17 Issue #27

Parshas Bemidbar ‫פרשות במדבר‬

2 Sivan 5773

Kavod Hatorah U’Melamdehah

Rabbi Michael Taubes
This Parsha focuses primarily on the census of Bnei Yisrael taken by Moshe Rabbeinu in the desert, a little more than a year after Yetzias Mitzrayim. Among those counted, although not together with the rest of the nation, were the members of Aharon’s family. That part of the census is introduced by a statement that what follows is a list of the offspring of both Aharon and Moshe (Bemidbar 3:1). The Gemara in Sanhedrin (19b) is puzzled by the reference here to Moshe, because his children are in fact not mentioned in the subsequent Pesukim. Why does the Torah speak in the introductory Pasuk (ibid.) about the offspring of Aharon and Moshe and then identify only the children of Aharon? The Gemara (ibid.) explains that actually, Aharon’s children were in fact Moshe’s children as well, because although Moshe didn’t father them biologically, he taught them Torah, and as such can be mentioned as their parent along with Aharon. From this, the Gemara (ibid.) concludes that anyone who teaches Torah to a child is considered, in certain respects, as if he produced that child. A similar conclusion is reached by the Gemara later in Sanhedrin (99b) based on another source. The Mishnah in Kerisos (28a) speaks of the Kavod, the honor, which one must extend to one who teaches Torah, and actually says that this obligation to honor one’s teacher takes precedence over the obligation to honor one’s biological parent. The Mishnah in Bava Metzia (33a) likewise documents this idea, giving some practical examples where this rule becomes relevant, and explaining that one’s teacher deserves greater Kavod because one’s parent brings him into this world, one’s teacher, by transmitting Torah to him, provides him with the ability to gain entry into Olam HaBo. The Rambam therefore rules (Hilchos Talmud Torah – Perek 5: Halacha 1) that just as there is a Mitzvah to honor and fear one’s parent, there is also such a Mitzvah regarding one’s teacher, and that the obligation to the teacher takes precedence. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah – Siman 242: Se’if 1) rules this way as well.

The Gemara in Bava Metzia (ibid.) discusses what kind of teacher must be given this high level of Kavod; The Rambam (ibid. - Halacha 9) and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. Se'if 30) writes that this obligation applies only to one’s “Rebbe Muvhaak”, that is, the teacher from whom one has acquired most of his knowledge. The Ramo (ibid. - Se'if 34) adds that this implies only to a teacher who teaches one Torah for free, but if one’s parent hired the teacher, the Kavod due to the parent takes precedence. Moreover, if the Parent also teaches the child Torah, the Mishnah in Bava Metzia (ibid) notes that the Kavod due to the parent is greater than that due to the teacher. The Rambam (ibid. - Halacha Aleph) rules accordingly, although elsewhere (Hilchos Gezailah V’Aveidah – Perek 12: Halacha 2), he indicates that this may be only if the parent is on the same level as the teacher, a position accepted in one place by the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat – Siman 264: Se’if 2). The aforementioned Ramo (Yoreh Deah – ibid.), the Taz (ibid. Se’if Katan 19), and others elaborate on this point. Nevertheless, regardless of whether one’s obligation to honor one’s teacher is greater than his obligation to honor his parent or not, it is clear from these Poskim that one must have great Kavod for anyone who teaches him Torah since, as mentioned above, this person is like a parent to him. The question is, may the Rebbe himself be “Mochel” –or forgo- this Kavod to which he is entitled? The Gemara in Kiddushin (32a-32b) says that although a parent may be Mochel his Kavod – the Rambam (Hilchos Mamerim – Perek 6: Halacha 8) in fact says that a parent should do so to a certain extent – there is a dispute as to whether or not a Rebbe may do so. The dispute revolves around a fundamental distinction between a parent and a teacher in terms of the source of the Kavod that is due to him. A parent is respected for being the parent; the honor is for him as a person and he may thus forgo it. One authority holds, however, that the honor due to a Rebbe is for the Torah he represents and teaches; it is therefore not within his rights to allow the Kavod due to Torah to be ignored. In short, the Kavod is not his personally, but the Torah’s, and because it’s not “his” Torah, he can’t be Mo-

‫וו ו‬ chel his Kavod due to it. Those who disagree feel that it is in fact “his” Torah, having mastered it, and thus he can be Mochel the Kavod. The Rambam (Hilchos Talmud Torah – ibid. Halacha 11) and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah – ibid. Se’if 32) accept the latter opinion. Rav Ovadyah Yosef (Sha’ailos U’Teshuvos Yabiya Omer: Chelek 6 – Chelek Yoreh Deah: Siman 21) cites Poskim who say that this applies only to people who have mastered the Torah to the point of being Gedolei HaDor, while other Talmidei Chachomim cannot be Mochel the Kavod due to the Torah. He himself rules, however, that it indeed applies to all Talmidei Chachomim, and he supports his view with numerous sources.
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Vol. 17 Issue #27 ‫ש מק‬ establishment of a Jewish government in Eretz Yisrael is indeed a crucial step in the unfolding of our geulah and therefore Yom Ha’atzmaut can be accepted as a national Yom Tov. However, although the victories of the Six Day War were miraculous and we extend tremendous gratitude to Hashem for the return of the Kotel and Har Habayis, in what way did these events relate directly to the unfolding of the geulah?

The Gemara (Chagigah, 5b) records that Hashem cries every day for two reasons:

‫“מפני גאוותן של ישראל שנטלה מהם ונתנה‬ “.‫מפני גאוותה של מלכות שמים‬...‫לעובדי כוכבים‬
“Because of the pride of the Jewish people which was taken from them and given to the other nations and because of the pride of the Jewish religion (which is no longer present in exile).” When Medinas Yisrael was established in 1948, there was a resurgence of Jewish pride, the likes of which had not been seen for thousands of years. People were no longer embarrassed to be identified as Jewish and many Jews began to come out of the woodwork and return to their roots. Although this did not entirely correspond to a religious resurgence and a revitalization of Torah observance, there was nevertheless a sense of pride restored to the Jewish people and they were placed in a more honorable position in the world’s eyes. They were no longer the same downtrodden people they had been for nearly two millennia but were now a well-respected and upstanding people. This influenced Jewish life all over the world as “normal” life could now exist for Jews, something that had been a mere fantasy for a Jew of Czarist Russia or Nazi Germany. This, in it of itself, is a reason to support and cherish Medinas Yisrael. Nineteen years after Hashem stopped crying over the loss of Jewish pride, his tears ceased to flow for the loss of the pride of the Jewish religion as well. After the miraculous events of the Six Day War, in which so many recognized the Yad Hashem that had performed a nes nigleh umfursam (great and open miracle) in delivering the overwhelming rabbim biyad mi’atim (many in the hands of a few), there was a tremendous religious resurgence amongst the Jewish people. Awed and inspired by Hashem’s miracles, many began to seek ways to return to religious observance and connect with their creator. Masses of Jews swarmed to the newly conquered Kotel to daven fervently and connect to their people and their land.

The Rivash (Sha’ailos U’Teshuvos HaRivash – Siman 220) quotes from the Ra’avad that although a Rav can be Mochel the Kavod, he cannot allow himself to be shamed, mocked or disgraced, just as a parent who may be Mochel his Kavod cannot allow his child to talk to him in a disrespectful or disparaging fashion. Whether or not this ruling is accepted may be a dispute between the Mechaber and the Ramo (Choshen Mishpat – Siman 263: Se’if 3; Siman 272: Se’if 3); the Mechaber says that at least for the sake of a Mitzvah, a Rav may act in an undignified manner, while the Ramo says it is improper even then. The Ramo (Yoreh Deah - ibid.) thus feels that it is necessary to stress that even if a Rav has been Mochel his Kavod, it remains forbidden to disgrace him. The Mechaber (Yoreh Deah – ibid.) himself, like the Rambam (ibid.), notes that even if a Rav has been Mochel his Kavod, it is proper for his students to display some minimal amount of respect anyway. Yom Yerushalayim

Meir Finkelstein
We are all well aware of the reason that the twenty -eighth day of Iyar has become a highlight of the Jewish calendar and has been accepted as a day of joyous celebration. It was on that day that the Jewish people miraculously overcame their much more powerful and well equipped enemies and, not only escaped total annihilation, but regained control of the Kotel Ha’ma’aravi and Har Habayis, the holiest places in the world. However, although this calls for national recognition and appreciation on the part of the Jewish people, we must ask ourselves why the events of this day warrant the establishment of a Yom Tov. As Rav Hershel Schachter has pointed out in explaining why Yom Ha’atzmaut should indeed be recognized as a Yom Tov (see his “B’ikvei Hatzon” Siman 32), only events which relate to the coming of the future geulah can be marked by a Yom Tov. There are many sources in Chazal which indicate that the

‫וו ו‬ This religious revitalization was not only expressed amongst the members of Klal Yisrael but it occurred in the streets of Yerushalayim as well. Yeshivos were established and Torah became prevalent as Yerushalayim regained its stature as the world’s capital of Torah study. Rav Schachter said that it is this aspect of Yom Yerushalayim which calls for a Yom Tov. The revitalization of Torah study in Yerushalayim constitutes the laying of the foundation for the third Beis Hamikdash because the essence of the kedushah of the Beis Hamikdash lies in the fact that it is the center of Talmud Torah and is home to the Aron HaKodesh and Beis Din Hagadol which determines proper halachic application of the Torah’s laws. As the Gemara relates, when the Beis Din Hagadol was relocated in Yavneh, the Chachamim instituted certain practices in memoriam of the Beis Hamikdash. Although the Beis Hamikdash was not destroyed for another forty years, they did this because a Beis Hamikdash without a Beis Din Hagadol does not have its essential component. The beginning of the Churban arrived when Talmud Torah departed from the Beis Hamikdash. The conquering of Yerushalayim was therefore definitely an essential step in the unfolding of the geulah. It laid the foundation for the building of the Beis Hamikdash and began to restore kedushah Hamikdash to Yerushalayim, the rest of which we should be zoche to experience, bimhayra biyameinu.
Vol. 17 Issue #27

Page 3 ‫ש מק‬ separately. In fact, they were counted from the age of thirty days, whereas everyone else was only counted from the age of twenty years. Rav Moshe explains the reason for this. In general, we cannot count someone as part of Klal Yisrael until he reaches maturity and proves that he is a Ben Torah. However, we trusted the Levi'im to raise their children to be Bnei Torah, so we even count their young children. Since the Levi'im were designated to be the watchmen of the Mishkan and the teachers of the Bnei Yisrael they will be able to show their children the true path of Torah and they will be able to successfully pass down the mesora.

Thus, we see a very important lesson from the counts that were administered in this parsha. One must always associate with the right people. No matter how good you are yourself, you need to be part of a Torah atmosphere. Otherwise, you will be counted among the reshaim and punished accordingly. Furthermore, one must work very hard to grow this Torah environment to be a place where his children will be able to grow properly. We cannot just be content to do the right thing; we must also value Torah and associate with people who feel the same way. It is in this way that we can be like the Levi'im and become a mamleches kohanim v’goy kadosh. Very soon we will be celebrating the Yom Tov of Shavuos, the anniversary of Matan Torah. This was a tremendous high point in our history, for we were all united and all dedicated to the acceptance of the Torah that was about to take place. There was an atmosphere of kedushah that affected everyone. On Shavuos we try to recreate that. During the days of sefira we each work on ourselves so that we can all come together on Shavuos to reaccept the Torah. We gather together to learn at night rather than going to sleep, an act that shows how much we value Torah. And, when we do this with achdus, we are creating a strong, Torah oriented group that is united in serving Hashem, a true mamleches kohanim v’goy kadosh. We should all take this opportunity to grow together and impress the value of Torah upon ourselves and each other, and Hashem should see us as a worthy people and grant us His final blessing, the bias hamashiach bimhayra beyameinu amen. Correcting the Mistake

Strength in Numbers

Yehuda Tager
In Parshas Bemidbar, Hashem tells Moshe to count Bnei Yisrael. However, He tells Moshe to leave out Shevet Levi and to count them separately. Rashi explains that the reason this was done is to separate the Levi'im from the rest of the nation so that they will not be included in the g’zeira that will affect the rest of Klal Yisrael as a result of the chet hameraglim. However, we must ask why this should be so. If the Levi'im didn’t do anything wrong, why should they be punished by being separated from everyone else? The Rambam tells us in Hilchos Teshuva that if a particular country has more aveiros then mitzvos, or if the entire world has such an unfavorable balance, it will be destroyed. This even includes the righteous people living in that country. Thus, we see that someone who is associated with a bad group is, in fact, judged with them and will be affected by the harsh din. Based on this, Drash Dovid explains why the Levi'im could not be included in the counting of Bnei Yisrael. If the Levi'im were to be in the same group as everyone else, then they would be punished together with Bnei Yisrael. However, the Levi'im were, in fact, counted, albeit

Ezra Epstein
A business executive was scheduled to attend an important meeting. His boss had reminded him the day before of the importance of the meeting and how it would affect the company. He planned on waking up early in the morning to come right on time to the meeting. However, he slept late and woke up to his boss franticly calling him on

‫וו ו‬ the phone. The man arrived an hour late to the meeting and his boss was furious and came close to firing him. He promised to never again make this mistake. Sure enough, a few months later, the man became aware of another meeting. This time he came to his boss first and reassured him that he had already set his loudest alarm and would arrive at the meeting ten minutes early, which is exactly what he did.
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Vol. 17 Issue #27 ‫ש מק‬ Shechinah among us. Perhaps the degalim signify the hashra’as haShechina that came in this Parsha.

Everyone knows the famous Midrash which reveals that Bnei Yisrael slept late the day they were supposed to receive the Torah from Har Sinai. The Midrash says that Moshe Rabbeinu and Hashem himself had to wake them up from their deep slumber. However, many months later, we see that everyone learned their lesson. In Parshas Bemidbar, Hashem commanded Moshe to take a census of Bnei Yisrael on first day of the second month in the second year since Yetzias Mitzrayim. The Ramban notes that in the pasuk in which Bnei Yisrael congregate, the same date is repeated twice. Why repeat the same date? The Ramban answers that it is to demonstrate Moshe and Bnei Yisrael's diligence in the performance of Hashem’s commandments. As soon as Hashem told them to count the members of the nation, they got to counting straight away, in contrast with their mistake at Har Sinai. As you can guess, the boss in the story represents Hashem, and the business executive represents us, Bnei Yisrael. After making a big mistake and lacking eagerness in performing Hashem’s commandments, when the next opportunity rolled around, we were ready to go. Shavous is our time to correct our mistake of many centuries ago by fulfilling the minhag of staying up all night learning Torah, and earning the gift of receiving it, which is exactly what the holiday commemorates, in much contrast to sleeping the whole night through until late into the next morning. Hopefully, we can have the attitude of the business executive before the second meeting; on our toes, and ready to do whatever Hashem asks of us. Raise Your flag

The Torah tells us the date of this census. It was on the first of Iyar in the second year. That was one month after the Mishkan was set up for the first time. The Gur Aryeh asks why Hashem is first counting us now if the Shechinah came in Nisan when the Mishkan was erected. The Drash David answers the question by saying that the Shechinah was not permanently established for the first thirty days. This is similar to the concept that a house is not considered permanent for the first thirty days and, therefore, does not require a mezuzah. Thus, Hashem waited until Aleph Iyar because that was then the hashra’as haShechina was officially established and considered permanent. We see that permanence and the establishment of regularity are very important. This is because they help a person do things in an organized and efficient manner. One who does not have a regular routine will find it very difficult to accomplish great feats in avodas Hashem. Degalim are a symbol of kvius, permanence or stability, and we attain that now, after a month with the Mishkan. The Ramban tells us that the Shechinah of the Mishkan was of the same intensity of the Shechinah of Her Sinai, but there was less fanfare involved. Thus, continues the Drash David, the hashra’as haShechina of the Mishkan was simply a continuation of the revelation at Her Sinai. He goes as far as to compare the two occasions to arisen and insulin, the two steps involved in a Jewish marriage. Then, the culmination of all of this would be the kvius, the degalim. This is what Hashem loves, He counted us because the Shechinah was established permanently, and was something that our diligence and consistency helped set up. Shavuos is Z’man Matan Torasainu, the day that we received the Torah. When we got the Torah there was great fanfare, there was thunder, lightning and the blowing of the Shofar. This was a wonderful thing as we recognized Hashem and His Torah in a most awesome way, however, this did not give the Bnei Yisrael the energy to keep the Torah forever. In fact, it only took us forty days to stray and make the Eigel Hazahav. That is why the second Luchos were given quietly and discretely, in a fashion that resembled sustainable, everyday life more closely. While many of us stay up to learn all night on Shavuos, and it is most certainly a wonderful thing, the sporadic momentous occasions must be coupled with kvius, and that is what the degalim are all about. Shavuos is a wonderful yom tov, but it goes far beyond the day itself. On Shavuos, we commit to the Torah, learning it and practicing it as well as we can every single day.

Kobe Kahn
In Parshas Bemidbar, the Torah tells us that each Shevet had a degel, a flag, under which they would travel. Each group of three Shevatim would also have a degel, under which the threesome would travel collectively. The question is, what is the significance of these degalim? Earlier on in the Parsha, Hashem tells Moshe to count the Bnei Yisrael. Rashi comments that the reason why Hashem counted Bnei Yisrael here was because He loves us so much and wanted to count us when He came to rest His

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