by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS CHUKAS-BOLOK 5763 BS"D
B'EZRAS TZUR Y'SHU'OSI AS'CHIL MACHAZOR HASHISHI
Ch. 19, v. 2: "Zose chukas haTorah asher tzivoh Hashem leimore" - This is the statute of the Torah that Hashem commanded so saying - We have a dictum that once the Beis Hamikdosh is no longer existent whoever toils in the study of the laws of the sacrifices is considered as if he has actually brought those sacrifices and they afford him the appeasement/atonement the sacrifice provides (gemara M'nochos 110a). If so, why don't we say the same with the purification process created by the red heifer?
Indeed we do not know the reason for this and it is included in the cloak of mystery surrounding the laws of the red heifer. This is alluded to in the words "Zose chukkas haTorah .. LEIMORE." Even saying over the words of the Torah dealing with "poroh adumoh" and its not bringing purity in its wake is also included in the statute. (Rabbi Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer)
Rabbi Yisroel Yehoshua Trank, author of Yeshu'ose Malko and numerous other books, says that the word "leimore" might be the source for the opinion of the Rashb"o and others who posit that the reading of this parsha in public is a Torah requirement.
Rashi says that satan and the nations of the world attempt to aggravate the bnei Yisroel by questioning the rationale behind this mitzvoh. We are told that it is a statute and one should not delve into it. On verse 22, the final verse of the parsha of "poroh adumoh," Rashi brings a most understandable explanation of this mitzvoh, explaining many of its peculiar aspects. Didn't Rashi just say that we are not to delve into it? The answer is LEIMORE. When we are asked by outsiders, satan and the nations of the world, for an explanation, LEIMORE, we respond that it is a statute, as clearly stated in our verse. On a personal level, when studying these laws as we do any of the Torah's laws, we are to delve into it to understand it as best we can. (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 19, v. 14: "Odom ki yomus .. yitmo shivas yomim" - When a person will die .. it will be defiled for seven days - A corpse defiles in a most powerful manner. It is even given the appellation "avi avos hatumoh," father of father of defilement. This is so to deter people from frequenting the proximity of dead people, as it can bring to their sinning by divining through a dead person, "doreish el ha'meisim." As well, it is to uphold the dignity of a corpse. Otherwise people might even flay the skin off a corpse and use it as he would animal hides. (Rabbi Yoseif B'chor Shor based on the gemara Chulin 141a)
Ch. 20, v. 10: "Shimu noh hamorim" - The rebellious ones please hear - Rashi says that this word is sourced in the Greek language to mean "fools." Obviously it has the simple meaning of "teachers." Rashi combines both and says that Moshe rebuked them, saying that they were fools who attempt to teach their teachers. If this word has a straightforward meaning in Loshon Hakodesh, why is there a need to also give it another level of meaning in a foreign language? This is because their behaviour was not that of a ben Yisroel. We have the utmost of respect for the previous generation. The Greeks felt that the older generation was backwards and the newer the better. The behaviour of the bnei Yisroel, "morim es mo'reihem," teaching their teachers, was the trademark of the Greeks. This is why Rashi included a Greek angle to this word. (Rabbi Yisroel Yehoshua Trank)
Ch. 20, v. 14: "Va'yishlach Moshe malochim miKo'deish el melech Edom" - And Moshe sent messengers from Ko'deish to the king of Edom - Moshe was just told 2 verses earlier that he would not merit to bring the bnei Yisroel to their destination, the Holy Land. Nevertheless, he lived up to his responsibility as the bnei Yisroel's leader, not missing a beat. He sent messengers to the king of Edom to facilitate the bnei Yisroel's entry into Eretz Yisroel. (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)
Ch. 20, v. 14: "Melech Edom" - King of Edom - The verse does not tell us his name, while it does tell us that the Emorite king was Sichon and the Boshonite king was Og. Ramban offers that the kings who were famous for their valour ad their name mentioned. The king of Edom was relatively mediocre.
Perhaps we can answer this question based on the Baal Haturim who writes that Og wasn't the specific name of a king, but rather the name given to every king of Boshon. This might be true of the name Sichon as well. Since this was a permanent name, the Torah mentions it, as it does Paroh of Egypt.
Ch. 20, v. 19: "V'im mei'mecho nishteh ani umiknai v'nosati michrom" - And if we will drink of your waters I and my cattle I will pay their cost - Didn't Moshe just state that the bnei Yisroel would not consume any water in verse 17? These words clarify what he stated earlier. It is obvious that the bnei Yisroel would need water during the time that they would traverse Edom. Moshe meant that they would not drink it without payment, as explained in this verse. (Rabbi Yoseif B'chor Shor)
Perhaps we can say that there is not even a seeming contradiction in Moshe's words. In verse 17 he stated that the bnei Yisroel would not drink WELL WATER. Here he is discussing other waters.
Ch. 20, v. 26: "V'hafsheit es Aharon" - And undress Aharon - This would take place on Hor Hohor, removed from the Mishkon campus. The M.R. asks, "How was he permitted to wear his priestly attire there, as it contains shatnez, which is only permitted when doing a priestly service?" We do fid an exception to this rule, and it is when a Kohein (Godol) processes the "poroh adumoh." Our Rabbis teach that the death of the righteous provides atonement, as does the "poroh adumoh." Aharon, being a devoutly righteous person, was permitted to wear shatnez, as going to his death on Hor Hohor provided the same benefit as processing the "poroh adumoh." (Ha'dei'oh V'hadibur)
Ch. 20, v. 29: "Va'yivku es Aharon .. kole beis Yisroel" - And all the house of Yisroel cried for Aharon - The fact that absolutely everyone cried over the death of Aharon teaches us that not one person was exiled to an area of refuge for accidentally killing someone. I this were so, upon Aharon's death he would be permitted to return to the encampment, and surely would be pleased with Aharon's death. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 21, v. 3: "Va'yi'tein es haCanaani va'yacha'reim es'hem" - And He gave over the Canaanites and he devastated them - The verse does not tell us into whose hands the Canaanites were given. Hashem showed such kindness to the bnei Yisroel that they were not even involved in overpowering the Canaanites. They warred against Amo'leik and both sides suffered a tremendous number of casualties. The bnei Yisroel came and took the spoils. (Moshav Z'keinim)
Ch. 21, v. 33: "Va'yeitzei Og .. lamilchomoh" - And Og went out .. to the war - When Sichon went out to do battle against the bnei Yisroel, the verse says "Va'yilochem b'Yisroel" (verse 23), - he actually engaged in war, while here it only says that Sichon "went out to the war." This can be explained with the gemara Brochos 54b. O literally lifted a mountain off the ground and rested it upon his head, readying himself to lower it upon the complete encampment of the bnei Yisroel ch"v. The mountain ended up coming down upon his head and while he was confounded Moshe overcame him with a sword. While Sichon actually waged war. Og only went out to do war. He was stopped dead in his tracks before even one projectile was thrown at the bnei Yisroel. (Divrei Avrohom)
Ch. 22, v. 41: "Va'yar mishom k'tzei ho'om" - And he saw from there the end of the nation - Bolok hoped that by showing Bilom the peripheral end of the nation a curse might take hold. We have a precedent where the end of the nation was punished, by those who complained about the travails in the desert (Bmidbar 11:1). As per the Sifri on that verse, this meant either the lowest end of the people or those on the highest rung. If the lowest people, it is obvious why they are most readily open to a curse, and if those who are the elite of society, an "ayin hora" most readily would affect them. (Kli Yokor) The Daas Z'keinim offers that "k'tzei" means "from end to end," i.e. the whole nation. Shaar Bas Rabim offers that Bolok showed Bilom the tribe of Dan, which had some members who were involved in idol worship. Seeing this group, he would surmise that ch"v all the bnei Yisroel were likewise idol worshippers and deserving of a curse. The Kli Yokor and Shaar Bas Rabim follow the translation of Onkelos, "k'tzas min amo."
Ch. 22, v. 41: "Va'yaa'leihu Bomos bo'al" - And he brought him up to Bomos bo'al - This is the first of 3 places that Bolok brought Bilom to view the bnei Yisroel in the hope that he would ch"v invoke a curse upon them. The other 2 places are the field "Tzofim" (23:14), and "Rosh Ha'p'ore" (23:28). Hashem protected the bnei Yisroel at all 3 locations and turned the intended curses into blessings. This is alluded to in the words of T'hilim 91:15, "Imo onochi V'TzoRoH," spelled Beis-Tzadi-Reish-Hei. The Beis refers to "Bomos bo'al," the Tzadi to "Tzofim," and the Reish-Hei to "Rosh Ha'p'ore." (Niflo'os Chadoshos) Perhaps we can add that the next words in the verse, "achaltzeihu vaachabdeihu," - I will extract him and I will honour him - also allude to turning the intended curses into blessings. Not only will I extract the bnei Yisroel from the curses, but I will even honour them with the compliments and blessings that Bilom will reluctantly utter.
Ch. 23, v. 4: "Va'yikor Elokim el Bilom" - And Elokim happened to Bilom - The Kli Yokor on the words "Vayikroh el Moshe" (Vayikroh 1:1) comments on the small letter Alef at the end of the word "vayikroh." He says that by diminishing its size, the normal-sized letters of the word spell "va'yikor," - and it happened - i.e. Hashem's appearance to him was seemingly by happenstance, and not by merit of the prophet. This is the intention of the Sifri near the end of parshas V'zose Habrochoh on the words, "v'lo kom novi ode b'Yisroel k'Moshe" (Dvorim 34:10), that although there was no prophet among the bnei Yisroel who was Moshe's equal, but among the heathen nations there was, and this was Bilom. The comparison is not ch"v that they were truly equal, as Moshe was obviously in a totally different league. Rather, the comparison is in one aspect only, and that is what the above-mentioned verse says, "asher y'do'o Hashem," that Hashem knew him. The verse does not say, "asher yoda es Hashem," that Moshe knew Hashem, but rather that Hashem knew him, meaning that beyond the levels of understanding that Moshe achieved through his own efforts, Hashem bestowed even more understanding upon Moshe. We translate "b'Yisroel" not as "in Yisroel," but rather, in the merit of the nation Yisroel. Moshe as their leader merited receiving a level of communication from Hashem even beyond his self-achieved abilities in the merit of the bnei Yisroel. It is in this aspect only that Bilom was Moshe's equal. He too received prophetic communications from Hashem that were not a result of his effort and merit, but only in the merit of the bnei Yisroel, to show the nations of the world that Hashem is their Protector, and would not allow Bilom to curse them (see Medrash Breishis Rabboh 52:5). Prophecy that a person receives as a result of his preparations and effort become part and parcel of the essence of the person. Prophecy that is not achieved by a person, but rather, is a present, is considered happenstance and short-lived, "va'yikor." It is in this manner that Moshe was called, with a diminished Alef, "va'yikor," that Bilom's prophecy was equal to that of Moshe. We now also understand why Rashi explains the word "va'yikor," in two manners, as an expression of transience, "aro'i," and of defilement, "tumas keri." Why wouldn't either of these two explanations suffice to differentiate between a calling of "vayikroh" with an Alef and a happenstance calling without an Alef? However, Rashi is explaining that the appearance to Bilom was one based in defilement, appearance at night (see Rashi on Dvorim 23:11). If we were to totally compare Moshe to Bilom in this aspect then the verse should have said "va'yikor" without a letter Alef at all, as it does by Bilom. The appearance of an Alef, but in a diminished form, indicates that the level of prophecy that Moshe received beyond his preparation had no hint of defilement in it, so the word could not appear without an Alef. A full-sized Alef indicates prophecy that Moshe achieved. The diminished Alef indicates happenstance only, which as mentioned earlier, was the only manner in which their prophecies were comparable. What remains to be explained is why it is necessary for Rashi to repeat this here after he already wrote this in Vayikroh 1:1, and also why Rashi adds here that "va'yikor" is a term of "gnai," shame, and not mention it earlier.
Ch. 23, v. 9: "Hen om l'vodod yishkone uvagoyim lo yis'chashov" - Behold a nation that rests alone and is not calculated among the nations - We can interpret the words, "hen om l'vodod yishkone" to allude to the ruling that only the bnei Yisroel may have a day of rest, and gentiles may not even designate a day of rest (gemara Sanhedrin 58b). If a gentile sets aside a regular day for refraining from creative activities, "m'lochos," he is deserving of death, as per the above gemara. This is also alluded to in the words "lo yis'chashov," whose letters when transposed spell "shovas lo chai." (Rabbi Noach Mindes in Parpro'os L'chochmoh)
Ch. 23, v. 9: "Hen om l'vodod yishkone uvagoyim lo yis'chashov" - Behold a nation that rests alone and is not calculated among the nations - Behold they are a nation that will rest when they are alone; when they do not attempt to mix with the gentile nations by attempting to gain their favour by emulating them. "Uvagoyim," and when they ch"v do mix with the heathen nations they do not gain acceptance. The exact opposite is true. They are only respected when they uphold their religion. When they mix they are derided and are considered as naught, "LO yis'chashov." (The Holy Admor Rabbi Yehoshua of Belz and others)
Ch. 23, v. 10: "Mi monoh afar Yaakov" - Who has counted the grains of sand of Yaakov - The Rashbam writes that Bilom was reluctant to curse the bnei Yisroel because of the children. He felt that even if the adults deserved to be cursed because of their shortcomings, the children did not.
Ch. 23, v. 24: "Ad Yochal Teref" - Until it consumes game - The beginning of this verse likens the bnei Yisroel to a lion. The P'sikta says that this is an allegory to King Dovid. Indeed the verse alludes to the reign of the family of King Dovid in the end of days through the first letters of "Ad Yochal Teref," which spell "ayit," which Rashi on Breishis 15:11 d.h. "va'yasheiv" says refers to King Dovid. (Rabbi Noach Mindes in Parpro'os L'chochmoh)
Ch. 24, v. 5: "Mah Tovu Oho'lecho Yaakov Mish'k'nosecho" - How goodly are your tents Yaakov your places of rest - The gemara Sanhedrin 105a says that although outwardly Bilom's statements seem to be both complimentary and blessings, his intention was to curse them. Even in these words of a most precious compliment, one that is incorporated into our daily prayers, a negative intention is cloaked. The first letters of these 5 words when moved around spell "T'Mei'IM." (Nirreh li)
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