Parshat Behaalotcha

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Behaalotcha             21 Sivan 5762              June 1, 2002              Vol.11 No.29

In This Issue:

Dr. Joel Berman
Moshe Rapps 
Willie Roth
Yehuda Turetsky
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought 
-by Jerry M. Karp

Rabbi Howard Jachter
-Restaurants Serving Meat During the Nine Days

This week's issue of Kol Torah
has been sponsored by Leah Moskovits
in honor of
Hillel's marriage to Abigail Malen.

A Mitzva with Good Taste
by Dr. Joel Berman

Haman Einenu El Bilty, "We have nothing to look forward to but the Mon" (11:6).

For 40 years in the desert, we were sustained by the heavenly delicacy, Mon. According to the Ibn Ezra, the Jews would almost effortlessly gather it from the ground around their tents. It had the ability to satisfy even the most discriminating pallet by transforming its flavor into whatever the eater desired.

Bnai Yisrael had such an easy life. How could it be, then, that they failed to appreciate this miracle? Rabbi Shlomo Cohen explains this with a parable. Imagine, after being born and growing up in the desert, a Mon-fed youngster peers into Eretz Yisrael. Overcome with excitement, he runs back to the camp telling everyone who will listen of the miracle he just observed: in Eretz Yisrael, food comes from the ground!

Not only do we fail to appreciate the miracles around us, we rarely recognize the wonderful conveniences we have grown so accustomed to and dependent upon until something like a blackout or a car breakdown occurs.

The Chafetz Chaim zt"l once asked the members of his Shabbat table, "If one ate Mon with nothing (no taste) in mind, what would it taste like?" The guests offered their various opinions until the Chafetz Chaim said that just like one derives little merit when mindlessly performing a Mitzva (Ta'am Mitzvah L'lo), so too Mon eaten with no taste in mind tastes like absolutely nothing.

In a curious way, the crushing poverty and anti-Semitism experienced by previous generations had one positive result: these people were closer to Hashem. Without the conveniences, it was easier to appreciate Chesed, easier to Daven with Kavana. American Jews have "Mon delivered to their doorsteps." We live on the highest material standard ever experienced in the history of Klal Yisrael. Material wealth is the one test that everyone is willing to accept. 

Birkat Hamazon says, V'achalta V'sa'avata Uverachta "You will eat, be satisfied, and bless [Hashem]." It may be that the test of our generation is in fulfilling this Mitzva; now that we have eaten and are satisfied, Uverachta, we must bless Hashem properly, Daven with Kavana, and serve Him, despite the fact that life is so good.


Message of the Aron
by Moshe Rapps

Vayehi Binso Ha'aron Vayomer Moshe Kooma Hashem Vayefutsu Ouvecha V'yanusu Mimisanacha Mipanecha: Ouvincha Yomar Shuva Hashem Rivivot Alfey Yisrael (10:32-36)

"And when the Ark would journey, Moshe said, 'Arise Hashem, and let your enemies be scattered, let those who hate You flee from before You.' And when it rested, he (Moshe) would say, 'Reside tranquilly, Hashem, among the thousands of Israel.'" 
Perek 10 Pesukim 35-36 in this week's Parsha describe Moshe's comments as the Aron would either travel or rest. This section seems out of place because the stories both before and after it have nothing to do with the Aron. What is even stranger is that surrounding the two Pesukim are upside-down Nun's, which seem to separate the Pesukim from the rest of the book. The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat speaks of these Pesukim as a separate "book." Rashi comments that this section is put here to separate three sins that Bnai Yisrael committed consecutively, so that the three sins would not have to be listed all together. The sins that Bnai Yisrael committed after this section, was their complaining for meat and their rejection of the Man. The sin that they committed beforehand is based on the words Derech Shiloshet Yamim, a three day journey. Rashi explains that it was a three-day journey that only took them one day, thanks to Hashem, who was ready to take Bnai Yisrael into the Land of Israel immediately. However, as we will read next week, Bnai Yisrael lost that chance through the sin of the Meraglim (the spies), and could not enter for another forty years. 

But why is the significance of the section that it is put here, amongst these sins? Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch points out that the Pesukim in the secluded section are quotes of Moshe. Although the mood of the people was distraught, as shown in their sins, Moshe was always cheerful when it came to serving Hashem. He did not speak of the people's wrongdoings, rather of Torah and the Aron HaKodesh. But why these exact words? Rav Hirsch answers that Moshe is outlining the future of Bnai Yisrael. When Bnai Yisrael will be exiled, and the Aron will be forced to move from place to place, Moshe is asking that Hashem scatter and destroy the enemies of Bnai Yisrael. However, when Bnai Yisrael will rest peacefully, with the Aron, Moshe is praying that Hashem will bestow His Shechina (his presence) on all the thousands of Bnai Yisrael. 

With the difficult situation in Israel, we can only pray that Bnai Yisrael soon will rest peacefully, and that Hashem will make sure that His presence is felt throughout the world. 


The Community Mitzva
by Willie Roth

In this week's Parsha there are many lessons that we can learn. One is about Pesach Sheni. After Bnai Yisrael celebrated Pesach in the desert for the first and only time, a group of people approached Moshe and asked what they should do since they were Tamey Lanefesh (impure from contact with a dead person), and as a result they would not be able to bring the Korban Pesach. A question then arises, who exactly were these people? 

The Gemara (Succah 25b) gives two answers. One answer is that they were the people who carried the coffin of Yosef. The second answer is that they were involved with Meyt Mitzvah (Mitzvot concerning the dead). These people had such a strong desire to fulfill Mitzva, that they still wanted to bring the Korban Pesach, even though they had a legitimate reason not do so. Lama Nigrah they said, "why should we lose out?" Their attitude towards Mitzvot was that they were opportunities to get closer to Hashem, and were not a burden. They wanted to do this Mitzva even though Haosek Bimitzvah Patur Min Hamitzvah "Someone who is involved in one Mitzvah, is Patur (exempt) from another Mitzvah."

Why did Hashem make Pesach Sheni on one specific day,14th of Iyar , and not just any day when either a Rachok (someone who lives far away) or Tamey is able and fit to give the Korban? The answer is that the Korban Pesach is a Mitzvah that should be done with as much of the community as possible. Just like Hashem took Bnai Yisrael out of Mitzrayim as a nation, so too Korban Pesach should be done with the nation.

This is why the Tamayim said to Moshe, not only Lama Nigrah "Why should we lose out," but also Betoch Bnei Yisrael "from being among Bnai Yisrael?" They had two concerns. One that they would lose the opportunity to bring the Korban Pesach, and the other that they would not be involved with the rest of the nation. This teaches us that it is not always just enjoy to do the Mitzvah, but to do it with the community or nation.

Lighting Souls
by Yehuda Turetsky

In the opening Pesukim of Parshat Behaalotcha, Aharon is given the task of lighting the candles of the Menorah. Rashi comments that this section is placed next to the previous one because Aharon had been upset that the Nesiim had all brought Korbanot, whereas he was not given that opportunity. Therefore, Hashem gave him the job of lighting the candles. The uniqueness of this special job is discussed by many Chassidic Rabbeim and adds great insight to what the candles really symbolize.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe arrived at the conclusion, based on a Pasuk in Mishlei, that the lamps of the Menorah are a symbol of the Jewish soul, and seven lamps represent the seven kinds of Jewish souls that Aharon was supposed to raise up. This is based on an idea that Hillel stated in Pirkei Avot that Aharon is one who loved and pursued peace. For this reason, he is the one who lights the Menorah because he is the one who can bring up every type of Jew, even from the lowest level.

Rav Zadok Hakohen of Lublin teaches a similar idea. Commenting on the Gemara in Masechet Keritut (6a), Rav Zadok asks the famous question: If the spice Chelbana smelled bad, why was it included in the incense? The Gemara answers that this teaches that even one who is far from Hashem is welcome in His house. It is Aharon who is given this task, for who better than Aharon, the one who chased peace, to make it clear that all people are welcome in Hashem's house?

The question of why the Menorah is used as a symbol for bringing Jews back to Judaism is expounded upon by the Slonimer Rebbe, who states that the light of Hashem is the source of spiritual life. Similarly, Chazal teach us that a blind person is considered dead, even if his limbs perform perfectly well. The same is true regarding spiritual matters. If one is so blind to spirituality that he does not see the light of Hashem, he is considered dead. Therefore, one can understand that if one is going to bring a Jew back to Judaism, it must be done through light because light is what symbolizes the spiritual aspects of this world. If deprived of this light, one cannot be considered alive.

The Ishbitser Rebbe, in his Sefer Mei Hashiloach, expands on the previous idea. He explains that the outer six candles face the inner one to teach us that even if one wants to serve Hashem he must know the correct way to do so. The seventh candle represents all that is in the name of Heaven. Rav Yisrael Salanter taught that the person in danger is the one who thinks he is serving Hashem when in reality he is not. Even if one sees the candles - the greatness of Hashem - the Ishbitzer wants us to know that all our actions must be directed to the right place because even if one wants to return to Hashem, he must know how to do it properly.

Aharon's task appears, on some level, not to be a prestigious one. Why would Aharon, a great Tzaddik, be given the task of interacting with the lowest people? Aren't they below him? Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once quoted the following teaching of Reb Nachman of Breslov: There is a distinction between a Tzaddik Tachton, a low Tzaddik, and a Tzaddik Elyon, a high Tzaddik. Whereas a low Tzaddik loves only holy people, a high Tzaddik is on the level where he can love everybody, even people who appear to be very low. May we all merit to learn from Aharon, a very high Tzaddik, how to see the greatness in all people, regardless of the initial impressions they may give off.

Halacha of the Week
Rav Waldenberg in the aforementioned Teshuva rules that it is forbidden to give directions to a Jew who is driving a car on Shabbat, even though the directions may serve to reduce Chillul Shabbat by directing the driver to take the shortest route to his destination. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik did not agree with this ruling (Nefesh Harav p.173).


Food For Thought
by Jerry M. Karp

1) Is the punishment of the Shelo given to Bnei Yisrael a violation ofBechira Chufshy?

2) Rashi on 10:35 says that the Parsha of "Yayehi Bensoa Aharon" is not in its place. However, if one looks at the previous Pesukim, one would immediately conclude that this Passuk can be easily understood in its context. What is the purpose of Rashi's comment?

3) This week's Haftorah is Zecharia's vision of the trial ofYehoshua Kohen Gadol Why was this picked as the Haftyorah if ourParsha is about theLeviyim? (Observe that our Haftorah could not have been picked because of the vision of the Menorah; the Nimshal of the vision is not included in the Haftorah.)

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