Friday, June 21, 2019

Parshas Behaaloscha Messages 5779

בּ״ה
Parshas Behaaloscha

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And Aharon did so’ (Bamidbar 8:3)
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Rashi zt”l quotes from Sifri that this is to tell the praise of Aharon, that he did not change, i.e. from what Hashem had said to do.

But there is a very fundamental question that many ask on this:  How is the passuk praising Aharon?  Would he have deviated from Hashem’s Command, Chas V’Shalom?!

B’Ezras Hashem, I would like to bring some answers/explanations on this:

1) ----- Ramban zt”l:  Even though the service of the Menorah was allowed to be done by Aharon’s sons, as the verse tells us, he himself did it all the days of his life.  

2) ----- Sfas Emes {the third Gerrer Rebbe -- HaRav Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter zt”l}:  It is the way of people that at first, when we do a Mitzvah, we are inspired, but after some time, the inspiration fades.  However, with Aharon HaKohen, he ‘did not change’ -- but always performed the Commandment of lighting the Menorah like he did the first time. (Sfas Emes 5635)

3) ----- Very similarly, HaRav Avraham Schorr shlit”a:  Aharon HaKohen never did the service of the Menorah out of habit or rote; he didn’t change -- always doing it with passion and fire. (HaLekach Vi’HaLibuv)

4) ----- Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Peshischa zt”l:  Even though he merited this great thing, Aharon HaKohen ‘didn’t change’ in his own eyes in that he didn’t look at himself as great and become haughty in any way, but rather remained the same humble person he was before. (Maayanah Shel Torah).

5) ----- Tal U’Matar:  The truth is that whenever we do the right thing, and we don’t deviate from what Hashem has told us, that is something very great.  So indeed, the verse is certainly telling the praise of Aharon, for it is a great accolade to say that he ‘did so’, like Hashem had commanded.

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And I have given the Leviim, given to Aharon and to his sons from the midst of the Bnei Yisroel to perform (lit. serve) the Service of the Bnei Yisroel in the Tent of Meeting, and to atone upon the Bnei Yisroel, and there will not be in the Bnei Yisroel a plague when the Bnei Yisroel approach to the Sanctuary.’ (Bamidbar 8:19)
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Rashi zt”l quotes from Midrash Bereishis Rabbah:  Five times it says Bnei Yisroel in this verse, to make known their dearness to Hashem.  For mention of them is repeated in one verse like the number of the Five Chumashim of the Torah.

Says HaRav Dov Weinberger shlit”a:  Many ask; why specifically here are Bnei Yisroel compared to the Five Chumashim of the Torah?  And also, we may wonder; why is the wording of ‘Five Chumashim of the Torah’ used, instead of, let’s say, portions, or orders, like the Mishnah?

It appears, says Rav Weinberger, that specifically this language of the ‘Five Chumashim of the Torah’ was chosen, as every Chumash stands by itself, but yet, they are all only one fifth of the Torah, and cannot possibly be separated from any of the other Chumashim.  This is just like with the banners for the different Tribes, in that each and every Tribe stood on its own, but wasn’t separated from the greater community.

It is the same thing here:  Even though the Leviim were chosen to be, in a sense, elevated above the rest of the Bnei Yisroel, and to perform the special Service, and the Bnei Yisroel agreed to this, nevertheless, the elevation of the Leviim was ‘from the midst of the Bnei Yisroel’.  Meaning that they all remained attached to one another.  And now we see the comparison to the חמשה חומשי תורה.

(Shemen HaTov)

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Why should we be diminished to not bring the offering of Hashem in its proper time, in the midst of the Bnei Yisroel?’ (Bamidbar 9:7)
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The Torah tells us that there were men who were ritually impure through contact with a human corpse at Pesach time, and therefore, they couldn’t bring the Pesach-offering at its proper juncture.  Moshe Rabbeinu came before Hashem, and He told him the law of Pesach Sheini -- that if, for some very compelling reason, a person couldn’t offer the Pesach-offering on the 14th of Nissan, then they would have a make-up day to offer it.  One month later, on the 14th of Iyar.

We find something wondrous, says HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus zt”l, with the Pesach-offering; something that is not found with any other Mitzvah of the Torah, and it is Pesach Sheini.

It is known that with the Mitzvos that have a certain specific time for their performance, that if that time passes, and you didn’t do the Mitzvah, then you lost that opportunity, and there isn’t a makeup period.

Unique in this respect is the Korban Pesach,1 which has a make-up period, and someone who was in a state of ritual impurity, for example, and therefore couldn’t offer it in its proper time, is able to bring it in the coming month, on the 14th of Iyar, which is called Pesach Sheini.

We learn from this, expounds Rav Pincus, a great principle:  It happens often that we miss an opportunity to grow in Torah and Avodas Hashem.  But if we come with the argument of the people who weren’t able to offer the Korban Pesach in its proper time, ‘why should be diminished?’ -- why should I not merit this? -- and we try and toil to fill in what we our deficient in, then we can merit a Pesach Sheini, as it were.  Even if we began late, or weren’t educated in such in our youth.

It isn’t for naught that Chazal emphasize that one of the greatest Tannaim to ever live was Rabbi Akiva, who, until the age of forty, was totally unlearned in Torah.  But when he was awakened, and took it upon himself to be devoted to Torah, he wasn’t content with just a little bit of it.  He put all his strengths into it, until he became the great Rabbi Akiva! We learn from this that it is within our capabilities to fill in the deficiency of our younger days, even to a very high level!

We might think to ourselves, “If only I could be born anew, then I would be able to ascend in Torah.” But the truth is that if we begin to learn in the proper way, and try to really understand the studies, and review them so that we remember them, certainly we will make progress in Torah.  And the same goes in all other areas of Avodah.  And even if we aren’t young anymore, it isn’t too late!

(Tiferes Shimshon)

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1 Although there are other things with “make-up” times, Pesach Sheini is different, in a way.

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Upon the Word of Hashem, they encamped, and upon the Word of Hashem, they journeyed.’ (Bamidbar 9:20)
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In these words, teaches HaRav Yosef Chaim Chazani zt”l, we see a hint to a great lesson:  Regarding everything we plan to do, we should say about it ‘Im yirtzeh Hashem’ or something of the sort.  And when we do achieve what we were hoping to, or come to a place we wanted, we should say a praise to Hashem, like ‘Baruch Hashem’.

(Simchas Yosef)

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And there is a story that goes with this insight:  One day, when HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a was young, the Kanievsky’s washing machine stopped working.  The technician said that one of the machine’s parts had broken, and they needed to buy a new spare part from a store in Tel Aviv.
Rav Chaim’s sister was sent to Tel Aviv to buy the part.  She decided that while in the city, she would take care of another matter as well.
“I’m going to Tel Aviv to buy a part for the washing machine.” She told their father, the Steipler Gaon {HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky zt”l}.  The Steipler added, “You should say, ‘im yirtzeh Hashem’!”
After an exhausting trip, Rav Chaim’s sister returned home.  While she had, Baruch Hashem, managed to complete her other errand, she had not managed to buy the spare part for the washing machine.
From that day on, Rav Chaim and his sister paid attention to a “small”, but very significant “spare part”, that directly affects one’s success, and, if  absent, Chas V’Shalom, seems to remove success.  
From that day on, they understood to say ‘Im yirtzeh Hashem’ to every future action, as their father did.

(A Gadol in Our Time: Stories about Rav Chaim Kanievsky)

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And he called the name of that place Kivros HaTaavah, for there they buried the people who were craving.’ (Bamidbar 11:34)
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There is a very valuable lesson to be learned from the name ‘Kivros HaTaavah’, which literally means ‘Graves of the Desire’:

The Alter of Novhardok zt”l compares the Yetzer Hara to the story of a joker who tricked someone to put a handkerchief over his eyes and pretend to be blind so that he would be let enter a health institution and get a bed designated for patients, and good meals. The man did so and he loved it!  After some time, the joker took the “blind” man to the middle of the marketplace, and told him to undress, because here was a lovely river, and he should go for a swim and enjoy himself! The man believed him, and, not being able to see where he really was, as he was wearing the handkerchief over his eyes, quickly took off his clothes to jump into the water.  
At that moment, the joker approached the man, pulled off his blindfold, grabbed his clothing, and fled.  The “blind” man was left standing naked in the middle of the marketplace, mocked by all the townspeople.
So it is, says the Alter, with the Yetzer Hara; who blinds the innocent, and promises them many sweet and pleasant promises.  But eventually, the person finds themselves naked. . . Naked of all the fantasies and promises of the Yetzer Hara -- and naked of ethical and spiritual perfection -- and they recognize their shame. (HaMeoros HaGedolim).
This is one of the things alluded to in the name ‘Kivros HaTaavah’.  The Torah says in Parshas Eikev (Devarim 7:16), when speaking of conquering the nations residing in Israel: ‘And you will consume all the peoples that Hashem your G-d gives to you. . . and you shall not serve their gods, for it is a snare for you.
What is a snare?  It is something that catches and ensnares things!  The Torah is not only telling us what not to do when we came into Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel), but it is giving us advice for life:  Avodah zarah -- and all evil things -- although they might at times seem pleasurable or good, do not help us or make our lives better.  On the contrary, they try to lure us in and catch us, and ruin both our lives in this world and the Next. Someone who, Chas V’Shalom, just runs after their desires will eventually be buried by them.
(Ach Sameach)

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And Miriam and Aharon spoke against Moshe. . . and Hashem heard.’ (Bamidbar 12:1-2)
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The phrase ‘and Hashem heard’, said my dear brother, Reb Eliezer Yosef, may he be well, teaches us that Hashem always hears when we are talking.  So we have to be very careful to guard our tongues, as Hashem hears everything we say.

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And Miriam and Aharon spoke against Moshe. . . And Hashem became very angry against them. . . And behold! Miriam was stricken with Tzaraas’ (Bamidbar 12:1, 9-10)
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Why, the question is asked, was Miriam punished more then Aharon was, when they both spoke against Moshe Rabbeinu?  

Answers Rabbeinu Bachya zt”l; Miriam spoke the criticism, but Aharon acknowledged it, or was just silent [instead of protesting].  Therefore, although Aharon was also punished, as we see that ‘Hashem became very angry against them’, Miriam, who initiated the Lashon Hara, her punishment was publicized, but Aharon’s wasn’t.2

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I felt the need to bring here the beautiful words that Rashi zt”l quotes from Midrash Tanchuma and Sifri:  If Miriam, who did not intend to denigrate Moshe, was punished such, then all the more so one who relates something with the intention of denigrating their fellow [would be punished badly].

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2 See similarly Ibn Ezra, and also Daas Zikeinim MiBaalei Tosafos.


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And the man Moshe was very humble, more than every person that is on the face of the earth.’ (Bamidbar 12:3)
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Says the Ksav Sofer {HaRav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer zt”l}:  Some people act like they are humble, and tolerating of everything, in order that others will praise them that they are humble and stuff like that.

But the true humble person is actually humble; without any strategies, etc. behind their humility.  

How can we recognize, though, which category of the above two someone falls into?  Whether they are actually humble, or just putting on an act so that people will praise them for being humble?  The answer is, if someone behaves in a humble manner, and even when they hear others saying that they are a baal gaavah, they still remain silent and tolerate it, then we see that they are truly humble.

Based on this, says the Ksav Sofer, we can explain the situation with Moshe Rabbeinu:  Moshe Rabbeinu always displayed signs of humility, and he accepted and endured hard things many times, but still one might have suspected him of, Chas v’Shalom, acting like that so people would praise him that he is so humble, and everything like that.  But since he was spoken against, and accused, in a way, of being haughty and taking grandeur for himself, and still he endured this and was silent, not responding to the insult, it proved that he was truly humble.  And regarding this, the passuk praises him, as now it was clear that his humility was true.

(Ksav Sofer al HaTorah

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And the man Moshe was very humble, more than every person (מכל אדם) on the face of the earth.’ (Bamidbar 12:3)
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Tells us Reb Meshulam Gross zt”l:  There are different types of humble people.  One kind is someone who is humble when they are sitting in their house, and take a spiritual accounting of themselves, and see how “small” they are compared to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  However, when they go out among others, and they see the learning, Davening, and Avodah, in general, of those people, then they feel elevated above than them, because they are on a higher level than them.

But there is another kind of person, who is more humble than the first we mentioned, who, even though they are a great Talmid Chacham, and very pious, etc. etc. still has self-effacement before all people, even if those people ‘aren’t as good as them’.  

This was the quality of Moshe Rabbeinu, says Reb Gross, and this is what the passuk means when it says that he was humble, literally ‘from every person’ -- for, not only when he was by himself was he humble, but even when he went outside, he was humble before all people.

(Nachalas Tzvi)

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|~Maaseh~|  The Chofetz Chaim zt”l once set out on a trip with another Rav for the purpose of a Mitzvah.  Along the way, they stopped at an inn, whose impeccable Kashrus standards were well-known, to have dinner.
After the meal, the proprietress of the restaurant came over and asked them if they were pleased with their dinner.  The Chofetz Chaim immediately responded in the affirmative.  The other Rav concurred, but added that a bit more salt would have helped.  
As the woman left, the Chofetz Chaim turned white and exclaimed: “I cannot believe it.  All my life I have avoided hearing or speaking Lashon Hara.  Now I travel with you, and I hear Lashon Hara. . .”
When his companion saw his reaction, he became frightened and said: “What did I say that was so bad?  I only mentioned that a bit more salt would have been appreciated!”
“You do not realize the impact of your words,” cried Rav Yisroel Meir. “Our hostess probably does not do her own cooking.  Her cook could very well be a poor widow who has been forced to take this job to support her family. As a result of your criticism, the owner will complain to the cook, who, in self-defense, will deny the claim and say that she did put in enough salt.  This will escalate to an all-out argument between the owner and the cook, resulting in the poor widow’s dismissal. So, you have caused unnecessary strife between two people, as well as a loss of livelihood for a widow and her orphans. Look how many sins you committed with your “innocent” words.  You spoke Lashon Hara, and you caused the owner and myself to hear Lashon Hara.  You caused the owner to repeat the Lashon Hara, which created a situation in which the cook was compelled to lie.  You also caused pain to a widow and an argument between the owner and the cook. . .”
The Rav looked at the Chofetz Chaim, smiled and said: “You know, you are carrying this a bit far.  Surely a few words could not have caused such harm.”
Rav Yisroel Meir said: “Come, let us go to the kitchen and see for ourselves.”
They went and entered the kitchen, only to see and hear everything that the Chofetz Chaim described would happen:  The owner was berating the cook, who, amid tears, was gathering her few things together and preparing to leave the employ of the restaurant.  
The Rav absorbed all this and felt terrible.  He immediately went over to the cook and begged forgiveness for any distress he caused, and pleaded with the owner to reconsider her position against the cook, which she did.

(The Peninim Anthology)

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Gut and meaningful Shabbos to all!