Illuminations #119, Sivan 5777, Parshat Bamidbar

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Illuminations #119, Sivan 5777, Parshat Bamidbar


Torah Gems

“The B’nei Yisroel shall encamp each man by his banner according to the insignias of their fathers household…”

Commenting on this posuk the midrash says, “Who is this that gazes down from atop brightening like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, brilliant as the sun, awesome as the bannered hosts of kings?”(Shir Hashirim6.10) The nation of Israel appeared utterly  majestic in their formation and the nations of the world gazed in astonishment and exclaimed, “Who is this that gazes,” etc. They then beckoned to k’lal Yisroel and said, “Come join us and we will give you positions of authority.” Klal Yisroel answered incredulously, “What can you  possibly offer us that would compare ?” to the formations in the desert

The medrash elsewhere writes that HKB”H never makes demands of people greater than they can handle. Each person is dealt with according to his or her ability. When Hashem descended on Har Sinai to give the Torah, he refrained from displaying His full splendor, for had He done so K’lal Yisroel would not have  been able to withstand the unmitigated display of Hashem’s Glory. This is the meaning of the verse in Tehilim, “The voice of G-d comes in strength” – not commensurate to Hashem’s strength, but according to the strength of the Jewish nation. In other words, Hashem gives every person the recources that they need whether it is regarding health, wealth, family life, etc. Each peson is expected to perform according to his or her unique abilities.

Rav Noson Wachvogel,zt”l, suggests that herein lies the secret of the Jewish formation described so eloquently in Shir Hashirim. The flags of each tribe symbolized the divine providence which guides every person in their lives. Just as each shevet had its unique flag symbolizing its personal mission, so too Hashem has a tailor-made plan and mission for each and every individual.

Parsha Pearls

“These are the generations of Ahron and Moshe.. Nodov the firstborn, Avihu, Elazar and Itamar.”

Rashi point out that although the posuk starts saying it will mention the offspring of Moshe and Ahron, the posuk goes on to mention the children of Ahron alone. Rashi explains this with the Talmud teaching that whoever teaches his neighbor’s son Torah, it is as if he gave birth to him. Hence, Moshe, who taught Ahron’s children Torah, is considered their father. The rationale behind this is obvious. Just as a biological father is called such by merit of the fact that he brought the child into this world, so too one who teaches a child Torah brings the child into the next world, and is thus also called a father.

In Avos D’Reb Noson (2,10), Beis Hillel argues that one should teach Torah to everyone (i.e.: even someone who is unworthy). Beis Hillel backs up the argument by pointing out there were many people in our history who were sinners, yet eventually they were taught Torah; not only did they transform themselves, but their offspring, too, were righteous and worthy people.

Glimpses of Greatness

It was Simchas Torah and the atmosphere in shul was festive. Men danced in circles clutching Sifrey Torah as children strutted around happily waving their flags. Suddenly, the dancing stopped, and a hush fell over the crowd. The saintly Beis Halevi (R’ Yosef Dov Soloveichik) got up to speak and addressed the crowd. “Rabosai,” he began, “what does simchas Torah mean?” He paused for a second and continued, “Simchas Torah doesn’t mean that we are happy with the Torah. Rather, it means that the Torah itself is happy. In other words, the Torah is rejoicing with us. If G-d forbid one doesn’t live a life according to Torah values, then the Torah is disgusted by the person carrying it. However, if one is zealous to follow the laws of the Torah ‘to a T,’ then the Torah prides itself and declares, “This man who is dancing with me takes care of me and follows every one of my commandments.” It was a sobering lesson indeed.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is There A Mitzvah To Go To Jerusalem On The Festivals Even Without The Temple Standing?

A. Tashbetz (4-201,R. Shimon ben Tzemach Duran, Z”L) writes that there is on what to rely that even after the destruction nullified the Holiness of the Land, the Holiness of the Temple and Jerusalem stands for those who ascend for the Festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot) from Egypt and from the other lands. There is a hint to this from the Midrash Shir Hashirimon in the verse, “I am a Wall,” and similarly the RaN explains (Taanit Perek 1) regarding the question of rain (D’H ikal’midak) that even after the destruction, they would gather from all the surrounding areas for the Festival in Jerusalem as they do today. Also the Yavetz (1-87, R. Yaakov Emden, Z”L) notes that, after the destruction, in the times of the Tannaim and Amoraim, they would ascend for the Festivals because the Divine Presence (Shechina) will not move from the Western Wall forever. Similarly, in Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 233, R. Moshe Sofer, Z”L), in the days of the Geonim they would ascend to Jerusalem for the Festivals. Also in Chavat Daat (1-25, R. Yaakov Loberbaum, Z”L), he notes that, even though the essential mitzvah to ascend on the Festivals  is to bring a Korban, in the present day some communities have the custom in the land and outside it to ascend to Jerusalem and the Western Wall because the Holiness of the Divine Presence, the Shechina, is not nullified there forever.

Mishnah Halachot (12-482, R. Menashe Klein, Z”L) brings Igros Moshe (R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L) that there is no obligation to ascend for the Festivals during our time, and writes that, even so, the one that ascends (on the Festivals) receives the Shechina by doing so, and has a mitzvah from the Torah of receiving the Shechina. Perhaps it is an even greater mitzvah  because “Tzion [lies in ruins] and none seek her out.” “Zion doresh ein La,” and she is in need for being sought out, so if the seeker comes, this causes Zion to rejoice and all the more so the Shechina,  and he performs a great mitzvah.