Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
on the Weekly Parsha

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimone" - Since this was a complaint about the lack of fruit types that the bnei Yisroel were looking forward to upon entering Eretz Yisroel, why did they leave out "zeis shemen u'd'vash," olives and honey-dates, which are also among the species that grow in abundance in Eretz Yisroel? The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that although it was wrong for them to complain, they did not use fabricated claims. The flavours of oil and honey were readily available to them in the manna, as the verse says, "V'taamo k'tzapichis biDVOSH" (Shmos 16:31), and "K'taam l'shad ha'SHO'MEN" (Bmidbar 11:8).

Ch. 20, v. 14: "Atoh yodato es kol hatlo'oh" - Why did the bnei Yisroel give this preamble of all their travail and their miraculous departure from Egypt as a lead in to their request to traverse the land of Edom? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that had the Edomites thought that the bnei Yisroel exited Egypt after a hard fought rebellion, they surely would have been reluctant to allow the bnei Yisroel ingress to their land for fear that they might fight them as well and attempt to take over the land of Edom. Once they would hear that they left without a fight and that Hashem had miraculously intervened for them, there was no fear that the bnei Yisroel had any such intention.

Perhaps there is a simpler explanation. To avert the above-mentioned fear the bnei Yisroel sent a message that they were originally from the land of Canaan, having descended to Egypt many year earlier, as per the next verse, "Va'yeirdu avoseinu Mitzraymoh," and were on their way back, having no intentions of conquest along the way.

Ch. 20, v. 29: "Va'yivku es Aharon .. kole beis Yisroel" - And all the house of Yisroel cried for Aharon - The fact that absolutely everyone cried over the death of Aharon teaches us that not one person was exiled to an area of refuge for accidentally killing someone. I this were so, upon Aharon's death he would be permitted to return to the encampment, and surely would be pleased with Aharon's death. (Meshech Chochmoh)


Ch. 22, v. 28: "Ki hikisoni zeh sholosh r'golim" - Rashi (M.R. 20:14) says that the words "sholosh r'golim" indicate the donkey's alluding to Bilom, "How do you expect to uproot a nation that observes the three holidays of pilgrimage to Yerusholayim?" To explain this, Rabbi Dovid, the Holy Admor of Kotzk says that Rashi on the words "Linu fo ha'leiloh" (verse 8) says that Bilom was only able to receive prophecy at night. The donkey therefore told him that his abilities were time restricted. If so, how could he expect to defeat a nation that is empowered with the ability to set the dates of the three holidays, Pesach, Shovuos, and Sukos?

Another explanation is offered by the MESHECH CHOCHMOH. The gemara Chagigoh 2a interprets the words of the verse in Shmos 34:23 "Sholosh p'omim bashonoh YEIRO'EH," - three times a year they SHOULD BE SEEN, as if it were written YIR'EH, - they SHOULD SEE, an allusion to the fact that all the bnei Yisroel who go on the thrice yearly pilgrimage, envision Hashem's Countenance at some level. If so, how does Bilom, who cannot even see an angel, a mere messenger of Hashem, expect to overpower the bnei Yisroel, who merit seeing a level of Hashem's Countenance?

Perhaps another insight can be offered. How does Bilom expect to defeat the bnei Yisroel when he is motivated by a large payment for his services (See Rashi on 22:18 d.h. "M'lo"), while the bnei Yisroel go on a thrice annual pilgrimage to Yerusholayim, leaving behind almost all their worldly possessions to fulfill Hashem's mitzvoh of "aliyoh l'regel?"

Ch. 23, v. 21,22: "Lo hibit ovven b'Yaakov, Keil motzium miMitzroyim" - How do these two verses connect? The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that Targum Onkeles says on the words "Va'yoshes el haMidbor ponov," that Bilom turned towards the desert, the location of the sin of the golden calf, to arouse the guilt of the bnei Yisroel so that his curse should be affective. However, Bilom stated that this tactic will in all likelihood not work. Hashem does not pay attention to their sins. Hashem took the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt and did not forsake them in spite of their having sunk so low that they were idol worshippers, as the angels questioned Hashem upon the splitting of the Yam suf, "Both the Egyptians and l'havdil the bnei Yisroel are idol worshippers. Why save these and drown those?" So also he will not take into account their sin of serving the golden calf and Bilom's attempt to invoke a curse will be to naught. More on this concept of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH in parshas Matos bez"H.


See also Sedrah Selections, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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