Illuminations #210, Sivan, 5779, Parshat Behaalotcha

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Illuminations #210, Sivan, 5779, Parshat Behaalotcha

Torah Gems

In the beginning of this week’s Parsha we find Aharon HaKohen very concerned over his service to Hashem. The last 70 verses of last week’s Parsha spoke all about the Nesi’im bringing sacrifices to Hashem. However, the tribe of Levi, which Aharon was at the head of, was excluded and given the mitzvah of the Menorah. To calm his worry, Hashem told him, “The menorah you will light will be forever.” The Ramban asks, why was Aharon satisfied with that answer when in reality he held so many great responsibilties? For example, he was the only one to go into the Holy of Holies and his whole tribe was special in their service of Hashem. The Ramban answers from the Ran (commentator on Talmud) that Hashem was really referring to the Menorah of the Chanukah miracle. The Chashmonaim were from the tribe of Levi and they were the recipients of that great miracle. Hashem was telling Aharon that his act of lighting and cleaning the menorah would be forever over when the BeitHamikdash would not be around. The Shem M’Shmuel gives a different perspective to the dilemma. A Kohen’s job is to attach Heaven to Earth by drawing the Shechina into the BeitHamikdash, while Levi’s job is to attach Earth to Heaven. Aharon was a part of both, however he felt something missing because although he was already promised to be the Highest Priest, he did not have any service related to the tribe of Levi. Aharon wanted to serve Hashem in every way possible. To this Hashem answered, “you will light the menorah,” which is an act done by the tribe of Levi. Not only did Aharon light the Menorah, he had to make sure the flames rose to signify the attribute of Levi which is to take the mundane and elevate it.

Parsha Pearls

There are three places in Tanach where the letters ‘Hei,’ Mem’ and Nun’ appear together. The first time is by Adam and Eve, regarding eating from the tree of Knowledge. The second time mentioned is in this week’s Parsha referring to the Manna which the Jews ate in the desert. The third time it appears is in the Purim story regarding the evil Haman. What is the connection of all three? All of them lacked one thing which caused them to be unhappy. They were missing the trait of appreciation. Adam had everything except that he couldn’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge. By looking at what he didn’t have, he ate from it and ultimately brought death to the world. The Jews in the desert had Manna which could taste like everything with a few exceptions, which they complained about. By focusing on what they did not have they didn’t appreciate what they did have. Last, Haman had everything, except Mordechai the Jew would not bow to him. Without this he was left burning in anger and it ultimately led to his downfall. One of the best ways to be happy and satisfied is to focus on and appreciate what we do have instead of what we don’t have.

Glimpses of Greatness

The wife of the Vilna Gaon and a friend promised each other that whoever dies first would come to the other in a dream and tell what happens in the Heavenly Court. The friend passed away first and came to the wife of the Vilna Gaon, and said she could reveal only one idea. One time when they were walking together down the street, they saw a poor person, and the wife of the Vilna Gaon motioned for the person to come over so she could give Tzedakah. Her friend said because she did not cross the street the reward was reduced. We cannot fathom how every little action makes a difference in the Next World.



Halacha Weekly

Q. Is there a concern with Bishul Akum when cooking with an electric oven or stove? [II-17-384]

A. Avodah Zarah (38a) and RaN write that there is no prohibition of bishul akum (cooking of a Non-Jew) except for cooking through [actual] fire. Ramah (YD 113-13) writes that cooking through steeping is not considered cooking (by a non-Jew), and  that they (the Sages) did not prohibit anything except cooking with fire. What then is the status of an electric stove or oven?  There is a difference of opinion among halachic authorities.

Teshvuot Vehanhagot (439, R. Moshe Sternbuch) writes that there is no place to be lenient, G-d forbid, in cooking with electricity, and to compare it to steeping and smoking which are different forms of cooking. Even though these are ruled as types of cooking, the action is not actual cooking. However, in the case of electric cooking, this is like actual fire. It is simple to see that there is no specific need for the cooking method to be exactly as it was in the time of the decree [regarding bishul akum before the modern period]. Therefore, there is no doubt that there is a prohibition of bishul akum, and one may not be lenient in this, G-d forbid.

However, Kochvei Yitzchak (3-23, R. Yitzchak Sternhill) writes that one can argue to be lenient even in the case of normal cooking with electricity. [Such cooking]… involves metal which is heated (red hot) like coals, and this process does not involve a true form of bishul akum. We can argue to be lenient, i.e.: after the fact, by adding the argument that there are some authorities who hold there is no bishul akum involved when using steam.