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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 19, v. 2: "Zose chukas haTorah" - This is the statute of the Torah - The law of "poroh adumoh" is the epitome of all the statutes of the Torah. Even king Shlomo, of whom Tanach writes, "va'yechkam mikol ho'odom" (M'lochim 1:5:11), could not fathom its meaning. He writes in Koheles 7:23, "Omarti echkomoh v'hee r'chokoh mi'meni." "V'hee r'chokoh" has the same numerical value as "poroh adumoh." (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

Ch. 19, v. 2: "Zose chukas haTorah asher tzivoh Hashem leimore" - This is the statute of the Torah that Hashem commanded thus saying - The expression "chukas haTorah" is unusual. We find the Torah saying that this is "chukas haPosach" (Shmos 12:43) or the like, where the Torah says that this is the statute of this or that specific mitzvoh. Our verse seems to indicate that "this is the statute for the whole Torah."

We know that the laws of "poroh adumoh" are the least understood of all the mitzvos. Hashem has chosen to give us this command in spite of knowing that we would not comprehend it. This is a most powerful tool in training us to learn to follow His rules simply because He has told us to do so, even without seeming rhyme or reason. This is not to say that we should not pursue understanding the logic of mitzvos, but nevertheless, we are still to do them even if we have zero understanding. When we fulfill such mitzvos we possess a most powerful tool in persuading others to keep the Torah. The greatest teacher is by example, not by lecturing. We can sometimes talk our faces blue in attempting to convince our children, students, etc., to keep the mitzvos, and alas, sometimes to no avail. If our reasoning does not grab them they likely will not be motivated to follow suit. When they see that we do mitzvos which we do not comprehend, they see our obedience to a Greater Power. This will likewise bring them to do mitzvos, even though they too, do not comprehend them.

"Zose chukas haTorah," - this is the statute of the whole Torah. "Poroh adumoh" is totally not understood, but, "asher tzivoh Hashem," we do it because Hashem has so commanded. This is the most powerful tool for "leimore," to be able to successfully transmit the whole of Torah to others. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 20, v. 1: "Vatomos shom Miriam" - And Miriam died there - The gemara M.K. 28a says that the Miriam's death is recorded next to the parshas of "poroh adumoh" to teach us that just as sacrifices bring atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement. Why was her death placed specifically next to "poroh adumoh," which technically is not a sacrifice, rather than next to a true sacrifice? Perhaps this is because we have no very compelling reason for Miriam's death in the desert, which in turn kept her from entering Eretz Yisroel. This is similar to our not comprehending the laws of "poroh adumoh." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 20, v. 25: "V'es Elozor b'no" - And Elozor his son - Rashi points out that Elozor came along because he was to don the Kohein Godol vestments and would be inducted into K'hunoh G'doloh before Aharon would die. This would be a great comfort for Aharon, as he would see his own son taking over his position during his lifetime.

There are also 2 other benefits that accrued. First, that Elozor would not defile himself to his father. As a regular Kohein he would have to defile himself, but now that he was a Kohein Godol he was prohibited from doing so. Had he defiled himself he would not be able to do the priestly service for 7 days.

Second, there would be no Kohein to process the afternoon "tomid." He and his brother Isomor would each have the status of "onon," who may not do the service. Pinchos was not yet a Kohein. (Mahari"l Diskin)

I don't grasp either of these two points. Elozor could have been inducted into K'hunoh G'doloh without going up Hor Hohor, just as Isomor did not ascend. He would thus not have defiled himself. As well, perhaps the afternoon "tomid" was already processed.

Ch. 20, v. 27: "Va'yaas Moshe kaasher tzivoh Hashem l'ei'nei kol ho'eidoh" - And Moshe did as Hashem commanded in sight of all the congregation - How was this "as Hashem commanded"? In verse 25 Hashem commands Moshe to ascend Hor Hohor with Aharon and Elozor, but without mentioning to do this in the public view.

The gemara K'subos 17 says that when a master teacher passes on there should be 600,000 people in attendance at his funeral because, just as the Torah was given in the presence of 600,000 people, so too, when a person who is the human embodiment of the Torah, is taken from us, there should be 600, 000 people present. Hashem did not command Moshe to have 600,000 people present when Aharon would be buried because Moshe himself had the stature of 600,000 people. However, Moshe, in his great humility, did not see it this way, and felt that 600,000 people should be present, hence "lei'nei kol Yisroel." (Pri Yaakov in Shaar Bas Rabim)

Ch. 20, v. 28: "Va'yomos Aharon" - And Aharon died - The gemara Sotoh 14a says that Moshe fought valiantly to be allowed entry into Eretz Yisroel. We find that he even entreated Hashem with 515 prayers (the numerical value of the word "vo'es'chanan) to be allowed entry. Yet here we find Aharon going placidly to his death with nary a wave of reluctance. Why did he not pray as Moshe did?

The above-mentioned gemara says that Moshe did not pray to be allowed to enter Eretz Yisroel to simply enjoy its produce, but rather, to fulfill the mitzvos that come with agricultural activities. Aharon had the same interest, but realized that as a Kohein, he would be the recipient of vast amounts of agricultural benefits from tithes, etc. So that people not suspect him of the wrong intentions he made no waves of resistance.

Alternatively, Aharon was quite satisfied with being witness to his son taking over his exalted position, knowing that this would continue in Eretz Yisroel. Unfortunately, Moshe knew that his position would not be an inheritance to his son. (Toldos Yitzchok)

Shemen Sosone writes in the name of the Ari z"l that Aharon's soul transmigrated into Eli haKohein, and later into Ezra haKohein the sofer. Rabbi Moshe Zakuta writes that it because of this that Aharon made no efforts to enter Eretz Yisroel. He knew that his reincarnated soul would be the Kohein Godol in Eretz Yisroel in later generations.

Ch. 20, v. 29: "Va'yivku es Aharon shloshim yom kole beis Yisroel" - And all beis Yisroel cried over Aharon for thirty days - Rashi (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. #17, Ovos d'Rebbi Noson 12:3) says that because Aharon brought harmony between neighbours and husband and wife, ALL beis Yisroel mourned him. Yalkut Shimoni says that this was not the case with Moshe, where only the men mourned him. Moshe admonished people for their wrongdoing, but Aharon didn't. As well, Aharon brought peace between those who argued.

If Aharon's behaviour was so laudable, why didn't Moshe do the same?

Yalkut Shimoni on the words in T'hilim 85:11, "Chesed ve'emes nifgoshu tzedek v'sholo-m noshoku," writes that "chesed" is Aharon, while "emes" is Moshe. Obviously, each of these people embodied both of these traits in abundance. However, by designating Aharon only with "chesed" and Moshe only with "emes," it is teaching us that they each excelled in a trait to its extreme. Thus Aharon's "chesed," with its outgrowth of "sholo-m," mentioned immediately afterwards, was uniquely his, and likewise, Moshe's "emes," with its outgrowth of "tzedek," to its extreme, was uniquely his trait.

Moshe, as the law giver of the nation had no choice but to carry through "tzedek" with "emes" to its fullest. Hence, he admonished people, while Aharon "looked away," with the intention of people liking him and being very receptive to his words. Aharon's "chesed" was coupled with "sholo-m," where one could "bend" the truth to bring peace, "mutor l'shanose mipnei darkei sholo-m." Moshe, by virtue of his position and responsibilities it encompasses was not able to change the truth even an iota, even for the noblest of reasons. (Binyan Yehoshua)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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