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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 2: "B'mispar sheimos" - We find the mention of the count of their NAMES here but not in the count in parshas Pinchos (26:2). This difference can be explained as follows: Here we count the bnei Yisroel who left Egypt. One of their merits was that although they were enslaved in a foreign land, they did not change their names. Thus our verse mentions "sheimos." The count in parshas Pinchos is that of the next generation, those who will enter Eretz Yisroel, so the term "sheimos" is not used.

While on the subject of the great value of maintaining names, it is told of a chosid of the Sfas Emes who had ample opportunity, yet infrequently came to his Rebbe for counsel, etc. (See Ramban on 1:45 about the importance of appearing in front of a great Torah leader. This is not limited to Chasidim.) Upon the birth of a son a man came to the Sfas Emes, seeking advice on the naming of his newborn son. The Sfas Emes chastised him, saying that when he should have come to him he did not, and now regarding the naming of his son, where Hashem sends a name to the father, and this being a message close to the level of prophecy, he bothers to come.

The great Gaon Rabbi Yehoshua Yisroel Tronk, author of Y'shu'ose Malko, Miktzo'a baTorah, and numerous other sforim, had a most interesting story surrounding his naming. At his circumcision his father gave him the names Yehoshua Yisroel. During the meal following the circumcision, as he sat at the head table, his father spontaneously banged on the table and blurted out, "I forgot!" The Rabbi sitting next to him asked for an explanation. He said that he intended to give his son three names, not two. They were to be Yisroel, for the Holy Baal Shem Tov, Eliyohu, for the GR"A, and Yehoshua, for the Pnei Yehoshua. He had forgotten to mention the name Eliyohu. The Rabbi sitting next to him responded that Hashem fulfilled his wish, as he did not really leave out the name Eliyohu. The names Yisroel Yehoshua that he gave his son contain in them the name Eliyohu. The last two letters of Yisroel are Alef-Lamed. The first three letters of Yehoshua are Yud-Hei-Vov. These five letters in their exact order that they appear in Yisroel Yehoshua, spell out Eliyohu, Alef-Lamed-Yud-Hei-Vov.

(This story was confirmed to me by one of his descendants.)

Ch. 1, v. 4: "Ish rosh l'veis avosov" - The Rov of Cordova had a son and a student. Unfortunately, his son did not interest himself in Torah studies, and remained unlearned. His student's parents were very low class people. However, the student applied himself very diligently to his studies and excelled, becoming the best student of the Rov. Upon the demise of the Rov, the community understandably appointed the scholarly student in his place. Came the day when the jealous son laced into the new Rov, reminding him that he came from a family of lowly people. The Rov calmly responded, "Your father is the end of a line of distinguished scholars, while I hope to be the beginning of a line of great Torah personages." Thus our verse tells us that a person should be ROSH, a head "l'veis avosov."

Ch. 1, v. 4: "Ish rosh l'veis avosov HU" - The last word in this verse seems to be superfluous. This word teaches us that one should be a head, a leader, not because of family lineage, nor because of the influence of money, but rather because of HIS OWN merits. (Ol'lose Efrayim)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Kru'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. 42: "Bnei Naftoli" - Why is the word "bnei" without a Lamed before it, contrary to the Lamed prefix we find by all the other tribes? 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 Lamed is left out, indicating, "nei 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. 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. 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 Vayikra 10:12 who says that this is the intention of Moshe in the words "Vo'espallel gam b'ad Aharon" (Dvorim 9:20).



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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