Illuminations #209, Sivan, 5779, Parshat Naso

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Illuminations #209, Sivan, 5779, Parshat Naso

Torah Gems

The Torah instructs Moshe to count the number of men in the family of Gershon of the tribe of Levi and to instruct them that their duties when traveling will be to carry the curtains of the Mishkan. At the end of last week’s Parashah, Moshe was told to count the people in the family of Kehat of the tribe of Levi and instruct them to carry the items in the Kodesh Hakadoshim.

The question asked by many commentaries is, why were the instructions given first for Kehat and then for Gershon when Gershon was the eldest? The answer usually given is to show respect for the Aron Hakodesh that Kehat had to carry. That is more important than giving honor to Gershon who was the eldest.

The next question then follows, why was the honor of carrying the Aron Hakodesh given to Kehat and not to Gershon, the eldest? Here the answer is given to show that Torah does not come as an inheritance. One must learn Torah himself and earn the ability of having Torah through his own efforts.

From this we learn how important it is for everyone to put in all his or her effort to study and to learn. You can inherit good traits and ability from parents but the knowledge, the information, the facts – these are things each individual must learn by himself or herself. There is no operation to open your mind and pour in the knowledge. There is no pill you can swallow and get the data. Hard work and persistence is the only way to get that.

Parsha Pearls

The Torah talks about the obligations of one who takes upon himself to be a Nazir or a Nazarite. The Torah says – “To his father or to his mother, to his brother or to his sister, he shall not contaminate himself to them upon their death” (6:7). This is strange since a Kohen must retain his holiness at all times yet he is permitted to come in contact and attend the funerals of these relatives. Why may the Kohen and not the Nazirite?

The “Sefer Hachinuch,” which explains the 613 Mitzvot, makes an interesting distinction. These prohibitions were placed on the Kohen without consulting whether he is willing to accept them. They came upon him at birth when he was born a Kohen. He may not be strong enough to adhere to these restrictions. The Torah realizes his frailty and does not place upon him this stringent law. The Nazir, on the other hand, took these restrictions upon himself, so he knows his abilities and must know that he can abide by them. He thus must obey these laws.

When committing oneself to certain obligations, one must know that he can carry them out. He must think twice before he makes a commitment. It is regretful that at times in haste we promise things that obligate us to carry out tasks or promises that we find later they are too difficult for us to fulfill.

Glimpses of Greatness

Someone approached his Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal zt’l, and said – “As you know, my father was recently Niftar. My mother requests that I leave the yeshiva to run my father’s food factory, so I can support the family.” Rav Yehudah replied, “You should certainly help your mother. I have only one request from you, every day by Arvit, when you say “The miracles that You perform for us each day, I want you to stop at these words and ask yourself, what miracle did Hashem do with me today…?” This man says that he has followed his Rosh Yeshiva’s counsel for forty years now, and he can testify that there has never been a day where he hasn’t experienced a miracle.


Halacha Weekly

Q. Can a Non-Jew Prepare Food  For a Jew using a Microwave? [II-17-384]

A. When cooking with a microwave the method of cooking is different than normal cooking with  a flame. What is the status of the cooking: is there a concern of Bishul Akum, the prohibition of cooking of a non-Jew, when a non-Jew uses a microwave to cook food?

There are opinions which are lenient in this case. Lehorot Natan(7-64, R. Natan Gestetner) writes that there is no concern of bishul akum here. Shevet Halevei (8-185, R. Shmuel Wosner) also  writes regarding cooking with a microwave that there is no concern of bishul akum.

However, it appears to me that as regards the kashrut of food cooked by a maid, Avkat Rochel (10, Rav Yosef Karo Z”L) is lenient regarding bishul Akum. [However, he writes] it is only possible in an instance in which there is  a situation of pressing need to rely on those who are lenient, or on Erev Shabbat, or when there is a significant [financial] loss involved. His reason is that this is only a matter derived from the rabbis. Also, Darchei Teshuva (YD 113-100-32, R. Tzvi Hirsch Shapira Z”L) is lenient in all matters (where there is a doubt) concerning  Bishul Akum.