by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS CHUKAS 5761 BS"D
Ch. 19, v. 1: "Zose chukas haTorah asher tzivoh Hashem LEIMORE da'beir el bnei Yisroel" - What does the word LEIMORE teach us, as we also have "da'beir" right after it?
1) We derive from "zose toras ho'oloh" (Vayikroh 6:2) that even when the Beis Hamikdosh no longer stands and the offering of sacrifices ceases, the study of the laws of sacrifices is considered as if those sacrifices have been offered, and atonement is thus attained. Nowadays with just about everyone being defiled by "tumas meis" why don't we also say that from the words "Zose chukas haTorah ...... v'yikchu ei'lecho foroh adumoh" we may derive that one who is defiled and studies the laws of "poroh adumoh," the red heifer, it is as if it were processed and he has become cleansed of his impurity? The answer is that since the law of "poroh adumoh" is unfathomable, so also is this concept of why the learning of the laws of "poroh adumoh" does not afford one cleansing from impurity unfathomable. This is the meaning of LEIMORE, "to say." The verse tells us that the "chukoh" includes LEIMORE, that learning is not as if it were actually done. (Rabbi Akiva Kornitzer of Cracow)
2) There is a minority opinion in the Rishonim that the reading of "parshas poroh" is a mitzvoh of the Torah. Commentators are very hard pressed to find a source for this. The seemingly superfluous word LEIMORE of our verse can be interpreted to tell us to say it in the manner of reading this parsha in public, as the next word "da'beir" suffices for Hashem's telling Moshe to give over the information to the bnei Yisroel. (Rabbi Yehoshua Tronk of Kutna - Y'shuose Malko)
A most interesting source for the reading of this parsha being a Torah requirement is offered by the Torah T'mimoh.
3) Rashi mentions that the evil inclination and the nations of the world inflame the bnei Yisroel by scoffing and questioning the logic of this and other "chukim" mitzvos. Rashi says that we should respond by saying that they are statutes given to us by Hashem and we have no permission to delve into their reasoning, "ein l'cho r'shus l'har'heir acha'rehoh." However, this is only true in response to the evil inclination and the nations of the world. As far as we ourselves are concerned, we should strive to grasp any understanding that we can, even into "chukim." (We see that Rashi immediately afterwards offers insights of Rabbi Moshe haDarshon.) Thus we read the verse, "Zose chukas haTorah asher tzivoh Hashem LEIMORE," to say to the evil inclination and the nations of the world, that it is a statute. However, "da'beir el bnei Yisroel," to the bnei Yisroel tell the laws and they may delve into it to the fullest level of their understanding. (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 20, v. 1: "Vatomos shom Miriam" - With the passing of Miriam the wellspring stopped flowing and did not begin flowing until Moshe activated it, as per the gemara Taanis 9a. The medrash says that because Miriam sang at the splitting of the "Yam Suf" the wellspring flowed in her merit. Since all of the bnei Yisroel sang as well in which way did she have a unique merit? It seems that the intention of the medrash is that she sang accompanied by musical instruments, indicating a higher level of trust in Hashem than the men had, as mentioned in the medrash as well.
Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo | m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimone umayim ayin lishtose" - It seems most illogical to complain about not having exotic fruit when they were also lacking a most basic need for sustaining life, water. If we pay attention to the cantellation accompanying these words we find a PSIK, a sign of separation between the words "lo" and "m'kome." We thus read these words as follows: You have brought us to this bad place. "Lo," we would not complain regarding its (lack of) ability to produce figs, grapes, and pomegranates. However, we are complaining because "umayim ayin lishtose." We lack the basic necessities to exist, as we lack water. (K'hilas Yitzchok)
Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimone umayim ayin lishtose" - They were in the desert for close to forty years at this point. Why did they suddenly complain that they were in a location that sustained no vegetation, nor had drinking water?
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that until Miriam died there was such an abundance of water flowing from her wellspring that it enabled plants to grow. (A strong indication that there was such a wealth of water can be found in T'hilim 78:20, "Hein hikoh tzur va'yozuvu mayim uncholim YISHTOFU.") Now, upon the death of Miriam the water totally ceased to flow. They therefore complained that they had no water to drink or to sustain vegetation. The Malbim asks three questions on this incident, starting with the bnei Yisroel's first encamping in Ko'deish.
1) Why does the verse says "VA'YEISHEV" ho'om b'Ko'deish" (20:1), rather than the more common "ya'yichan" or "va'yachanu." 2) Why did they suddenly complain here about the inhospitable conditions?
3) Why did they wait until after the death of Miriam and after the incident of "mei m'rivoh" (verses 7 through 13) to send a message of intent to the king of Edom (verse 14), and not do so immediately upon coming there, as they did with Sichon the king of Emori (verse 22)? He answers that they were now at the edge of the land of Edom, one of the three lands, Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni, whose lands they were promised as their inheritance, along with the lands of the seven nations occupying Eretz Yisroel. Entering with Moshe would have ushered in the Messianic period and their conquest and inheritance would have immediately included the three Trans-Jordanian lands as well. They therefore did not camp there, but rather "VA'YEISHEV," they settled there, thinking that they had come to the eastern border of their permanent inheritance. When seeing that it was arrid and uninhabitable, they complained, saying that the promised land was not fit for agriculture, and had no water either. They did not send a message to the king of the land requesting permission to traverse the country because they planned to conquer and inhabit it. However, this hinged upon Moshe's meriting to enter Eretz Yisroel along with the rest of the bnei Yisroel. After the death of Miriam which led to the lack of water and eventually to Moshe's "sinning" by the incident of "mei m'rivoh," they were informed that Moshe would not enter the promised land, and they realized that they would only conquer the lands of the seven nations in Eretz Yisroel. Only after this, when they knew that they would not conquer the three Trans-Jordanian lands they instead planned to only traverse the land on their way to Eretz Yisroel. Only then did they find it necessary to ask for permission.
Ch. 20, v. 15: "Vayo'rei'u lonu Mitzrayim v'la'AVOSEINU" - The Medrash Tanchuma #12 derives from the word "v'laavoseinu" that not only do those who are alive suffer when difficulties befall them, but also their ancestors who have long died also suffer along with them. I have recently written in parshas Shlach the words of the Ra"n in his "droshos" #8. He explains the logic behind praying at the gravesite of a holy person, given that we are praying to Hashem. Another explanation emerges from this statement of the Medrash Tanchuma. Since our ancestors suffer along with their descendants, we poignantly point out to Hashem with our prayers at their gravesites that we would like to be relieved of our difficulties, if not in our own merit, but at least in the merit of our ancestors, as they do not deserve to suffer as well. (Droshos Rabbeinu Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer on Lag bo'Omer page 248) Pointing out that ancestors suffer as well was quite relevant since Eisov was careful to comply with the mitzvoh of honouring his father Yitzchok. The bnei Yisroel said that if they would not accommodate them, their common forefather Yitzchok would also suffer. Alas, even this plea fell on deaf ears.
Ch. 20, v. 26: "V'Ahoron yei'o'seif u'meis shom" - The Ponim Yofos asks why Moshe didn't beg Hashem with all his might that Aharon be allowed to live longer and enter Eretz Yisroel, just as he pleaded for himself. He answers that Aharon's death was clearly spelled out, or that by Hashem's mentioning that Elozor the son of Aharon should accompany them up Hore Hohor, it indicated that Elozor would take over the position of Kohein Godol, and the benefit of another person cannot be rescinded, or that Moshe's act was somewhat unintentional as he came to anger, or that Moshe only prayed for himself after a Yom Kippur passed, while Aharon died on the first of the month of Menachem Av, before Yom Kippur, or that Moshe only prayed after he had an indication that Hashem would be willing to annul the decree. It is interesting to note that the M.R. 19:9 says that Moshe did pray to Hashem to rescind His decree against Aharon.
Ch. 20, v. 29: "VAYIRU kol ho'eidoh ki gova Aharon" - Since the Torah clearly relates that Moshe and Elozor accompanied Aharon up mount Hore Hohor and that Aharon died there, how could the complete congregation SEE that Aharon died? Rabbi Yoseif Sho'ul Natanson answers that immediately upon Aharon's death the clouds of glory dissipated. Thus everyone had a visual indication that he died.
Ch. 21, v. 17: "Ali v'eir enu loh" - Haksav v'Hakaboloh interprets: "Ali v'eir," - this particular wellspring has an exalted advantageous nature, as in the word "maaloh." Its uniqueness is that "enu loh," it has movement, as in "noh vonod" (Breishis 4:12), Nun and Ayin switching places. The gemara Shabbos 35a says that the stone of the wellspring of Miriam was round and was self-propelled, moving along with the bnei Yisroel during their wanderings in the desert.
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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha
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