subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@AOL.COM


Ch. 4, v. 21: "Bnei Gershon gam heim l'veis avosom l'mish'p'chosom" - The sons of Gershon also to the house of their fathers to their families - "Also" refers to their being counted ahead of M'rori's family, just as the family of K'hos was counted ahead of M'rori (4:2). K'hos was counted first because his family had the formidable task of carrying the Holy Ark, and K'hos himself was the leader of his generation. Gershon was counted second, ahead of M'rori, because he was the firstborn. This is why our verse mentions "l'veis avosom," because of his position of firstborn, his was the next family counted. (Divrei Avrohom)

Perhaps we can explain the change in the order of words from 4:2 to here according to this insight. In 4:2 the verse says to count the family of K'hos "l'mish'p'chosom l'veis avosom." Our verse says to count "l'veis avosom l'mish'p'chosom." These words are switched because our verse is telling us that the reason Gershon came ahead of M'rori is that he was the firstborn to his father, "l'veis avosom." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 4, v. 47: "Avodas avodoh" - Service of service - Rashi (gemara Arochin 11a) says that this refers to the Levites playing certain musical instruments. Since our verse mentions that the age of service is from 30 to 50 we deduce that after the age of 50 a Levite is disqualified even from playing music. This presents a difficulty because in parshas B'haalos'cho (8:25) Rashi writes that even over the age of 50 a Levite may do the service of song. We must differentiate between playing music with an instrument, where being older than 50 years is the retirement age, and singing, where a Levite older than 50 may still sing. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid)

Possibly another question can be answered with this difference between two types of song. In 4:23 the starting age for song is 30, while here it is 25. Although Rabbi Yoseif B'chor Shor explains the difference by saying that in verse 24 the Torah states that the responsibility of the bnei Gershon was to provide portage, and since this requires much strength, we wait for the Kohanim to reach the age of 30, when their strength is at its height (Pirkei Ovos 5:21), while in our verse the services are singing, slaughtering, flaying, and butchering, which do not require as much physical strength, nevertheless, he has not explained the disparity in age regarding song. However, according to Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid we can say that learning to properly play instruments requires more training than simply singing, hence the age for entering into this service is later.

Ch. 4, v. 47: "Vaavodas masso" - And the service of portage - The mishneh Shabbos 19:3 says that if one transports an item from one domain to another it is a desecration of Shabbos, as portage is a restricted "m'lochoh" of Shabbos, as this was the service of the "bnei K'hos."

The Rambam in hilchos Shabbos says that transporting from domain to domain is a "m'lochoh," as the Torah writes, "ki avodas hakodesh a'leihem bako'seif yiso'u" (Bmidbar 7:9). The need to bring a verse to prove this is puzzling. Why not simply say that since this act took place by the Mishkon, it is a legitimate "m'lochoh," just as we derive the rest of the 39 "m'lochos"? (Tosfos Yom Tov) 1) Since the item they carried was the Holy Ark, which had the supernatural power to "carry its carriers" (gemara Sotoh 36a), if not for a verse telling us that it is an "avodoh," I would not know this. (M'oroh Shel Torah) 2) Since the Holy Ark was quite heavy, and required 4 porters, each incapable of carrying it on his own, "zeh eino yochol 'zeh eino yochol," I would not know that it is a "m'lochoh." Although the Rambam rules that "zeh eino yochol 'zeh eino yochol" is culpable, since Rabbi Shimon posits that they are not held responsible, if not for a verse telling us that it is a "m'lochoh" when a number of people are involved, I would not know this.

3) Tosfos on the gemara Shovuos 2a d.h. "Y'tziyose" says that "hotzo'oh m'lochoh gru'oh hee," - transporting from domain to domain is a minimal act. We therefore need a verse indicating that it is a "m'lochoh." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 5, v. 8: "Ho'oshom hamushov laShem laKohein" - The guilt payment that is returned to Hashem should go to the Kohein - When one steals from a convert who later dies and leaves no heirs, when the thief afterwards confesses his sin, he is required to make reparations to a Kohein, the agent of Hashem. The contrite thief might think that he may pay off this debt by giving the Kohein "trumoh" offerings equal to the amount owed. The next verse therefore says, "V'chol trumoh .. asher yakrivu laKohein lo y'h'yeh," - And all elevated offerings that will be brought to the Kohein should belong to the giver, and not be reparation for stolen goods. (Meshech Chochmoh)

Ch. 5, v. 15: "V'heivi es ishto el haKohein" - And he shall bring his wife to the Kohein - Rashi (gemara Brochos 63a) in verse 12 writes that the parsha of the suspect wife is placed after the parsha of giving the Kohanim their due tithing to teach us that if a person retains that which is due the Kohein, he will end up coming to the Kohein against his will, with his wayward wife in tow. The Chasam Sofer explains this in a most marvelous manner. The gemara offers two manners (among others) through which a person can become wealthy. One is to properly tithe, "A'seir bishvil shetisasheir" (gemara Shabbos 119a), and the second is to bestow great honour upon one's wife (gemara B.M. 59a). A person might be motivated to tithe for improper reasons, only so that he will become wealthy. If so, he might calculate that he is better off spending the value of the tithing on enhancing his wife's wardrobe, i.e. giving her honour in this manner. However, his wife's being extravagantly dressed can readily bring her into the focus of a wayward man, and the parsha of "sotoh" could ensue.

Ch. 5, v. 31: "V'nikoh ho'ish mei'ovone" - And the man shall be cleansed of sin - Rashbam explains that had he kept quiet after his wife went into seclusion with the person he warned his wife about, he would have the sin of her being prohibited to him. By bringing her to the Kohein for the "sotoh" clarification procedure, either she will die for her sin, or she will be shown to be innocent and again be permitted to him.

Perhaps leaving her in a prohibited state is a sin by virtue of tempting himself, or because he has a way of making her permitted, and by abstaining he is considered a sinner, similar to a person who becomes a "nozir," who is considered a sinner for just prohibiting himself to drink wine for a mere 30 days. Sforno offers that he is cleansed of the sin of "chosheid bich'sheirim," of suspecting an otherwise guiltless person, of sinning. Because of her wayward action this rule does not apply. She has acted quite improperly, to the point that he is right to suspect her.

Ch. 6, v. 7: "L'oviv ul'imo lo yitamo" - To his father or his mother he shall not defile himself - This is even stricter than the law of a Kohein, who is permitted (required) to defile himself to his parents. This can be explained as follows: A Kohein receives his elevated sanctity through his parents, as they brought about his existence, and the status of Kohein is passed on from is father. A "nozir," however, creates his sanctity on his own, as this is not passed down to him by his parents. We can similarly understand why a Kohein Godol may not defile himself to his parents, because although he becomes a Kohein through them, but becoming a Kohein Godol is not genetically from them. (Sochatchover Rebbe in his preface to his halachic work Iglei Tal)

Ch. 6, v. 20: "V'achar yishteh hanozir yayin" - And afterwards the nozir may drink wine - Why does the Torah still call him a nozir after his period of being a nozir is completed? Isn't he just a normal citizen at this point? The Holy Alshich answers that the Torah teaches us that having experienced the elevated status of nozir, he is left with residual sanctity. This experience will leave him in an elevated state for the rest of his life.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel