JULY 13-14, 2001 23 TAMUZ 5761
- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"May Hashem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint..." (Bemidbar 27:16)
When Moshe asked Hashem to appoint the next leader, he described Hashem as G-d of all spirits of men. Rashi explains that Moshe was saying, just as mankind is made up of all kinds of people, each with their own mind and personality, You Hashem should find a leader who can relate to each one on his own level. This lesson is not only regarding leadership. We all know that no two people are exactly alike. What we don't realize is that since there are so many different kinds of people, we must have an enormous amount of tolerance and patience when dealing with others. This is where we tend to go wrong and what causes relationships to be strained. We expect others to know how we are feeling and what we need or want, and then we get disappointed when they don't come through. Very often, two people are in the same situation and one thinks it's a great place to be and the other is miserable. When we realize how we are all different from each other, we will be patient and tolerate each other's peculiarities. This will bring us peace and unity. Shabbat Shalom.
- Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And the daughters of Selofhad drew near" (Bemidbar 27:1)
The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land of Israel. The Torah tells of five sisters, the daughters of Selofhad, who approach Moshe Rabenu with a new request. Their father had already died in the desert and he had no sons. At that time, the Torah law was that if there were no sons, the estate (in this case, his portion in the Land of Israel) would go to the deceased's brothers. They protested and said that they wanted the portion in the land since they are his daughters.
Moshe Rabenu tells them to wait while he consults with Hashem. Hashem responds that they were right and they will receive that portion, and this will be the law in any inheritance from then on. Our Sages tell us that their great love of Israel is what prompted them to come forward as they did. Rashi comments that since the Torah says that they came from the tribe of Menasheh, it was unnecessary to state again that they came from Menasheh, the son of Yosef. Therefore, he explains that Yosef is mentioned here because the Torah wants to inform us that just as Yosef cherished the land by requesting to be buried there when he was about to die in Egypt, so did these women cherish the land by asking for a parcel of land.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein asks two incisive questions. Firstly, the Torah states that their love of Israel came from their ancestor, Yosef. Wouldn't it be more praiseworthy of the women if their love was originally their own? Also, why did they especially desire a parcel of land to illustrate their love? Wouldn't it suffice to just live there? However, we learn two important concepts. The Torah demands that we adhere to the misvot because we have been taught by our fathers. For if adherence was based on our own reasoning, then there would arise times when our logic would dictate other avenues of observance, and we may be led totally astray. We also learn that if one loves something dearly, then he should not be satisfied by merely deriving pleasure from it and having access to it even though it is owned by someone else. He must try to own it too. That's why the daughters of Selofhad wanted to own a share of the land.
This may also be the reason why one is required to own a Sefer Torah or as many Torah books as possible. One should not be content with borrowing or using someone else's books. He should personally demonstrate his love and devotion to Torah study.
"But the sons of Korah did not die" (Bemidbar 26:11)
Rashi explains that "Korah's sons initially were together with him in planning the insurrection; however, in the midst of the confrontation they repented in their hearts. Therefore, a place was set for them high up in Gehimon where they sat and recited songs to Hashem for their salvation" (see Sanhedrin 109a).
If they were miraculously spared in merit of their righteousness, they should have not been sent to any place in Gehinom at all? Also, why is this pasuk in Parashat Pinhas and not in Parashat Korah?
When Korah was swallowed by the earth, his sons were swallowed too. However, Korah's fate was permanent and theirs was only temporary. While being removed from the eyes of the world, they remained alive and sang praises to Hashem. Afterwards, they emerged alive, and the prophet Shemuel was one of their descendants.
While it was meritorious for them to do teshubah and detach themselves from their father's mischievous ways, they were still deficient, because they repented only in their hearts, not publicly in word or deed. Therefore they deserved punishment and were swallowed in.
The reason for this unique form of punishment was that Hashem's punishments are "measure for measure." It appeared to the people who witnessed the uprising that they were together with their father in his war against Moshe, and no one knew that they repented in their hearts. Therefore the people saw that they were swallowed up together with Korah's contingent, but while in the ground they were rewarded for their internal repentence.
Ultimately, when the members of the congregation who lived during Korah's dispute passed away, the sons of Korah emerged on the surface of the earth alive. Hence the pasuk "The sons of Korah did not die" is not in Parashat Korah but in Parashat Pinhas, since at the time of Korah's rebellion they were thought to have died, and only subsequently returned to life. (Vedibarta Bam)
This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3.
Every haftarah until this week has been related to the perashah in some way. However, after the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash, the Rabbis decreed that during the three weeks between Shib'ah Asar B'Tamuz and Tish'ah B'ab, special haftarot would be read. These haftarot detail the punishments that B'nei Yisrael would receive for their sins. Each haftarah, though, ends on a positive note with Hashem giving his guarantee that he will eventually redeem us. This week, Hashem declares that Israel is sacred to Him, and that he will bring retribution to the nations that afflict Israel.
The end of our perashah lists all of the special korbanot that would be brought on each of our holidays. The holiday of Succot is unique in that a different number of bulls would be offered on each day of the holiday. Thirteen bulls were offered on the first day, twelve on the second day, eleven on the third day and so on until seven were offered on the seventh day. In all, seventy bulls were offered. Rashi, in his commentary on Gemara Succah (55b) explains that the seventy bulls correspond to the seventy nations of the world. These korbanot were offered on their behalf to request that Hashem bring sufficient rain to the entire world during the coming year.
After the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed, we were no longer able to offer any korbanot. The Midrash tells that if the nations realized the benefit that they had received from these korbanot, they would have stationed guards around the city of Jerusalem to protect the Bet Hamikdash. Since they were not aware of this benefit, they did not do so and the Bet Hamikdash was ultimately destroyed.
Question: Can you think of a situation in your past in which something was being done for your benefit, but because you were unaware of it, you did not take advantage of it? (For example, not paying attention in school, and later seeing that the subject matter would have helped you, or expressing indifference at a parent's or grandparent's stories or advice, only to realize later that they were offering invaluable lessons of life.)
Answer to Pop Quiz: Menasheh.
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