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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "VaChatzeiros v'Di Zohov" - Rashi explains that Chatzeiros alludes to Korach's attempted rebellion, and Di Zohov alludes to the sin of the golden calf. If so, they are chronologically out of order, as the sin of the golden calf came first.

When Moshe was pleading for the bnei Yisroel after the sin of the golden calf he said "Lomoh yeche'reh apcho b'a'emcho asher hotzeiso mei'etrez Mitzrayim" (Shmos 32:11). He said that they are not to blame for idol worship because they had just recently been taken out of Egypt, the cradle of idol worship, and had been negatively affected by their environment.

However, if this were to be a defence, they were caught in a catch 22. They likewise should have learned some positive things, and in particular unfailing respect for spiritual leaders even in the most trying of times. The Egyptians were starving during the seven years of famine, and when they ran out of funds to purchase food, they sold off item after item, until they even sold their property and themselves into slavery. However the priests, who were held in very high esteem were left alone, and fed at the expense of the government. They should have learned to implicitly trust Moshe. The argument Korach fomented against Moshe's leadership pulled out the underpinnings of his defence. Therefore Korach's attempted rebellion is mentioned before the sin of the golden calf. (Yalkut haGershuni)

Ch. 1, v. 10: "V'hinchem ha'yom k'chochvei hashomayim lorove" - And behold you are today as the stars to many - This is the literal translation of these words. This raises two questions. First, why add the word "hayom"? Since Moshe is telling them "v'hinchem," - and you are - this connotes the present, i.e. today. Second, why the letter Lamed before "rove"? What is the intention of "TO many"?

The number of stars that people saw in the sky in those days, without the aid of a telescope, was quite limited. Commentators on the Rambam hilchos yesodei haTorah 3:8 say that there are 1,022 stars in the sky. This is all that was visible to them in earlier times. Accordingly Moshe is telling the bnei Yisroel that they are many, as the stars of the sky today, as is visible now, but the blessing is to be understood as being many, many more, "Lorove. " Once we will discover that there are more stars in the sky, we will see even more than a thousand-fold more, "elef p'omim." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 13: "Hovu lochem anoshim" - Prepare for yourselves men - Moshe told them to CHOOSE men whom they felt would be good judges. Yet, in verse 15 we find Moshe saying "Vo'Ekach," and I will take, seemingly changing his mind. In between we have "vatomru tov hadovor asher dibarto laasos," an overly eager response to Moshe's "hovu lochem." Moshe realized that they were all too eager to comply because they wanted to appoint people who would be biased in their favour, either because of having been given their position, or being favourably disposed towards bribery, Moshe immediately rescinded his offer, and appointed them himself. (Ksav Sofer)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Ushfat'tem tzedek" - And you shall judge with righteousness - This is an exhortation to not just technically follow the "books" and judge accordingly. The judges must use their finely tuned antennae to ferret out false claims, "din m'ru'meh," even though going by the "books" would find the claimant victorious. (Malbim)

Ch. 1, v. 34: "Es kole divreichem" - The voice of your words - Sforno says that "kole" refers to the needless crying that accompanied their words. Likutei Bossor Likutei offers that even though the spies praised the Holy Land, nevertheless, their tone was one of negativity. "Listen to what I mean, not what I say."

Ch. 1, v. 37: "Gam bi hisanaf Hashem biglalchem" - Also upon me has Hashem brought His anger as a result of you - The Ramban has difficulty in finding Hashem's anger with Moshe as a result of the spies' sin. He explains that this sin brought in its wake another sin, to the point that Hashem was angered with Moshe, their leader.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh finds this explanation difficult to comprehend, "ayin shom." He therefore offers that had the bnei Yisroel not done the sin of believing the spies, they would have been on a much higher spiritual level when entering Eretz Yisroel. This would have carried on for generations, and they never would have sunk so low that the Beis Hamikdosh would have to be destroyed. Alas, once this sin took place, the future held a further lowering of their level to the point of destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. The gemara Sotoh 5a says that all that Moshe or Dovid created had permanence. We do not find that the Mishkon ever fell into enemy hands, let alone having any of its components destroyed. Thus, if Moshe would have entered the Holy Land he would have orchestrated the building of the Beis Hamikdosh, and it would have been permanent. The terrible sins that later occurred would only be expiated by destruction of the nation ch"v, rather than through "pouring His fury upon wood and stone" of the Temple.

This is the intention of our verse. Because they sinned with their belief in the negative report of the spies, Moshe could not enter the land.

Ch. 2, v. 28: "Ochel ba'kesef tashbi'reini v'ochalti umayim ba'kesef ti'ten li v'shosisi" - Food for payment you should sell me and I will eat and water you should give me and I will drink - Isn't it obvious that the purchased food would be for consumption? The Ibn Ezra, as explained by Avi Ezer, says that the word form "shever" has one of two, albeit opposite, meanings. It can either mean purchase (Breishis 41:57) or sell (Breishis 42:3). To clarify that the bnei Yisroel were requesting that food be SOLD to them they added on "v'ochalti." This seems to be a weak explanation, as it is obvious that the bnei Yisroel, wandering in the desert for many years, would request egress to a country and offer to SELL them food. Secondly, why add "v'shosisi" after requesting "u'mayim ba'kesef ti'ten li," since "ti'ten" is unequivocal?

The Sha"ch offers an interesting explanation, which will alleviate our difficulty. He translates "v'ochalti" and "v'shosisi" in the past tense, "even though I have already eaten and drunk." The bnei Yisroel offered that they would purchase food and drink to allow for a profit even though they had already eaten their manna and drunk from the wellspring. We can apply both these insights to 2:6 as well.

Ch. 3, v. 14: "Chavos Yo'ir ad ha'yom ha'zeh" - Hamlets of Yo'ir until this day - Why does the Torah stress that this name remained? Yo'ir vanquished this area and gave it his own name. We find the same with Novach (Bmidbar 32:42). However, as Rashi points out there, his name was not perpetuated on the city. The Torah stresses here that Yo'ir's hamlets did not have the same results. (Rabbi Shimshon R'fo'el Hirsch)



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

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