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

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Vol. 9   No. 34

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Parshat Sh'lach Lecho

From The Sea to The Sky

There is nothing that we do that does not have a Mitzvah attached to it, says the Medrash. When a Jew goes to plough, the Torah writes "Do not plough with an ox and with a donkey together". When he goes to sow, the Torah writes "Do not sow Kil'ayim". When he reaps, the Torah orders him to leave Leket and Pei'ah, and when he kneads, to leave Chalah. When he shechts, he must give the right foreleg, the cheeks and the stomach to the Kohen, and when he takes a young bird or an egg, he must take care to send the mother away. He is obligated to cover the blood of a wild animal or a bird that he shechts, and to leave the fruit of a tree that he planted, for the first three years, and then to sanctify the fruit of the fourth. He must circumcise the foreskin of his new-born son, bury his dead, take care not to cut himself in his grief over his relative's death, and not cut-off his Pei'os when shaving. When he builds a house, the Torah commands him to build a parapet around his roof and to affix a Mezuzah on his door.

Everything he owns, everything he does, has a Mitzvah attached, and it is in true form therefore, that the Torah orders someone who wears a garment to attach Tzitzis to its four corners.


From the juxtaposition of Tzitzis next to Avodah-Zarah and Shabbos we learn that Tzitzis is compared to all the Mitzvos, just like they are, rendering Tzitzis unique among the Mitzvos Asei.

Moreover, Tzitzis possesses another singular quality that no other Mitzvah does. A Jew who wears Tzitzis remembers that he is a servant of G-d, and refrains from sinning.

Rashi, quoting the Sifri, cites a hint that broadly depicts Tzitzis' special characteristics. The numerical value of 'Tzitzis', he says, is six hundred (see Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos). Add to this the eight threads and the five knots, and you have six hundred and thirteen, equivalent to the number of Mitzvos.

Indeed, Chazal explain the connection between the Mitzvah of Tzitzis and the story of the man who gathered wood which precedes it, in the following way. When Tz'lofchod transgressed Shabbos, Moshe attributed this to the fact that during the week a person wears Tefilin, which serve as a positive reminder not to sin. But on Shabbos, when one does not wear Tefilin, there is no positive reminder to prevent him from sinning.

And G-d responded with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, to serve, even on Shabbos, as a positive reminder not to sin, in place of Tefilin.


The K'li Yakar elaborates on the Sifri's second explanation of how Tzitzis remind a person not to sin. The Sifri explains how the T'cheiles (the dark blue thread of the Tzitis) is reminiscent of the sea, the sea, of the sky, whilst the sky is reminiscent of G-d's Holy Throne. T'cheiles is not reminiscent of G-d's Holy Throne, but through its similarity to the sea, and through the sea's similarity to the sky and the sky's to the Throne, the reminder of the fact that we constantly stand before G-d's Holy Throne emerges.


To explain this, the K'li Yakar cites another Sifri. The Sifri points out how not only do the celestial bodies never deviate from their Divinely-ordained function, but how in addition, they do so with great joy (as we recite in 'Keil Adon'). The sea too, does not deviate from its Divine instructions. The difference between them is that the sea is frustrated at not being able to initiate changes (by invading the sea-shore). It only remains within its boundaries because it knows that it is strictly forbidden to go beyond them.

From here we see that whereas the sea performs G-d's will out of fear, the Heaven performs it out of love. So the Torah enjoins us to look at the Tzitzis and take our cue from the sea, which performs G-d's will to the letter, out of fear. Yir'as Shamayim is certainly a vital basis for the performance of Mitzvos. But it is not sufficient. It is equally vital to rise to even greater heights, and to serve G-d out of love.

And that is something that we can learn from the Heavenly hosts, who are happy to do G-d's bidding. Hence Chazal compare the sea to the heaven, meaning that we need to advance from Yir'as Hashem to Ahavas Hashem.

With this the K'li Yakar explains the Gemara in B'rachos (8a) 'Someone who benefits from the toil of his hands is greater than someone who fears Hashem'.

This refers to someone who serves Hashem out of love, who enjoys every moment of what he is doing. This places him a cut above his counterpart who serves Hashem out of fear, and who does not therefore enjoy the Mitzvos as he performs them. The former will receive reward for the simchah as well as for the Mitzvah itself, the latter, for the Mitzvah alone.


Parshah Pearls
(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

Officers of Fifty

"They (the spies) were heads of Yisrael" (13:3).

What category of leaders were they (after all, there were officers of ten, of fifty, of a hundred and of a thousand)?

The answer, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, lies in the numerical value of "They were" ('heimah'), which is fifty, as indeed the Ramban presumes.


Ugly Names

"These are the names of the men ... " (13:15).

The numerical value of these words ('Eileh sh'mos ha'anoshim') is equivalent to 'sh'moseihem mechu'orim' (their names are ugly), explains the Ba'al ha'Turim. This conforms with the Medrash, which places the spies in the category of those people whose deeds are ugly and whose names are ugly, too.

In keeping with this, the Ba'al ha'Turim, commenting in Pasuk 10, on the representative of the tribe of Menasheh, Gadi'el ben Sodi, explains how the word "Sodi" appears in one other place in T'nach, in Iyov (19:19) "Ti'avuni kol M'sei Sodi" 'men of secrets abominated Me'). Through our Pasuk, he connects the Pasuk in Iyov with the spies, who are referred to as 'men of secrets', because they were sent to spy out the land and discover its secrets. Yet they abominated Hashem, by speaking evil about the land, and causing the day that they returned to be designated as a day of weeping for all generations.


Stronger than Whom, Did You Say?!

"But the men who went with him said 'We cannot go up to the people (of Cana'an), because they are stronger than us" ('Ki chazak Hu mimenu' 13:31).

No, says the Gemara, not "stronger than us", but "stronger than Him"! The spies had the audacity to declare that the Cana'anim were stronger than G-d (kevayachol). 'He is not able', they claimed, 'to withdraw his vessels from the land'. The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the Aramaic word for vessel is 'mana' (a derivative of "mimenu''), and that that is what the Gemara is referring to.


Grasshoppers or Ants?

"And we were in our own eyes like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes" (13:33).

'We heard them saying to each other "There are ants in the vineyards that resemble humans" ' comments Rashi.

Why, asks the Ba'al ha'Turim, does Rashi refer to ants, when the Torah speaks about grasshoppers?

He explains, that not only is the numerical value of "And so we were in their eyes ("ve'chein hoyinu be'einehem") equivalent to that of 've'zehu kan nemalim' ('and this is an ants' nest'), but the word "ve'chein" is also the acronym of 'u'kemo nemalim' ('and like ants too').


The word "ka'chagovim" ('and like grasshoppers') occurs also in Yeshayah (40:22) "ve'yoshvehoh ka'chagovim" (and its inhabitants were like grasshoppers'). This hints at the Medrash, which describes how, when one of the giants in Eretz Cana'an ate a pomegranate and tossed the peel to the side, all twelve spies hid inside it (they inhabited the pomegranate's skin like grasshoppers) Ba'al ha'Turim.


Just Like the Golden Calf

"Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt" (14:4).

If you want to know what sort of leader they were looking for, you have only to look at the Parshah of the Eigel ha'Zahav, where the Eirev Rav declared "These are your gods who took you out of Egypt". Because the word "asher" there contains the same letters as "rosh" here. Here, like there, they wanted to appoint an Avodah-Zarah to lead them. And here, like there, the calamity occurred after forty days (Ba'al ha'Turim).


The Ten Trials

"And now, let Hashem's strength prevail" ('Yigdal Na ko'ach Hashem' - 14:17). Rashi cites a Medrash, where Moshe reminded Hashem that He had told him that "Hashem Erech Apayim" ('G-d is slow to anger') extends even to Resha'im (following Moshe's suggestion that it ought to be confined to Tzadikim). If so, he argued, now was the time to apply it.

The question is, why Hashem should not punish the Resha'im when they deserve it? What have they done to deserve His mercy? The Ba'al ha'Turim explains the big 'Yud' in the word "Yigdal" to refer to to the ten trials which Avraham passed with flying colours (which should now act to negate the ten trials which Yisrael tried G-d in the desert). The connection is probably based on the fact that 'Gadol' has connotations of Chesed (Avraham's Midah), like in the Pasuk "Lecho Hashem ha'Gedulah (Chesed), ve'ha'Gevurah, ve'ha'Tif'eres (Emes) ... ".

In any event, it seems that Moshe's request was built, not merely on the good deeds of Avraham (why should that help them, if they decline to follow his example?), but because he imbued his descendants with the ability to make good their deeds and go in his ways (even when they have momentarily gone astray).

Moshe Davened for Yisrael, even for the Resha'im, because they have it in them to come right and to emulate the example set by the Avos, particularly, the Chesed of Avraham.

And that answers the Kashya we asked on Rashi. It is not for what they had done in the past, that Moshe was Davenning for Yisrael, but for what they would do in the future, after they had done Teshuvah.


The Ten Levels of Sanctity

"And I will bring him (Kalev) to the land to which he came" (14:25).

The word "and I will bring him" ('va'havi'osiv') contains an extra 'Yud', a hint to the ten levels of sanctity that Eretz Yisrael comprises (as befits a man of the calibre of Kelev, who strove for those very levels) - Ba'al ha'Turim.


Here are the ten levels as listed in the first chapter of Keilim:

1. Eretz Yisrael
2. Walled towns
3. Within the walls of Yerushalayim
4. Har ha'Bayis (Temple Mount)
5. The Chil (a walled area within the Har ha'Bayis)
6. The Ezras Nashim
7. The Ezras Kohanim
8. Between the Ulam (the Hall leading to the Heichal) and the Mizbe'ach
9. The Heichal (the Kodesh)
10. The Kodesh Kodshim.


And Tz'lafchad Marched Too

According to one opinion, Tz'lafchad (father of the five righteous sisters) was among the 'Ma'apilim' (those who, following the episode of the Meraglim, insisted on marching forward, even after Moshe ordered them to stay put).

And this is hinted, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, in the word "va'Ya'apilu" (and they proceeded with force [14:44]), whose numerical value is equivalent to that of Tz'lafchad.



Chapter 14 (cont.)

The required distance between two species that create Kil'ayim (cont.)

6). A field of wheat and a strip of vegetables - six Tefachim.


7). A row of wheat and a row of barley - two Amos by two Amos and a diagonal running across the rest of the field (to form a triangle).

8). A row of wheat and a strip of barley - ten and a fifth Amos.

9). A row of wheat and a field of vegetables - two Amos across the entire field, or up to a distance of two Amos, and the rest, a diagonal running across the rest of the field.

10). A row of wheat and a row of vegetables - six Tefachim across the entire field, or up to a distance of ten and a fifth Amos, and the rest, a diagonal running across the field.

11). A row of wheat and a strip of vegetables - six Tefachim across the field.


12). A strip of wheat and a strip of barley - ten and a fifth Amos.

13). A strip of wheat and a field of vegetables - ten and a fifth Amos.

14). A strip of wheat and a row of vegetables - six Tefachim across the entire field.

15). A strip of wheat and a strip of vegetables - six Tefachim across the entire field.


16). One field of vegetables and another - six tefachim across the entire field; and if it is a large field (of more than ten and a fifth Amos) - up to six tefachim, and the rest, a diagonal running across the field.

17). A field of vegetables and a row of vegetables - one and a half Tefachim running cross the field.

18). A field of vegetables and a strip of vegetables - one a half Tefachim running across the entire strip.


19). One row of vegetables and another - one a half Tefachim running across the entire row.

20). A row of vegetables and a strip of vegetables - one a half Tefachim running across the entire row.


21). One strip of vegetables and another - one and a half Tefachim running across the entire strip.


All of these Shiurim apply to the time of sowing. Consequently, if some stalks later grow into the space, reducing it to less than the required measurements, or even if the leaves subsequently intermix, it doesn't matter.

8. When leaving a square (of ten and a fifth Amos by ten and fifth Amos or of two Amos by two Amos), and completing the rest of the field with a triangle, one must make sure that the length of the square is not longer than that of the triangle. It makes no difference though, whether the square is in the middle or at the side, only if it is in the middle, one should then remember to leave a triangle on the other side of the square too.

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