PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 5
3 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
2 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 136
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1840
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 7055
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Zecharyah / Zachariah 2:14 - 4:7
This week we study Chapter 2 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
|In our last
episode, we time warped back to the dedication of the Mishkan.
The Nesi'yim (Princes) took center stage, easing the job
of the Gershon and Merari clans with a donation of wagons to transport
the wood and woven materials of the Mishkan.
At the same time they decided
to donate all the animals for Korbanot during the days
of celebration. That's where Aharon gets worried...
As our Parsha opens,
Aharon is wondering why Hashem doesn't let him donate
animals for Korbanot. Could it be the old Eigel Hazahav
(Golden Calf) sin peeking out again.
But his worries have no basis. Hashem assures
him that while the Nesi'yim's animals are a one shot
deal, there are bigger plans in store for Aharon!
... THE MENORAH!
the Nesi'yim had their one day in the sun but Aharon has
his day in the light everyday!
gives Aharon the privilege of lighting the Menorah every
day. He commands that the Kohain makes sure
to clean and light the Menorah in a special way.The Kohain
sets up the six wicks of the Menorah so that they all
face toward the middle wick, a seventh flame. This middle flame
shows that Hashem really doesn't need the light of the
| Now that the Leviyim
have been chosen to help out around the Mishkan, they've
got to be purified. Here's how it's done...
First, all the hair comes off,
the beard, the legs, the whole body. Not one hair can be left, (except
payot, sideburns, of course. Some commentaries
say except the beards as well). Even Moshe shaves off all
of his hair, since he is a Levi.
Next, comes the sprinkling of
a mixture made of water and the ashes of a Parah Adumah, a
Any Jew that becomes tamay
(impure) cannot become purified unless he is sprinkled with this
mixture. So just in case some of the Leviyim touched
any dead bodies which would disqualify them from entering the
Mishkan, they are sprinkled with this mixture. The Leviyim
also immerse themselves in a Mikvah and put on clean
The Leviyim then offer
a Korban Chatat to cover themselves for the sin of the
Eigel Hazahav and an Olah for any other sins.
The firstborn of each family
(Others say All) of Bnei Yisroel place their hands on
the heads of the Leviyim to signify a transfer of the
rites of service in the Mishkan.
Next Aharon lifts each of the
22,000 Leviyim in the air and waves him back and forth
and up and down. This is called "Tenufa." Moshe does
the same. Boy! What strength and stamina is needed. All in a day's
Now the Leviyim are ready
| The first Pesach
in the Midbar - the first anniversary of Yetziat Mitzrayim,
is approaching. It is Rosh Chodesh Nissan 2449. Moshe reminds
the Bnei Yisroel about the laws of Pesach.
On the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan every Jew must bring
a Korban. That night, the meat of the Korban
must be eaten together with Matzah and Marror.
For the entire seven days of Pesach a person may eat
While Moshe and Aharon are sitting in the study tent, the word of this reminder
spreads through the camps and a group of men show up with a problem - they're
tamay from carrying Yosef's coffin through the desert. Now they won't be able to celebrate Pesach with the rest of the nation because a person who is tamay can't participate in the Korban Pesach.
Moshe speaks to Hashem and comes back with the solution:
Pesach Sheini, a second Pesach on the 14th of Iyar.
Anyone who accidentally, (and only accidentally), can't
make it with a Korban on Pesach can offer the
Korban on the 14th of Iyar. The Second Pesach
is just for the mitzvah of Korban Pesach with Matza
and Marror. Chametz and Melacha don't
come into play during this makeup round.
|The Jews pack up and
travel through the desert many times during their 40 year trek.
For the Bnei Yisroel the cloud is the key... the cloud
of glory, that is. When the cloud rises from the Machaneh Shechina,
they start to pack. When the cloud settles back, the Bnei Yisroel
put down their travel bags and pitch Sukkot - temporary
commands Moshe to have two silver trumpets made. These trumpets
will signal when it's time to gather in front of the Mishkan
and when it's time for Bnei Yisroel to start marching.
Aharon's sons, Elazar and Itamar,
are in charge of blowing the trumpets.
There are three basic signals:
Tekiyah, (click me).
a note held for a long time by one trumpet, indicate that the
Nesi'yim are to gather at the Mishkan. Usually
this means a new law has been given to Moshe, ready to be passed
on to the Nesi'yim who will pass it on to the Bnei
A Tekiyah with two
trumpets at the same time, means the entire Bnei Yisroel
should gather by the Mishkan.
A Tekiyah followed by a Teruah
(click me)., a series of short staccato sounds, followed
by another Tekiyah means it's time to travel.
Only Moshe can order the kohanim to use the trumpets.
After Moshe's death these trumpets are hidden and new ones are
made for such occasions. These trumpets are also blown to gather
the nation for war. In the times of the Bait Hamikdash,
trumpets would be blown to signify the Festivals and Rosh
Chodesh (New Moon) celebrations.
| With three days
to go from Midbar Sinai to Eretz Yisroel, Yitro,
Moshe's father-in-law, decides it's time to head back to Midyan,
his hometown. Why? Well, one reason is that since he's a ger,
a convert, he won't receive a portion when the land of Eretz
Yisroel is given out to each family. On the other hand, Yitro
has his own fields in Midyan.
Yitro assures Moshe that he will teach the people of Midyan all about the
greatness of Hashem.
But Moshe doesn't let him go so easily. There's a problem with Yitro leaving.
Moshe worries that people will say, "Yitro never believed in the
Torah, in the first place. He became a ger for
a piece of the land. When he found out that converts wouldn't
inherit any land, he split."
Moshe guarantees Yitro that the Bnei Yisroel will keep
the commandment to love a ger. Yitro agrees to stick
around. His descendants became great scholars and many became
members of the Sanhedrin (High Court of Israel).
Bnei Yisroel have been camped at the foot of Har
(Mt.) Sinai for about a year now, eating Mann and getting
new Mitzvot every day. Imagine how they feel when Moshe
announces, "we're packing out!" This means they're heading straight
to Eretz Yisroel, the promised land!
So the Bnei Yisroel gather their belongings and get ready
to move. Well, that wouldn't be so bad except for a classic Bnei
It's that old bad attitude.
For the past year, Moshe and the Jewish people have been receiving
new mitzvot on a regular basis. Instead of looking forward
to fulfilling the mitzvot of Eretz Yisroel, they
think of the marching orders as an escape from constant commandments.
They want a vacation from the bombardment of Mitzvot.
The are so psyched up, they
even begin to march before the cloud rises! This makes Hashem
angry. A Jew should run towards Torah, not away from it!
Still, Hashem places
the Aron at the front of the formation to find a good spot
for the Bnei Yisroel to camp.
As the Bnei Yisroel get ready to journey, Moshe recites
a short prayer. We say it during davening as we open the
Aron to remove the Torah:
"Vayehi Binsoah ha-Aron vayomer Moshe,
"And when the Aron went forth Moshe said"
'Kumah Hashem ve-yafutzu oivecha, ve-yanusu mesan'echa miponecha..."
"Arise, Hashem, and scatter Your enemies! So
that those who hate You will flee before You!"
On the words "Arise Hashem" the cloud of glory stands
straight as a beam over Shevet Yehuda, the first tribe
in the formation. The trumpets are blown to signal that Yehuda
is ready to move out.
When Bnei Yisroel reaches its destination, Moshe says
another short prayer. We recite this prayer when the Torah
is placed back in the Aron:
"Shuvah Hashem rivavot alfei Yisroel..."
"Return, Hashem, to the thousands and ten thousands
Now the Cloud of Glory settles back into the Machaneh Shechinah.
Cloud of Glory moves at top traveling speed to accommodate the Bnei
Yisroel's yearning to reach Eretz Yisroel. But the
Eirev Rav, who prove to be a thorn in Bnei Yisroel's
side all the years in the wilderness, start whining from their position
at the end of the line. They call for a slow down. This time Hashem
is fed up with the Eirev Rav's belly-aching and He's
not going to take it any more.
Hashem sends a heavenly fire that burns up the trouble
makers of the Eirev Rav. While Hashem is burning
people up, He also zaps the 70 Zekainim (elders) who
gazed at the Shechinah on Har Sinai back during
The Bnei Yisroel get scared seeing so many people dying
around them. They ask Moshe to pray for them. Now Moshe knows
that the fire is very selective but he takes the opportunity to
get the people to do teshuvah for rushing away from Har
Sinai. When the Jews do teshuvah and Moshe davens
(prays), the fire sinks into the ground.
| Once again the Eirev Rav
find something to complain about.. Mann!
Mann in the morning, mann in the afternoon,
mann at suppertime, on Shabbat, at weddings
and Bar Mitzvahs... always mann! The Eirev Rav
want a little variety like some good old fish and meat.
Of course, the Bnei Yisroel, who were perfectly
satisfied till now, take their cue and do a little complaining
of their own. They want a little variety like some cucumbers,
watermelons, leeks, onions and garlic like they had back in Mitzrayim
Now you're probably saying.. hey, mann can taste like
anything, so why not cucumbers, watrmelon and the like? The rule
is that mann won't take on the taste of anything harmful
or hard to digest. These items are too
difficult for pregnant and nursing mothers to digest. Except for
the above mentioned items, the Mann tasted like
anything you wanted it to. But this is just part of a bigger
problem. The Jews are having a lot of problems adjusting to keeping
the Torah. It seems like everything they do has conditions
attached. Even eating mann takes getting up early in
the morning, making a bracha, being careful not to take
too much, taking a double portion for Shabbat and so
They seem to have selective memory about Mitzrayim. They
remember the meat and vegetables available all the time in Egypt.
Hello, Bnei Yisroel! You were slaves! Remember? That
- they forget about.
of meat, Moshe has a cow over the situation. He just can't understand
why the Jews don't appreciate the greatness of the Torah.
He reminds Hashem that he never wanted to be a leader in
the first place. Hashem tells Moshe He'll give
them meat but they'll die from eating it. Moshe can't accept that
solution. He begs Hashem to have mercy. Hashem
and Moshe have a conversation.
Hashem chooses to take care of Moshe's problems first.
The Zekainim have always been a buffer between the complainers
and Moshe. The Zekainim would quiet these people down
and resolve their problems. Without these 70 Zekainim,
Moshe is on his own. Hashem tells Moshe to appoint a
new set of Zekainim from the men who were supervisors
in Egypt. These men let themselves be beaten by the Egyptians
rather than beat their fellow Jews.
As far as the meat goes, the Bnei Yisroel has plenty
of cattle. If they really wanted meat, they could have slaughtered
fresh meat all along. That proves that this is complaining for
the sake of complaining. Hashem tells Moshe that therefore
tomorrow the Bnei Yisroel will receive a meat they can't
refuse. Some complainers will die right away and others, who are
really bad, will eat it for 30 days until they're nauseous, and
then they will die.
Moshe tries to argue that this is not the way for Hashem
to prove His greatness. But Hashem insists that
He will provide a meat that will satisfy everyone.
There's only one thing for Moshe to do now. He must go around
the camp trying to convince the complainers to forget about the
meat. "Let bygones be bygones. You know Hashem can do
the miracles... You know life is better living by the Torah
than by the whip..." But it doesn't do any good. The wicked ones
want Hashem to put the cards on the table and show the
picks six men from each tribe who qualify to be the new Zekainim.
The problem is that there can only be 70 Zekainim. Moshe
decides to draw lots to see which 70 will become the elders.
Moshe writes the word Zakain (Elder)
on 70 lots and leaves two lots blank. He summons the 72 candidates
to the Ohel Moed to draw lots. But only 70 show up.
Two candidates, Eldad and Meidad, humbly decline the 'elder
offer'. They agree to accept the other 70 as their leaders. The
cloud of glory descends on the Ohel Moed and the powers
of prophecy that Moshe experiences now spills over to the elders.
While the Zekainim receive a second-hand prophecy, Eldad
and Meidad receive prophecy first hand from Hashem.
next morning Hashem waits for the new Zekainim
to return to their tents. They know there's danger and they want
no part of it. Hashem brings a howling wind. This wind
blows big fatty kosher birds called Slav in the direction
of the camp of Bnei Yisroel. The people collect tons of
Slav and feast on them until they are stuffed. These birds
taste like fowl, beef and fish. Then, just as Hashem promised,
the participating people are punished, each according to his own
level of sin. No harm comes to the tzadikim. The resho'im,
on the other hand, suffer for a month before dying. Finally, the
people understand that they have sinned.
Moshe is the greatest prophet of all time and when you reach a level like that
you've got to do certain things differently than other people. One thing Moshe
has done is separate from his wife. Now, Miriam, Moshe's sister, doesn't
understand the connection and she talks to Aharon about it. After all, they are
both prophets and they haven't separated from their spouses.
This conversation takes place within listening distance of Moshe.
Moshe is too humble to explain why they are wrong. But Hashem's
not, and He blasts Miriam and Aharon for thinking that
they are on Moshe's level. Then He strikes Miriam with
Tzara'at, the Lashon Hara disease. Moshe prays for Miriam
and Hashem heals her, but only after seven days. This
is a great lesson to the Bnei Yisroel about Lashon
Tune in next week when Moshe sends spies to check out Eretz Yisroel.
Will the Jews learn the lesson of Lashon Hora or will their minds wander? These questions and others will be answered in the next exciting episode of:
See the Midrash Maven on Baha'alotcha
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