Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shlach: why were the people destined to die in the desert?

Parshas Sh'lach

In 14:28-38, Hashem announces the punishment for the sin of the spies. - the spies themselves would die in a plague, and the people would be forced to wander the desert for 40 years (1 year per day of the spies trip through Israel), and the people would die in the desert and not enter the land - only their children would be able to.

I do not udnerstand what the people did so bad here to deserve the punishment they received. If one looks at the psukim, all we see is the spies returning, giving their report of the land and their recommendation, even a demand, that they refuse to enter the land.

The people then complained that Hashem brought them up just to kill them in the desert and maybe they should go back to Egypt.

Is this the first time the people complained? Is this the first time the people suggested they return to Egypt? They have been complaining non-stop since they left Egypt, constantly talking about how good they had it!

The punishment of the spies I understand. But the punishment of the people perplexes me. What did they do so bad to deserve what they got? Why is the complaining this time different than any other time?

No answer I have thought has been satisfactory, so if you can suggest anything, I would appreciate it....

Shlach: why Moshe really could not get into the Land of Israel

Parshas Sh'lach

In 14:13 it says "וישמעו מצרים" and Rashi explains that they would then say that "Hashem was able to beat us in war and take the Jews out, but He is not strong enough to beat the יושבי האארץ".

Moshe was calling Hashem out and warning Him that if he kills them out, if He does not let them into the land, then He will have caused a chillul Hashem of sorts.

I would like to suggest that this might be why Moshe later gets punished by not being allowed into Israel upon striking the rock.

Over there it is explained that Moshe did not really do anything wrong, per se. Rather, he could have effected a greater kiddush Hashem by talking to the rock, but he struck the rock instead.

But why is that so bad? So he caused only a smaller kiddush Hashem? For that he deserves such a harsh punishment?

I would suggest that it is a sense of tit for tat. Mida k'negged mida. He got the punishment over there for not effecting a greater Kiddush Hashem, because over here by the spies he used that argument against Hashem to protect the jews. He said "Don't destroy the jews because the Egyptians will say You were not strong enough." By destroying the Jews, You will be preventing the greater Kiddush Hashem of taking them into the land and everyone will recognize Your strength..

Because Moshe used that argument here, so later when he prevented the greater kiddush Hashem, he had to be punished via the argument he introduced here - by not entering the land.

Sh'lach: why only Menashe

Parshas Sh'lach

In 13:8 the passu tells us the name of the spy from the tribe of Efraim - "למטה אפרים הושע בן נון", and then in passuk 11 it tells us the name of the spy from Menashe - "למטה יוסף למטה מנשה גדי בן סוסי".

Why by Menashe does it associate back to Yosef, but not by Efraim?

Monday, June 16, 2008

B'Haaloscha: giving it all up for the truth

Parshas B'Haaloscha

In 10:30 the people had asked Yisro to stay with them but Yisro responds that he will not stay but he will go back home to his land and to his birthplace.

Yisro's response stands, in my mind, in stark contrast to the response of Avraham who was also implored (albeit by God Himself in that case) to leave his family, his birthplace and his land to go to the Land of Israel.

Avraham, as we know, did so because he had found the truth and knew he had to follow it.

Yisro found the truth as well, but he could not give up his personal needs and preferences to follow it. When push came to shove, despite his being so great, and even the father of the Jewish Judicial System, he could not take that step to throw his lot in with that if the jewish People. He could not give up everything to follow and be a part of the truth.

This shows that mo matter how great a person might be, everybody still has negios. They have preferences with internal conflicts that are often difficult to overcome. When they do overcome them, it shows how great that person and his dedication really is.

Naso: each individual counts

Parshas Naso

Why at the end of the Parsha does it spend so much time and space detailing all the dedications of the various leaders of the various tribes. they were all exactly the same. The Torah should have detailed one, and then said in some way that each one brought his dedication on his appropriate day. Or something similar to that.

So why does it detail each one seperately?

I would suggest that this shows how important each individual is. Yes, they each gave the same thing, but each gave it seperately. Each one put his heart into his gift.

the Torah details each one because it wants to show us that the gift of each individual, the service of each individual, is important in its own right, and not just as part of the group.

Bamidbar: when does protexia get applied?

Parshas Bamidbar

In 1:49 Hashem tell Moshe not to count to tribe of Levi. Rashi explains that Hashem knew that all those counted here would eventually receive a punishment of death in the desert. So why not Levi? because Levi is special. Levi did not sin by the Golden Calf. Levi stepped up to the plate and batted on God's side.

Why is that a reason - did we not learn by the children of Aharon the concept of "בקרובי אקדש" - that Hashem's name gets honored more when people see those who are close to Him being punished?

I am not saying Levi deserved death, but why do they get this special protection just because they were more purely dedicated to God, when we see others do not get that "protexia"?


Bamidbar: Love is a double edged sword

Parshas Bamidbar

Love. A double edged sword.

In B'cchukosai we read from the Torah the portion of the threats and curses of punishments that will befall us if we do not follow Hashem and the Torah properly. So this week, in Bamidbar, we start out right away with Hashem telling Moshe to count the Israelites, with Rashi explaining it is because Hashem loves us so much that He counts us. Counting us is an expression of love.

But this love is dangerous. Moshe is then told to not count the Levite tribe. Rashi explains the reason to be because Hashem knows that all those counted will later be condemned to die in the desert and not enter the Land of Israel.

So do not count the Leviim because even though counting is an expression of love, it also is a marker for who will later be condemned to death.

So which is it? an expression of love or a sign of condemnation?

anybody have any ideas?