by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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L'ILUY NISHMAS OVI MORI R' CHAIM B"R SIMCHOH NIFTAR 27 SIVON 5760 TNTB"H
SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS CHUKAS 5768 BS"D
Ch. 19, v. 1: "Va'y'dabeir Hashem el Moshe v'el Aharon" - And Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon - In the next verse we find, "Da'beir el bnei Yisroel." The Ramban comments that although Aharon is mentioned in the previous verse, "da'beir" is used here because Moshe is the main one. This seems to be a well known concept, that although we find in numerous places the statement that Hashem spoke to both Moshe and Aharon, nevertheless, the intention is that Hashem spoke only to Moshe and then Moshe told Aharon. It therefore seems a bit puzzling that the Ramban finds it necessary to say this. Added to this is the Ramban's comment on the next verse. He says that Aharon was also a prophet in this mitzvoh. All this deserves clarification.
Ch. 20, v. 1: "Va'yovo'u vnei Yisroel kol ho'eidoh" - And the bnei Yisroel the whole congregation came - Rashi explains that the words "kol ho'eidoh" tell us that all those who were decreed to die in the desert had already died, and those who were presently alive were not included in the decree.
The Ramban is not satisfied with this explanation, as we find "kol ho'eidoh" later in verse 22, "Va'yovo'u vnei Yisroel kol ho'eidoh Hore Hohor." Ibn Ezra answers that it is necessary to mention that the complete congregation was present because in the interim Edom came out to do war with the bnei Yisroel, and the verse tells us that not even one of the bnei Yisroel died in battle. The Ramban does not accept this because, although Edom confronted the bnei Yisroel, the bnei Yisroel turned away from their land and there was no actual battle. He therefore offers that we find in numerous places, and he cites them, the mention of the complete congregation, and in particular when there was a complaint. He says that in verse 22 the mention of "kol ho'eidoh" teaches us that all were involved in mourning Aharon.
Ch. 20, v. 1: "Vatomos shom Miriam" - And Miriam died there - Rashi comments that Miriam died a death called "misas n'shikoh" just like Aharon and Moshe would, but the verse does not spell this out. Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 3:51 explains "misas n'shikoh." When a person who is spiritually complete comes to the end of his life he reaches very high spiritual heights and understandings. When the end is near he longs for even greater heights of understanding and when this is granted the soul derives extreme pleasure and leaves the corporal shell.
Ch. 20, v. 1: "Vatomos shom Miriam vatiko'veir shom" - And Miriam died there and she was buried there - Why wasn't Miriam brought along to be buried in Eretz Yisroel just as the shvotim were? The Meshech Chochmoh explains that she died in Ko'deish, in peripheral Edom. In the future Hashem will grant us the lands of Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni, i.e. Amon, Moav, and Edom. At that time her burial place will be within Eretz Yisroel. By leaving her there it is a guarantee that Hashem will endow us with these lands. The shvotim were already being transported, so they were taken further, to actual Eretz Yisroel, while Miriam had just died and was not yet transported. It is better to have here buried right there, "vatomos SHOM vatiko'veir SHOM."
(Do we apply this concept to Aharon's being buried on Hore Hohor?)
Ch. 20, v. 1,2: "Vatomos shom Miriam, V'lo hoyoh mayim lo'eidoh" - And Miriam died there, And there was no water for the assemblage - Because the bnei Yisroel did not sufficiently mourn Miriam, i.e. they shed no tears, in kind they immediately had no more water. (Toldos Yitzchok)
Ch. 20, v. 2: "Va'yikohalu al Moshe v'al Aharon" - And they congregated upon Moshe and Aharon - In the next verse we find that they complained only to Moshe.
The Ibn Ezra says that they complained to both Moshe and Aharon, but the verse only mentions Moshe because they complained to him in a much more powerful manner than to Aharon.
Perhaps they wanted to complain only to Moshe, but Aharon was there with him, as they were "sitting shivah" together. (Nirreh li)
Was there anything improper about bothering Moshe when he was a mourner in the middle of "shiva?" Toldos Yitzchok says that indeed this was shameful. However, the Chizkuni says that they were completely within their rights because they had no water.
Ch. 20, v. 3: "Va'yomru leimore" - And they said to thus say - The double expression means that they conveyed their words of complaint to Moshe and demanded a response. (Rabbeinu Tovioh)
Possibly, this might mean that they did not say these words outright, but instead they said something softer that contained the message, "v'lu govanu ……" (Nirreh li)
Ch. 20, v. 3: "Bigva acheinu" - In the death of our brethren - Who were their brothers? Rabbeinu Bachyei says that these were the people of the previous generation.
This would explain why they added, "lifnei Hashem." The previous generation clearly died through an edict emanating from Hashem. Firstly, no one under the age of sixty years died, and as well, they all died on the anniversary of the sin of the spies, the 9th of Ov. They said that they would prefer to die by Hashem's edict rather than through thirst, which could well be caused by Moshe's not taking care of their needs.
Minchoh V'luloh says that the complainers were the "eirev rav," and they referred to their brethren who died at yam suf. They said, "We prefer to die through an abundance of water, as was experienced at yam suf, rather than die from a lack of water."
Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo m'kome zera u'seinoh v'gefen v'rimon umayim ayin lishtose" - Not a place of figs and grapevines and pomegranates and there is no water to drink - If they had no water why bother mentioning the lack of these fruits? Toldos Yitzchok answers that if one is without water and is very thirsty, grapes and pomegranates can temporarily quench his thirst.
What remains to be explained according to the Toldos Yitzchok is why they also mentioned "zera," grain.
Ch. 20, v. 8: "V'nosan meimov v'hotzeiso lo'hem mayim" - And it will give forth its waters and you will extract for them water - Why the double expression? Just as the gemara Yoma relates that the manna appeared for the more righteous people in a more convenient manner, and for the less righteous in an inconvenient manner, the water likewise had this nature. For the righteous the water gushed forth easily, while for the less righteous it needed more effort, expressed as "v'hotzeiso." (Sifsei Kohein)
We might add that this would explain the plurality of "meimov" and the singularity of "mayim." Just as the manna had endless different tastes, but only for the righteous according to the Paa'nei'ach Rozo, so too, there was a plurality of tastes in the water for the righteous, but not for others. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 20, v. 12: "Lo he'emantem" - You have not caused faith - The Yalkut Shimoni says that there were four misdeeds. Our verse says "lo he'emantem," meaning that Hashem commanded that Moshe talk to the rock, and instead he smote it, "lo kidashtem" (Dvorim 32:51), meaning that they did not bring forth water from any stone that was requested of them, "m'altem" (ad loc.), meaning that Moshe told them off by saying "hamin ha'sela" (verse 10), and "m'ri'sem" (verse 24), meaning that they did not speak in front of the rock, i.e. they did not teach a chapter of Torah knowledge.
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