“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 : Nasso

Date :9 Sivan 5764, 29/5/2004

“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: "Accept It From Them"

by Rabbi Amnon Bazak

The day that Moshe finished setting up the Tabernacle, the tribal leaders appeared with two different kinds of sacrifices. The first was a group donation, consisting of six covered wagons and twelve oxen. The second was a personal donation by each leader: a silver bowl, a silver basin, and a gold spoon, together with three sacrifices, an Olah, a Chatat, and a Shelamim. It can be seen that Moshe hesitated with respect to these donations, which were not given in response to a direct command. Moshe did not respond about the wagons and the oxen, and the Almighty told him to accept the gift. "Accept it from them, it will be used for the labors of the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites in accordance with their service." [Bamidbar 7:5]. Moshe also did not react to the personal donations and sacrifices, and once again the Almighty told him what to do. "And G-d said to Moshe, One leader per day, one leader per day, shall offer their sacrifice for dedicating the Altar" [7:11]. Why did Moshe hesitate? Why didn't he immediately accept the gifts by the leaders?

It would seem that there was an aspect of novelty with respect to these donations by the leaders of the tribes. Up to this point, Bnei Yisrael and the Tabernacle had been kept completely separate. This separation is emphasized again and again, from the beginning of the book of Bamidbar. Here are just two examples out of many. "The Levites will camp around the Tabernacle, and let there be no anger against the community of Bnei Yisrael. Let the Levites guard the Tabernacle of Testimony." [1:53]. "Command Aharon and his sons to guard their priesthood, and any stranger who approaches will die" [3:10].

This principle can also be seen in the separation of the tribe of Levi from the rest of the nation. Right after the census of Chapter 1, it is written, "However, do not count the tribe of Levi, and do not take a census of them among Bnei Yisrael" [1:49]. This is repeated later, "The Levites were not counted among Bnei Yisrael, as G-d had commanded Moshe" [2:33]. Thus, it can be assumed that as a result of such a clear boundary between Bnei Yisrael and the Tabernacle, Moshe wondered if the leaders of the tribes should participate in the dedication of the Tabernacle and even take part in the labors performed there by donating covered wagons.

The Almighty's response was unequivocal. "Accept it from them!" It is true that the holy rituals are the responsibility of the Levites and the Kohanim, and any stranger who approaches will die. However, it must be emphasized that the reason for this distance stems from the need to maintain the holy character of the Tabernacle and its utensils, and not from a spiritual distance between Bnei Yisrael and the Shechina, the holy Presence of G-d in the Tabernacle. While the tribe of Levi was indeed counted separately, the positions of the tribes clearly showed that the Tabernacle was intimately linked to the nation. Chapter 2 describes the banners and the way the nation camped. In the middle of the description of the camps, after the camps of Yehuda and Reuven but before the camps of Efraim and Dan, it is written: "And the Tent of Meeting will travel; the camp of the Levites will travel within the other camps, they will travel the same way that they camp" [2:17].

In summary, the relationship is complex. On one hand, the Tabernacle represents the ultimate heights of holiness, but on the other hand it sits together with Bnei Yisrael, among all their impurities. Thus, it is necessary to express not only the distance to be maintained because of the sanctity of the Tabernacle but also the fact that Bnei Yisrael should remain close to the site of the Shechina.

POINT OF VIEW: A Ticking Time Bomb

by Yisrael Rozen

"Let G-d light His face towards you and favor you. Let G-d lift His face to you." [Bamidbar 6:25-26]. "And I will set my face – My time ('penai' – time - is written with the same letters as 'panai' – my face); I will free myself of all other tasks and become involved with you" [Rashi, Vayikra 17:10]. "I will set my face – My time: I will free myself of all other tasks and become involved with him" [Ibid 20:3]. "I will set my face – My time: I will free myself of all other tasks in order to harm you" [Ibid 26:17].

Recommendations that Increase Leisure Time

Last week we were presented with two recommendations that seem to me to be "ticking time bombs." I am not referring to a matter of security but rather to the simple meaning of the words. A "time bomb" is a case of surplus free time, time that can lead to an explosive effect that entails many dangers. And "ticking" refers to the drawing power of free time, ticking away, and the culture of leisure time, which is often quite bitter from within.

The report by the Dovrat Committee on the subject of reorganizing the educational system in Israel, with its broad range, can be looked at from different points of view. For now, it will suffice for us to analyze one recommendation, shortening the educational week to five days and leaving the sixth day for leisure. The second recommendation that concerns me is that of our "all-powerful" Minister of the Interior, to leave Daylight Saving Time in effect all year round and move the clock one hour earlier in the summer (double summer time). These two recommendations are not linked in any way, and certainly the motives behind them are not the same. Dovrat and his committee members based their recommendations on the need for efficiency, improved motivation, better education, economic aspects, cost-benefit calculations, and a hope to achieve better achievements, at least in the field of knowledge.

The brave "Sancho" Poraz (the Minister of the Interior) was motivated by a principle of causing as much harm as possible to Jewish values, to traditional Judaism, and to anything that has a hint of nationalism. He covered all of this in a cellophane wrapping of western enlightenment, which is symbolized by the concept of daylight savings time, in the never-ending quest to stretch out the day's entertainment without any limit. However, today we will not be concerned with the motives of the proposals, rather with the consequences: an increase in leisure time, especially for the young people, who will gain an extra day without studies every week and who will have an extra hour of light every day. The inevitable result will be an increase in time spent on the street and in hours of television before going to bed.

Leisure Time Can Kill Us

The above heading is not flowery language, and it is purposely not in quotes. It is a simple statement of fact. Extra leisure time can lead to more traffic accidents! Extra time to wander the streets means more victims, and this is especially true of a day without school.

We have seen statistics in the past showing that Shabbat and Friday evening are the worst times for traffic accidents, compared to the other days of the week, and I fear that these statistics are still valid. This is caused not only by the increase in travel but also by the atmosphere of recreation and passing the time, until the small hours of the night. There is no doubt that traffic accidents are part and parcel of the culture of leisure time, and anybody who increases leisure time will be responsible for dangers to life and limb.

Can there be any doubts how Thursday night will look, when there is no school on Friday? Perhaps my readers will respond that there is enough time left for leisure on Friday and Shabbat nights, and that Thursday night will be devoted to resting from the labors of the long week, homework, or sports and basketball. This is simply not true. "We have been there, done that." A few years ago, when many commercial establishments moved over to a five-day work week, the religious sector (including, I think, many Chareidi groups) greeted the change with enthusiasm. They anticipated that Friday would be used for entertainment, shopping, and travel, which would leave Shabbat for rest and family gatherings. In looking back, I am afraid that I was right in declaring every chance I had that things would not happen that way – we could expect two days of shopping, two days of leisure (some of which is certainly legitimate), and no fulfillment of the hope for enhanced Shabbat experience. How I wish that I had been wrong at the time.

Idle Time, Permissiveness, Boredom

We have not yet mentioned the effect of "idle time" on a free day, which is the "root of all sin" (I will thank any of my readers who can give me a source for this statement, which I looked for but did not find). We can certainly appreciate the words of our sages, that it is necessary for a person to keep occupied even if he has "money in the bank" and not to remain idle: "Rabbi Eliezer says, even if [a man's wife] has provided him with a hundred maids, he should force her to work with wool, since idleness leads to lust. Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel says, one who takes an oath that his wife is forbidden to perform any work should divorce her and pay the value of a Ketuba, since idleness leads to boredom (Rashi: instability)." [Ketuvot 5:5]. (Note that in the Midrash similar things are said about men!)

As far as I can tell, the recommendation of the Dovrat Committee for a shorter school week stems from a desire to improve the working conditions of the teachers. I have no doubt that this suggestion will be harmful to the students. Adding extra hours on the other days, Sunday to Thursday, will not lead to more knowledge but to more grief. There will be more boredom (yawns), and as is written by Rashi, quoted above, instability and a greater burden on the teachers.

We will end with a symbolic note. "Let G-d light His face towards you and favor you." The last word, "vichuneka," hints at "chinuch," education. And "panav," His face, can be connected to "penai," time. Three verses are quoted above, where Rashi links the face of G-d to the concept of free time, in the modern sense of leaving all other tasks. The labor of education must forever remain "lit up" by the Almighty, making use of Divine time.

SERMON BY A GUEST: Modern-Day Jealousy

by Mrs. Naama Etzion, Teacher of Tanach and Marital Relationships - Neve Channa, "Nishmat," Beit Midrash for Women (Efrat)

The root "kuf-nun-alef," jealousy, appears ten times in the passage of sottah (a wife accused by her husband of being unfaithful). The situation where a man puts the trustworthiness of his wife to a public test makes us quite uncomfortable in our modern times. It this feeling of discomfort justified?

An analysis of the details of the laws of sottah shows that it is not sufficient for a man to have a spontaneous outburst of jealousy to cause the complex rituals to be performed. There are a series of conditions that must be met first: the woman must ignore a specific warning by her husband in front of two witnesses, and then hold a private meeting for a given minimum of time, together with many other halachic details. Only in this case can the husband bring his wife to a Kohen, and even then the law is that "if her husband forgives her, she is forgiven" [Sifri]. It is expected that this formal process will begin only after previous attempts of reconciliation have failed. "It is not proper to hastily declare jealousy in front of witnesses as a first step. What should be attempted first is a calm discussion between the couple, with care." [Rambam, Hilchot Sottah 4:19].

The Talmud and the rabbis emphasize that it is not only the woman who must be faithful to the family. "And the man will be free of sin [Bamidbar 5:31] - When the man is free of sin, the water tests the woman, but if the man is not free of sin, the water will not test the woman." [Yevamot 58a]. In addition, "If any man had forbidden relations after he became an adult, the bitter water will not test his wife" [Rambam, Hilchot Sottah 2:8]. As early as the time of the Second Temple, the sages of the Sanhedrin understood that the test of a sottah can be realistic only when family morality is a highly regarded religious and social standard, and only when society rejects the phenomena of shattering the framework of the family. "Therefore, when the number of adulterers openly increased in the Second Temple, the Sanhedrin cancelled the ritual of the bitter water." [Hilchot Sottah 3:19].

Even though the test of the bitter water has been abandoned, the principle of sottah is still valid and there are lessons to be learned from this law. It is not right to blame only one side for a crisis of faith that can lead to jealousy and the difficult process that follows. Such a crisis stems from mutual carelessness and a lack of sensitivity, the fault of both man and wife, from overstepping the proper bounds of relationship between men and women, and from not paying attention to the feelings of the other side. All of these elements, even if they do not lead to an actual occurrence of sin, can lead to a crisis in any marriage. At the very last possible moment before a family falls apart, the "laws of jealousy" are an attempt to bring the couple back to the most fundamental level of mutual relationships - to mutual trust and faith.

We must make every effort to help restore the care and sensitivity that an unfaithful wife has lost. In the modern era, when there are so many opportunities for intimate contact between men and women from different families, it is vital for us to emphasize the lessons to be learned from the laws of the sottah.

MOUNT MORIAH: Praying at the Site of the Temple and in its Direction

by Rabbi Yosef Pel'i, El Har Hamor Institute

Shlomo's Prayer

At the dedication ceremony of the First Temple, King Shlomo recited a long prayer whose main theme is the subject of prayer in the Temple. "Turn towards your servant's prayer and to his requests, my G-d... Let your eyes be open towards this Temple... in order to hear the prayers that your servant will pray from this place. And you will hear the prayers of your servant and of your nation Yisrael, who will pray at this place." [I Melachim 8:28-30]. We will analyze this prayer, which will help clarify the link between prayer in general and the Temple.

Shlomo continues by listing different situations when prayer is needed. "When your nation Yisrael is defeated by an enemy... When heaven is blocked and no rain falls... If there will be a famine in the land, or if there will be a plague... any malady or sickness. Every prayer or request... for any of your nation Yisrael whose heart is afflicted" [8:33-38]. In all of these cases, the people will come to pray at the Temple. "They will spread their hands towards this house. And you will hear from the heavens, your dwelling place." [8:38-39]. The RADAK explains, "towards this house - in this house."

Praying from Far Away in the Direction of the Temple

At this point, Shlomo goes on to describe other situations. "If they go out to wage war on their enemies far away... They will pray to G-d in the direction of the city that you have chosen and of the house that I have built in honor of your name." [8:44]. Or, "If they sin before you... And you will send an enemy who will exile their captives in the land of the enemy... They will turn their hearts in the land where they have been brought... And they will pray towards their land, which you gave to their fathers, towards the city that you chose, and the house that I built in honor of your name." [8:46-48]. In the first part of Shlomo's prayer, we are told that when necessary Bnei Yisrael will come to pray in the Temple, but in the second part it is assumed that they are not able to come and pray, because of war or exile. Thus, in the first part, the people can approach the site: They "will pray at this place...They will spread their hands towards this house." In the second part, the prayer to G-d is "towards" the Temple. "Up to this point, Shlomo discusses the prayers within the Temple, and now he discusses the prayers which will take place from the outside, directed towards the Temple, since it will not be possible to go there." [Ralbag].

This is the source of the law that in every place it is necessary to pray in the direction of the Temple, as Daniel did in Babylon. "He had open windows in the top floor facing Jerusalem, and three times a day he would bow down on his knees and pray" [Daniel 6:11]. This is also the current halacha, "When one rises to pray, if he is outside the land, he should turn towards Eretz Yisrael, also keeping in mind Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Holy of Holies" [Orach Chaim 94]. Thus, "all of Yisrael keep their hearts pointed in the same direction" [Berachot 30a].

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