Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 13, v. 3: "Roshei bnei Yisroel heimoh" - What meaning can be put into these words besides the simple meaning that they were tribal heads?

2) Ch. 15, v. 32: "Eitzim" - Wood - Tosfos on the gemara B.B. 119b d.h. "afilu" brings in the name of the medrash that Tz'lofchod, the Shabbos desecrator, had a noble intention. Is there any indication for this in the words of the verses describing this incident?

3) Ch. 15, v. 34: "Va'yanichu oso bamishmor" - The Ram"o in O.Ch. #339:4 says that we may not incarcerate a person on Shabbos Kodesh. We see from our verse that the Shabbos transgressor was incarcerated on Shabbos.

4) Ch. 15, v. 37-41: PARSHAS TZITZIS - The Daas Z'keinim and the Rosh both cite a medrash that asks why the parsha of tzitzis is placed immediately after the parsha of Tzelofchod. The medrash relates that Moshe said to Hashem, "You have given the bnei Yisroel a mitzvoh of wearing tefillin. It serves as a reminder to fulfill all of the Torah's mitzvos, as is written, "l'maan ti'h'yeh Toras Hashem b'fichoh" (Shmos 13:9). However, You have forbidden wearing tefillin on Shabbos (gemara M'nochos 36b). Had Tzelofchod been allowed to wear tefillin on Shabbos he would have remembered to not desecrate it." Hashem responded that He would now give a new mitzvoh of wearing tzitzis which would be a constant reminder to fulfill all the Torah's mitzvos, as is written, "u'r'i'sem oso u'z'chartem es kol mitzvos Hashem" (15:39). This mitzvoh would apply to Shabbos as well. Why isn't Shabbos alone a sufficient reminder to do all of Hashem's mitzvos? It is called a sign, just as tefillin are.

5) Ch. 15, v. 39: "V'ho'yoh lochem l'tzitzis" - The Ibn Ezra writes that it is more important for a person to wear tzitzis when he is not praying than during prayers. The tzitzis remind a person of all the mitzvos of the Torah, "u'r'i'sem oso u'z'chartem es kol mitzvos Hashem," and during prayer it is very unlikely for a person to sin. However, when he goes about his daily activities there is a much greater likelihood that he will sin, so he should wear his tzitzis all day. Why does the Ibn Ezra wait until the third mention of tzitzis to make this comment and is there any indication for his comment in the verses themselves?



The Ar"i z"l says that these words indicate that the souls of the original heads of the tribes, namely the sons of Yaakov, accompanied the tribal heads. In a prophetic manner, Yosef alluded to his brothers being involved as spies in our parsha. He therefore said, "m'raglim attem" (Breishis 42:9). They in turn responded, "lo HO'YU avo'decho m'raglim" (42:11). When relating their happenings in Egypt to their father, they said, "lo HO'YINU m'raglim" (42:31). Note that in both these verses they said that they WERE not spies, in the PAST tense.

According to the above Ar"i z"l it is understood. They also prophetically responded that they were not spies in the past but will be in the future, when their spirits will be embodied in the tribal heads sent out to spy the land. (Shaar Bas Rabim)


The Shaar Bas Rabim finds an indication from the verse that the Shabbos desecrator had a positive "l'sheim shomayim" purpose in mind. When he was brought in front of Moshe the term used is "va'yakrivu" (v. 33) rather than "va'yoviu" (Vayikra 24:11) as by the blasphemer who was also brought in front of Moshe for judgment. He says that "va'yoviu" indicates being brought against one's will, as we find regarding Vashti, "L'HOVI es Vashti" (Megilas Esther 1:11), while "va'yakrivu" means they brought him willingly.

Perhaps there is a different reason for the difference in expression. Possibly in both cases it was against their will, but "va'yoviu" means that they carried him, totally lifting him off the ground. The case of the blasphemer, if an outgrowth of his not being allowed to pitch his tent among any of the tribes, obviously did not take place on Shabbos. However, in our case of Shabbos desecration it may be assumed that he was brought in front of Moshe on Shabbos itself (This is the assumption of the Shvus Yaakov.) and when a person resists being carried the ruling of "chai no'sei es atzmo," - a live being carries itself, does not apply (see Mishnoh B'ruroh 308:153). To avoid transgressing Shabbos by carrying the transgressor, "va'yakrivu" - they brought him close by holding onto him and leading him to Moshe, which is allowed on Shabbos (see gemara Shabbos 88b and 128b). However, according to the opinion that the blasphemer did his act as an outgrowth of his ridiculing the consumption of the "lechem haponim" which was a week old, it is also likely that this took place on Shabbos, and the proof of the Shaar Bas Rabim is strengthened.


The Shvus Yaakov asks this based on his opinion that the incarceration took place immediately. The Kerem Shlomo answers this question by comparing the term used here for incarceration with that in Breishis 40:3. There it says regarding Paroh's butler and baker "VAYI'TEIN osom b'mishmar." We can differentiate between VA'YANICHU and VA'YI'TEIN, the latter meaning that they were incarcerated, while "VA'YANICHU oso bamishmor" means "and they LEFT him under guard," but not locked up. This difference is quite logical if we say that the Shabbos desecrator went willingly to his death as mentioned earlier. However, we find the same term by the blasphemer "va'yanichuhu bamishmor," although there is no reason to assume that he went to jail and to his death willingly, so he should have been locked up, not just placed under guard. As mentioned in the previous offering, there might even be an indication that he went to jail quite reluctantly by the use of the word "va'yo'viu" coupled with its taking place on Shabbos.

This whole problem is avoided by the Ibn Ezra who says that the Shabbos transgressor was placed into jail after Shabbos. No doubt he says this to avoid the halachic problem pointed out from the ruling of the Ram"o.

While on the subject of terms used by the Torah for placing people into jail we also find the terms "va'ye'esof" in Breishis 42:17 and "yei'o'seir" in Breishis 42:19. Perhaps "va'yei'o'seif" is used when many people are "collected" and put into jail as is the case in Breishis 42:17, or alternatively, when many people are incarcerated in one cell or room, while "yei'o'seir" is used when indicating that one is also tied up in ropes or chains, as seems to be corroborated by T'hilim 107:10 and 107:14, "A'SI'REI oni u'varzel, u'mosroseihem y'na'teik." If we don't differentiate between "vayanichu" and "va'yi'tein" as does the Kerem Shlomo, we might say that "va'yanichu" is used when one is placed into jail for a short term, as it is obvious that the blasphemer and the Shabbos desecrator were both guarded or in a holding cell for a short period of time, as they were going to be judged within a day to comply with the halacha of "ein m'anin es hadin," we may not delay the judgement, while "va'yi'tein" by the butler and baker refers to placing them into jail for a long period of time. Alternatively, "va'yi'tein" might be used when placing someone into jail who is already your slave and under your control, as was the case with the butler and the baker, while "va'yanichu" is used when placing an otherwise free person into jail.


The Sfas Emes asks this. He answers that a reminder created by action, namely putting on tefillin, is more potent than a mitzvoh which comes with refraining from action, as guarding the Shabbos. This point is elaborated on by Chinuch in the prohibition of breaking a bone of the Korban Pesach, mitzvoh #16.


It seems that the concept of the Ibn Ezra is indicated by the word "lochem" which can be translated as "for your benefit" (See the first Rashi in Lech L'cho 12:1, "L'haanos'cho"), meaning while you are active in your personal pursuits. As well, this would explain why the Ibn Ezra points this out in this verse and not earlier in verse 38, where tzitzis are first mentioned.



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

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