CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS MASSEI 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 33, v. 4: "Uveiloheihem ossoh Hashem shfotim" - And in their gods Hashem carried out punishment - Why of all the happenings that took place when the bnei Yisroel left Egypt is this mentioned?
2) Ch. 33, v. 7: "Va'yisu
va'yoshov" - And THEY traveled
and HE returned - Why the change from plural to singular?
3) Ch. 33, v. 9: "Va'yisu miMoroh va'yovo'u Eilimoh" - And they traveled from Moroh and they came to Eilim - Why doesn't the verse say the common "vayisu mi
4) Ch. 33, v. 38: "Bachodesh hachamishi b'echod lachodesh" - Why doesn't the Torah give us the exact date of Aharon's death earlier in parshas Chukas, where his death is also mentioned (20:28).
5) Ch. 34, v. 19: "L'ma'tei Yehudoh Koleiv" - Verses 22 through 28 add the title "nossi" to each person. Why here by Yehudoh, and in the next two verses, by Shimon and Binyomin is there no title "nossi?"
Toldos Yitzchok answers that the Egyptians bewailed their dead first-born all night and only in the morning, when they engaged themselves in their burial, did they become aware of the smiting of their gods. This is because when the dead bodies were brought to the cemeteries, they first noticed this. The Egyptian gods were placed at the cemeteries.
Although this explains why this was not recorded in parshas Bo, at the time of the smiting of the first-born and the idols, nevertheless, why wasn't it mentioned in the beginning of parshas B'shalach, where the verse says, "uvnei Yisroel yotzim b'yod romoh"?
1) When they came back to pi hachiros they did so in unity, with a united heart, totally trusting Moshe. (Baal Haturim)
2) They followed Hashem's direction of travel. It is as if Hashem went there. (Yalkut Med'r'shei Teimon)
3) The cloud of glory went there. (Abarbanel)
There were seven clouds, so why is this in the single form?
4) It is the practice of the verses to begin in plural and end in singular. (Rabbeinu Myuchos)
Even though Rabbeinu Myuchos offers this novel insight, it seems to be problematic right here, as the verse does not end in the singular form. It goes on to say "va'yachaNU lifnei Migdol.
This is because they had no intention to encamp in Eilim. It was only after there miraculously appeared 12 wellsprings and 70 date trees that they decided to encamp there. (Baal Haturim)
This question is raised by the Trumas Ha'deshen, and he answers that since in our parsha right after Aharon's death the incident of Canaan wanting to wage war with the bnei Yisroel (gemara R.H. 3a) is mentioned (verse 40), it is appropriate to mention the date of Aharon's death, which is in the month of Ov, thus indicating the concept mentioned in the gemara Taanis 29b, that in the month of Ov the fortune of Yisroel is negative.
It is interesting to note that the Ralbag says that the "fifth month" mentioned in our verse refers not to Ov, but rather to Shvat, since he interprets the "fifth month" to be the fifth starting with Tishrei. However, the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel clearly states in parshas Chukas 20:28 that Aharon died on the first day of the month of Ov.
Koleiv needed no title "nossi" because he was already lauded by Hashem as "My servant" in parshas Shlach and remained righteous for the rest of his life. Binyomin's tribal leader was Elidod, who is Eldod. He was a prophet, as recorded in Bmidbar 11:26. Once the Torah relates that he was a prophet there is no need to give him the "nossi" accolade.
Alternatively, since the members of this tribe would in the future take part in the act of "pilegesh b'Givoh," the title "nossi" was taken from the tribal head. The tribe of Shimon was not deserving of the title "nossi" for its leader because many of this tribe assembled against Moshe by the Zimri incident (Bmidbar 25:6). (Chizkuni)
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