by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'HAALOS'CHO 5767 BS"DCh. 9, v. 1: "Bachodesh horishon" - In the first month - Rashi says that the first chapter in this book of Bmidbar took place chronologically earlier. This teaches us the rule of "Ein mukdam um'uchar baTorah." Rashi then asks, "V'lomoh lo posach b'zu." Rabbi Yisroel Salanter asks that this seems to be a contradiction within Rashi. He just said that there need not be a chronological order, so why does he ask "Why was this parsha not said at the beginning of sefer B'midbar?" He answers that "v'lomoh" is not "and why," but rather, it is an abbreviation, "Ulfi Medrash Hagodoh," and is a new interpretation.
It seems that Rashi can be explained in a simple manner. Although there need not be a chronological order, this only means that if there is an overriding factor, the timeline bows to it, but not that the Torah wantonly disregards a chronological order. This is clearly stated by the Ramban at the beginning of parshas Matos, in contra-distinction to the opinion of the Ibn Ezra there.
Note that Rashi here says "Lomadto," - you have learned. Rashi in his terse razor-sharp words answers a question that seems to be raised by Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his commentary Gilyon Hashas on the gemara P'sochim 6b. The gemara cites our verse as a proof that not everything in the Torah follows a chronological order. Rabbi Akiva Eiger lists numerous places where Rashi in his commentary on Chumash says "ein mukdam ……" It seems that he is raising a question. Since some of those places are earlier verses in the Torah, why didn't this gemara cite an earlier proof? Ramban near the beginning of sefer Vayikra says that all of Rashi's statements that "this verse is out of chronological order" can be refuted, but not our verse Bmidbar 9:1. This is Rashi's intention with the word "lomadto." From here you LEARN this rule, as all earlier instances can be refuted. Once this axiom is true, it is most appropriate to apply it in earlier cases, which seem to indicate the same. This is why the gemara waits until our verse to offer a proof for this rule. (Shaa'rei Aharon)
Ch. 9, v. 2: "V'yaasu" - And they shall make - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh is in consonance with the Ramban and Tosfos on the gemara Kidushin 37b d.h. "ho'il" in his second answer that the "korban Pesach" was to be offered in the desert. This is contrary to the Sifri here. It was only because people were either uncircumcised or had servants and children who were uncircumcised, that they could not offer the "korban Pesach." Although Tosfos on the gemara Y'vomos 72a says that if one may not circumcise his son he is still to bring his "korban Pesach," since the bnei Yisroel were at fault for the wind not blowing they may not offer the "korban Pesach." This likewise explains why it was to their discredit that they brought a "korban Pesach" only once in the desert.
Although beyond their control, this was still considered disgraceful because had they not sinned with the spies there would have been a north wind blowing, which would create a safe environment for recovering from the circumcision surgery. An added punishment, besides their not entering the Promised Land, was that this wind stopped blowing. This in turn kept them from performing circumcisions, and this was their shame.
Hamakneh asks: "Why couldn't those who left Egypt and were already circumcised offer the 'korban Pesach'"? Although when a majority of the population is uncircumcised, even those who are circumcised may not bring the "korban Pesach," but at least for the first few years in the desert there was a majority of circumcised men, as they died at the rate of 15,000 per annum (gemara B.B. 121a), and were replaced by newborns at approximately the same rate. Although the Ramban offers that they had sons and male slaves born to them, an impediment to their bringing a "korban Pesach," it is hard to fathom that every last person had this occurrence. As well, Tosfos makes no mention of sons and male slaves being the hindrance.
He therefore disagrees with the Ramban and says that since the basis for the opinion that they indeed did have a responsibility to bring a Paschal offering every year even in the desert is based upon a novel interpretation of Shmos 12:25, and the intention of "Bring a Paschal offering when you come into the land" is to be interpreted as "Bring it now in the desert as a merit to enter the land," something the gemara does not mention at all, but can be assumed as a dissenting opinion, since this interpretation is used for the statement that "When Hashem will bring you into the land …… and it shall be as a sign upon your arm" (Shmos 13:5), once they were told that they would die in the desert they were exempt from offering the "korban Pesach." Those born in the desert and 13 years later came of age were also exempt because they were uncircumcised. However, in the first year it is farfetched to say that they all had newborn uncircumcised sons and male slaves. At this point in time they were before the incident of the spies, so they were still going to enter Eretz Yisroel. Therefore, they were required to bring a "korban Pesach." (Although he leaves it at this in Ponim Yofos, in Hamakneh, his commentary on the gemara Kidushin, he discards this line of thought because if it were true that those who were told that they would die in the desert were relieved of mitzvos that were a merit to enter the Promised Land, they would have lost the mitzvos of tefillin and redeeming the firstborn donkey as well.)
It seems that even if we were to accept that they all had uncircumcised son/slaves they could still offer the "korban Pesach" that year because the reason the north wind did not blow before the incident with the spies is so that the Clouds of Glory not disperse. The gemara Y'vomos 72a says that when it is beyond their control (and it was not their wrongdoing that brought this about) they are to offer a "korban Pesach. (If the wind did not blow so that there would be no dispersion of the Clouds of Glory, even if they brought about through their misdeeds another reason for the wind to not blow, the previous reason likewise negated their circumcising their sons, so why are they faulted? There is an answer for this in the Hamakneh on the Tosfos.) What remains to be resolved is how does the he explain why those above 13 years of age but below 20, and those above 60, who were not included in the desert death penalty, should not bring a "korban Pesach"? In Hamakneh he says they were still a minority. The L'viim, even in the desert, were circumcised, so why didn't they bring a "korban Pesach"? Same answer.
What role does the "majority" being unable to offer the sacrifice play in disqualifying the minority? I was told by HRH"G R' Shlomo Miller shlit"a that in the desert if only the minority of the congregation was able to offer the "korban Pesach" it would be like offering it on a "bomoh," which is prohibited.
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