May 27, 2021 8:27 am at 8:27 am #1977888abukspanParticipant
Behaaloscha 1 — Cover-Ups, Caravans, and Connection
וידבר ד’ אל משה במדבר סיני בשנה השנית לצאתם מארץ מצרים בחדש הראשון לאמר:
ויעשו בני ישראל את הפסח במועדו
Hashem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai, in the second year from their Exodus from the Land of Egypt, in the first month, saying: “The Children of Israel shall make the Pesach offering in its appointed time” (Bamidbar 9:1-2).
The events related in this chapter occurred in the first month of the second year after leaving Mitzrayim, while the events of the first chapters of Sefer Bamidbar occurred in the second month of that same year. This teaches us that the Torah does not necessarily follow chronological order.
Nevertheless, there is usually a reason for the Torah to write something out of order, so why doesn’t Sefer Bamidbar open with this perek? Rashi (based on Sifrei) explains that the fact that Bnei Yisrael were in the Midbar for forty years and only brought one korban Pesach is embarrassing to them. In Rashi’s words: “Mipnei she’hu genusan shel Yisrael — Because this pasuk is a discredit to Yisrael,” and the Torah doesn’t want to begin the sefer with something that is shameful to Klal Yisrael.
However, even though this incident is not in the beginning of the sefer, it is mentioned conspicuously in Parashas Behaaloscha. Does pushing off the story really save Bnei Yisrael indignity?
A similar question can be raised on the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 60:2). The Torah commands that six events must be remembered always: the Exodus from Egypt, receiving the Torah at Har Sinai, Amalek’s attack, the Golden Calf, the lashon hara spoken by Miriam, and the day of Shabbos. However, for only one of these events, Amalek’s attack, did Chazal enact a public reading, which takes place on the Shabbos before Purim. Why is there no public remembrance for the other five?
The Magen Avraham explains that we remember the Exodus from Egypt, receiving the Torah at Har Sinai, and the day of Shabbos by observing the Yamim Tovim and Shabbos. And there is a reason we have no public reading of the incident of the Golden Calf or the lashon hara of Miriam: “Mipnei she’hi genusan shel Yisrael — Because it is a discredit to Yisrael.” These two events involved sins with grave repercussions. In order to spare us disgrace, there is no public remembrance of either one.
As we have just seen, the Magen Avraham used the same phraseology as Rashi, which brings us to a question along the same lines: The Sin of the Calf is dealt with in much detail in the Torah, in addition to the mitzvah to remember it. The same goes with the sin of Miriam. So how does not having a public reading of the Golden Calf or the incident with Miriam protect us from any shame or disgrace?
In VeShallal Lo Yechsar (ad loc.), Rav Avraham Yisrael Rosenthal gives us an answer based on the words of Rav Chaim Shmulevitz (Sichos Mussar Shaarei Chaim, #16: Vayeishev/ Chanukah). After being sold to merchants, Yosef was brought to Egypt in a caravan. Rashi (Bereishis 37:25) tells us that though such caravans usually carried foul-smelling items, Hashem arranged it that this caravan carried pleasant-smelling spices, so that Yosef the tzaddik should not have to smell a foul odor.
While being around such sweet smells is certainly better than having to endure the rank smell of petroleum and the like, how did this serve as a consolation to Yosef? He had just fallen from the heights to the depths: sold by his flesh and blood into the bondage of others, exiled from the family of the Patriarchs and the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael to a land mired in the forty-ninth level of impurity, stuck in this land of slaves with no hope of ever leaving. With all that was going on, would the typical foul-smelling items have really bothered Yosef? Could pleasing besamim present any real change in Yosef’s sorry state of affairs?
Rav Chaim Shmulevitz explains that it is true that the nice aroma Hashem provided Yosef did not, in and of itself, change his current situation, yet the fact that Hashem provided it made all the difference. The deep chasm into which he had been thrust by losing both family and home could have created a sense of despair and made Yosef think that he had been abandoned by Hashem. But Hashem orchestrated that the caravan that carried him to bondage carried non-typical and pleasant-smelling items, thus hinting to him that He was still with him, wherever he went. Even when things seemed bleakest, Yosef was still under the loving Hashgachah of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
In a similar vein, Rav Rosenthal suggests that the Torah does not conceal from us the incidents with Miriam’s lashon hara or the Golden Calf; they are events that we are instructed to remember. Likewise, the Torah lets us know we only offered one korban Pesach during the entire forty years in the desert. Yet by not making a public reading of these two remembrances and only writing about the fact that Bnei Yisrael offered only one korban Pesach in middle of the sefer, the Torah demonstrates that we are still precious and dear to Him.
A parent may have to admonish his child for wrongdoing, mentioning the inappropriate actions and giving strong warnings for the future, yet he does this by not overdoing it on the reproof, even leaving out parts of his rebuke. In this way, the child knows he is still loved and cherished, that even after a fall his parent wants him to rise and succeed.
The same is true with our Father in Heaven. The events of the korban Pesach and the sins of the Golden Calf and Miriam are not concealed, as they do need to be remembered and learned from. Still, so as not to shame us, they are not featured prominently. Accordingly, we still see the love Hashem has for us.
Much like Yosef was shown Hashem’s love and care with the small gesture of the spices, we, too, are shown Hashem’s love and care by the judicious placement and more subtle mention of our faults.
I am reminded of a story that Rabbi Dr. Avraham Yehoshua Twerski shared in his book, Generation to Generation (pp.19-20). As a young boy, Avraham Yehoshua was a gifted chess player and would typically beat the old-timers in his father’s shtiebel. A rabbi from a different city once stayed at the Twerski home for Rosh Hashanah. After the seudah on the first day, the rabbi approached Avraham Yehoshua, who was eight or nine years old, asking to have a match with the alleged chess prodigy. Avraham Yehoshua inquired if it is permitted to play on Rosh Hashanah and was told by the rabbi that it was, so he played against the rav and eventually beat him.
That evening, Avraham Yehoshua was told that his father wanted to speak to him. Standing at the threshold of his father’s office, he patiently waited for his father to look up from the Gemara he was studying. When he finally did, he asked his son quietly, “Du host geshpilt shach oif Rosh Hashanah? You played chess on Rosh Hashanah?”
His son replied that the rav had said it was permitted. But his father shook his head in disappointment and went back to learning from his sefer, allowing his young son to realize the import of his deed. After a short while, his father looked up again, and with a glint in his eye, asked, “But you did checkmate him, didn’t you?”
Reproof must be given; what must be said must be said. At the same time, Avraham Yehoshua’s wise father wanted him to know that he was still in his corner and that, rebuke notwithstanding, he loved and cared about him.
Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka (Ohr HaTzafun Vol.3, Chovas HaDeveikus BaTorah VeChibas HaMakom LeYisrael:2), discusses this concept in connection to another section of the parashah. Before and after the verses that speak about the journeying of the Aron and how it signaled to Bnei Yisrael to travel (10:35-36), we find an inverted letter nun. Rashi explains that the letter nun, in both places, is there to indicate that this passage is not in its proper place. It is only written here in order to make an interruption between one pur’anus, punishment, and another. The first pur’anus was when the people complained about their lack of meat and were punished with a conflagration, and the second pur’anus Rashi mentions is referring to the fact that the Jews left Har Sinai very quickly, as if they were turning away from Hashem.
The Alter asks: Why did the Torah choose the section describing how the Aron traveled to serve as the buffer between one punishment and another?
The Alter stresses that it’s not enough that Hashem moved around the sections of the Torah to separate between one punishment and the next, but He also placed a section that emphasizes Bnei Yisrael’s honor in between. All of this to show Bnei Yisrael that even though they had sinned, they were still beloved in the eyes of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. As it says in the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 729), the very fact that the Aron’s journeying and resting was the trigger for Klal Yisrael to travel and rest was a testament to the fact that the Shechinah was in their midst. This is bolstered by the words of the Midrash Tanchuma cited by Rashi (v.35), where it states that the Shechinah would wait for Yisrael to catch up to It. Such was Hashem’s connection to Bnei Yisrael, even after they sinned and were deserving of punishment.
The specific choice of this parashah to separate between these two calamitous events also expresses Hashem’s care for us. As it says in the Yalkut, “Amar HaKadosh Baruch Hu nichtov tzarah achar tzarah lav ella nichtov parashah shel kavod beineihem — Hashem said: ‘Should we write one tribulation after another? No! Rather, let us write a section of honor between them.’”
Beyond cushioning the pain of these tragic events, these words serve as an everlasting reminder that we are still so dear to Hashem and connected in the most meaningful of ways.
The takeaway, writes the Alter, is that just as Hashem honors us and shows us love even after we sinned, so must we honor others and show them love even after they have done something wrong. And that even when one must reprove, care must be taken and tactics employed to not denigrate one’s fellow or to link one wrong deed to another, but to uplift and honor him, and to do so in the eyes of others, as well.May 27, 2021 9:47 am at 9:47 am #1978021
We do remember them privately. The Magen Avraham above in the beginning SA O’CH (60,2), says that we should remember the six zechiros by krias shema. When we say uvono vocharto, You have chosen us, kabolas hatorah, vekeravtinu leshimcha hagodal. where Hashem’s name will be complete, amolek. We should keep in mind by Lehodos lecha, praise only You through our speech, the using of our speech properly. Miryam. Remember, uleyachedcha beahava. the need to recognize Your uniqeness with love, not like the Jews in the midbar who angered Hashem. Remember at uzchartem es kol mitzvos, shabbos which comprises all mitzvos and asher hotzesi eschem me’eretz mitzraim, yetsias mitzraim. When saying krias shma, we should drop the talis from our shoulders.May 27, 2021 10:42 am at 10:42 am #1978049
Maybe there is a public remembrance of the Aigal by having to postpone the Korban Pesach because of tuma and cleansing with the parah aduma, red heifer which is a kapara, forgiveness for it. The zechirah of it is hidden as above. The Klei Yakar explains the contradictory nature of the Parah Aduma. The Parah Aduma consists of two entities, one tuma and one tahor. It had tbe ashes which is tuma and the well water which is tahor. Now, oppsites react, so when placing on a tuma person, the water would react and make him tahor whereas when placed on a tahor person, the ashes will react and make him tuma.May 27, 2021 11:33 am at 11:33 am #1978060
The Chasam Sofer explains that it says that the Jews were not worthy to the Aigal worship only to teach teshuva for future generations. They made themselves tuma, even though they were tahor, that future genrations who are tuma wil make themselves tahor. Letamei tehorim in order to be metaher temeim.May 30, 2021 12:34 am at 12:34 am #1978707BaltimoreMavenParticipant
It’s a clear gemora in a few places that the dor sinned with the eigel to give future generations am opportunity to do teshuva.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.