Beha'alotecha (In Israel Shelach)

June 22nd, 2019

19th of Sivan 5779


The Holy Torah is Our Shabbat Delight

Ravvi David Hanania Pinto

“When you kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light. Aharon did so…” (Bamidbar 8:2-3)

Rashi expounds on the words “Aharon did so”: “To extol Aharon's praise that he did not deviate.”

This Rashi requires clarification – would Aharon ever contemplate deviating from Hashem's command? Why is this something to commend?

As an introduction to understanding what lies behind this Rashi, we will consider the Chazal (Shabbat 86b) concerning the disagreement between the Tana Kama and Rabbi Yosi, concerning the date that the Torah was given. The Tana Kama holds that the Torah was given on the sixth of Sivan, whereas Rabbi Yosi is of the opinion that it was given on the seventh. The Gemarah adds, “everyone agrees that the Torah was given on Shabbat”.

Why indeed was the Torah given specifically on Shabbat?

Chazal tell us (Shabbat 30a) that David Hamelech requested that Hashem reveal to him when he would die. Hashem did not tell him the exact date, but only that he would pass away on Shabbat. When David Hamelech heard this, he requested that he should either die before his time or at a later time, as long as he would not pass away on Shabbat. However, Hashem did not accede to his request. Why did David not wish to leave this world on Shabbat? What is the disadvantage of being niftar on this holy day?

In order to reconcile these questions, it is necessary to clarify the essence of the holiness of Shabbat. It is important to understand that honoring the Shabbat is not expressed only by the delight of additional food, drink or sleep, as is implied by the word 'שבת', which is taken to be an abbreviation for שינה בשבת תענוג (sleep on Shabbat is a delight). Rather, a person is obligated to utilize this holy day for spirituality and to make it pleasurable through Torah study and creating fixed times for learning. This is the main pleasure of Shabbat, as is manifest by the following Chazal (Yerushalmi Shabbat 15:3): "Shabbat and festivals were not given for eating and drinking alone, but to occupy oneself with words of Torah". We also find this idea expressed in the Tana D'bei Eliyahu (81): "Hashem said to Yisrael - even though you work during the six days of the week, Shabbat should only be for Torah. Chazal derive from this that a person should rise early on Shabbat and go to the Beit Knesset and Beit Midrash and should study Torah and Neviim, and afterwards he should go home and eat and drink."

It is evident from the above that the main loftiness of Shabbat is manifested by increasing one's occupation with Torah study. Indeed, Hashem said to Moshe (Yalkut – Vayakhel 108), "Gather together large groups and expound to them, in public, about the laws of Shabbat, so that future generations should learn from you to gather together every Shabbat (to study Torah)."

The six days of the week are blessed in merit of the Torah learning that takes place on Shabbat. Shabbat is the day from which an abundance of holiness and purity rains down for the entire week, as Chazal say (Gittin 77a) Sunday, Monday and Tuesday belong to the previous Shabbat, whereas Wednesday, Thursday and Friday belong to the next Shabbat, so Shabbat is right in the middle, with the days of the week surrounding it. Three on each side, with the holiness of Shabbat influencing and shedding its light on both halves.

The light of the Menorah hints to the light of the holy Torah. This is defined by Chazal (Megillah 16b): "Light refers to Torah." The middle light represents the light of Torah of Shabbat, which is the middle day of the rest of the week, while the three branches on either side of the menorah represent the six days of the week which surround Shabbat – three on each side. This is an important message for us to understand: The light of Torah that is learnt on Shabbat lights up all the six days of the week, and they are blessed in the merit of Shabbat.

This is what the verse means "toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light". The more one takes care of the middle light which refers to the light of Shabbat, and one kindles it with the light of Torah, to that extent one will experience blessings and abundance during the rest of the week, for it is the light of Torah which shines on Shabbat which influences the entire week. This is my explanation of the holy words of the Ben Ish Chai zt"l.

Referring back to the original Rashi, "to extol Aharon's praise that he didn’t deviate", Aharon HaKohen was a tangible example for the Bnei Yisrael on how to conduct oneself on Shabbat. He did not deviate from Hashem's command and kindled the lights in the exact way that he was commanded. The middle light which symbolizes the Torah learning of Shabbat, Aharon indeed kindled with the precious light of Torah study. His occupation with Torah shone its light on the day of Shabbat for all Am Yisrael to see, and also lit up all the six days of the week. When the Bnei Yisrael saw the great blessing and abundance that Aharon merited during the week, they realized that it was because he utilized Shabbat for kindling the light of Torah learning. For the extent to which the week is blessed is in accordance to the effort expended on Shabbat.

Walking in Their Ways

Torah Protects and Saves

Mr. Avitan once entered our yeshiva in Lyon with a most pained expression on his face. He promised to arrange a seudah in the merit of the tzaddik, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, zy”a. When I asked him to explain, he told me the following frightening story. His baby was suffering from a brain tumor, which necessitated surgery. Since operations on the head are complex, and the tumor was in a sensitive spot, the doctors did not have much faith in the success of the surgery, but since it was the child’s only hope for survival, they agreed to do it.

Mr. Avitan arrived in order to pray and arouse the merit of the tzaddikim, zy”a, so that his son should emerge healthy from this complicated procedure.

I advised Mr. Avitan to add to his daily learning regimen, as a zechut for the well-being of his baby. He should undertake these additional hours even after his son would recover, B’ezrat Hashem, so that he would not need a wake-up call from Heaven. He accepted my words unquestioningly.

On the day of the scheduled surgery, more x-rays were taken to confirm the condition of the growth, but, to everyone’s surprise, there was no growth at all! In shock, the doctors turned to Mr. Avitan, asking him if he had a rational explanation for this. He did not hesitate for a moment in his response: “What you find difficult to do, Hashem accomplishes, in the merit of Torah study and the tzaddikim who are no longer here.”

Mr. Avitan was transformed by this incident. He threw himself completely into the world of Torah and made a name for himself as a notable Rav. In Paris, his daily shiurim have become legendary, and he brings zechut to the public with his Torah knowledge.

Words of the Sages

Who Is that Avreich?

"Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble" (Bamidbar 12:3)

A person must be prepared to accept rebuke – but he must not wait for others to censure him. Even before being reprimanded by others, a person should concern himself constantly with introspection. There is great advantage to this, as the Gemarah writes (Berachot 7a): "One stimulus in a person's heart is better than a hundred lashes".

It is generally hard for a person to notice his own faults, but the greater a person is then the more he is free of bias and is considered capable of knowing how to censure himself.

Indeed, we find that the Gedolei Yisrael do not wait for others to reprimand them. They constantly hold themselves under severe self-reproach. They examine themselves with a magnifying glass and do not let themselves off lightly.

The Chafetz Chaim was accustomed to making a daily accounting of his deeds. He would torment himself and unearth all kinds of issues in which he felt the need to improve. During this time, being so self-absorbed, he was not aware of those around him who overheard him being severe with himself: "R' Yisrael Meir! You need to put more joy into your performance of mitzvot! R' Yisrael Meir! You must show more alacrity in your avodat Hashem!" And so he would continue to rebuke himself on all different matters.

As part of his reckoning, the Chafetz Chaim would make an accounting of each minute of the day which he felt he did not fill with Torah and avodat Hashem. He was able to account for every single minute of the day and made a note of every lost minute here and there. During the course of twenty-four hours, his reckoning amounted to ten minutes, which to his opinion, were not utilized sufficiently…

HaGaon HaTzaddik Rabbi Yosef Mograbi shlita, tells over the following story: ('Avot U'Banim' on Pirkei Avot): Once an avreich from yeshivat Porat Yosef came to the Admor, Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera zya"a. The Baba Meir asked him, "Do you have an avreich in your yeshiva, a talmid chacham, called Ben Zion Abba Shaul?"

The avreich was astounded: "Avreich? He is the Rosh Yeshiva himself, Chacham Ben Zion Abba Shaul!"

The Baba Meir sighed and explained: "Yesterday he was by me and when I asked him who he was, he replied, "Ben Zion Abba Shaul". "And what does your honor do?" I questioned him. "I learn in Porat Yosef"…

Is it any wonder that this 'avreich' who 'learns' in Porat Yosef is the Rosh Yeshiva himself? The same Rosh Yeshiva who merited establishing generations of exceptional talmidei chachamim. This is exactly what we are told, "one who distances himself from honor" – is the one who merits acquiring Torah!

Guard Your Tongue

The Main Protection

The main protection for staying away from forbidden speech does not come from acceptance in one's heart alone, rather it is a result of setting aside a fixed time each day to study the laws and lessons connected to the laws of speech. The remedy for lashon hara only comes through studying all the fine details of the laws of lashon hara and rechilut. As Chazal say: What will prevent a person from speaking lashon hara? He should occupy himself with Torah.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: "Sing and be glad" (Zechariah 2)

The connection to the parsha: The haftarah talks about the Menorah that the Navi Zechariah saw, while the parsha contains the command about kindling the Menorah.

Pearls of the Parsha

Pleasant Rebuke

"We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge" (Bamidbar 11:5)

The grammatical wording of the verse seems to be incorrect. 'נאכל' literally means 'we shall eat', in the future tense. Should it not say ' הדגה אשר אכלנו' – the fish that we ate - in the past tense?

Rabbeinu Yosef Chaim zya"a, the Ben Ish Chai, writes that the Bnei Yisrael were trying to give over a message to Moshe Rabbeinu. They wished to say that they have an immediate need to return to Egypt and eat fish over there, for there is no hope of finding meat in this desert. But since they were embarrassed to explicitly say "we shall return to Egypt", as they did with their other complaints - "Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt" - instead of saying "we ate" in the past tense, they said "we will eat", making it clear that the only option is to return to Egypt.

Since they expressed it in this way, Moshe Rabbeinu too did not rebuke them openly; he gave it over in a pleasant way by saying: "…for you have wept in the ears of Hashem, saying: Who will feed us meat? for it was better for us in Egypt!" (Bamidbar 11:18)

You meant that it will be good for us to return to Egypt now where we will have meat to eat.

Fish on a Bed of Vegetables

"We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge; the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic." (Bamidbar 11:5)

What is the connection between fish and the other vegetables?

The sefer 'Zichron Yisrael' explains that Ya'akov blessed Pharoh that the Nile should overflow and water the fields of Egypt. The Egyptians used to spread out nets in the river and when the waters gushed into the fields, the fish that rose up together with the water would get caught in the nets.

This is why the Bnei Yisrael mentioned "cucumbers and melons" together with "we remember the fish that we ate in Egypt", since everything was found together in the Egyptian's fields.

Speech Expresses a Person's Essence

"Miriam and Aharon spoke against Moshe regarding the Cushite woman he had married" (Bamidbar 12:1)

Rashi writes on this verse: "If Miriam, who did not intend to degrade him, was punished, all the more so one who (purposely) talks negatively about his friend."

Speech is the greatness and glorification of man. How much can a person accomplish with his hands and feet alone - whether for the good or the bad? In a limited way, he is able to build or destroy, whereas with his mouth a person can build worlds or, G-d forbid, destroy them. Nevuchadnetzar, with the folly of his mouth, destroyed the Beit HaMikdash and exiled the Jewish people from his land.

Several decades ago, one exceedingly wicked man rose to power. Hitler ymch"sh. With the power of his mouth he brought untold destruction to the world. Had he entered Jewish homes and kicked the Jews with his legs, how much damage would he have been able to wreak? Had he walked around the streets and used his hand to beat up every Jew that he chanced upon, how much harm would he have been able to inflict? Not that much.

This is not the path that he chose; instead he incited the masses with his fiery speeches and thereby destroyed entire countries and killed millions of people r"l.

On the other hand, l'havdil elef havdalot, the Chafetz Chaim zt"l, was one Jew who saved the entire world. The world before and after the Chafetz Chaim cannot be compared. It was a world that was unfamiliar with many laws; a world that had no idea of the intricacies of the laws of lashon hara.

In general, large parts of the glory of the Jewish people were missing. All this magnificence the Chafetz Chaim constructed using the power of speech.

The correct definition of a human being is a man who knows how to guard his mouth. A great person is one who has control of his speech, whereas a lowly person is one whose mouth is free for all, with no constraints. A person's entire essence is dependent on his mouth. ('Noam Siach')

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The Torah Was Given as An Unpolished Diamond

"When you kindle the lamps" (Bamidbar 8:2)

This verse is a reference to the fact that a person must work on developing, promoting and protecting the peace within his home. The Menorah symbolizes the man, whereas the lamps refer to the woman; both of them together are obligated to be made out of "a single piece", righteous and pure and loving one another. If there is peace between them, the shechina rests among them and the name of Hashem (י-ה) is present.

'בהעלתך' (when you kindle) – this word can be split into two: "ב-העלתך". The 'bet' hints to the house (בית) and also to the Beit midrash (בית מדרש). A person must kindle the lights in both of these places, meaning that one must strengthen one's marital harmony and increase love and peace within the home, and at the same time strive in the Beit Midrash – to add spiritual lights, to strengthen oneself in avodat Hashem and to increase one's Torah, mitzvot and good deeds.

What is the correct way to kindle the lights and strengthen oneself in Torah?

There is only one answer – through toiling in Torah.

The Torah was not given to us in the way that a gift is normally presented to a friend. Usually when a woman receives a gift from her husband, the main beauty of the gift is conveyed through the fancy wrapping and external attractive presentation. But if the gift is not wrapped up or adorned, it can be the most expensive gold ring but the one receiving the gift will not delight in it, for a gift without the wrapping is not a gift. However, Hashem specially gave us the Torah in this way, without any external packaging or processing. The Torah was given as an unrefined diamond and it is our obligation to process this jewel by working hard at it and exerting ourselves. This is the only way to reveal the true beauty and glory that lies behind the Torah and mitzvot.

This is also one of G-d's great kindnesses to us, for had the Torah been given to us as a beautiful, cultivated gift, we would have understood Hashem's Torah without any toil, and then love for Torah would not be instilled in us for we would easily understand the sugyah and then immediately get up and busy ourselves with worldly occupations. But now that we have to invest in it and exert ourselves to comprehend the ideas, this self-sacrifice bequeaths us with a strong love for Torah, and in this way we merit being devoted to Hashem's Torah.

"And Let Her Be Praised"

In Memory of Mazal Tov Madeleine bat Mocha Simcha Zal

"She envisions a field and buys it; from the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard."

The stirring feelings that are aroused by the Jewish woman who does all that is in her power to establish a home of Torah and untainted yirat shamayim, are expressed by the cleverest of all men in his song of praise. "She envisions a field and buys it". This verse is a reference to Sara Imeinu a"h, whose life's goal was to prepare a burial place for herself in the holy Me'arat Hamachpelah.

Advance thought and preparation are what assist a person in every place and at every stage of life. This is the way to merit success in setting up a home on the foundations of pure faith and mitzvah observance. Without prior thought we will not achieve fear of G-d, in accordance with the concept "the outcome of the deed is according to prior thought".

When the woman manages her responsibilities with advance planning, she invests thought in how to establish a Torah home. She possesses explicit trust in our Torah leaders, never questioning in the slightest when faced with da'at Torah. In praise of this righteous woman we can say "from the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard". She derives tremendous nachat from the vine that she cultivated, from the beautiful family that she established in the vineyard of the Jewish people.

If we take a look at the life of Rabbanit Pinto a"h, the saintly wife of the esteemed Maran Rabbeinu Moshe Aharon zya"a, we see consistent thought and contemplation, centered on great love of Hashem. She invested deliberate effort on behalf of the chinuch of her children, so that they would grow up in the true Jewish way built on the sacred foundations of holiness and modesty. And indeed, she merited much nachat from blessed generations of upright children who continue to sanctify the Name of G-d in all their ways.

Just recently, the following exceptional story came to light. It is a glimpse of the nachat ruach that the soul of the nifteret a"h has from the fruit of her handiwork, with the establishment of a yet another vineyard of purity in Israel.

As part of the wide-ranging activities of HaRav HaGaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto shlita, in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the entire world, HaRav Pinto inaugurated his third mikvah, in memory of his mother Rabbanit Mazal Madlin a"h, within three months of her petirah.

One of these mikvaot, situated in a non-religious settlement in the Center of Israel, is supervised by a righteous woman who is extremely devoted to this precious mitzvah. Day after day she stands by the mezuzah and offers up a prayer that she should be successful in her holy task. Her day is replete with revision of the laws of purity and reciting tehillim.

Several days before the dedication ceremony in memory of the Harav Pinto's mother, this righteous woman had a dream in which she saw an elderly woman, radiating a strength that is impossible to describe with words. She experienced a powerful feeling of lofty elevation and a strong show of support and encouragement. The elderly woman, accompanied by an avreich who was supporting her, showered words of affection and warmth on her, and stroked her hand as a sign of encouragement and love. The avreich accompanied her up to the mikvah and after some time returned together with her, back down the same path.

Harav M shlita, who was involved in the establishment of this edifice of purity, attests that the woman in charge of the mikvah possesses unadulterated yirat shamayim and is unpretentious and saintly. He took the dream seriously, for 'words of truth can be recognized' and he felt that it was not simply a meaningless dream. The timing of the dream, together with its clarity and stirring sensation, were signs of its significance. He entertained the thought that maybe the elderly woman was in fact the Rabbanit Pinto, in whose honor and memory this mikvah was built.

Harav M decided to clarify the matter and asked his devoted assistant, R' Aryeh, to get hold of a picture of HaRav Pinto's mother. He then presented the woman in charge of the mikvah with several pictures of the dedication ceremony, including a picture of Rabbanit Pinto a"h.

As soon as she noticed the picture of the saintly Rabbanit a"h, she almost fainted. "This is the special woman that I saw in my dream!" she exclaimed. When Harav M told her that it was in fact the mother of Harav Pinto shlita, mother of royalty, it took her a long time to recover from this powerful experience. She understood that she was blessed with a great merit and her good deeds were causing pleasure in the upper worlds.

When Harav Pinto shlita heard about the dream, he was overjoyed. He expressed his pleasure about the nachat that the Rabbanit a"h was experiencing and sent his blessings to the woman who merited performing this kindness through fostering purity among the Jewish people and made reference to the Chazal, "a merit is brought about through one who is worthy". He blessed her that her holy task "will bring her and her husband happiness and wealth and much success and good tidings, and the merit of the mitzvah and the future neshamot that will result from the merit of this mitzvah of purity, will serve as a protection for her and all her family". Amen.


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