will receive. Consequently, they are bound to bless the people with a good heart and with deep sincerity.

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