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Parshas Bahaloscha 5761


1. Parsha begins series of setbacks; Vayisau Mehar Hashem, they left Sinai, Chazal say, Kitinok Haboreach Mibeis Hasefer, with a feeling of relief to be leaving those rarified spiritual heights. And then the bubbling discontent of the Misonenim, and the explosion of carnivorous and carnal appetite at Kivros Hataava, and the Chet of Aharon and Miriam. And finally, in next week's parsha, the crowning catastrophe of the Miraglim and the decree that they would have to spend forty long years in the dessert.

2. Between the first of these setbacks - Vayisu Mehar Hashem - and the second - the Misonenim - there appears a strange passage that seem to have nothing to do with what comes before and after: Vayehi Binisoa Haaron ... Uvenucha Yomar ...  And Chazal say that it appears here Sheloh Lehachzik Bipuraniyus, to break up the series of disasters. But what good is it to break up the first two if there follows an uninterrupted series of disasters afterward?

3. The passage is set off by the strange device of two upside down Nuns, one before and one after, like parentheses. What is the meaning of these strange, upside down letters?

4. The Gemara says that these two verses constitute an entire sefer of the Torah. How can an entire sefer be made up of only two Psukim?

5. We, as Jews, count time from Yitzias Mitzrayim, from the month of Nisan, which is Rosh Chadashim.  And we count time forward towards Achris Hayamim, the end of days. Because we experience time - not as an endless cycle of random events - but as a process, a progress, a journey, which begins with Yetzias Mitzrayim and ends with Achris Hayamim.

The physical representation of that journey in the Torah is the journey from Mitzrayim to Eretz Yisrael, over 42 Masaos (encampments), over forty years.

6. Had the people left Sinai properly, had they carried Har Sinai fully in their hearts, that journey would have been far shorter and less difficult. But because they left precipitously, they fell into the series of Chataim that begin with the Misonenim and culminate with the Miraglim.  And reading of these disasters, one might think that the journey has been derailed completely, that the people are not moving forward at all, but, rather, backward.

The Torah therefore needs to teach us that even if, on the surface, this seems to be true, yet on the deepest level the Divine plan is still unfolding, and the Aron and the people are still moving ever forward, inexorably forward, their final destination where the Aron and the Shechinah will rest among the tranquil tents of Israel.

7. Therefore at the very beginning of this series of setbacks the Torah interupts and opens a window, as it were, to allow us to look beneath the setbacks of the naarative, to the underlying process below: Vayehi Binsoa Haaron, the Aron is still going forward, until Uvenocha Yomar.

8. This window is framed by two upside down nuns. And that is significant. Because the letter nun represents 50, and that is a very symbolic number.  Chazal always speak of fifty levels of  Bina, of

wisdom, the deepest of which is the fiftieth.

So we should think of these two upside down nuns as two upside down periscopes, allowing us to peer deep down below the surface of events. fifty levels below the events that take place in the Sefer that is on the surface, to another Sefer, a parallel Sefer, far below.

9. If that Sefer seems very small to us, we should remember that we are seeing it from a very great distance. Because we are up here on the surface of events; we can't make out the details of that other Sefer, we can't see how - despite all the setbacks, through all the setbacks - the Aron is making its way forward. All we are allowed to see, from this distance, is that the Aron is still moving.

10. It is very rarely that we are able to catch a glimpse of that Sefer ñôø, to see the forward movement of the Aron. But even if all we see is chaos and confusion, setbacks and disasters, we need to remember that that Sefer is still there, that the Aron is still moving ever forward, until Uvenucha Yomar, until it will come to a final rest among the tranquil tents of Israel.

Delivered at the Young Israel of Midwood 5761


From: RABBI YISSOCHER FRAND [ryfrand@torah.org] Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 3:52 AM To: ravfrand@torah.org Subject: Rabbi Frand on Parshas Beha'aloscha

"RavFrand" List  -  Rabbi Frand on Parshas Beha'aloscha    

When One Is In Pain He Says "Ouch"

Tosfos in Tractate Kiddushin [37b] says that when the Torah describes Pesach Sheni [the "makeup" Paschal offering], it is actually implying an indictment of the Jewish people for not offering the Korban Pesach during the next 39 years. The fact is that during the next 39 years -- after the offering of the Pesach sacrifice that year -- they never again offered a Korban Pesach. This was the first and only time they brought a Paschal sacrifice during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The Haftorah of the first day of Pesach [Yehoshua Chapter 5] describes the next time that they offered a Korban Pesach, after they had already entered the Land of Israel.

The Chiddushei HaRim (1799-1866) questions Tosfos' assertion that this was an indictment of the Jewish people. The reason why they did not offer the Pesach during the years in the wilderness was not because they did not care about the Korban Pesach. Rather, they did not offer the Korban Pesach for a technical reason. The Halacha requires that everyone who brings a Korban Pesach must be circumcised and all the male members of his family must be circumcised. During the 40 years in the wilderness, they were unable to perform circumcision as a result of the adverse conditions that existed in the desert. Such an operation would have presented a danger to the child.

For forty years, their hands were tied. They were victims of circumstances beyond their control (anusim). This was a technicality. It was not due to callousness or a bad attitude on their part. So why, asks the Chiddushei HaRim, does Tosfos call this an indictment of the Jewish people?

The Chiddushei HaRim answers that the indictment consists of the contrast in attitude, between the people who brought the makeup Pesach that year and all of the Jewish people for the next 39 years.

What happened in the story of the "make-up" Paschal offering? Certain individuals came to Moshe and complained, "We are ritually impure due to contact with the dead. Why should we lose out (lamah nigarah) on the opportunity to bring the Korban Pesach?" [Bamidbar 9:7]

What is the meaning of the question "Lamah Nigarah?" They just explained why they should lose out -- because of the technicality that someone who is ritually impure could not bring a Korban Pesach! They were Tameh Mes. That is why they could not bring the Korban Pesach. So what is their question?

The Chiddushei HaRim explains that they were pained by the fact


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