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by Daneal Weiner
If you read the headlines and it said to invest in Gribnits, would you go
running to call your broker? Everyone takes the news media with a pound of
salt. A number of weeks back I told you about a story which appeared in an
Israeli paper about a mother of 9 children raped by 3 foreign workers. Her
story was not lacking religious ramifications which made the rape only the
beginning of her troubles. The story was entirely, totally, 100%
fabricated! It's purpose was purely to invoke hate against the religious.
Kind of like the conservative, once a year, assemblies at the Kotel, but I
digress. Latest in the news, we have 2 news editors and a TV reporter who
doctored film footage of the Prime Minister by splicing cuts and changing
the soundtrack of the film clip to make it look like Prime Minister
Nitanyahu was raising his hands, waving on a crowd of supporters chanting,
"Kill the Arabs! Kill the Arabs!" |
Although this is not (ok, generally not) the forum for such information, there is little doubt that such news isn't as far reaching across the globe as the latest 'scandal' in the religious world (whether there is one or not). Most may be aware that the media is under control of the left. Don't think that means that the newspaper boys and cameramen are all left handed. Next time you hear a bit of news coming out of Israel, know WELL where it's coming from.
And now for something completely different!
This week we have some VERY Chasidishe Torah. What that means is I'll say it but won't understand it. That's never stopped me before? It may be harder to hear, difficult to understand. Its still Torah. It still talks to our souls. And even if we don't understand it today, who knows when it might 'click' in? Maybe even with a 'thud'?
Besides, there are 4 levels to Torah: Pshot, Remez, Drush, and Sode. (Contextual, hinted, expounded, and secretive.) The first letters of these 4 words spells 'PaRDeS' which means 'Orchard'! If I left out the 'Sode', the 'Secrets', the remaining three letters would spell 'PheReD', which means 'mule'!!! I'd have to rename this "From a Mule in Jerusalem." Then I'd be sued by the Jerusalem Post!
Out with the secrets!
In the opening paragraphs of a vort on Beha'aloscha (I told) Rav Wolfson brings the Alshich HaKadosh who talks about some secrets. The parsha opens (8:1), "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, 'Speak to Aharon and say to him, "When you kindle the lamps..."'" The Alshich HaKadosh asks why the double talk? "Speak to Aharon and say to him"? The Alshich learns that Moshe is revealing to Aharon all the secrets of the lighting of the Menorah. The affects it has on this physical world and on the thousands of spiritual worlds. The reparation it brings for Bnei Yisrael. The Divine light which shines forth from it. (Just guessing.) But secrets can't be spoken out! "Speak to Aharon and say to him..." is all we get to hear.
The Torah then goes on to say "And Aharon did so...as Hashem had commanded Moshe." There is a world famous Rashi on this verse (8:3) where he says, " 'And Aharon did so' is to tell the praise of Aharon, that he did not change." Those familiar with this Rashi most probably learned that the lighting of the Menorah was something that Aharon did every day. Every, every day. Every, every, every day! For almost 40 years! So what didn't change? That in his service, every day, for the rest of his life, he did not change in his enthusiasm to fulfill this mitsvah! Impossible to imagine! Anyone remember how excited you were the first time you tied your shoes? Was that 40 years ago? Still excited about it? Don't worry, you'll get it back when your 80. Aharon was capable of an incredible level of service to Hashem.
You don't know the half of it!!!! (With all due respect.)
I ask you this. Is there any way to understand this Rashi to the disgrace of Aharon? Meaning, if Rashi told us that every single day Aharon lit the Menorah with the same enthusiasm as the first day, why does he need to preface his remark with "To tell the praise of Aharon"? What else could it be??? Rashi just needed to say, " 'And Aharon did so' is to tell he did not change" and everyone would know what an incredible level of serving Hashem Aharon was capable of!? You hear the question?
Fasten your seat belts. Rav Wolfson explains the Mishkan- Sanctuary is now 13 days in operation. Last weeks parsha ended with the 12 Princes bringing their inaugural gifts and we know they were accepted, one a day for twelve days. That began on the first of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Ergo, it is now the 13th of Nissan that Aharon is being taught the secrets of the Menorah. Well, if the Mishkan was up and running already for 12 days, then the Menorah had to have been lit those 12 days! Who's been lighting it? Speaking unanimously for all commentaries since Mt. Sinai (a rare opportunity), it was Aharon!
But the first 12 days Aharon lit the Menorah only because he was told to. Exciting, no doubt, to be in the Mishkan, fulfilling Hashem's command, lighting a wick. There must be a limit to the excitement. Ah! Along comes day 13 and Moshe asks, "Aharon, do you want to know what you are doing by lighting the Menorah? Do you want to know what affects you are causing?? What kedusha you're creating??? The reparations your fulfilling???? What kind of light your illuminating?????" Now he's not just lighting a wick! Aharon is creating worlds!! Altering universes!!! And Rashi says "HE DID NOT CHANGE"????
Aharon, what's the matter with you? Aren't you more excited about lighting the Menorah, NOW? NOW that you know the secrets? NOW that you know what you are doing?? Doesn't that give it more meaning???
WRONG! BACKWARDS! Rashi prefaced, "to tell the PRAISE of Aharon"!!! The
first 12 days, Aharon lit the Menorah with such love, with such devotion,
with such desire, with such passion, with such connection to Hashem, that
even when he learned the mysticism behind it he DID NOT CHANGE! It wasn't
humanly possible for him to add a drop more of devotion nor an iota more
enthusiasm! Between the 'just do it' of day 1-12 and 'here's what you are
doing' of day 13 Aharon did not change! And that's how he lit it the next
This is just a peek through a slit in a crack of a pin hole of who our ancestors were! What kind of Jews they were. And Aharon is 3-400 years removed from the greatness of Avraham, Yitschak and Yaakov. Can you imagine what they were like? Of course not. This is our Zchus Avos- merit of the forefathers and mothers. When Hashem revealed His 13 attributes of mercy to Moshe, after the golden calf, one of them was, "Notser chesed l'alaphim"- Preserver of kindness to thousands [of generations]. This is what keeps us alive today. Our Zchus Avos.
The Torah education required to gain this unimaginable image of our ancestors is greatly lacking today. From too many Jews and from too many 'leaders'. We are plagued with rabbinical clowns who see our ancestors lives as the same circus as their own. "Yaakov was the father of the 10 hooligans who threw their brother in a pit. Poor guy, Yaakov. Raised in a broken home. It does says, 'Yitschak loved Eisav and Rivka loved Yaakov.' Saw an episode of 'As the World Turns' that was just like it. Grew up with a complex. That's why Yaakov went to his no-good Uncle Lavan's house. Eisav was no-good, but his father loved him so Yaakov went to his uncle to learn how to be a no-good too, to win his father's love! When Joseph was born Yaakov didn't want to corrupt him so he had to leave Lavan's and settle for being a do-gooder."
And if you think I made that up, just subscribe to the aforementioned newspaper.
Well, I'm all rested up. How about you?
Remarkable, but hardly remarked on, are the two upside down, inverted nuns (not 'nones', nuns) found before and after verses 10:35&36. More secrets? Rav Wolfson brought a verse from Mishle- Proverbs (9:1) which says, "With all forms of wisdom did she build her house, she carved out 7 pillars." Rashi says on all of Mishle that whenever the verses speak of a wise women they are allegorically speaking about the Torah. The Torah has 7 pillars? Is this an illusion to 7 books? It's clear we have 5. The 5 books of Moses. It's also clear that the book Bamidbar has this very obvious interruption. The Gemorah Shabbos, relying on the verse from Mishle, says, in the opinion of Rebbe, these verses represent a book in itself!! Not making one book interrupted by another but one book before, one between and one after the nuns. Bringing the total to 7! But are these two verses the whole book, or part of it?
Rav Wolfson first offers an explanation for the nuns. The numeric value of the letter nun is 50. The number 50 is a tremendous number in Judaism. The holiday which just passed, Shavuos, relived the Revelation on Mt. Sinai which was 50 days after the Omer Offering was brought. The 50th year is the Yovel- Jubilee year when the slaves are freed and property returns to it's ancestral owners. There are 50 Gates of Wisdom. The Sages say that when the Jews were in Egypt they sank to the 49th level of spiritual impurity. Moshe's strength, energized from the 49th Gate of Wisdom, was the counter-force which brought them out. 3300+ years later we've sunk to the 50th level of spiritual impurity! Oy! The next leader Hashem sends to take us out of exile, the Mashiach, will come from that 50th Gate of Wisdom. Yea! We've gained the inertia, stretching down into the 50th level of impurity and like a slingshot we can come out of it! Not just come out but be catapulted to the ultimate level of purity! The Yovel year is a taste of the time of the Mashiach. All the Jews will return home. The land of Israel will return to us. May it be speedily in our day!
Rav Wolfson then explains that the two symbols of 50 which book-end these verses reflect this 7th book emanating from that 50th Gate of Wisdom. It is beyond our grasp. Beyond our understanding. But revealed to us is a portion of it. 85 letters unmasked in these 2 verses. The rest will be revealed in the end of days.
There's another opinion in that Gemorah Shabbos (Rashi brings it down in Beha'aloscha) who says these 2 verses are marked by the nuns to indicate that they are out of place, relocated here to make a break in the Torah's narrative of 3 shortcomings of Bnei Yisrael, in a row. This opinion agrees that in the end of days, when evil is removed from the world, than these verses will return to their rightful place, no longer needing to fear the consequences of the three adjacent episodes. Conflicting opinions, on the surface, but on one thing they agree. These 2 nuns are waiting for the 50th Gate to swing open and good things are going to happen!
Why 85 words? 85 is the numeric value of 'pey-hey'- spelling 'peh'- mouth. Perhaps ('perhaps': word denoting warning- author is about to make something up) Perhaps it has something to do with Passover? In Hebrew, that's 'Pesach' which our Sages say is compounded from the words, 'Peh-Sach'- mouth-talk. It's the holiday on which we read from the 'Hagadah'- narration. A holiday on which we're commanded to tell the story of the redemption. A holiday on which we do things to stimulate the children to ask questions. A very 'mouth' oriented holiday. But Peh-Sach wasn't the final redemption! It wasn't the 50th-Gate redemption. We weren't ready for that. We only merited a taste of it. Only a "peh's" worth. Maybe an idea behind the 'pey-hey' letters, a taste of the 7th book to be opened with the 50th-Gate redemption.
Our Sages say that 'YiSROeL' stands for 'Yaish Shishim Ribui Osios L'torah'- There are 600,000 letters to the Torah. A few times in the Torah, Bnei Yisrael is called by the name 'YeShuRuN'- 'Yaish Shishim Ribui Neshamos'- There are 600,000 souls [of the Bnei Yisrael]. The big question is, if we count the letters in the Torah, we count...give me a second.... just over 308,000!? Perhaps (Warning! Warning!) perhaps this 7th book is 290,000 letters long? Another possible answer, this one I've heard, is that many letters are made up of more than one letter. A Hey is written with a Raish and a yud. A Ches is 2 Vavs, attached at the top. Another answer is that the 600,000 letters includes the white letters!
I was once by a scribe, Rabbi Dovid Levitan, and we were discussing this very topic. He showed me that the inscribed 'pey' nests a perfect letter 'beis' in its center. So I asked him, "How do you count those?!" He said, "Exactly!" These white letters are partially outlined and yet all run together. They are finite and infinite at the same time. Bnei Yisrael is the most finite nation on earth. All through history our numbers never grew past a point. As Rabbi Wein puts it, in flourishing times, we live against a backdrop of impending upheaval. And in devastating times we're on the verge of extinction. And yet we are the most infinite nation on earth. We defy every historical law which has defined the rise and fall of all the empires which have come and gone. Thank G-d.
Rav Wolfson and Rabbi Levitan both describe a part of Torah that is revealed at the same time it stays hidden. A manifestation in this world while remaining unattached. This is job of Bnei Yisrael. To be in this world but remain unattached. To recognize all that is material is but a faint reflection of something infinite and use those materials accordingly.
Jumping to the end of the parsha...we'll take the scenic route. Bnei Yisrael complain about the mon- manna. They yearn for the "free" food back in Egypt. A pretty silly complaint, if we think about it. Free food from Egypt??? That's thinking like a clown. Commentaries say that the food in Egypt was mitsvah free! In the simplest sense, they refers to the mitsvah of keeping Kosher. This is difficult, though. Earlier in this chapter, after commanding the Pascal lamb, some Jews approached Moshe complaining that they were impure, at no fault of their own, and didn't want to be left out of the offering. We saw last week that a person who is impure from contact with a corpse (some say these men were assigned to carry the coffin of Yoseph) is not allowed into the Machanah Shchinah, the Camp of Divine Presence, were the Mishkan was, were the Pascal lamb was offered. Great! They are one goat ahead of the crowd! Quit clowning around! They want the mitsvah! We also saw last week, in a last minute Shavuos shmooze, how the Torah is a gift, not an obligation. Here's more proof. These men are exempt from the command of the Pascal lamb and the complain they want to do it. Rav Moshe Shternbach says it can't be that Bnei Yisrael is complaining they want mitsvah free food! They love the mitsvah's too much!
Twice a day we say in the Shema that our sustenance is dependent on our observance. When we do right we get the rains in their time and gather in the produce. We live in time when Hashems kindness let's the attribute of Mercy govern the world. Bnei Yisrael lived in the desert by the same mechanism but they were governed by Justice. That's is the level they were on. This is how they found their portion of mon. The Gemorah Yumah says the righteous would open their tent flaps and the mon was right there! Others had to walk out a bit from their tents. Some had to go wandering out into the desert. Their sustenance was dependant on their observance and it was 'reported' daily! Two neighbors got in a fight, in the morning they would know who was right and who was wrong because one of them found themselves doing some walking. The two who saw more of the desert than anybody were Dasan and Avirom! In two weeks they'll be fed up (pun intended) and challenge Moshe's authority saying, "We all heard the word of Hashem! We're all great prophets! We're all great people!" It was a difficult for that great generation to live under these laws of strict justice, with such "mitsvah rich" food. Egypts, of course, was mitsvah free.
The Torah records on this topic (11:10), "Moshe heard the people weeping in their family groups, each one at the entrance of his tent..." The Sages pick up on the word 'families' and say here lies the real complaint! Rashi brings it down saying, "Family values." They were complaining about the prohibitions of certain relations! Its the ol' food & arayos combo! (Arayos being a general term for matters related to nakedness, relations, etc.,)
In a class by a Rabbi Beckhoffer, who was teaching from Rav T'saddok HaKohen, he said that Adam and Chava eat of the tree and see they are naked! Hashem makes them clothes. Food and arayos. Leaving Egypt, the Jews sat indoors and ate the Pascal lamb. In the Egyptian houses, the first born were dying. And since it was the first born of any man with any women, in one house every child could have died, if each had a different father. At midnight, food and arayos. Kings II, chapter 4, the text tells us that Elisha the Prophet, on his travels, often stayed at a Shunamite couple's house. In verse 9 the wife says to her husband, "I know he is a holy man. Let's make up the attack so that he'll have his own room to stay in." The Gemorah asks how does she know Elisha is holy man? One opinion is that she noticed no fly ever went near his food. A second opinion is that she changed the linen when he left and they were never soiled. Food verses arayos. Esther gives herself over to Achashveirosh for the sake of saving the Jews and asks him to join her at a meal. Arayos and food! When the Mashiach comes, the righteous will partake of a meal prepared by Hashem. He'll be serving Leviathan and Ox. A fish, symbolizing reproduction and an ox, symbolizing burgers! Arayos and food.
It says in Gemorah Chagigah that there are three secret topics in the Torah that are only to be taught, one on two or one on one. The first is the topic of arayos! Why did Hashem prohibit these relationships? Looking, now at the complaints of Bnei Yisrael with an appreciation of who they were, what are they complaining about by food and arayos? Maybe they felt they handle the affects of such spiritual bonds? Maybe they saw in it a short cut to correcting the sin of Adam and Chava. Maybe they are asking symbolically, to bring the final redemption. I don't know. I'm just trying to think of some fitting possibilities, being a descendant of such great ancestors.
Just some food for thought. (Boo, hiss! Get the hook!)
At the end of the parsha, Miriam speaks lashon horah and receives tsara'as. Rav Zev Leff has an incredible vort on this, which as of yet he hasn't posted. In short, having repeatedly attempted to impress the greatness of our ancestor's, we have to ask, how does Miriam come to speak lashon horah? And about Moshe, of all people!?
She put her life on the line to watch Moshe in the Nile. She has no ill feelings towards him. She was talking to Aharon. He has no ill feelings towards Moshe. Moshe is the humblest of all men. He didn't feel nor has any ill feelings from what she said. She did absolutely no damage that lashon horah is supposed to cause! But, again, they were living in a world of instant justice. And when the world heard the words, the structure, the sound of it, it registered lashon horah and responded, according to laws of justice at that time, by giving her tsara'as. The ultimate proof was in Moshe's prayer for her. "Hashem, please heal her." No request for forgiveness. There was nothing to forgive! A great vort from a great Rabbi about an unimaginably great woman and her two unimaginably great brothers. "Notser chesed l'alaphim." We are an unimaginably fortunate people!
Grab a taste of the 50th Gate of Wisdom, make your ancestor's proud, have yourselves and unimaginably great Shabbot Shalom!