Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 4, v. 32: "U'v'sheimos tif'k'du" - Whom or what was appointed by name?

2) Ch. 5, v. 20: "V'AT ki sotis" - The word "v'at" seems totally superfluous, as the Kohein is addressing the "sotoh." What need is there for this pronoun of direct address?

3) Ch. 5, v. 15: "V'heivi ho'ish es ishto el haKohein" - If we are in doubt if a wife was faithful to her husband, why don't we simply approach this as we do to all doubts? The woman has a status of kashrus unless proven otherwise. If there are witnesses to her sinning, then she is guilty and is punished accordingly. If there are no witnesses then she should be considered innocent. Why does the Torah create a new status of doubt, carrying in its wake restrictions on their marital relations, and entailing a complicated ritual that includes erasing of Hashem's Holy Name and the bringing of sacrifices?

4) Ch. 7, v. 3: "Sheish eglos TZOV" - What is the translation of the word TZOV?

5) Ch. 7, v. 13: "V'korbono" - Since Nach'shon was the first to bring the donations and sacrifices for the dedication of the Mishkon, why do we have a connecting Vov at the beginning of this word? It would seem to indicate that he was not the first to bring a dedication sacrifice.

Answer to questions on parshas Bmidbar:

1) Ch. 1, v. 42: "Bnei Naftoli" - Why is the word "bnei" without a La'med before it, contrary to the La'med prefix we find by all the other tribes?

1) The Baal Haturim answers that this points out that the tribe of Naftoli had a dearth of males, while all the other tribes had a majority of males.

2) Other commentators say that the missing La'med indicates the exact opposite.

3) 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 La'med is left out, indicating, "Bnei Naftoli," their total was known automatically, even without a tribal count.

2) Ch. 1, v. 53: "V'haL'viim yachanu soviv l'Mishkan ho'eidus" - The area occupied by the L'viim is called "machaneh L'vioh." People who have certain types of "tumoh" may not enter this area, and if they are already in it, they are to be sent out (see Bmidbar 5:2). Included in this list is a "baal keri." If so, how did the L'viim have marital relations with their wives?

The Meshech Chochmoh answers that within "machaneh L'vioh" there were two areas with different halachic statuses. The area closer to the Mishkon was restricted as mentioned above, but there was a second area that was outside the inner one that had no such restriction. It was in this area that the homes of the L'viim were placed.

3) Ch. 2, v. 20: "V'olov matteh Menasheh" - Why by the other tribes who were mentioned after the "degel" head does it say "v'hachonim olov," and here the word "v'hachonim" is skipped?"

1) The R"I in the Moshav Z'keinim asks this and answers that this indicates that Menasheh and Efrayim are to be viewed as one, as they are both descendants of Yoseif.

2) Alternatively, he answers that this indicates that for all other tribes there were individual rivers flowing into their parcel of land, but Menasheh and Efrayim shared one.

3) The Rokei'ach answers that all other tribes had bodies of water separating their land portions while Efrayim and Menasheh had nothing separating theirs from each other. It seems that this is indicated by translating "v'olov" quite literally as "and UPON him" since these two tribes were physically closer to each other than any other tribes were.

4) The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the verse is indicating that eventually Menasheh will surpass Efrayim in population, hence the word "v'olov." This will take place when counting the new generation of bnei Yisroel who will enter Eretz Yisroel, a fulfillment of "v'yidgu lorov b'kerev ho'oretz" (Breishis 48:16). In our parsha Efrayim's population was 40,500 against Menasheh's 32,200, while in parshas Pinchos, Efrayim's population was 32,500 against Menasheh's 52,700.

4) Ch. 3, v. 39: "Kol p'ku'dei haL'viim ...... kol zochor mi'ben chodesh vomaloh shnayin v'esrim o'lef" - The census of all the other tribes was from the age of twenty years and older. The count of the L'viim was from the age of a month and older. Yet the L'viim had the smallest population of all the tribes. Why?

Ten explanations for this phenomenon are offered:

1) Some of the L'viim had the responsibility to carry the holiest of the Mishkon vessels. If they were not treated with proper respect it would bring about their death (Rashi on Breishis 29:34 - Also see Yalkut Shimoni on Yeshayohu remez #298). Some raise a question on this explanation, as the counting in our parsha is before the tasks were allotted. However, we can say that because the future held this awesome responsibility, it was an indication that the L'viim were on an elevated level, closer to Hashem than any other tribe. Therefore any other shortcoming in their spiritual responsibilities were also dealt with harshly, as is derived from T'hilim 50:3, "usvivov nisaroh m'ode."

2) The population explosion of the bnei Yisroel in Egypt was nothing short of miraculous. The Torah says, "kaa'sher y'anu oso kein yirbeh," - as they pained the bnei Yisroel, so did they multiply. The increase in the number of bnei Yisroel was proportionate to their suffering. Since the tribe of Levi was not subjugated to slavery, as per M.R. Shmos 5:16, they did not multiply in a miraculous manner. (Ramban)

3) Our patriarch Yaakov expressed himself with negative terms towards Shimon and Levi (Breishis 49:5,6,7). This caused a limitation in their growth. Shimon's limitation takes place at the later counting (Bmidbar 26:14). (Ramban)

4) The L'viim were the spiritual leaders of the bnei Yisroel from the earliest days in Egypt. Their total immersion in Torah weakened them physically, "Torah ma'teshes kocho shel odom" (gemara Sanhedrin 26b). Because they were physically weak they reproduced in a limited manner. (Tzror Hamor)

5) The need for the bnei Yisroel to be a large population was so that when they would enter Eretz Yisroel they would occupy a large area so that they would not be overpowered by wild animals, "pen tirbeh o'lecho chayas haso'deh" (Dvorim 7:22). Since the L'viim would not inherit a large parcel of land and in the main would reside close to the Beis Hamikdosh, there was no need to have a large number of L'viim. (Abarbanel)

6) Since the L'viim were to reside around the Mishkon compound, they were similar to the angels that descended onto Har Sinai at the time of the giving of the Torah. (This is well understood according to the explanation of the Ibn Ezra on Shmos 19:13 that the sanctity of Har Sinai was transferred to the Mishkon.) Since the number of angels who descended onto Har Sinai was 22,000, as per the verse in T'hilim 68:18, "Rechev Elokim ribosayim alfei shinon," so too, the number of L'viim in the desert was 22,000. (Kabalistic writings)

7) The gemara Sotoh 12a relates that Amrom, the recognized leader of the bnei Yisroel, divorced his wife rather than reproduce and have his children thrown into the river. All others followed suit and did the same. "All others" means all from the tribe of Levi only, as they did not have the slave mentality. They were not ready to attempt to evade the Egyptians by giving birth in the fields and leaving their children there, as did the rest of the bnei Yisroel. They remained divorced from their wives for many years and therefore had a limited population. Amrom took back his wife shortly after he divorced her because of the prophecy of his daughter Miriam, as related in the above-mentioned gemara. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh and Kli Yokor)

8) If the L'viim were to multiply as greatly as the other tribes, when they would all live in Eretz Yisroel the L'viim would become an unbearable burden upon the other tribes, as they are involved in serving Hashem and are supported by everyone else. As well, more or larger parcels of land would have to be cut out of the other tribes' inheritance to supply them with land for housing. (Meshech Chochmoh) This opinion is mentioned in the Kli Yokor and he resoundingly disagrees with it.

9) Whatever is more dear, its development is more complicated and more difficult to come to fruition. The tribe of Levi, the spiritually chosen of Hashem, was therefore a limited group. (Haa'meik Dovor)

10) Rashi on Bmidbar 26:5 says that the Canaanites claimed that the bnei Yisroel were not of pure stock, reasoning that if the Egyptians were masters over the men, surely they lorded over their wives. The extreme population explosion of the bnei Yisroel clearly counters this claim since the gemara Avodoh Zoroh 54b says that if one were to commit adultery with a woman, by right the woman should not get pregnant, as a sin was committed. However, Hashem allowed the world to proceed by the "laws of nature" and it is possible to become pregnant even through an act of sin. This reasoning preempts a population explosion brought about by adultery. It is with difficulty that Hashem allows a pregnancy, but He would not allow multitudes beyond the "laws of nature" to be conceived in sin. Therefore the population explosion of the bnei Yisroel counters the claim that the Egyptians sinned with the bnos Yisroel.

This is an insight into "V'chaa'sher y'anu oso kein yirbeh " (Shmos 1:12). The more the Egyptians pained the bnei Yisroel and lorded over them, the more the bnei Yisroel multiplied, testimony that the bnei Yisroel were not sired by the Egyptians. Since the bnei Levi were not enslaved by the Egyptians, as per M.R. Shmos 5:16, there never was a claim that their wives were misused by the Egyptians. Since there was no such claim there was no need for the miracle of extreme population growth. This is also why the L'viim were counted separately (1:49), as they needed no proof for their pure lineage, as stated, "V'haL'viim l'ma'tei avosom" (1:47). (Adapted from the words of the Sha"ch and the M'lo Ho'omer)

PLEASE NOTE: It is worthwhile to see many of the above commentaries at the source, as they fill in more details. As well, we find in Divrei Hayomim 1:23:3 that the L'viim increased in number in Eretz Yisroel more than any other tribe. According to some of the above-mentioned answers this is most difficult to explain.

5) Ch. 4, v. 6: "V'somu badov" - Why is there a need to place the staves into the rings of the Holy Ark before transporting it? How were they ever allowed to be removed? Doesn't the Torah prohibit the removal of the staves in Shmos 25:15 with the words "lo yosuru mi'menu?"

1) The Ibn Ezra answers that "V'somu badov" refers to placing the staves onto the shoulders of the carriers, and not to placing the staves into the rings.

2) The Ramban and Baalei Tosfos say that while the Holy Ark was in place inside the Holy of Holies, the staves were pulled forward to create a slight bulge in the curtain, the "poroches." When it came time to transport the Holy Ark, the staves were set in a position that the Holy Ark be evenly centred, allowing for convenient transport.

3) There is an opinion brought in Tosfos on Yoma 72a that there were two sets of four rings attached to the Holy Ark, one set of four above the second set. The prohibition in Shmos 25:15 refers only to the staves placed into the upper set of rings, and our verse refers to placing a second pair of staves into the lower four rings for transportation purposes. There is no prohibition of removal of this second pair. As a matter of fact they are only attached for transportation purposes. This interpretation is strongly indicated by the words "U'shtei tabo'os" in Shmos 25:12, the stress being on the seemingly extra Vov in this word. This seems to tell us that in addition to the first four rings, there are also another two and two rings, totaling eight. Rashi and the Ibn Ezra go to some length to explain this Vov according to the more popular opinion that there were only four rings and two staves in total.

4) The Rivo in the name of Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi says that "lo yosuru" means to make staves that are so thick that they will fit very tightly into the rings. That way, once they are centred there will be no forward shifting of the Holy Ark when being carried downhill, and no reverse shifting when being carried uphill. The verse would be telling us a description of how to make the staves and not a prohibition. However, this extrapolation is not true. Even if the intention of the verse is as mentioned in the name of Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi, nonetheless, there must also be a prohibition. The mishnoh in the third chapter of Makos says that if one intentionally removes the staves of the Holy Ark, he has sinned and is liable to receive lashes for this transgression.

5) Another answer from the Ibn Ezra is that there is no prohibition to remove the staves to allow for the Holy Ark's being covered with the "bigdei hasrod" for transportation.



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

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