by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHLACH 5771 BS"D
Ch. 13, v. 1: "Ish echod ish echod l'ma'tei avosov" - One man one man to the tribe of his fathers - Nevertheless, no representative was sent for the tribe of Levi because they had no vested interest in inheriting Eretz Yisroel, as they would not be receiving a tribal holding, only dispersed cities. (Ritv"a)
Ch. 13, v. 4: "V'eilu shmosom" - And these are their names - The names of the spies are interpreted in a negative manner. Medrash Tanchuma Haazinu #7 says that one should always assign a positive name to his children, that of a righteous person, etc. Sometimes a negative name can be a contributing cause to a person's choosing a negative path, as did the spies, whose names had negative connotations.
Ch. 13, v. 16: "Vayikra Moshe l'Hoshei'a bin Nun Yehoshua" - And Moshe called Hoshei's the son of Nun Yehoshua - Targum Yerushalmi says that Moshe did this when he took note of Yehoshua's being modest. Breishis Raboh 47:1 says that the letter Yud that was removed from Soroh's name flew in front of Hashem's Holy Throne until it was finally placed into Hoshei'a name (see gemara Sanhedrin 107a). The medrash earlier (44:10) says that as long as the letter Yud was part of Soroh's name she was unable to have a son, and now that it was part of Yehoshua's name he likewise could not have a son.
In the gemara Eiruvin 63a Levi says that if a person rules an halacha in front of his Rebbi he will die with no offspring. He bases this on Bmidbar 11:25, where Yehoshua told Moshe to incarcerate Eldad and Meidad. Rabbi Eliezer disagrees and says that his punishment is that he will be dismissed from a n exalted position.
We might ask: Why did Moshe take the letter Yud from Soroh's name and give it to Yehoshua, since this would hold him back from having a child? The answer is that Moshe through his prophetic knowledge knew that Yehoshua would anyhow not have children as he made an halachic ruling in front of his Rebbi. However, this seems problematic because perhaps the halacha follows Rabbi Eliezer that he would be lowered from his position. The gemara Eiruvin 13b says that he who lowers himself, i.e. who is very modest, Hashem elevates him. Thus since Moshe took note of Yehoshua's being very modest, he understood that Yehoshua would remain in an exalted position and the alternative for punishing him would be the opinion of Levi, that he will have no children. Since he was aware of this he had no concern with taking the letter Yud from Soroh's name and giving it to Yehoshua, as he would not have children anyways. (Malbi"m in Eretz Chemdoh)
The laws of libations, "n'sochim," coming after the incident with the spies can be explained based on the words of the medrash Shir Hashirim (4:12). The medrash asks, "From where did the bnei Yisroel have wine for libations throughout their forty year sojourn in the desert?" The medrash answers that they took the wine from the cluster of grapes the spies brought back from Eretz Yisroel. (Taamo Dikro)
Ch. 13, v. 23: "Va'yich'r'su mishom z'moroh" - And they cut from there a sapling - Why didn't they just take the actual fruit? Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on the words of Moshe where he said "v'hi'chazaktem" translates this to mean to make a "chazokoh," an act of ownership. Taking fruits is insufficient, an act in the ground itself is required. By cutting the plant itself from the ground they made a "chazokoh." (Hadrash V'ho'iyun)
Ch. 14, v. 9: "Ach baShem al timrodu v'a'tem al teeru es am ho'oretz" - But in Hashem shall you not rebel and you shall not fear the nation of the land - Fearing a person is considered rebelling in Hashem. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
Ch. 15, v. 20: "Reishis a'riso'seichem chaloh torimu srumoh" - The first of doughs of bread shall you separate - "Arisoh" can also be translated as a baby crib. The first acts you do with your newborn son who is in his crib is "CHaLoH." The letter Ches, whose value is eight refers to circumcising the child when he is eight days old. If he is a firstborn then Lamed, which equals thirty. On the day he becomes thirty days old you are to redeem him from the Kohein, "pidyon ha'ben." When he is five years old, Hei, the "trumoh," which has the letters Tes-Reish-Vov-Mem-Hei. Teach him TORaH which was given to Moshe on the fortieth day, Mem, that he was on Mount Sinai. (Chasam Sofer)
Ch. 15, v. 38: "V'ossu lo'hem tzitzis" - And they shall make for themselves fringes - The Medrash Koheles on 41:2, "Mi hikdimani vaasha'leim" says that Hashem tells the bnei Yisroel, "Have I then asked you to check for shaatnez before I have given you a garment, to place fringes onto your garments before I have given you a garment, to place mezuzos onto your doorposts before I have given you a home, to build a safety fence on your roof before I have given you a home?"
Ch. 15, v. 38: "Al kanfei vigdei'hem l'dorosom" - On the corners of their garments for generations - The medrash expounds from the word "l'dorosom = l'dor tam," to a complete nation. This medrash obviously needs clarification. The medrash connects our parsha with the previous one of the person who desecrated the Shabbos. Moshe said to Hashem, "Tefillin are a sign and when worn are a reminder not to sin. However, You have prohibited wearing tefillin on Shabbos. This is why the "m'kosheish" forgot and transgressed Shabbos. If we had a mitzvoh that could present on Shabbos it would serve as a reminder to safeguard the mitzvos. Hashem responded with the mitzvoh of tzitzis, which has the power of "uzchartem es kol mitzvos Hashem."
Why wasn't the sign of circumcision sufficient? Our Rabbis say that those born in the desert were not circumcised because of the harsh conditions present. Thus the bnei Yisroel were not left with a sign to remember the sanctity of Shabbos, and the mitzvoh of tzitzis was now given to them. In future generations there would be the sign of circumcision and one might think that in future generations there would be no need for tzitzis. The medrash therefore derives from "l'dorosom = l'dor tam" that tzitzis still apply. The generation that is TAM means every generation that keeps the mitzvoh of "miloh," as we find by Avrohom, that Hashem said to him, "His'ha'leich l'fonai ve'h'yei SOMIM" Breishis 17:1). (Rabbi Moshe Elchonon Alter of Lvov)
Ch. 15, v. 39: "V'lo sosuru acha'rei l'vavchem v'acha'rei ei'neichem" - And you shall not spy out after your hearts and after your eyes - The gemara Yoma 28b says that thoughts of sin are worse than the sin itself. This requires clarification as the gemara Kidushin 39 says that Hashem does not count thoughts of sin along with the actual sin. Bnei Yisochor (al haTorah) explains that thought is not counted with sin when the prohibition of the Torah is the actual doing of a sin. However, when the Torah prohibits the thought of sinning, not just doing the sin, for example moral matters, then the thoughts are even worse than the doing of the sin. "V'lo sosuru acha'rei l'vavchem ……asher a'tem zonim acha'rei'hem" spells out thoughts in the realm of "z'nus."
Ch. 15, v. 39: "Asher a'tem zonim acha'rei'hem" - that you are turning after them - The word "zonim" is used when one forsakes and turns away, for example when one is not faithful to his wife he discards and turns away from the faithfulness of the marriage institution. Similarly here, the Ibn Ezra says that one who simply runs after his lusts uninhibitedly, forsakes and turns away from Hashem.
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