by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BMIDBAR 5772 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 17: "Es ho'anoshim ho'eileh asher nikvu b'sheimos" - These men who were specified by name - Rashi adds, "Asher nikvu lo kan b'sheimos." What is Rashi adding to what the verse clearly says? What is his intention with "lo kan?" Rashi on Bmidbar 13:50 says that where we find the title "anoshim" it means that they are worthy people, "chashuvim." If so, how can our verse call ALL the tribal leaders "anoshim," given that among them we have "Shlumiel ben Tzurishadai, a.k.a. Zimri ben Solu, asper the gemara Sanhedrin 82b, who later sinned with Kozbi bas Tzur in a most defiant and public manner? Rashi is forewarning this in his terse few words, "lo kan." The above-mentioned gemara says that he had five names, but his actual name was Shlumiel, as stated in our verse. The other names allude to his negativity. This is Rashi's intention. He is among those called "anoshim," because based on his name HERE, there is no negative connotation, and at this time he was clean of sin. (Gan Roveh citing Divrei Yo'ir)
Ch. 1, v. 20,22: "Bnei Reuvein …… l'gulg'losom, Livnei Shimon …….l'gulg'losom" - Sons of Reuvein …… to their heads, To sons of Shimon …… to their heads - The word "l'gulg'losom" is used specifically by these two tribes to allude to the need for some of their members to be reincarnated, "gilgul," to eradicate their wrongdoings, the tribe of Reuvein, those who joined Korach in his uprising against Moshe, and the tribe of Shimon, those who went along with Zimri, the 24,000 people who died through a plague. (Sha"ch)
Ch. 1, v. 24: "Pikudov" - His count - It is only by the tribe of Shimon that we find the use of this word. It also has the meaning of "loss, missing." Shimon's tribe suffered a large population loss, as we find the drop from earlier counts. The bnei Shimon constantly counted themselves as they diminished greatly, and there is no blessing in a thing that is counted. (M'leches Mach'she'ves)
Ch. 1, v. 50: "V'atoh hafkeid es haLviim" - And you appoint the Lviim - The "mesoroh" connects the word "hafkeid" of our verse with, "Hafkeid olov rosho" (T'hilim 109:6). The Chasam Sofer makes the connection understood. When a person is given a prestigious position there is a great fear that it will bring him to haughtiness. Hashem in His infinite kindness alleviates this by sending him enemies who detract from his honour. This will bring him down a peg or more. How so? The verse in Mishlei 16:7 states, "Birtzose Hashem darchei ish gam oyvov yashlim ito" - When Hashem is totally satisfied with the paths of a person even his enemies He will bring to make peace with him. Thus when we have "hafkeid," when the Lviim will be appointed to an exalted position, "hafkeid olov rosho," Hashem appoints an evil person upon him as a remedy to conceit.
Ch. 2, v. 2: "Ish al diglo v'osos l'veis avosom" - Each man on his flag with insignias to the house of their ancestors - The M.R. here says that when Hashem appeared at Har Sinai with a retinue of 22,000 angels, the angels came in formation with flags for each group. The bnei Yisroel saw this and coveted flags. Immediately Hashem notified Moshe to tell the bnei Yisroel that they should encamp in tribal groups with a unique tribal flag for each grouping.
We find in the M.R. at the beginning of parshas B'shalach that when Paroh caught up to the bnei Yisroel and saw them encamped by tribal groupings and with their unique ensigns he greatly regretted having emancipated them and he cried out, "Woe, - VY," hence, "VY-hi b'shalach Paroh es ho'om." Since the bnei Yisroel already had on their own made tribal flags what was there to covet just because they saw the 22,000 angels doing the same?
This can be answered with a parable. Two people were dressed in army regalia. One was given his apparel by the king when the king appointed him to a very high ranking position. The second person had an exact replica made by a seamstress. Although when they are each dressed in their clothing they look equally outfitted, nevertheless, there is a vast difference between the two. The former is wearing his clothes as a sign from the king that he is deserving of his most exalted position, while the latter, albeit appearing the same, is devoid of any honour by wearing the clothes. He simply had a seamstress make the clothing by his personal request.
Similarly here, although the bnei Yisroel already were positioned by tribal groupings and had unique tribal pennants, this was their own doing. When they saw that the angels had this they obviously realized that it was Hashem's doing as a sign that the angels are His escorts. Of this they were jealous, and Hashem responded that they should now do this based on His command, making it an exercise of great significance. (Adaptation of words of Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 2, v. 3: "Mi'neged soviv l'ohel mo'eid yachanu" - Distanced around the tent of convocation shall they encamp - The verse does not give an exact distance away from "ohel mo'eid" to encamp. However, Medrash Tanchuma and M.R. both say that the maximum distance is 2,000 cubits so that they may come to pray near the Holy Ark on Shabbos. The Baal Haturim adds that, "Mi'neged soviv l'ohel" has the same numerical value as, "L'alpa'yim amoh."
Ch. 3, v. 1: "V'eileh toldos Aharon uMoshe b'yom di'beir Hashem el Moshe b'har Sinai" - And these are the children of Aharon and Moshe on the day that Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai - The gemara Sanhedrin 19b notes that no children of Moshe are mentioned and that the children of Aharon are mentioned as if they were both the children of Aharon and Moshe. We derive from this that when one teaches Torah to someone it is as if the student is his child.
It is interesting to note that Nodov and Avihu, who were not alive at this point, are mentioned here, while Moshe's two sons who were alive are left out. Didn't Moshe also teach his own children?
After the incident with the golden calf Moshe took his tent and moved it outside the encampment. Those who were willing to make the long trip would come out to his tent and hear the word of Hashem. Aharon's sons came but Moshe's did not. Before this incident Moshe gave no preferential treatment to his sons because from the few days before the giving of the Torah and onwards he was totally involved in transmitting the Torah to the bnei Yisroel, as Rashi comments in parshas Yisro, that Moshe descended from Har Sinai, gave over the words of Hashem and did not attend to his personal needs, i.e. teaching his sons.
We can now explain the words of our verse in a very insightful manner. "These are the children of Aharon and Moshe," Moshe's biological children are not mentioned because of the above, and this was a result of "b'yom di'beir Hashem el Moshe b'har Sinai." From this point onwards he was totally involved in transmitting the Torah to the masses who put in the effort to come to his "tent in exile." (Chasam Sofer)
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