by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS CHUKAS 5773 BS"D
Ch. 19, v. 2: "Zose chukas haTorah asher tzivoh Hashem leimore" - This is the statute of the Torah that Hashem commanded so saying - Targum Onkelos comments on these words in a negative manner, that the Torah will ch"v be ripped, see Mogein Avrohom #580. In this vein the Chasam Sofer says that the negative point is "asher tzivoh Hashem leimore," that Hashem has commanded to tell over the laws of the Torah. This means that the leaders are responsible to oversee the people's behaviour and admonish as needed. The gemara says that in its generation there was no proper admonisher. As well, had people not been admonished they would have a bit of an excuse of not being prodded on to do that which is correct. Thus both the admonishers and the admonished are held accountable.
Ch. 19, v. 2: "Foroh adumoh" - A red heifer - The ritual for purifying a person who has contracted corpse defilement is a very shrouded mystery, a true "chukoh." It is most befitting that the purification process be a "chukoh" given that death for mankind came about through Odom's pursuit of "understanding" at a level that Hashem prohibited. It is therefore conversely totally not understood. This is what brings about the purification. (Sfas Emes)
Ch. 19, v. 13: "Kol hano'gei'a b'meis b'nefesh odom" - Whoever touches a corpse of the soul of a man - Why is the Torah so strict with the level of and the ease of defilement to a human corpse? This helps minimize relatives of the deceased being with the corpse of a beloved relative. This would exacerbate their already painful loss. (Chizkuni)
Ch. 19, v. 13: "Kol hano'gei'a b'meis b'nefesh odom asher yomus" - Whoever touches a corpse of the soul of a man who will die - The verse already mentioned that he was "meis." What need is there to reiterate "asher yomus?" There is defilement to a dead person not only when he comes into contact with a dead person but also with a certain volume of his blood, a r'viis." Had our verse not added on the words "asher yomus," I might have mistakenly understood "b'nefesh odom" to mean the blood, which is the "nefesh," of even an alive "odom." We are to understand "b'meis b'nefesh odom" as "either a corpse or the soul," i.e. the blood. (Nachalas Zvi)
Ch. 19, v. 18: "V'lokach eizove" - And he shall take hyssop - The cantillation on these words is "kadma v'azla." The person going through the purification process must be humble. This is alluded to in these cantillation signs. "Kadma," - that which was before - means "Mei'ayin bosso," from where have you come, from a putrid drop. "Azla," - that you will go - to a place of earth, worms, and decomposition (Pirkei Ovos). (Pninim Y'korim)
Ch. 20, v. 1: "Va'yeishev ho'om b'Ko'deish" - And the nation settled in Kodeish - Normally we express the nation's stopping in a location in desert as "va'yichan." "Va'yeishev" connotes a more permanent settling. Thus, when the nation settled into sanctity, Kodeish, meaning that there was no drive to go higher, and they were not driven to only temporarily rest there, "va'yichan," and to then rise from this resting place to go upwards and onwards, they lost Miriam. She symbolized growth in spirituality. The men only sang at "krias Yam Suf," and she sang and played instruments. (n.l.)
Ch. 20, v. 1: "Vatomos shom Miriam" - And Miriam died there - The juxtaposition of Miriam's death to the processing of the red heifer teaches us that just as the red heifer brings atonement, as the Torah calls it a "chatos," so too, the death of a righteous person brings atonement. There is a second source for this concept. It is the reading of the death of Nodov and Avihu on Yom Kippur. A difference between these two sources is that since Miriam died without a sin, so too only the death of flawless righteous people bring about atonement for the masses. According to the source from Nodov and Avihu, we know that they sinned but were otherwise flawless, then even the death of a righteous person who sinned brings atonement. (Alshich Hakodosh)
Perhaps another difference can be made. Upon Miriam's death the wellspring stopped and the nation suffered. Possibly, only for those who feel the loss of the righteous person strongly is there atonement. If the source is Nodov and Avihu, possibly everyone, whether strongly affected or not, receives atonement. (n.l.)
Ch. 20, v. 2,3: "V'lo hoyoh mayim lo'eidoh, Va'yorev ho'om im Moshe" - And there was no water for the congregation, And the nation argued with Moshe - Based on the well known difference between "eidoh" and "om," the former meaning the elevated people and the latter the "eirev rav," we can say that no one had water, not even the elevated people. When it came to complaining and arguing, it was only the low class people who came to Moshe. (n.l.)
Ch. 20, v. 2,3: "Va'yikohalu al Moshe v'al Aharon, Va'yorev ho'om im Moshe" - And they assembled on Moshe and on Aharon, And the nation argued with Moshe - Verse 2 tells us that they came to Moshe and Aharon and in verse 3 we find that they only argued with Moshe. We could simply say that when they came Moshe and Aharon were together, but they complained to Moshe as he was the one they felt could solve the problem.
However, Yalkut Shimoni relates that when the large group of people came to Moshe and Aharon they were sitting "shiva," and Aharon, when he noticed them coming said to Moshe that a large group of people is coming to pay its respects. Moshe responded that this was not likely as they did not come in an orderly, respectful manner. The elders were not at the head. The group was in disarray. The people heard this exchange, and although originally they planned to lodge their complaints against Moshe and Aharon, when they heard Aharon's positive interpretation and Moshe's negative interpretation of their visit, they decided to leave Aharon alone.
It is interesting to note that the Yalkut criticizes Moshe for not taking the initiative to bring the nation water notwithstanding that he was in mourning, and only acting when the people complained. This is akin to the insight of the Baal Ho'akeidoh, that Moshe's sin at "mei m'rivoh" was that he didn't act immediately.
Ch. 20, v. 4,5: "V'lomoh ha'veisem es k'hal Hashem el hamidbor ha'zeh, V'lomoh helisunu miMitzrayim" - And why have you brought the congregation of Hashem to this desert, And why have you brought us up from Egypt - They had two complaints; firstly, why have you brought us through the desert and not through a better path, and secondly, if your answer to the first complaint is that there is no other way to go, then why did you take us out of Egypt altogether. (Imrei Shefer)
Ch. 20, v. 8: "V'dibartem el ha'sela l'eineihem" - And you shall speak to the rock in front of their eyes - When one speaks in the presence of others the words go into their ears, so why doesn't our verse say "l'ozneihem?" Based on the opinions that the wrongdoing was in Moshe's hitting the rock and not speaking to it, which obviously is a major issue since it sealed his fate to not enter Eretz Yisroel, it is understandable why our verse says "l'eineihem." If the stress was only "to their ears" then although they heard Moshe speaking, nevertheless, maybe he employed some additional act to produce the water. If "to their eyes" all they have is his speaking, then it means it is to the exclusion of anything else, as "seeing is believing." (n.l.)
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