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Vol. 17 No. 34
Nechama Bracha bas Eliezer z"l
The Midos of Mercy
Let the Midas ha'Rachamim
This is how Rabeinu Bachye, citing the Medrash, interprets the phrase "And now, let the strength of G-d (ko'ach Hashem - spelt 'Alef' 'Daled' 'Nun' 'Yud') be magnified." K'lal Yisrael, who had been given a second chance following the sin of the Golden Calf, deserved to be totally annihilated. They were at the mercy of the Midas ha'Din (hinted in the use of the Name of 'Adnus'). So Moshe beseeched G-d that the Midah of Chesed (hinted in the word "Ko'ach") overpower the Midas ha'Din.
Overcome The Midas ha'Din
He then explains that, according to Kabalah, Hashem's Midas Rachamim was about to ascend to the highest of places, where it would not function to protect Yisrael. This concept is based on the Pasuk in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah (34:26) "He (the Midas ha-Rachamim) rides on the Heaven with your help". This means that when Yisrael keep Torah and Mitzvos, they augment the power of G-d's might (the Midas ha'Chesed), which then governs the Midos and protects us, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (60:14) :We give power to G-d". But when we fail to keep Torah and Mitzvos, then He distances Himself from the Midos, leaving us at their mercy. When that happens, then we in fact, weaken G-d's strength (Kevayachol), as the Torah writes in Ha'azinu (32:18) "The Rock who bore you, you weakened".
And so, because Yisrael were facing destruction, Moshe needed to beseech G-d to let 'His strength' remain in place, to overpower His Midas ha'Din, and to ascend to the heights, where it is inaccessible.
Citing the Gemara in Shabbos (89a), R. Bachye defines the request to bring down the Midas ha'Chesed to rule over the Midos as 'Eizer' (assistance). The Gemara there relates how, when Moshe went up to Hashem, he found Him tying crowns ('Tagin') to the letters of the Torah. When Moshe said nothing, Hashem asked him whether 'Shalom' did not exist in the town where he came from. And when he replied that it is inappropriate for an Eved to greet his master, Hashem retorted that he should at least have 'assisted' Him. That is why the next time (after the sin of the spies), Moshe said "And now, let the strength of G-d be magnified" - thereby assisting G-d to allow His Midas ha'Rachamim overpower the Midas ha'Din …
The Missing (Seven) Midos
And Moshe 'assisted' G-d further by evoking the 'Thirteen Midos', that G-d had promised would never be turned away empty. In fact however, he only mentioned six of them "Hashem, Erech Apayim, Rav Chesed, Nosei Ovon, vo'Fesha, ve'Nakeh", omitting 'Hashem, Keil, Rachum, Chanun, Emes, Notzer Chesed la'Alafim, ve'Chato'ah'.
Rabeinu Bachye explains why Moshe omitted them: He left out …
… 'Hashem, Keil, Rachum, Chanun', which are Midos that pertain to people who have more merit than guilt, a category which did not belong to Yisrael the people at that time. Furthermore, he explains, the first "Hashem" applies specifically to before one has sinned and done Teshuvah, which was not applicable here, only the second "Hashem", which applied to the sinner after the sin.
… 'Ve'Emes', because, if Emes, which falls under the category of Midas ha'Din, were to prevail, they would all have to die.
… 'Notzer Chesed la'Alafim', because this entailed relying on the merits of the Avos, and seeing as they had just rejected the land that the Avos held dear, Moshe Rabeinu's Tefilah was not based on the merits of the Avos. Indeed, he makes no reference to them here, as he did in his Tefilah following the sin of the Golden Calf.
… 'Chato'oh', which refers to sins performed be'Shogeg, and they were Meizid.
And this is how the author explains the sequence:
"Hashem", who has mercy on Yisrael in the hope that they will perform Teshuvah; If they don't, then He is "Erech Apayim" to both Tzadikim and Resha'im. Moreover, He is "Rav Chesed" to those whose Mitzvos and sins are evenly balanced (just like he is to those who Mitzvos outweigh their sins) even if they don't do Teshuvah. Whereas if they do Teshuvah, then "Nosei Ovon vo'Fesha", even those whose sins outweigh their Mitzvos, and even if those sins were sins performed deliberately or in rebellion.
Moshe continues "ve'Nakeh, Lo Yenakeh" - Hashem forgives them (the latter group) if they do Teshuvah, but not if they don't. But even if He doesn't actually forgive them, nevertheless, Moshe pointed out "Pokeid Ovon Avos al Banim … "; He will not destroy their children from the world; He will visit the sins of the fathers on to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (drawing out the punishment without actually destroying them). But this is not in keeping with His threat to send a plague of pestilence and kill them all. What G-d must do, Moshe argued, is to punish the children little by little, until the debt has been paid off. To which G-d replied "I have forgiven, like your words!"
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(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
"Go up (to Eretz Yisrael) via the south" (13:17).
Rabeinu Bachye, citing the Zohar, which, based on a Gezeirah-Shavah ("Zeh" "ve'es ha'Mateh hazeh"), learns that Moshe gave the spies his miraculous stick with which to protect themselves. And it was by means of that stick that, when making contact with the giants, they managed to avoid falling into their hands.
Others there say that he taught them G-d's twelve-letter Name, with which to defend themselves. In that case, the Gezeirah-Shavah is based on the Pasuk "Zeh Sh'mi le'olom").
A Good Sign - for Yehoshua & Kalev
"And they carried it on a 'Mot' between two" (13:23).
Quoting a Medrash, R. Bachye explains that "Mot" is a detached branch.
So heavy was the branch, the Medrash explains, that the other ten spies were unable to carry it. Yehoshua and Kalev were able to. The fact that they were, was a sign from Heaven that they, and they alone were worthy of entering Eretz Yisrael and of receiving a portion in the land.
The Wrong Perspective
"And they brought out a bad report of the land which they had spied … " (13:32).
The 'bad report', Rashi explains, lay in the statement referring to Eretz Yisrael as 'a land that consumes its inhabitants'. And it was based on the fact that G-d had sent a plague of pestilence throughout the land, and wherever they went, people were dying. Based on the Gemara in Sotah (35a), Rashi explains that this was a deliberate strategy on the part of G-d, to keep the Cana'anim so busy burying their dead, that they did not have time to deal with 'those strange grasshopper-like midgets that they saw spying out the land. Thus the Meraglim were able to spy out the land without the least hindrance.
Yet instead of being grateful to G-d for this tremendous miracle, they saw only what they chose to see, ignoring the good that ought to have been clear to them.
R. Bachye points out how, just one Pasuk earlier, the spies had declared that the Cana'anim were stronger than they, or, as he translates as 'stronger than Him' (see Rashi there), yet they contradicted themselves by now claiming that they were dying of a plague, insinuating that they were weak!
The Seforno however, answers the Kashya. According to him "a land that consumes its inhabitants is not a symbol a weakness at all. What the spies meant was that the people living there are indeed strong, but that is in spite of the land, which only allows the strongest to survive in it, not because of it!
Nefilim, Anakim, Refa'im
"And there we saw the Nefilim, the sons of Anak" (13:33).
Originally, says R. Bachye, the family of giants (first referred to as 'B'nei ho'Elohim" at the end of Parshas Bereishis) were known as 'Nefilim', so called because terror fell upon whoever saw them. With the passing of time however, their strength waned and they became known as 'Anakim', because as Rashi explains here, they were so tall that it looked as if they wore the sun as a necklace. And finally, as their strength grew weaker still, the Torah refers to them as 'Rafa'im which actually means 'weak'.
R. Bachye adds that Og, King of Bashan was a remnant from the Refa'im. This is difficult to understand however, since Og was already alive at the time of the flood, when the giants were still called 'Nefilim'.
"Only don't rebel against G-d!" (14:9).
By fearing man, R. Bachye explains. This teaches us that fearing a human-being is considered an act of rebellion.
Citing Pesukim in Mishlei and in Yeshayah, he explains that not only is fear self destructive, but it also causes a person to forget Hashem.
" … in all the miracles that I performed in their midst (be'kirbo)" (14:11).
Citing the Medrash, R. Bachye interprets the word "be'kirbo" (which is written in the singular) literally, with regard to the inside of each person's body. And it refers specifically to the miracle of not having to relieve themselves, because the Manna became absorbed in their limbs and simply dissipated, as the Gemara explains in Yuma (75b).
To reconcile this with the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei ((23:14), which requires every person, including those of that generation, to own a peg, with which to cover one's excrement, the Gemara explains there that the Pasuk refers specifically to regular food which the people purchased from visiting salesmen who came to sell their wares. That food was not subject to the miracles with which the Manna was blessed.
Others explain there that that, in fact, that food too was affected by the blessing of the Manna, so that the people who ate it did not need to relieve themselves. And as for the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei, that refers to the period after Yisrael sinned, when the miracles of the Manna ceased to operate.
A Talmid-Chacham & the Word of G-d
"For he despised the word of G-d, and His Mitzvah he annulled … " (15:31).
Elaborating on Rashi's explanation, R. Bachye explains that "the word of G-d" refers to the Mitzvah of "Onochi", and "His Mitzvah he annulled", to "Lo yih'yeh l'cho", the two Mitzvos which Yisrael heard from Hashem and which as the basis of the entire Torah.
He then cites a Medrash however, which interprets "For he despised the word of G-d" with reference to someone who invents his own explanations of Torah (which does not conform with those of Chazal) and an Apikores. Commenting further on the latter, which loosely defined, means someone who treats a Talmid-Chacham with disdain, he extrapolates that a genuine Talmid Chacham bears the title 'D'var Hashem', and that anybody who despises him is considered as if he had despised the word of G-d.
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM ...
THE DA'AS ZEKEINIM
& THE ROSH
"And the Amaleki and the Cana'ani dwell in the valley. Tomorrow, turn and travel to the desert … " (14:25).
How can the Torah say that Amalek … dwelt in the valley, asks the Da'as Zekeinim, when in Pasuk 45, it writes that the same two nations who dwelt in the mountain came down the mountain to attack the group that was ascending it?
The term 'the valley', (eimek) he explains, is merely an analogy to a deep plan ('eitzah amukah') that G-d devised that Yisrael should change their route and turn toward the desert. Because 'He knew' that if they would advance and come up against the Amaleki and the Cana'ani, they would be defeated. And even though they were Resha'im, G-d felt no pleasure at the prospect of their defeat, so He tried to avoid it.
Alternatively, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, they did indeed live in the valley. When however, they heard that Yisrael was approaching, they ascended the mountain and laid an ambush for them. And we find the term 'dwelling' in connection with an ambush in Tehilim (10:8).
"When you come to the land of your inheritance" (15:2).
The Rosh cites a Medrash that relates how Yisrael asked G-d why it is that, although here the Torah calls Yisrael 'the land of our inheritance', it generally refers to it as 'the land of Cana'an'? What did Cana'an do to deserve this honour?
To which G-d answered that it was because when they heard that Yisrael were coming, they willingly opted to vacate the land (in fact, this refers specifically to the Girgashi). G-d responded by promising to take them to a land like their own, with reference to Africa (which the commentaries translate in this context as Tunis). And it is in that merit that Eretz Yisrael is constantly referred to as 'Eretz Cana'an'.
" … If a soul sins be'shogeg … " (15:27).
Why does the Torah here and in many other places, refer to the soul that sins and not the body, asks the Da'as Zekeinim?
He explains that, although it is both the body and soul that sin, it is the soul that is the chief culprit. And he compares it to two people who sinned against the king; one was a stranger, the other, a member of the royal court. When the two were brought before the king to be judged, he let off the former, but issued the latter with a harsh sentence. When asked why, he explained that the stranger was not aware of the good things that he tended to do, and his sin was the result of a lack of knowledge; whereas the member of the royal court, who knew him well, was totally aware of what he was doing, and was therefore fully responsible for his actions.
Likewise, the body, which is created from the earth, is a stranger to G-d's Divine Characteristics, and cannot be held fully responsible for his sins. Not so the soul, which is formed from the Heaven. It ought to have known better, and must therefore pay in full for its sins.
Consequently, the author concludes, the body lies in the grave, whilst the soul bears the brunt of the punishment.
In time to come, the Da'as Zekeinim concludes, with reference to the Gemara in Sanhedrin (91a & b) which explains how Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu will bring the body and the soul and punish them together. The Gemara there cites Antoninus, Emperor of Rome, who suggested to Rebbi that a person can avoid getting punished for his sins in the World to Come; since the body will feign innocence by pointing out that when it is not inhabited by the soul, it lies in the grave and does not sin. Whereas the soul claims innocence, in that when it is free from the body, it floats around without sinning. So what does Hashem do? He takes the soul, places it inside the body, and lashes them simultaneously - just as they sinned. And it is spite of that Gemara that the Da'as Zakeinim attributes the bulk of the blame to the soul, as we explained.
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AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)
Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article
reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and are not necessarily Halachah
To Shecht Animals, Chayos and Birds Properly (cont.)
Someone who contravenes and who is not careful to avoid eating meat from an animal, a Chayah or a bird that possesses one of the five Pesulim that we discussed above, or that was Shechted with a knife that has not been examined, has nullified this Mitzvah. In addition, he has transgressed the La'av of not eating Neveiah (Re'ei 14:21), and should he eat a k'Zayis, he is subject to Malkos, as the author will explain in Mitzvah 472 (Not to eat Neveilah). For so the Gemara says in the second Perek of Chulin (32a & b), that any P'sul that occurs during Shechitah renders the animal Neveilah. By this the Gemara means that any P'sul that affects the Simanim (the two pipes of Shechitah) , such as any of the five above-mentioned P'sulim or if the knife was not examined the animal is called a Neveilah. On the other hand, where the Shechitah is in order, and it is something else (such as one of the eighteen things listed by the author in the Mitzvah not to eat T'reifah in Parshas Mishpatim) that invalidates the animal, it is called a T'reifah, and it is for eating T'reifah that one will then receive Malkos. The ramifications of this difference is the warning, which must be accurate. For example, if the witnesses warn a person not to eat Neveilah, when really the meat is T'reifah, or vice-versa, the warning is meaningless, and the perpetrator will not receive Malkos.
The above interpretation of Neveilah should not be construed as the basic definition of what Neveilah really is - S'tam 'Neveilah' mentioned in the Torah pertains of course, to an animal that dies by itself. The Mishnah (which defines every P'sul in Shechitah as Neveilah) is merely coming to teach us that if an animal is not Shechted properly, it is as if it has died by itself, without having been Shected.
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