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Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum
Hebrew Academy of Cleveland

Parshas Behaaloscha

When you kindle the Menorah, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light. (8:2)

Rashi addresses the juxtaposition of parashas ha'Menorah upon the end of the previous parsha. The latter detailed the korbanos, offerings of the Nesiim for the chanukas ha'Mizbayach. When Aharon noticed the involvement of the Nesiim in the dedication, he became chagrined that neither he nor any member of his tribe had been included. It is not that he was jealous; he simply desired to have a part in this sacred inauguration. Hashem calmed him, saying, "Yours is greater than theirs, for you will light the Menorah." The Ramban explains that the Mishkan/Bais Ha'Mikdash would not always be around. Regrettably, it was destined to be destroyed and the korbanos offered on the Altar halted. We will, however, continue to light the candles of the menorah in remembrance of the miracle of Chanukah.

Horav Elchanan Sorotzkin, zl, offers an alternative response to this question. During the dedication of the Mizbayach, after everyone had contributed heavily toward the Mishkan and the Nesiim had offered their korbanos toward the Mizbayach, Aharon realized that no member of his tribe had shared in this lofty endeavor. Perhaps the klal was truly holy and it was they -- not Shevet Levi -- who had "carried" the nation. After all, the Leviim did not go to war and had no land. To a great extent they were separated from the nation. What had their contribution been? How did they share in the eternity of Am Yisrael?

Hashem told Aharon, "Yours is still greater than theirs. You kindle the Menorah." Your work causes the light of Torah to penetrate throughout the nation. It is conceivable to build a Mikdash that is both esthetically appealing and spiritually holy, but will remain "dark" and lifeless unless the light of the Menorah, symbolizing ohr ha'Torah, is kindled. When Moshe walked into the Mishkan, only he could hear the voice of Hashem. There is no question that without the contributions of so many, the Mishkan would not have been a reality. Yet, a building that does not shine forth, in which Torah is not being studied, is nothing more than a mausoleum. Yes, Aharon had the greatest and loftiest position in the Mishkan. By lighting the Menorah, he validated the contributions of those who had preceded him. The light of Torah which emanated from the Mishkan lit up the hearts and minds of Klal Yisrael. The edifice is important, but let us not forget its purpose.

From fifty years of age, he shall withdraw from the legion of work and no longer work. (8:25)

While the Levi must "retire" at age fifty from the heavy labor of carrying the holy vessels on his shoulders, he continues to perform the remainder of Levite services, such as singing, closing the gates and loading the wagons. In Pirkei Avos 5:21, the Tanna addresses the various stages of an individual's life. At age fifty, his advice is valued. The Bartenura cites this pasuk regarding the Levi who leaves the workforce and stays on to help his fellow Leviim. He serves them through the advice he gives them. The experience he has gathered throughout the years is of great value to the "freshmen" Leviim. What type of advice is he giving them?

In response to this question, the Chidushei Ha'rim, was wont to tell the following story: A man once became lost in the forest. For days on end he wandered from place to place with no hope of finding the exit to the forest. Suddenly, he saw an old man coming toward him. Imagine his joy at this encounter; he was saved! He asked the man, "Can you direct me to the exit?" "I am sorry," answered the man, "I have been wandering in this forest for over seventy years and I have still not found a way out. In one way, however, I can help you. I can tell you where I have been so that you will not go there and make the same mistake that I did. You will have to find the correct way out on your own." This is the type of advice that the Levi offered. He was in charge of the "gates," telling the younger Leviim where not to go. His experience was invaluable in that he was able to guide others to distance themselves from those "gates"/areas that might harm them.

On the day the Mishkan was set up, the cloud covered the Mishkan...And in the evening there would be upon the Mishkan like a fiery appearance until morning. (9:15)

This is the way it always was: a cloud by day and a fire at night. Horav Shlomo Yosef Zevin, zl, says this is a foreshadowing of our future: a cloud by day and a fire at night. When man is doing well, when his success is encouraging, the sun shines brilliantly before him. At such a time, he must remember that it is not always going to be like this. There will be times when the cloud will cover the sunshine, and the radiance will not penetrate. Conversely, he who is plagued with suffering, overcome with pain and affliction, should reflect upon the good times. He should never give up. Even in his darkest hour the fire will burn brightly, lighting up his life. He must have faith in the Almighty.

The Krias Shema of the morning and the evening are similar. In the morning, when the sun is shining and life seems to be idyllic, remember, "Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad." He gives strength - whatever success you enjoy is His gift which He can take back at any time if you do not use it properly. In the evening, we recite Krias Shema to affirm our faith in Hashem during periods of darkness, that the grief to which Hashem subjects us is l'tov, for the good.

The Mishkan was an edifice, but it was to be a part of every person. It was to reside in the heart of every Jew. The lesson of the fire and the cloud was to imbue Klal Yisrael with faith in the Almighty that times may change, but Hashem is always present.

Horav Mordechai Rogov,zl, explains that this is the reason that during the Pesach Seder, we refer to the Marror after the Korban Pesach and the Matzoh. One would think that we address the affliction prior to discussing our freedom from bondage. The Marror, symbolizing the bitterness of the slavery, should follow after Pesach and Matzoh, which signify our liberation. According to the above insight, we understand the importance of relating to the Marror during our liberation. We should remember the bitterness during our moments of joy, so that we will remember our joy during those moments when Hashem tests our faith.

Moshe said to him, "Are you being zealous for my sake ? Would that the entire people of Hashem would be prophets." (11:29)

When Moshe delegated authority to the seventy Elders, he was teaching a significant lesson regarding the dissemination of Torah throughout Klal Yisrael. Moshe brought the Elders to his own tent. This was the tent from which he taught Torah, from which the "bottom line" in halachah was decided and disseminated for one purpose - to instruct the elders in their goal as teachers of Klal Yisrael. They were given the lofty responsibility of transmitting Torah throughout Klal Yisrael. Indeed, Chazal say that the day of the appointment of the Zekeinim, Elders, was as beloved to Hashem as the day He gave the Torah. Horav Y.A. Hershovitz, zl, explains that as long as the Zekeinim had not been nominated to accept the Torah Shebaal Peh, Oral Law, from Moshe to teach and circulate it throughout the nation, the Written Law had no purpose. Without teachers, the Torah would be forgotten! Only through the Elders of that generation -- and every generation thereafter -- does the Torah have a kiyum, is upheld and adhered to.

For this reason, Moshe's response to Yehoshua is written in the middle of the Torah's recording of the induction of the Zekeinim. Moshe tells Yehoshua that the function of the Torah teachers is to assure that each individual Jew achieves the zenith of spirituality, so that he no longer needs his rebbe, teacher, to instruct him. He has become capable of his own instruction; he is prepared to teach others. This has been the function of our Zekeinim throughout the generations. They have been the vehicle through which the Torah has been transmitted, preparing each generation to transmit our heritage to the next.

A hidden danger, however, lurks in this process. The Elders might get "carried away," thinking that they are equal to Moshe. They might teach laws that they did not hear from Moshe. If they sense that Hashem has inspired them with Moshe's spirit of kedushah, they might no longer need Moshe. They could do it on their own. No longer would we have one Torah with one standard, there would be many Toros - each one using his own perspective to develop his own position in Torah law. This tragedy must be prevented.

Thus, Hashem Yisborach proclaimed to Klal Yisrael, "Not so is my servant Moshe; in My entire house he is to be the trusted one,"(12:7). Moshe Rabbeinu, the quintessential teacher and Navi, is different. As virtuous as any Navi, Moshe is far greater. "B'chol beisi nee'man hu," "In My entire house he is the trusted one." Aharon and Miriam, in whose merit we enjoyed the Ananei Ha'kavod -- "Clouds of Glory" -- and the well of Miriam, preceded Moshe in prophecy. Yet, neither was as great as he. When they thought they were equal to him, that they could question his behavior, Hashem immediately reproved them. Moshe is different; he is in a category of his own. Miriam was punished. She conceded her error and lamented her transgression. All of Klal Yisrael waited for her to recover, so that forever after it would be acknowledged that Moshe Rabbeinu is different. No Navi, no sage, regardless of his virtue, holiness and brilliance, can ever compare himself to Moshe. No halachah that has not been transmitted directly from Moshe -- or derived through the hermaneutic rules that were given to Moshe on Har Sinai -- is acceptable. There is one Toras Moshe - the one that Hashem Yisborach gave to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai. It is as immutable and eternal as Hashem, Himself.

And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble. (12:3)

The word "v'ha'ish," "and the man," seems to be superfluous. It should have been written, "and Moshe." Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch,zl, cites the pasuk in Shmuel I, 15:17, "Though you are small in your own eyes, you are the head of the tribes of Yisrael," in which the Navi criticizes Shaul ha'Melech for being overly humble. In the end, this misplaced humility resulted in Shmuel telling Shaul, "You have rejected the word of G-d." Evidently, the only blemish to be found on Shaul's character was his excessive humility. Should this have been sufficient cause for the Navi to so severely censure Shaul?

We see from here that while humility may be an impressive virtue, it must be tempered with a balance of authority. Uncontrolled, humility can have tragic results, as seen in Shaul's situation. Hashem Yisborach creates man in such a manner that he is balanced. If an individual acts excessively to either extreme, if he is too humble or if he gets carried away with a desire for power, he tips the delicate balance. Then he may be consumed by this character trait.

This is the reason that the Torah emphasizes the "ish", "man," Moshe, a person who was in total control of himself. He kept within his limits. While in his heart he was the epitome of humility, he knew full well his value. Yet, he realized that as the accepted leader of Klal Yisrael, he must maintain a presence befitting his lofty position.

Horav Eliyahu Schlessinger, Shlita, maintains that the Torah's description of Moshe as an anav, characterizes his essence. It was Moshe's remarkable humility that rendered him worthy of his role as Klal Yisrael's leader. Indeed, in the Talmud Eruvin 13b, Chazal suggest that the reason that the halachah is most always decided according to Bais Hillel is their self-effacing nature. In his sefer, Shem Hagedolim, the Chidah writes that he heard the following from a great Jew, who had heard from a group of elders who had lived during the time of the Arizal. In the generation of the Bais Yosef, Heaven decreed that someone should codify the laws of the Torah and Talmud. Three great tzaddikim lived in that generation who were capable and worthy of authorizing the Shulchan Aruch. Hashem "decided" that the clear choice for the Shulchan Aruch's "authorship" was the Bais Yosef, as a result of his incredible humility. Never would he speak ill of anyone with whom he did not agree halachically! Imagine, the Shulchan Aruch, by which every Jew lives, the standard by which a Jew maintains his religious observance, was authored by the Bais Yosef because of his humility! This perspective supports the crucial role that - middos, character refinement - plays in the development of a true ben Torah and Torah scholar.


1. May the Korban Pesach be offered on Shabbos?
2. What was the procedure and sequence for the manner in which Klal Yisrael began to "break camp" and travel?
3. How many pieces of metal were used to create the chatzotzros?
4. Klal Yisrael were surrounded by clouds which protected them. How many clouds were there?
5. Were Klal Yisrael able to sense in the manna the taste of any foods that were harmful to their health?
6. What happened to the Elders that accompanied Moshe Rabbeinu to Har Sinai?
7. What miracle occurred in the manner in which Hashem called to Moshe, Aharon and Miriam?


1. Yes
2. The cloud descended over Shevet Yehudah. They would blow a tekiah, teruah, tekiah, and Moshe would proclaim, "Kumah Hashem."
3. One piece of metal.
4. Seven. One cloud for each of the four directions, one above, one below and one in front to "smooth out" the road and destroy any dangerous snakes or scorpions.
5. No
6. They perished in the fire of Taveirah.
7. All three names were said in one utterance.


Mazel tov to
and to the whole Weimer HXP$M
After all these years it's finally your week.
Moshe and A.M.


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