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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 8, v. 2: "B'haalos'cho es ha'neiros" - Rashi (Medrash Tanchumo #5) says that this parsha is juxtaposed to that of the heads of the tribes bringing their offerings for the dedication of the Mishkon at the end of parshas Nosso, to tell us that Aharon was pained by not taking part in the dedication ceremony. Hashem consoled him by telling him that he would have the mitzvoh of kindling the menorah. Although kindling the menorah is a most wonderful act, nevertheless, how did it compensate for an act of DEDICATION? The Meshech Chochmoh brings that the gemara Yoma 24b states that the kindling of the menorah is not considered a service in the Mikdosh that requires a Kohein. In the commentary Tosfos Y'shonim Rabbi Yoseif asks, "If the kindling is not a service requiring a Kohein why does our verse say 'Da'beir el Aharon ...... b'haalos'cho es ha'neiros?'" The Meshech Chochmoh answers that Hashem gave him the mitzvoh of lighting the menorah for the very first time, an act of dedication. This was to be done with the evening lighting, as per the mishnoh in M'nochos 49a, that the menorah is to be inaugurated only by lighting all seven lamps and with the evening lighting. He was consoled by being given a mitzvoh that was also an act of dedication. Regarding the menorah for all later times and generations the verse says "yaaroch oso Aharon u'vonov." Only the preparation and cleaning of the lamps requires a Kohein, but not the kindling except for the inaugural lighting which Hashem said that specifically Aharon should light. The next verse says "Va'yaas kein Aharon ...... kaa'sher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe." This refers only to his lighting the menorah as an inauguration and not for the rest of his life, as we have no indication that he lit it always. (It should be noted that the Ramban says that this verse tells us that Aharon always lit the menorah even though he was not required to do so.)

It is quite possible that this insight of the Meshech Chochmoh is encapsulated in a few words that Rashi (Medrash Tanchumo #5) says, "shelcho g'dolooh mishelo'hem she'atoh MADLIK uMEITIV es ha'neiros." The order of lighting is always cleaning out the residue of the previous lighting, "hatovoh," before "hadlokoh," lighting. However, at the time of the first lighting, the dedication of the menorah, Aharon would first light and then afterwards clean. This would also explain why "hatovoh" is mentioned at all. The verse does not mention it, so why does Rashi? The answer is that he wants to point out that Hashem appeased Aharon with the inaugural lighting, hence lighting before cleaning.

Perhaps this gives us a new insight into "L'hagid shvocho shel Aharon shelo shinoh" (Rashi on 8:3 - Sifri 8:5). Since we are discussing specifically the dedication according to the Meshech Chochmoh, the Sifri stresses that the same enthusiasm that Aharon had when he dedicated the menorah was present even 40 years later, even though he had lit it thousands of times. To answer the original question of how the lighting of the menorah is a compensation for missing out on taking part in the dedication, perhaps another answer can be offered. At the beginning of parshas Trumoh the verses list the materials to be brought for the building of the Mishkon. In 25:6 the verse says to bring "shemen lamo'ore," - oil for lighting. The Baa'lei Tosfos ask that oil for lighting is not a material for building the Mishkon, but rather, an object that is offered in the daily service of kindling of the menorah. They answer that just as a king who has a palace built for himself has it well lit, so too, the oil of the menorah when lit will light up the Mishkon. This is considered part and parcel of the building of the Mishkon. The Baa'lei Tosfos likewise use this concept to explain the listing of incense among the building materials.

It is now simply understood that the daily lighting of the menorah is not a service done in the Mikdosh, but rather, a daily completion of the Mishkon, a daily rededication. This would also explain why the lighting of the menorah may be done by a non-Kohein, as it is not a service, but rather, building the Mikdosh.

This would also explain why during Chanukah a miracle was needed for eight days so that only pure oil was used. Even though commentators say that for a dedication we do not want to use or may not use the rule of "tumoh hutroh b'tzibur," - defiled objects may be used when pure ones are not available for the services of the Mikdosh that are communal (which in reality means that they have a set time), nevertheless, this only explains why pure oil was needed for the first lighting, but why did the next seven days require pure oil? According to the above it is well understood, as lighting every day was a new dedication of the Mikdosh, as it is considered a completion of BUILDING the Mikdosh. (See the Ramban for another answer connected to Chanukah).

Ch. 8, v. 2: "El mul pnei ha'menorah" - What is the "mul pnei ha'menoroh?"

1) The central light - Three lights on each side of the central one should tilt towards it. (Rashi)

2) The celestial menorah that is in heaven - There is a Mikdosh in heaven with all Mikdosh vessels that corresponds to the earthly Mikdosh. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

3) The Holy Ark and the tablets inside it (Abarbenel)

4) The curtain that divides between the Holy and the Holy of Holies (Chizkuni according to the opinion in the gemara M'nochos 98b that the seven lights of the menorah stood north to south)

5) The Shulchon, the show-bread table that stood across from the menorah, as is stated in Shmos 40:24, "Va'yo'sem es ha'menorah ...... mul hashulchon" (Chizkuni according to the opinion in the gemara M'nochos 98b that the seven lights of the menorah stood east to west, Rabbi Yoseif Bchor Shor, Rashbam)

6) The side on which the steps were placed for climbing up to cleanse and light (N"tziv)

Ch. 8, v. 2: "El mul pnei ha'menorah yo'iru SHIVAS ha'neiros" - According to all explanations of "mul pnei ha'menorah" just offered, the word SHIVAS is understood quite simply, except for the first explanation. It would seem that the verse should have said SHEI'SHES, the six lights.

Some explanations:

1) After the six lights, three on each side, are properly lit, together with the middle light, seven lights shall shine.

2) This teaches us that all seven lights shall be equal in size and should have an equal amount of oil so that they should burn equally long (barring the miracle of the "ner maarovi). (Breiso of M'leches haMishkon)

3) The lights shining is symbolic of growing in Torah knowledge. The three lights on each of the two sides represent the students, while the central one represents the teacher. Not only do the students gain from the teacher's knowledge, but the teacher gains from his students questions. Hence all seven lights will shine when the students bend themselves towards their teacher. (Shaarei Simchoh)

4) Once the six lights subordinate themselves to the middle light, they grow in stature and become equal to the middle one and they all shine equally. This is also symbolized in the ruling that the menorah shall be made of one solid piece of gold, and not of separate pieces welded together. (Avnei Zohov)

Ch. 8, v. 2: "Yo'iru shivas ha'neiros" - Moshe made one menorah that had seven lights. The seven lights combatted the negative darkening affects of the seven nations that the bnei Yisroel would encounter upon their entry into Eretz Yisroel. King Shlomo made ten menoros (Divrei Hayomim 2:4:7) which had a total of seventy lights, to counter the negative effects of the seventy nations of the world. (Medrash Hagodol)

Ch. 8, v. 3: "Va'yaas KEIN Aharon" - Rashi brings the Sifri 8:5 that says "L'hagid shvocho shel Aharon shelo shinoh." One insight on this statement was given in the first offering. The Malbim and Amu'dehoh Shivoh give the following explanation. During the days of the creation of the world after Hashem said that they should come into existence, when they did the verse continually says "va'y'hi KEIN." The one exception was when light was created where the verse says "va'y'hi ohr" (Breishis 1:3). Rashi says that originally Hashem planned to have a very powerful light come into existence. He saw that it would be misused by evil people, so He hid it for the future when the righteous people would use it, and in its stead brought into existence a lower level different type of light. This is why "va'y'hi KEIN" is not used by light, as it wasn't as originally planned. The original light did not come into existence, but another lesser type did, hence "va'y'hi ohr."

Aharon, invested the mitzvoh of lighting the menorah with his great spiritual powers to the point that with his lighting he drew down from heaven the original light that Hashem hid for the future. This is the meaning of "Va'yaas KEIN Aharon." Out of "va'y'hi ohr" Aharon made "va'y'hi KEIN." Thus his praise of "shelo shinoh" means he did not change from "va'y'hi KEIN" to "va'y'hi ohr."

Ch. 8, v. 4: "Kein ossoh es ha'menorah" - As mentioned earlier in verse 2, King Shlomo made ten menoros. This is alluded to in these words. KEIN has the numerical value of 70, the total of lights of 10 menoros. OSSOH has the numerical value of 375, equal to that of SHLOMO. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 11, v. 4: "V'hosafsuf asher b'kirbo hisavu taavoh" - From this verse until the end of this chapter the Torah relates that there was a group of people who were unhappy with their daily fare of manna and they lusted meat. Hashem's response was powerful. He sent a vast amount of birds called "slov" and the people collected, ate, O.D.ed on them, and died.

The thrust of this offering is to explain why Hashem reacted so strongly, exacting the death penalty for a seemingly not so severe sin of being bored with the same daily fare and requesting an alternate food. A number of questions are to be raised:

1) The double expression "hisavu taavoh" (verse 4).

2) The instigation of this lust by the "asafsuf" and the complaint spilling over to the bnei Yisroel (verse 4). Why didn't they all complain in unison?

3) The elaborate description of the manna, even detailing that it was transparent (verse 7). In Shmos 16:15 where the manna was first mentioned there is no such description.

4) The detailed description of having to spread out to collect the manna, the required preparation of either grinding or crushing, the need to cook it, the need to shape it into cakes (verse 8). Why burden us with all these details?

5) Mentioning that the manna fell daily (verse 9).

6) Seemingly going off topic by mentioning that people were crying because of the recently given laws prohibiting marriage to certain close relatives (verse 10, as explained by Rashi - Sifri 11:10).

7) "Hashem was very angered, while in the eyes of Moshe it was bad" (verse 10). Why mention Moshe's opinion when Hashem's assessment is already mentioned?

8) Why indeed did Moshe only feel that "it was bad" if Hashem felt more negative, to the point that He was very angered?

9) Again, the original lead-in question - Why did Hashem react so severely; "Va'yach Hashem bo'om makoh raboh m'ode" (verse 33)?

All of the above is answered with an insight into what the underlying motive was for lusting meat. In truth the "asafsuf" were not disenchanted with the manna. However, the gemara Yoma 75a-b explains that the need to spread out to fetch the manna as well as the need to expend much time and effort in its preparation went hand-in-hand with the spiritual level of the people. Those who were more righteous found their portion of manna at their doorsteps, while those who were less righteous had to go further afield. The really wicked people had to charter an airplane to fetch their portions. Similarly the gemara derives from the comparison of verses that the more righteous needed no preparation of their manna. It was ready to eat. The less righteous had to do some preparation, while those on the lowest level had to do a tremendous amount of preparation.

As a person's level of compliance with the mitzvos changed, something that could be different on a daily basis, so did the location and level of preparation of his manna change. In effect, the manna was a visual barometer, measuring each family's spiritual level daily.

If the manna were to fall a year's supply at a time the embarrassment would not be so severe. However, as the verse states, it fell daily. If this were not bad enough, let us dramatize a day in the life of a not so righteous person. After trekking many kilometers to and fro to fetch and bring his family's manna home, the wife just begins to grind it. The children are screaming that they are starving. The whole neighbourhood hears them. Breakfast is finally ready in the mid-afternoon. The wife's respect for her husband plummets.

The manna being transparent alludes to its creating a transparency in everyone's life, clearly showing everyone's level of keeping or not keeping the mitzvos. In essence, the system of manna creates a spiritual stranglehold on the nation. No doubt this was Hashem's intention, being very tough right after giving the Torah to show that He means business. This also explains why when the bnei Yisroel sinned in the desert retribution was quick to come, and the characteristic of "erech apayim" only took place once they entered Eretz Yisroel.

What is one to do who is not ready to toe the line fully in keeping Hashem's mitzvos? The "asafsuf" were the people who wanted to undermine Hashem's system. The restriction on marrying close relatives was the straw that broke the camel's back. They couldn't sell a conspiracy to find another way of finding food so as to destroy Hashem's system, as no one would buy in. They artificially "lusted a lusting" (of an alternate food source not governed by their righteousness) but in truth had a hidden agenda. They championed the cause of a change in diet and this spilled over to some of the bnei Yisroel. Hashem, Who knows the intention in everyone's heart, was rightfully very angered that they wanted to destroy His control. Moshe, who only saw the outward complaint of lusting meat, reacted less severely, only thinking that it was bad.

There is now no need to elaborate on why death was a most fitting punishment, not being overly harsh for those who attempt to destroy Hashem's system of control. (Adaptation of K'hilas Yitzchok)

Ch. 11, v. 26: "V'heimoh baksuvim" - Only seventy people were to become elders. Six people from each of the twelve tribes were eligible. This makes a total of 72 people. How were two to be excluded? Lots were drawn. Seventy lots had the word "zo'kein" written upon them and two were blank. Those who drew the two blank ones were excluded. (Rashi - Sifri 11:21)

The Chizkuni asks that there seems to be room for a complaint by those who draw their lots later that there is more chance to pick a lot that says "zo'kein" if one draws earlier, since there would be more lots that say "zokein" in the box. He answers that likewise there is the possibility that someone who draws earlier will pick a blank lot, thus reducing the probability of a later lot coming up blank. In essence, everyone's chances are mathematically equal. It is therefore most puzzling (even without the Chizkuni, since it is true mathematically) that the M.R. at the end of parshas Bmidbar says that Rabbi Nechemioh stated that it is unfair to make 22,273 lots to pick who is redeemed by a Levi and who has to redeem himself, since the later people have less "Levi" lots from which to pick, and therefore they had 22,273 lots that said "Levi" and 273 that were blank.

Ch. 12, v. 8: "Peh el peh ada'beir BO" - Commentators point out that the verse should have said "ada'beir LO." They explain that Hashem was saying that He spoke THROUGH Moshe, BO. This is called "sh'chinoh m'da'beres mitoch grono shel Moshe," - Hashem's voice emanates from the throat of Moshe. Hashem was chastising Aharon and Miriam for equating their level of prophecy with that of Moshe. They received a prophecy that was given over in their own voices only.

There is a disagreement if Aharon also contracted "tzoraas," brought in the gemara Shabbos 97a. The verse does not openly state that he did, although it says "va'yichar af Hashem BOM" (verse 9), indicating that His anger was directed at both of them. Even according to the opinion that Aharon was also afflicted, the Mabi"t says that it lasted only for a fleeting moment, while Miriam's was of longer duration, as clearly stated in verse 15. Why was Aharon not punished as severely as Miriam, especially considering that the one who receives "loshon hora" is considered guiltier than the one who spoke it?

Perhaps Miriam was guilty of both speaking "loshin hora" and of incorrectly equating her level of prophecy with that of Moshe, but Aharon was only guilty of accepting the "loshon hora" but was in a way equal to Moshe in that he also merited to have "sh'chinoh m'da'beres mitoch grono." In our Yom Kippur musof prayers we say "K'she'hoyoh Hashem yotzei mipi Kohein Godol," - When the Holy Name of Hashem EMANATED from the mouth of the Kohein Godol" (mishnoh Yoma). The Shulchan Oruch of the Ari z"l explains why the words "yotzei mipi Kohein Godol" are used rather than "k'she'omar Kohein Godol" - when the Kohein Godol SAID Hashem's name. He says that the Kohein Godol did not actually say Hashem's name but rather only opened his mouth and the name of Hashem miraculously emanated from his mouth. With this he explains a difficult verse in Shmos 20:24, "B'chol mokom asher AZKIR es sh'mi ......" The literal translation is: "In every place that I will cause My name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you." Rashi says that to understand this verse we must switch around the phrases and explain as follows: Wherever I come to bless you, which means in the Beis Hamikdosh, you may mention My name. This teaches us that in the Beis Hamikdosh Hashem's name is pronounced exactly as it is written. We have two difficulties here. One is that we have to switch around the phrases, and the second is that the word AZKIR is not well translated. Rashi explains it to mean that you, the Kohein, may mention My name, but the verse says AZKIR, I will cause My name to be mentioned, and not TAZKIR. According to the Ari z"l's explanation, everything flows smoothly because Hashem is saying His Own Holy name through the conduit of the Kohein Godol's mouth.

According to the Ari z"l Hashem also spoke through Aharon's throat, albeit only on Yom Kippur. Nevertheless, he also achieved this level, and was therefore punished less severely.



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