JERSEY SHORE TORAH BULLETIN
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"The daughters of Selofhad drew near." (Bemidbar 27:1)
Before the Jews entered the land of Israel, Moshe had the
task of dividing up the land amongst the tribes and families of B'nei
Yisrael. The daughters of Selofhad, who were not yet married,
were not given a portion of land, since Selofhad had died without
any sons. The daughters sought out Moshe to present their case
and found him teaching Torah. They waited until he began teaching
the topic of inheritance, and then they made their claim to Moshe.
Their claim was upheld and they were granted the land.
The daughters of Selofhad were praiseworthy for many
reasons. They demonstrated a clear grasp of Jewish law, and they
had a sincere love for the land of Israel. The Midrash, however,
highlights one virtue in particular - their timing. They waited for
the most opportune time to approach Moshe and only then did they
present their case. What is so special about this trait that the
Midrash treats it as their greatest virtue?
The Midrash is teaching us that the crowning virtue of a
great person is common sense. Without this, a person can be
intellectually brilliant, be packed with knowledge and have beautiful
intentions, yet fail in his endeavors. The daughters of Selofhad
knew that they must approach Moshe at the right time, and they
understood enough to know the best time for their presentation.
It has been noted that common sense is very uncommon. A
man can master the complexities of a supercomputer, yet not be
able to interface with his fellow man. Through the study of Torah,
with the analysis and honest introspection of musar, we can deepen
our understanding of human nature and increase our common
sense. Shabbat Shalom.
A TIMELESS MESSAGE by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Our father died of his own sin, and had no sons. Why should the
name of our father be done away? (Bemidbar 27:3-4)
We are introduced to the daughters of Selofhad. These
women came with an argument to Moshe with pure intentions.
Their father, Selofhad, passed away in the desert and he had no
sons. Since the land of Israel was to be divided amongst the male
sons, the daughters would not receive land and the name of their
father would be forgotten. Therefore, they came to Moshe saying
the law should accommodate them by giving them, his daughters,
his portion. Moshe turned to Hashem to ask what to do and
Hashem quickly responded that they were right and would receive a
However, their argument contained a statement which
seems unclear. "Our father died of his own sin, why should he be
forgotten?" It is implied that because he died of his own sin, he
shouldn't lose out. What's the explanation of this? The Hatam
Sofer explains that the Talmud tells us that Selofhad died through
execution! He violated the Shabbat and was put to death by the
court. The Talmud teaches us that he violated the Shabbat for the
sake of Heaven. He saw that the people felt that perhaps it wasn't
required to keep the Shabbat in the desert. Therefore, he willfully
violated the Shabbat in order to get executed, and thereby teach
everyone the true severity of Shabbat. Our Sages teach us,
"Anyone who beautifies the Shabbat will merit to receive a portion
without bounds (Shabbat 118)." Therefore, the daughters rightfully
argued that since their father gave his life for Shabbat, i.e. "he died
of his own sin," he shouldn't lose anything because of this. His
name shouldn't be forgotten by not receiving a portion because he
had no sons. Hashem agreed.
We learn two lessons. Firstly, Shabbat is extremely
important, even carrying a death sentence. We shouldn't make the
mistake and think that Shabbat is no longer that important, since
their is no death sentence today. There is no execution today due
to a lack of authority of our courts, not because the violation is
unworthy of a death sentence. Secondly, a person will never suffer
a loss by observing Shabbat; it is the source of our bounty. Any
effort to observe the Shabbat will always be repaid. Shabbat
IT'S NOT MY JOB
"In that he avenged My revenge among them so that I did not
consume Bnei Yisrael in My jealousy" (Bemidbar 25:11)
Rashi explains that Hashem is saying that Pinhas displayed
the anger which He Himself should have displayed. The reason
Pinhas deserved such a significant reward was that he performed an
action which was considered reserved for Hashem. He could easily
have chosen to excuse himself by stating that this was Hashem's
realm. This attitude of not looking for excuses should permeate
our entire Torah observance.
The Talmud states that the wicked Turnus Rufus once
asked Rabbi Akiba why Hashem doesn't support the poor. Rabbi
Akiba responded that Hashem wants the merit of this misvah to
benefit those who have taken the initiative to perform the misvah.
We learn from this that although Hashem unquestionably can
provide for the poor, it is His desire that mankind undertake this
project. This may be compared to children who wish to help their
parents in some way. Although the parents may not be in need of
this favor, they nevertheless allow their children to do this in order
to give them an opportunity to express their love for their parents.
When children indicate in a significant way a desire to help their
parents, it shows their love for them. This expression of sublime
love and devotion displayed by Pinhas effected the great reward
which he received. (Peninim on the Torah)
"Because he was jealous for his G-d, he atoned for the Children of
Israel." (Bemidbar 25:13)
According to the Midrash, Pinhas and Eliyahu Hanabi were
the same person. When Eliyahu complained to Hashem that the
nation of Israel was not keeping the covenant of the Berit Milah,
Hashem decreed that from that day on, Eliyahu would be present at
every Berit Milah to testify on their behalf. When Eliyahu heard
this, he objected and said, "Hashem, You know how I am jealous
on your behalf. If the father of the baby is a sinner, I will not be
able to stand being there."
Hashem then promised him that He would forgive all of the
father's sins at each Berit Milah so that Eliyahu would not be
Eliyahu continued, "What if the Mohel is not a righteous
Hashem guaranteed that all of the Mohel's sins would also
be wiped out.
Eliyahu then said, "What about all the guests? There are
bound to be some sinners among them." Hashem promised that all
the sins of the entire congregation would be forgiven to spare
Eliyahu the distress.
This is all hinted to in the above pasuk. Since Eliyahu, who
is Pinhas, is jealous for Hashem's honor and cannot bear to see a
sinner in his midst, and since he must be at every Berit Milah, he
brings atonement to the entire nation of Israel. (Yalkut Hamishai)
IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME!
"And you [Moshe] shall place some of your majesty upon
[Yehoshua]." (Bemidbar 27:20)
The Gemara in Baba Batra tells that the elders of the
generation said, "The face of Moshe is like the face of the sun; the
face of Yehoshua is like the face of the moon. Woe unto us for the
disgrace!" One can ask: Is the fact that Yehoshua's face was "only"
compared to the moon such a disgrace?
The Hafess Hayim explains this with a parable. A person
heard about a certain country across the sea which was filled with
treasures of diamonds and precious stones. Anybody who wanted
could just go and take. He decided to make the trip, but he wanted
to find somebody to go along with him. He approached some of his
friends and suggested that they all travel together. All but one of
them declined because of the difficult trip it would require.
After a number of years the two men came back home
loaded with jewels and treasures. When the others saw the two
men they felt very jealous and tremendous regret that they hadn't
agreed to go with them.
This is the regret that the elders felt when Yehoshua was
appointed. Yehoshua was one of them, no more or less, and yet he
merited such greatness because he chose to be in a place of great
treasures - by Moshe Rabenu's side. They all said to themselves,
"Woe unto us. We also could have served Moshe as Yehoshua did
and merited such a high level of holiness. It is a disgrace for us that
we did not reach that level."
Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer offers another explanation. The
level of greatness that a leader reaches is contingent upon the level
of his generation. If a generation is worthy, it could merit a leader
as great as Moshe Rabenu. This is the disgrace which the elders
were referring to. They saw that up until now they merited to have
Moshe as their leader. Now, when Moshe was ready to pass away,
and Yehoshua was appointed his successor, the elders noted the
difference in their stature. They realized that this was not a lacking
on Yehoshua's part, but it reflected a weakness in them and in the
entire nation. (Lekah Tob & Tallelei Orot)
Pop quiz:From which mountain did Hashem allow Moshe to view
the Land of Israel?
Answer to pop quiz:Har Ha'abarim.