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

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Vol. 16   No. 34

TThis issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmos

whose Yartzheit is "

whose Yartzheit is "

Parshas Sh'lach L'cho

For They Are Our Life and the Length of Our Days
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Commenting on the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, R. Bachye, citing the Medrash Tanchuma, quotes the Pasuk in Yeshayah (42:21) "G-d wants for the sake of His Righteousness, to make the Torah great and glorious". He gave the Torah to Yisrael, the Medrash explains, to enable them to inherit the World to Come, In order to achieve that, he left no area of endeavour devoid of Mitzvos


When a Jew goes to plough, the Torah commands him "Do not plough with an ox and a donkey together".

When he goes to gather his harvest, it writes "When you gather your harvest in your fields, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not return to fetch it " ('Leket, Shikchah & Pei'ah).

When he winnows, the Torah obligates him to separate Terumos and Ma'asros, and

When he kneads the dough, it writes "The first of your doughs you shall give to the Kohen".

When he sits down to eat, the Torah orders him to recite a B'rachah over his food (Birchas ha'Mazon), and

When he comes to shear his sheep, he is told "the first of the shearings of the wool you shall give to the Kohen.

When his animal gives birth, the Torah commands him to give the first-born to a Kohen, and

When he has Shechted it, it instructs him "to give to the Kohen the (right) foreleg, the jaw and the maw (stomach)".

When he comes across a bird's nest, he is told to first "send the mother away and then to take the babies".

When he Shechts a Chayah (an undomesticated species of animal) or a bird, the Torah commands him to "cover its blood", and

When he comes to wear a garment, it warns him "Do not wear Sha'atnez, wool and linen together".

When a son is born, the Torah issues him with a Mitzvah to perform B'ris Milah, and to separate from his wife at specific times.

When he plants seeds, the Torah says "And you shall leave them 'Areilim', and

When a close relative dies, he is obligated to bury him and "Not to cut himself" as a sign of mourning.

When he comes to have a haircut (or to shave), the Torah warns him "not to cut off his Peyos" (or to destroy any of the five corners of the beard).

When he builds a house, he is told that he must "construct a parapet around his roof", and

When he puts up the doors, "to place Mezuzos on the door-posts". Finally the Torah informs him, that

When he wants to get dressed, he is first obligated to attach Tzitzis to his (four-cornered garments).


One wonders why the Medrash omitted the major area of endeavour of marriage (alongside buying a house and planting a vineyard). Why did it not say that

When one comes to get married, the Torah forbids him to commit incest.


In any event, the Tanchuma concludes with a parable - of a man who fell off the deck of a ship into the sea, where he began to drown - until the captain cast him a rope and bade him hold on to it tightly, warning him that once he leaves go of the rope, he will have forfeited his life. And so G-d told Yisrael - as long as they cleave to the Mitzvos, they will merit life - but the moment they become lax regarding their fulfillment, they are severing their very source of life, as the Pasuk writes in Devarim (4:4) "And you who cleave to Hashem your G-d are all alive today!"

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Under Whose Auspices Were the Spies Sent?

"Send for yourself (for yourselves) men and let them spy out the Land of Cana'an" (13:2).

Commenting on the word "Send for yourselves", Rashi explains that the sending of the spies was not a Divine command; G-d was merely granting their request to send spies (as the Torah records in Devarim).

R. Bachye adds that G-d was in fact commanding them to send spies, but that the Mitzvah was based, not on His wishes only on theirs. And he compares it to the Mitzvah of appointing a king. This was not G-d's wish, for so the Navi writes in Hoshei'a (13:11) "I will give you a king in My anger, and I will take him in My fury". Yet the Torah writes in Shoftim (Devarim 17:15) "You shall surely appoint over you a king".

In other words, there are two categories of Mitzvos: Those that stem from the Divine Will, and those that are based on the will of the people.


The Spies

"And Moshe sent them to spy out the land of Cana'an; and he said to them " (13:7).

Although the Pasuk confines the role of the spies to describing various aspects of the land, including its people, its cities' fortifications and the size of its fruit, R. Bachye extends this to a role that is more spy orientated. It incorporated, he says, a report on its roads, the layout of the cities, which towns to attack first and from which side to approach them.

Because although we have to believe that ultimately, victory belongs to G-d, this does not mean that we are expected to fight without strategy. On the contrary, our job is to fight with our utmost ability, and then to thank G-d for the victory.

And he proves his point from two episodes in T'nach; One, from David ha'Melech, who, after consulting the Urim ve'Tumim in one of his battles against the P'lishtim, was instructed to attack them from the rear, in order to catch them off-guard. The second, when during Yisrael's conquest of Cana'an, in the battle against Ay, G-d instructed Yehoshua to set up an ambush before luring the inhabitants out of the city.

And he bases this concept on the Pasuk in Mishlei (21:31) - "A horse is prepared for the day of war, but victory lies with Hashem!"


Yehoshua bin Nun

"And for the tribe of Efrayim, Hoshei'a bin Nun" and Moshe called his name Yehoshua (13:8).

Clearly, says R. Bachye, prior to the sending of the spies, his name was Hoshei'a, and it was Moshe Rabeinu who changed his name to Yehoshua.

The question then arises why the Torah constantly refers to him as 'Yehoshua', sometimes even before this point (see for example, Sh'mos 33:11), even though that was not yet his name?

The answer given by R. Bachye is that the Torah opted to call him by the name that Moshe Rabeibu gave him, in deference to Moshe Rabeinu. that the Torah followed suit. And he cites a precedent in Moshe Rabeinu himself, who had many names, yet G-d always calls him by the name 'Moshe', since it was given to him by Bisya, the righteous daughter of Par'oh, who was a princess and who subsequently converted.


The Riva however, explains that the reason the Torah calls him 'Yehoshua' is because, when Moshe wrote the Torah, his name was already 'Yehoshua', in which case, that was the correct name to call him, and it is only here that the Torah calls him by the name with which he was born, to teach us his original name.


The Extra 'Yud'


And what is the significance of the extra 'Yud' that Moshe added to Hoshei'as name? Rashi later cites Chazal that both Kalev and Yehoshua were rewarded for standing firm against the spies. Kalev, he explains, was given Chevron and its environments, whereas Yehoshua received the portion of land that was initially designated for the ten spies, and which they forfeited. Hence the 'Yud' (whose Gematriyah is ten).


For How Long ?

" for how long will this people anger Me, and for how long will they fail to believe in Me "? (14:11).

Citing a Medrash, R. Bachye writes "I gave voice to two complaints against you, said Hakadosh Baruch Hu, for your part, you are going to suffer four exiles, to which you are destined to give voice to yours "For how long will You continue to forget me, Hashem? For how long will You hide Your Face from me? For how long must I set schemes for myself, grief in my heart by day? For how long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Tehilim 13:2\3).

And corresponding to My cry "For how long (must I bear) this evil assembly, that provokes complaints against Me", you will cry out "My soul is utterly confused, and You, O G-d for how long?" (Ibid. 6:4).


The Extent of G-d's Chesed

" despite all the signs that I placed in their midst" (Ibid.)

R. Bachye observes that in spite of this translation, the literal translation of "be'kirbo" (which is singular), is 'in his midst'. The footnote, citing the Ib'n Ezra as the source for this explanation, explains that indeed, when G-d first practiced His numerous miracles and wonders in the Desert, they were united and of one heart (see for example Rashi, Parshas Yisro 19:1).


Citing the Medrash, the author comments on the word "be'kirbo" (in their midst), hinting at the remarkable miracle that affected their stomachs and their intestines - in that, due to the fact that their food consisted of the Manna, a Heavenly food, they did not need to relieve themselves after eating it, since it became totally absorbed in their limbs. And as for the Pasuk in Ki-Seitzei (23:14) which required the people to have a special peg to cover their excretions after relieving themselves, that pertained to the regular food items which they purchased from foreign merchants who visited the camp.

According to others, the Pasuk in Ki-Seitzei pertains to food that they purchased from the foreign merchants specifically after they sinned by the Spies; Prior to that, the physical effects of all food that they ate, was neutralized by the Manna. Following that, G-d lamented that He had intended them to be like angels, who do not need to relieve themselves, but now that they had sinned, they would have to leave the camp in order to do so (a distance of three Parsah (twelve Mil) for those who lived close to the centre of the Camp!

* * *


"And the men who went up with him (Calev) said 'We are not able to ascend to that people, for they are too strong for us" (13:312).

In connection with this Pasuk, the Gemara in Sotah (35a) comments 'Quite something the Spies spoke at that moment. "Ki chazak hu Mimenu" - Do not read "Mimenu", but "Mimenu!". In other words, the phrase does not mean 'stronger than us, but stronger than Him. Kevayachol, even the Master of the house is unable to remove his vessels from there (See Torah Temimah).


The Ba'al ha'Turim suggests two alternative interpretations of the strange statement 'Do not read "Mimenu", but "Mimenu!".

1. As a play on words, since 'Mana' in Arama'ic means "vessel', in which case the Pasuk is hinting broadly at the explanation given by the Gemara that we just cited.

2. Bearing in mind that all the hidden letters of "mimenu" possess the same Gematriyah as the revealed part of the letter (i.e. if we spell out the word in full, 'Mem' 'Mem' 'Mem' 'Mem' 'Nun' 'Nun' 'Vav' Vav', we will see that the ending of each letter (the part that completes the letter, but that is neither written nor read), is the same as the part of the letter that is.

This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the word incorporates two explanations, the simple explanation and the deeper one, as we explained.


"Forgive now the iniquity of this people like the greatness of Your kindness (ke'Godel chasdecha). The words "ke'Godel chasdecha" also appears in Tehilim (79:11) "Let the groans of the prisoners come before You; like the greatness of Your kindness spare those condemned to die".

This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim at what Chazal say: 'There were two great leaders who stood up in defense of K'lal Yisrael - Moshe and David, both of whom knew how to pray on their behalf.


"But your carcasses, you, shall fall in this desert" (14:32).

The seemingly superfluous word "you" the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, hints that (each year) they all had to lie down on the ground, in their perfectly healthy state, and the next morning, many of them did not get up.


" And they arose early in the morning and they said 'Here we are and we will go up (ve'olinu) (14:40).

The same ward appears in Shmuel (1) (in connection with Yonasan and his armour-bearer) "And if they will say to us 'Come up!', then we will go up (ve'olinu).

This is what the Navi says in Shmuel 1, (14:6) "For there is nothing that can stop Hashem from rescuing, with many or with few". Here in our Parshah there were six hundred thousand people, and they fell; whereas there; there was only Yonasan and his servant, yet they vanquished!


"va'Ya'apilu la'alos ho'horoh (But they defiantly ascended the mountain)" (14:44).

The Gematriyah of "va'Ya'apilu", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is equivalent to that of 'Tzlofchod', who, according to some opinions, was among the Ma'apilim.

* * *

(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 414:
Not to Appoint a Judge who is Not Conversant with Torah Law

The Beis-Din ha'Gadol or the exilarch (the head of the Galus) should refrain from appointing a Dayan to judge the people who has not studied the wisdom of the Torah together with the explanation of its straight and righteous laws . Even if he happens to possess some outstanding Midos, since he is not well-learned and expert in the knowledge of Torah, he is not worthy of being appointed a judge. And in this regard the Torah writes in Devarim (1:17) "Do not show favouritism in judgment", which the Chachamim explain in connection with those who appoint Dayanim. For so they said 'Perhaps you will say 'So-and-so is good-looking, strong, wealthy, or that he knows many languages. I will appoint him judge!' Therefore the Torah writes "Do not show favouritism in judgment". Because by doing so, one ends up rendering the guilty innocent, and the innocent guilty, not because the incumbent is a Rasha, but because he simply doesn't know.

The reason for this Mitzvah is self-evident.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah What Chazal have said in Yuma (26a) that just as it is befitting for a Dayan to be conversant with the laws of the Torah, so too, should he possess good character-traits and be a 'Kasher' person - that a litigant should not be able to turn round and say to him 'First you return the beam that you stole !' That explains why the Torah describes the Dayanim as "men who are wise (i.e. they know the Din to judge correctly), and who are known to your tribes (i.e. who are liked by the people) and men of valour (who are meticulous in their fulfillment of Mitzvos and in their personal conduct, who control their Yeitzer-ha'Ra to the point that they are free of the slightest stigma or spiritual defect and of distinguished character). Also included in 'men of valour' is possessed of a determination to save the oppressed from their oppressors - as it says in Sh'mos (2:17) about Moshe Rabeinu "and Moshe arose and saved them" (the daughters of Yisro). In addition, just as Moshe was humble, so too must every Dayan possess a humble disposition and the other details are discussed in Sanhedrin and in other scattered locations (Choshen Mishpat, Si'man 11).

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