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

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Vol. 13   No. 35

This issue is sponsored
by Family Saperstein l'iluy Nishmas
Yuta Mirtzah bas David z.l. (11th Sivan)
Yehudah Ze'ev ben Yisrael z.l. (25th Sivan)

Parshas Sh'lach Lecha

Remembering All The Mitzvos

Looking at one's Tzitzis, says the Torah, serves to remind us of all the Mitzvos.


The Or ha'Chayim explains this statement, based on a Gemara in Shabbos (57b), which compares Tzitzis to a badge worn by slaves. We are after all, slaves of Hashem, as the Pasuk writes in Behar (25:55) " ... for they are My slaves, whom I took out of the land of Egypt ... ". And wearing the badge of slavery serves as a constant reminder that we are not free to do as we please, as regards what we eat, what we wear and what we say, indeed, as regards everything that we do. Wearing the badge instills the fear of G-d in our hearts. It reminds us to do, not what our hearts desire, but what the Torah commands us. That is why the Pasuk continues " ...and you will remember all the Mitzvos of Hashem (with reference to the Mitzvos Asei), and you will not go astray ... (with reference to the Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh).


The K'li Yakar has an entirely different approach. He cites a Yalkut, which, in turn, cites the Sifri ... 'Tell Yisrael', G-d said to Moshe, 'to look at the Heavens, which I commanded to serve you. Did they ever change their routine? Did the sun ever rise in the west? And what's more, they do the will of their Creator joyfully!'

In similar fashion, the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (5:22) quotes Hashem ... "Are you not afraid of Me, who placed the sand as a border for the sea, an everlasting edict, that it may not transgress". Did the sea ever change its course? The truth is that it fervently wishes to do so, and is frustrated at being prevented from achieving its wish, as the Pasuk writes there "They seethe, but they cannot" '.


From here we see, says the K'li Yakar, that whereas the sea desists from deviating from its planned course out of fear, the Heavens do so out of love (with which joy is closely associated).

When Chazal therefore say 'Look at the Tzitzis and remember the sea', what they mean is that, by process of association, based on the similarity in colour, looking at one's Tzitzis (the word 'Tzitzis' means 'to look') and seeing the T'cheiles, will remind a person of the sea. And this will instill in him the fear of G-d that is inherent in the sea (as the Yalkut explained), and cause him not to deviate one iota, from the borders placed on him by the Torah.

The sea however, reminds us to desist from sinning only out of fear of G-d; and fear as we know, denotes the lower level of serving Him. A higher level by far is that of serving G-d with love, where one actually enjoys the act that one is performing (or desisting from the act that is forbidden). Therefore the Yalkut continues, 'the sea is similar to the sky'. So it is not just the sea that is constantly before the eyes of the wearer of Tzitzis, but the Heavens too. And the Heavens, as we explained earlier, serve their Creator out of love.

And it is precisely because loving Hashem is a higher level than fearing Him, that the association between Tzitzis and the Heaven is further removed than that of Tzitzis and the sea, making it harder to attain.


To forestall the query that perhaps there is no difference between serving G-d out of love on the one hand, and out of fear on the other, the Medrash continues 'and the sky resembles the Throne of Glory'.

The Throne of Glory, explains the K'li Yakar, symbolizes the Shechinah, to whom, the wearer of Tzitzis will cleave, the moment that, by virtue of his remembering the Heavens, he attains the level of Ahavas Hashem. This is natural, since, whereas fear impulsively tends to distance a person from its source, love draws him closer. Consequently, the person who is filled with the love of G-d is drawn close to the Shechinah and cleaves to it, something which one who fears Him is unable to do.


Based on the theme that we cited above, the Or ha'Chayim discusses the ruling that only a garment of four corners requires Tzitzis but not a three cornered one, and only the four furthest corners of a five or six-cornered garment. Seeing as the purpose of the Mitzvah is to remind us that Hashem created the four corners of the earth, he says, and that He is our Master (and we, His servants), this reminder would be lost on a three or five-cornered garment.

The four threads that, when doubled, make eight, the Or ha'Chayim adds, reminds us of the secret of the two intertwined four-letter Names of Hashem (Havayeh and Adnus), and the white and the 'dark blue', of this world (which is built with Chesed) and the Heaven (which is built with Rachamim [i.e. Tif'eres], the Midos of Avraham and Ya'akov, respectively); for so Chazal have said, this world was created on the merit of Avraham, whilst on the other hand, the image of Ya'akov is engraved underneath the Throne of Glory (symbolising the next world). And because the Midah of Tif'eres is superior to that of Chesed, it is the T'cheiles that is wound round the white, and not vice-versa.

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Parshah Pearls

When 'Ben' became 'Bin'

"And Moshe called Hoshei'a bin Nun, Yehoshua" (13:16).

Why, one is bound to ask, does the Torah change the word "ben" to "bin"?

The P'ninei Torah, citing his grandfather, answers with the Medrash that the 'Yud' in Yehoshua came from Sarah, who had originally been called Sarai. When her name was changed, the 'Yud' complained at having been removed from the Torah, whereupon G-d reassured it that He would reinsert it in the name of another Tzadik - Yehoshua, and what's more, it would be elevated from the end of the Tzadik's name to the beginning!

The difficulty remains however, where the two dots of the 'Sh'vo' come from (seeing as the 'Yud' in Sarai possessed no vowels). The answer is that G-d took them from the 'ben' in what should have been "ben Nun", leaving us with "bin Nun" instead.


Yes, Grasshoppers!

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

The P'ninei mi'Shulchan ha'Gro citing the G'ro, explains that the Cana'anim considered the Spies to be real grasshoppers (not just men who were as small as grasshoppers). And he extrapolates this from Rashi, who quotes the Spies as having said 'We heard them (the giants) saying that there are grasshoppers in the vineyards that resembling humans (and not the other way round).

That explains why they said 'And we were like grasshoppers in our eyes ... ', rather than " ...small in our own eyes ... '



"And Kalev silenced the people to/against Moshe ... " (13:30).

How did he do that?

He announced at the top of his voice, says Rashi 'Is that all ben Amram did to/for us?'

Whoever heard him thought that he was about to attack Moshe (since the words "el Moshe" can mean 'against Moshe' just as it can mean 'on behalf of Moshe').

In order to gain the support of the other spies, he referred to Moshe as 'the son of Amram', and as it is well-known, that is the way one usually speaks about a person whom one hates (like King Shaul, who, in the Haftarah of 'Machar Chodesh', twice refers to David as 'ben Yishai'). Once he had their rapt attention, Kalev continued with a list of Moshe's positive achievements on behalf of K'lal Yisrael, demonstrating the on whose side he really was (based on the explanation of R. Ya'akov mi'Lisa).


Survival of the Fittest

"It is a land that consumes its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw inside it were men of measure" (13:32).

Surely, asks the Ohel Ya'akov, this is self-contradictory? If a land kills its inhabitants, then one would expect all the residents to be weak and emaciated (at death's door, as it were)? If everybody who lives there is strong, is that not a sign of good health and physical strength?


The Ohel Ya'akov explains that with regard to all creations, one expects to find among each species, large and small ones, strong weak ones. That being the case, a person who came across a forest for example, containing large trees, would assume that a powerful storm must have destroyed all the small trees, and that only the large trees were able to survive. Likewise, the Meraglim argued, a plague must have hit Eretz Cana'an, and it was only the fittest who were able to survive - boding ill for anyone who planned to live there.


Mirror Image

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

That's how it works, says the Chidushei ha'Rim. The way a person sees himself, that's how others perceive him. Someone who has no self-respect, is not esteemed by others either. Because the spies were like grasshoppers in their own eyes, that's why the Cana'anim saw them that way too.


Fear & Sin

"Only don't rebel against Hashem and don't be afraid" (14:9).

The Gemara in B'rachos tells of a certain Talmid who was perpetually afraid.

'You must be a sinner', they told him, for so the Navi writes in Yeshayah (33:14) "The sinners in Tziyon are afraid".

And that is precisely what the Torah is hinting here "Just don't rebel against G-d and you will have no reason to be afraid" (Ramal Litch from Pressburg).


Seeing Eye to Eye

"To whom You Hashem appeared eye to eye" (14:14).


We can better understand the term "eye to eye", says R. Yosef Shaul Natanson, by referring to the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim, who says that G-d's Divine Providence is interactive with a person to the extent that he is familiar with G-d.

This is remarkably similar to the Pasuk in Mishlei (27:19) "Like water reflects a face to a face, so is one person's heart reflected back to him by another" - the same concept, only with regard to the relationship between two people.


Shabbos & Tzitzis

"... B'nei Yisrael were in the Desert, and they found a man gathering wood on Shabbos. And those who discovered him ... brought him to Moshe ... Speak to the B'nei Yisrael ... and they shall make for themselves Tzitzis ... " (15:32-38).

The Torah juxtaposes the Parshah of the 'Mekoshesh' to that of Avodah-Zarah (which precedes it), Rashi explains, to teach us that when someone breaks Shabbos, it is as if he had served Avodah-Zarah, which is akin to transgressing the entire Torah. Shabbos too, is compared to the entire Torah, as we learn from Ezra, who said "And You came down on Har Sinai and you gave Your people Torah and Mitzvos, and informed them about Your holy Shabbos (Nechemyah 9:13)" - placing Shabbos on a par with the rest of the Mitzvos.

And it is for the same reason, Rashi concludes, that the Torah follows with the Parshah of Tzitzis. For Tzitzis too, is compared to all the Mitzvos, as the Torah writes there "And you shall see them that you will remember them and do all the Mitzvos of Hashem".


The similarity between Shabbos and Tzitzis is hinted in the Mishnah in Shabbos (73a), says the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro, where the Tana lists thirty-nine Melachos that are forbidden on Shabbos, corresponding to the thirty-nine Chulyos (rings) of the Tzitzis. And what's more, the Mishnah divides the Melachos into four groups, consisting of seven, eight, nine and thirteen Melachos respectively, and this too, corresponds to the four sets of Chulyos, between the five knots, which also comprise seven, eight, eleven and thirteen rings.

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(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 386:

To place Tzitzis (threads) on the garment that one is wearing, as the Torah writes in Sh'lach Lecha (15:38) "And they shall make for themselves Tzitzis ... ". This obligation applies to a garment that has four or more corners, for so the Torah says in Ki Seitzei (22:12) " ... on the four corners of your garment ... " (and four incorporates five or even more). The garment must be sufficiently large to cover the head and most of the body of a child who is old enough to walk in the street by himself without supervision. That would appear to be a child of six or seven years old, and the garment must be made of wool or linen. If any of the above conditions is missing, for example, if the garment has less than four (square) corners or if it is smaller than the above-mentioned size, it is exempt from Tzitzis. And the same will apply to a garment that is made from another material (such as silk, camel's wool or the wool of a hare), since min ha'Torah, only a garment made from sheep's wool or linen falls under the category of 'Beged', and the same applies with regard to the Din of Tzara'as ha'Beged, as the author wrote in Parshas Tazri'a.

A reason for the Mitzvah is ... contained in the Pasuk itself, which explains that we wear Tzitzis in order to constantly remind ourselves of all the other Mitzvos. There is surely no better way of constantly reminding oneself of the king than attaching a badge that one received from him to one's clothing, where it is permanently on view. That is why the Torah writes about Tzitzis "And you will see them and you will remember all the Mitzvos of Hashem". The Chachamim also said that the word "Tzitzis" hints at the six hundred and thirteen Mitzvos, if one adds to the letters the eight threads and the five knots that the Tzitzis contain.

Furthermore, says the Chinuch, the Mitzvah of Tzitzis hints that both man's body and Soul belong to G-d. The white is a hint to the body that is made from the earth, which in turn, was created from snow which is white (like we find in Pirkei de'R. Eliezer who asks 'From where was the human body created?' And he answers 'From the snow which is underneath the Kisei ha'Kavod').

And as for the threads, they too, represent the human body, for when a baby is first formed, both its two thighs and its two arms, resemble two red threads, as the Gemara says in Nidah (25b). Whereas the T'cheiles (dark blue) threads, which are the colour of the sky in the evening, represent the Soul which is taken from the Heaven. This is what Chazal are referring to when they say in Menachos (43b) What makes T'cheiles different than all the colours (i.e. why did the Torah choose T'cheiles of all clours)? Because T'cheiles resembles the sea, the sea resembles the sky, and the sky resembles the Divine Throne of Glory, as the Pasuk writes in Mishpatim (24:10) "And they saw the G-d of Yisrael ... ". And the Navi writes further in Yechezkel (1:26) "Like the appearance of a sapphire-stone. And underneath the Divine Throne of Glory ... " with reference to the place where the Souls of Tzadikim are hidden. And this explains why Chazal said that one should bind the T'cheiles thread around the white one, since the Soul is always on top, and the body, below. And they said that one should wind it round the white thread no less than seven times (corresponding to the seven Heavens) and no more than thirteen times, (corresponding to the seven Heavens plus the six expanses in between).

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... Chazal have said that on a garment of five or six corners one places the Tzitzis on the four corners that are furthest away from each other ... the four Tzitzis are all crucial to the Mitzvah. Nevertheless, when they said that the T'cheiles is not crucial to the Mitzvah (and vice-versa), they did not mean that they are two Mitzvos (because In fact, they are one Mitzvah), but that one part of the Mitzvah does not prevent the fulfillment of the other half. That is why nowadays, even though we do not have T'cheiles (at least, we do not know for sure what it is), we should not refrain from attaching eight white threads to our four-cornered garments, and even from reciting a B'rachah over it each morning, as if the Mitzvah was replete with T'cheiles. Similarly, at the time when T'cheiles is available, someone did not possess white threads, he may attach eight T'cheiles threads to his garment, and wear it, and even recite a Br'achah over it.

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