Serve the Community
"Hashem said to Moshe, 'Go up to this mountain…and see the Land…You shall see it, and you shall be gathered unto your people (die)…because you rebelled against My word in Midbar Zin…to sanctify Me'" (Bamidbar 27:12- 14). Moshe Rabbeinu was being shown the land that he longed to enter. He went up to Har Avarim and could actually see Eretz Yisrael. Yet he was not allowed to enter. He was fated to die here in the desert.
What did he do when he was informed that his life was about to end? Did he pray for himself? Did he beg Hashem to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael? No. Moshe Rabbeinu worked to bring a successor to lead the nation after he was gone. "May Hashem…appoint a man over the community, who will lead them out and bring them in (safely)…so that Hashem's congregation will not be like sheep without a shepherd" (Bamidbar 27:16-17). Rashi extols this action, "This shows how praiseworthy are the tsaddikim! When they are about to leave this world, they set aside their own needs, and they work for the needs of the community."
What type of person can put aside his own affairs at the end of his life? What selflessness! What an expression of love and concern for others! To get to this level, one must start at a much younger age. Working for others is a middah (character trait) that is cultivated over a lifetime. It begins with small acts of chessed (kindness) - giving tsedaka, helping someone with their packages, or giving up your seat on the bus. One can then expand his chessed to helping the family - helping with the housework or taking care of younger siblings. He can then move on to helping in the Beit HaKinesset - putting away the sefarim (books) or straightening the benches and tables. He may decide to buy treats for a Tehillim group, or organize a time for the boys to learn Mishnayos.
And so it goes, on and on, bigger and bigger. Someone who is accustomed to caring for the needs of the tsibbur (congregation) will always find ways to help them. He will merit the bracha that we say before the Mussaf prayer on Shabbos. "And all of those who faithfully toil for the needs of the tsibbur, The Holy One Blessed Be He will pay their wages. He will remove from them all sickness, He will heal their entire body, and He will forgive all their sins. And He will bring blessing and success to everything that they do, along with all of Israel their brothers, amen."
Kinderlach . . .
The community needs you! There is work to be done! Imma needs your help at home. Abba could use a helping hand. The neighbors are always happy for assistance. The Beit Kinesset, the school, the Rav, will all be grateful to receive your chessed. Get into the habit of caring for the needs of others. You will then merit the title that Rashi gives Moshe Rabbeinu: tsaddik. And you will merit Hashem's blessings in this world, and His reward in the next world, amen.
"Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, 'To these (who were counted in the census) shall the Land be divided as an inheritance, according to the number of names'" (Bamidbar 26:52-53). This is the parasha of the division of Eretz Yisrael into s'deh achuza (family inheritance). Each one of the men counted in the census would receive a homestead in the Holy Land. However, according to Rashi, the distribution followed a strange pattern. The s'deh achuza were "given" to the paternal grandfather (so to speak) who had died in Mitzraim. He then "bequeathed" them to his sons who left Mitzraim and died in the Midbar. They then followed the laws of inheritance and passed on to the grandchildren who would now occupy the land. Why was the s'deh achuza not given directly to the man who was now entering Eretz Yisrael? Why did it have to pass backwards up to his grandfather and then work its way back via the laws of inheritance?
A well-known Maggid Shiur in Yerushalayim has a fascinating answer to this question. Someone who was about to enter Eretz Yisrael should not think that he received his s'deh achuza on his own merits. Hashem promised this Land to Avraham Yitzchak, and Yaakov. His grandfather died a slave in Mitzraim. His father died in the desert. These ancestors were moser nefesh (self-sacrificing) for their descendants to receive the Land. It is in their merit - zechus avos - that he is receiving a portion in Eretz Yisrael.
We can apply this concept to our very own lives. B'ezrat Hashem, we will be the generation that will see the Mashiach. This is a big zechus. Did we earn this on our own merits? Of course not! How foolish to think such a thing. Are we better that those great tsaddikim - the Chofetz Chaim, the Vilna Gaon, The Arizal, Rav Yosef Karo, the Rambam, Rashi, Rav Hai Gaon, Rav Ashi, and Rebbe Akiva, among them - who did not merit to see the final redemption? Of course not! It is only in their merit that we B'ezrat Hashem will merit such a great event. We are like midgets on the shoulders of giants (so to speak) as the following parable illustrates.
"And now, a special treat for the chosson (newlywed)!"
Four young men gathered in front of the chosson. The biggest, strongest one stood up straight as his friend climbed up on his shoulders. He stood up and balanced himself, waiting for the next young man. The third one, who was smaller than the other two, proceeded to climb up onto the shoulders of the top one. He slowly secured himself and stood up straight. They now formed a tower of three. The last one, a small, short, thin lad began climbing up the tower. He reached the shoulders of the lowest man, and kept going. He reached the shoulders of the second man. Finally, he got to the top of the tower. He balanced himself on the shoulders of the third man. The tower now stood four stories high. The smallest one on top reached up on his toes and touched the ceiling of the hall! "Look at how tall I am! I can touch the ceiling!" he proudly said. The man on the bottom laughed. "Tall? You are less than half my size! The only reason that you can reach the ceiling is because you are standing on our shoulders."
Kinderlach . . .
We must appreciate our ancestors. We owe everything to them. They were like giants, and we are mere midgets in comparison to them. They were self-sacrificing for Hashem and His Torah. Their only goal in life was passing down the Mesorah (Torah from Sinai) to the next generation. Generation after generation sacrificed everything for that. That is why we have a life so rich in Torah. And that is why we, B'ezrat Hashem, will merit to see the Mashiach speedily and in our days, amen.
Did the sons of Korach die? Why? How? (26:11 and Rashi)
Which tribe had the least number of men over 20? (26:14)
Who were the only two men who had been counted in the previous census? Why? (26:64- 65)
How many women died in the decree of the Meraglim? (Rashi 26:64)
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