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Parashat Beha'alotkha (English)

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

By Rav David Lhungdim

Speak to Aaron and say to him: "When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah” (Num. 8:2).

Rashi: Why is the portion dealing with the menorah juxtaposed to the portion dealing with the chieftains? For when Aaron saw the dedication [offerings] of the chieftains, he felt distressed over not joining them in this dedication-neither he nor his tribe. So God said to him, “By your life, yours is greater than theirs, for you will light and prepare the lamps.” - [Tanchuma Beha’alothecha 3]

The Ramban wrote that in “Megilath Setarim” Rabbeinu Nissim mention this Aggadah from the Midrash, when the twelve tribes brought their offering with exception of Shevet Levi, G-d said to Moshe, speak to Aharon that there is another inauguration (Hanukah) which have the mitzvah of lightning, that I will bring from your descendent which is known as Hanukah Khasmonaim, therefore this parasha is juxtaposed to the inauguration of altar.

The light of Hanukah symbolizes the light of Torah (which the Greeks want to abolish) {see Benei Issachar Kislev-Tevet Mamar 4), the two covers of the Menorah symbolize, the Written and Oral Torah (Toldot Yitzhak). It also symbolizes the light of Torah (Mishneh Sakhir), Moshe had a hard time obtaining the Torah for it is difficult for mankind, as our sages taught us (Berakhot 63b) in the verse (Bamidbar 19:14) “This is the law: if a man dies in a tent”, and what if he has difficulty in livelihood which is compared to a parting of the red sea, if then it will be difficult for him to obtain the Torah, in truth if one wishes to purify he is assisted from heaven (Sanhedrin 101b) so too if he wishes to defile the way is open for him(Shabbat 104a).

Thus everything depends on his thought, if he has the will to study he is assisted from heave. The right and left side of the Menorah face toward the center which is the main part, therefore it is fitting that the right side which symbolizes those who occupy Torah study get assisted by the left side symbolize those who engage in business.

From the word of Mishneh Sakhir above, we learned that supporters of Torah should support those who study Torah as written in Bereshit Rabba (Vayekhi 99:9) Zevulun who is engaged in Parnasa (livelihood) supports Issachar who engaged in Torah.

So which is more preferable, Issachar or Zevulun? In Pesakhim (53b) Rabbi Yokhanan said anyone who fills the pocket of Khakhamim, merit to sit in heavenly Yeshiva, and anyone who helps others to study Torah is deemed as if he himself studied (Tur, RemaY.D Siman 246). But it is difficult to understand for we found in Berakhot (34b) all the prophet's prophecies in order to give their daughters to Talmidei Khakhamim and help Talmid Khakham from his wealth, but as for Talmidei Khakhamei no eyes have ever seen what awaits them in the future, and the “Beith Shlomo” (Y.D Siman 94) said there is a contradiction between the sugyot and the TUR give his ruling according to the sugya in Pesakhim.

In “Kovetzkol Ha Torah” we found the two sugyot need a deeper study because both sugya is the word of Rabbi Yokhanan, but even though supporter of Torah is important, they are not on the level of those who engage in Torah study spiritually. Even though they will sit in the heavenly Yeshiva, they are not equal to those who study Torah, as we found in Berakhot (34b)for the reward that awaits Talmid Khakham no eyes have ever seen. According to “Igroth Moshe”, if a person doesn’t support fully, he will receive lesser rewards, but if he supports accordingly his rewards will be like those engage in Torah “ that no eyes have ever seen”.(Igrot Moshe Y.D Siman 37).

In order to understand we need to look at the story of Rabbi Akiva and Pappus (Berakhot 61b), the Gemara record that Rabbi Akiva teach Torah publicly when the Roman decreed a death sentence to anyone who teach Torah when Pappus saw Rabbi Akiva teaching publicly, he said aren’t you afraid of the decree, Rabbi Akiva gives Pappus the parable of the fox and fishes, the fox saw the fishes depress and ask for an answer the fishes reply that they are in danger because mankind has cast a net to catch them, the fox wishes to eat the fishes and told them that they can also live in the land where there are pleasant air and plenty of food to eat, whereupon the fishes replied, if our lives are threatened in the pond where we live (I,e water) the more so when we leave the ponds, thus Rabbi Akiva hints to Papus that the Torah is our lives and if we are threatened while we are engaged in Torah, the more so when we abandon the Torah.

It was not long after Rabbi Akiva was caught and was put in a prison cell, Papus too was caught, then Pappus said happy are you Rabbi for you are caught teaching our holy Torah but what will become of Pappus who is caught engaging in worthless things.

We need to ask what was worthless things according to Pappus, the Gaon of Vilna wrote, Pappus is the same Pappus who is mentioned in Tanith (18b), he and Lulianus were perfect righteous, they were the martyrs of Lod, no one can enter their place in Gan Eden, some says the daughter of the kings was killed and the gentiles blame the Jewish people, the King announced his decree if the Jewish people didn’t handle the culprits, the whole Jewish people will suffer annihilation, thus Pappus and Lulianus gives their life in order to save the Jewish people if-then Pappus was caught while engaging in great mitzvah of saving the Jewish people, if then why did Pappus said he was caught with idle gossip? Rabbi Pinkus said, even though saving the lives of the Jewish people consider a great mitzvah when compare to Torah study it is considered worthless things.

In Menakhot (99b) we found the greatness of Torah study, Ben Dama asks Rabbi Ishmael, will it be permissible to study the Knowledge of Greek, for a person like me who acquire the knowledge of Torah, Rabbi Ishmael replied from the verse, “you must engage in Torah day and night”. Go and search for a place where there are no days and nights, if you can find such a place you may study there, in truth it is difficult to understand the words of Rabbi Ishmael because Rabbi Ishmael said in Berakhot (35b) that one should engage in Torah study as well as engage in parnasha (livelihood), and Maharitz Khayuth wrote the words of Rabbi Ishmael needs a deeper study.

About Olive oil, the Rabbis taught us, that the first drip of oil which is extracted from the olive is for the Menorah, and the second drip is for Menakhot but not permissible for the menorah (Tankhuma Tetzave), in Menakhot it is written G-d does not need the light of the Menorah, for the nation Israel in the desert wilderness walk in the light of G-d for forty years. Thus the Menorah came to teach mankind that the Sekhina rests upon the Jewish people.

It seems to me that from the first drop of oil for Menorah, we learned that one must sanctify all his intention without any waste of impurity and engage in Torah study with purity and holiness, and if he cannot engage in Torah study, our sages have taught us the second drip is for Menakhot, that means he can occupy himself for Parnasa (livelihood) and support Talmidei Khakhamim.

The Rambam wrote anyone who thinks that he should study Torah without doing work and derive his livelihood from charity, desecrates G-d’s name, brings evils upon himself, and forfeits the life of the world to come, for it is forbidden to derive benefit from the words of Torah. (Hilkhot Talmud Torah Ch 3:10).

Many Tzadikim don’t accept charity from others such as Hillel the elders who give half of his earnings to study Torah and for the livelihood of his family and Rabbi Khanina ben Dosa who eats Kharuv fruits from the eve of Shabbat to the next eve of Shabbat.

The Kesef Mishneh (hilkhot Talmud Torah Ch3:10) wrote that Khakhamim and their pupils made their livelihood from community donation, even if the halacha may be like the principle of law as Maimonides, however, all the greats sages of the generations have already agreed to permit because of "eth Laasoth La Hashem". so too the “Igrot Moshe” (Y.D Siman 116) wrote; whoever acts like a pious person according to Rambam…and doesn’t study at the Kollel all day, are following the advice of Yetzer Hara. Therefore, it is a widespread law that was accepted throughout the generations in all Diaspora and Israel, Which it is permissible and the mitzvah to engage in Torah and to make a living from the salary he got from the Kollel.

As we saw from the book “Mishneh Sakhir” above on Parasha Behaalothkha, it seems to me We learn a partnership as Issachar and Zevulun from the Menorah because the light on the right side and the light of the left side of the Menorah face the middle light (Ner Maaravi) which is the main part of the lamp which symbolize Torah and Shekhina, and thus it is appropriate that the right side which symbolizes those engage in Torah study should get sustenance from the left side which symbolizes those engage in livelihood so that all Israel shall have a share in our holy Torah, it seems that this must be the meaning of the verse, “Speak to Aaron and say to him…the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah.”But it is necessary to know that the partnership between Issachar and Zevulun must be pure and clean, as our sages taught us about the Jar of oil found with the stamp of Kohen Gadol that was not defiled at the time of Hanukkah.

The partnership like Issachar and Zevulun should be without any impurity, but only with the purpose to elevate Torah among the Jewish nation, therefore one must sustain Talmidei Khakhamim when their needs are urgent…like Hillel and his brother Shavne in Sotah (21a) when Hillel study Torah in poverty his rich brother Shavne was engaged in business, but de didn’t help Hillel after Hillel learned Torah and was wealthy his brother Shavne told him to have a partnership like Issachar and Zevulun, a heavenly voice declares (bat-Kol) “should a man give all the property of his house for love, they would despise him” (Shir Ha Shirim 8:7). Parashat Beha'alotkha 5782 By Rakhem Haokip This week's Parasha quotes one of the most popular verses in the Torah, “And the man Moshe was very humble,  more humble than every man on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3)

When the holocaust broke out, the students of the Great Masgiach, Rabbi Yekhezkel levinstein ZT”L wondered what would be the right Jewish outlook to such a situation. They thought about bringing the question to the Masgiach.

As they were to enter his office, they peeked in and saw him with his head leaning on the table murmuring to himself. The students got closer to listen to what he was saying.

These were his words,

“Ribono Shel Olam! Why them! My friends who are dying in the holocaust, We studied together in the same yeshiva, and grew up together. Why did they merit to give their lives on kiddush Hashem and not me?”

The same holy Masgiach asks the following question, how is it possible that Moshe Rabbeinu, the person whom the Torah itself claims to be the most humble person on earth, broke the two tablets upon which the 10 commandments were written by the hand of Hashem!

How did he have the might to command the levites to kill their brothers after the sin of the golden calf?

When Korach and how followers stood up against him, he didn't fall back and said “may be I am not fit for this position!”  in fact,  the opposite! He stood up firmly against them.  How could we call such a person humble?

The answers is that, It is us that don't understand the meaning of humility. Humility doesn't mean not to have a backbone.

The Chovot HaLevavot in Shar HaYichud Vehama’ase Chapter 5 says and these are his words,

“When the yetzer gives up trying to entice you in this way, he will try to entice you from the angle of distancing from flattery, and he will say to you: "you cannot possibly serve G-d with a perfect heart until you distance yourself completely from flattery whether it is a little or a lot. And to distance yourself from flattery towards other people requires completely hiding all of your deeds from them, and showing them the opposite of what is in your heart.

Therefore, when you pray, be brief, and let there be no appearance of desire or striving in them. When you learn wisdom, do so in seclusion so that none but the Creator knows. Let no good trait in you become apparent. Show others laziness and heaviness in the service of G-d so that your name will not go out and you will lose your reward. Do not instruct others to do good nor rebuke them against evil. Do not show your wisdom nor teach others, and let there be no sign of fear of Heaven on you, and no sign of being a servant of G-d so that others will not honor you on account of this. In order that your zeal in hiding your deeds to people is complete, mix with and befriend all the different classes of people. Adopt their customs and walk in their ways regarding laughter and laxness in words of truth.

‎Do not guard so much from lies and oaths. Join them in their feasts and drinking parties, in their riddles, in their excessive indulgences and abundant laughter. Speak of people, and speak of their faults. To summarize, avoid all things that will bring you a reputation for asceticism."

If you listen to him in this, slowly without noticing, you will wind up losing even your faith. But if you answer him: "you have already helped my enemies by waging war with me, by your cunning planning to destroy my strength and promote my downfall. How could I flee from a small fire towards a big fire? I have tried to flee from love of recognition and honor in order to not embellish myself towards people, and you are instructing me to embellish myself to them by leaving the service of G-d!"

"Rather, the religious deeds which it is proper for me to conceal are those which can be done from beginning to end without knowledge of people. But to pray with the congregation, to instruct others to do good, to rebuke others from evil, the study of wisdom, doing acts of kindliness, or the like - it is not right to neglect and abandon them due to concern for flattery. It is my duty to do them with intent to G-d. If people praise me or honor me for this, my reward will not be diminished in the least because while doing them, this was not my goal."

Thus, says Rav Yechezkel Levinstein, true humility is when a person understands his spiritual height and knows that all that he aquire is only through the help of Hashem.

I heard from my Master and Teacher, Hagaon Rabbi Aharon Pessin Shlit”a, “When a person is about to sin, let him imagine himself as the head judge(Dayan) of the jewish court of that city, that way he will keep away from sin”

Hashem should merit us to follow His ways according to His words and not according to the enticement of the Yetzer HaRa.

Shabbat Shalom!

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