Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Kru'ei ho'eidoh" - Although there is a "kri" and "ksiv" here, with a Vov in the place of a Yud, this word is spelled complete, "mollei." In parshas Korach (16:2) it says "kri'ei mo'eid anshei sheim" with the word "kri'ei" lacking a Yud. Why the difference?

2) Ch. 1, v. 20: "KOL yotzei tzovo" - These words are repeated by each tribe save Levi, whose men were not "yotzei tzovo." Just as those below twenty years of age were exempt from army duty and from giving a half- shekel (see Shmos 30:14 and Rashi ad loc), so also a handicapped person who may not be "yotzei tzovo" should also be exempt from giving a half shekel.

3) Ch. 2, v. 2: "Yachanu bnei Yisroel" - Does the configuration of the encampment remind you of any mitzvoh?

4) Ch. 2, v. 3: "V'hachonim" - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the dimensions of the camp were 12 "mil" by 12 "mil." As well, he says that each group of three tribes occupied an area that was 4 "mil" by 4 "mil." Since there were four such groups, he seems to be contradicting himself since 4x4 four times = 64 square "mil" and 12x12 "mil" = 144 square "mil," two and a quarter times the area occupied by the tribes.

5) Ch. 3, v. 15: "Mi'ben chodesh vomaloh" - Rashi says that the tribe of Levi had a precedent of being counted at an early age, as Yocheved at birth was counted among the seventy people of Yaakov's household who descended to Egypt. Since Yocheved was counted literally from birth, why weren't the L'viim also counted from birth?"



Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a in his sefer Taam Vodaas answers that in our parsha the leaders were united, hence they were a complete group. Not so in parshas Korach, where each man was out for his own benefit. They were not a united group of people and therefore the word "kri'ei' is spelled lacking a Yud.


This question is raised by Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a in Taamo Dikro. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that KOL does not mean EACH man who was capable of going out to war, but rather, ALL members of the tribe were capable of going out to war. This teaches us that there was not even one handicapped person among them. According to the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh this is all relegated to theory since in reality there were no handicapped people. This question is however relevant in future generations when there might be handicapped people.


The Baal Tikun Tefillin, Rabbi Avrohom of Zuns'heim, a Rishon, says that the configuration of the tefillin shel rosh corresponds to the encampment of bnei Yisroel in the desert. There are a total of 12 stitches closing the tefillin, 3 on each side of the central cube. This corresponds to the 12 tribes encamped in the desert, 3 on each side of the central area of machaneh L'vioh and machaneh Sh'chinoh. In the centre, we have the cube that houses the script, the parshios, of the tefillin. The cube corresponds to the ark and the script to the luchos that are inside. The ark has on its lid (kaporres) the two cherubim whose wings were spread aloft. The cherubim with their wings spread aloft, loosely had a configuration similar to the letter shin. The luchos upon which the Ten Commandments were etched have as their first word, "onochi." Here again we have a striking similarity. The cube of the tefillin (k'tzitzoh) which houses the script of four paragraphs of the Torah which mention the mitzvoh of tefillin, has two letters shin on the outside, similar to the ark and the two cherubim. Rabbi Avrohom adds that these last two similarities are alluded to in the verse in T'hilim 119:162,"Sos onochi." "Sos" is spelled Sin, Sin. These are the two cherubs and also the two Shins on the tefillin housing. The letters Sin and Sin, symbolizing the two cherubim, are over the Ten Commandments, which begin with "onochi."


Perhaps the intention of the Targum Yonoson is as follows: Picture a grid that has nine squares laid out as a 3 by 3, similar to a blank tic-tac-toe board. The central cell is the area of machaneh L'vioh and machaneh Sh'chinoh. The four groups of encamped tribes abutted this square to the right, left, above, and below. The tribes did not occupy the diagonal corner squares. Thus we have the areas for the tribes as four 4x4 squares, and the outer dimensions are 12x12 "mil." I found a strong indication to this in the Yalkut Shimoni parshas P'kudei, remez #426-427. It says that the cattle occupied the diagonal corner areas of the encampment.

We are still left with a major problem. Targum Yonoson on Bmidbar 21:35 and 25:7 says that the dimensions of the encampment were 24x24 "mil."

This is contrary to what he says here and the gemara Brochos 54b and Sotoh 13b, which state that the dimensions were 12x12 "mil," a.k.a. 3x3 "parsoh." The Shiltos of Rabbi Hai Gaon writes in parshas Vayishlach #26 that his text in the gemara Brochos 54b is 6x6 "parsoh." This does not alleviate the problem of Sotoh 13b or the contradiction in the words of the Targum Yonoson. The Chasam Sofer at the end of parshas Bolok answers these questions.


The Rashbam asks this question and answers that since they had the capacity to be a redemption for first-born bnei Yisroel who required redemption at the age of thirty days, they likewise were only counted from the age of thirty days. The Sifsei Chachomim explains why Yocheved was different and was counted from birth.



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

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