Thursday, June 23, 2016

Parshas Behaaloscha

This Week’s Parsha – Behaaloscha

This week’s parsha is Behaaloscha, and at first, it talks about Aharon lighting the Menorah.  Unfortunately, the huge Menorah that was in the Beis HaMikdash is not around anymore, (may Hashem restore it very speedily in our days), however, we, Baruch Hashem, do have our Chanukah Menorahs!  So the Menorah never faded away!  Kind of like we do not have the Beis HaMikdash around anymore, but we have little Sanctuaries, i.e. Shuls, so too, though we do not have the big Menorah, we do have little ones that suffice us until Hashem builds the one that will last forever, may He do this very soon.  However, since we now all have our own Menorahs, we all have the privilege to light the Menorah.   This is both happy and sad (because it means that the Beis HaMikdash is not around).  As I discussed when we talked about Chanukah, the Menorah represents many things:  I will start with an idea from the Tosher Rebbe zt”l:  He quotes what the Chachamim/Sages say, that Adam spent 36 hours in Gan Eden, and he saw special lights there. So the Tosher Rebbe says that this corresponds to the 36 (not including the Shammas) special lights on Chanukah.  The candles that we light.  Now, I will put in some ideas that I had on the Menorah: I think that aside from the 36 lights that it corresponds to, it also corresponds to the לו/36 Tzaddikim in every generation. Because just as when we read about these Tzaddikim, we get sparks of holiness and inspiration, so too, we get these sparks of inspiration from the 36 Chanukah candles (not counting the Shammas). Also, just like we add a candle – another Aish Kodesh/holy fire – every night, so too, we want to add another Aish kodesh/holy fire to our Neshamah/Soul always, and make it grow.  A burning desire to serve Hashem!  This is a story connected to the Menorah:  Late one night, Rav Yisrael Salanter zt”l chanced to a shoemaker’s home. The shoemaker was sitting and doing his work by the flickering light of a candle that was about to go out. “Why are you still working?” Rav Yisrael asked him “The hour is late. Besides, your candle will soon go out, and you won’t be able to finish. “That’s no problem” answered the shoemaker “As long as the candle is burning; it is still possible to work and to repair.” Rav Yisrael was deeply impressed by these words.  For if someone has to work for their physical needs as long as the candle is lit, kal vachomer/how much more so must someone work for their spiritual improvement as long as the Neshamah/soul, ‘Hashem’s Candle’ is in them, i.e. they are still alive.1 We know how important it is when, on Chanukah, the candles are still lit; it is just like the Neshamah/soul, it is so important when it is still burning, and just like we sometimes get longer lasting candles so the candles won’t go out as fast, so too, we must work to make sure that our Neshamah/soul does not go out as fast. Fire a lot of times represents holiness, and we need to add holiness to us.  These are very great messages for Chanukah and this parsha! 
Now on to the parsha:  The first two pessukim/verses are:  Va’yi’daber Hashem el Moshe leimor.  Daber el Aharon, vi’amartah eilav, Behaaloscha es haneiros el mul p’nei haMenorah ya’iru shivas haneiros/And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying.  Speak to Aharon, and say to him, when you light the lights, the seven lights shall cast their light towards the face of the Menorah.’  And the Torah tells us that Aharon did what Hashem commanded Moshe.  Rashi quotes from Sifri, which explains that when the Torah says that Aharon did like Hashem commanded Moshe, it is to praise him.  He says ‘Li’hagid shivcho shel Aharon, she’lo shinah/This is to tell the praise of Aharon, that he did not change [from what Hashem commanded].’  But many ask on this; how is it a praise of Aharon that he listened to Hashem?  Would he not have?!?  There are some nice answers to this:  1) Rebbe Meir of Premishlan zt”l explains one possible reason:  He says that when the Rashi says ‘she’lo shinah/that he did not change’ it means that Aharon did not change not only the command that Hashem gave, but also, he himself did not change.  Meaning that although he had such an important job as to light the holy Menorah, and only he had this job, he did not become gaavadik/haughty.  He stayed humble no matter what.  This is very important.  2) The Sefas Emes (Rebbe Yehuda Leiv Alter zt”l) explains another possible answer:  He explains that when it says ‘she’lo shinah/that he did not change’ it not only refers to that he didn’t change from what he was supposed to do, but also that he never changed how he performed the Commandment of lighting the Menorah.  This means that he always performed the Mitzvah/Commandment with the same enthusiasm as if it was the first time he was doing it.  We must try to take this message.  Whenever we do a Mitzvah/Commandment (or good deed), we must try to do it with enthusiasm, loving doing something to serve Hashem.  Remember this.  3) I think that another message we can take from this is that it is such a big deal that Aharon did not deviate from what Hashem said.  Because every single good thing that we do is extremely important, and they are all very big deals.  No good deed is a small thing.  They all matter a lot to Hashem. 
Now back to the parsha:  The Torah talks a little about the workmanship of the Menorah.  It was made out of a single piece of hammered gold.  According to the vision that Hashem showed Moshe, so did Moshe make it.  Then Hashem tells Moshe to take out the Leviim from the midst of the Jews, and purify them.  This is because they were going to be His.  And the Torah lists the purification process for the Leviim.  At the start of Sheini/the second Aliyah, the Torah continues to discuss the Leviim.  And Moshe and Aharon did to the Leviim like Hashem told them.  In the middle of the Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe ‘Zos asher laLeviim.../This is the [rule for] the Leviim...etc.’ The rule was that from the age of twenty-five years and up a Levi can serve in the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting.  And then at the age of 50, he has to retire from the work.  Hashem tells Moshe in the next verse what ‘work’ a Levi 50 and older cannot do:   He cannot perform the service.  Then, at the beginning of Shlishi/the third Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe that the Jews have to make the Pesach offering in its appointed time.  Rashi quotes from Sifri, which explains that ‘in its appointed time’ means even if the day of the Pesach offering falls on a Shabbos, you can still offer it.  Though usually it would be a Melacha to do an offering on Shabbos, this case is different.  On the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan (Erev Pesach) the Pesach-offering is to be offered.  Woe is us!  We have done so many sins that Hashem had to take away the Beis HaMikdash, and so we cannot offer the Pesach-offering right now.  But, if the Jewish People do Teshuva (repent), and return to Hashem, then He will send Mashiach, and rebuild the Beis HaMikdash!  We must return to Hashem!  Do you realize that we do not have the Beis HaMikdash anymore, and we are in Gallus/Exile because of us?!  It is because a lot of Jews acted badly, and turned away from Hashem.  Think about this:  Hashem gives us so many great things, He protects us, pretty much does everything for us.  And then we do not listen to Him, turn away from Him, and expect Him to continue giving us all the bounty!!  Is this not absolute foolishness?!?!  People do not realize just how bad they act towards Hashem, and how badly they treat Him.  A person (though there is an infinite difference between a person and Hashem) would have stopped doing anything for us long, long, long ago.  But Hashem, in His Infinite Kindness continues to do great things for us, though we sin against Him.  So what we must all do is to repent for everything bad that we do and did, and try to do good things from now on.  Now is the time to repent!  Now!  We must return to Hashem, and serve Him properly always.  And in the merit of this, He will send Mashiach speedily in our days.  Then we will be able to perform all those special offerings described in the Torah, and all those special services.  Amein.  And may Hashem make this happen very speedily in our days. 
Now back to the parsha:  Moshe instructed the Jews about all the rules of the Pesach-offering.  And the Jews did what they were supposed to.  But there were people who were tamei/impure through contact with a dead person, so they could not offer the Pesach-offering.   They came to Moshe and Aharon to ask what they should do.  They presented their question to Moshe and Aharon, and asked essentially why they should be excluded from the Pesach-offering in its appointed time.  Moshe told them to wait, so he could see what Hashem would say.  Hashem told Moshe that any person who was impure through contact with a dead person, or was on a far journey, (so they couldn’t offer the Pesach-offering in its proper time), should (still) offer the Pesach-offering.  He said that they would offer it on the fourteenth day of the second month, i.e. Iyyar, and they have to treat it like the regular Pesach-offering.  So Hashem, in His Kindness gives these people the chance to offer the Pesach-offering as well!  This thing is called Pesach Sheini.  Now, the Frierdiker Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch zt”l) says that one of the meanings of the Mitzvah/Commandment of Pesach Sheini is a second chance.  It teaches us that it is never too late to come back to Hashem.  We are always able to.  Baruch Hashem!!2  Now, if a man who isn’t impure or on a trip doesn't offer up the Pesach-offering (Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid), then they will get the punishment of kareis/cutting off.  At the start of Rivi’i/the fourth Aliyah, the Torah talks about how on the day the Mishkan was set up, the Cloud of Glory would rest upon it, and at night, there would be an appearance like fire on it until morning.  When the Cloud lifted, the Jews would travel, and in the place where the Cloud would settle, they would encamp.  If the Cloud stayed on the Mishkan for a while, then that would be how long the Jews would stay there.  I believe that this teaches us a great lesson.  We see that wherever the Cloud of Glory would go, the Jews would go.  This is an example for eternity that we are supposed to follow where Hashem leads us, as He knows best where we are supposed to be, and what is supposed to happen there.  He knows how long we are supposed to be where we are.  We must follow after Hashem, wherever He leads us.  Back to the parsha:  At the beginning of Chamishi/the fifth Aliyah, the Torah says that on the twentieth of the second month of the second year (from the Jews going out from Mitzraim/Egypt) the Cloud lifted up from the Mishkan, and the Jews traveled from the Midbar Sinai/Wilderness of Sinai, and the Cloud settled in the wilderness of Paran.  And so the Jews encamped there.  This was the first journey according to Hashem’s bidding through Moshe.  And the Torah discusses the order in which each Tribe set out for the traveling. 
In Shishi/the sixth Aliyah, the Jews started looking for a reason to complain.  Hashem was not happy with this.  Should He be?!  Hashem had given the Jews so much, yet they still looked to complain!  Hashem was very angry with them, and so a fire went out, and killed some Jews, because of the terrible sin which we did, by complaining against Hashem.  The Jews complained about the food, saying that they had had so great food in Mitzraim/Egypt.  They complained about the Mon, and that they always had to have it.  The people walked around and gathered it; they ground it, crushed it, cooked it, and made it into cakes.  And it tasted like oil cakes.  On this, Rebbe Uziel Meizlish of Ostrog zt”l asks; what is the praise in saying that the Mon tasted like oil cake?  Would that taste good?  So he explains that, as we know, the Mon was given every morning so that the Jews could serve Hashem without having to worry about getting food.  The righteous among the Jews, says Reb Uziel, who just really wanted to serve Hashem, ate the Mon when it fell from Heaven, and did not ‘walk around’ collecting it, which was kind of wasting time.  Now listen to this:  He explains that these righteous people tasted any food that they wanted when they ate the Mon.  However, the other people, who were not as good, ‘shatu/walked around’ and collected it.  The word ‘shatu’, he explains, is related to the word for nonsense ‘shtus.’  It was total foolishness for the people to be walking around, crushing the Mon, grinding it, cooking it, and making it into cakes.   They were wasting their time, instead of serving Hashem!  This is a very important message that Reb Uziel zt”l is telling us.3  Now back to the parsha:  Moshe spoke to Hashem, and he was basically saying to Him that he needed His help with the People.  And that he couldn’t carry them, so to speak, all by himself.  So Hashem told him to assemble to Him 70 of the Elders of Israel, and take them to the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting.  Hashem told Moshe that He would come down, and increase his (Moshe’s) spirit, and bestow it on the Elders.  Then they would be able to help Moshe carry the people.  Moshe was supposed to tell the Jews that they should prepare themselves for the next day, and they would eat meat, because they had cried to Hashem.  However, this was going to be a punishment, because the Jews were complaining, not Davening/praying.  Hashem sent a wind that swept the meat into the Camp.  The Jews gathered and ate the meat, and there was so much!  And since the Jews had acted bad, Hashem punished them with a severe blow.  And He named the place where they were Kivros Hataavah/Graves of the desire, because there, they buried the people who had craved meat, complained against Hashem and sinned against Him.  The Jews traveled from Kivros Hataavah to Chatzeros.  Now, the Baal Shem Tov zt”l explains that the literal meaning of the words ‘Kivros Hataavah’ is ‘Graves of the desire’.  And so, he explains, this goes to teach us that the cravings and bad desires were buried in that place as well.4 

We must remember how bad it is to complain against Hashem.  He knows what is best always!  If He makes something happen to us, it is only to help us!  Try to think about this and take it to heart!  Please!!  All of us must!!  It is so important!!! 

There are 136 pessukim/verses in this parsha. 

Have a great Shabbos everyone!! 

Refoel Berel

1 Sparks of Mussar, page(s) 14-15.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
2  Parsha in-depth.  Parshas Behaaloscha.
3  'With Apologies to the Foodies'.  From Tiferes Uziel. 
4  Parsha in-depth.  Parshas Behaaloscha.

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