by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BMIDBAR 5774 BS"DCh. 1, v. 2: "L'mish'p'chosom l'veis avosom b'mispar sheimos" - To their families to their fathers' homes with a count of names - Because they did not change their names in Egypt they merited to remain loyal to the values of their ancestors' families. The last two words of the phrase explain the beginning. (M'lo Ho'omer)
Ch. 1, v. 3: "Atoh v'Aharon" - You and Aharon - Since they were collecting funds from the public halacha requires that two people do this together. (Tiferes Y'honoson)
Ch. 1, v. 4: "Ish ish lama'teh" - A man for each tribe - Since this counting affected the apportioning of the Holy Land the heads of each tribe had to be present so that no one could say his tribe's interests were not represented. This was not the purpose of the census in parshas Ki Siso and there was no need for tribal heads there. (Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Niklesburg)
Ch. 1, v. 20: "L'gul'glosom" - To their heads - This phrase is only mentioned by the tribes of Reuvein and Shimon, because from these two tribes only there were people who sinned and required "gilgul n'shomoh," reincarnation, to allow them to cleanse the sins of being cohorts with Korach and Zimri. (Sifsei Kohein)
Ch. 1, v. 47: "V'haLviim l'ma'tei avosom lo hospokdu b'sochom" - And the L'viim were not counted to the tribes of their ancestors among them - The counting certified that these people were indeed the children of their parents because there was a concern that the Egyptians and others might claim that since the Egyptians totally lorded over the men, all the more so did they lord over their wives, and these were not their children. Since the tribe of Levi was not enslaved there was no need to count them among the others, as there was no need to certify their purity of lineage. (Sifsei Kohein)
Ch. 3, v. 4: "Va'yomos Nodov v'Avihu …… al pnei Aharon avi'hem" - And Nodov and Avihu died …… during their father Aharon's lifetime - They were dead only during their father's lifetime. After Aharon died they were again alive, based on the words of the Holy Zohar that when Pinchos did his act of zealotry he died of fear and the souls of both Nodov and Avihu transmigrated into Pinchos and he came back to life. (Holy Alshich)
Ch. 3, v. 15: "Mi'ben chodesh vomaloh" - From a month and above - The L'viim were counted from the age of one month while the children of all other tribes were counted from 20 years of age and above. The others were counted as people who could be enlisted to the army, hence 20 years old and older. Since the L'viim were used here as a redemption for first-born, from a month they can redeem a month old or older first-born. (Chizkuni)
Ch. 3, v. 36: "Ufkudas mishmeres bnei M'rori karshei haMishkon" - And the appointment of the guarding of the sons of M'rori was the beams of the Mishkon - The items of which they were responsible for are listed last, after his two brothers. This is why our verse stresses "ufkudov," the appointment. The Sons of M'rori did not have a responsibility for some items by default, as that was all that was left of the Mishkon components and appurtenances. Rather, these items were uniquely suited for them by appointment. (Rabbi Shimshon b"r R'foel Hirsch)
Ch. 3, v. 48: "V'nosato es ha'kesef l'Aharon ulvonov" - And you shall give the silver to Aharon and his sons - On Sh.O. Y.D. #305 the Sha"ch and the Ta"z say that a Kohein may send an agent, a shliach," who is a non-Kohein to receive the five "shkolim" redemption for a first-born son. Commentators are hard-pressed to find a source for their opinion. The GR"A in Divrei Eliyohu says that it can be found overtly in our verse. Moshe, a non-Kohein, received the redemption money for the first-borns and gave it to Aharon and his sons.
Perhaps this redemption's details are no proof, as the redemption in our verses is not the same type of redemption that we do today.
Ch. 4, v. 6: "V'somu badov" - Why is there a need to place the staves into the rings of the Holy Ark before transporting it? How were they ever allowed to be removed? The Torah prohibits the removal of the staves in Shmos 25:15 with the words "lo yosuru mi'menu."
1) The Ibn Ezra answers that "V'somu badov" refers to placing the staves onto the shoulders of the carriers, and not to placing the staves into the rings.
2) The Ramban and Baalei Tosfos say that while the Holy Ark was in place inside the Holy of Holies, the staves were pulled forward to create a slight bulge in the curtain, the "poroches." When it came time to transport the Holy Ark, the staves were set in a position that the Holy Ark be evenly centred, allowing for convenient transport.
3) There is the opinion of Rabbi Yoseif Habochur cited by Tosfos on Yoma 72a that there were two sets of four rings attached to the Holy Ark, one set of four above the second set. The prohibition in Shmos 25:15 refers only to the staves placed into the upper set of rings, and our verse refers to placing a second pair of staves into the lower four rings for transportation purposes. There is no prohibition of removal of this second pair. As a matter of fact they are only attached for transportation purposes. This interpretation is strongly indicated by the words "U'shtei tabo'os" in Shmos 25:12, the stress being on the seemingly extra Vov in this word. This seems to tell us that in addition to the first four rings, there are also another two and two rings, totaling eight. Rashi and the Ibn Ezra go to some length to explain this Vov according to the more popular opinion that there were only four rings and two staves in total.
4) The Rivo in the name of Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi says that "lo yosuru" means to make staves that are so thick that they will fit very tightly into the rings. That way, once they are centred there will be no forward shifting of the Holy Ark when being carried downhill, and no reverse shifting when being carried uphill. The verse would be telling us a description of how to make the staves and not a prohibition. However, this extrapolation is not true. Even if the intention of the verse is as mentioned in the name of Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi, nonetheless, there must also be a prohibition. The mishnoh in the third chapter of Makos says that if one intentionally removes the staves of the Holy Ark, he has sinned and is liable to receive lashes for this transgression.
5) Another answer from the Ibn Ezra is that there is no prohibition to remove the staves to allow for the Holy Ark's being covered with the "bigdei hasrod" for transportation.
Ch. 4, v. 20: "K'vala es hakodesh vo'meisu" - As the holy items are being covered and they would die - The verse says, "B'odoh b'chapo yivlo'enoh," while it is still in the palm of his hand he will swallow it. This means that a person is so eager to have/do something as if food was in his hand and he would have swallowed it without placing it into his mouth. We can thus explain these words of our verse to mean that one should not, in his extreme eagerness to absorb more and more sanctity, "swallow" the sanctity that is beyond his reach, beyond where he may be. This could bring to a punishment of death. (Chasam Sofer)
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