Posts

Showing posts from July, 2016

The covenant of peace for Pinchas

After Pinchas kills Zimri and Kozbi, Hashem declares (25: 11-12):
11Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the kohen has turned My anger away from the children of Israel by his zealously avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy the children of Israel because of My zeal.יאפִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם וְלֹא כִלִּיתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקִנְאָתִי:12Therefore, say, "I hereby give him My covenant of peace.יבלָכֵן אֱמֹר הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת בְּרִיתִי שָׁלוֹם:

On the name, Rashi says,  Phinchas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the kohen: Since the tribes were disparaging him, saying, Have you seen the son of Puti, whose mother’s father [Jethro] fattened (פִּטֵּם) calves for idols, and who killed a chieftain of an Israelite tribe? For this reason, Scripture traces his pedigree to Aaron. — [Sanh. 82b, Num. Rabbah 21:3, Mid. Tanchuma Pinchas 2]פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן:…

The whole is greater

For Parshas Balak, I’ll share two pieces from my grandfather’s sefer because one is very short. Yaakov and Yisrael When Bilam prophetically blessed Benei Yisrael, he included an exclamation that is incorporated into daily prayers (24:5): Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishkenotecha Yisrael. How good are you tents Yaakov, your dwelling places, Yisrael. The doubling here is poetic, but it also has to be significant, as the Torah does not typically use the device of kefel hainyan bemilim shonot. My grandfather suggest that Yaakov is the name for the people of Israel in galus [exile]. For that reason the living quarters ascribed to Yaakov are tents, which are temporary dwellings. Yisrael refers to the people of Israel on their own land, which is why it uses a different terms that connotes greater permanence.
Not the whole picture Earlier in the parsha, of course, Bilam was making his best effort to curse Bnei Yisrael, trying to set up a vantage point from different places. The text in  22:41  s…

Shades of White

Image
Must a bridal gown be snow white for a formal first wedding? 
It doesn't have to be. The dress can be stark white, natural white, ivory white, or some variation of white with color accent. The whitest of whites is only possible to achieve in synthetic fabrics that can take the process that leaves the suggestion of a clean blue undertone to the fabric. The stark white color often compliments is most flattering on women with darker complexions. Those with lighter complexions look better in softer whites.
Natural white is also sometimes referred to as “diamond” or “silk,” the whitest shade possible for silk and other natural fibers. In photographs, this shade will be indistinguishable from stark white. Cream may either be a natural white or a slightly darker shade that is usually called “eggshell” or “ivory.” Ivory is a very popular choice  for brides today, but do hold a swatch next to your face to be sure it is the shade you want. Ivory generally has a yellow undertone, which can flat…

The long and short of veils and headpieces.

Image
Your Crowning Glory Headpieces sit on the head differently, so pick one that will complement the shape of your face and hairdo, as well as the style of your gown.  While one of the options includes a hat with a veil attached, that look is not currently popular with brides who are generally choosing headpieces that work with their hair style. Style options include: Backpiece: any headpiece that attaches to the hair at the back. It is often a bow or cluster of flowers. Bun Holder or Wrap: a  small to medium sized circular headpiece that wraps around a bun. Often decorated with beads or lace. Butterfly: a partial headband that arcs over the top of the head but does not extend all the way to the ears. Combs: while they serve a function to hold a veil down, they can also serve in lieu of a headpiece when trimmed with jewels, flowers, or feathers; close together teeth will hold more securely than widely spaced ones. Fascinator: a concoction of feathers, ribbons, beads,  flowers, or a combination…

Bread and snakes

Image
This Shabbos I thought of an interpretation of the episode of the nachash nanechoshes. The episodebegins with Bnei Yisrael's  expressing disgust about the mann (21: 22): וְנַפְשֵׁנוּ קָצָה בַּלֶּחֶם הַקְּלֹקֵל.

Hashem then sends venomous snakes who bit them. The people confessed there sin and appealed to Moshe who appealed to Hashem who told him to fashion a snake and put it up on a pole. 

What is the connection between complaining about mann and being subjected to snake bites?  In what way did the punishment fit the crime? 

 A number of different answers can be found among the commentators, including references to the orginal nachash who is condemned to eat dust of the earth, but  this is the one that occurred to me:

The nachash was also told וְאֵיבָה | אָשִׁית בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ
(Bereishis 3:15)15And I shall place hatred between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed 4 verses later Adam is told the consequences of t…

Order of importance or of action

After Bnai Yisrael complain about the lack of water in Parshas Chukath, Hashem instructs Moshe (20:8)
קַח אֶת הַמַּטֶּה וְהַקְהֵל אֶת הָעֵדָה אַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ וְדִבַּרְתֶּם אֶל הַסֶּלַע לְעֵינֵיהֶם וְנָתַן מֵימָיו וְהוֹצֵאתָ לָהֶם מַיִם מִן הַסֶּלַע וְהִשְׁקִיתָ אֶת הָעֵדָה וְאֶת בְּעִירָם

My grandfather focuses on the last part of the instruction -- to give water to the people and to their livestock. He cites the Torah Temima who cites the Magen avraham on what Chazal said in Gittin 62a. It is prohibited to eat before given one's animals to eat. But that only applies to food. With respect to drink, the peson comes first.  We find evidence of that halacha in the way Rivka responded to Eliezer's request for water. She offered to him first and then to the camels.  The question is: why do they not bring proof from this verse? 

My grandfather suggests that the order offered here does not necessarily prove the halacha as the people are mentioned first because they are of prima…

Individual and collective blame

After Korach's instigation, Hashem warns Moshe and Aharon to separate from the group because they will be consumed.  They then appeal to G-d not to assign collective blame, saying, (16: 22)
הָאִישׁ אֶחָד יֶחֱטָא וְעַל כָּל הָעֵדָה תִּקְצֹף
if one man sins, shall You be angry with the whole congregation?

My grandfather asks, how could they have questions G-d's judgment? Do we not accept that His is the ultimate justice even if we fail to understand it?  He refers to Ramban on verse 21 who asked a similar question, "and  this is the manner of those who plead for mercy -- to lighten the sin from the whole nation in attributing it to the individual who is guilty for causing it."

My grandfather continues to say, that certainly it did not occur to Moshe and Aharon to cast aspersions on the justice and decress of Hakodehs Baruch Hu. Rather, their approach is similar to  Avraham's argument when pleading for mercy for Sdom in Bereishis 18: 25

Far be it from You to do a thing s…

Really nice, but: the Meraglim's report

Send for yourself: According to your own understanding. I am not commanding you, but if you wish, you may send. Since the Israelites had come [to Moses] and said, “Let us send men ahead of us,” as it says, “All of you approached me…” (Deut. 1:22), Moses took counsel with the Shechinah . He [God] said, “I told them that it is good, as it says, ‘I will bring you up from the affliction of Egypt…’ (Exod. 3:17). By their lives! Now I will give them the opportunity to err through the words of the spies, so that they will not inherit it.” - [Midrash Tanchuma 5]שלח לך: לדעתך, אני איני מצוה לך, אם תרצה שלח, לפי שבאו ישראל ואמרו (דברים א, כב) נשלחה אנשים לפנינו, כמה שנאמר (שם) ותקרבון אלי כלכם וגו', ומשה נמלך בשכינה. אמר אני אמרתי להם שהיא טובה, שנאמר (שמות ג, יז) אעלה אתכם מעני מצרים וגו', חייהם שאני נותן להם מקום לטעות 

For this week's parsha, my grandfather quotes Rashi (copied above) and then points out that Ramban says that according to that view, one would have to say that mos…