In the beginning of this week’s parsha, the Torah discusses the mitzvah of shiluach temeim-sending out the contaminated people from the camp. Anyone who became tamei, for any reason, had to be quarantined and had to leave their dwelling space. The rishonim struggle as to why this mitzvah was specifically mentioned at this point in time. Rashi quotes the gemara in Gitin (60a) which says ‘This section was said on the day the Mishkan was erected, and eight sections were said on that day.’
The question that seems puzzling is why was it necessary to specify this right now? What is the significance of stating it at this point in our illustrious history?
Ramban says that this comes to teach us that this mitzvah is a decree not only for in that period of time but also for all future generations. The reason was because once the Shechina dwelled amongst us, we wanted the entire camp to be fit for hashrayos haShechina at any given moment. It is for this reason that the majority of the poskim today do not allow us to ascend onto Har Habayis-for we are all considered to be in a tamei state.
At the end of this short topic, (5;4) the pasuk uses an interesting loshon. The pasuk says ‘The children of Israel did so: they sent them outside the camp; as the Lord had spoken to Moses, so did the children of Israel do.’
Firstly, the pasuk seems a bit redundant. Why did the pasuk feel the need to mention it twice that they did so? Furthermore, asks Meshech Chochma, throughout the entire Torah we never find that the pasuk says that bnei Yisroel did ‘as the Lord had spoken to Moses’ but rather ‘As Hashem commanded Moshe.’ Why here does the Torah use this out of the ordinary loshon of ‘k’asher diber’ as opposed to the regular loshon of ‘k’asher asah?’
Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, Zt’l, in his chumash titled ‘Aznayim L’Torah’ says the following.
This commandment has the potential for some hesitation. Imagine you have someone whose father, son, wife or brother became tamei. What must they now do? Send them outside the camp to be completely quarantined. It was very difficult for a family member to send another one out of the camp or for a friend to be sent out by someone that they really need or want to be around. It wasn’t a very comfortable situation. This meant sending out people that they relied on, on a daily basis and that they cared about.
Says Rav Zalman, the k’asher diber Hashem is going back on the previous pasuk (5; 3) in which Hashem said ‘and they not defile their camps, in which I dwell among them.’ Hashem was telling them that if you want me, you have to get rid of them. Bnei Yisroel understood that this was relevant to the kovod of Hashem and they therefore did not allow their personal feelings and friendships to get in the way. It wasn’t because of the commandment (per say) that they did so; it was more for the fact that Hashem said I cannot dwell here if there are tamei people here as well. So bnei Yisroel said, based upon what Hashem SAID to Moshe, we have to get rid of these people! They did so willingly because they understood this was imperative for the Shechina to be dwelling with them-and that was their priority.
The Sifri says that the people with tzora’as, who were tamei, actually went out willingly. There were no issues, no protests and no problems that arose.The ones who had to expel and the ones being expelled, both did so willingly. For they said, if this is what it takes to have Hashem dwell here, then that’s what I am going to do. They understood it was paramount to Hashems presence there, daily. That’s why it said ‘kain asu bnei Yisroel’-it was referring to the tamei people themselves who left the camps on their own accord!
By the great knesiah gedolah, in 1929, people of chasidishe, litvishe and yekkishe descent all found themselves in attendance at this monumental gathering. The question arose whether or not there should be a mechitza in the upper galleries. The chasidim said, of course. The yekki’s wanted davka not, while the litvishe people weren’t really sure. It was agreed upon that they would turn to the Chofetz Chaim for his guidance on this matter. The Chofetz Chaim ruled that min hadin you do not NEED a mechitza. But, he continued, ‘the pasuk clearly states that Hashem says ‘if I see any type of erva, I will turn around and run away. (Devarim 23; 15) ’If the point of this gathering is to glorify the name of Hashem then why do something that may jeopardize just that that.’
All the people who were expelling and expelled had the same common goal: that the Shechina should reside amongst them. They had to do whatever it took to have the shechina stay. Everyone has to have that perspective. It may not be so ideal and it may not be your minhag, but do we want the Shechina in our lives? If so, we may have to do things that aren’t so comfortable.
It’s up to each and every one of us to have that outlook of wanting the Shechina amongst ourselves. Although at times it may not be so easy to do so, by doing so anyways it will definitely show Hashem how much we are yearning for Him to bring us the final redemption. May we all be zoche to see the true geulah, b’karov.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS