Opportunity When Out of Place
The Parsha begins with Ahron being commanded בהעלתך את הנרת. Rashi points out that this Parshas is out of place by asking למה נסמכה פרשת המנורה לפרשת הנשיאים because if these events occurred chronologically, then there would be no need for such a question. Therefore, the fact that Rashi asks למה נסמכה indicates that this event is not in the chronological order of event as we see in the Gemara in Gittin on 60b that the Parshah of the Menorah was one of the eight Parshiyos given on Rosh Chodesh Nissan before the Nesiim began to bring their Korbanos and it wasn’t said now, after the Nesiim concluded bringing their Korbanos, which was on the twelfth day of Nissan.
But if one looks through the Parsha, there are many things recorded out of place. In Chapter 10:35-36, there are נונין הפוכון at the beginning and end of these Psukim. Rashi explains עשה לו סמניות מלפניו ומלאחריו, לומר שאין זה מקומו that these are signs to show that this is not the place of these Psukim. Furthermore, Chapter 9:1 discusses the Korban Pesach and the Pasuk says במדבר סיני בשנה השנית לצאתם מארץ מצרים בחדש הראשון לאמר. Rashi says פרשה שבראש הספר לא נאמרה עד אייר, למדת שאין סדר מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה. ולמה לא פתח בזו, מפני שהוא גנותן של ישראל, שכל ארבעים שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר לא הקריבוט אלא פסח זה בלבד. Rashi points out that this Parsha should have been written in the beginning of Sefer Bamidbar which begins with באחד לחדש השני בשנה השנית. However, the Torah waited until later to record this because it’s a גנאי for the Jews that they only performed Korban Pesach once in the Midbar. So we see there are many things recorded in the Parsha out of place.
Perhaps this can be connected with the fact that in this week’s Parsha, the Jewish people begin the 42 מסעות in the Midbar. מסעות are about being out of place. We know that Klal Yisrael should’ve been in Eretz Yisrael within three days as Rashi says on the Pasuk נסעים אנחנו אל המקום. So the long journey in the Midbar is about being out of place. It could be the Torah is giving us a message that even when one is out of place, he shouldn’t despair. But not only shouldn’t he despair, but he can actually use this situation as an opportunity for growth. The Parsha of Korban Pesach was נתחדש by people who were בדרך רחוקה, that were not במקומו. Malachim are עומדים ברום עולם, but because they are ברום עולם, they don’t have the ability to move and they are עומדים in one place. It’s only humans who are not ברום עולם that are not עומדים but rather מהלכין. The Psukim in Chapter 10, describe the various travels in the Midbar and although many tragic events happened at those places, the Baal Koreh reads it in a sing song tune. Regarding music, a tune that is flat is not music. Music is only created when it has twists, turns, and constant change. Therefore we sing the מסעות to express the idea that even though the מסעות involved twists and turns, hardships and difficulties, ups and downs, nevertheless if we do it right, it all becomes a song.
With all this we can say that specifically in Parshas B’Haloscha where Klal Yisrael begins the מסעות, the Torah specifically puts things out of place in order that we remember that being out of place, not only does it not make progress impossible, but actually the being out of place gives us the opportunity to create new Torah. As we see it’s only because the Parsha of Menorah was out of place do we learn that it was a ניחומים for Aaron. It was only because of the fact that the Parsha of Korban Pesach do we learn the important message how careful one should be with human dignity that the Torah moved the Parsha to a different place in order to protect the dignity of the Jewish people. It was only because the Torah put the Parsha of ויהי בנסוע out of place to be כדי להפסיק בין פורענות לפורענות in order that we shouldn’t look so bad when those two חטאים would appear one next to the other.
The Pasuk in Eicha Chapter 2:9 says מלכה ושריה בגוים אין תורה and Gemara in Chagigah 5b says כיון שגלו ישראל ממקומן - אין לך ביטול תורה גדול מזה. This is expressing the idea that when we are out of place, then we can’t really learn. But nevertheless we see that the main development of תורה שבעל פה was in גלות as the Babylonian Talmud, along with the Geonim and Rishonim was all produced in גלות. So we see it was specifically in גלות that Klal Yisrael used the ביטול תורה as a means to bring Torah to a new level. As the Gemara in Temurah 16b says the day Moshe died, 3,000 Halachos we forgotten and עתניאל בן קנז was mechadesh them through pilpul. This would never have come to be if we wouldn’t have forgotten those 3,000 Halachos. We see it’s specifically the regression which allows for progression and it’s the שלא במקומו which allows us to see new insights in Torah.
This that being out of place is a challenge, the velt says there are two אשריs in Tehillim. There is the אשרי יושבי ביתך-those in the Bais HaMedrash who are במקומו and there’s theאשרי תמימי דרך, the people who maintain there תמימות even when they are on the דרך-they are out of place. So for those in the Beis HaMedrash, it’s the אשרי יושבי ביתך, it’s enough with one Aleph Beis. But for those who are בדרך and are out of place, then you need to have the Aleph Beis eight times in order to hold things together. But even with all of that, the last Pasuk in Chapter 119 says תעיתי כשה אבד בקש עבדך that I am lost like a שה אבד.
But nevertheless on the other side of the coin, it’s specifically through the תמימי דרך, those who are בדרך and are out of place and have greater challenges are we Zocheh to מזמור קיט that has eight times the amount of Psukim than אשרי יושבי ביתך. So not only does being out of place not diminish Torah but it enhances the Torah in the end if it’s done properly.
This idea is also expressed in the Haftorah. The Haftorah discusses Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol and the Navi Zechariah. The Navi says that he sees in his Nevuah the שטן accusing Yehoshua of not rebuking his children who married gentile women. This is portrayed in the Nevuah by the Pasuk saying ויהשוע היה לבוש בגדים צואים that he was wearing soiled clothing. But Hashem defends him and says he is not accountable for this because he is אוד מצל מאש. The Malach continues and tells Yehoshua הסירו הבגדים הצאים מעליו (which Rashi says means that his children parted with the נשים נכריות) and Yehoshua is then adorned with the clothing of the Kohen Gadol. The Malach then concludes כה אמר ה' צבאות אם בדרכי תלך ואם את משמרתי תשמר וגם אתה תדין את ביתי וגם תשמר את חצרי ונתתי לך מהלכים בין העמדים האלה. But being that הסירו הבגדים הצאים מעליו is already about doing Teshuva, what is this additional piece מהלכים בין העמדים האלה. So really he is giving him encouragement that once he’ll go in the right way and do Teshuva, you’ll have מהלכים בין העמדים האלה because Malachim who can’t fall can’t rise, who can’t regress can’t progress. But it’s specifically you, Yehoshua, who regressed with the בגדים הצאים, will have מהלכים as opposed to the עומדים האלה-the Malachim, who have no מהלכים because they are always stuck in one place.
Even though the Parsha of Korban Pesach was not written in its place at the beginning of the Sefer, it was nevertheless written and therefore גנותן של ישראל will still be apparent. So how was the Torah avoiding spelling out the גנותן של ישראל by placing it later on in Sefer Bamidbar?
Reb Yerucham in Daas Torah asks this question as well and he answers the following. He explains that although the גנות needed to be said, nevertheless Hashem wanted to minimize the גנות and every bit of גנות is significant. Meaning even when גנות needs to be said, if you could get away with less, then that bit is significant. He explains that it was minimizing the גנות because the nature of people is to learn and delve deeply in to the beginning of a Sefer and be critical of each word and line. However, as they go through the Sefer, they learn it less and less deeply. The fact that these Psukim of Korban Pesach were only written deep into Sefer Bamidbar and not at the way beginning was a way to avoid such exposure of the גנותן של ישראל.
It’s interesting to see that Rishonim in their commentary at the beginning of Masechtas are much more meticulous trying to understand every last detail. For example, in the beginning of Masechta Kiddushin, Tosfos is bothered by the letter ה in האשה נקנית. Additionally, Tosfos in the beginning of Bava Kamma has an אריכות about the Mishnah saying ארבעה אבות נזיקין and doesn’t sayאבות הן as opposed to other places. Also Rashi in the beginning on the words האשה נקנית writes לבעלה and all Roshei Yeshivah are busy discussing why Rashi wrote לבעלה if it’s obvious that האשה נקנית - לבעלה. However, the Mishna in Shabbos 9b says לא ישב אדם לפני הספר סמוך למנחה עד שיתפלל and Rashi writes להסתפר and yet nobody discusses why Rashi is seemingly stating the obvious. The reason could be because that Mishnah is all the way on 9b as opposed to the first Rashi in Kiddushin. (Although, an explanation could be because the barbershop used to be a place where people would socialize so Rashi is specifically writing להסתפר.) But not only is this phenomenon found in the Rishonim, but even in the Gemara itself. The beginning of Masechtas, such as Kiddushin discussing whether דרך is לשון נקבה או זכר and the beginning of Nedarim discussing the order of the Mishna whether the Mishnayos are מפרש מאי דפתח ברישא או מאי דמסיים ברישא. These types of discussion are generally not found in other parts of Masechtas and they only appear in the beginning. The idea could be as mentioned above that in the beginning of a Sefer, people are מעיין היטב more and then as they go through the Sefer, they are מעיין less.
The reason why the learning is less עיון as the Sefer goes on is probably because a person needs to move forward. However, just because such עיון is only learned in the short term and not the long term doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be learned like that even in the short term. Even things that are in the short term need to be done in their fullest, because one never knows how long the short term will last.
This idea is seen in these Parshiyos. Parshas Naso describes all the details of which children of Levi carried what regarding the Mishkan and its keilim and all there various position and roles while they were in the Midbar, and how things were set up when they camped and traveled and everything was determined and perfectly calculated. But if one thinks about it, at this point, it was only going to be a few days until they entered Eretz Yisrael as Rashi says on the Pasuk נסעים אנחנו אל המקום and then there wouldn’t be a need for all the carrying and specific jobs of the sons of Levi. It was only because of the subsequent events that were to happen that caused the Jews to remain in the Midbar for another 40 years.
But as mentioned above, a lesson could be that no matter what situation a person may be in, whether it be temporary or long term, he must set himself up with a set program, a routine, even if the plan is for it to change. As we see in this Parshah that sometimes what we consider short-term actually becomes the long term and so it is in life and every moment counts, even if it’s short-term. It happens to be such a mindset can be beneficial because then if things don’t end up being temporary (like we initially thought) and turn permanent, you will be much better off on the inside because you reached a point of peace of mind and now you can deal accordingly with the new reality.
Separating the Sins
On the Pasuk ויהי בנסוע הארון (י,לה) Rashi writes עשה לו סמניות מלפניו ומלאחריו, לומר שאין זה מקומו ולמה נכתב כאן, כדי להפסיק בין פורענות לפורענות. But what was accomplished by making a הפסק between the two sins because in the end of the day, they both appear. So what does it help to separate the two sins with a few Psukim?
The Gemara Shabbos 116a says פורענות שנייה was ויהי העם כמתאננים which Rashi explains they complained that they traveled three days straight without rest, even though it was in their best interest because Hashem intended for them to enter Eretz Yisrael immediately. The פורענות ראשונה was ויסעו מהר ה' which many Meforshim explain based on the Medrash that says ויסעו שנסעו מהר סיני דרך שלשת ימים כתינוק היוצא מבית הספר שבורח לו והולך לו כך היו בורחים מהר סיני דרך שלשת ימים לפי שלמדו הרבה תורה בסיני.
We can suggest that each one of these two פורעניות, these two faults, independently are not so serious. Just because they were leaving quickly from Har Sinai doesn’t necessarily indicate they are כתינוק היוצא מבית הספר שבורח לו והולך לו because they are worried they’ll be given more Mitzvos. It could be they are just the type of people that move quickly on to the next thing. The second failure that they complained about moving too fast is also not so serious because maybe it’s difficult for them because they are the slow moving type. It’s like there are some people who are late by nature and therefore they will come late to something and they will leave late. Then there are people are who are early by nature and therefore they will come early to something and they will also leave early.
However, if a person is late to something and leaving early or vice versa, then there is a problem. So if the same people, Klal Yisrael, who just before were in a hurry to leave Har Sinai and were moving too fast, are now the one’s complaining about moving too fast, then that’s an indication that their hearts are not in the right place. So having the faults simultaneously brings out the גנות. But by making a הפסק between these two things, we don’t see the real גנות because seeing each one independently doesn’t necessarily show us something so bad. It’s only when you see them together do you see the problem.
This idea is expressed by the Tzlach on a story in Sanhedrin 26a. The Gemara says as follows:
רבי חייא בר זרנוקי ורבי שמעון בן יהוצדק הוו קאזלי לעבר שנה בעסיא. פגע בהו ריש לקיש, איטפיל בהדייהו, אמר: איזיל איחזי היכי עבדי עובדא. חזייה לההוא גברא דקא כריב. אמר להן: כהן וחורש? אמרו לו: יכול לומר: אגיסטון אני בתוכו. תו חזייה לההוא גברא דהוה כסח בכרמי, אמר להן: כהן וזמר? אמר לו: יכול לומר לעקל בית הבד אני צריך. אמר להם: הלב יודע אם לעקל אם לעקלקלותו וכו' כי מטו להתם סליקו לאיגרא, שלפוה לדרגא מתותיה. אתא לקמיה דרבי יוחנן, אמר לו: בני אדם החשודין על השביעית, כשרין לעבר שנה? הדר אמר: לא קשיא לי, מידי דהוה אשלשה רועי בקר.
Reish Lakish went to accompany רבי חייא בר זרנוקי ורבי שמעון בן יהוצדק who were on their way to be מעבר the שנה. It occurred two times on the way that they witnessed a Kohen who was seemingly doing prohibited work on a field during שביעית and each time, רבי חייא בר זרנוקי ורבי שמעון בן יהוצדק pushed off Reish Lakishs concern by explaining the intention of the Kohen in a way that it was permitted. To which Reish Lakish questioned them by saying הלב יודע אם לעקל אם לעקלקלותו as if to question how they knew the real intentions of these people. When they got to the place where they were going to be מעבר the שנה, they pulled away the latter so Reish Lakish couldn’t be there. Afterwards, Reish Lakish went to Reb Yochanan to ask him if people who were חשודין על השביעית if they are כשרין לעבר שנה.
The Tzlach asks the following question:
והנה יש לדקדק כיון שריש לקיש היה חושד אותם שהם חשודין אמאי לא חזר תיכף ולמה שתק עד שראה שהם שלפוהו לדרגא כדי שלא יעלה עמהם חזר לדרכו אתא קמא דר' יוחנן ואמר שהם פסולים לעבר השנה, ודבר תימא הוא דאי הניחו לריש לקיש לעלות עמהם לאיגרא לא היה מרנן עליהם ועכשיו שדחוהו מלעלות עמהם אמר שהם קשר רשעים
Why did Reish Lakish only wait until after they removed the latter to question their validity if he could’ve been חשוד them on שביעית already when they pushed of Reish Lakish during their journey? The Tzlach answers as follows:
ונראה ליישב, דהנה שלמה המלך ע"ה אמר (משלי י"ז ט"ו) מצדיק רשע ומרשיע צדיק תועבת ה' גם שניהם, וראיתי בספר בינה לעתים שמדקדק איזה דבר חכמה בא שלמה המלך להשמיענו בזה הלא דבר פשוט שתועבת ה' העושה רעות אלה, ועוד מדקדק שמלת גם שניהם הוא אך למותר. ונראה בישוב דבר זה, דלכאורה יש לתמוה דלמה קרא המלך שלמה לזה תועב במה שמצדיק הרשע, הלא אמרו חכמינו ז"ל [אבות פ"א מ"ו] הוי דן את כל אדם לכף זכות, ואם זה שמצדיק הרשע הוא מהפך בזכותו לומר שאין כוונות מעשה היה לרע או שלא ידע כי עושה רעה, אדרבה היא מדה טובה, ולמה קרא לזה תועב. וכן במי שמרשיע את הצדיק יש מקום לומר ששמע עליו מהולכי רכיל שאמרו על צדיק זה כי ברע הוא, ואם שזה לא עשה כהוגן על שהאמין לדברי הרוכל, מ"מ אינו ראוי לומר לכנות לו בשם תועב, ויותר נאה לו לקראתו בשם פתי, כאמרו [משלי י"ד, ט"ו] פתי יאמין לכל דבר. אך כל זה הוא אי היה הכתוב מדבר בשני בני אדם שאחד מצדיק רשע ואחד מרשיע את הצדיק, על זה היה מקום לתמוה תמיה הנ"ל, אבל אם אלו שתי מדות גרועות הם באדם אחד שמצדיק את הרשע ומרשיע את הצדיק לזה אין לו טענה והמלטה. דממ"נ, אם דרכו לדון את כל אדם לכף זכות, א"כ למה זה מרשיע את הצדיק, ואם דרכו להאמין לכל דבר ואינו מהפך בזכות אדם, למה זה מצדיק את הרשע. היוצא מזה מי ששתי מדות הרעות נצמדים יחדיו זה בודאי תועב הוא. ומעתה הן הן דברי שלמה המלך ע"ה מצדיק רשע ומרשיע צדיק תועבת ה' גם שניהם, דהיינו אם כל שני מדות האלה הם מצומדים יחדיו. ולפ"ז מתורץ מה שדקדקנו על הגמרא הנ"ל, שמתחלה לא היה ריש לקיש חושד אותם על שהם מהפכים בזכות זה שהיה חורש ובזכות [זה שהיה] זמר בשביעית, דאדרבה כך דרכן של צדיקי עולם לדון את כל אדם לכף זכות, אבל אח"כ כששמע שאמרו עליו טרודא הוא דין ושלפי את הדרגא מתותיה ולא הניחו לו לעלות עמהם, שפיר אמר עליהם שהם חשודים על השביעית, ושפט בנפשו ממ"נ אי דרכיהם הפוך בזכות כל אדם, למה זה לא הפכו בזכות ריש לקיש עצמו על שאמר כהן חורש בשביעית כהן זמר בשביעית ולמה אקפדי עליו, אלא ודאי שאין דרכם להפוך בזכות אדם ולמראה עיניהם ישפוטו, א"כ למה זה עשו סנגורין לאלה שחרשו וזמרו בשביעית, אלא ודאי שגם הם חשודים על השביעית, ודו"ק.
The Tzlach answers based on the Pasuk in Mishlei מצדיק רשע ומרשיע צדיק תועבת ה' גם שניהם. He says that there are people who are דן את כל אדם לכף זכות and therefore they can be מצדיק the רשע. There are also people who are מרשיע the צדיק because they are very critical always looking for fault. However, if a person is both מצדיק רשע ומרשיע צדיק then תועבת ה' גם שניהם because in the same way that he can be מצדיק the רשע, he should also be able to be מצדיק the צדיק and therefore it’s when a person is מצדיק רשע ומרשיע צדיק that it’s תועבת ה' גם שניהם. Similarly, initially Reish Lakish wasn’t חושד them for finding זכותים for these people who were seemingly being עובר on שביעית because כך דרכן של צדיקי עולם לדון את כל אדם לכף זכות. However, once he saw that they took away the latter and they didn’t let him come up, then he was חשוד them on שביעית because he questioned why they weren’t being מלמד זכות about him who questioned the Kohen who was חורש בשביעית.
(The Beis Halevi in Parsahs Vayigash on the Medrash אוי לנו ליום הדין אוי לנו ליום התוכחה says this idea as well)
האנכי הריתי את כל העם הזה אם אנכי ילדתיהו כי תאמר אלי שאהו בחיקך כאשר ישא האמן את הינק על האדמה אשר נשבעת לאבתיו (יא,יב)
After Klal Yisrael complained about the מן, Moshe Rabbeinu expresses this frustration with the people. But it sounds as if Moshe Rabbeinu was saying since he’s not their father or their mother, it’s not his problem. Such a statement doesn’t sound like something a responsible leader would say and it’s something we wouldn’t expect Moshe Rabbeinu to be saying. However, the Sforno writes the following to explain what Moshe Rabbeinu was saying.
הנה האב יוכל להנהיג את בניו אף על פי שהם חלוקי הדעות וזה כי כולם חושבים אותו לאוהב שישתדל בכל כחו להטיב להם אבל אלה אינם בוטחים בי כלל וחושדים ומנסים לראות מה אעשה בעדם.
Moshe Rabbeinu was saying if Klal Yisrael would be his children, then they would trust him and know that whatever he was doing, it’s because he is convinced that it’s in their best interest even if they disagree with him. A father can lead his children even if they disagree with him because they are convinced that he is only doing that which is in their best interest. But Moshe Rabbeinu was saying since he isn’t their father or mother, therefore they don’t trust him and therefore how can he lead them. But not that since he isn’t their father or mother that it’s not his problem.
Appreciation of the Outsider Over The Insider
Moshe Rabbeinu tells Yisro that they are traveling towards Eretz Yisrael and Yisro says ויאמר אליו לא אלך כי אם אל ארצי ואל מולדתי אלך that he will not be going rather he will be going back to his home land. However, Moshe pleads with him saying ויאמר אל נא תעזב אתנו כי על כן ידעת חנתנו במדבר והיית לנו לעינים. On the words והיית לנו לעינים-and you have been as eyes for us, Onkeles says על כן ידעתא כד הוינא שרן במדברא וגבורן דאתעבידא לנא חזיתא בעינך (keep in mind that Onkeles was a גר himself).
The Rav heard in the name of Rav Hillel Zaks as follows. Moshe Rabbeinu was pleading with Yisro to stay and be “eyes for the people” because sometimes it’s the outsider who can see something that the insider can’t. The Jewish people who had already witnessed Yetzias Mitzrayim, Krias Yam Suf, and Matan Torah wasn’t able to see and appreciate the miracles that they would live with throughout the Midbar like the Man, Be’er, and Ananei HaKavod. However, Yisro, as an outsider, who didn’t witness such miraculous events would be able to have an appreciation for the miracles that would occur in the Midbar. Moshe Rabbeinu was pleading with Yisro to stay and be an “eyes for the people” in order that they as well should be able to have the appreciation that Yisro would have. When Yisro initially responded לא אלך כי אם אל ארצי ואל מולדתי אלך, the Chassam Sofer writes the following in the name of his Rebbe Reb Nosson Adler:
כי אין התלמיד זוכה לשלימות מדרגתו עד הפרדו מאת רבו ולכן כתיב ויהי אחרי מות אברהם ויברך ה' את יצחק וכן אחרי יציאת יעקב מבאר שבע חלם לו חלום נבואיי משא"כ קודם לזה וזהו מאמר יתרו לא אלך להיות במדרגת מהלך כ"א אל ארצי ואל מולדתי אלך תחילה ושם אהי' בגדולתו של עולם וכו' ע"ש.
As long as a Talmid is still by his Rebbe, he can’t reach his full potential. It’s only when he separates and detaches from his Rebbe and he goes in his own way that he can reach his full potential.
So Yisro was saying that in order to be a מהלך, he has to go back home because in the Midbar with Klal Yisrael, he is in the shadow of Moshe Rabbeinu. But Moshe Rabbeinu was saying to Yisro that he has what to contribute here, והיית לנו לעינים and that he has something to bring to the table even in the presence of Moshe Rabbeinu and all the Jewish people. He shouldn’t feel like he needs to go back home in order to achieve greatness because even in the Midbar with Klal Yisrael, he has what to contribute, that being והיית לנו לעינים.
Reason for חלשה דעתו
The Parshah begins with Aaron HaKohen being charged with the task of lighting the Menorah. Rashi, quoting the Medrash Tanchuma, asks why is the Parshah of the Menorah juxtaposed to the Parshah of the Nesiim to which he answers לפי שכשראה אהרן חנוכת הנשיאים חלשה דעתו, שלא היה עמהם בחנוכה, לא הוא ולא שבטו, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא חייך, שלך גדולה משלהם, שאתה מדליק ומטיב את הנרות.
The fact that the question למה נסמכה is asked indicates that this was not the proper place for the Menorah as we see in the Gemara in Gittin on 60 that the Parshah of the Menorah was given on Rosh Chodesh Nissan before the Nesiim began to bring their Korbanos and not after. Obviously, Rashi is teaching us that the Torah put the Parshah of the Menorah here to teach us that it was given to Aaron as a nichumim for not taking part in the Chanukas Hamishkan. Since he was no longer part of the group that offered to bring those Korbanos, he was no longer able to join once Hashem commanded Moshe קח מאתם. At that point he felt bad, and then he was given the Parshah of the Menorah as a Nichumim. But had it been written in the order that it happened, it would not have been clear that the Menorah was given to Aaron as a nichumim and therefore it had to be written in this order for it to be asked למה נסמכה to which we could answer it was given as a nichumim.
Actually if one thinks about, it’s astounding to see that the reason Aaron was חלשה דעתו was because he and his tribe had no role in the inauguration of the Mishkan because this same day his two sons were burned alive. The more obvious reason why Aaron would be חלשה דעתו would be because of the enormous tragedy that two of his sons died. But Hashem knew that what brought him to חלישת הדעת was the לא היה עמהם בחנוכה.
This is for sure something very perplexing and foreign to us. However, it might be that to great people, what matters most is what interferes with the realization of their spiritual mission. The Gemara in Brachos 5b says that Reb Yochanan used to walk around with the bone of his 10th deceased son consoling others who were experiencing tragedy (דין גרמא דעשיראה ביר). (It’s not entirely clear exactly how he consoled people like this. It could be the idea that misery likes company. There is an expression, צרת רבים חצי נחמה, which is mentioned in the Maharsha in Baba Basra 10a. (See also the Chinuch 331, who has a similar expression). It could be the reason why it’s a חצי נחמה is because when a person experiences a tragedy, there is always the added insult to the injury, the thought of why me. But by a צרת רבים, there is no insult, and therefore it’s a חצי נחמה. So when he went around with bone, it would comfort those by showing there is no insult being that it happened to me as well. Similarly, the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim Perek 40 discusses why a murderer goes out of the Ir Miklat when the Kohen Gadol dies, and he writes because it calms down the גואל הדם because he has the realization that everyone dies.)
The consoling Reb Yochanan would provide would be with the message that all this has happened to me and nonetheless I’m still here pushing forward. However in spite of the courage that he had to carry on and rise above after enduring and suffering such calamities in his personal life, when his Talmid Reish Lakish died, the Gemara in Bava Metziah 84a says that Reb Yochanan grieved over him greatly. The Rabanan attempted to console him by sending in others to talk in learning to console him. But he wasn’t consoled by anyone because Reish Lakish would ask 24 questions on something he said forcing him to answer them, furthering his clarity of the Halacha. The Gemara concludes that in the end, Reb Yochanan was שף דעתיה meaning lost his mind and בעו רבנן רחמי עליה ונח נפשיה. Although he was able to move on after losing ten children and he was able to console others, when it came to his talmids death, he couldn’t manage. Although difficult to understand, we see that this is how great people are, because they understand what is important. His ability to reach the greatest heights in the understanding of Torah added more than anything else
Similarly we see that Aaron HaKohen although he just experienced the loss of his two sons, what caused him חלשה דעתו most was שלא היה עמהם בחנוכה, לא הוא ולא שבטו. In a similar vein, the Rav heard the following vort from Reb Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi at the Shiva of Reb Nochum Velvel Desslers, who was Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Desslers son. Reb Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi heard this vort when he went to visit Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler on שביעי של פסח in 1947 when Rav Dessler came to Eretz Yisrael for Pesach and stayed at the Amdursky Hotel on Rechov Ben Yehuda. He told him that because he came to visit, he’ll give him a מתנה and the following vort was the מתנה.
Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler was a son in law by Reb Nochum Velvel Ziv, the son of the Alter from Kelm. The Alter from Kelms son, Reb Nochum Velvel, was a merchant until he took over the Beis HaTalmud in Kelm. He was a more modern looking man whose behavior didn’t fit so much with the Beis HaTalmud in Kelm. (For example, he used to have a poodle sit under the table when he would give a schmooze and many of the Talmidim weren’t so comfortable with it.)
The Gemara in Brachos 17a says מרגלא בפומיה דרב: [לא כעולם הזה העולם הבא], העולם הבא אין בו לא אכילה ולא שתיה ולא פריה ורביה ולא משא ומתן ולא קנאה ולא שנאה ולא תחרות, אלא צדיקים יושבין ועטרותיהם בראשיהם ונהנים מזיו השכינה. The first question that could be asked is what was the major חידוש, as if to say that there is a legitimate הוא אמינא that those such things exist in Olam Habah. But furthermore, why did Rav feel it was necessary to repeat this?
Rav Nochum Velvel was from Lithuania but he lived for twenty years in Konigsberg, Germany. He had difficulty speaking the German language and he didn’t know Grammar. People looked down upon him because he came across as such an intelligent and successful person but he had a poor grasp of the German language because he didn’t know grammar. So he explained to them that he wasn’t German but a Litvak, and German was not his language but I know enough to get by-דיגרמאטיקא דארף איך ניט און וויל איך ניט (The Grammar I don’t need, and I don’t want). With this he explained the statement of Rav that a person should view himself as a Ben Olam Habah who just has to get by in this world. But he only needs to get involved enough in this world to get by, but he doesn’t need the Grammar and details.
If a person lives in this world as a Ben Olam Habah, then his priorities and what’s most important to him will be very different than us typical mortals. Therefore, what was most important to Reb Yochanan and Aaron HaKohen was much different than what is important to us.
Removed from personal interest
Towards the end of the Parshah, it discusses the complaining of food and the like. Seemingly very normal regular things to complain about, Moshe can’t handle it to the point where he throws in the towel as the Pasuk says לא אוכל אנכי לבדי לשאת את כל העם וכו' ואם ככה את עשה לי הרגני נא הרוג אם מצאתי חן בעיניך וכו' (יא:יד-טו). We see by something seemingly trivial, Moshe Rabbeinu can’t manage and he throws in the towel. Yet, at the end of the Parshah, when his own brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, are discussing his shortcomings on a delicate issue regarding Moshe and his wife, he remains silent. It would seemingly be much more hurtful coming from his own brother and sister. Yet All the Pasuk says to explain why he didn’t respond was והאיש משה ענו מאד מכל האדם אשר על פני האדמה and Rashi says ענו מאוד-שפל וסבלן. So how could it be that when it came to a few complaints about food, Moshe completely gave up, but when it came to his own siblings talking about him, he was completely passive?
Moshe Rabbeinu was a man on a mission and he was completely removed from his personal interests. Therefore, when it came to Klal Yisrael complaining about the food, it was a complaint against Hashem and his entire mission and therefore he gave up. However, when it came to his sister and brother talking about his personal life, it didn’t faze him at all, because he completely removed himself and his personal interests. This is expressed in the Pasuk ענו מאוד, because his own self was irrelevant and he was completely amount the mission.
When Klal Yisrael begins complaining, the Pasuk says ויהי העם כמתאננים. The Pasuk doesn’t explicitly state what exactly they were complaining about. We can suggest that it’s because the “what” is almost an afterthought and it’s irrelevant. It’s not about the detail of the complaint to the point that even the complainer doesn’t know what he is complaining about, just that he is as it’s his way of life.
As we see that the next thing they complained about was food. But the מן, says the Gemara in Yoma, tasted like whatever the person wanted. So it would seem that if the complainer wants to complain, then he actually tastes everything in a negative way.
It’s not clear how to translate the word כמתאננים and the Rishonim debate its meaning. Rashi says אין מתאננים אלא לשון עלילה, מבקשים עלילה האיך לפרוש מאחרי המקום.
Sometimes, after a person enters into a relationship, it becomes too demanding what’s expected of him and he needs to come up with excuses or with things to complain about in order to take the heat of himself. That the reason why he isn’t living up to what is expected of him is because he says the other party isn’t living up to what’s expected of him.
Therefore, Rashi is explaining that although they were complaining, they weren’t really complainers, rather they were “like” complainers (כמתאננים). The complaining wasn’t a natural state, rather it could be that a person can become a complainer because after he enters into a relationship, he feels it to be too demanding so he looks for ways to take the heat of himself by complaining that the other party is living up to their side of the relationship.
The Sforno seems to say this idea: על טורח הדרך לא מתאוננים בלבם באמת כי לא היתה אצלם שום סבה ראויה לזה שיתאוננו אבל היו מתאוננים בדבריהם לנסות.
The Rav said from his father the following. The Pasuk says והאיש משה ענו מאד מכל האדם אשר על פני האדמה. How could Moshe be such a humble person if he knew what qualities he had and how special and unique he was?
Moshe saw so many confident people who believed that they were God’s gift to mankind so he started to think that maybe he isn’t so special and unique after all. This reads into to the Pasuk that והאיש משה ענו מאד, from where and how? מכל האדם, from all people, that from seeing how everyone else acted and what they believed about themselves that he started to think of himself as not so special. That’s why he was able to reach such a level of ענו מאוד מכל האדם even with the impressive qualities that he had.
What is the significance of the Shabbos after Shavuos?
We say in the song כל מקדש שביעי the words המאחרים לצאת מן השבת וממהרים לבוא. The question is why is it in that order? The verse should first say we are ממהר לבוא , regarding bringing in Shabbos, and then say מאחר לצאת מן השבת, regarding concluding Shabbos, so why do we say it in this order?
The Rav wanted to suggest that תוספת שבת only began from after מתן תורה. The רמב"ן explains in his הקדמה to ספר שמות that יציאת מצרים was not complete until we got the Torah. Therefore, only once יציאת מצרים was completed was Shabbos able to take on the dimension of זכר ליציאת מצרים. שבת before מתן תורה did not have תוספת שבת because at that point it was only זכר למעשה בראשית and מעשה בראשית was strictly ששת ימים תעבד ועשית כל מלאכתך ויום השביעי שבת לה' וכו'. After מתן תורה, Shabbos became ראשון למקראי קודש and by a מועד, it’s possible תוספת שבת. Being that מתן תורה was on Shabbos, the first possible opportunity to utilize תוספת שבת was to extend Shabbos and therefore we start off with המאחרים לצאת מן השבת. Then, the next opportunity was the following Shabbos (which was this past Shabbos) and therefore the end of the verse says ממהרים לבא.
But the idea of being ממהר is not merely to be מקדים but rather it is the idea of זריזות. The מסילת ישרים at the end of the sixth chapter explains how the מדה of זריזות is angelic and not naturally found by human beings. The idea is because מלאכים are למעלה מן הזמן, therefore they are able to excel in this מדה as opposed to human beings.
The Gemara in חגיגה כו: says that on the שלוש רגלים, the Jews would witness the miracle that the לחם הפנים stayed fresh from week to week and it was כסידורו כך סילוקו. On Pesach and Sukkos, this would occur on שבת חול המועד. However, on Shavuos where there is no חול המועד, when would the Jews see this miracle? The(ב אלפים קעח) שו"ת רדב"ז answers that the Jews would stay until the Shabbos after Shavuos in order to witness this miracle. The idea of this נס is למעלה מן הזמן. The only way the bread was able to stay fresh week to week was because time had no place there. This is a perspective that a person should have, that every day he should live למעלה מן הזמן and be able to recognize the daily freshness and התחדשות. Each day he should recognize that he could start anew.
By all the Moadim, the idea of התחדשות can be seen. The ר"ן in the beginning of תענית quotes the ירושלמי saying the reason why we start mentioning טל on the first day of Pesach and we stop mentioning טל on the last day of Sukkos is so that there should be a mention of טל on each of the Moadim. The idea is that טל represents freshness and התחדשות and the Moadim which are set by the Jews represents the idea that we are שולט on זמן. Therefore, with such a שליטה, we can recognize that we can be למעלה מן הזמן and therefore believe that every day we could start anew. Like we find in the Gemara in מגילה ה: says אמר ר' יוחנן כי הוינא טליא. Rashi says that he was referring to his youth. The word טל is used to refer to youth because טל is the idea of freshness and התחדשות.
We further see this idea in a Gemara ברכות מט. which explains מקדש ישראל והזמנים-ישראל דקדשינהו לזמנים. All the Moadim represent the idea that the Jews have the ability to be מקדש הזמנים which is because we are above time.
In Parshas בלק, the פסוק says ויקם בלעם בבקר ויחבש את אתנו. Rashi says:
אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא רשע כבר קדמך אברהם אביהם, שנאמר (בראשית כב, ג) וישכם אברהם בבקר ויחבוש את חמורו
בלעם tried to access this trait of זריזות which is the idea of למעלה מן הזמן, but Avraham already preempted him with this trait. Then when the donkey questions בלעם as to why he hit him שלש רגלים. Rashi says: רמז לו אתה מבקש לעקור אומה החוגגת שלש רגלים בשנה.
From all this we see the concept that the Moadim represent this idea of being שולט on זמן which is because we could live למעלה מן הזמן. This Shabbos which they would show the לחם הפנים on the שולחן and the Jews would see כסידורו כך סילוקו would show this concept as well that the freshness was only possible because it was למעלה מן הזמן and that we could live למעלה מן הזמן when we live every day as if it’s the first day of our lives
The פסוק in the second פרק of תהילים says אני היום ילדתיך. The Zohar (Mishpatim 98a) says that this Pasuk is referring to a Bar Mitzvah boy on the day of his Bar Mitzvah. דוד המלך is referring to something that Hashem told him once in the past because it is referring to when dovid became the king. How did דוד have the confidence to say that he doesn’t need to fear any enemies that stand up against him because Hashem told him בני אתה אני היום ילדתיך if he only told it once in the past? Who says it was still applicable and relevant? From here we see that one could live his life with the mindset of אני היום ילדיך, that every day is a new beginning.
Consolation with הדלקת נרות
The first Rashi in the פרשה says as follows:
למה נסמכה פרשת המנורה לפרשת הנשיאים, לפי שכשראה אהרן חנוכת הנשיאים חלשה דעתו, שלא היה עמהם בחנוכה, לא הוא ולא שבטו, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא חייך, שלך גדולה משלהם, שאתה מדליק ומטיב את הנרות.
The רמב"ן asks why was אהרן consoled with the mitzvah of הדלקת נרות and not with other mitzvos such as the קטורת and קרבנות?
Reb Chaim in הל' ביאת מקדש (פ"ט ה"ז)explains that the Mitzvah of הדלקת נרות in the מקדש was not the action of lighting candles rather the mitzvah was just to have lit candles constantly. Therefore, the action of lighting candles was just a means to have a lit candle, which is the real fulfilment of the Mitzvah. Similarly, the חינוך in מצוה צח explains the mitzvah of הדלקת נרות was to have a lit candle להגדלת הבית לכבוד ולתפארת בעיני הרואים.
We see from here that which is unique about the נרות. The נרות weren’t just a הדלקה that took place in the בית rather it was to enhance the בית. The נרות were a rededication of the בית every day and not that it was a mitzvah done in a finished בית, rather it’s a mitzvah that sets the בית straight every day. It was a contribution that אהרן did every day to make the בית into the type of בית it needs to be. This is a חנוכה, and not just a mitzvah that takes place in the house, but it is a חנוכת הבית.
This idea is also expressed from the Pasuk in משלי (כב,ו):
חנך לנער על פי דרכו גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה
The Alter from Kelm explains that לא יסור ממנו is going on חינוך that if you give him the proper חינוך, he won’t move away from חינוך. Meaning, you’ll be מחנך him in a way that he’ll never abandon חינוך, rather he will always be מתחנך anew. Your מחנך him in a way that he’ll always be מתחנך a new and he won’t abandon the way of חינוך. Rashi says in פרשת שופטים (כ:ה) that חינוך is a lashon of התחלה. So we kick start him, but not in the way of inertia, but rather that every day he should be able to experience a התחלה and every day should be the first day of his life. This is the idea of אני היום ילדתיך, that every day a person should experience אני היום וכו'. Although the Zohar says it’s referring to the day of his bar mitzvah, really every day a person should have this experience, that it is alive, fresh, and new.
With this we could also understand that which the רמב"ן says that שלך גדולה משלהם is referring to the חנוכת המקדש during the time of חנוכה. The חנוכה with the חשמונאים was not a חינוך of beginning, but it was a חינוך in the middle of בית שני. Therefore, its גדולה משלהם because the נשיאים only did a חנוכה in the beginning as opposed to the חנוכה of the חשמונאים which was more in the sense that even when things are old and already in the middle of a long process, we should be able to start again fresh.