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Archive for the ‘Parshas Beha’aloscha’ Category

How to Acquire Torah – Shavuos and Parshas Beha’aloscha 5771

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
June 7th, 2011
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This entry is part 36 of 44 in the series Torah Sweets Volume 3

The Shlah HaKodosh teaches us that each Yom Tov ties in to the Parsha that is read during the week that it falls out. What does Parshas Beha’aloscha have to do with the Holiday of Kaballas HaTorah?

Going through all of the themes of the Parsha sheds beautiful insight regarding the importance and approach towards getting closer to Hashem and His Torah. The Parsha begins with the word, “Beha’aloscha, when you go up,” this is the theme of the entire Torah, personal growth and development. Life is seen as a great opportunity for upward growth and working towards becoming a self-motivated and high integrity person.

The Parsha begins by discussing the Menorah. My dear Rebbe, Rabbi Asher Zelig Rubenstein shlit”a always quotes Rashi who explains how Aharon lit the Menorah in the Mishkan. Aharon was to hold the flame onto the wick until the wick itself became aflame and was able to draw oil and stay lit on its own. This represents the two vital stages of learning Torah. First, we strive to connect to our Rebbe who teaches us Torah knowledge and skills, this is akin to Aharon HaKohen’s flame. The next stage is to take in the lessons and become a flame on our own, with our personal development and strengths. This is what brings light to the world.

The Leviim are singled out in our Parsha and given great honor. This teaches us that those that uphold and represent the Torah will be given great recognition and honor for their dedication. Torah brings greatness to all who embrace its study. On Shavuos one should understand that with a commitment and diligence, Torah knowledge and success can be ours!

Next comes the topic of Pesach Shaini, the make-up Pesach for those that missed it the first time around. The lesson is that it is never too late to connect to Hashem. Even if one was unclean or too distant in the past, the Torah teaches that one can always come back and connect with Hashem. There is one condition though to this and that is: “Lamah nigarah, why should we lose out and be inferior?!” The men that were unclean and far away asked for another chance with a clear expression of their interest and passion to get closer to Hashem. It is never too late to start for one who is passionate and excited to connect with Hashem.

The next topic is that of the Clouds of Glory and Fire that protected and guided the Jews in the desert. The beauty of the Torah is that when one listens to its message, we allow Hashem to guide our lives. Hashem is our great Father who loves and cares for us and only wants to see us succeed. Hashem wants to take care of us and He gave us the Torah with clear instructions that state: “for best results in life, use as follows…” This is what the actual word Torah means, “Moreh Derech, guide for life.”

Next, Hashem taught the Jews the lesson regarding the Misonanim, the complainers. If one is focused on negativity, he or she will indeed be very miserable. Only one who is happy with his lot and appreciates the bounty that Hashem gives him will be happy.

In the end of the Parsha, Hashem tells Moshe to appoint 70 Elders to help lead the Jews. This is to show that we always need elders to turn to for advice and guidance and Hashem wants us to turn to Daas Torah in order to learn how to live life.

Finally, the Parsha ends with Moshe’s passionate plea for his sister Miriam to be healed and the Nation waiting seven days until she recovered. This signifies the great love and respect that one must have towards his fellow brothers and sisters. The Torah only rests on one who has Derech Eretz and compassion towards others.

There are so many lessons found in the Parsha that relate to Shavuos. May we merit a sweet and inspirational Yom Tov filled with growth in Torah and connection to our family and friends.

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Rules of Communication – Parshas Beha’aloscha 5770

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
May 28th, 2010
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ויצעק משה אל ה’ לאמר אל נא רפא נא לה (יב:יג).

“Moshe called out to Hashem, ‘please Hashem, cure her’”! (12:13)

The very first Machlokes, argument between two valid rabbinical opinions, to ever take place has a tremendous lesson to teach us. The dispute was regarding smicha, whether one could lean on an animal (placing hands upon it to pronounce confession before offering it as a sacrifice) on Yom Tov. Bais Shamai maintained that it was prohibited and Bais Hillel allowed it.

The Gemara (Beitza 20b) tells the story that a student of Hillel came to the Bais HaMikdash on Yom Tov and began to do smicha as his Rebbi allowed. A student of Shamai attempted to start an argument and yelled, “מה זו סמיכה, what’s this smicha?!” The student of Hillel, wanting to end the confrontation, replied abruptly and walked away, “מה זו שתיקה, learn some silence!”

Abayeh then goes on to comment that we see from here, whenever one is insulted he may answer back the same amount as he was accused of….

Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus zt”l extrapolates upon this and explains the beauty of this lesson. When one is in an argument, human nature is to bring up all past complaints and grievances against the competitor. This in turn fuels the fire of discord even more. However, when one sticks to the topic of discussion and keeps the response relevant, one can prevent the fight from escalating. Rabbi Pincus points out that the gauge which shows whether one is taking a dispute too far is: how much he remains on topic. One that brings up past grievances is usually lacking in proper intent. If one pulls away the dam, and lets the insults fly, this shows evilness, instead of a constructive dialog. If one is upset with the mess on the table, is that reason to yell at the culprit and express to them every negative thought you ever felt about them from the day you met?!

I believe that a great lesson is expressed in our Parsha relating to this idea. Eldad and Maydad stated a prophesy which Yehoshua felt insulted the honor of Moshe. He felt that they should be quieted! The verse (11:26) which describes their prophesy, and thus the insult of Moshe, contains twenty words. The next two verses (11:26-7) which contain the response to the insult contain the exact same amount, twenty words!

There is more. At the end of the Parsha, Miriam spoke Lashon Hara, slander, against her brother, Moshe. The verse which describes this incident (12:1) contains exactly ten words. And now for the punch-line. Miriam was punished with Tzaras for her misdeed. When Moshe found out that Miriam had uttered words against him, he was entitled to offer her words of rebuke, he had ten words free! The next verse which describes Moshe’s response contains precisely ten words. It reads, “Moshe cried out to Hashem “Please Hashem, cure her!” A selfless and caring brother! That is how he chose to use his words!

One more beautiful addition to this is that it was here specifically that the Jews waited seven days before traveling further. They were waiting for Miriam to be allowed back into the camp. She got this reward as recognition for her kind deed of years ago when she waited near baby Moshe to ensure that he remained safe while floating in the Nile river. Why is this stressed here?

Human nature is that when someone does something against us, we forget about any good which they have ever provided us with. One would think that Miriam should be left alone at this point as a punishment for speaking against Moshe. We should forget about her good deeds toward Moshe. The Torah shows and stresses to us, that on the contrary, it is exactly at this time of distraction and disagreement that we strive to conjure up the integrity to recognize and thank those that deserve our gratitude. This is true greatness.

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Eating Styles – Parshas Beha’aloscha 5770

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
May 28th, 2010
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The manna is discussed in this week’s Parsha. Chazal (Yuma 75b) state that the manna was eaten in three different forms. The righteous people ate it in bread form. The average people ate it as cake and the evil people ground it up into liquid form.

Though my comment here is allegorical, it may have some Halachic basis as well. I know people who avoid washing and eating bread for fear of having to bentch. The commitment and responsibility is too daunting. I’m told that the official name of the fear is “benching-phobia” They can only handle having to make an Al Hamichya. The lowest level would be one that can only handle making a Borey Nifashos.

The Sdei Chemed states that the Jews made the blessing, “HaYoraid Lechem Min HaShamayim, Hashem brings down bread from Heaven” before eating the manna. The Gemara (Berachos 48b) states that Moshe authored the first paragraph of Birchas HaMazone to be pronounced on the manna.

I suggest that the Tzadikkim ate it as bread without fear of bentching! The average folks ate it as cake only requiring Al Hamichya. The Risha’im could only handle a liquid which would only require a Borey Nifashos!

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Change: No You Can’t – Parshas Beha’aloscha 5770

Posted by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis
May 28th, 2010
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“And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to Aharon, and say to him, ‘When you light the menorah…’ And Aharon did so…” (Bamidbar 8:1-2). In the parsha of Beha’aloscha, Hashem commands Aharon regarding the mitzvah of lighting the menorah. The Torah writes that “Aharon did so” to confirm that he did what he was told. Rashi explains that it was to Aharon’s great praise that he did not change any of the instructions regarding how to make the menorah.

Rashi‘s words are difficult to understand. Obviously, someone who has heard a direct command from the Almighty will do exactly as he was told. Why was it such great praise to Aharon that he didn’t change anything in his actualization of what he’d been told?

There was no question that Aharon would follow Hashem’s commands to a tee. However, Aharon could have simultaneously added his own creative nuances to the mitzvah. Because of his complete reliance on Hashem and unwillingness to deviate an iota, Aharon was lauded.

Aharon’s behavior is a lesson for all generations. While every Jew is meant to be intuitive and should constantly question, nevertheless, in cases where Hashem or the chachomim laid down specific guidelines, we must follow them. Deviation from tradition will only lead to disaster.

Shlomo Hamelech tells us in Mishlei, “Ner mitzvah veTorah ohr,” the light of the menorah represents Torah and mitzvos. Aharon’s precision in the mitzvah of lighting the menorah is a lesson for all generations in how meticulous we must be regarding Torah and mitzvos. Any change could be the start of the downfall that can plunge us into complete disaster.

One good example is chinuch. Modern-day psychologists claim that a child does not have to listen to everything his parents say, that boys and girls should be educated together, and that women should dress in whatever manner they see fit, even if it contradicts tznius, among many other innovations contradictory to the Torah. We must learn from Moshe and Aharon that when it comes to Hashem’s commandments, there is no room for “innovations.”


We can understand the praise of Aharon in another light as well. Originally, Aharon felt dejected that the nesi’im were all given special tasks, while he seemingly had nothing. The Almighty quickly comforted him, telling him that he would be assigned a much greater job, the lighting of the menorah.

Even after Aharon found out about his exalted position, his personality did not change. He still retained his humility, despite the great honor he received. This is another aspect of what Chazal meant in saying that he did not change.

Gedolei Yisroel receive great honor, yet they maintain their humility. Despite all of the kavod they receive, they think that they are not worthy of it. If someone tries to honor them, they flee from it.

Rav Akiva Eiger was once traveling to a certain town, and when he arrived, thousands of people came out to greet him. He had absolutely no idea why they were there. When they started walking after him, he traveled with them, thinking that it must be a levaya.

Eventually, after they had walked for a while, Rav Akiva Eiger asked who had passed away. When the people responded that they were following the rov, he was shocked from disbelief and could not believe that this was the reason for the great crowd.      Even when they ascend to greatness, gedolei Yisroel maintain their humility and do not change their personalities at all.      Some people might appear to shirk all honor, but, in truth, this is not an expression of humility. They feel that they are so great that no one can possibly honor them properly. This type of person is like Bilaam, who said that even a house full of gold would not be sufficient to compensate him.      Moshe Rabbeinu, on the other hand, told Hashem, “Anybody else is more worthy to save the Jewish people than I.” Although he recognized his greatness, Moshe felt that since he was given his elevated status as a gift, he did not deserve any recognition. This is the outlook of all gedolei Yisroel, who do not consider themselves worthy of any honor.


After Klal Yisroel transgressed with the Eigel, Hashem appointed the Leviim to do the avodah in place of the bechoros, for they had sinned. One would think that the Leviim would receive great honor during their inauguration, and that this would be a ceremony accompanied by great pomp and fanfare. After all, they were assuming a role of great importance amongst the Jewish people.

Instead, the Torah seems to go to the opposite extreme: Hashem commanded the Leviim to be shaved from head to toe. Seemingly, there could be no greater embarrassment for a person. Why did Hashem choose to start their career as Leviim in such a dishonorable fashion?

We find another source in the Torah for such humiliating treatment: The metzorah, who was punished for his constant slander, was also shaved in their entirety and sent out of machaneh Yisroel. These acts of social disgrace were meant to drive home the severity of the metzorah‘s transgression, showing how he had distanced himself from his fellow Jews, and thus teach him to guard his tongue from lashon harah.       

Leviim were tzaddikim and did not require this treatment as a punishment, but there was a crucial concept that Hashem wished to teach them. Shaving them from head to toe would imbue them with this concept. What is it that the Almighty wanted them to learn from this?

Shevet Levi was separated from the rest of the Jewish people to be the special servants of Hashem. In order to fulfill this role, the Almighty commanded the rest of Klal Yisroel to take care of the financial needs of all the Leviimthrough terumah, maaser, reishis hagez, and all of the other gifts they received. The nature of this relationship could easily cause others to look at the Leviim as shnorrers, and even lead others to disgrace them.

Preparation always helps a person deal with nisyonos that Hashem sends him. In order to get the Leviim ready for the potential disgrace that they might encounter, Hashem commanded that their bodies should be shaved in their entirety. Inevitably, they would feel separation from other Jews, and this would ready them for future incidents.

Bnei Torah who wish to spend a number of years of their lives devoted to learning Torah might find themselves in a similar situation. Often, the only way that they can manage financially is to accept help from others. This could easily bring them to a feeling of slight and dishonor.

Hashem taught the Leviim that the disgrace they might encounter was worthwhile in order to maintain their exalted role. So too, Bnei Torah who devote their time to limud haTorah should recognize that any embarrassment they might encounter is well worth it for the reward that lies in store for them in this world and the next. This is a crucial thought for lomdei Torah and tomchei Torah alike.

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One Can Always Complain – Parshas Beha’aloscha 5770

Posted by Chaim Meiselman
May 27th, 2010
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Beha’aloscha is a parsha notorious for bad things. Right after the nun hafucha, the upside-down nun, which is the sign of trouble, the situation starts looking worse and worse.

“Vayehi Ha’am Kamisonenim” – the people were beginning to complain. The passuk doesn’t relate what they were complaining about, but it makes one thing clear. “Rah B’eyney Hashem” – it was bad in the eyes of Hashem. Hashem brought about a fire in the camp, and it consumed these Misonenim.

The Ramban puts this into perspective. These were people who saw Krias Yam Suf, were present at Har Sinai, and had the man falling at their doorsteps. Not only that, but they also knew they were right near the border of Eretz Yisrael, so they knew it was only temporary.

The Ramban then writes that it wasn’t necessary for the Torah to write what the complaint was, since no matter when, no matter where, and no matter whom, there will always be people complaining and there will always be people complaining. The complaint may be different every time, but it’s really all from the same problem. There will always be bad in every situation, and there will always be people who just don’t see positive, a little or a lot

A few pesukim later, they started complaining again. They complained about the man being disgusting, and they missed the food from Mitzrayim. “Veatah Nafshainu Yeveishah Ein Kol” - “And now, our souls are dried up, for there is nothing”. The Ramban adds that the food they were craving so much that their souls were ‘dried up’ were either stolen or rotten, because that’s all they had in Mitzrayim.

The wording of the passuk seems strange, though. There were some people who were complaining, so Hashem was angry at the whole nation. What did the whole nation do? Why was Hashem angry at everybody?

I think that the answer is that the way we are down here, that’s the way Hashem will treat us. If there will be people focusing on the tiny amount of bad and ignoring the good, Hashem will be angry at the whole nation, even though only a small amount were acting this way.

We say every day in Shemoneh Esrai “Vichol hachayim yoducha selah, veyehallelu es shimcha b’emes – may all living should praise You forever, and praise Your name with truth”. Were davening that everyone should thank Hashem b’emes – with an honest realization of everything good that Hashem does, not just what is overt and obvious, but things many people overlook, such as health and family, etc.

It is a known thing that many holocaust survivors, even those that are well to do, never throw out food. I’ve heard stories of survivors saving potato and orange peels, and even reusing paper plates. They know what it’s like to be without food, so they all appreciate it.

This parsha teaches us this lesson. Just like everyone in every situation, Klal Yisrael had to decide whether to see the good in being in the Midbar. It was their choice to see the bad, so it was Hashem’s choice as well.

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Backwards Fish – Parshas Beha’aloscha 5769

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
June 11th, 2009
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 ויהי בנסע הארון… (י:לה).

“And in was when the Aron departed…” (10:35).

Written in the Sefer Torah, this verse and the following verse are surrounded by the famous Nunim Hafuchim, backwards Nunim (נ). Let us find the significance and highly practical lesson which can be gleaned from this.

Rashi tells us that these backwards Nunim show an interruption in the narrative between two negative events (sins) which occurred before and after these two verses. It must be noted that when we talk about the sins of the Jews of that great generation, we do not ever think that we can comprehend their true actions and intentions. On their lofty level, Hashem saw these actions as a sin. We strive to learn the lesson that the Torah is providing us with by recording Hashem’s disappointment in their actions. We must take out the lesson available for us.

The catastrophic event following the verse is obvious. The Mis’oninim and Asafsuf incident transpired as the Jews complained that the spiritual Manna that they were eating was not good enough for them, they wanted real meat! Hashem granted their demand and many of them perished as a punishment. What though is the negative sin proceeding these two verses? Tosafos (Shabbos 116a) informs us. The proceeding verse states that the Jews left from their encampment at Sinai. They had remained there after receiving the Torah and now it was time to depart. Instead of leaving heavy-heartily from that great place of inspiration and growth, in deference to their achievements they had gained there, they left with terrible disrespect! They ran away like a child bursts out of school at the end of class. Hashem was not happy with their disrespectful display. Hence, we have discovered the negative events that occurred, however, what do they have to do with a backward Nun?!

The Kli Yakar fills us in on this mystery. The word Nun, means fish in Aramaic. Fish live and thrive only in water. Once a fish leaves the water, it is only a matter of time before it will perish. Thus, fish keep themselves under water! A backwards fish is one that is acting the opposite of how it should, i.e. it is trying to leave the water. A fish that gets out of the water is unattached from its life source and is in danger of perishing.

The two sins which the Jews committed stemmed from this exact point. They were not living up to the standard expected of them as people connected to and pursuing closeness with Hashem. If they would have appreciated how vital Hashem and His Torah were to their lives, they never would have committed either of these sins.

They complained about the food showing that the very kindness which Hashem was delivering to their doorsteps was totally unappreciated by them! They ran away from Sinai in a way that told Hashem that they did not value His closeness as they should have. This is exactly akin to a backwards fish. Klal Yisrael were guilty of swimming away from their life-source!

I would like to suggest that the two verses in between the two sins are the antidote to the terrible sins and show us the correct perspective. The first verse acknowledges how Hashem protected the Jews from all harm, thus appreciating what He did for them and teaching us to see His eternal kindness. The second verse is a request that Hashem should dwell with them in the desert. This is the perspective of a correct fish, recognizing its life source and striving to live that way!