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

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Vol. 4 No. 36

Parshas Nosso

When Giving is Getting

"And a man's sacred thing shall be his, a man who gives to the Cohen shall have..." The Targum Yonoson explains that a man's tythes will belong to him. He stands to lose nothing by giving away his dues, because what he gives away will be replenished, and what he gives to the cohen is truly his. Why is that? Because the mitzvah that he has fulfilled will accompany him to the World to Come, which is of course, not the case with the money that he retains.

Rashi interprets the possuk quite differently; if a man fails to give his tythes, he explains, then he will eventually remain with only the tythe - instead of Hashem acting as the Cohen (to take one tenth) and he the owner (to take nine tenths), the roles will be reversed. Hashem will take over the ownership and He will become the Cohen, so that Hashem will take nine tenths and he only one. On the other hand, he who does present his dues to the cohen will obtain a lot of money.

The laws of physics have a set pattern and they follow a logical course. We human beings are influenced by these laws, so we tend to believe the logical and to dismiss the illogical. What we give away is lost, we believe with conviction, and what we retain is ours, and the facts of life create the illusion that make this appear to be the truth. But what is true in the physical world is not necessarily true in the spiritual one. Hashem may have created the laws of nature, physics and logic, but He is in no way bound to abide by those laws; nor need His logic necessarily coincide with ours. "Because My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways, says Hashem" (Yesha'yo 55:8). Chazal have taught us that, whereas one normally pours liquid into an empty receptacle, and it would seem futile to attempt to pour it into a full one, Hashem works differently: He pours divine Wisdom into those who are already full of wisdom. (He gives wisdom unto the wise - Zohar).

Similarly, in the realm of charity in all its forms, anyone who gives, gains - and the extent of his gains are commensurate with what he gives. What's more, he gains twice, he gains in this world, since what he gives will be paid back (the Torah even permits one to test Hashem in this area), and he gains in the World to Come, no less than every mitzvah, which is rewarded chiefly in the World to Come, for just as the mitzvah itself transcends this world, so too does its reward. Indeed, the performing of kindness is one of those mitzvos for which one eats the fruits in this world, but the principal reward is reserved for the World to Come, as we recite each morning.

Tzedokoh also has the power to save from a predetermined death, as in the case of Rabbi Akiva's daughter, who was saved from death on her wedding day, due to an act of kindness. The famous Amoro Abaye too, extended his life by twenty years on account of his outstanding kindness. And the Gemoro also relates the episode of Binyomin Ha'tzaddik, who was granted a lease of life of twenty-two years because he sustained a widow and her seven sons.

There are clearly two sets of laws by which the world is governed. There is the law of nature, which appears in our eyes as logical, and to which we are subjected when we choose to be - as indicated in Parshas Bechukosai: "And if you go with Me by chance (casually, ascribing everything that happens to you, to natural causes), then I will go with you by chance (I will withdraw My Divine Supervision, leaving you to fall prey to the very laws of nature in which you believe).

And there is the law of Divine Sovereignty, which is the law that we chose to be guided by, when we became the Am Segulah, when we proclaimed at Har Sinai "Na'aseh ve'nishma!" By that law, our success depends upon the degree of our loyalty to G-d. In that case, the more we fail to give Tzedokoh, the more we stand to lose that which we think is ours - whereas the more we give, the more we will get.

Adapted from the Torah Temimah

To Climb in order Not to Fall

A "nozir" has taken upon himself to live a life of increased sanctity and purity. He has volunteered to exercise more control over his mind (by not tending to his hair - i.e. allowing it to grow long), over his spirit (by refraining from having any physical contact with a dead person) and his body (by abstaining from wine - symbolical of the pleasures of this world).

In that case, it is difficult to see why the Torah connects two seemingly opposite concepts, by placing the Parshah of "Nozir" next to that of "Sotoh", which deals with a woman who has been unfaithful to her husband. Surely a Nozir represents the highest and most noble ideals in yiddishkeit, while a Sotoh depicts the most base and ignoble characteristics of our people?

Chazal however, understood that the Torah deliberately placed the two Parshiyos in juxtaposition, read its message and duly conveyed it to us: "Whoever beheld a Sotoh in her disgrace" they said, "should undertake the nazarite vows and desist from wine". Someone who has actually witnessed the sickly spectacle of a Sotoh swelling, and is now aware of the extent of the bitter fruits of sin, becomes obligated to strengthen himself without delay. He must realise that every human being is gullible, since every human being is subjected to the lust and the desires that confront him from time to time. He therefore needs to fortify himself in order not to succumb to the same attack of lust, as the woman he has just seen in disgrace.

And the only way to anticipate such an attack and to overcome it is by rising to a higher level, for, as long as one is climbing a mountain, he will not fall. When one knows that someone is about to pull the rope at the other end, one braces oneself and begins counter pulling. And it is the man who has seen a sotoh in her degraded state, and whose sense of awareness of the evils of sin has been sharpened, who can be expected to brace himself to pull, whilst the man who has not witnessed such a spectacle remains blissfully oblivious - he does not pull!

Chazal have taught us: "As long as you fail to climb, you are bound to fall", and from this Mishnah one can readily infer that as long as one is climbing, one is unlikely to fall, as we wrote earlier. The secret of not falling is to climb; as long as one is fighting desire, one will not succumb to it!

Kodosh Yihye

Chazal derive from "Kadosh Yihye" written in connection with a Nozir, that an unspecified Nezirus must last for thirty days. Why is that? Because the numerical value of "Yihye" is thirty.

Perhaps Chazal were prompted to make such a d'roshoh, because of the future tense of the word "yihye" when it would have been more apt to write "kodosh hu" in the present.

Be that as it may, the Chofetz Chayim points out the immense power of the written Torah, since, from one gematriya in the written Torah, there evolved many dapim of Gemoro in Nazir.

At the same time, we learn from the gematriya itself not to take gematriyos lightly, but as an intrinsic part of Torah she'ba'al Peh.

Carrying the Bulls

The Chofetz Chayim quotes a "gut vort" that he heard from a great man. The reason that Moshe Rabeinu did not give oxen to the tribe of Kehos, is because of the Chazal, which teaches us that the Oron carried those who carried it. (It was only an illusion that one had the impression that it was they who were carrying the Oron). That being the case, had the B'nei Kehos received oxen (and wagons) the Oron would have had to carry the oxen too - and that is not conducive with the Kovod of the Oron.

The Oron Carries

"The Oron carried those who carried it" is derived from the fact that the Cohanim, who transported the Oron across the River Yarden into Eretz Yisroel, and who were left on the far bank after the waters continued to flow, can only have crossed the River by being transported. It is from this incident that we learn how the Oron did not require transportation, and must therefore have carried along whoever appeared to be carrying it.

Why then, did Hashem command the B'nei Kehos to carry the Oron?

It was in order to give them the reward for carrying out His will, by appearing to carry the Oron.

And it was also in order to set a precedent for all spiritual issues, where we appear to be helping Hashem in this world, and are due to receive reward as if we had, although in truth, Hashem does not require our services.

It is like the Gemoro in Bovo Basro ( ), which explains that Hashem is quite capable of looking after the poor on His own, yet He delegated this responsibility to the rich, so that they should be able to reap the benefits of their tzedokoh in the World to Come.

And the same is true of those who give money to Torah institutions. It may ostensibly appear that it is supporting the Torah. The truth of the matter is that it is the Torah which is supporting them.

(Nosso) (Shoftim 13: 2-25)

The fact that Shimshon was, by divine Command, born a nozir, is clearly that which links the Haftorah with the Parshah. Nor should this be seen as a casual fact, since the nezirus played a major role in Shimshon's life. To begin with, his mother was instructed to desist from drinking wine or any other grape-products forbidden to a nozir.

Then, early in his career, we find him on his way to Timnah with his parents. Being a nozir, he circumvented a vineyard, while his parents passed directly through it. That is how, when he came across and killed with his bare hands, a lion on the outskirts of the vineyard, this was unseen and remained unbeknown to anyone. And he was able to use the carcass of the lion as his first opportunity to avenge the Jewish people from the P'lishtim (see Shoftim 14).

And finally, the unusual circumstances of his capture, at the hands of his treacherous wife, Delilah, were a direct result of the cutting off of his long hair, necessitated by the nezirus that he practised all his life. And of course, it was only once his hair began to grow once more that his prayer was answered, and he was once again granted the phenomenal strength that enabled the blinded Shimshon to push the supporting pillars outwards, causing the entire building to collpase, killing the thousands of P'lishtim who had come to celebrate his capture.

Shimshon's nezirus was by no means a regular one, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, under normal circumstances, a person cannot be born a nozir. He either accepts the nezirus after his bar-mitzvah in the form of a vow, or his father can accept it on his behalf, before he turns bar-mitzvah. Secondly, the prohibition on his mother to eat grapes etc. or to drink wine, seems to have no bearing on the nezirus, and simply appears to be an extension of the previous chidush. And thirdly, a nozir was also forbidden to become tomei-meis - to touch a dead body or to be under the same roof as one. This din is so stringent that, should he inadvertently do so, his entire nezirus falls away and he has to begin all over again. Yet the Gemoro states that Shimshon was not required to follow this halochoh; presumably because of his role as saviour of Yisroel, he was permitted to have physical contact with dead bodies.

Adapted from the Ma'ayan shel Torah

Mono'ach's wife (whose name was Tzlalpanis) told her husband what the Angel had told her about the wondrous son to whom they would soon give birth. Yet, strangely, among the details she omitted was that, as a nozir, he would be forbidden to shave the hair of his head.

The Meshech Chochmah explains that, having added the words "till the day of his death" (something which the Angel did not say), she was forced to omit the words "and a razor will not pass over his head" (which he did). Why is that?

A spark of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh lit up within her, he says, and she forecast that he would not in fact observe this command, since his hair was destined to be cut off before the day of his death.

The Gemoro in B'rochos (61a) cites one opinion that not only was Mono'ach an ignoramus - due to the fact that he followed his wife (i.e. he walked behind her), but a very big ignoramus to boot, since he did not even know a Posuk in Chumash, which stresses that Rifkah went behind Eliezer, "and not in front of him".

The Gemoro basically refutes that Mono'ach was ignorant, because it proves that "followed his wife" must be understood figuratively, (that he follow her advice) and not literally. However, it retains the concept of not walking behind a woman under any circumstances - even if the woman happens to be his own wife, going as far as to say that someone who does not adhere to this principle jeopardises his portion in the World to Come. The Alter from Slabodka adds that from Monoach, we can learn that this prohibition applies even if a man is merely walking behind his own wife to greet an angel - whose location she knows, and he does not!

"Why do you ask my name, and it is Peli?"

Angels' names change, in accordance with the errand on which G-d sends them. That is why the Angel of Eisov said to Ya'akov, "Why do you ask me my name?" and stopped there. Because his mission was unsuccessful. (One could perhaps explain that, on the contrary, his mission was indeed to be overpowered by Ya'akov - to lose his identity through him, and that is why he had no name)

The angel of Mono'ach concluded, "and it is Peli," because, the Medrash explains, his mission was to inform Mono'ach and his wife of their nazarite son. The Torah introduced the Parshah of nozir with the words "ish ki yafli li'ndor" (a man who expresses a nazarite vow). Hence the Angel's name was "Peli".

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