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

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Vol. 5 No. 35

Parshas Sh'lach Lecho

The Road of Return

Immediately following the sin of the spies, the Torah gives details of the drink and the flour offerings. It is difficult to perceive at first, the connection between these two Parshiyos and that of the spies. Rashi does connect them, but his explanation appears to be inadequate,as we shall now see. Commenting on the phrase "when you come into the land", Rashi explains that, although the sin of the spies had barred them from entering Eretz Yisroel, Hashem hastened to reassure them that this was only a temporary measure, and that their children were destined to enter the Promised Land and to bring the drink and the flour offerings there. However, that will only suffice to explain the phrase "when you come into the land", but not the connection between the two offerings and the spies. Moreover, what has all this to do with the mitzvah of "challah" which follows?

For that, let us turn to the Seforno (see also Ba'al ha'Turim) who gives the following explanation: Up to the time of the golden calf, all sacrifices were acceptable in the eyes of G-d, without drink or flour offerings, as we find with Hevel, No'ach and Avrohom Ovinu, all of whom sacrificed animals to Hashem, but not drink or flour offerings. Even at Har Sinai, prior to the giving of the Torah, the first-born sacrificed burnt-offerings exclusively. It was only after they had sinned by the Eigel, that drink and flour offerings were added to all communal sacrifices in order to render them worthy of acceptance.

And it was only following the sin of the spies that they were commanded, for the first time, to bring flour and wine even with their private korbonos, to render them acceptable in the eyes of Hashem. In addition, the mitzvah of 'challah' was introduced, in order to effect a blessing on the food in one's home, whereas prior to that, this had not been necessary: the brochoh could have been attained through the media of tefillah and good deeds.

In last week's Parshah, Beha'aloscho, we were given the mitzvah of Pesach Sheini one month after Pesach, for someone who was unable to bring it in its correct time. This mitzvah, the Medrash tells us, was instigated in reply to the justified complaints of people who were 'tomei meis' (impure through physical contact with dead people), and who were worried at their inability to participate in the Korban Pesach. Hashem responded by introducing this new mitzvah on their behalf. In contrast, this week's Parshah deals with the introduction of new mitzvos to offset the unjustified grumblings which, in turn, brought on a decline in their spiritual level. This decline could only be remedied by additional mitzvos, which would help the people to regain their former level.

Evidently, the lower one's spiritual level and the weaker one's faith, the more it becomes necessary to balance this with an increase in Torah and mitzvos. A case in point is Yom Kippur, where we spend the entire day in Shul in prayer, whereas in biblical times this was clearly not done, as is evident from the Gemoro's account of the girls, who would dance in the vineyards on Yom Kippur and on the 15th of Av.

Much in the same vein, our forefathers (Avrohom, Yitzchok and Ya'akov), the epitome of righteousness, attained their incredibly high levels of spirituality and fear of G-d, in spite of their seemingly 'mundane' life-style; whereas today, such superlative levels of G-dliness are only accessible as a rule, by people who immerse themselves full-time in the study of Torah.

We in turn, must learn to maintain this balance, and when we feel that we are declining, or that we are being subjected to the temptations of the outside world, then the correct procedure is to take an added dose of spirituality to help us regain or to retain our former level, much in the same way as we refuel our cars, both before a long journey and after it. (Indeed, forestalling a decline by means of a stronger tefillah, an extra shiur or by giving tzedokoh , is even better than trying to make up after it, in the same way as adjusting a heavy load on an animal's back is that much easier than to reload it once it has fallen off (Rashi, Parshas Be'Har). To maintain is easier than to regain! (A stitch in time...)

Parshah Pearls
Sh'lach Lecho

Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim

Moshe Prayed for Yehoshua

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

Moshe davened, explains Rashi, that Hashem should save him ('Koh yoshi'acho') from the plans of the spies.

"It is not at first clear as to why Moshe davened only on behalf of Yehoshua and not of Kolev?" asks the Chofetz Chayim.

It is because Yehoshua, by virtue of his personality (that of a leader - since he was to become Moshe's successor) would object positively and directly, to the evil design of the spies, whereas Kolev, as we shall see, employed a different method of approach. Consequently, it was Yehoshua for whom Moshe prayed - to be saved from the physical danger to which he might have been subjected, had the spies turned against him in an effort to quieten him.

Kolev Prayed for Himself

"And he came to Chevron". Why does the Torah write "And he came to Chevron" in the singular, when it is referring to all the spies, as is evident, from the words immediately prior to that "And they went via the south"?

Rashi explains that in fact, it was Kolev alone who went to Chevron to pray by the Me'oras ha'Machpeiloh for Divine assistance, to ask G-d for the courage to stand firm, and not to fall prey to the plans of the spies.

Why did Kolev alone go to pray at the Me'oras ha'Machpeiloh? Why did Yehoshua not go with him?

We explained earlier how Moshe chose to daven exclusively for Yehoshua, because it was Yehoshua alone whose life would be threatened by virtue of his defying the other spies. Kolev was not in physical danger, because he did not defy them, explains the Chofetz Chayim. His tactics were to pretend to side with them. This would later enable him to surprise them when, believing him to be on their side, the spies themselves silenced Klal Yisroel to hear what Kolev had to say. It would also protect him from the danger of their turning against him - which explains why Moshe did not daven for him as he did for Yehoshua. However, Kolev now faced a different danger. When one becomes an accessory to a crime, however unwilling a partner one is, there is also a strong chance that one surrenders to the situation, and eventually becomes a willing partner to the crime. That is why Kolev deemed it necessary to go to the Me'oras ha'Machpeiloh to daven - to save himself from the spiritual corruption that threatened him.

This explains, writes the Chofetz Chayim, why the Torah sometimes places Yehoshua first, and sometimes Kolev, to teach us, says the Tosefta, that they were both equal. There are two different approaches in handling a potent situation such as the one that faced Yehoshua and Kolev. Yehoshua adopted one approach, Kolev the other. Both were right, both were equal.

And it also explains, he says, why the Torah writes about Kolev (14:24) "And My servant Kolev, since he had another spirit in him"... What does 'another spirit' mean? And why does the Torah not write such words about Yehoshua?

It is because Yehoshua defied the spies openly. He made no bones about his stance. It was Kolev who pretended to side with them. He displayed one point of view, but inside him, there was another spirit, and that is the praise that the Torah bestows upon him here.


The Shema (Part XV)

Shema Yisroel

The 'Shema' is not just an invitation to come and hear what is being said, but it is a command to listen attentively (which explains why we close our eyes and cover them, whilst reciting the Shema, to increase our concentration whilst reciting it), to understand and to accept it. Indeed, it is due to the latter connotation of the word that the opening possuk of the Shema is known as 'Kabbolas ol Malchus Shomayim' (the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven).

The possuk of Shema consists of six words, corresponding to the six days of the Creation and the six directions (which is why we nod our heads in all six directions whilst reciting the word 'echod'). Boruch Shem, which also contains six words, is a reflection of 'Shema Yisroel' (like the Beis ha'Mikdosh in Heaven reflects the Beis ha'Mikdosh on earth), and it also corresponds to the seventh day - Shabbos.

The commentaries connect the following phrases with the Shema, by virtue of the first letters of each phrase.

Se'u Eineichem Morom (Lift your eyes upwards) - to -
Shakay, Melech Elyon (Shakay, the elevated G-d)
Shachris, Arvis, Minchah (morning, evening and afternoon)
She'ein Od Mil'vado (because there is none besides Him).
The 'ayin' of Shema, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, is large, because Yisroel have seventy names, and Hashem, who also has seventy Names (see Ba’al ha’Turim Bamidbar 11:16), gave them a Torah with seventy names and which can be explained in seventy ways, in order to make a distinction between them and the seventy nations.

The 'daled' of 'Echod' is also large, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, to hint to us that, besides crowning Hashem in Heaven and on earth (as is hinted in the Aleph and the Ches), we should also crown Him in all four directions.

In addition, he adds, the two letters together spell 'eid' (witness) because it is Yisroel who give testimony to G-d's sovereignty, in the same way as G-d gives testimony to Klal Yisroel's superiority over the nations.

Also inherent in the word 'Echod' is the ten 'sefiros'. The 'aleph', which represents Atzilus (the spiritual source from which the other Sefiros stem, is synonymous with the invisible 'aleph' to which the right-hand foot of the 'beis' of Bereishis points back); the 'ches' stands for the eight sefiros from chochmah to yesod, and the 'daled' for malchus (like the daled in Yehudah's name).

The possuk itself is telling us two things:

1. That Hashem is our G-d; and
2. that He is One.

What does this mean? Elokim is a title that is shared by angels and judges, and that incorporates leadership, supervision and judgement.

In particular however, it pertains to the seventy master angels who are charged with the task of governing the seventy nations. And it is with reference to them that the Torah writes ' Listen Yisroel, Hashem is our G-d (Hashem, who is, was and will be - who transcends time - as is hinted in the name 'Havayah'); in other words, we are not governed by the Angels, as every other nation is, but directly by Hashem Himself. And this is what Chazal mean when they say, that although every other country has a guardian Angel, Eretz Yisroel (the land that belongs to Yisrael) is different - it is governed directly by G-d! And when He governs, ‘Hashem Echod’ - He does so alone, without any assistance from any other power, in Heaven or on earth.

History of the World
( Part 44)

(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)

Flashback to:

Shalum ben Yovesh kills King Zecharyah who had ruled for only six months. Shalum reigns for one month.)

Menachem ben Godi ascends the throne of Yisroel in Shomron in the thirty-ninth year of Azaryah, King of Yehudah.

Michah the Murshosi receives the Torah from Yeshayah. He prophesies in the days of Yosom, Ochoz and Chizkiyahu. The Cohen Godol is Shalom; Hoshei'a, Amos, Yeshayah and Michah all prophesy at that time. Pul Asur, alias Tiglas Pil'eser, is King of Assyria.

Ochoz (Chizkiyo's father) is born.

Pekachyoh ben Menachem rules over Yisroel.

Pekachyoh is killed by Pekach ben Remalyahu, who rules in his place. Pekach will slaughter 120,000 men of Yehudah in battle and take 200,000 captive. Yosom, the son of Uziyoh, rules over Yehudah at the death of his father. The prophets in his time are Hoshei'a, Yeshayah, Amos, Michah and Oded. Yosom is one of the most righteous kings ever. In fact, his real name is Yerucham. Yosom is the acronym of 'yo' (sixteen) 'tam' (perfect) - to say that even though his reign lasted sixteen years, he remained without sin.

Romulus is crowned king of Rome. He will rule for thirty-eight years.

Tiglas Pil'eser, King of Assyria, exiles the tribes of Gad, Reuven and half of Menasheh from Transjordan. He will also exile the tribes of Zevulun and Naftoli, leaving Sancheriv, King of Asyria, to complete the exile of thode of the ten tribes who still remained. Hoshei'a ben Eiloh from the tribe of Reuven, kills Pekach ben Remalyohu. He is the last king of Yisroel (the ten tribes).

On the fifteenth of Av, Hoshei'a removes the border-guards set up by Yerov'om ben Nevot, to stop the people from going to Yerusholayim on Yom-tov. Nevertheless, he is listed as one of the seven wicked kings of Yisroel, together with Yerov'om, Ba'asho, Omri, Yehu, Menachem (plus all their children), and Pekach. Even his removal of the border-guards is only a half-hearted mitzvah, since he follows that by permiting the people to go to Yerusholayim, instead of ordering them to go, as the Torah commands. Others say that in practice, Hoshei'a is not king at all, since Tiglas Pil'eser, King of Assyria, granted him only limited powers. He is more like a governer, until his rebellion in the twelfth year of his reign.

There are also seven wicked kings listed among the kings of Yehudah: Yehorom, Achazyoh, Yeho'ochoz, Menasheh, Omon, Yehoyochin and Tzidkiyohu. This list however, is questionable for a number of reasons: one of them because, in various places, Tzidkiyohu is referred to as an outstanding tzadik, as his name suggests.

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