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Parashar Naso (English version)

נָשֹׂ֗א אֶת־רֹ֛אשׁ בְּנֵ֥י גֵרְשׁ֖וֹן גַּם־הֵ֑ם לְבֵ֥ית אֲבֹתָ֖ם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם (במדבר ד:כב):

By Rav David Lhungdim

“Take a census on the sons of Gershon also them following their fathers’ houses, according to their families.” (Num 4:22).

The Book “Maayna Shel Torah” ask what is the meaning and nature of the word in this verse “them too” (גם הם)? Will it not be more logical and proper to take a census on them (i.e. sons of Gershon) and then afterward about the sons of Merari, but we see that the words census is not mentioned regarding Merari as it is written “the sons of Merari according to their fathers... (vs. 29).

The three sons of Levi hint at three types of the nation of Israel, “Kehat” symbolize the period when the nation of Israel gather united in their land (Kehat from the words Gathering, Gen 49:10) they stand aloft (sons of Kehat Am-Ram=aloft nation), they shine the world (Yitzhar from the word Tzohar=Shine) they were strong and steadfast in holiness in their relationship to G-d (Chevron Uziel), in such generation it is befitting to use the word Counting/census the head (Neshiat נשיאת ראש)

Gershon symbolizes the period when the Israelites were exiled from their land (Gershon from the word Garush=expel/exile), therefore it says even though they are exiled from their land they are still aloft and counted among the heads, take a census “them too” (sons of Gershon) because they accepted the decision of the Sages and those who study Torah and such act is considered as if they sacrifice upon the altar, as our sages said in Every place where sacrificed is presented to my name a pure offering - these are the wise disciples in Babylon who deal with the Torah as if they had sacrificed all the sacrifices, (and the sons of Gershon Livni and Shimi – their sin have been atoning like crimson white because they heard the voice of the Sages).

Whereas "Merari" implies the terrible and bitter periods (Merari is from the word Mar=they embitter their lives), in which Israel is trampled and humbled to the ground,(the sons of Merari Makhliu Musi = they suffer every type of suffering and disease, and they were disconnected from everything, and with all such suffering they sacrifice their lives for the sake of G-d) - there is no point in saying, "Let them count (census) up to their heads to the house of their fathers" for they are no less important from their forefathers, but are muchly exalted above them, as our sages said: no one can stand in the midst of the generation of annihilation (Torat Moshe).

And above it is said that count (Census) the head of the sons of Kehat (Number 4:2) The sons of Kehat, which means the sons of Kehat were extreme sons of Torah, the bearers of the ark, by whom they themselves are carried -meaning "the ark carried its carrier "Whereas here the Scripture speaks of the sons of Gershon, the sons who are in exile, who by themselves are no longer of high rank, and yet are presidents (Nasi), because "they too" - abdicate themselves before the sages, and made themselves inferior before the Sages and they support the Torah and those who are engaged in Torah study – that is the means and reason for counting (census) their heads (Rabbi Bunim Simkha of Psiskha)

The Kli Yakar explains that since Hashem wished to bequeath the greatness of the Torah to the Jewish Nation, He chose Kehat, the younger son, to carry Ark. He was therefore counted first so that it would be understood that the honor of the Torah takes precedence above all else. If Hashem would have given the task of carrying the Aron to Gershon, we would not learn about the importance of the Torah; one might think that he was allotted the task because he was the first-born, and not because of the greatness of the Torah. Since the first born right belongs only to those firstborn, but in Torah, everyone has a share, therefore the task of carrying the Ark was not given to the first born in order to diminish pride from their mind, and some say since Moshe and Aharon who receive the Torah descended from Kehat, they are given the task of carrying the Ark.

Rabbi Yokhanan said: There were three crowns on the sacred vessels in the Temple: The crown of the altar, and the Ark, and the table. The regal appearance they provided symbolized power and authority: The crown of the altar symbolized the crown of the priesthood; Aaron deserved and took it, and the priesthood continues exclusively through his descendants. The crown of the table symbolized the abundance and blessing associated with the crown of kingship; David was deserving and took it for himself and his descendants after him. The crown of the Ark symbolized the crown of the Torah; it is still sitting and waiting to be acquired, and anyone who wishes to take it may come and take it and be crowned with the crown of the Torah. Perhaps you will say it is inferior to the other two crowns and that is why nobody has taken it; therefore, the verse states about the wisdom of the Torah: “Through me kings will reign” (Proverbs 8:15), indicating that the strength of the other crowns is derived from the crown of Torah, which is greater than them all.

Rabbi Yitzhak says: One who wishes to become wise should face south, and one who wishes to become wealthy should face north. And the mnemonic for this is the Shulkhan (Table) in the sanctuary, which symbolized blessing and abundance, was in the north, and the Candelabrum, which symbolized the light of wisdom, was in the south of the Sanctuary.

If then a question arises why do we learn the importance of Torah from the Ark (Aron Hakodesh) and not from the Menorah (Candelabrum) since the candelabrum symbolizes the wisdom of Torah, it seems to me that we cannot learnt from the Menorah because about the Menorah we need Shemen Zaith zakh (first drop of pure olive oil) without any waste (even the second drop of olive oil is forbidden), and I found in the book “Ha Emek Davar” Parashat Shemoth (25:31) that the Menorah is connected to purity and holiness, as it is written the Menorah should be made of Pure gold, that means the Menorah is always written in connection with purity “the pure Menorah” i,e it is always connected to purity, and not because it is made of pure gold like Rashi interpreted in (31:8), but by its nature, the Menorah is holy and pure. And its light cannot shine properly unless the generations are pure in their deeds, therefore during the second temple period, the light of the menorah was extinguished because the generation was immoral, and as expounded at the beginning of “Parashat Tetzave”, the purpose of the Menorah is to strengthen the light of Pilpul and Khidushei Torah with truthfulness. Since the generations were immoral the light of the Torah was extinguished and the Torah was made into two as known.

According to this we can understand why the Ark, Shulkhan and the Altars consists of Sittim wood covered with gold internally and externally, but why the Menorah made of pure gold without sittim wood, here we need to know that gold is an element which can exist eternally but sittim tree symbolize things which cannot exist eternally, therefore the Menorah symbolize Torah learning without any waste, for this the whole generation need to be pure in their deeds which is difficult to fulfill until the coming of Mashiakh, for we see in the generation King Khizkiyahu that the whole generation were immerse in Torah as our Rabbis of blessed memory taught, Khizkiyahu put sword inside Beith midrash and command them to engage in Torah, since he lift the banner of Torah G-d wish to make him the Mashiakh but his generation was unfit, therefore the letter mem(מ) in the (Isaiah 9:6) “Lemar beHamishre” is written with a closed memלםרבה המשרה (ישעיה ט,ו)to indicate that the final days will be conceal until the coming of the Mashiakh, for evil will be eradicated from the face of the earth, for the knowledge of the Torah will be reveal as it is written (ibid 54:13) “all your children shall be taught by the L-rd, great shall be the peace of your children (ibid) for there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence, and about this it is said “and for peace without end” (ibid 9:6), and if the generation of Khizkiyahu does not merit what will become of our generation, therefore we need to learnt from the Ark and not from Menorah so that even if all the generation are not knowledgeable and engage in Torah, there is a way for them to have a share in the Torah by supporting those who learnt the Torah, like the book “Torat Moshe” and Rabbi Simkha Bunim expound above about the Family of Gershon.

And I heard from Rabbi khananel Gamliel Shalita, who heard from his father, Rabbi Aryeh Gamliel zt"l, author of the book "Maase Areg" when Moses Rabbeinu rose to heaven, G-d showed him every generation and its leader, when he saw Rabbi Eliezer and the sages debating about Tanur Akhnai (Oven of the snake) Moshe beg that Rabbi Eliezer came out of his loins because the virtue of Torah study can be learned from the dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and Sages from the Oven of the snake.

The Gemara Bava Metzia (59a-b) presents a fairly straightforward argument between the Sages. A question was raised about the status of an oven that was cut into segments width-wise and sand was placed between each segment. Should this oven be seen as having lost its status as an existing oven when taken apart and rebuilt, or is it considered an oven throughout, since it was made to be taken apart in this way? Rabbi Eliezer felt that it lost its status as an oven and therefore, was not susceptible to ritual impurity; the Hakhamim (Sages) ruled that it retained its status throughout, as it is functionally a complete oven, and therefore is susceptible to ritual impurity.

Rather than argue the case on its merits, the Gemara records that Rabbi Eliezer called on the carob tree to support him, the stream to support him, and the walls of the study hall to support him. In response to his call, the carob tree uprooted itself and moved 400 amot, the stream flowed backward and the walls began to collapse – until Rabbi Yehoshua stopped them. The Sages refused to be influenced by any of these miraculous occurrences. Finally, Rabbi Eliezer asked the heavens to support his position, and a bat Kol – a heavenly voice – was heard to say “Why are you arguing with Rabbi Eliezer, whose rulings are always correct?” In response, the Sages said lo ba-shamyim he – since the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, decisions are no longer made based on heavenly decisions, but on the decisions of the Rabbis who interpret it.

We need to ask about the matter of dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages, why did Moses beg that Rabbi Eliezer be his descendent, Rabbi Aryeh Gamliel of blessed memory explain that there is a deeper meaning in their dispute over the Oven of Snake, the oven implies corporeal food that came out of the oven, and Rabbi Eliezer rule that since the oven of snake is an oven that was cut into segments width-wise and sand was placed between each segment it is similar to clay utensils (pottery) if it receives impurity its fixation is by breaking the utensil, and therefore Rabbi Eliezer purifies it because according to his viewpoint the oven has lost its status as an existing oven but according to the sages it is not similar to broken clay and utensils thus the oven does not lose its status, therefore, they rule it impure.

On a deeper level, Rabbi Eliezer ruled that if a person can break his physical lust and study Torah he has no need for corporeal food, therefore he rule that the oven is pure since the oven lost its status of an existing oven but according to the sages as long as we live with our body a person cannot completely break his physicality, therefore a person must eat and also engage in Torah study, therefore the sages rule that the Oven is unclean since it does not lose its status as an oven.

And who witness to the words of Rabbi Eliezer, after all, it is Moses Rabbeinu, who studied Torah from the creator and lived without food and water for 40 days and 40 nights, so Moshe Rabbeinu said indeed Rabbi Eliezer is right because I am his witness that a person can live without food and water if he engages in Torah study, and that is the reason why Moshe beg that Rabbi Eliezer be his descendants. But Rabbi Elazar’s viewpoint is difficult for the masses to follow because the majority of the people cannot live up to such demand, except for individuals who have a great virtue like him, therefore it seems to me here in our Sidra we learned the importance of Torah study from the Holy Ark and not from the menorah, Because the Menorah implies the study of the Torah without any waste and the whole nation should engage in Torah study with purity and sanctity like the viewpoint of Rabbi Eliezer, but most of the people cannot live to such degree of sanctity, therefore we learn from the Ark of the Covenant that even if all the nation of Israel cannot engage in Torah study they have the privilege to have their share in our holy Torah by supporting those engage in Torah study, Thus the Ark symbolizes Torah and supporter of Torah symbolize those who carry the Ark.

And yet there is another point to learn from the Ark of the Covenant that in the Ark of the Covenant lies the two Broken tablets and the two tablets of the Covenant (Baba Batra 14b) The jar of Mann and the staff of Aaron (Mishnah Torah hilkhot Beith HaBekhira 4:1) and the Torah scroll as it is written "Take this Torah scroll and place it alongside the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, and it will be there as a witness (Deuteronomy 31:26). All of this symbolizes all types of The People of Israel.

The ark: The Ark itself symbolizes the crown of the Torah and the poles of the ark symbolize supporters of the Torah.

The broken tablets and the two tablets of the Covenant: the two tablets of covenant symbolize those who learned Torah properly and the two broken tablets symbolize those who fell in their attempts because of hardship and suffering they have.

Jar of Manna: Implies that by studying the Torah a person receives his livelihood, from here we see that a person who studies Torah is like a king because the crown of Malchut (kingship) which David and his seed merit is symbolized by the table (Shulkhan) in the Temple that which hint to livelihood, but a person who studies Torah after all, he has a livelihood implied by a jar of mann.

The staff of Aharon: Implies priesthood, Talmidei Khakhamim are like the tribe of Levi according to the writing of Maimonides (end of Hilkhot Shmita and yovel), moreover the Gemara in Nedarim wrote that Talmid Khacham is like a Cohen as it is written "and the sons of David were Kohanim" to imply that the sons of David were Talmidei Khakhamim (Nedarim 62a, See Radak II Shmuel chapter 8:18) and it is also written “you shall be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 11:6).

In conclusion: As mentioned above we learned the importance of Torah in our sidra from the Ark of the covenant as we mention above from the book “Torat Moshe” because from The Ark we can learn many aloft spiritual symbols and meaning as given above but from the Menorah, we learned only about those individuals who are perfectly holy and pure without any waste, and our Rabbis of blessed memory taught us the crown of Torah is above all crowns (Shemoth Rabbah 34:2) but one should learn and know from the measurement of the ark that no one is perfect in this world, since the length and height, etc on all sides of the ark have half measurement. NA’ASE VENISHMA

By Rakhem Haokip

As we are about to enter the glorious festival of Shavuot, the day which changed the history of the world as the chosen nation were gifted with the greatest gift of all times, which is of course, The Torah.

As we move backwards 3334 years through history, we meet at Mount Sinai, ‘Enjoying’ the glorious scenery of Thunder and earthquake, and dying twice in order to receive the Torah.

In any case, there is a mind blogging question which seems really simple but isn’t so and that is, What made the receiving of the Torah so special that entirely changed the whole nation of Israel from being Noahides to complete Jews?

Let’s take a Hindu as an example, The nation with the largest population of deities whom they refer to as ‘gods’. If we were to introduce to them a religion, in front of a large population of them with all those miracles, would they deny the Torah at any cost when they are ready to receive any strange inanimate object as their deity? The same with most other nation, so why is it unique when Am Israel receives the Torah?

One of the greatest Jewish minds when it comes to Haskafa(Jewish thinking),Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZT’’L asks the questions and answers it and in order to understand it thoroughly, we shall go through what I call, ‘Untying the gift box’.

First, Asks Rabbi Miller, How can a nation, who merited to experience all the great miracles from the slavery in egypt to the splitting of the red sea fall into such lowly position of making the golden calf?

Secondly, One of the early sages from the time of the Rishonim, Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon asks another question through which, G-d willing, we shall be able to answer the whole equation. How is it possible that before the time of the giving of the Torah, Hashem decreed on the nations severe punishments even death as at the time of the Mabul – Noach’s Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? Is it not so, that a person couldn’t be punished for a misbehaviour unless he is notified beforehand?

Answers the great Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon, Yes, they weren’t notified beforehand but they did have a sane mind to figure out that one is not suppose to commit adultery with the second or murder another person and hence they were punished.

Our holy forefathers, beginning with Avraham Avinu, were like the rest of the nations. As his story is well know, he used his thinking abilities to reach all the way to the purpose of creation which is non other than Hashem. And so was Yitzchak Avinu, who followed in the ways of his father and mastered the art of thinking further establishing the trait of thinking into Am Israel.

And thus, says Rav Miller, When Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, the people calculated the exact time when he should be coming down from the mountain, and when they realized that he didn’t at their supposedly calculated time, they started using their minds, calculating what would be the best thing to do at that moment, first of all, they didn’t have a master which is very much critical for a full fledged nation. Secondly, as many laws follow leniency at times of great need, thus although this may seemingly be a sin, we can permit it during such times of need, May Hashem have mercy.

And that was the mistake of the people. Why? Didn’t we just say that it’s a very good trait to use our own heads as much as we can? And the answer is no, because after we received the Torah, we have to stop thinking using our own ideas, but to think in the ways of the Torah and nothing else but the Torah.

And this made the receiving of the Torah so much challenging to Am Israel, because, we are a nation of minds. A known fact is that most of the Nobel prizes since its beginning is received by the Jews and that is not a co-incidence.

But when we were to receive the Torah, we had to say two words that totally changed our DNA throughout history which is, ‘’ Na’ase VeNishma’’ i.e. We will do and we will hear, all that the Torah will obligate us, we will do. We won’t be thinking by our own minds anymore but by the Torah which is our life.

And how do we know the exact opinion of the Torah in our confused generation? The Torah gives us a rule, ‘’Ask the elders and they shall tell you’’ – The Greatest Rabbis of every generation are the light of the nation and hence must be consulted in every matter. The Chazon ish writes in one of his letters, that One who says that the Rabbis are to be asked only matters that has to do with laws and code of conducts and nothing else is nothing but a denier of Torah. They must be consulted regarding every subject politics, family, child educating etc.

Why are they regarded so much important, so much so that they opinion is the opinion of the Torah itself?

We shall explain it with a few stories that I heard from my Master and teacher HaGaon Rabbi Aharon Pessin Shlit’’a who himself was also a very close student of the great Prince of Torah, Maran HaRav Chaim Kanievsky ZTK’’L.

The Grandson of Maran HaRav Chaim Kanievsky ZT’’L once happened to come to his grandfather to tell him they have got a big house with a lot of big rooms where they could live comfortably. What would have been our first reaction had we have been in his shoes? Everything else but ‘’No, Bedikat Chametz will be too difficult’’ which was his reaction.

Another time he was told about military tanks and the first thing that came into his mind was, ‘’Would it be considered Mekabel Tuma(A halachic term)?’’

The Great Posek of our generation HaGaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ZT’’l was told about the world trade centre, the twin towers and he immediately responded with an interesting question, ‘’Could it be that two babies would born at exactly the same time but would be circumcised at two different dates? Yes, by the building that you told me, if one of the babies were born on the top of the building while the other at the bottom. If, at the moment, when the top of the building is still daytime while bottom the sun has already set they were born and hence gets his brit mila done on the next day after the first baby gets his brit mila’’

And so says Rav Pessin, ‘’Do you know why the opinion of gedolei Israel is the opinion of the Torah itself? Because blood doesn’t run in their veins! It’s Torah that runs in their veins and so when we ask them, we ask the Torah itself’’

Hashem should bless us that we should always merit to walk according to his priceless laws, statutes and commandments with awe and love.

Khag Sameach!

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