June 25th, 2016
Sivan 19th 5776
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The Merit of the Public
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto
“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to Aharon and say to him: When you kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light” (Bamidbar 8:1-2)
Rashi asks why the passage dealing with the kindling of the Menorah is written next to the passage dealing with the contribution and offerings of the Nesi’im. He explains that when Aharon saw the sacrifices of the Nesi’im, he was pained, for neither he nor his tribe was included with them in these korbanot offered at the inauguration. The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to him, “I swear by your life! Your role is greater than theirs, for you kindle and prepare the lamps.”
When Hashem observed Aharon’s pain at not participating in the korbanot of the Nesi’im, He gave him the honor of lighting the Menorah and told him that his role was greater than theirs. The Nesi’im merely brought a one-time offering, whereas Aharon would light the Menorah on a daily basis. Aharon would be the agent for the abundance of blessing upon all of mankind, for by the light of the Menorah, spiritual brilliance would descend upon the world.
It is difficult to understand why Aharon felt pained at seeing the korbanot of the Nesi’im at the Chanukat Hamishkan. He himself was the Kohen Gadol, responsible for all of the Kohanim in the Mishkan. Moreover, his tribe of Levi camped closest to the Ohel Moed and all of the Avodah of the Mishkan was done by them. His tribe was so beloved by Hashem that its members were counted from the age of one month, as they were Hashem’s army.
Although it is true that the Nesi’im brought a one-time offering at the inauguration of the Mishkan, nonetheless, we read about it every year on Chanukah, as well as at the beginning of the month of Nisan. (Ashkenazim read this parashah during the month of Nisan, mentioning the names of the Nesi’im.) Aharon saw all this in ruach hakodesh. Although it was a one-time event, it is remembered forever, even after the destructions of both Batei Mikdash. Throughout the generations, as Am Yisrael take note of the Nesi’im and their korbanot, there is a great awakening in Shamayim. In the wake of that sanctified scene of each tribe presenting his offering, abundance of blessing and kedushah rains down on that shevet. The inauguration ceremony, thus, continues before Hashem, bearing fruits for each shevet forever.
Aharon therefore was saddened that his tribe was denied this bounty. He was pained by the thought that his tribe was excluded in the Torah’s listing of the Nesi’im who offered sacrifices at the Chanukat Hamishkan. This prevented his tribe from being blessed with kedushah from on High, on the exalted days when we mention and praise the day of the Chanukat Hamizbeach.
Shevet Levi certainly merited added closeness to Hashem when they were appointed to carry the holy vessels. But after the churban, their service was ceased, and with it, their extra closeness to Hashem. Therefore, Aharon requested that at least they should be mentioned together with the korbanot of the Nesi’im. This would effect blessing and abundance from Heaven, as this parashah is read every year.
Hashem guaranteed Aharon that his role was greater than that of the rest of the Nesi’im. Aside from the fact that theirs was a one-time offering and kindling the Menorah was a daily service, Aharon received an additional promise. In the days of the second Beit Hamikdash, his descendants, the Chashmonaim, would be the ones to inaugurate the Temple after its defilement by the Greeks. They would offer sacrifices and light the Menorah from the flask of pure olive oil still sealed by the Kohen Gadol. The light of the Menorah would ascend higher and higher and draw down abundance of kedushah and berachah upon the tribe of Levi, the shevet of the Chashmonaim, who were the descendants of Aharon Hakohen.
Walking in Their Ways
Remove Anger from Your Heart
I mention the sins of my past in order to provide a lesson for others. I pray that the merit of preventing others from sinning serve as atonement for my sins.
A man once did something terrible to me. He blamed me falsely and caused me untold anguish. I was extremely angered by his acts. My inner voice cried out, “David, you must protect your reputation! Answer him like he deserves! Tell him he’s going to get it from Heaven!” But Father, who heard about the incident, instructed me to forego my honor and forgive the man. He told me to remain silent. The man would surely calm down, and peace would be restored. But I was young and foolish and did not obey my wise father’s counsel. The quarrel between us swelled to mammoth proportions, stretching out for the duration of four years.
Then, one day, I decided to grab the bull by the horns. If I would not call a halt to the fight, it would continue interminably. To this end, I went over to my adversary’s home. I knocked on his door with trembling, but determined, hands. When he opened it, I immediately related that I wanted to make peace with him, explaining that I had come to appease him. In a completely benevolent manner, above and beyond the call of duty, I took full responsibility for our dispute. I apologized profusely for hurting him, in spite of the fact that the reverse was the case.
When the man heard my “confession,” he was dumbstruck. He immediately hurried to amend my statement. “No, no,” he cried out, “I am to blame for the whole thing. I am the one who started the argument.”
Had I controlled my anger four years earlier, as Father had advised, I would have spared myself a good deal of mental anguish. The man would most likely have come to ask forgiveness of his own accord.
Every challenge one faces is like an ocean wave. The best way to confront it is by lowering his head until it passes. Just as it is futile to fight the furious waves of the sea, so it is fruitless to oppose challenges which come one’s way. It is preferable to accept challenges than to attempt to combat them. Had I understood this earlier, I would have bent my head toward this man and overcome the test of the furious waves of anger.
Guard Your Tongue
Learning from the Deeds of Moshe
One should strengthen himself with all his might to make peace between the two sides of a dispute, and not be lax in this, even if he is the greatest man in the nation. One should follow the example of Moshe Rabbeinu: “And Moshe arose and went to Datan and Aviram” (Bamidbar 16:25), to make peace between them (Chazal). From here we learn that one should not maintain a dispute (Sanhedrin 110).
The Midrash teaches that because Moshe went to the entrance of Datan and Aviram’s tents, he merited saving four people: the three sons of Korach and On ben Pelet.
The haftarah of the week: “Sing and be glad, O daughter of Zion” (Zechariah 2:14).
The connection to the parashah: The haftarah mentions the Menorah and the lamps that the prophet Zechariah saw. The parashah contains the command to “kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light.”
Tuv Ta’am – Insights
After reading from the Torah on Shabbat, we read a portion of the Prophets.
Chazal instituted this practice in response to the prohibition made by the gentiles to read from the Torah. Corresponding to the seven aliyahs to the Torah on Shabbat, which are each at least three pesukim in length, Chazal instituted reading a portion of the Prophets that is twenty-one pesukim in length. Similarly, seven berachot are made over the reading from the Prophets, corresponding to the berachot recited by the seven people called up to the Torah reading.
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto
Breaking One’s Desires
“They shall not leave over from it until morning nor shall they break a bone of it; like all the decrees of the Pesach-offering shall they make it” (Bamidbar 9:12).
This pasuk is referring to Pesach Sheini, which was established as a response to the people who were impure through contact to the dead and were upset that they could not keep all the mitzvot of Pesach because they could not sacrifice the Pesach-offering.
When Moshe saw how disappointed these people were, he asked Hashem what to do. The Creator replied that since they so greatly desired to keep His mitzvot and raise their spiritual level through sacrificing the Pesach-offering, a new law would be instituted to allow the sacrifice of the Pesach-offering on Pesach Sheini, on the fourteenth day of the second month.
Moshe Rabbeinu related this command to the people concerned, explaining that the laws pertaining to the Pesach-offering that was sacrificed in the correct time, in Nissan, also applied to them. They must roast the Pesach-offering over a fire and eat it with matzah and maror. They must not break a bone of the Pesach-offering, nor may they leave of the sacrifice overnight. But Pesach Sheini is not a yom tov, and there is no prohibition to possess, see, or eat chametz on it, as on Pesach, when even a crumb of chametz is prohibited. But they are not allowed to eat chametz with the Pesach-offering itself. This can be eaten only with matzah.
What is the significance of not breaking a bone of the Pesach-offering?
Breaking the bones of an animal as one eats is a sign of desire and the fulfilment of pleasure. It demonstrates that the person is not satisfied with the food alone but seeks to get every last drop of gratification from it. He wants the peak of satisfaction. This concept directly contradicts the essence of the Pesach-offering, which is eaten with matzah and maror, and represents humility and a subservient spirit.
The most minute and barely-felt desire hidden deep within a person’s heart may suddenly erupt and cause his destruction. This point is illustrated by the great personalities of Elisha ben Avuya and Yannai Kohen Gadol. Despite their exalted stature, they both defected from the ways of the Torah. The desires nestling in their hearts overtook them and caused their spiritual descent.
Words of Wisdom
Protection from All Harm
“When you kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah…” (Bamidbar 8:1-2)
Forming the Menorah was so difficult for Moshe Rabbeinu that Hashem had to show Him how to do it.
Concerning the signs of a pure and impure animal, Hashem showed them to him by pointing with his finger, as it says, “This is the animal that you shall eat. And this you shall not eat.”
Similarly, concerning the [sanctification of the] moon: “This month shall be to you…”
Similarly, concerning the Menorah: “This is the work of the Menorah, from beaten out gold…” What was so difficult for Moshe that he had to work so hard.
Since it was difficult for Moshe, Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to him: Take a kikar of gold and throw it in the fire. Then take it out, and it will be made of its own accord. As it says, “Its shaft, its cups, its knobs, and its flowers were from it.” He struck it with a hammer and it was made of its own accord. This is why the pasuk says “מקשה תיעשה – hammered out shall the Menorah be made” with the wordתיעשה spelled in full with aי' rather thanתעשה (you shall make), indicating that it would be made of its own accord.
Moshe took the gold and threw it in the fire, saying: “Master of the Universe, behold, the gold is in the fire. Do what you wish with it.” Immediately, the Menorah emerged fully formed.
Thus it is written, “כמראה אשר הראה ה' את משה כן עשה את המנורה – According to the vision that Hashem showed Moshe, so did he make the Menorah” (Bamidbar 8:4). It says only “so did he make.” Who is this referring to? Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Thus Hashem told Moshe, “If you will be careful to light [the Menorah] before Me, I will protect your souls from all harm.” The soul of a person is compared to a candle: “The candle of Hashem is the soul of man” (Mishlei 20), and it says “When you kindle the lights” (Bamidbar Rabbah).
Fear of Heaven Is Crowned with Royalty
“Make for yourself two silver trumpets” (Bamidbar 10:2).
Whoever fears Hakadosh Baruch Hu is made a king.
From whom do we learn this? From Avraham. Because he feared Hakadosh Baruch Hu, he became a king.
How do we know he feared? It is written, “Because you fear G-d.”
How do we know he became a king? It says, “To the Valley of Shaveh which is the king’s valley.” What is “עמק שוה – the Valley of Shaveh”? They made everything equal(שוה) and took counsel, and cut down cedar trees and made a throne and crowned him king over themselves.
This is not said about Avraham only, but also about Moshe, who also feared Hakadosh Baruch Hu, as it says, “Moshe hid his face since he was afraid to gaze upon G-d.”
How do we know he was made a king? It says, “He became king over Yeshurun.”
Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to Moshe, “You have been appointed king! When a king goes out to war, trumpets are blown before him. So too, when you go out to war, trumpets will be blown before you.” What is the source for this? As we read, “Make for yourself two silver trumpets” (Midrash Tanchuma).
We have presented in this column many ideas and recommendations concerning the importance of creating a warm relationship between parents and their children. The main point of this is to enable the child to stand on his own two feet and give him complete independence for when he will become an adolescent.
Chazal delineated this point in their instructions of what a father must provide for his son: “A father must give his son a brit; pidyon haben; teach him Torah; find a wife for him; and teach him a trade. And some say he must also teach him to swim” (Kedushin 29a).
We see from this that a father is obligated to provide his son with everything he will need to live an independent life. By teaching him Torah, the father gives him the ability to weigh things up himself. By providing him with a good wife, the father enables his son to build his own family. By teaching him a trade, the father enables his son to make a living without having to rely on him.
All these points are at the top of a parent’s priorities. Every parent wants to enable their child to stand on his own two feet. Each stage the child successfully reaches is a cause of great joy, and a proof of the parents’ success in educating him.
Each parent can relate the tremendous excitement they felt when their small child took his first steps on the living room carpet. The child falls and gets up and tries to take another few steps. Or the feeling a mother has when her little tyke refuses to let her dress him in the morning, but insists on doing it all himself. These both illustrate the strong desire a child has to be independent, which is certainly healthy.
Each parent who has faced such a situation can recall the tremendous joy they felt at the time. But we must always remember the principle we have just mentioned, that a child’s feelings are constantly propelling him toward maturity and independence. Each age has its ambitions. Each age has its impulses. Our task as parents is to enable the child to use his own abilities independently, and to encourage him to constantly acquire a clearer understanding based on the Torah outlook.
But we must also set firm boundaries. A child cannot by himself understand the correct boundaries that will enable him to use his own abilities properly rather than destroy himself with them. Here it is the place of the parents to stand firm and establish boundaries and rules of what is permitted and what is forbidden, what is the right thing to do and what should not be done. And the parents must ensure that these rules are implemented.
These rules are outlined by the master educator, Harav Shimshon Refael Hirsch, zt”l, in his sefer “The Foundations of Education.” The following are a few of them:
Don’t give your child something out of self-love, so he should not disturb you, if you would not give it to him because of your love for him.
Give to your child and allow him to do whatever you are able to permit, on condition that this will not damage either his physical or spiritual health.
Do not permit something to your child that you will afterward need to forbid, and do not prohibit your child something that you will afterward need to permit.
Men of Faith
Hashem desires that His Name should be sanctified in public, especially before the nations of the world. The following story testifies to this:
A gentile once came to the yeshiva in Lyon. He was very worried, and he told a shocking tale. His daughter had been kidnapped. He did not know who had kidnapped her or where she was.
The gentile had strong faith in the blessings of tzaddikim. Furthermore, some of his closest friends had advised him to go to the Rav in the yeshiva in Lyon so that he would bless him to find the girl safe and sound.
When the gentile entered Moreinu v’Rabbeinu’s room and told him what had happened, Moreinu told the man to light a candle every day that week l’iluy nishmat the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto. The gentile did so faithfully.
On Motza’ei Shabbat, the abducted girl called her father and informed him exactly where she was being held. She explained, “Father! One of my friends (she specified his name) locked me in his house the entire week, not allowing me to leave or call out. He just left the house to buy some cigarettes, and I am able to quickly phone you to let you know where I am.”
The family rejoiced to hear her voice. They immediately set out to the address that she had given them and found their daughter safe and sound. Just as they arrived, the “friend” who had abducted her also came back. When he saw her entire family there, he ran away.
When she had calmed down sufficiently, the girl told her parents everything that had happened to her. She expressed her amazement at the unfathomable miracle which had taken place. During the entire week, the man had not so much as touched her! It seemed as if someone was preventing him from executing his plans…
The next day, on Sunday, the family celebrated in the yeshiva with an elaborate feast, in order to give thanks for the tremendous miracle that they had experienced in the merit of the holy tzaddik. Just as they had lit the last candle on Motza’ei Shabbat, their daughter had succeeded in making contact with them.
In this way, Hashem’s Name was sanctified in public before the gentiles. [Since the feast was prepared by gentiles, the non-Jew who works in the yeshiva is the one who joined the meal].