by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS BMIDBAR 5759 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 16: "Kri'ei ho'eidoh" – Although there is a "kri" and "ksiv" here, with a Vov in the place of a Yud, this word is spelled complete, "mollei." In parshas Korach (16:2) it says "kri'ei mo'eid anshei sheim" with the word "kri'ei" lacking a Yud. Why is it spelled in this incomplete manner? Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a in his sefer Taam Vodaas answers that in our parsha the leaders were united, hence they were a complete group. Not so in parshas Korach, where each man was out for his own benefit. They were not a united group of people and therefore the word "kri'ei' is spelled lacking a Yud.
Ch. 1, v. 22: "L'gul'g'losom" – The Baal Haturim points out that the letters La'med in this word are unusual. One Lamed is bent downwards to indicate that although a La'med is the tallest of letters, indicating kingship, being above the nation, here one La'med is bent downwards, since the tribe of Shimon did not produce leaders of kingly stature. He says that the last La'med in this word protrudes upwards as does any La'med, but is lacking a hat, meaning that the upper component is only a straight line with no peak jutting to the left as in a normal La'med. This symbolizes that the prince of this tribe would later brazenly take a non-Jewish woman and sin with her, as is mentioned in the end of parshas Bolok.
In the laws of proper formation of the letters of the Alef-Beis to be valid for Torah, tefillin, and mezuzos, (Tur O.Ch. #36 in the Beis Yosef) it is stated that a La'med must have this sort of head or projection at the top. This is true for many other letters as well, such as the heads on an Alef, Ayin, Tzadi, and Shin. If one of these letters is lacking a head on certain strokes, the Keses Hasofer and the Mishneh Bruroh both say that this is not kosher and is beyond repair in tefillin and mezuzos, when one has written further.
Most interestingly, they both differentiate between a La'med and all other letters, saying that a La'med is not kosher with this flaw, but may be corrected in tefillin and mezuzos, contrary to their ruling by other letters. Their source is a Sefer Hachaim whom they understand allows for correction. Deducing this from the Sefer Hachaim is questioned by some. A real difficulty is that none of the above-mentioned has an explanation as to why there is a leniency by a La'med over other letters. Perhaps the words of this Baal Haturim are a source for this leniency.
Ch. 1, v. 42: "Bnei Naftoli" – Why is the word "bnei" without a La'med before it, as we find by all the other tribes? The Baal Haturim answers that this points out that the tribe of Naftoli had a dearth of males, while all the other tribes had a majority of males. Other commentators say that the missing La'med indicates the exact opposite. The Chid"o answers that a La'med indicates that the count of people is TO a specific tribe. A total of the population of the whole nation was had by counting the half-shekels, and the tribe by tribe census informed them as to how many people belonged to each tribe. The tribe of Naftoli was tallied last. There was really no need to count them, as their sum was known through subtracting the sum total of all the other tribes from the total of the nation, which they knew through the shekels. Therefore, the La'med is left out, indicating, "Bnei Naftoli," their total was known automatically, even without a tribal count.
Ch. 1, v. 45: "Kol p'kudei bnei Yisroel" – The Ramban explains the need for this census. He says that through appearing in front of the tzadikim Moshe and Aharon, who gazed upon them, and through having their names mentioned (see the Ralbag at the beginning of this parsha), a conduit for blessing and spiritual success was created between Hashem and the bnei Yisroel. This might well be the source for people appearing in front of and giving their names on a kvittel to tzadikim.
Ch. 1, v. 53: "V'haL'viim yachanu soviv l'Mishkan ho'eidus" – The area occupied by the L'viim is called "machaneh L'vioh." People who have certain types of "tumoh" may not enter this area, and if they are already in it, they are to be sent out (see Bmidbar 5:2). Included in this list is a "baal keri." If so, how did the L'viim have marital relations with their wives? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that within "machaneh L'vioh" there were two areas with different halachic statuses. The area closer to the Mishkon was restricted as mentioned above, but there was a second area that was outside the inner one that had no such restriction. It was in this area that the homes of the L'viim were placed.
Ch. 2, v. 2: "Yachanu bnei Yisroel" - The Baal Tikun Tefillin, Rabbi Avrohom of Zuns'heim, a Rishon, says that the configuration of the tefillin shel rosh corresponds to the encampment of bnei Yisroel in the desert. There are a total of 12 stitches closing the tefillin, 3 on each side of the central cube. This corresponds to the 12 tribes encamped in the desert, 3 on each side of the central area of machaneh L'vioh and machaneh Sh'chinoh. In the centre, we have the cube that houses the script, the parshios, of the tefillin. The cube corresponds to the ark and the script to the luchos which were inside. The ark had on its lid (kaporres) the two cherubs whose wings were spread aloft. The cherubs with their wings spread aloft, loosely had a configuration similar to the letter shin. The luchos upon which the ten commandments were etched had as their first word, "onochi." Here again we have a striking similarity. The cube of the tefillin (k'tzitzoh) which houses the script of four paragraphs of the Torah which mention the mitzvoh of tefillin, has two letters shin on the outside, similar to the ark and the two cherubs. Rabbi Avrohom adds that these last two similarities are alluded to in the verse in T'hilim 119:162,"Soss onochi." Soss is spelled Sin, Sin. These are the two cherubs and also the two Shins on the tefillin housing. The letters Sin and Sin, symbolizing the two cherubs, are over the Ten Commandments, which begin with "onochi."
Ch. 2, v. 3: "V'hachonim" – Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the dimensions of the camp were 12 "mil" by 12 "mil." As well, he says that each group of three tribes occupied an area that was 4 "mil" by 4 "mil." Since there were four such groups, he seems to be contradicting himself since 4x4 four times = 64 square "mil" and 12x12 "mil" = 144 square "mil," two and a quarter times the area occupied by the tribes.
Perhaps the intention of the Targum Yonoson is as follows: Picture a grid that has nine squares laid out as a 3 by 3, similar to a blank tic-tac-toe board. The central cell is the area of machaneh L'vioh and machaneh Sh'chinoh. The four groups of encamped tribes abutted this square to the right, left, above, and below. The tribes did not occupy the diagonal corner squares. Thus we have the areas for the tribes as four 4x4 squares, and the outer dimensions are 12x12 "mil." I found a strong indication to this in the Yalkut Shimoni parshas P'kudei, remez #426-427. It says that the cattle occupied the diagonal corner areas of the encampment.
We are still left with a major problem. Targum Yonoson on Bmidbar 21:35 and 25:7 says that the dimensions of the encampment were 24x24 "mil."
This is contrary to what he says here and the gemara Brochos 54b and Sotoh 13b which state that the dimensions were 12x12 "mil," a.k.a. 3x3 "parsoh."
The Shiltos of Rabbi Hai Gaon writes in parshas Vayishlach #26 that his text in the gemara Brochos 54b is 6x6 "parsoh." This does not alleviate the problem of Sotoh 13b or the contradiction in the words of the Targum Yonoson. The Chasam Sofer at the end of parshas Bolok answers these questions.
Ch. 2, v. 20: "V'olov matteh Menasheh" – The R"I in the Moshav Z'keinim ask, "Why by the other tribes who were mentioned after the "degel" head does it say "v'hachonim olov," and here the word "v'hachonim" is skipped?" He answers that this indicates that Menasheh and Efraim are to be viewed as one, or this indicates that for all other tribes there were individual rivers flowing into their parcel of land, but Menasheh and Efraim shared one.
The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the verse is indicating that eventually Menasheh will surpass Efraim in population, hence the word "v'olov." This will take place in counting the new generation of bnei Yisroel who will enter Eretz Yisroel, a fulfillment of "v'yidgu lorov b'kerev ho'oretz" (Breishis 48:16). In our parsha Efraim's population was 40,500 against Menasheh's 32,200, while in parshas Pinchos, Efraim's population was 32,500 against Menasheh's 52,700.
The R"I is left with the following question unanswered: Why by Naftoli are both words missing? It only says, "U'mattei Naftoli."
Ch. 3, v. 1: "V'eileh toldos Aharon u'Moshe" – Rashi points out that only the children of Aharon are listed. He says that we derive from this the maxim that he who teaches his friend's child Torah, is as if he gave birth to that child (gemara Sanhedrin 19b). The Ahavas Tzion drush #9 (written by the Nodah Bihudoh) says that this is to be taken literally, and one can fulfill the mitzvoh of "pru u'rvu" by teaching another's child. I believe that I came across this opinion in the responsa of Rabbi Shlomo Kluger as well. Some say that they are considered Moshe's children because he saved their lives with his supplication at the time of the death of Nodov and Avihu (see Rashi on Vayikroh 10:12 who says that this is the intention of Moshe in the words "Vo'espallel gam b'ad Aharon" (Dvorim 9:20).
Ch. 3, v. 2: "Bnei Aharon habchor" – The Baal Haturim points out that there is a PSIK cantellation after the word "habchor," indicating that Aharon is a first-born. He says that the intention is that Aharon is the first-born of the males in this family.
Ch. 3, v. 13: "B'yom hakosi chol bchor" – See the Sforno who explains that in Egypt, the first born had the status of a korbon, and therefore had to be redeemed before they could participate in worldly activity. Subsequently, when they sinned during the golden calf, they were replaced by the L'viim.
Ch. 3, v. 15: "Mi'ben chodesh vomaloh" – Rashi says that the tribe of Levi had a precedent of being counted at an early age, as Yocheved at birth was counted among the seventy people of Yaakov's household who descended to Egypt. The Rashbam asks, "Why weren't the L'viim counted from birth?" He answers that since they had the capacity to be a redemption for first-born bnei Yisroel who required redemption at the age of thirty days, they likewise were only counted from the age of thirty days. The Sifsei Chachomim explains why Yocheved was different and was counted from birth.
Ch. 3, v. 39: "Shneim osor elef" – Rashi explains that the three hundred L'viim not mentioned in this verse were unable to be used to redeem the last 273 first-born, as they used up this merit by being self-redeeming. We see from this that there is actually a need for redemption of the L'viim. The Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim asks, "Why don't L'viim redeem their first-born throughout all generations?"
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh in 3:15 asks a converse question. "Why don't we use the L'viim as a redemption for first-born Yisroelim as they did in the desert? Answers for these questions are found in the Baalei Tosfos and the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh respectively.
Ch. 3, v. 47: "Esrim geiroh hashokel" – The Meshech Chochmoh points out that the Torah tells us in four places that twenty "geiroh" equal one shekel. They are Shmos 30:13, Vayikroh 27:25, Bmidbar 3:47 and 18:16.
He says that it is necessary to point this out, as there is a need for fractions of a shekel in regard to the subject matter of each of these four places.
1) Shmos 30:13 discusses the giving of a half-shekel for the Mishkon. Since a fraction is to be given, the "geiroh" is mentioned.
2) Vayikroh 27:25 discusses the payment for an inherited field which was sanctified. This is pro-rated at 50 shekel for 49 years from one Yovel to the next. This obviously involves fractions of a shekel as well.
3) Bmidbar 3:47 discusses the five shekel redemption of the 273 people who were not redeemed through a Levi exchange. The total of their shekels equaled 1,365. This is divisible by three resulting in complete integers.
Why then is there a need to mention "geiroh?" The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the gemara Bovo Basro 143b says that from the words "l'Aharon u'l'vonov" in our verse we derive that the total was split between Aharon and his sons, with Aharon receiving an equal amount as his two sons combined. This would require splitting the total by four, leaving us with a fraction.
4) Bmidbar 18:16 again discusses the five shekels for redemption of the first-born. Since this is exactly five shekels why the need to tell us the "geiroh" fraction? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that there are fractions when one redeems a first-born from more than one Kohein. One may split the five shekels among many Kohanim and this is valid as mentioned in the gemara Bchoros 51b.
Ch. 4, v. 6: " V'somu badov" – Why is there a need to place the staves into the rings of the Holy Ark before transporting it? How were they ever allowed to be removed? Doesn't the Torah prohibit the removal of the staves in Shmos 25:15 with the words "lo yosuru mi'menu?"
1) The Ibn Ezra answers that "V'somu badov" refers to placing the staves onto the shoulders of the carriers, and not to placing the staves into the rings.
2) The Ramban and Baalei Tosfos say that while the Holy Ark was in place inside the Holy of Holies, the staves were pulled forward to create a slight bulge in the curtain, the "poroches." When it came time to transport the Holy Ark, the staves were set in a position that the Holy Ark be evenly centred, allowing for convenient transport.
3) There is an opinion brought in Tosfos on Yoma 72a that there were two sets of four rings attached to the Holy Ark, one set of four above the second set. The prohibition in Shmos 25:15 refers only to the staves placed into the upper set of rings, and our verse refers to placing a second pair of staves into the lower four rings for transportation purposes. There is no prohibition of removal of this second pair. As a matter of fact they are only attached for transportation purposes. This interpretation is strongly indicated by the words "U'shtei tabo'os" in Shmos 25:12, the stress being on the seemingly extra Vov in this word. This seems to tell us that in addition to the first four rings, there are also another two and two rings, totaling eight. Rashi and the Ibn Ezra go to some length to explain this Vov according to the more popular opinion that there were only four rings and two staves in total.
4) The Rivo in the name of Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi says that "lo yosuru" means to make staves that are so thick that they will fit very tightly into the rings. That way, once they are centered there will be no forward shifting of the Holy Ark when being carried downhill, and no reverse shifting when being carried uphill. The verse would be telling us a description of how to make the staves and not a prohibition. However, this is not true. Even if the intention of the verse is as mentioned in the name of Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi, nonetheless, there must also be a prohibition. The Mishneh in the third chapter of Makos says that if one intentionally removes the staves of the Holy Ark, he has sinned and is liable to receive lashes for this transgression.
5) Another answer from the Ibn Ezra is that there is no prohibition to remove the staves to allow for the Holy Ark's being covered with the "bigdei hasrod" for transportation.
FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY. FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM@AOL.COM A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH.
Back to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.