Friday, July 29, 2022

proper motivation

Ramban asks to why the din of kashering kelim is mentioned only after the war with Midyan and not earlier, after Bnei Yisrael waged war with Sichon and Og.  Ramban answers (based on Chulin 17) that during the battles for kibush ha'aretz, such as the battles against Sichon and Og and the future battles of Yehoshua, there was a heter to eat trief, so there was no need to kasher.  The war against Midyan, however, unlike those others wars, was not a war to take territory, of kibush.  It was a war of nekama, to punish Midyan for the sin of causing Bn"Y to succumb to the temptation for znus.  Therefore, it was only here that the halachos of kashering are mentioned.  (see here, here, here)

Sefas Emes suggests that the din of kashering was taught here because it fits with the larger lesson Moshe weas trying to convey.  The gemara explains why Moshe was angry when he saw the soldiers returning with booty:

יקצף משה – אמר להם, שמא חזרתם לקלקולכם הראשון, אמרו לו, לא נפקד ממנו איש, אמר להם, אם כן כפרה למה, אמרו לו, אם מידי עבירה יצאנו, מידי הרהור לא יצאנו

Even though not a single soldier died in battle, Moshe was not satisfied that something was not rotten, that the grabbing of spoils was not indicative of a rehash of sin.  Even though there was no overt wrongDOING he could point to, Moshe was concerned lest the people be guilty of hirhurei aveira, wrong THINKING.

This is the lesson of giulei Midyan.  Even though there is no visible trief in a pot, it still must be kashered becauase of invisible taam that remains latent within it.  So too, taught Moshe, it's not enough to just look at surface actions -- one must dig deeper and examine the thoughts latent in one's heart.  

I think we've covered this is previous years, and just want to add an additional point this year and try to connect this point with another idea and see how it works.

Hashem commanded Moshe:

נְקֹ֗ם נִקְמַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מֵאֵ֖ת הַמִּדְיָנִ֑ים אַחַ֖ר תֵּאָסֵ֥ף אֶל־עַמֶּֽיךָ

Moshe's own death hinged on the completion of this war against Midyan. Despite knowing this, Moshe immediately jumped into action.  Rashi comments:

 אף על פי ששמע שמיתתו תלוייה בדבר, עשה בשמחה ולא איחר.

Simple pshat in Rashi: even though Moshe could have postponed his death indefinitely by pushing off this war, he didn't do so.  He acted with the same zerizus and alacrity as with any other mitzvah (see Gur Aryeh, Mizrachi).

Asks the Sefas Emes (5650): what's the hava amina that Moshe could have kicked the can down the road and cheated death?  נְקֹ֗ם נִקְמַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מֵאֵ֖ת הַמִּדְיָנִ֑ים is a mitzvah!  Once told by Hashem to avenge Bn"Y and wage war against Midyan, surely Moshe would not deliberately be mevateil a mitzvah and not act on it.  

Sefas Emes answers (and I'm adding my own spin to his approach) that when going to war, when going to take revenge, there is a very important condition that has to be met before you unholster your guns, so to speak.  Ramban in P' Lech Lecha asks why it is that the Mitzrim were punished for enslaving Bn"Y when Hashem had told Avraham that his children would be punished by being forced into servitude.  The Egyptians were fulfilling the nevuah, the ratzon Hashem!  Ramban explains that ain hachi nami, had they done so lishma, that excuse would work.  However, the reality is that they enslaved Bn"Y for their own ends alone.  Without the l'shem shamayim, it's not a kiyum of ratzon Hashem -- it's abuse and torture.  The Chofetz Chaim similarly explains that when Shaul haMelech failed to kill Agag, the navi Shmuel accuses him, "VaTa'as ha'ra b'einei Hashem," of doing wrong.  You would think that Shaul's sin was in NOT doing what he was supposed to -- killing every member of Amalek -- not what he actually did do. Yet, that's not what the navi tells us.  The sin is "VaTa'as," what Shaul did, because once he allowed his own cheshbonos and thoughts of right and wrong to enter into the equation, he was following his own agenda, and not purely the ratzon Hashem.  To wipe out a nation based on your own agenda is genocide, not a mitzvah.  We also find by the cheit ha'eigel, before the Leviim took up arms Moshe told them, "Mi l'Hashem ei'lei," (32:26, see Netziv), as only those motivated l'shem shamayim had a right to participate.  You see from these sources and more that even when there is a heter, even when there is a mitzvah to cause harm, it has to be done carefully for the right reasons.

The Shem m'Shmuel is medayek in Rashi at the beginning of Pinchas that talks about the way the other shevatim slandered Pinchas: הראיתם בן פוטי זה, בן שפיטם אבי אמו עגלים לעבודה זרה יהרוג נשיא שבט מישראל.  Why does Rashi mention specifically that Yisro "FATTENED" cows for avodah zarah?  Why not zero in more directly on the fact that he OFFERED cows to avodah zarah?  Sm"S explains that whether a cow is fat of skinny makes no inherent difference to the offering; it's just a matter of appearances.  The shevatim were accusing Pinchas of being someone superficial, someone lacking depth, someone for whom appearances matter more than anything else.  When you pull out your sword to kill, there has to be more than that.  You have to reflect on your own motives, you have to reflect on the motives of the other party if you are acting with kana'us on the assumption that they are completely in the wrong.  You have to look at more than appearances.  L'shem shamayim is something that comes from deep within, not something found on the surface.  (see more here)

Coming back to our parsha, yes, Moshe was given a mitzvah of  נְקֹ֗ם נִקְמַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מֵאֵ֖ת הַמִּדְיָנִ֑ים, to avenge Bn"Y, but just like in these other cases where the use of violence necessitated 100% being motivated l'shem shamayim with no other agenda, here too, the mitzvah entailed being motivated 100% to avenge what was done to Bn"Y.  It can't be 95 or 98 or 99% nekama -- it's 100% all in or it's stam violance and not a kiyum mitzvah.  How can you be 100% all in for nekama when you know your own life is forfeit if you do so?  No question Moshe would DO the mitzvah, would act if Hashem wanted him to act.  But the mitzvah here required more than action -- it required Moshe's placing the motivation to avenge Bn"Y, to avenge kvod shamayim, beyond any consideration of his own life.  He had to be all in, 100% on board and motivated.  And that is the test that he passed.

Coming back to the mitzvah of kashering kelim and hirhurei aviera, that is why those ideas were so important davka now, davka in this battle against Midyan.  When Moshe presented the mitzvah to Bn"Y, he reformulated it as "la'teit nikmat Hashem b'Midyan."  Moshe had to put even consideration for his own life on the backburner in order to have the proper motivation to fulfill that mitzvah.  Imagine what was going through his mind as he saw those soldiers coming back with the spoils of war.  Is this how soldiers motivated by "nikmat Hashem" alone, with no regard for their own agenda, return from battle?  Does a soldier motivated purely by "nikmat Hashem" stop to collect treasure along the way?  אם מידי עבירה יצאנו, מידי הרהור לא יצאנו.   

Monday, July 25, 2022

why the korbanos were put at the end of Pinchas

What is the parsha of korbanos doing at the end of Pinchas?  Wouldn't this sections better fit somewhere in Vayikra, e.g. in Emor, where the chagim are mentioned?

Ramban answers that the korbanos musafim were not offered in the midbar:

כי אחרי שאמר: לאלה תחלק הארץ (במדבר כ״ו:נ״ג), צוה להשלים תורת הקרבנות שיעשו כן בארץ, כי במדבר לא הקריבו המוספים 

Now that Bn"Y would soon be going into Eretz Yisrael without Moshe, he had to teach them the halachos of the korbanos that they would have to offer there.  Im lo acshav, eimasai?

Abarbanel writes that there is more to it than Moshe teaching halachos that were not yet known.  Moshe's presence, as the adon ha'neviim, made propechy easier to attain.  He knew that once he was gone, there would never be a prophet of similar stature.  Therefore, he gave the parsha of korbanos as a means of helping enable prophecy for future generations.

R' Tzadok haKohen follows in Abarbanel's footsteps of linking korbanos to Moshe's impending death.  The era of transmission of Torah sheb'ksav would come to a close with Moshe's death.  Korbanos served to help enable the growth of Torah shebaa'l peh that would begin with Yehoshua.

I think both ideas share a common denominator.  Moshe was the conduit between G-d and man.  Call it nevuah, call it Torah sheb'skav, it amounts to the same thing -- G-d reaching out to Bn"Y to convey his will.  With Moshe gone, with the conduit of communication gone, G-d would no longer be reaching out in the same way.  Therefore, the burden shifted to us to reach out to Him.  Instead of G-d calling to man, drawing close to us,  it became our responsibility to call to Him, to draw ourselves closer to him.  That's what korbanos are all about; that's what tefilah b'makom korban is all about.  

Friday, July 22, 2022

an ownership stake

1) R' Tzadok haKohen (Pri Tzadik Pinchas #9) writes that the fasts of 17 Tamuz and 9 Av always fallout on the same day as the first of Pesach to teach us that there is a parallel between the days.  Pesach is the chag of redemption that led to kabbalas haTorah. So too, the breaking of the luchos on 17 Tamuz ultimately led to a greater kabbalas haTorah, as had we only had the first luchos, everything would be Torah sheb'skav and we would have no need for ameilus in Torah to figure things out on our own.  Because those luchos were broken, Torah shebaal peh came into the world.  The gemara darshens that Hashem said to Moshe "y'yasher kochacha she'shibarta."  (Parenthetically, when I once mentioned this gemara to sefardim I pointed out that kavyachol Hashem must be an Ashkenazi, otherwise He would have said 'chazak u'baruch' and not 'y'yasher koach.') Because of the churban on 9Av, we will once day have a Beit haMikdash that comes down from shamayim.  These fasts are steps toward greater redemption, just twists in the road to get us to our destination.   

R' Leibele Eiger (Imrei Emes, last piece on the parsha) quotes the pasuk

 הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ וּבָכֹה נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ הַזָּרַע בֹּא יָבוֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵׂא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו.

and points out that if you take the first letter of each of the first three words, the gematriya = 21, which corresponds to the three weeks of bein ha'metzarim.  We are crying during this time because we don't see the fruits of our labor yet and everything looks barren.  The destruction, however, is part of the process of planting, נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ הַזָּרַע, and ultimately we will reap the rewards.

2) Rashi comments (27:1) that the Torah traces the lineage of Bnos Tzelafchad back to Yosef because:

וסף חיבב את הארץ, שנאמר: והעליתם את עצמותי (בראשית נ׳:כ״ה), ובנותיו חיבבו את הארץ.

It's not that they wanted a portion in Eretz Yisrael as an investment, because they knew the housing market would go from expensive and rise to outrageous, but rather they wanted a portion simply because of a tremendous love they had for the land.   

Why was this quality of love of the land felt by the Bnos Tzelafchad more than anyone else?  R' Moshe Tzvi Neriah points out that it was Yosef's children alone who were  raised from birth in galus.  The children of all the other shevatim were born in Eretz Yisrael.  When Eretz Yisrael is home, you take it for granted.  For Yosef, it was not home, and therefore he didn't take it for granted.  He had to make a deliberate effort to teach his children a love of Eretz Yisrael and he didn't assume it would be passed to them by osmosis.  Interestingly, at the end of P' Matos we read that it was Menashe's children and grandchildren who took the initiative in conquering territory assigned to them.  They didn't wait for reinforcements.  They, more than others, pushed ahead with the conquest.  

How does their request for a portion of land in Eretz Yisrael demonstrate their love for the land?  It's not like they faced a choice at this point of going to Eretz Yisrael or returning to Mitzrayim.  Where else were they going to go?  If their petition to Moshe was denied, they still would have gone into Eretz Yisrael!  The only difference is that they would be living with their husband and family in his portion of the land rather than having their own piece of the pie.  

My son last year quoted R' Wagshal from the Mir as addressing this issue, but I want to add my 2 cents.

The simple answer (see Netziv, Malbim) is that for Bnos Tzelafchad who were from sheivet Menashe there was in fact some other place else to go -- Eiver haYarden, where other members of their sheivet settled.  Because they requested davka land in Eretz Yisrael proper, it shows they did not just want any portion to call their own, but they wanted to be specifically in Eretz Yisrael.

But I think there is something more here as well.  Ran Nedarim 28a quotes the view of Tos that dina d'malchusa dina does not apply in Eretz Yisrael:

כתבו בתוספות דדוקא במלכי עובדי כוכבים אמר דדינא דמלכותא דינא מפני שהארץ שלו ויכול לומר להם אם לא תעשו מצותי אגרש אתכם מן הארץ אבל במלכי ישראל לא לפי שא"י כל ישראל שותפין בה

Ran relates dina d'malchusa to the fact that the gvt, as occurred not infrequently in our history in galus, can expel residents who choose to disobey its laws.  We are just vassals of the state, and must therefore obey its dictates.  However, writes the Ran, this sevara does not apply in Eretz Yisrael.  Our right to Eretz Yisrael is not based on having the approval of a benevolent king, Jewish or not, who chooses to allow us to remain there.  We are not subjects of the state, we are partners in the state.    

A lot of companies give stock options or shares to their employees for the simple reason that when employees have an ownership stake in the company, it gives them a vested interested in the company's success and they will therefore work harder.  I say this b'peh malei as someone who is not living in Eretz Yisrael yet: aino domeh showing love for Eretz Yisrael by making it the place you take your vacations, the place you may spend some of the chagim, the place where you have an apartment to use during a midwinter or summer break, to showing your love for Eretz Yisrael by making it the place you call home.  שא"י כל ישראל שותפין בה.  It's different when you are not just a customer of the business, but you are a partner.  

No question that Bnos Tzelafchad would have lived in Eretz Yisrael anyway.  But they wanted more than that -- they wanted to be partners in Eretz Yisrael.  That's what having your own cheilek means. 

Moshe Rabeinu was not able to pasken for the Bnos Tzelafchad because  נתעלמה ממנו הלכה, as Rashi writes.  Moshe received whatever instructions he needed, whatever Torah he knew, directly from Hashem.  He was a subject, so to speak, of the king, the King of Kings, and just followed the rules as given. Yehoshua and the next generation did not have that same benefit -- they had to work to figure things out themselves.  They were  more like partners with the RBS"O, kavyachol, in making Torah shebaal peh, not just copyists.   לפי שא"י כל ישראל שותפין בה, building Eretz Yisrael requires figuring out for yourself how to implement the Divine plan in practice, with all the messy details involved in building a functioning state and society.  We are partners with the RBS"O in working things out.   נתעלמה ממנו הלכה because running a partnership is not the role of a Moshe Rabeinu, it's the role of the next generation.  This is why the parsha of Bnos Tzelafchad is immediately followed by the appointment of Yehoshua, as it server as the signal to Moshe that it was time for a new leader.  (See the last Sefas Emes on the parsha for a much deeper spin on this idea.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

who was Kalba Savua?

Gittin 56a tells us that Kalba Savua, the father in law of R' Akiva, got that name because:

 בֶּן כַּלְבָּא שָׂבוּעַ שֶׁכׇּל הַנִּכְנָס לְבֵיתוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא רָעֵב כְּכֶלֶב יוֹצֵא כְּשֶׁהוּא שָׂבֵעַ

He was one of the three wealthiest people in Yerushalayim, and anyone who entered his home ravenous as a dog would be given a meal and leave satiated.

If you are interested in a trivia tidbit and want to know what his real name was (assuming Kalba Savua was what he was called and not his actual name), see Yadaim 3:5

. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בֶּן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן חָמִיו שֶׁל רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, כְּדִבְרֵי בֶן עַזַּאי, כָּךְ נֶחְלְקוּ וְכָךְ גָּמְרוּ:

Yachin/Boaz comments:

נ"ל דיהושע זה הוא יהושע בן קפוס שהיה חותנו של ר' עקיבא [כשבת קמ"ז א']. ונ"ל עוד שהוא שם העצם של בן כלבא שבוע שהוה חמיו של ר' עקובא [ככתובות ס"ב ב']. רק שם הכינוי שלו היה בן כלבא שבוע. דכל הנכנס לביתו רעב ככלב יצא שבע [כגיטין נ"ו א']. ונ"ל עוד דאחר מותו גם בן ר' עקיבא נקרא יהושע על שם זקנו כנהוג. ולכן מצינו לרבי עקיבא שהיה לו בן שנקרא יהושע [כפסחים קי"ב א' ושבועות ד"ו א']. אבל אי"ל דיהושע זה לאו היינו כלבא שבוע. רק חמיו אחר של ר' עקיבא. דלא מצינו אשה לר' עקיבא רק בת כלבא שבוע. ואחריה אשת טורנוסרופוס הרשע דנתגיירה ונסבה ר' עקיבא [כע"ז דף כ' ע"א]:

Monday, July 18, 2022

chazon ish on the trolley problem

Chazon Ish (Y.D. siman 69) on the trolley problem:

C.I. distinguishes between the case of deflecting an arrow shot at a group so that it strikes an isolated individual (similar to redirecting the trolley away from a group at the cost of the life of an individual) from the case at the end of Terumos of handing over a single individual to be killed in order to spare the group.  In the latter case, handing over an individual to be killed is an act tantamount to murder.  It's the context which provides a justification.  In the case of the arrow, deflecting the shot is not an act of murder -- it is an act that prevents harm.  It's the context, the fact that is is being deflected at an individual, which transforms it into something else.  The two cases are inverse of each other.

Friday, July 15, 2022

changing klala to bracha

  וַיַּהֲפֹךְ֩ ה׳ אֱלֹקיך לְּךָ֛ אֶת־הַקְּלָלָ֖ה לִבְרָכָ֑ה (Devarim 23:6)

Why the extra לְּךָ֛ in the pasuk?  I saw suggested as follows: all of the klalos of Bilam were flipped to become brachos.  Yesh lachkor do we therefore view Bilam as a m'vareich, or is Bilam a m'kalel, but Hashem fixed the outcome for us?  Nafka minah -- Hashem promised Avraham וַאֲבָֽרְכָה֙ מְבָ֣רְכֶ֔יךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖ אָאֹ֑ר.  Does Bilam get credit for giving bracha and deserve bracha in return, or does Bilam deserve condemnation for being a m'kalel, and it's only Hashem's intervention that changed his words?  The pasuk answers וַיַּהֲפֹךְ֩ ה׳ אֱלֹקיך לְּךָ֛ אֶת־הַקְּלָלָ֖ה לִבְרָכָ֑ה, that for us and us alone the k'lala counts as a bracha, but viz a viz Bilam, he is still considered a m'kalel.

I would like to suggest a different answer based on the comment of the Kli Yakar to that pasuk.  Kli Yakar raises three questions. 

1) It's understandable to say that Bilam gave a bracha INSTEAD of a klala, but what does it mean to say that the klala BECAME a bracha?

 2) The gemara darshens that all of the brachos given by Bilam ultimately, later in history, were fulfilled as klalos, as he originally intended.  The one exception is  מַה־טֹּ֥בוּ אֹהָלֶ֖יךָ יַעֲקֹ֑ב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶ֖יךָ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל, which remained a bracha for all eternity.  That's why the pasuk says  וַיַּהֲפֹךְ֩ ־הַקְּלָלָ֖ה לִבְרָכָ֑ה in the singular -- because only one of the klalos was forever after really transformed.  Why is this bracha different than all the others?  

3) And how did Chazal derive from the pasuk pasuk that it was davka that bracha which never changed?

Kli Yakar says a yesod: G-d does not wantonly change the rules of nature.  For Hashem to do so requires great zechuyos.  If a klala points to something bad happening, if the stars are aligned against a person, if the normal course of events point to a certain bad outcome, the ideal is to find a way within derech ha'teva to arrive at a different outcome, not to suspend the rules entirely.  For example, the gemara says that a person born at the time of a certain mazal may be bloodthirsty.  Derech ha'teva compels him in a certain direction, but that doesn't mean his becoming a murderer is fixed short of uprooting the rules.  He can choose to be a shochet and do good with that talent.  It's possible to work within the system and get a different result.

With respect to the intended klalos of Bilam, Hashem could find no way to redirect Bilam's intentions and his words short of uprooting them, changing the rules of the game.  When Klal Yisrael has great zechuyos, this works, but over our long history, unfortunately that's isn't always the case, and so the klalos came back to bite us.

However, when it came to the klala Bilam wanted to give of destroying our mikdashot, here Hashem did not need to uproot the rules to change the outcome.  

מזמור לאסף וגוּ קינה לאסף מיבעי ליה ודרש כך שאמר אסף שירה על שכילה הקב"ה חמתו בעצים ואבנים שבביתו ומתוך כך הותיר פליטה בישראל שאלמלא כך לא נשתייר משונאי ישראל שריד וכן הוא אומר כלה הּ את חמתו ויצת אש בציון 

The destruction of the Mikdash spared us from destruction.  Because Hashem was able vent his anger on stones, on a building, we were saved.  In this case, and in this case alone, the klala itself, even when fulfilled, led to a positive outcome.

Therefore, davka in this case, the Torah is justified in using the word יַּהֲפֹךְ֩ .  Davka here, the klala itself as Bilam intended was not uprooted, but rather was transformed into something positive.

Getting back to the original question of why the extra word  לְּךָ֛, Chazal tell us that had the nochrim appreciated what the Mikdash did for them, for the world, they would have put up guards to protect it and not destroyed it.  Churban ha'bayis was for them a SELF destructive act, as it cut off a source of bracha that they also derived benefit from.  However, for us, as difficult and painful as the churban was, it was מזמור לאסף.  It ensured the continuity and preservation of Jewish life.    וַיַּהֲפֹךְ֩ ה׳ אֱלֹקיך לְּךָ֛, the benefit was davka only for us, but for the nochrim, for the world that allowed the destruction to take place, there was no upside.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Biden's trip to Israel

 Looking into my crystal ball, I see the Biden trip to Israel resulting in: 

1. Increased "aid" (i.e. $ to subsidize terror) for the PA

2. Demand to block housing development in Yesh"a and parts of Yerushalayim

3. Reiteration endless times of support for a "two state solution" (i.e.  terror state alongside our state)

4. No meaningful statement regarding Iranian terror or the threat of their developing nuclear arms

When you have a weak, feeble brained President and an anti-Israel State Dept always willing to bend to the demands of Jew haters, no good can emerge.  I sooner trust the Saudis to stand up to Iran at this point than I trust the White House, so the need for Saudi oil may be the only thing holding the US back from complete capitulation.

Let's see if I am on the mark and how bad the damage is.

Friday, July 08, 2022

civility or civil war?

1. Even though our parsha tells us that Aharon died in Hor haHar, we read in Devarim (10:6) וּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל נָ֥סְע֛וּ מִבְּאֵרֹ֥ת בְּנֵי־יַעֲקָ֖ן מוֹסֵרָ֑ה שָׁ֣ם מֵ֤ת אַהֲרֹן֙ וַיִּקָּבֵ֣ר שָׁ֔ם וַיְכַהֵ֛ן אֶלְעָזָ֥ר בְּנ֖וֹ תַּחְתָּֽיו׃

Rashi there explains that the people backtracked when they saw Aharon death: שם מת אהרן – והלא בהר ההר מת? וצאג וחשוב ותמצא שמונה מסעות ממוסרות להר ההר. אלא אף זה מן התוכיחה: עוד עשיתם את זאת, כשמת אהרן בהר ההר לסוף ארבעים שנה ונסתלקו ענני כבוד, יראתם לכם מן מלחמת מלך ערד ונתתם לבד לחזור למצרים, וחזרתם לאחוריכםה שמונה מסעות עד בני יעקן, ומשם למוסירה, שם נלחמו לכם בני לוי והרגו מכם ואתם מהם, עד שהחזירו אתכם בדרך חזרתכם. 

Targum Yonasan expands on the story: ובני ישראל נטלו מן כופרני בירי בני יעקן למוסרה תמן אגח עימהון עמלק כד מלך בערד דשמע דמית אהרן ואסתלקו ענני יקרא ומדעקת על ישראל על קרבא ההוא בעו למתוב למצרים והדרי שית מטלין רדפו בני לוי בתריהון וקטלו מינהון תמני גניסן והדרו לאחוריהון אף מבני לוי אתקטלו ארבע גניסן אמרו דין לדין מאן גרם לנא קטולא הדא אלא על דאתרשלנא במספדא דאהרן חסידא וקבעו תמן מספדא כל בני ישראל כאילו תמן מית אהרן ואתקבר תמן ובכן שמיש אלעזר בריה באתרוי.

According to T.Y., There was a civil war that took place between those who responded to Aharon's death with fear and wanted to return to Mitzrayim and sheivet Levi, who ran after them to bring them back.  8 familes from Bnei Yisrael were killed in that battle and another 4 from Levi.  When they reflected on the root cause of this tragedy, they concluded that it was because they were not maspid Aharon properly.  In Moseira therefore they once again were maspid,  and that is why the pasuk considers it was as if Aharon died there. 

R' Moshe Tzuriel in his Otzros haTorah asks why those families from sheivet Levi deserved to die in this scuffle.  What did they do wrong?  They were just trying to get those who were running away back on track.

Rav Tzuriel answers that even if you are trying to save others from spiritual destruction, it has to be done with love, it has to be done purely l'shem shamayim, not in a spirit of kana'us that leads to strife.  That was the hallmark of Aharon.  When civil war broke out and families were caught up and killed, that itself showed that the lessons of Aharon's life had not been fully absorbed.

It's an interesting point because we know that sheiveit Levi were the ones who rallied to Moshe's side and took sword in hand to strike those who were guilty of cheit ha'eigel.  (Remember too that it was Shimon and Levi who took sword in hand to attack Shechem and defend the honor of their sister Dinah.) Apparently not all civil wars are equal -- some are more justifiable than others.  In the context of the eigel the Leviim were responding to Moshe's cry of "Mi la'Hashem eilay!" which set the tone for that battle being done purely l'shem shamayim.  Also, because Aharon was involved in the cheit ha'eigel, his presence as a force of calm was perhaps somewhat mitigated.  Here, on the heels of his death, his presence should have been more strongly felt, the impact of his influence more profound.  For civil war to break out in this context is a let down.

2. Maharal draws a yesod out of Rashi in our parsha:

Rashi in Behaaloscha comments on the pasuk הֲצֹ֧אן וּבָקָ֛ר יִשָּׁחֵ֥ט לָהֶ֖ם וּמָצָ֣א לָהֶ֑ם:

 ואיזו קשה, זו או: שמעו נא המורים (במדבר כ׳:י׳), אלא לפי שזו לא אמר ברבים – חיסך לו הכתוב ולא נפרע ממנו, וזו של מי מריבה היתה בגלוי – לפיכך לא חיסך לו הכתוב

The implication is that Moshe and Aharon's sin in Mei Meriva was in saying שמעו נא המורים to Bn"Y.  Yet in our parsha it seems that the sin was striking the rock and not believing that it would produce water just by talking to it.  Mizrachi formulates the question as follows:

מהכא משמע שחטאו של משה הי׳ מפני שהוצי׳ המי׳ מן הסלע ע״י הכאה ולא ע״י דבור ואלו בפ׳ מתאוננין גבי הצאן ובקר ישחט להם כתב ר״ע אומ׳ שש מאות אלף רגלי ואתה אמרת בשר אתן להם וגו׳ מי מספיק להם ואיזו קשה זו או שמעו נא המורי׳ ...משמע שחטאו של משה היה בדבור שמעו נא המורי׳ המן הסלע הזה וגו׳ כמו הצאן ובקר ישחט וגו׳ 

Maharal in Gur Aryeh responds that there is no contradiction.  Both שמעו נא המורים and striking the rock share the same root cause:  

אמנם כאשר תדע האמת, כי שני החטאים מה שאמר ״שמעו נא המורים״, וכן מה שהכה את הסלע פעמיים הכל חטא אחד.  

He explains:

  ומי שעושה מצות השם דרך כעס, בפרט כאשר נעשה להם נס כזה, כמו שעשו הם, שאמרו ״שמעו נא המורים״, וכן שהכו אל הסלע, אין זה אמונה. כי האמונה הוא מי שבוטח בו יתברך, אין לו בו רק שמחה  

A person who is filled with emunah will be b'simcha and not react with anger.  The harsh reaction of שמעו נא המורים was therefore a siman of a lack of emunah, יַ֚עַן לֹא־הֶאֱמַנְתֶּ֣ם בִּ֔י לְהַ֨קְדִּישֵׁ֔נִי (obviously on the high level Moshe is judged on). Similarly, the whole reason Moshe was told to speak to the rock and not hit it is to demonstrate כי כאשר יקיים מכח דבור, הנה העשיה היא מרצון ומשמחה, וזהו ענין האמונה  To take a rod and strike the rock sets the wrong tone.

A person who has emunah deals with life's challenges with equanimity, מרצון ומשמחה as Maharal puts it.  

L'Sichon Melech ha'Emori -- Ki l'Olam Chasdo

  לְ֭מַכֵּה מְלָכִ֣ים גְּדֹלִ֑ים כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ׃

 וַֽ֭יַּהֲרֹג מְלָכִ֣ים אַדִּירִ֑ים כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ

לְ֭סִיחוֹן מֶ֣לֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִ֑י כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ

וּ֭לְעוֹג מֶ֣לֶךְ הַבָּשָׁ֑ן כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ

Rashi explains that the מְלָכִ֣ים גְּדֹלִ֑ים and מְלָכִ֣ים אַדִּירִ֑ים refer to the kings of Canaan conquered by Yehoshua. 

Radak, however, explains that the מְלָכִ֣ים גְּדֹלִ֑ים and מְלָכִ֣ים אַדִּירִ֑ים are Sichon and Og. זכרם בכלל, ואחר כך פרט אותם, להגדיל השבח First the pasuk gives shevach in a general sense, and then dives into the specifics and mentions the kings by name.  

Radak goes on to explain  וְנָתַ֣ן אַרְצָ֣ם לְנַחֲלָ֑ה כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ deserves special praise because Sichon and Og are not among the 7 nations of Canaan whose land was promised to Avraham.  Our conquest of those nations is an extra bonus, icing on the cake:

 ועוד חסד גדול מזה, כי לא די שהכה אותם, אלא שנתן להם ארצם לנחלה, שלא באו שאר הגוים, ולא נאספו עליהם להוציאם משם. וזה חסד גדול מאתו, כי חסד הוא תוספת הטובה. ובזו הארץ שנתן להם, הוסיף להם בטובתו, כי לא נתנה לאברהם אבינו אלא מעבר הירדן והלאה שהיא ארץ שבעה גוים ועוד שלשה גוים: קיני וקניזי וקדמוני. ואותם שלשה לא היו להם עד לעתיד לבוא שיהיה מגבול ארץ ישראל

Similarly, R' Tzadok haKohen in Pri Tzadik (Devarim 2) writes:

כי הנה ארץ סיחון ועוג לא נחשבו מכלל שבעת האומות שניתן לישראל כי הלא משרע"ה שלח לו אעברה נא בארצך. וגם עפ"י דין אין עבר הירדן מקודשת בקדושת ארץ ישראל שאין מביאין ממנה בכורים וכמו שנא' ביהושע ואך אם טמאה ארץ אחוזתכם וגו' כידוע שארץ ז' עממין הוא בקליפה זלעו"ז נגד הז' מדות שבקדושה שהם בהתגלות בפועל ועליהם בא המצוה לא תחי' כל נשמה כדי להכניע כל הז' מדות להקדושה. אמנם הג' אומות קני וקניזי וקדמוני שהם אדום ועמון ומואב שהם נגד ג' ראשונות שבקדושה כח"ב אין עוד כח בנו לבררם בעוה"ז בשלימות ולהכניעם עד עת קץ כדאי' מהאריז"ל לכן נצטוו עליהם שלא להתגרות עמם. והנה גם סיחון ועוג המה בקליפה נגד חכמה ובינה שבקדושה לכן דרשו במדרש הפ' הנה כסה את עין הארץ סיחון ועוג שהיו שומרים אותנו וכו' קרא לסיחון ועוג עין הארץ שהם זלעו"ז נגד העיינין שבקדושה שהם מרומזים בחדשים הללו תמוז ואב כידוע מהאריז"ל שתמוז ואב הם בחינת עיינין דמטרוניתא.

According to R' Tzadok, the war against the nations is a spiritual battle as well a physical one.  The seven nations of Canaan can be defeated because we can succeed in the tikun of the seven midos.  Sichon and Og correspond to the klipah of chochma and binah, and their defeat was therefore beyond what might have been expected.

The difficulty with Rashi, which Radak avoids, is that according to Rashi the praises do not follow the chronological order of events, as the defeat of Sichon and Og preceded the conquest of Canaan but is mentioned afterwards.  The difficulty with Radak is the redundancy of first praising Hashem for the defeat of מְלָכִ֣ים גְּדֹלִ֑ים when it could have just mentioned Sichon and Og directly.

Parashas Derachim (derush 7) has an interesting suggestion.  He writes that מְלָכִ֣ים גְּדֹלִ֑ים refers to Edom, Amon, Moav, nations which we were told not to wage war against.  Because Sichon and Og defeated these kings and took part of their land, it made that territory fair game for us to capture.  It is the victory of Sichon and Og over these enemies which we are giving thanks for.

I have no idea what the Sefas Emes (5635) means when he writes that Sichon and Og correspond to the idea of tefillin shel yad and shel rosh.  He then goes on to explain why the mizmor divides וְנָתַ֣ן אַרְצָ֣ם לְנַחֲלָ֑ה כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ׃ and נַ֭חֲלָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל עַבְדּ֑וֹ כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ into two separate statements.  I have yet to unravel what he means.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

mitzvah bo yoseir mi'bshlucho

Shu"T Mahara"Ch Ohr Zaru'a 128 raises three very fundamental questions:

1. Since there is a din of mitzvah bo yoseir mi'bshlucho, why isn't anyone careful to shecht his own meat or be mafrish challah (apparently the common practice was to appoint a shliach to do so)?

2. How can a shliach say a bracha on shechita or hafrashas challah when the shliach has no mitzvah to shecht the animal or be mafrish challah from that dough -- the mitzvah is on the owner?

3. Why can you appoint a shliach for a mitzvah like hafrashas challah but not for a mitzvah like putting on tefillin or eating matzah?

He makes a few important distinctions:

A. Shechita and hafrashas challah is different than tefillin and matzah because in the former cases all we care about is the end result, i.e. knowing that the food was properly prepared through slaughtering or through hafrasha being done.  In the latter case, it's the process, the putting on of the tefillin, consuming the matzah, which is important.  (See his hesber of why you can appoint a shliach for gittin/kiddushin but not chalitzah and compare with Tos Kesubos 74a d"h tnai.)

B. Mitzvah bo yoseir mi'bshlucho applies in the case of kiddushin because the one performing the mitzvah has everything to gain and nothing to lose, as opposed to the shliach, who gains nothing, and loses the ability to marry the kallah.  It's a one sided deal.  When it comes to shechita, hafrasha, other mitzvos, neither the shliach or the m'shaleiach has a greater or lesser stake in the outcome.     

Friday, July 01, 2022

chut shel chessed

Back in 2012 I wrote:

Rashi writes that Moshe was asking Hashem to not count Dasan and Aviram's portion of the korban tamid, which was a korban tzibur. (It seems from this Rashi that the korban tzibur was a type of large shutfus, a partnership among all members of Klal Yisrael, such that an individual share could be excluded. See Ramban at the beginning of VaYikra who discusses whether this is indeed the case, or whether a tzibur is a whole that transcends its individual parts and cannot be sliced and diced.) 

B'pashtus there is a difference between a shutfus and a tzibur.  A tzibur is like a corporation -- it exists as an entity in its own right, distinct from the individuals of which it is comprised.  How then are we to understand Moshe's request?  10 years later I see R' Moshe Tzvi Neriah in Ner LaMaor writes in a footnote:

תמה מו"ר הגרי"מ חרל"פ זצ"ל: והרי על פי דברי הרמב"ן אין בקרבן ציבור דין שותפין - חלק פרטי - ומהו חלקם של עדת קורח בקרבן? [ועיין משנת ראשונים לחתנו הר"י בארי ז"ל - ירושלים תש"י - עמ' רעג]. אכן המעיין במדרש רבה [יח ט] שהוא מקור דברי רש"י, ימצא תוספת לשון: "הואיל ופירשו מבניך", ונראה לבאר שכיון שעדת קורח פרשו מכלל ישראל, לא היה להם חלק בכלל ישראל, ואם כן נשאר חלקם רק כשותפות, ובכהאי גוונא ניתן לומר שחלקם הנבדל לא יקובל. ומצאתי שכן כתב ב"שם משמואל" [דברים, לקוטים עמ' רנו]: "מאחר שהם פגמו בכללות ישראל ונדבקו בכללות כתרי דמסאבותא, ועל כן הם ממילא נדחין מכלל ישראל, חזר חלקם כחלק שותף, על כן "תניחנו האש ולא תאכלנו".

Korach and his followers chose to cut themselves off from the klal, and therefore, they participated in the korban tamid only as shutfim, as partners WITH the tzibur, rather than members OF the tzibur.  

Perhaps Korach's point in arguing "ki kol ha'eidah kulam kedoshim" is that Klal Yisrael is a partnership of equals.  Everyone gets a say and has a voice.  However, in reality, Klal Yisrael is a tzibur, not a shutfus.  

2) The Midrash writes that as a reward for Avraham telling the King of Sdom that he will not take even "mi'chut v'ad sroch naal," even a single threat from him, his descendents were given the mitzvah of a thread of techeiles.  Avraham chose to do 100% chessed for Sdom; there was no gain at all for him.  Techeiles represents the chut shel chessed that Hashem in turn guarantees us.  No Jew is totally cut off.  He may be hanging by a thread -- the thread of techeiles, that chut shel chessed -- but that thread will not be broken.

This is why we put on tzitzis before tefillin.  First comes the chut shel chessed, the fact that Hashem will hold on to us no matter what.  Only then do we put in tefillin and tackle what we can accomplish ourselves with our ability and brains, the shel yad and shel rosh. 

Korach rebelled against the idea of a chut shel techeiles.  Sefas Emes (5642) explains that Korach argued that there are no free gifts.  The idea of Aharon being chosen simply for who he was rather than what he accomplished was foreign to him.  Korach felt that it was the Leviim who had not sinned in cheit ha'eigel who should be in charge, and he should replace Aharon, as unlike Aharon, who had a hand in making the eigel, his hands were clean.  Moshe's response was that "boker v'yoda Hashem es asher lo v'es ha'kadosh v'hikriv eilav," there certainly is a place for those who were "asher lo," i.e. those responded when he called at at Sinai, "Mi la'Hashem eilay."  They had earned their place and position.  But there was also a place for "es asher yivchar bo yakriv eilav," Hashem sometimes reaches out and chooses someone even if we don't understand or appreciate why.