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Vol. 20 No. 40
Dr. Pinchas Ackerman
How Eretz Yisrael was Divided
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)
"According to the lot shall the inheritance be divided, between the large and the small (or between the many and the few" [26:56]).
The Gemara in Bava Basra (Daf 122a) asks whether Eretz Yisrael was divided according to the tribes (each tribe received a portion, which was then divided up among its members) or according to the people (so that each person in K'lal received an equal portion).
According to the former case, each tribe received an equal portion; according to the second, that larger the tribe, the larger the portion it received.
And the Gemara answers by quoting this Pasuk "between the many and the few".
Based on the current Pasuk, the Rashbam explains that each tribe received its portion according to the lot, irrespective of whether each member received a large portion (i.e. if there were only few members in the tribe) or a small one.
Conversely, he explains, if the land had been distributed according to the number of people, then the term "between the many and the few" would be meaningless, seeing as each person received the same amount of land.
What the Torah is therefore saying according to the Rashbam, is that each tribe received an equal portion of land, even though this means that the members of some tribes received larger portions than the members of other tribes.
The Torah Temimah however, queries the Rashbam. Surely, he asks, the term "between the many and the few" implies that each tribe should divide the land according to the numbers of people in the tribe - in other words, what the Pasuk is saying is the larger the tribe, the larger tract of land it will receive. And he adds that if each tribe received the same portion of land, then "between the many and the few" would be superfluous. Note, that, whereas the Rashbam interprets "between the many and the few" with reference to the size of the portion each person received, the Torah Temimah understands that it pertains to the size of the tribe.
To further prove his point, the author refers to Pasuk 54, which writes "To the large tribe you should give more and to the small tribe you should give less … ". Rashi comments there that even though the portions were not equal, but were dependent upon the size of the tribe, nevertheless, the tribes received their portions by drawing lots. The Sifri too, interprets that Pasuk in this way, when it states that if Reuven left Egypt with five children, and ten children entered the Land - that is what the Torah means when it states "to the small tribe you should give less … ". Whereas about Shimon, who left Egypt with ten children, only five of whom entered the Land, the Torah writes "To the large tribe you should give more".
According to the Rashbam's explanation of the Gemara in Bava Basra, we will be forced to say that the Gemara argues with the Sifri, something which is generally not done.
And finally, the Torah Temimah argues, it would be illogical to distribute the portions unequally, in a way that all the members of one tribe should receive less than the members of another tribe.
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(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
Why the Midyanim?
"Oppress the Midyanim and smite them! … Because they oppressed you with their evil plans … " (26:17/18).
R. Bachye explains that this Parshah follows that of Pinchas' reward, because after dealing with the reward of the Tzadikim, it is befitting to deal with the punishment of the Resha'im.
It seems to me that one might equally-well attribute the placing of the Midyanim here because it follows the punishment of Zimri, Kozbi and those who sinned at Ba'al Pe'or, and the reward of Pinchas for his role in stopping the plague in its tracks. It is therefore most appropriate to tell us what G-d had in store for the Midyanim, who were responsible for the debacle.
As for the omission of the Mo'avim, who were major players in that episode, that we will discuss now.
In Pasuk 18, Rabeinu Bachye explains that the fact that the Torah bases the attack against Midyan on 'their evil plans' indicates that the idea of sending their daughters to lure the B'nei Yisrael into sin came from the Midyanim. (Note, that in Parshas Balak [24:14] the author himself ascribes the idea to Bil'am.)
In any event, that seems to be reason enough to explain why nothing is said about the Mo'avim. Yet, according to what we wrote in the previous paragraph, it will not suffice to explain why G-d let them off the hook completely.
That is answered however, by the reason given by Rashi and by the same author - that since Rus ha'Mo'aviyah (and David ha'Melech) was destined to descend from Mo'av, G-d did not include them in the punishment.
Moreover, in Parshas Matos (312:2) R. Bachye (again following in the footsteps of Rashi), commenting on the Pasuk "Take revenge from the Midyanim" asks why the Midyanim and not the Mo'avim who preceded them (See 22:7)?
And in addition to the previous answer, he explains that whereas the Mo'avim, who were being threatened by Yisrael, were merely acting in self-defence (See Rashi there), the Midyanim entered into a quarrel that did not concern them.
Consequently, whereas the Midyanim were guilty, the Mo'avim could be forgiven for what they did.
Moshe Didn't Know
"So Moshe brought their judgement before G-d" (27:5).
R. Bachye quotes some commentaries who explain that Moshe withdrew from the case because the daughters of Tz'lofchad stated that their father did not belong to the congregation of Korach, Moshe's enemies, and Moshe considered this a sort of bribery.
But that is not right, he argues, because then, he ought to have handed the case to one of the other many judges available to deal with it. Why to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu?
The reason must therefore be that literally did not know the answer to their query (and if Moshe did not know, who else would?).
And because the fact that where there are no sons, obviously daughters inherit, is something that even gentiles understand, and that Moshe ought certainly to have known, that Chazal refer to Moshe's admission that he did not know the answer as a punishment. Yes he was being punished for having told the newly-appointed judges in the time of Yisro that whatever is too difficult for them he should bring to them (Devarim 1:17).They did not say this in connection with the question of Pesach Sheini in Beha'aloscha, since the obligation for a person who did not bring a Pesach Rishon to bring a Pesach Sheini is something that nobody, not even Moshe, could possibly have known, in which case from the outset, the only option open to Moshe was to hand over the case to G-d Himself.
In what is obviously a second answer, R. Bachye asks how it is possible that Moshe should not have known the answer to such a simple question? And he explains that in fact he did know the answer, and the reason that he withdrew from the case was because he took his cue from the other judges. It seems that the daughters of Tz'lofchad first brought their case to the officers of ten, who, in deference to the officers of fifty who in turn handed it over to the officers of a hundred … to the officers of a thousand. And it was the officers of a thousand who handed it to Moshe. When Moshe was given the honour of issuing a ruling, he handed it over to Hakadosh-Baruch Hu Himself.
Whereas Targum Yonasan relates that there were four questions which stymied Moshe Rabeinu, two regarding money-matters and two regarding the death sentence. With regard to the former, Moshe was quick to issue an answer, whereas regarding to the former, he was deliberate. Ultimately however, he claimed that he not know the answer. And he did this in order to teach the people that they should never be ashamed to admit that one does not know.
The Word "Leimor"
"And Moshe Spoke to Hashem saying (leimor)" (27:15).
The word "leimor" is superfluous, says R. Bachye. Perhaps he interprets the word (when spoken by Hashem to Moshe) with reference to the oral teachings that accompany the written statement that G-d was conveying to him. And this of course, is not relevant to where Moshe Rabeinu speaks to Hashem.
In any case, based on his initial statement, quoting the Medrash, he explains that the Torah nevertheless inserts it in order to raise Moshe on the same level as Hashem (ke'Vayachol) - inasmuch as 'Just as G-d spoke to Moshe using the expression of both Dibur and Amirah, so too, did Moshe speak to Hashem using both Dibur and Amirah.
Rashi however, in Parshas Beha'aloscho (12:13), commenting on the same word there, refers to the Pasuk here as one of the four occasions that Moshe asked for an immediate reply to his request. That reply, he concludes, was forthcoming in all four cases.
Wine for the Libation
"And its libation a quarter of a Hin (three Lugim) for the one lamb, to be poured on the holy (altar) an intoxicating libation (nesech sheichor) for G-d" (28:7).
R. Bachye quotes Rashi, who, commenting on "nesech sheichor", explains that wine for the nesachim must be at least forty days old, and that fresh wine from the vat is disqualified (and this is in fact, the opinion of both Targum Unklus and Targum Yonasan).
The Ramban however, disagrees, based on the Gemara in Bava Basra (97a), which forbids using fresh wine, but which rules that using it does not invalidate the Avodah. The reason for this is because the prohibition is only a rabbinical one.
According to the Ramban, R' Bachye explains, the Pasuk ("nesech sheichor") comes to disqualify diluted wine from being poured on the Mizbei'ach, not wine from the vat.
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