Friday, July 29, 2016

Parshas Pinchas


This Week’s Parsha – Pinchas:

This week’s parsha is Pinchas, and at first, Hashem talks about how Pinchas turned back His wrath from upon the Jews, when he avenged His vengeance.  As we discussed at the end of last parsha report, one of the princes of the Jews was doing a bad thing with a Midiani woman in public, and Pinchas killed them both with a spear, which was a very great thing in that case.  The people who did the sin – their names were Casbi and Zimri.  And since they were doing the thing was in public, it could have made the rest of the Jews think that that thing was okay, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid.  Pinchas acted with zealousness, and killed them for Hashem.  What exactly is zealousness?  Mesilas Yesharim (written by the Ramchal zt”l) discusses the fact that a person should be zealous to do a good deed, and that they should think about whether what they are going to do is a good thing or not, and if it is, then you should do it, and if not, not.  Pinchas, as we are told, asked Moshe before doing what he did, and then he did it.  So he actually acted zealously in a proper manner.  By first, maintaining that the thing he was going to do was the right thing, and then he went and did it.  A lesson we can take for nowadays from this is that when we see a good thing that we can do, make sure that it is a good thing, and then go and do it!  This is very important. 
Now on to the parsha:  The first two pessukim/verses are:  ‘Vayi’daber Hashem el Moshe leimor.  Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen heishiv es chamasi mei’al B’nei Yisroel, bi’kano es kinasi bi’socham, vi’lo chilisi es B’nei Yisroel bi’kinasi/And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying.  Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon the Kohen returned My wrath from upon the B’nei Yisroel, when he zealously avenged Me in their midst, and I did not destroy the B’nei Yisroel because of My wrath.’   First, the Tosher Rebbe (Rebbe Meshulam Feish Lowy zt”l) asks; why is the word ‘leimor/saying’ in this verse?  Usually, when the Torah uses the word ‘leimor/saying’ it means that the thing is supposed to be told over for all generations and to all Jews, but this looks like it needed to really only be told over to Pinchas!  So he quotes the Or HaChaim (HaRav Chaim ben Attar zt”l) who explains that maybe it was supposed to be told to the Jews to tell them that it was an incredible thing what Pinchas did.  But the Tosher Rebbe zt”l wants to give another answer:  He explains – based on something from the Zohar – that a Kohen is supposed to convert the middah/trait of Gevurah/strength; sternness, into the middah/trait of Chesed/kindness.  Pinchas was rewarded for his deed by becoming a Kohen, as we know.  So he explains that the word leimor/saying can go to teach us that this is indeed a lesson for all generations.  The lesson being that we all have to try to turn darkness into light, bitterness into sweetness, sternness into kindness, etc.  This is a very important thing, as he continues beautifully; we are all kind of like Kohanim, as the word Kohen is sort of a verb, meaning somebody who serves Hashem, and we all should be that!1  What a wonderful lesson!   
Back to the parsha:  On the second verse which I quoted, there are lots of Mefarshim/commentaries:  1) Rashi quotes from Gemara Sanhedrin 82b and the Midrashim, which explain that the Torah traces Pinchas’ lineage back to Aharon because the other tribes were saying bad things about him, because his mother’s father was Yisro, who, before converting, had fattened cows for sacrifices to idols.  Therefore, the Torah traced his lineage to Aharon, maybe sort of silencing the gossipers.  2) The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt”l) comments on this as well, and, drawing on this Rashi, explains that fattening cows for slaughter to idols is an extremely cruel thing to do, and when Pinchas killed Zimri, the people thought that he had gotten a cruel nature from what his maternal grandfather, Yisro, used to do, and he wasn’t really acting out of zealousness for Hashem, but out of cruelness, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid!  So, says the Rebbe zt”l, the Torah traces his lineage back to Aharon, showing everybody that his nature was actually peace-loving, like his paternal grandfather, and so he was acting out of zeal for Hashem for real.  Reb Menachem Mendel even continues and explains further that part of the greatness of Pinchas was that he actually went against his own peace-loving nature, by killing Zimri and Casbi, but it was for Hashem.2  We need to be able to go against our own natures as well, if it is a good thing and for Hashem.  3) On another note, many ask why the Torah says that Pinchas ‘zealously avenged Me in their midst’; why does Hashem say ‘bisocham/in their midst’?  So, the Kotzker Rebbe (Rebbe Menachem Mendel Morgenstern zt”l) explains that it teaches us that Pinchas, with his act, instilled in the Jews such a hate for that type of bad thing, that it was literally ‘in their midst’; i.e. it was inside of each Jew.  It was not just an outer show of hate for the sin, but he instilled it within them so strongly, that it was actually in their insides spiritually.3  This is connected to what it says in Tehillim (97:10) ‘Ohavei Hashem sin’u raa/You who love Hashem; hate evil’.  And this actually is very connected to the whole Pinchas affair:  He loved Hashem so much, so he also hated evil terribly, and so, when he saw the people desecrating Hashem’s Holy Name in public, he acted with zealousness, and killed them both.  Again, this is a big lesson for us – we need to love Hashem, and hate evil.  4) The Tosher Rebbe (Rebbe Meshulam Feish Lowy zt”l) now explains something on this verse:  He asks; why does the Hashem say that ‘Pinchas returned My wrath from upon the B’nei Yisroel’?  Would it not be more proper to write that he turned away Hashem’s wrath from the B’nei Yisroel, and not ‘returned’ it?  So he answers that this teaches us that Pinchas did not really turn away Hashem’s wrath from upon the Jews, but he actually returned it, as the verse says.  As Reb Lowy zt”l discussed above based on the Zohar, a Kohen is supposed to turn the attribute of sternness into kindness, and so Pinchas did not turn the anger away from the Jews, he ‘returned’ it, by doing the good thing which he did, and changed the anger of Hashem (which is part of the attribute of sternness sometimes) into the attribute of kindness (and Hashem stopped the plague).4  True, we deserved to all get punished terribly for how bad we sinned, but Hashem had mercy on us. 
Back to the parsha:  Hashem said that He was giving Pinchas His covenant of peace, and also, because of what he did, He was giving to him the eternal covenant of the Kahuna.  This made all of his descendants Kohanim as well.  Rashi explains that Pinchas had not been a Kohen until now, because, though he came from Aharon, he was born before Aharon was anointed as a Kohen.  We also learn this in Gemara Zevachim (101b), Rashi says.  In this Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe about how we have to cause trouble to the Midianim and smite them, because of what they did to us with the idol Pe’or (the Jews served it a little) and with Casbi and Zimri (at the end of last parsha).  Hashem also tells Moshe and Elazar to count the Jews, from twenty years of age and up (up to 60, I believe).  The Torah lists a lot of families of the different Tribes, and also the Tribes’ numbers.  For Reuven:  43,730.  For Shimon:  22,200.  For Gad:  40,500.  For Yehuda:  76,500.  For Yissachar:  64,300.  For Zevulun:  60,500.  For Menashe:  52,700.  For Ephraim:  32,500.  For Binyamin:  45,600.  For Don:  64,400.  For Asher:  53,400.  For Naphtali:  45,400.  For all of the Jews:  601,730.  At the beginning of Shlishi/the third Aliyah, the Torah talks about the apportioning of the Land of Yisroel.  The smaller Tribes would get a smaller portion and the bigger Tribes a bigger one.  I believe that this teaches us a lesson in life:  A person might get a “smaller” portion in something, having less than his fellow, but just like the some Tribes got bigger portions of the Land, and others got smaller ones, and none of them complained, so too with us.  The fact is that even if it looks like we have a smaller portion, it is really all fair.  Hashem in His Infinite Wisdom apportions everything fairly, and even if it looks to us like it might be “unfair”, it is actually fair, as Hashem apportions what we get in life.  We must be happy with what we have, knowing that it all comes from Hashem, and everything which is supposed to come to us, Hashem will send. 
Back to the parsha:  Hashem says that the Land was to be apportioned through lots, and Rashi quotes from Gemara Bava Basra 122a and the Midrash, which explain that the lots were picked by Elazar the Kohen when inspired with Ruach HaKodesh/Divine Spirit.  Also, in this Aliyah, there is a census taken of the Leviim from one month of age and up, and the total number came out to 23,000.  Then, the Torah discusses how the daughters of Tzelophchad; Machlah, Noah, Chaglah, Milcah, and Tirtzah, came before Moshe, Elazar, the chieftains, and all of the Jews, and they told about how their father, Tzelophchad, had died in the Midbar/Wilderness, but he did not have any sons.  So they asked why his name should be eliminated from his family just because he had no sons to inherit him, and they requested that they inherit him.  So Moshe brought their case before Hashem.  Hashem told Moshe that the daughters of Tzelophchad spoke justly, and that he should give them an inheritance.  Then, Hashem tells Moshe the rules of inheritance:  If a person dies, and they do not have a son, then their inheritance is transferred to their daughter.  If they did not have a daughter, then it goes to their brothers.  If the person does not have any brothers, then it goes to their father’s brothers.  And if the person’s father did not have any brothers, then it goes to the family who is closest to the person.  Later in this Aliyah, Moshe asks Hashem to appoint a leader over the Jews, and Hashem tells him to take Yehoshua, and He tells him a lot of specifics of what to do to him.  In Chamishi/the fifth Aliyah, the Torah talks about different offerings.  Each day, two unblemished lambs in their first year had to be offered to Hashem as Olah/Burnt-offerings.  One was to be offered in the morning, and one in the evening.  There is a very beautiful Chassidishe Gem which I will say on this topic:  There is a Chassidishe Master who explains that when the Torah says ‘Olas tamid/a continual Burnt-offering’ it teaches us a very important lesson:  The word Olah means to go up, and the word tamid means always, or continual, so this verse teaches us, explains this Master, that a person should always (tamid) go upwards (Olah) in serving Hashem.5  This is a very important lesson for everybody, though it may be sometimes hard, we should always try to take this advice and, B’Eizer Hashem/With the Help of Hashem, put it into action. 
Back to the parsha:  In the last two Aliyos, the Torah discusses the Holidays and the offerings which you offer on them.  Nowadays, when we do not have the Beis HaMikdash, we can only do the special prayers on these days.  May Hashem rebuild the Beis HaMikdash very speedily in everyone’s days, and then we will be able to offer these special offerings again, Amein, so may it be His Will! 

There are 168 pessukim/verses in this parsha.

Have a great Shabbos everyone!
Refoel Berel
1 YUTorah OnlineTosher Rebbe - Avodas Avodah:  Parshas Pinchas.  Shiur given by Rav Gedaliah Jaffe shlita.
2 Chabad.orgParsha in-depth; Parshas Pinchas. 
3 TorahAnytime.comTeaching of the Chassidic Masters:  Stories, Insights, and Customs.  Shiur given by Rav Doody Rosenberg shlita. 
4 YUTorah OnlineTosher Rebbe - Avodas Avodah:  Parshas Pinchas.  Shiur given by Rav Gedaliah Jaffe shlita.
5 TorahAnytime.comChassidic Gems:  Parashat Pinchas.  Shiur given by Rebbe Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Parshas Balak



This Week’s Parsha – Balak:



This week’s parsha is Balak, and it discusses mostly the ordeal with Bilaam and the curse-turned-into-blessing for the Jews. Balak was afraid of the Jews, and so he hired Bilaam to curse them. That is why he hired Bilaam – because he wanted him to curse the Jews so they would not be able to beat him in battle. But, in the end, Hashem made sure that Bilaam did not curse the Jews, and instead, He had him bless them! Hashem is so kind always, and we tend to hardly even notice. He protects us more than we even know! And, aside from that, we do not tend to appreciate the great things which we find ‘normal’. Such as breathing; we must do this almost every second of every single day and night. But we tend not to think about it – thinking that breathing is just a regular thing. In reality, however, it is a great gift from Hashem! So what we come out with is that Hashem does essentially everything for us, and we don’t pay much attention to it. Is this not the height of ungratefulness? And Hashem is surely not happy with this. Imagine; somebody gives you some great gifts, and you just take them, say a quick "Thanks" and walk away – not showing any gratefulness. How foolish this is! So, what we must all do is start to contemplate and realize how much Hashem truly gives us. Contemplate each thing that you have; the fact that Hashem gave it to you, and how great it truly is. And this way, B’Eizer Hashem/with the Help of Hashem, we will come to appreciate the great gifts which Hashem gives to us. Hashem will be happy with this surely! It is very important to work individually on each of our middos/traits, trying to refine them always. It is very hard to just say "I’ll do good things and be a good person" – you have to work on each individual trait, and keep refining all of them. This way, we will all be much, much better people, and we will serve Hashem a lot better. We must try to refine all of our traits. We must try! And may Hashem help us all to do this, Amein, so may it be His Will. These things are very important.



And now on to the parsha: The first passuk/verse in the parsha is: ‘Vayar Balak ben Tzippor, eis kol asher asah Yisroel laEmori/And Balak son of Tzippor saw all that Israel did to the Emori.’ First, Rashi quotes from Midrash Tanchuma, which explains that Balak was really scared because the Jews had just beaten the giants, Sichon and Og, whom he and his nation relied on, so, all the more so, if the Jews attacked him and his nation, they would obviously beat them.






Also on this verse, the Trisker Maggid (Rebbe Avraham of Trisk zt"l) asks; what exactly does Emori mean? True, it means the nation of the Emorim, but it can also come from the word ‘emor’ which means ‘to say’. Thus, we can translate this verse like this: ‘And Balak son of Tzippor saw all that Israel had done to saying things’, i.e. to speech. This teaches us that a big power of the Jewish People is their speech. We can Daven to Hashem, speak words of Torah, etc.1 We need to concentrate on using our speech for good things, and we need to appreciate the great power of speech. After all, the only creature to whom Hashem really gave the ability to talk was a person. It is a precious gift that must be used the right way. Back to the parsha: The Torah discusses the fact that the nation of Moav was very afraid of the Jews, because they were very numerous. But, the Chassidishe Masters point out that there is something that does not seem to look right in this passuk/verse. When talking about how numerous the Jews were, the Torah says ‘Ki rav hu/Because they were numerous’. ‘Rav hu’ is in the singular, as if talking about one person, they explain, when it looks like, since the Torah is talking about the entire Jewish People, it should be in the plural form, ‘Ki rabim heim’! So they explain beautifully that, the Torah is telling us that the entire Jewish People was like one person – all together with Achdus/togetherness and ‘brotherly love’ (thus the singular form), and that is what Moav was afraid of!2 The Jews were all working together, and that is likely more dangerous to fight against than a very large nation that is not together. We must work on having Achdus/togetherness and brotherly love today, as, unfortunately, we have not had as much nowadays, and we need to work on this. Back to the parsha: The Moavim were very afraid that the Jews would annihilate them, so Balak sent messengers to Bilaam, telling him about how the Jews covered the ‘eye’ of the land, i.e. they had a lot of people. And he wanted Bilaam to curse them, because they were mightier than him and his nation, and he was hoping that if Bilaam cursed the Jews, then he and the Moavim would be able to wage war on them, and drive them away. The elders of Moav and Midian went to Bilaam and delivered the message which Balak had said. Bilaam told them to stay with him for the night, and he would tell them if he could curse the Jews after Hashem spoke to him. Now, Bilaam was a prophet, meaning that Hashem spoke to him.




Rashi quotes from the Midrash, which explains that Hashem gave the non-Jews a prophet, who could hear things from Him, so that they could not say that they did bad things because they did not have somebody telling them what Hashem wanted from them. Hashem gave them Bilaam, who was a prophet, but they still did bad things. Now, the Sages tell us that Bilaam was on the level of Moshe Rabbeinu in prophecy. But obviously, we know that Moshe was so much greater than Bilaam! So how could the Sages say this? Answers the Ksav Sofer (HaRav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer zt"l), Moshe and Bilaam were both given the gift of prophecy, but there was a major difference between them; Moshe worked to be a good person and to refine his talent, but Bilaam used his talent for bad things, and rebelled against Hashem. So, at first, he continues beautifully, they were sort of on the same level in prophecy, but Moshe worked to get better and use stuff for good, but Bilaam did the opposite.3 In fact, the Gadol HaDor, HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leiv Shteinman shlita says around the same thing. He discusses the fact that Moshe refined his middos/character traits, and Bilaam did not. And middos/character traits, he explains, are so important, and so the powers of prophecy that were given to Bilaam were sort of ruined by his bad middos/character traits.4 These are very important messages. Back to the parsha: Hashem came to Bilaam in the night, and asked him who the men with him were. Obviously He knew, but, according to the interpretation of Rashi quoting from the Midrash, Hashem said this to open a conversation with Bilaam. But maybe we can say there is a deeper meaning behind it. Maybe, Hashem asked him this, not because, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid, He did not know who the people were, but to sort of try to make Bilaam think about what he was doing – make Bilaam think about why the people were there. Hashem wants to help us, and He gives us lots of messages, but are we taking them and stopping ourselves form doing bad things, or are we just doing what we want? These things need to be thought about. Back to the parsha: Bilaam told Hashem that Balak had sent the men to him, and told him basically the message that Balak had had sent to him, which we listed earlier. And Hashem told him that he should not go with the people, and he should not curse the Jews, because they are blessed. Look how Hashem protects us! He is so kind! Bilaam got up in the morning, and told the officers that they should go back to their land, because Hashem had refused to let him go with them. The officers left him, and told Balak that he refused to go with them. So Balak continued to send officers, but ones who were higher than the previous ones. They came to Bilaam and told him what Balak had said, essentially asking him again to come with them. Bilaam told them basically that he couldn’t disobey Hashem no matter what.


Bilaam asked these people to stay with him overnight as well. And that night, Hashem came to Bilaam again, and He told him that if the people had come to call for him to go with them, but only what He spoke to Him, he should speak. Rashi explains "If the calling is for you, and you expect payment for it, arise and go with them." However, the question still arises; why did Hashem now let Bilaam go with the people? The great Vilna Gaon (HaRav Eliyahu Kramer zt"l) answers that, in the Hebrew language, there are two words for ‘with’ – את and עם. The word עם, he explains, connotes going completely with something, not just physically going with, but agreeing with, etc. However, the word את can connote more of just a superficial going with, maybe just physically. If you notice, the Gaon explains beautifully, when Hashem told Bilaam not to go with the people, He told him not to go Imahem/with them’ with the root of עם, the deeper sense of going with, but when He told Bilaam that he could go, He used the term ‘Itam/with them’, the root being the word את, implying that He was telling him that he could ride with them to Balak, but not go with them in a more spiritual sense.5 This is a very beautiful explanation. Back to the parsha: In the morning, Bilaam got up, saddled his she-donkey, and went with the Moavi people. Hashem got very angry that Bilaam was going, and He put an Angel on the road to impede him. At first, the question would seem to arise, why did Hashem get angry, when He told Bilaam that he could go with the people?! But, if we use the explanation of the Vilna Gaon zt"l which we quoted above, we can easily answer this question: Hashem allowed Bilaam to physically go with the officers of Moav, but not to go with them in the same mindset – that is, to curse the Jews. And a proof for this; if you notice, when the Torah says that Bilaam went with the officers of Moav, it uses the word עם, implying that he went in the same mindset as the officers, which Hashem did not let him do.  As Rashi says "His heart was the same as theirs." Bilaam really hated the Jews, and his intention was to do bad to them. This explains why Hashem was angry. Back to the parsha: The donkey saw the Angel, but Bilaam didn’t, and the Angel had a sworn drawn, and so the she-donkey strayed into a field. Bilaam beat the donkey to get it onto the road. Then, the Angel stood on a path in the vineyards, with a fence on both sides. The donkey saw it, and pressed up against the wall, pressing Bilaam’s leg against the wall, and so he struck her again. The Angel kept going ahead, and it stood in a narrow place, where there was no space on either side of it. So the donkey crouched down with Bilaam, and Bilaam beat it again. Hashem let the donkey speak, and it asked Bilaam why he had struck it the three times. Bilaam replied that it was because the donkey had humiliated him, and if he had his sword, he would kill it!


The donkey essentially asked rhetorically if she was the donkey that he had ridden on ever since he started until this point, and also, if she was accustomed to do that to him, and he answered "No." Then Hashem opened Bilaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel, and he bowed and prostrated himself (which was a sign of respect). The Angel asked Bilaam why he had struck his donkey the three times, and it told him that if the donkey had not turned away, he (the Angel) would have killed him already, and spared the donkey. Bilaam admitted that he had sinned, and he said that if it displeased the Angel (if he would keep going), he would return. The Angel (which only says what Hashem wants it to) told Bilaam that he should go with the men, but should only say what Hashem speaks to him. So when Balak heard that Bilaam was coming, he went out to greet him. And Bilaam had to tell him that he could only speak what Hashem told him to. As we see in the next parts of this parsha, Bilaam had wished to curse the Jews, but Hashem, in His Kindness, told him to bless them, and so Bilaam blessed us a lot. At the end of the parsha, the Jews stray and start to go after idols. One particular Jew was doing a bad thing with a non-Jew in public, and Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the Kohen saw it, and he took a spear, and killed them both – which in this case, was a very great thing.



Just a final commentary for this parsha report: The Chassidishe Masters note that the Gematria/numerical value of the Hebrew word used here for ‘spear’ – רמח, is 248. This corresponds, they say, to the 248 limbs a person has in their body. So what does this teach us? It teaches us, they explain beautifully, that a person must use all of their 248 limbs for Hashem, just like Pinchas went and fearlessly killed the people doing the bad thing in public, for Hashem.6 We must take this message to heart, B’Eizer Hashem/with the Help of Hashem. May Hashem help everyone to do this, Amein, so may it be His Will.


There are 104 pessukim/verses in this parsha.



Have a great Shabbos!


Refoel Berel




1 TorahAnytime.com©.  'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Balak'.  Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.  Also, YUTorah Online.com.  'Parshas Balak 5776: Balak's Biggest Fear: A Jewish Teffilah'.  Shiur given by Ari Mirzoeff shlita. 
2 TorahAnytime.com©.  'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Balak'.  Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.
3 TorahAnytime.com©.  'Pre-Slichot D'rasha'.  Shiur given by HaRav Noach Isaac Oelbaum shlita. 
4 Bircas.org - Yeshiva Bircas HaTorah.  'Parshas Balak 5775'. 
5 Yioceanside.org.  'Musings on Parshat Balak (1/1)'.  By Rabbi H.L. Berenholz shlita.
6 TorahAnytime.com©.  'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Balak'.  Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Balak


Mussar for Parshas Balak:

In this parsha, Balak hires Bilaam to curse the Jews for him, however, Hashem makes sure that instead of cursing the Jews, Bilaam gives them great blessings!  One of the Berachos (blessings) which Bilaam gave us was 'Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishkinosecha Yisroel.', which means 'How goodly are your tents O' Yaakov!  Your dwelling places O' Israel!' 

 

I would like to share with you an explanation of this verse that I thought of very recently, actually, Baruch Hashem:  As we are told, Yisroel is the spiritual name of Yaakov, and it can connote the very spiritual Jewish people, such as B'nei Torah and Gedolim.  Also, as we know, a 'tent' is more like a temporary place, while a 'dwelling place' connotes a more permanent place.  But they both sort of imply a place of Torah study, just one more temporary and one more permanent.  So what does all this have in connection to the verse? 

 

Let me explain, as I believe that all this teaches us a beautiful Mussar lesson: 'Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov' ('How goodly are your tents O' Yaakov!'):  'Yaakov' can refer to regular Jews, as we explained above, 'Yisroel', as we are told, is a more spiritual name for Yaakov, and can imply people such as Tzaddikim and Gedolim.  A 'tent' is a place for studying Torah, yes, but in this case, being mentioned next to a 'dwelling place', it connotes a temporary place - somewhere you are only in sometimes.  Thus, let us interpret the verse like this: 

 

'Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov,' How goodly it is even when just a regular Jew sometimes goes to learn Torah ('Yaakov' implying a regular Jew, and 'tent' implying a temporary dwelling place),  'mishkinosecha Yisroel!', and when B'nei Torah sit and learn always in the Beis Midrash.  (Thus it is their 'dwelling place').   

 

One might think that if they are just a regular Jew, and they go to learn Torah only sometimes, the Beis Midrash being a temporary dwelling place for them, it is not that good or important.  But this verse is teaching us that it is actually very important, as it says 'How goodly are your tents O' Yaakov!'  Every single good thing which we do is precious to Hashem; He does not overlook anything.  Thus, even if you have to be working most of the day, and then you come home sort of late, and go just learn even a little, that is extremely precious to Hashem!  Don't get discouraged and think that your Torah is not important; it is very important! 

 

In fact, this ties very much in to a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov zt"l.  He taught that even when a man comes home, exhausted from a hard day at work, and says 'Oy, it's almost sundown', and they go and Daven a quick Minchah, the Heavenly Angels tremble from the holiness of that prayer!1  And one might have thought that this was a lowly prayer!  Now, this does not give us the excuse, Chas V'Shalom (Hashem forbid) to Daven a low quality Davening if we are able to do better, and are in a better situation.  But for someone who hardly has time to Daven (may Hashem help them get into a better situation soon) they must realize, their Davening is still very precious to Hashem.  If we truly try our best to serve Hashem, then He will be very happy.  It is, yes, hard to truly try our best, and one who says "I try my best" is almost always lying.  However, let us try to try our best, and Hashem will help us to do better and better.  But we must try! 

 

Now, let us turn to the second part of the verse, 'mishkinosecha Yisroel' ('your dwelling places O' Israel'):  A Ben Torah, who sits and learns all day is doing a very good thing.  Learning Torah is a very precious thing, and it helps to uphold the entire People of Yisroel.  These people must remember that, they should keep their learning up, as, just because they learn nearly all day, it doesn't make any second of Torah study less important.  Every single second of a good deed, of Torah study, etc. is extremely precious to Hashem.  Every single second that you are learning is another precious second.  Don't detract from this and waste time. 

 

We should be zocheh (have the merit) to take all these important messages to heart, and meditate upon them.  And may Hashem help us all to do this. 

 

And in the merit of trying to try our best to serve Hashem to the best of our abilities, may Hashem send Moshioch very speedily in everyone's days.  Amein, so may it be His Will. 

 

Have a great day everyone, and I hope to read your comment on this!

 

Refoel Berel

 

1 Four Chassidic Masters, pages 14-15.  A PocketScroll© book.  ShaarPress© publications. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

10 Beautiful Insights on Parshas Chukas:

10 Beautiful Insights on Parshas Chukas:

1)  Hashem told Moshe to tell the Jews to take a Parah Adumah. This was for purification for being tamei from a dead body.  Rambam, in his Mishnah Torah explains that there have been 9 Parah Adumah’s in history. One prepared by Moshe, and 8 by Ezra, (I believe), in the times of the Beis HaMikdash. And the tenth, says Rambam, will be in the times of Mashiach, and the Mashiach will prepare it himself. May this time come very speedily in every Jew’s days. Amein.

2)  Part of the purification process for a person who was tamei meis, was spring water.  Sifri quotes from Parah 8:9, which says that ‘Spring water’ is only from an ever-flowing spring.  "False" springs, which run dry even once in seven years, are disqualified, says the Mishnah.


3)  On this Mishnah, the Chassidishe Masters comment: They explain that this Mishnah teaches us a big lesson in truth.1  Drawing on this preliminary thing, I believe that the lesson in truth that it can teach us, is that even if a person tells the truth almost every single time, but they lie sometimes, and are false sometimes, then they are not totally true people.  Rather, as we see from this Mishnah, they are still ‘disqualified’.  That is, from being wholly true. And truth is a very important thing.



4)  The Torah discusses in this parsha the death of Miriam.  And then we didn’t have water afterward. As we are told, the Jews were sustained with water (at least partly) in the zechus of Miriam (see Parshas Shemos), and after she died, the Jews didn’t have water anymore. But wouldn’t Hashem give the Jews water anyway? The Alshich (HaRav Moshe Alsheich zt"l) notes that the Torah doesn’t list the Jews mourning Miriam, as it does after the deaths of Moshe and Aharon.  This was definitely not a god thing, and he explains that because of this aveirah (transgression), Hashem punished the Jews with a lack of water.2  


5)  After the death of Miriam, and the lack of water, the Jews started to complain again.  We notice that the Jews essentially always complained when they didn’t have enough water (though they complained for a lot of other things as well).  Water is usually used as a metaphor for Torah.  If we flip back to Parshas Beshalach, we see the Mechilta, which teaches that if a person does not learn Torah for three days at least, their Yetzer hara takes control of them (so to speak).  In other words, we must learn enough Torah, or we might, Chas V’Shalom (Hashem forbid) start to act badly.



6)  Hashem told Moshe to speak to a rock in the eyes of the Jews, and water would come from it.  It looks like Moshe maybe got stressed out from the pressure which the Jews put on him, and he hit the rock instead of talking to it.  Water still came out, but Moshe had done a bad thing, and Hashem punished him that he would not lead the Jews into Eretz Yisroel.  Aside from the P'shat (simple) aveirah, which was Moshe not doing what Hashem had said to, the Chiddushei HaRim (The first Gerrer Rebbe, Rebbe Yitzchok Meir Alter zt”l) finds Moshe’s big aveirah from the word 'li’eineihem’ which means ‘in their eyes’.  Moshe was supposed to perform a wonder in the eyes of the Jews, meaning that they could see it, which was supposed to leave the Jews unquestioningly realizing that Hashem provides for them.  When Moshe hit the rock, Hashem sent the water out, yes, but it did not accomplish what Hashem wanted to accomplish, and that was an aveirah on Moshe’s part.3   



7)  Rashi, who goes with the simple explanation, explains that Moshe’s aveirah was hitting the rock, not talking to it.  However, Ramban, thinks differently. Ramban holds that Moshe’s aveirah was mostly in calling the Jews ‘rebels’, as he did right before he hit the rock.



8)  Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev zt”l comments on these commentaries:  He explains that Rashi, and Ramban’s explanations, are one and the same!!  How? Because, he explains, calling the Jews ‘rebels’ led to him hitting the rock.  There are two ways to persuade people to do the Will of Hashem:  1) By speaking softly to the people, and encouraging them, and 2) by speaking harshly to them. Now, says Reb Levi Yitzchok, when we do the first way, everybody is with us, and all of creation aids us in serving Hashem. But when we do the second approach, we have to do things on our own, without people behind us.  So when Moshe said ‘listen, please, O’rebels’, he was doing the second way, and so the creations were not behind him.  Therefore, he had to force the rock to bring forth water.  And in conclusion, he explains beautifully, Ramban and Rashi are both right, because one sin led to the other!4



9)  In this parsha, Aharon dies. We are told that he died through a ‘misas neshikah' meaning ‘death by a [Divine] kiss’.  The Gemara compares ‘misas neshikah’ to pulling a hair out of milk. It comes out easily. So too, when Hashem takes a person’s Soul through a ‘misas neshikah’, it comes out very easily, and without pain.



10)  On this, HaRav Gedaliah Schorr shlita comments:  He explains that people who focus too much on physical desires and sin a lot, die more painfully. Why? Because, he explains beautifully, their Souls are now very connected to their bodies, and so, taking them out hurts more. The Chachamim compare the death of a wicked person to pulling thorns out of sheep’s wool.  However, people on the level of Moshe and Aharon, who almost never sinned, their Souls could be taken out of them without pain. May Hashem help us all be this great.5


Amein, Kein Yi'hi Ratzon (Amein, so may it be His Will).

Have a great Shabbos everyone!


Refoel Berel


1 Chabad.org.  Parsha in-depth.  Parshas Chukas.
2 Stone Edition Chumash.  Parshas Chukas.  Artscroll Publications©. 
3 Stone Edition Chumash.  Parshas Chukas.  Artscroll Publications©.
4 Hasidismfortherestofus.wordpress.com.  Parshas Chukas.  From Kedushas Levi. 
5 Stone Edition Chumash.  Parshas Chukas.  Artscroll Publications©.


Chassidus and Mussar: A Beautiful Teaching of the Baal Shem Tov zt"l:

A Beautiful Teaching of the Baal Shem Tov zt"l:

The holy Baal Shem Tov (Rebbe Yisroel ben Eliezer zt"l) taught that if you see another person doing an aveirah (transgression), you should look into yourself, because you likely have that flaw as well.  How does this make sense?  Different people have different flaws! 


So, the Baal Shem Tov explains beautifully, that, the reason for this is because Hashem lets you see the person doing that certain transgression for a reason - likely for you to realize that you yourself have that same flaw, and to then correct it. 


The Baal Shem Tov himself followed this teaching, as can be seen from the following story:  He once saw someone violating Shabbos, and so, following his teaching, he looked into himself for that flaw.  After looking very deep and not finding a violation of Shabbos within himself, he Davened (prayed) that his transgression be revealed to him.  And his prayers were answered!  It was revealed to him that once, he had heard somebody insulting a Tzaddik (righteous person) and he had not rebuked the person.  This was like a violation of Shabbos, as the Zohar says that a Tzaddik has the Kedusha (holiness) of Shabbos.1  And so, he likely resolved to fix that flaw. 

Now, B'Ezras Hashem, let us begin to expand on this concept:  As we know, everything happens for a reason - every single event in our life.  So seeing another person doing an aveirah - or anything else for that matter, is obviously not a coincidence.  In conclusion, when something happens, or we see something, etc. it is for a reason, and we must realize this.  Look for the messages that it could be giving us! 

Now that we have established the above fact, we can better understand this teaching of the Baal Shem Tov.  And now, we must realize this:  If we follow this beautiful teaching of the Besht (Baal Shem Tov zt"l), then if we see a person doing a bad thing (Chas V'Shalom - Hashem forbid), we won't think about judging them for doing an aveirah, we will look into ourselves, and start judging ourselves!  This way, we will likely (with the Help of Hashem) refine our Middos (traits), and use everyday life occurrences to serve Hashem, His Name is Blessed, like we are supposed to. 

And when we ponder the explanation of the Baal Shem Tov's teaching, we can come to appreciate life better.  Everything indeed happens for a reason, and a good reason at that, and so, all the things that happen to us are for the better.  Hashem only makes good things happen - even if they seem bad to us.  Even if He punishes us, it is ultimately for the better - He is cleansing us from our sins!  The ultimate conclusion here is this:  Everything that Hashem makes happen is good, not even that, but great!  Knowing and realizing this; we can be happier people, and serve Hashem much better. 

May Hashem help us all - every single Jew, no matter who you are - to keep this teaching, take these messages to heart, and reach all the great results that come with them.  And remember that no matter how far you are from Hashem, you can always come back to Him.  He is so merciful!  Ponder this. 

Have a great day everyone! 

Refoel Berel


1 Four Chassidic Masters, pages 20-21.  By Rebbe Avraham J. Twerski M.D. shlita.  A PocketScroll© book.  A Shaar Press Publication©. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

In Loving Memory, and in Honor of the Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l:

The 3rd of Tammuz: The Yartzeit of The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l:

This Shabbos - the third of Tammuz, is the yartzeit of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose name was Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l.  May Hashem place his Neshama (Soul) in a high place in Heaven. 

In honor of his yartzeit, I will quote some of his teachings, some facts about him, and a beautiful story about him:


Facts:  Reb Menachem Mendel was born in the year 1902, according to most.  Though if you look on some of his certificates and documents, they say that he was born in 1895. Since he died in the year 1994, he then would have lived to 99 years old!  Wow!  He lead the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement from the 10th of Shevat in the year 1951, until his death, in 1994.  The Lubavitch Movement was almost killed by the Holocaust, but he, with lots of Help from Hashem, 'revived it'2, and now, Baruch Hashem, it thrives greatly, may Hashem help it keep growing and thriving.  Many revered Reb Menachem Mendel greatly for the incredible person that he was. 


Teachings:   Reb Menachem Mendel, as the Sixth Rebbe did, stressed the imminent coming of the Mashiach.  These are some sayings from him:  He said: "Each individual has the capacity to build communities and endow communities with life...  So that each community member becomes a source of inspiration."3  He also said: "This world is not a jungle, it is Hashem's Garden.  But for a garden to produce good fruit, one must work particularly hard...  It takes more toil and more time."4 


A Story:  Rav Shlomo Besser shlita relates about his first encounter with the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l:  He says that, when he was a boy, his father took him to the 770 Yeshiva to Daven.  He recalls that he could not find a Siddur to Daven out of.  And then, he saw a Siddur perched on the table where the Rebbe sat.  The Rebbe motioned to him to come, sit next to him, and Daven.  So he did.  The Chassidim did not like that, and so they motioned that he should move away from the Rebbe.  The Rebbe looked up, and said "Vos vilt ir fun im, es davent zich zeir gut mit im!" Which, in English means "What do you want from him?  My Davening is going very well with him!"5

I wish every single Jew a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos, and may Hashem help us all to have one.  Amein, so may it be His Will. 

Refoel Berel

1 Wikipedia.  Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l. 
2 Wikipedia.  Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l.  From an article in the 'New York Times'
3  TheRebbe.org - Chabad.org.    
4 TheRebbe.org - Chabad.org.
5 TheRebbe.org - Chabad.org.  My encounter with the Rebbe - 'The Rebbe and I Shared a Siddur'. 

Parshas Korach: First Aliyah in-depth:

This Week’s Parsha – Korach:



This week’s parsha is Korach, and a descent amount of it talks about ‘the Korach revolt’. Along with Korach, were Dathan, Aviram, and 250 men that Korach gathered. Now, you might think that Korach was just a terrible person, but he actually was a good person, however, he made a very, very wrong turn, and became a bad person. We all have to watch out for this, as our Yetzer hara/Evil inclination will always keep working to try to mess us up, and make us do bad things. In other words, we have to always be on guard, moving forward in our service of Hashem, because, as many discuss, if we are not moving forward in serving Hashem, then we are moving backward. This is very important to remember. Even if we are a very good person, like Korach was, if we are not careful, we might slip up like Korach also did, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid. Korach made a very easy mistake to make – that is, as Rashi brings down, quoting from the Midrash, he was upset that Elitzaphan ben Uzziel was head of the Kohathim, instead of him. (He was also upset about the fact that he was not the Kohen Gadol, I believe). How is this, an easy mistake to make? Well, if we look at it, Korach was mad that somebody had been given a special thing, or position which he didn’t get, and then it just grew from there. Unfortunately, I am sure that many people don’t get something, and it is given to another person, and they get very upset about this. However, most people do not gravitate to the sins of Korach (Baruch Hashem). On the outside, it would seem that getting upset that somebody got something that you wanted would seem fine and logical. But go a little deeper: We must realize that Hashem controls the entire world, and whatever He makes happen is for the best. If something is given to somebody else, it was obviously supposed to be! Hashem’s Judgement is always perfect, and we can never question it. Every Jew must try to protect themselves from the feelings that started Korach on his downfall, and may Hashem help us all to do this, Amein. Unfortunately, Korach got a bad idea in his head, and actually went through with it. That is very dangerous. And, the thing is, Korach went from being upset that he wasn’t given something that somebody else was given, to, in reality, questioning the perfect Judgement of Hashem. We must try never to do anything like this, even on a more minor level, and in this merit, may Hashem send Mashiach very, very speedily in every Jew’s days, Amein, so may it be His Will.
We could spend so much time discussing this, but we must get on to the parsha, so, now on to the parsha: The first passuk/verse is: ‘Vayikach Korach ben Yitzhar, ben Kohath, ben Levi, vi’Dathan va’Aviram b’nei Eliav, vi’On ben Peles b’nei Reuven/And Korach, son of Yitzhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, took, and Dathan and Aviram the sons of Eliav, and On son of Peles, the sons of Reuven.’ We might ask though, what did Korach ‘take’? Rashi quotes from Midrash Tanchuma, which explains that one possibility of the meaning of ‘Korach took’, is that he ‘took’ leaders of the Sanhedrin with words, to try to attract them to join him. Unfortunately, sometimes, somebody who is trying to lead a bad movement, speaks with words that get people interested, and then sometimes, others might even join them, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid. They make it sound like a good thing, when, in reality, it a very bad thing! I will tell you a story in line with this: The Russian Government once decreed that all Rabbis had to have a secular education – not just a Torah one. This was a terrible decree. The Rabbis gathered in the Old Russian Capital City of St. Petersburg, to decide what to do about it. One of the people, who attended, was a maskil (a Jew who thought that we should fit into the gentile society) who was a gifted speaker. He rose, and urged acceptance of the decree, arguing that it was good for Jewry. Many Rabbis were actually won over by his speech, as he was a very good speaker. The time of voting was approaching, and there was a danger that the vote of the Rabbis might go in favor of this horrible decree. HaRav Itzele Peterburger zt"l was one of those present, and he decided to take action. He knew that this maskil had a weakness; he reacted strangely to whistling. As the maskil stood before the audience of Rabbis, praising the benefit of the evil decree, Reb Itzele began to whistle. The maskil turned aside, and started to blink and make strange faces. The Rabbis now realized that they had been listening to the words of a fool, and they voted vehemently against the decree.1 As we see in this story, the person who was arguing for a bad thing, won people over by his talented speaking (at first), even though he was in the wrong.
Now back to the parsha: There are different explanations on the first passuk/verse, why the Torah lists Korach’s genealogy back to Levi, but not back to Yaakov; however, I will list specifically the explanation of the Nikolsburger Rebbe shlita (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita):


He explains that the name ‘Yitzhar’ can come from the root word ‘Tzohar’ which means ‘light’, the name ‘Kohath’ can mean to gather people, and Levi can mean ‘accompanying’, thus implying a strong connection with Hashem. Korach was great person, he says, who achieved many lofty levels in serving Hashem. He achieved ‘light’, i.e. he was like a great and holy light, he achieved leadership, i.e. he was very great, and could ‘gather’ people together, and lead them, and he achieved connection with Hashem. However, he did not achieve humility. The root word of ‘Yaakov’ is ‘Eikev’, which means heel, meaning that a person feels that they are lowly like a heel, and not high. This is humility. Says the Nikolsburger Rebbe shlita beautifully, one of the reasons why Korach’s genealogy was not listed back to Yaakov, was because he had achieved the good traits which the other people’s names meant, but he didn’t reach humility, which is what Yaakov’s name implies.2 This a very beautiful thought.
Now back to the parsha: Korach and his assembly gathered against Moshe and Aharon, and complained that they had taken too much for themselves (according to Rashi), and they shouldn’t make themselves higher than the other Jews, because every Jew is holy, and Hashem is in their midst. First, Korach was denying one of the foundations of Judaism – that Hashem chose Moshe to lead the Jews. Obviously, Hashem chose that Aharon would be the Kohen Gadol, and that Moshe would lead the Jews, so really, Korach had nothing to complain about, because Moshe and Aharon had not raised themselves above other Jews, Hashem had raised them!! Now, there are some very nice Mefarshim/commentaries on this passuk/verse which I will quote: 1) HaRav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik zt"l explains beautifully, that Korach forgot a very important thing here: Every Jew is, yes, naturally holy, but each person has the ability to become more and more holy, and Moshe and Aharon did so. So, true, we are all holy, but it is up to us how individually holy we want to be, and we can only become very holy through serving Hashem properly.3 This is very important. 2) The Chassidishe Masters like to "chop", so to speak, words out of verses, and derive wonderful lessons from them. And they do just that on this verse: They explain that the term that Korach used ‘U’vi’socham Hashem/And Hashem is in their midst’, teaches us a great lesson: They explain beautifully that our good deeds are like our own ‘G-dliness’, so to speak (this is a very deep concept). And we are supposed to act with ‘Hashem in our midst’, that is, we should never brag about them, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid. We do not need to show off our good things, they say, rather, we should keep them ‘in our midst’, and be humble about them. If we do a good deed, not everybody has to know about it.4 This is very important to remember.
Back to the parsha: Moshe heard what they said, and fell on his face.  There are some very nice commentaries on this verse as well, which I will quote: 1) Rashi quotes from Midrash Tanchuma, and Bamidbar Rabbah, which explains that one of the reasons maybe, why Moshe fell on his face, was because he felt like he could not pray for forgiveness for Korach and his assembly, as he had already had to ask Hashem for forgiveness for the Jews three times before this (at the Cheit ha’eigel/Sin of the golden calf in Parshas Ki Sisa, with the Jew who were complaining in Parshas Behaaloscha, and with the Spies in last Parsha - Shelach). 2) There is a story about two Chassidishe Masters that ties in with this: Once, when Rebbe Zusia of Anipole zt"l was visiting Rebbe Shmelke of Nikolsburg zt"l, he asked Reb Shmelke to learn with him. Reb Shmelke replied that he would teach him something of the revealed wisdom, and then he (Reb Zusia) would have to teach him something from the secret wisdom. Reb Zusia agreed to this condition, and humbly, he asked Reb Shmelke to teach him a Mishnah, and translate it into Yiddish. Reb Shmelke began from Berachos, and taught him the first Mishnah, which starts with ‘Mai’aimasai korin es haShema?..../From when do we read the Shema?... etc.’ Suddenly, the holy Reb Zusia threw himself to the ground in fear and trembling, and asked "How do you know that ‘Mai’aimasai’ means ‘From when’? Maybe it comes from the word ‘eimah’ which means fear! Thus the Mishnah would be read ‘From my fear [of Hashem] I read the Shema’! At this, Reb Shmelke said "You be the teacher!"5 3) Rebbe Moshe of Kozhnitz zt"l used to use this story to explain a possible reason for why Moshe fell on his face; when Korach mentioned Hashem’s Name (when he said ‘and Hashem is in their midst’), Moshe fell on his face, to show that one must not say Hashem’s Name without thinking, or just to make a point, but rather you should only say it for a good reason, and with awe and trepidation at its holiness.6
Back to the parsha: Moshe told Korach and his assembly that in the morning [of the next day], Hashem would make known who was His, and who was holy, and would bring them near to Him. Yet again, there are some nice commentaries on this which I will quote: 1) Rashi explains that ‘who is His’ is the person for the Levi services, and ‘who is holy’ can refer to the person for the Kahuna, i.e. the Kohen. 2) The Chassidishe Masters explain that this verse teaches us a message, if we translate it a different way: They explain that this verse, if translated differently, can mean ‘Hashem knows who is for himself (i.e. who cares too much about themselves, and does things really only for themselves), and who is [truly] holy, and [the truly holy person] He will bring close to Himself.’ Some people look like they are holy people; but really, they might be doing the good things for themselves, not Hashem (Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid). However, Hashem always knows who is doing things for themselves, and who is actually holy.7



Back to the parsha: Moshe told them to take fire pans, put upon them incense, and bring them up to Hashem the next day, and the person who Hashem would choose, they are the holy one. Basically, Moshe kept trying to dissuade Korach and his assembly from what they were doing, but they refused to listen. However, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 109a) explains that On ben Peles’ righteous wife convinced him to leave Korach’s assembly. In the end, Hashem opened up the ground and it swallowed Korach, Dathan, and Aviram up, and all of their possessions, and their families. And Hashem killed the other two-hundred-and-fifty men through a fire. However, we are told that Korach’s sons did Teshuva/repentance, and stayed alive.

This Shabbos – the third of Tammuz – will be the yartzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l (Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l). He was a very great person – the leader of the Lubavitch movement for a while. He was respected and looked up to, for the Gadol/great person which he was. May Hashem place his Neshama/Soul in a high place in Shamayim/Heaven.

There are 95 Passukim/verses in this parsha.

Have a great Shabbos everyone!


1  Sparks of Mussar, pages 95-96. By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
2  Nikolsburg.org©, 'Accepting Torah Leadership'. The Nikolsburger Rebbe shlita, on Parshas Korach.
Stone Edition Chumash, Parshas Korach. Artscroll Publications©
4  TorahAnytime.com©.  From the shiur 'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Korach'.  Given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.
5  Hasidismfortherestofus.wordpress.com.  Parshas Korach.  From 'Menoras Zahav, Parshas Korach'.
6  Hasidismfortherestofus.wordpress.com.  Parshas Korach.  From 'Toras Moshe'. 
7   TorahAnytime.com©.  From the shiur 'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Korach'.  Given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.



Friday, July 1, 2016

12 Wonderful Insights on Parshas Shelach


12 Insights on Parshas Shelach:


1) In this parsha, Moshe renamed Hoshea, Yehoshua, which literally means ‘Hashem shall save’. Rashi quotes from Gemara Sotah 34b, which explains that Moshe Davened for Yehoshua that Hashem should save him from the counsel of the other Spies.

2) Though the question begs itself; why did Moshe daven for Yehoshua only? Gur Aryeh (Maharal) explains that if Yehoshua were to sin, then it would reflect badly on Moshe. But it was not gaava that motivated Moshe to do this. He did it because if people lost faith in him, then they might come to question the Torah itself, which they received through him.

3) Midrash Rabbah also comments on the change of the name. It says that the letter Yud was flying around before the Throne of Glory all the years from the time it was removed from Sarai’s name, to make it Sarah, and saying to Hashem “Just because I am the smallest of all the letters, I was taken out of the righteous Sarah?Until it was added to Yehoshua’s name.

 4) The first part of the second Passuk in Parshas Shelach reads 'Shelach li'cha anashim.... etc.' (which literally means 'Send for yourself men...').  The Chassidishe Masters like to chop words out of Passukim, and derive lessons from it, which is exactly what they did on this Passuk:  They say, we learn from the words 'Send for yourself', that we must try to send away the part of ourselves which only cares about our self.  Not being selfish, not doing things just for ourselves, etc.  This is very important. 

5) The Chassidishe Masters do this again on the next part of this Passuk:  The Torah says 'Vi'yasuru es Eretz Canaan, asher Ani nosain li'Vnei Yisroel....etc.' (which means 'And they will spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the B'nei Yisroel....etc.').  The Chassidishe Masters explain that the word 'Canaan', aside from the simple meaning, can mean business.  So a message that we get from this Passuk, they explain beautifully, is that when we are in business, or anything else for that matter, it is Hashem giving us the money (thus the emphasis on 'which I am giving to the B'nei Yisroel').   Though a person might work very hard to make money, in the end, it is always Hashem Who gives us everything.  He is Infinitely kind!!  Blessed is Hashem Who is Abundantly kind, Amein!!

6) The Torah says in this parsha (Bamidbar 13:22), during the episode of the Miraglim, that ‘he came to Chevron’. Rashi quotes from Gemara Sotah 34b, which asks; why does it say ‘he came’, shouldn’t it have said ‘they’? After all, we are talking about the Miraglim, aren’t we? The Gemara answers that ‘he’ refers to Calev. He came to Chevron to daven at the graves of the Avos and Imahos that he should not be enticed to join in the conspiracy of the Miraglim.

7) In the parsha, the Miraglim said ‘It is a land that consumes its inhabitants. The Hebrew word for ‘inhabitants’ is ‘Yoshvehah, which means ‘its settlers’. And so, on this, Rebbe Yitzchok of Vorka zt”l explains a nice thing: He says that the deeper meaning behind this is that Eretz Yisroel does not tolerate a person who settles down, content with how good of a person they are’.1 A person always has to get better!  We are never good enough!

8) The Torah says that ‘the people wept that night’. And Gemara Taanis 29b explains that the night that it was decreed that they would not enter the Land of Israel was Tisha B’Av.

9) Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Twerski shlita asks; we see that the Jews repented after the Cheit Ha’Eigel, and were forgiven. But they also repented after the sin of Miraglim, but they weren’t forgiven. Why? So he explains that it is because the Jews truly regretted their sin after the Cheit Ha’Eigel, and they did true Teshuvah. But in this case, they knew that through Teshuvah they could achieve repentance, and so they only repented to achieve forgiveness.2

10) The Torah says that all of the Miraglim were heads of the Bnei Yisroel. And the Commentaries explain beautifully, that one of the faults of the Miraglim (except for Yehoshua and Calev) was that they considered themselves as heads of the Bnei Yisroel.3

11)  Rebbe Moshe Yechiel Epstein of Ozaharov ztl explains that one of the reasons the Miraglim did what they did, was because they misinterpreted something that Hashem had said. So they thought that Hashem would not help them beat the Canaanim, and they would have to fight them themselves. And by themselves, they surely would have lost. But they made the mistake of not having faith in Hashem. If Hashem tells you to do something, do it and He will protect you.4

12)  There are 119 Passukim in this parsha. HaRav Dovid Feinstein shlita explains that this corresponds to the word פּלט , which means to remove or to rescue. This, he explains, connects to the fact that since the Jews sinned; Hashem had to punish them, though He removedMoshe from the decree of punishment.5 

Have a great Shabbos!!


1 Chabad.org.  Parsha in-depth, Parshas Shelach.
2 Four Chassidic Masters, page 66.  By Rebbe Avraham J. Twerski M.D. shlita.  From the PocketScroll© series.  A Shaar Press© Publication.
3 Tales of Tzaddikim, page 71, Parshas Shelach, 'The Tzaddik may Suffer'.  By G. MaTov.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications©.
4 Stone Edition Chumash.  Parshas Shelach.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications©.
5 Stone Edition Chumash.  Parshas Shelach.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications©.