JUNE 23-24, 2000 - 21 SIVAN 5760
GOT A LIGHT?
"Aharon did so...toward the face of the Menorah he kindled the lamps as Hashem commanded to Moshe" (Bemidbar 8:3)
Our perashah begins telling us of the misvah of the daily ritual of lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan. This ceremony was done daily by Aharon the Kohen Gadol. The verse states that Aharon did as commanded. Rashi explains that this pasuk is praising Aharon in his lighting of the Menorah, for complying completely and not changing in any way the will of Hashem. This is difficult to understand. Why should we assume that he would not listen?
The Hatam Sofer explains that there is a special benefit of lighting the Menorah. Our Sages teach us that whoever is careful to light a candle in a beautiful way will merit to have children who are pious scholars. When we light Shabbat and Hanukah candles, we have the opportunity to merit this great gift of children who are hachamim. Aharon was careful to always light the Menorah to have this great merit. However, there is another ritual in the Mishkan, the offering of the Ketoret, the incense offering on the Golden Altar. A Kohen that does the Ketoret will merit great wealth. The Ketoret was so desirable that the Kohanim had to wait to do it. No Kohen ever did it twice in order to give all the Kohanim the chance to do it at least once. When was the Ketoret offered? At the time when the Menorah was lit! This means that the Kohen who lit the Menorah could not offer the Ketoret. So now we understand the great praise of Aharon for lighting the Menorah and never deviating from that. He never lit the Ketoret to merit the great wealth. He didn't even give up the Menorah lighting even once to do the Ketoret because he didn't want to exchange the merit of a misvah which produces righteous and scholarly children for the wealth. It was that much more important to him.
My friends, there is no greater joy than having children who are scholarly Rabbis. Prayer and merit, and most of all craving it more than money, will cause Hashem to give them to us. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"[The Jewish nation] traveled from the mountain of Hashem" (Bemidbar 10:33)
The Midrash tells us that this was one of the instances where the Jewish people did something wrong, and indeed the Torah interrupts the narrative with "vayhi binso'a ha'aron" (which doesn't belong there) in order to separate between the wrongdoings. What was wrong with them traveling from the mountain of Hashem? Actually, they only traveled when given the signal by G-d, so if it was time to travel, why should it be a sin?
The Rabbis tell us that they traveled like children leaving school, in a hurry and anxious to leave their place of learning. For children to run out when the bell rings, that is expected of them. But when adults, who just learned Torah from Hashem for one year at Mount Sinai, also rush to get away, that was a sign that it wasn't becoming internalized. If we look at Torah as a chore or as burdensome, it will not have its effect of enriching our lives the way it should. We should remember this whenever we finish praying or learning. Sometimes, before the hazzan is finished, the majority of the shul is almost outside "like children leaving school." Let's allow the Torah and Tefillah to enrich us so that it will always be a pleasure. Shabbat Shalom.
"And if you will come to wage war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you shall be remembered before Hashem your G-d, and you shall be saved from your enemies"(Bemidbar 10:9)
Discussing Klal Yisrael's entry into battle, in Parashat Ki Tesse (Debarim 21:10), the Torah does not seem to outline any specific means of aggressive attack. The Torah simply states, "When you go forth against your enemies, and Hashem your G-d will deliver them into your hands." Why is there such a disparity between the two parashiot dealing with waging war on the enemy?
The Kotzker Rebbe distinguishes between two contrasting types of war. He suggests that the term "war" is actually an allusion to man's constant battle with the yeser hara, evil inclination. The differential is determined by noting who has initiated the battle. In this perashah the Torah states, "If you will come to wage war," while in Sefer Debarim the Torah states, "When you go forth." One who "goes forth" and initiates the battle against the yeser hara, is assured of emerging triumphant. If, however, one allows the yeser hara to approach him, to "oppress him in his own land," to get a foothold on his behavior and personality, then victory will be more elusive. He will have to battle with much more resolution in order to triumph over the enemy. Such a battle must include astute strategy, sounding of alarms, and crying out to Hashem, for only with His help can man succeed. (Peninim on the Torah)
Answer to Pop Quiz: One month later, on the 14th of Iyar (Pesah Sheni)
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