“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu




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בס"ד

B PARASHAT HASHAVUA B

PARASHA : Pinchas

Date : 21 Tammuz 5764, 10/7/2004

“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden)

Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori

Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l

Please respect the Holiness of these pages

These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word format. Anyone interested in receiving them, please feel feee to contact me at the following email address: yarden@seliyahu.org.il - Arieh.

HhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhH

1 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet)

Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel

STARTING POINT: "Let Him Stand Before Elazar the Kohen"

by Rabbi Amnon Bazak

For the second time in the book of Bamidbar, Moshe is involved in a ceremony of "transfer of authority." In the Torah portion of Beha'alotecha, he says, "I cannot carry the burden of this nation, for it is too heavy for me" [11:14]. G-d replies, "gather together for me seventy men from among the elders of Yisrael... Take them to the Tent of Meeting... And I will descend and talk to you there, and I will take some of the spirit that lies over you and move it to them, and they will help you carry the burden of the nation." [11:16-17]. In this week's portion, Moshe asks, "Let G-d, the G-d of spirit, appoint a man over the community, who will go out before them and come in before them..." [27:16-17]. G-d answers, "Take Yeshoshua Bin Nun for you, a man with spirit, and place your hand on him. And stand him up before Elazar the Kohen and before the entire community, and you shall command him in front of them. And you will transfer some of your authority to him, so that all of the community of Bnei Yisrael will hear. Let him stand before Elazar the Kohen, who will ask about the words of the Urim V'Tumim before G-d. According to His instructions they will come and go, both he and all of Bnei Yisrael." [27:18-21]. What are the differences between these two passages?

The main task of the seventy elders is related to the spiritual leadership of the people. The sin of the lustful people in the first case above brought about a crisis for Moshe, and he therefore asked the Almighty to help him. The elders are appointed by G-d, while Moshe does not have a practical role in the process. The Almighty transfers some of Moshe's spirit to the elders, bringing them to the level of prophets. Yehoshua, Moshe's disciple, takes the opportunity to criticize two of the elders, Eldad and Meidad, and he is in return scolded by Moshe. "Are you jealous for me? It would be best if the entire nation were prophets, with G-d placing some of His spirit on them." [11:29]. Eventually, Yehoshua would begin to understand that he was destined for a different role than just a prophet.

Yohoshua's task, as can be seen from this week's Torah portion, is not as a spiritual help to Moshe but rather to replace him as the leader of the nation. Therefore, Moshe takes an active part in the appointment, and he places his hands on Yehoshua. In this case, it is not the Almighty who transfers Moshe's spirit to another, it is Moshe himself who transfers some of his own authority to Yehoshua. This is not a transfer of the Divine power of prophecy by G-d but is related to the ability to rule, which is indeed worthy of "a man with spirit." (Compare to this the following, "And G-d raised Shlomo high, before the eyes of all of Yisrael, and He gave him from the authority of his kingdom, such as had never been done for a king before him in Yisrael" [I Divrei Hayamim 29:25].)

This leadership is first and foremost in the realm of the military - one "who will go out before them and come in before them." Therefore, it is important to emphasize that the national and military leader must always remain dedicated to the word of G-d. In contrast to Moshe's original request, that the new leader will "go out before them and come in before them, and will take them out and bring them back," the Almighty replies that the second authority is that of the Kohen. "Let him stand before Elzazar the Kohen, who will ask about the words of the Urim V'Tumim before G-d. According to His instructions they will come and go, both he and all of Bnei Yisrael." Even Yehoshua ("he") will come and go according to the words uttered by the Kohen (see Rashi). There has never been another leader like Moshe, who was a master of both prophetic and military leadership.

POINT OF VIEW: Chaos and Repair

by Prof. Shalom Rozenberg

(In memory of Rabbi Shlomo Burstein, a Man of Torah, Education and Peace, on the occasion of his passing a month ago.)

In his fourteenth story, Rabba Bar Bar Chana takes us back once again to the Sinai Desert. Our guide, the man of the desert, suggests to him: Come, I will show you the people of Korach who were swallowed up.

Rabba arrives at the site and sees two deep smoking fissures. "My guide stuck a wad of wool on the sword in his hand, dipped it in water, and put it into one of the fissures. When he took it out, the wool was completely scorched. Then he said to me: Listen! And I heard voices coming from the fissures, 'Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth, and we are liars.' The guide added, 'Every thirty days they are returned to this point from Gehenom, like flesh that moves around a cauldron. Then we can hear them declare, Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth, and we are liars.'"

In his commentary, Rabbi A.Y. Kook, our guide in the sea of Agada, implies that this is a symbolic description. The actions of the guide in the desert play the role of a symbolic return to the actions of Korach. According to Rabbi Kook, the key to this story can be found in Kabalistic sources. White wool is a symbol of kindness, in particular a very high level of kindness. In the language of Kabala, this is called "chassadim d'atik yomin," kindness from ancient times. The return to supreme ideals is all too often an example of hypocrisy, or at the very least demagoguery. The demagogue gives the appearance of fighting for great ideology, like with Korach's declaration that "all the people of the community are holy and G-d is within them" [Bamidbar 16:3]. But often behind this ideology are lowly interests, in particular a desire for authority.

According to Rabbi Kook, this approach does not accurately describe Korach's revolt. In his case, the sin was not that the action stemmed from corrupt egotistic motives but rather that it was done in the name of too high an ideal, an ideal that was not at all realistic. White wool soaked in water, a symbol of unrealistic kindness, is scorched by a flame and is transformed into strict justice. "Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth." The trait of truth, known in Kabalistic terms as "tiferet," glory, is the proper synthesis of kindness and power. The men of Korach were liars, in spite of their high ideals. "The secret of wool is kindness... And it is forbidden to raise the trait of kindness to a higher level than the world can tolerate. This led to the destruction of earlier authorities, because of the great increase of light."

These words can only be understood based on one of the basic terms of Kabala, "shattering of the utensils." Let me explain this concept with a trivial example. Take as an example a tire in a car. It must be filled with air, but only up to a maximum allowed pressure. If we go beyond the maximum, the tire might explode. Similarly, we are taught in the Kabala about utensils and lights. The "utensils" contain a unique supreme light. But this special light also has a maximum pressure. If we go beyond the limit, the utensil will explode, and the light will be dissipated. In our trivial example, we were more concerned with the outer shell than with the contents of the tire, the air. However, let us imagine the opposite, a science fiction tire on a distant world, where there is an especially noble gas that we must collect. We gather the sparks of light that were scattered because the "utensils" broke. The shattering takes place at the seam between two worlds: the world of chaos, where the first "spheres" fell and partially broke, and the world of repairs, which has appeared in order to repair the world of chaos. This is accomplished through a "trait" that was missing in the world of chaos.

In his book "Orot" Rabbi Kook develops these concepts, which include both psychological and ethical truth. Many souls belong to the world of chaos, the "attempt to achieve more than is possible. They make an attempt and fall. They perceive that they are bound by laws, by limiting conditions that do not allow them to expand to infinity, to unsurpassed heights." The desire for freedom brings these souls to disaster, "and they fall in grief and despair..." Sometimes, this even leads to "anger, and as a consequence to evil, purposeful harm, despicable behavior, ugliness, disgust, and destruction..." This has an effect on ethics and on politics.

Examples of this effect are revolutionaries who know how to destroy but are never able to build a better reality. The result is catastrophe. The classic example is the French Revolution, which deteriorated into the depths of terrorism. Only people who seem to the people of chaos to be small-minded and even "square" are capable of constructing new utensils which can rescue the sparks of light which were scattered earlier, when the existing world was destroyed in the name of lofty ideals. Chaos entails audacity, sometimes even the audacity that is related to the era of the Mashiach. Repairing the damage requires humility and "proper qualities." First, modesty is needed in order to build the utensils where the great lights will be kept. Once a month, together with the cycle of the moon, which is a relatively small and modest light, the men of chaos declare against their will, "Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth!" The trait of modesty can set a limit not only to the sword of the men of Korach who have been swallowed in the earth but also to the sword of Pinchas. The ultimate formula for repair lies in the "covenant of peace" [Bamidbar 25:12].

SERMON BY A GUEST: How are Zimri and Shimon Linked?

by Rabbi Itamar Malat, Tekoah

"And the name of the man of Yisrael who was struck, the one who was struck with the Midyanite woman, was Zimri Ben Salu, head of a family in the tribe of Shimon" [Bamidbar 25:14]. The Midrash notes, "Head of a family - anybody who harms himself also causes harm to his family. Zimri Ben Salu is described by the verse, 'One who breaks down a fence will be bitten by a snake' [Kohellet 10:8]. His ancestor first showed jealousy about illicit sexual relations, 'and two sons of Yaacov, Shimon and Levi, acted' [Bereishit 34:25]. And this one went beyond the boundary that had been set by his father (Yaacov)." [Bamidbar Rabba 21:3].

This Midrash makes a clear link between Zimri's sin and his tribe, Shimon, and also between Shimon and Yaacov. The Midrash points out the contrast between the actions of Shimon, who limited sexual acts because of his fanaticism, and those of Zimri. On the other hand, others have seen Zimri's action as a continuation of the acts of Shimon. In summary, some view the actions of Zimri in a bad light, while others see it favorably.

Interpreting the act as evil: Rabbi Yuval Sharlo claims that Zimri's act throws light on the actions of Shimon (see "He spoke about them, in their name," Yeshivat Har Etzion contact bulletin, Re'eih, 5746). Shimon and Levi, who were partners in the zealous action against the people of Shechem, received an identical blessing from Yaacov. But their ways parted in the wake of the zealot's reaction by Pinchas, from the tribe of Levi, against Zimri, from the tribe of Shimon. In his final days, Moshe blessed the tribe of Levi, but Shimon is missing from Moshe's blessings. In the encounter between Pinchas and Zimri, it became clear that from the beginning Levi acted in Shechem out of a zealous feeling for G-d, while Shimon participated out of a desire for revenge. In the affair of Zimri, the later actions of the tribe of Shimon showed the basis for the earlier action.

Seeing the act in a positive light: A surprising and interesting approach can be found in the writings of Rabbi Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin. "At first glance, the root of greatest failure in the souls of Yisrael is that of Shimon. The truth is that this was really a light transgression, since it is not written in the Torah (that is, there is no explicit sin to lie with a Gentile woman). The truth is that it is impossible for such a failure to exist within Yisrael, rather this matter must be studied in further detail. Therefore such a person is not killed by a court but is struck by a zealot. A zealot is quick to take vengeance, he is not mild in his approach, looking for credit and a way to save the accused, as the Sanhedrin would have done." ["Takanat Hashavim" 6:56-74]. (In the original, this concept is long and complex.)

According to Rabbi Tzadok, Zimri's act is not the opposite of that of his ancestor Shimon, as the Midrash understood, rather it stems from Shimon's high level of holiness. For the time being, we see the action as an ugly sin, but we will yet be privileged to see the high level that Shimon was able to achieve.

MOUNT MORIAH: Yaacov's Ladder as a Gateway to Heaven

by Rabbi Yossi Pel'i, El Har Hamor Institute

The three forefathers of Judaism are the people who established prayer in the world. "Prayer was established by the forefathers. Avraham initiated Shacharit, Yitzchak started Mincha, and Yaacov initiated Maariv." [Berachot 26b]. Note that the prayers of the forefathers are intimately linked to the site of the Temple. This is seen most clearly with respect to Yaacov, and we will return to him below. But we first note briefly what the sages said about Yaacov's prayer. "Yaacov said: Can it be that I have passed the site where my fathers prayed and I did not pray?" [Chulin 91b]. Rashi explains, "He is referring to Mount Moriah, where Avraham prayed, and the field, where Yitzchak prayed."

Beit El and Mount Moriah

Let us concentrate today on Yaacov (the beginning of the Torah portion of Vayeitzei). After he first prays Maariv, the nature of the place where he went to lie down is revealed to him. "How awesome is this place, it could only be the House of G-d, and this is the gate of heaven" [Bereishit 28:17]. "The gate of heaven - the site of prayer, where prayers are sent up to heaven" [Rashi]. This teaches us that "anybody who prays at this site in Jerusalem is in effect praying in front of the Holy Throne, at the gate of heaven, where there is an open path for listening to prayer." [Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 35].

According to the simple reading of the passage, it is true that Yaacov does not reach Jerusalem but Beit El. However, the sages understood that the verse refers to the site of the Temple, in Jerusalem. How can this be the meaning of the simple verse (remember that we should never completely ignore the simple interpretation of a verse)? Rashi understood this question, and he therefore quoted the interpretation of the sages, that "the route leaped." That is, "Mount Moriah was uprooted and brought to this site." Yaacov wanted to pray at Mount Moriah, but on the way he stopped at Beit El. By a miracle, the mountain arrived at the site, and Yaacov was able to perceive its special holiness. It may be noted that in the era of the forefathers Beit El was indeed a special site for worshipping G-d, and only in later generations was the holiness "transferred" to its permanent site in Jerusalem. This means that the "leap" of the mountain was not only in the dimension of space but also in the dimension of time. Yaacov, who linked his thoughts to the Temple, was privileged to experience the unique properties of Mount Moriah, even though in practice the sanctity of the mountain was still hidden in time and space (see Sefat Emet).

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