by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B’MIDBAR 5768 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 2: “B’mispar sheimos” – With a count of names – The story is told that at the circumcision of Rabbi Yisroel Yehoshua Trank, known as the Yeshuos Malko, when his father was sitting in the middle of the circumcision festive meal, “seudas habris,” he banged his hand on the table and called out, “I forgot!” The Rabbi sitting next to him asked him to explain his emotional comment and he responded that he actually had in mind to give the child a third name. He wanted to name him Yisroel after the Baal Shem Tov, Eliyohu after the GR”A, and Yehoshua after the Pnei Yehoshua, but he forgot the name Eliyohu at the critical moment. The Rabbi sitting next to him told him that actually the name Eliyohu was not left out. If one takes the last two letters of YisroEL and the first three letters of YEHOshua, we have Eliyohu. We can thus interpret the words of our verse, “b’mispar sheimos” as with a calculation of names, that sometimes there is Heavenly intervention that calculates the names a person is given, and even an intention of giving a name becomes the reality.
Ch. 1, v. 4: “Ish rosh l’veis avosov hu” – A man as the head to the household of his fathers he is – We commonly find that when a person is given a prestigious appointment, lifting him up from a previous mundane position, that he becomes conceited and behaves in a haughty manner, no longer acquainting himself with the same social milieu. Our verse praises the people who were appointed as tribal heads. The gemara Megiloh says that the word “hu” indicates that the person remained the same from beginning until the end, for example, “Hu Achashveirosh,” that he was bad from the beginning until the end. Even though the person was appointed as tribal head, HU, he remained the same humble person. (Mayonoh Shel Torah)
Ch. 2, v. 2: “Ish al diglo” – A man to his standard – M.R. on parshas B’shalach takes the words “Va’y’hi b’shalach Paroh,” and phonetically explains “Vai-hi” as a cry of WOE. Numerous explanations are offered as to who cried out “woe.” One is that it was Paroh. When he eventually ran after the bnei Yisroel and found them assembled in an orderly manner, each tribe around its flag, he cried out “woe” to me that I emancipated what I thought was a lowly people, and now I find them a proud organized people, with tribal groupings. We thus see that the bnei Yisroel already grouped themselves by their tribal ancestry. However, our verse is a call that REQUIRES their being grouped that way.
Why indeed was this command not given immediately upon their exiting Egypt, or at least, just after leaving Yam Suf? MVRHRHG”R Yaakov Kamenecki zt”l explains that family groupings can lead to divisiveness, a poison that can even destroy the unity of the bnei Yisroel’s encampment in the desert. However, this is only true before the receiving of the Torah. Once the bnei Yisroel received the Torah, it was a most powerful unifying tool and there was no further fear of tribal groupings being divisive. To the contrary, once there was a central unifying force, displaying unique tribal traits would be to their advantage, indicating to each tribe to excel in its unique manner.
Ch. 3, v. 1: “V’eileh toldos Aharon uMoshe” – And these are the children of Aharon and Moshe – The M.R. explains why Aharon is mentioned here ahead of Moshe. When Aharon embarked on the census, which included the family pedigree, some of the bnei Yisroel chided him, saying that before he asks for their family status, he should first examine his own son Eliezer’s, as he married a non-bas Yisroel. As stated in Shmos 6, he married a daughter of Putiel, a.k.a. as Yisro. Hashem took note of the shaming of Aharon and when He commanded that the census be taken He mentioned Aharon ahead of Moshe.
Another explanation might simply be that since the verse goes on to only mention Aharon’s children and not Moshe’s, Aharon is mentioned first. (Nirreh li)
The reason Moshe was not criticized for marrying a daughter of Yisro can be explained with the words of Sefer Chasidim #504. He says that a person should not delay getting married. We can derive this from Moshe. He surely should have taken a bas Yisroel for a wife, but since he was away in Midyon and was getting on in years, he married a woman from those who were available to him.
Ch. 3, v. 1: “V’eileh toldos Aharon uMoshe” – And these are the children of Aharon and Moshe – The verse goes on to only mention Aharon’s children and not Moshe’s. Rashi (gemara Sanhedrin 19b) says that we can derive from this that one who teaches his friend’s son Torah is considered as if he were his father. This lesson is strategically placed by Moshe and Aharon. We might mistakenly believe that this concept is true only when the biological father does not teach his son Torah. However, Aharon taught his sons Torah, as related in the gemara Eiruvin 54b, and nevertheless, Moshe is still also considered their father. (Birkei Yoseif)
Ch. 3, v. 26: “Umosach pesach hechotzer …… l’chol avodoso” – And the partition at the opening of the courtyard …… for all his service – What service was done with the curtain that surrounded the “azoroh” area around the Mishkon? Rabbi Yisroel Yehoshua Trank, the Yeshuos Malko (see first offering on our parsha), says that when the encampment was traveling and the curtains were not in place, any sacrificial meat that was required to remain within the “azoroh” confines would become invalidated. The Levites created a human wall that served as a “mosoch” (see Rashi on gemara M’nochos 95). This was their “service.” The Yeshuos Malko considers this the source for the concept of a human “mechitzoh.”
Ch. 3, v. 39: “Shnayim v’esrim o’lef” – Twenty-two thousand – Near the end of our parsha we find a more detailed count, 22,273. Chazal explain this difference most satisfactorily. However, this was enough to prompt Kantrokus, a Roman, to ask Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai whether Moshe was a thief. Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai responded that Moshe was a trustworthy administrator and an expert accountant. His choice of words was a barbed response to Kantrokus, “Gabai Ne’emon Boki,” whose first letters spell “GaNoV.” (M’oroh Shel Torah)
Ch. 3, v. 51: “Va’yiten Moshe es kesef hapduyim l’Aharon ulvonov al pi Hashem kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe” – And Moshe gave the silver of the redeemed ones to Aharon and to his children as per the word of Hashem just as Hashem commanded Moshe – The seeming redundancy at the end of this verse deserves clarification. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that if the verse only said, “al pi Hashem,” then one might assume that although Moshe complied, he did so with the motivating factor being that his brother and nephews would derive the benefit of receiving these monies. The verse therefore adds that he not only did as Hashem commanded but also that the only impetus was Hashem’s command.
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