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The Weekly Internet
P A R A S H A - P A G E
by Mordecai Kornfeld
of Har Nof, Jerusalem
Founder of the Dafyomi Advancement Forum

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Dedicated in loving memory of Rav Dov ben Dovid Meir Z'L, Rabbi Bennett Gold (whose Yahrtzeit is 3 Sivan) by Shari and Jay Gold and Family.

Ayeleth and I would like to share with all of you our overwhelming joy and gratitude to Hashem in the birth of our baby Sarah on Wednesday! -Mordecai K


(Parashat Bamidbar) 5758


Why is the Torah called 'Tushiyah?' (in Yeshayah 21:29)? Because it was given to the Jews secretly ('Tash' means weak or lacking), behind Satan's back. Satan did not want the Jews to receive the Torah; he wanted it to remain in heaven. (Sanhedrin 26b and Rashi)
When Moshe left Mt. Sinai after receiving the Torah, the Angel of Death (Note: Satan is the embodiment of the Angel of Death and the Evil Inclination; Bava Basra 16a) came to Hashem and asked, "Where did the Torah go?" (Shabbat 89a)
Satan did not know that the Torah had been given to the Jews. The Midrash explains that Hashem kept Satan preoccupied with other matters at the time the Torah was given so that he should not say "How can you give the Torah to the Jews when they will sin in only forty days by building a Golden Calf?" (Tosafot, ibid.)
The Midrash explains that Hashem did not want the Satan to know about the Giving of the Torah, so arranged to have the Satan "miss" the big event. One wonders how this was accomplished. The verse describes how the Torah was given amidst great fanfare -- how was such an event "concealed" from the Satan? The answer may perhaps lie in the comments of Tosafot elsewhere.

In Rosh Hashanah (16b) the Gemara tells us that we repeatedly blow the Shofar (ram's horn) on Rosh Hashanah, although the Torah requires us to blow it only once, in order to "confound the Satan." In what away does blowing the Shofar confound Satan and prevent him from interfering with our pleas for mercy? Tosafot, citing Midrashic sources, explains as follows. In the End of Days, Hashem will "slay the Angel of Death" (Yeshayah 25:8). The coming of the End of Days will be signaled by a loud, long Shofar blast (Yeshayah 27:13). When Satan, who doubles as the Angel of Death, hears our long series of Shofar blasts, he is immediately gripped by the fear that his time has come. Because of this, explains the Midrash, he keeps a low profile until after we finish our prayers.

When the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai, it was accompanied by a series of extremely loud Shofar blasts (Shemot 19:16,19). Perhaps these Shofar blasts, like those of the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah, "frightened the Satan away" so that he would not intervene and prevent the Torah from being given.


The Shofar of Rosh Hashanah actually has good reason to cause the Satan distress. Rambam writes (Hil. Teshuvah 3:7), "Although we blow the Shofar [on Rosh Hashanah] simply because the Torah directed us to do so, there is an implied lesson in the Torah's directive. The blast of the Shofar is telling us, "Wake up from your slumber! Review your deeds, repent, and remember your G-d in heaven! Look out for yourselves and change your ways!" Satan has no power over us when our attitude is one of repentance and G-d- fearingness, he is effectively rendered impotent by our Shofar blasts.

In fact, the "slaughter of the Evil Inclination" (Sukah 52a), or the "slaughter of the Angel of Death" (Yeshayah 25:8) at the End of Days may be allegorically explained in a similar fashion. When the Final Redemption takes place, "the world will be filled with the fear of heaven as the sea is filled with water" (Yeshayah 11:9). All will be able "point to the Presence of Hashem with their finger and say, 'This is my G-d!'" (Yeshayah 25:8; Ta'anit 31a). At that time, nobody will be tempted to sin since the presence of the Creator, and the consequence of sin, will be evident to all. Effectively, the Evil Inclination will have been slaughtered.

This process begins with a loud Shofar blast. When a king travels, a loud trumpet fanfare precedes the king's arrival. When Hashem reveals His Presence for all to see, it will also be preceded by the Shofar blast of the End of Days. That blast will bring an end to the Satan and the Evil Inclination.

The same may be said of the Giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Hashem revealed himself to the Jews on Mt. Sinai in a clear and unmistakable fashion (Devarim 5:4). Had they preserved the inspiration of that moment, the Jewish People would have ceased to experience death, exile and suffering (Shemot Raba 41:9). The Satan and Angel of Death had good reason to panic upon hearing that Hashem was revealing His Presence to the Jews upon the Giving of the Torah.

Chazal tell us that the word "ha'Satan" ("the Satan") has a numerical value of 364; one less than the number of days in the year. This is meant to indicate that Satan rules over man only 364 days of the year. On Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, he is given forced vacation (Nedarim 32b, and Ran ad loc.). Perhaps Satan is "sent away" on Yom Kippur for the same reason that he was sent away on the original Shavuot. Although the Torah was given to us on Shavuot, when the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf they lost the Torah. It was only returned to them on the tenth of Tishrei, or Yom Kippur (Rashi, Shemot 31:18). On that day, and again every subsequent year, the Satan is "preoccupied" and not free to challenge the prayers of the Jewish People while they reaffirm their acceptance of the Torah and its Mitzvot.

This concept, too, is easily understood based on what we have explained about the slaughter of the Satan at the end of time. As the Midrash (Tur, Orach Chaim #606) explains, "On Yom Kippur the accusing angel sees that there is no sin in Yisrael and he declares, 'Master of the universe, You have a nation that is unique on the earth! They are like angels!'" Satan has no power over us when we are directly experiencing Hashem's sovereignty.


In either case, it is evident from the Midrashic sources cited at the start of our discussion that Satan felt it very important to prevent the Jews from receiving the Torah. Why does Satan feel so threatened by the thought of leaving the Torah in the hands of the Jewish People? One would think that he would be pleased with the prospect of having 613 ways to accuse them rather than just 7! The answer lies in the following Gemaras:

The Torah is a life-giving balm. It may be compared to a person who places a dressing on his son's wound and tells him, "My son, as long as you wear this dressing you may eat and drink and wash to your hearts content; however, as soon as you remove it the wound will become infected." So, too, Hashem told the Jews, "My children! I created the Evil Inclination, and I created the Torah to be an antidote for its ills. As long as you study the Torah, you will be free from its clutches!" (Kidushin 30b)
One should always wage a war with his Evil Inclination. If he defeats it, fine. If not, let him study the Torah (for that will help him conquer it). (Berachot 5a)
Satan knows that only the study of the Torah can give the Jews the power to resist his advances. He would therefore do anything in his power to prevent the Jews from receiving it. In order for us to successfully receive the Torah, Satan had to be kept away until it was too late. That is, in order to be worthy of receiving the Torah the Jews had to be elevated to a level from which they could plainly see Hashem's dominion and the hollowness of the forces of evil.

Hashem, of course, foresaw this from the beginning of time. Upon the completion of the six days of Creation, we are told that "Hashem saw all that He created, and behold it was very good" (Bereishit 1:31). The Midrash (Bereishit Raba 9:9) explains, "'And behold it was very good' -- this refers to the Evil Inclination."

Very good, perhaps, but not when left alone. The verse continues, "and dusk and dawn passed of *the* sixth day." "*The* sixth day," points out Rashi, "the extra letter 'Heh' (a prefix meaning 'the') is meant to indicate that all of Creation was conditional to the Jews receiving the *five* (numerical value of Heh) Books of Moses at a future point in history. Also, all of Creation was waiting for *the sixth day* -- that is, the sixth day of Sivan, upon which the Torah was given at Mt. Sinai" (Rashi, Bereishit ibid.). And then, the world will indeed be "very good."

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Mordecai Kornfeld |Email:| Tl/Fx(02)6522633
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