JUNE 1-2, 2007 16 SIVAN 5767
And Miriam and Aharon spoke about Moshe" (Bemidbar 12:1) A parable from Rabbi Shemuel Binder: Chaim and Sruly are brothers and are the best of friends. They share everything. At home, they share a room, even if it is a little small. Since they are close in age, they share some clothes too. They also go to the same school where they share a locker. Amazingly, and to their parents' delight, neither of them has ever complained about his brother taking up too much space in the room or using his clothing. Each was always careful to be considerate of the other. Their mother has noticed just one problem, though. Sometimes they share a little too much, like when they share drinks and germs and absences from school. This is a little "too close for comfort" for her. Though sharing is certainly a trait she wants to instill in her children, there are times when it can have adverse consequences.
Our perashah discusses the unfavorable remarks Miriam made to Aharon about Moshe. The Rambam makes a strong point of noting the good relationship that existed between them. Miriam had taken care of Moshe when he was young and had risked her life to save him. Still, the Torah chose this episode to teach us the importance of avoiding speaking lashon hara. Just as a parent is sometimes concerned over too much sharing between siblings, the Torah tells us that there are certain things family members should not share about each other with others, even among themselves, no matter how close they are. They rationalize that it's okay to share since their relative won't object. For this reason the Torah stressed Moshe's humility, immediately following Miriam's statement. This showed that even though Miriam made her comments in front of him and with his full knowledge, he didn't respond in anger. So, even though they had a special relationship and he didn't object, she was punished. Speaking lashon hara about a sibling is no different from speaking about any other individual.
For many of us it has probably been quite some time since we have had to share a room, clothing or a locker with any of our siblings. This week's perashah is a clear reminder of how, when we do share, we must make sure we share only the right things. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"[The Jewish nation] traveled from the mountain of Hashem" (Bemidbar 10:33)
The Midrash tells us that this was one of the instances where the Jewish people did something wrong, and indeed the Torah interrupts the narrative with "Vayehi binsoa ha'aron" (which doesn't belong there) in order to separate between the wrongdoings. What was wrong with them traveling from the mountain of Hashem? Actually, they only traveled when given the signal by G-d, so if it was time to travel, why should it be a sin?
The Rabbis tell us that they traveled like children leaving school, in a hurry and anxious to leave their place of learning. For children to run out when the bell rings, that is expected of them. But when adults, who just learned Torah from Hashem for one year at Mount Sinai, also rush to get away, that was a sign that it wasn't becoming internalized. If we look at Torah as a chore or as burdensome, it will not have its effect of enriching our lives the way it should. We should remember this whenever we finish praying or learning. Sometimes, before the hazan is finished, the majority of the shul is almost outside "like children leaving school." Let's allow the Torah and Tefillah to enrich us so that it will always be a pleasure. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And the mixed multitude that was among them felt a craving and then B'nei Yisrael wept again and they said, 'Who will give us meat?'…Moshe heard the people weeping in their families…and in the eyes of Moshe it was evil" (Bemidbar 11:4,10)
The narrative regarding the asafsuf is vexing. B'nei Yisrael did not suffer from a lack of food. Hazal teach us that the manna, which descended daily, had an amazing quality. Its taste varied according to each person's desire. Indeed, each individual's craving was satisfied. Nonetheless, B'nei Yisrael cried out for meat. Their ingratitude was magnified when they expressed their desire to return to the "wonderful" Egypt.
Moshe's response also seems atypical. When B'nei Yisrael sinned with the Golden Calf, Moshe entreated Hashem on their behalf. He exhausted every effort to save them from complete destruction. In this situation, Moshe "gave up" in frustration, contending that the burden of Klal Yisrael was too much. Moshe, whose patience and tolerance level with Klal Yisrael was so remarkable seemed to have suddenly surrendered in defeat.
Rav Yitzhak Blazer z"l suggests an interpretation for the "weeping in their families." B'nei Yisrael complained that the apportioning of the manna did not allow for individual "family" uniqueness. Each one felt his family pedigree or personal family wealth rendered him deserving of a greater portion than his neighbor. The people could not tolerate the manna's lack of distinction between families of wealth, nobility and importance. They demanded a food which would not be so "objective" in its acquisition. Such an egotistical and immature attitude reached the heights of ingratitude and threatened Moshe's tolerance level.
We may further advance this thought. They did not complain merely because they felt that their individual family status mandated that they receive more manna. They would have acquiesced to whatever they had received, as long as their neighbor had received less than they. They could not forgive that someone else also received as much as they did. Some people, regardless of their own success, do not recognize the achievements of others - or permit others to enjoy the fruits of their accomplishments.
Such a reprehensible attitude on the part of a Jew is not tolerable. Hence, Moshe raised up his hands to Hashem in surrender. As long as there is unity among B'nei Yisrael, we will thrive as a nation. When harmony gives way to discord, and friendship gives way to baseless envy, the spiritual fiber of Klal Yisrael begins to shred. Without its spiritual dimension, Klal Yisrael is not Klal Yisrael! (Peninim on the Torah)
"But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all; we have nothing but the manna to look to" (Bemidbar 11:6)
The manna tasted like cake fried in honey (Shemot 16:31), and one could experience any taste his palate desired (Yoma 75a). Why did they complain?
The Gemara says that the manna was delivered to three different places, and in three different forms. A saddik, righteous person would open his door and find it at the entrance to his tent. An intermediate person, benoni, would have to leave the camp to find his portion, and a rasha, wicked person would have to go a great distance.
The saddik's portion was in the form of a finished loaf of bread. The benoni's was prepared dough but not baked, and the rasha's was raw matter which had to be ground in the mill, and afterwards cooked or baked.
Thus, every morning when the people went out for their portions of manna, it was obvious who was a saddik, benoni or rasha. The people who complained against the manna were the wicked. They pretended to be dissatisfied with its taste although they were really disgruntled at having their true identity revealed. They thus wanted to "have their cake and eat it - to have a saddik's portion and thus appear to be sadikim while still living frivolous and sinful lives. (Vedibarta Bam)
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