The Clouds of Glory
After the High Priest Aharon's death, the Clouds of Glory (Ananei Hakavod)
dissipated. In the past, these clouds had surrounded Benei Yisrael, and
protected them from external dangers. Amalek took advantage of this
situation, and attacked the Jews, and was even able to take Jewish Prisoners
of War. Benei Yisrael regrouped, promised to give a portion of the spoils
to Hashem, and were able to conquer their enemy. This story has a message
for us today as well. The merit of a Sadik protects the entire nation.
Also, when Moshe sent the spies among the wicked Cana'anim he asked, "Do
they have an Etss?" a protector among them who can save them. The same is
true about Sedom. Had there been ten righteous people in the city, everyone
would have been saved. We have a debt of gratitude towards our Sadikim, as
well as to all those who learn the Torah, whose merit protects us!
However, there is another equally important idea here as well. The book of
Kohelet compares man to a "Small City." The Medrash even call Man a "Small
World." People have various qualities, and act differently, and at times do
not act properly. If G-d punished us accordingly, how would we be able to
The answer is, our "cities" as a whole must all be judged as being
righteous. Through our learning the Torah and its laws, we can come closer
to Hashem and His laws. Through having part of our time devoted to
righteous acts, we can be considered as being a righteous "city." In this
way, the "Clouds of Glory" are able to protect us, and even our families!
The Continuity of Generations
We all believe that G-d is all-powerful. He can perform miracles as easily
as He controls nature. G-d uses Nature to run the world because He so
determined that it is the best way to run the world. Therefore, we know
that miracles are an uncommon occurrence. Our Rabbis have taught us
(Germara Shabbat 53) that there once was a person whose wife died and left
behind a young child. The husband did not have the money to pay for a nurse
for the child, and was in great need, until a miracle occurred and the
father himself was able to nurse the child. Rav Yosef proclaimed, "Come and
see what a great person this was who G-d performed a miracle for him!" Rav
Yosef's student, Abayai, said to him, "Just the opposite! This person is
not righteous, he caused the course of nature to be altered!" We do not
pray for miracles, Hashem has decreed that the world should be ruled through
natural occurrences, and it is not our place to ask for anything otherwise.
The Gemara tells us another story about Rabbi Yosef from Yukeret who hired
workers to work in the desert for him. One day, Rabbi Yosef was late in
bringing his workers their food. The workers were hungry and impatient.
Rabbi Yosef's son found a date tree, which he asked, "Date tree, give forth
your fruits so my father's workers may eat." Immediately, the tree produced
fully ripened dates, which the workers ate. Eventually, Rabbi Yosef came
with the food, and explained that he was late because he was tied up doing a
Misvah. The workers exclaimed, "May you be blessed with food, just as we
have been!" - and they explained to him the miracle that had occurred.
Rabbi Yosef became very angry. "My son, you bothered your Creator to change
nature, your nature will also be changed, and you will not live to your full
life expectancy." We learn from here that even though Hashem is not truly
"bothered" by performing miracles, it his not His Will to do so.
The miracles that happened to Benei Yisrael throughout our generations
happened when it was the only way to save them. This explains the miracles
at the Red Sea, the Mann in the desert, and even the miracles that were
needed for national unity, like the sprouting forth of Aharon's staff in
last week's Parashah.
However, we see in this week's Parashah a tremendous miracle, and we do not
know why it was done. Moshe Rabbeinu climbed up the mountain Hor Hahar with
Aharon, and Elazar his son, and entered a cave. Inside, Moshe took off the
High Priest's garments from Aharon and dressed Elazar with them. Aharon was
happy seeing the transition of the High Priest's position from him to his
son. The Ramban quotes a Midrash, which explains that a great miracle took
place at this time. Normally, people undress with the outermost layer first.
Consequently, if one person waits for the clothes of another, he will have
to wait for the first person to completely undress before putting on the new
clothes. But here, a miracle took place. First, the Shehinah surrounded
Aharon, acting as a layer of clothing. Then, his clothing was transferred
to his son, with his undergarments first, and the outer garments last.
What was the purpose of this miracle? There was no threat to life, or even
personal honor to Aharon, as the Shehinah was already clothing him. Why
couldn't Aharon undress as normal people do?
It must be that this miracle was meant to teach us a basic lesson for all
generations. There is never even a moment's gap between the continuity of
the generations even the few seconds between the undressing and redressing
of clothes! Kohelet teaches us, "The sun rises and sets." Before Hashem
extinguishes the light of one Sadik, he "lights" the beginning of a new
leader. Before Moshe passed away, Yehoshua led. Before Yehoshua died,
there was Atniel the son of Kenaz. Before Eli expired, Shmuel's "light"
began. And so forth throughout all the generations (Beresheet Rabbah 58b).
Similarly the Torah teaches us, "The Pillar of Cloud will not dissipate
during the day, nor will the Pillar of Fire be extinguished at night." The
Rabbis teach us that there was never a moment when one of the Pillars was
not lit. The Pillar of Fire began at the very end of the day (when the
Cloud was about to dissipate), and the Pillar of Cloud began immediately
before the day (before the Fire was extinguished). The Gemara (Shabbat 23b)
learns from here that it is imperative to light Shabbat candles (which are
compared to the Pillar of Fire) from before sunset - just like the Pillar of
Fire began a few minutes before the end of daylight. This is similar to the
idea found here. Hashem ensures that the Pillars of Protection are always
existent - there is never a moment between the Pillars of Fire and Cloud.
Just as our protection from Hashem is always uninterrupted, so must our
service of Hashem. The changing of the Lehem Hapanim every week was done
with one group of people removing the old bread, while at the same moment
the next group of people brought in the new loaves (Gemara Menahot 99b).
Let this be a lesson to us to never take a "vacation" from our service of
Hashem. We must always make sure that there is never an interruption in our
performance of Hashem's laws.
ASKING AND EXPOUNDING
Based on the Rulings of Rabbi Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Cereal and Beer
Last week, we explained that on porridge that has a thin consistency, even
though it is made from flour, one must recite the berachah of "shehakol."
But, if the porridge is thick (similar to molasses), and cannot simply be
drunk, (even though one does not need to chew it), it needs the berachah of
The Mishnah Berurah writes (208:23), that the above is only correct when
dealing with porridge that is made from flour, as the wheat content is
dissolved in water, and is therefore not recognizable. However, cereal that
has whole wheat or barley particles, such as is the case with oatmeal, the
correct berachah is "mezonot." Even though the oatmeal might be very thin,
the correct berachah is still mezonot, as there are whole particles of grain
within the mixture. The correct practice is in accordance with the Mishnah
Berurah regarding this issue, and this is what Hacham Ovadia Yossef
shlit"a's practice is.
The proper blessing on beer still requires explanation. Beer is made from
soaking barley in water. One might therefore compare beer to the following
halachah: The Mehaber writes (205) that the proper blessing on water which
was cooked with vegetables has the same berachah as the vegetables, even
though he is not eating the vegetables. Since the vegetables gave the water
its taste, the water also has the same berachah as the vegetables. Thus, it
would seem that according to the Mehaber, the proper berachah on beer as
well would be "mezonot", as its taste is derived from barley.
However, the Taz differentiates between the cases. In the case of beer,
the actual taste of barley is not present in the water. Since beer has a
new taste, which is different than the original barley, beer has a different
status from barley. Therefore, the proper berachah is "shehakol." But, in
the case of the cooked vegetables, the original taste of the vegetables is
present in the water. Therefore the water has the same berachah as the
vegetables. The Taz's argument is even more relevant to us, as there are
those who do not agree with the Mehaber even in the case of the cooked
vegetables, unless there are vegetable particles within the water.
According to this view, if one said the berachah of "ha'adamah" on the water
cooked with vegetables, and there were no vegetable bits in the water, then
he has made a berachah in vain. Although the Mehaber does not agree with
this opinion, we have a rule that one follows the lenient view with
berachot. (safek berachot lehakel) Consequently in the case of beer one
should make the berachah of "shehakol."
In summary, thin cereal made from flour (porridge) that can be drunk has
the berachah of "shehakol." Oatmeal, and all cereals that have whole wheat
particles, have the berachah of "mezonot" even if they are not thick. Any
thin porridge also has the berachah of "mezonot." One says the berachah of
"shehakol" on beer, even if the beer is made from barley.
THE GOLDEN COLUMN
Rabbi Eliyahu Mani zs"l
On Sunday, the eighth day of Tamuz, we will commemorate the passing of
Rabbi Eliyahu Mani zs"l. After his death, we found a manuscript of one of
his books stating the following: "I have accepted upon myself not to
question the writings of the Divrei Shalom, because of what happened to me."
Until recently we did not understand why Rabbi Mani acted this way,
especially as Torah is learned specifically from asking and answering the
problems one encounters when learning!
The answer to this riddle is found within the book, "Yisachar U'zevulun,"
where the following story is mentioned:
Once Rabbi Eliyahu Mani sat and learned the text of the Divrei Shalom with
his colleague Rabbi Nissim Ini zs"l. They discussed the interpretation of a
difficult Kabalistic issue that his grandfather, the Rashash Zei'ah
addressed. After reading the Divrei Shalom's understanding of the issue,
Rabbi Mani proclaimed, "This was not the Rashash Zei'ah's meaning!" Rabbi
Mani, with his great knowledge, was able to show the true meaning of the
Rashah Zei'ah's work.
Immediately, after saying these words, Rabbi Mani became mute. He began to
cry, and formed the words of the Vidui with his lips. Soon afterwards, he
regained his power of speech. Rabbi Mani explained that while he was mute,
he had a vision of Rabbi Rashash who said, "What right do you have to say
that my grandson didn't understand me! You are the one who misunderstood the
great words of my grandson." Only after Rabbi Mani further asked for
forgiveness, did he become healed.
From here we learn how we must be careful about the honor of teachers and
FROM THE WELLSPRINGS OF THE PARASHA
"And they Fought in Israel, and they Took Captives"
Our teacher, the Ohr HaHayim zs"l, discussed the choice of language "And
they fought 'in' Israel" (be'Israel) and not "with Israel" (Im Yisrael). He
explained that Benei Yisrael themselves caused this war through their sin of
fighting with Moshe and Aharon in Mei Merivah. This sin caused Moshe's
death, the dissipating of the Ananei Hakavod (the Clouds of Glory), and the
war with Amalek. Therefore, the Torah intentionally wrote, "be'Israel", as
the war was caused by the Jews. Similarly, any time when there is Heaven
Forbid, a time of need, we should introspect and try to find within
ourselves the sins we commit, which in turn affect the entire community.
"Make for Yourself a Serpent, and Put in on a Stake"
Benei Yisrael sinned, "And the nation spoke against Elokim and Moshe", and
Hashem sent among the nation the poisonous snakes, who "bit the Jews, and
many from Israel died." Afterwards, Benei Yisrael thought about their sins
and asked forgiveness from both Hashem and Moshe for complaining. Then,
Hashem commanded that Moshe create a statue of a serpent and place it high
on a stake so everyone could see it. Anyone who was bitten could then look
at this statue and live. On this verse, the Ramban explains that normally
if one is bitten by a snake, it only makes him feel worse if he looks at a
picture of a snake. Hashem was trying to teach that Teshuvah is able to
overcome anything, even poison.
"A Well Dug by Princes, Hollowed Out by Nobles"
The Hidah zs"l compared this verse to the Torah. The Torah has no limit.
Even after the great Rabbis in generations past taught and wrote so much
Torah, there is still room for scholars in this generation to add to our
knowledge of the Torah. The "princes" in this verse are the Rabbis of past
generations, and the "nobles" are today's scholars. Anyone, in any
generation, who adds to knowledge of Torah becomes a partner to Moshe in
"digging" the well of Torah.
FROM THE WONDERS OF THE CREATOR
The Vocal Chords
The power of speech is the only quality that is unique to man, making man
superior from the other species of the world. How is sound generated in the
throat? This is one of the wonders of nature found within us.
The vocal chords are located by the top part of our windpipes. Within the
vocal chords are two delicate ligaments between which is the voice cavity.
These ligaments are always in flux. When we are silent they are furthest
apart, and when we speak they move closer together. This action is aided by
throat cartilage, which holds these ligaments in place. Sounds are made when
these ligaments vibrate the air as it is released from our lungs. The
palate, teeth, tongue, lips, and nose further modify the sounds into speech.
The intensity of the sound is dependent on the air pressure that is being
forced out of the lungs. The greater the air pressure, the louder the sound.
Sound gives man the ability to express ideas and persuade other people. It
is important that we do not abuse this power of speech, and make sure we use
it for doing Hashem's wishes. The Rabbis teach us that "v'dibarta bam" (and
you should speak about the Torah) refers to the idea that most of our speech
should be about issues related to the Torah.
THE WELLSPRING OF EDUCATION
The lesson of "Mei Merivah"
There are many different possibilities as to what was the exact sin of
Moshe at Mei Merivah. Some have even suggested that there are so many
different explanations about what occurred because the fight was about many
different insignificant things. Only when one combines all the different
issues into one large one, does one understand why Moshe was punished.
The Rambam raises the possibility that the Jews had been watching Moshe to
learn from his every act. When they asked him for water to quench their
thirst, Moshe became angry. There was no need for him to become angry, and
because of this the Jews thought it was acceptable to become angered easily.
As a result, Hashem became angry. If someone knows people are looking to
him for direction, he must be extra careful not to do anything that people
might learn improperly from.
The Torah teaches us how to act. Any father or mother is similar to Moshe
in this regard. We are all role models to other people who learn from our
actions. It is impossible to know what bad habits people might learn from
our mistakes. We learn from the story of Mei Merivah the importance of
being a proper role model.
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
The Mind: Result of Torah Lishmah
But even those who pursue the Torah-study may overlook this important
truth. This is due to the omission of two important factors. The first is
the failure to approach the Torah-study with the attitude of Lishmah.
"Whoever engages in the Torah-study for its own sake (Lishmah) becomes
worthy of many things" (Avot 6:1). In addition to the intrinsic Perfection
of the Torah which G-d then bestows upon him, this man also identifies
himself with the Torah and becomes an enthusiastic advocate for its
dissemination, and practice; and certainly he seeks to conduct his personal
life according to the teachings of the Torah. But, one who studies Torah
not for its sake, is exemplified by the Talmud student who was diligently
reciting the law of double-payment (Kefel) by a thief, while studying from a
volume of the Talmud which he had taken from a synagogue without permission.
The attitude of Lishmah is exemplified by the Sage who admonished his
comrades to hold on to their top-hats when the wind blew because of a law in
Baba Kama. His scholarly comrades wondered: Where is such a law stated in
Baba Kama? The Sage (Rabbi Yisrael Salanter) replied: "One's stone, one's
knife, or one's pack which he placed on his roof, and it fell because of the
wind and did damage, obligates him to pay" (Baba Kama 3b). Because he was
interested enough in the Torah (Lishmah) to seek to apply it to himself, he
perceived that the law of "the stone, the knife, or the pack" applied also
to a top-hat.
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