Shabbos Parashas Shelach – June 20, 2020

Shabbos Parshas Shelach – June 20, 2020
Joseph Greenbaum Bar Mitzvah – Parshas Shelach 2015
For Want of Cholent – Thank you Rabbi Rael Blumenthal
Toras Yonatan Glenner
Meshech Chochma on the Sin of the Spies


Rabbi Yonatan Glenner and his Uncle (myself)

The Spies Reporting Back to Moshe:

What a great bar Mitzvah:  Joseph with his parents


The Meshech Chochma – Rabbi Meir Simcha of  Dvinsk:
The Meshech Chochma – Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk

It is after Shabbos and I am decompressing from Shabbos.  I seem to always be tired and I am having back problems.

I did not speak this Shabbos and I am upset at myself.  I saw a beautiful Meshech Chochma, which I will write about later in this post.

Parshas Shleach was Joseph Greenbaum’s Bar Mitzvah.  He has special needs.  I merited to be at his Bar Mitzvah.  That Shabbos morning, the  Shul was packed, every seat taken.  Close to 1,000 people were in Shul.   The energy in the Shul was electric.   Joseph’s cousin from Raanana, Israel davened a beautiful Schachris.  It was time for Joe, as he is known, to be called up to the Torah and his Aliyah.  He was perfect.  I still can picture the family with Dr. Landa and Rabbi Efreim Goldberg dancing with Joe around the bima.  I remember  Rabbi Efreim Goldberg’s great speech.  He started with saying that while he was shopping a few years ago, Joe had come over to him and said hello.   Later that night Joe’s mother, Dr. Laura Greenbaum, called Rabbi Efreim Goldberg and said that you witnessed a miracle.   Joe has proxia and cannot speak.   I can close my eyes and be at the Bar Mitzvah.  The family is blessed to live in the great community of Boca Raton Synagogue. 

This Shabbos morning I walked with Serka to my daughter Rivkie to drop off salad.  They live 1.3 miles from us.  Afterwards,  I went to my apartment to learn.  It did not seem like a long time, but when I picked up my head from learning and made it to the garage Minyan by Sidney, it was 10:20 AM and they were already  by Chazaras Hashatz.     

Went home and made Kiddush,  My wife makes great avocado and I enjoyed.  After my meal, I went to Yonatan’s house for Cholent.  I had told my wife not to make Cholent.  I just needed a taste and I did not want her to make Cholent as I and my son would overeat.  More importantly, I wanted to speak Torah with Yonatan.  I also wanted to discuss a Meshech Chochma with Yonatan.  

I must have Cholent on Shabbos, even a taste.  Rabbi Rael Blumenthal of Boca Raton West in his Shiur on Pershim vs. Tzadukim said that Chazal said we should have hot food such as Cholent on Shabbos to show the Tzadukim that we do not follow them and that they are wrong.  The Tzadukim do not  have hot food on Shabbos at all.  Rabbi Blumethal said in his unique British accent that if you take a second bowl of Cholent and your wife says, it is too much, respond to her that it is a Mitzva!

Boruch Hashem Serka did not make Cholent and Boruch Hashem I heard Rabbi Blumenthal say, It is a Mitzva.  I went to Yonatan’s house and the following magical moment occurred.

I started discussing with Yonatan what Rabbi Moshe Revah of HTC was saying in Shiur.  I told him my question on “Derech Makom Patur ” mentioned in the top Tosefes on 101A – “Rabbi Yehuda”  and how Rabbi Revah and the Shiur answered my  question. Yonatan followed my question and answer.   I was happy just with this.   Then I told him Rabbi Revach’s Shiurim, on 101A – 101B, the Seguya of Mechitza Teluya (hanging partition), גּוּד אַחֵית מְחִיצָתָא, and גְּדָיִים בּוֹקְעִין בָּהּ. I was pleasantly surprised that Yonathan knew the Sugya.  Then Yonatan lit the fireworks and pulled out the howitzer.


Yonatan opened his Sefer on Eruvim and in the Sefer was an entire Chapter on this Sugya.  Exciting.   In the Sefer he discussed the Machlokes between the Chazon Ish and the Shulchan Aruck Harav, the Ritva, and other Torah. The Sefer discussed the Chidushim  of Rabbi Revah brought up and many of his finer points in the Sugyah.  We went back and forth in learning for about an hour.  The chapter  was essentially a review of Rabbi Revah’s Shiurim. For me it was a special moment and time will always be frozen in his house at his table.  I merited to learn with my nephew, some very deep and involved Torah.   Later on Shabbos I walked to Rabbi Revah’s  house.  He had the Sefer and we went through Yonatan’s Torah on Sugya.  Wow.

After Rabbi Revah’s I went to Eichestein’s to learn with my Chavrusa.  I got caught in a downpour and got somewhat soaked.  Someone gave me a plastic bag so my torso did not get fully soaked.   He cut open a hole for my head,  I have to find out if I did wrong. 

I learned with my Chavrusa, Shabbos 107A-107B – the 14th perek of Shabbos – Shemona Sherutzim.

I found the Gemorah difficult as it was back and forth.  I told my Chavrusah that I have to write the Gemora down just to understand the back and forth.    He said that  you need working memory for these types of Gemoras.  I said, you are correct, I believe that I do not have working memory.   In college, I would read a paragraph and by the time I got to the second paragraph I forgot the first.   I was able to overcome this in College, but I remember this bothering me for years and having difficulty comprehending.  I told this to Rabbis Twersky and Eisnbach and they dismissed it. 

My Torah on this week’s Parsha.

Parshas Shleach is always a very difficult Parsha.  Why did the spies go wrong and what happened.  Why did they want to go against God.   Even after learning all the Meforshim, I have the same question year after year.

Rashi opens up Parshas Shelach with the following:

SEND THOU MEN — Why is the section dealing with the spies put in juxtaposition  the section dealing with Miriam’s punishment? To show the grievousness of the spies’ sin: because she (Miriam) was punished on account of the slander which she uttered against her brother, and these sinners witnessed it and yet they did not take a lesson from her (Midrash Tanchuma, Sh’lach 5 .

The actual events unfolded as follows.   First  the rebellion of Korah, then Miriam, then the Spies.  After the rebellion of Korah, shouldn’t the Beni Yisroel  have learned from the Korech incident that Moshe is Hashem’s leader and Hashem’s spokesman, the power of God, and what happens to rebels?   Additionally, the spies through their slander wanted to effect a change in God’s plans. It was different than  Miriam and Aaron who did not mean to harm Moshe, it was in private and more of a criticism.    The spies deliberately planned a coup and seemed to want to change God’s mind by saying it is too much for us.   They  knew that Hashem wanted them to go to Israel and they said no, we do not want to go.  By Korach it was a question of leadership, the opponents of Moshe wanted power, and not directly go against Hashem.   

This is all despite seeing the miracles in Egypt, the redemption, the destruction of the Egyptian army, the revelation of the Torah, the Mun. and all the miracles in the desert.

We were not there so we cannot fully understand what happened.

Another question that I always bring up.  Didn’t Moshe know that the natives were restless, the children of Israel tested God many times.  There was the running away from Har Sinai, the Salav, and Korah.  Perhaps the answer is aside from these rebels and a few troublemakers the people by and large were loyal and the atmosphere was upbeat.

There are three different approaches as to the end game of the spies.

  1. Satmar Rebbe – they know that Moshe and they were not going into israel.  They thought they were to be the catalyst.   The way the Satmer explains they knew that they and Moshe would not go into Israel.. Perhaps they felt that they were doing God’s wishes.   
  1. They wanted a purely spiritual life to continue that they were having in the desert, and not have a  life of turmoil, toil, and hardship.  Added to this that perhaps they also felt inadequate to be both spiritual and work at the same time.   They were not going against God, but showing God that we are not up to the job.  Let our kids do  it.
  1. They were going to lose power once they got to Israel and for purely selfish reasons they opposed and turned the peoples hearts against God.  This I feel almost makes not sense.

     4) The Meshech Chochma adds a 4th explanation which is just the opposite of above.  They knew

and believed the prophecy of Eldad and Medad that Moshe will die and Yehoshua will take the people into Israel.  They feared and acted on their fear that without Moshe’s leadership the entry into Israel will fail and they have to stay in the desert under Hashem’s benevolence.

Other Thoughts:

The spies saw a great land and they concluded land that they and perhaps Hashem cannot overcome the people of Canaan.  They saw a land that fruits that were huge, other great features and they looked at it and said this land is unconquerable.  They said, yes, it is a land flowing with milk and honey.  Then they used  אֶ֚פֶס –  but . .  

Two people can see the same thing but understand it differently.  I went with my boss, Jack, to look at real estate for Howard, a customer of the bank in Uptown, an area that had been down and out for a long time and had started improving.  Jack, my boss, took pictures of the graffitti and I saw the potential for Howard to build wealth.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Aaron Kotler and others saw in America the potential to become a great country for Torah and Orthodoxy.  Others saw the potential demise of Orthodoxy in America.  At that time in the mid 40s and 50’s the Conservative and Reform movements were in their ascendancy and the future of Orthodoxy questioned.   

וַיְסַפְּרוּ־לוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ בָּ֕אנוּ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁלַחְתָּ֑נוּ וְ֠גַם זָבַ֨ת חָלָ֥ב וּדְבַ֛שׁ הִ֖וא וְזֶה־פִּרְיָֽהּ׃ אֶ֚פֶס כִּֽי־עַ֣ז הָעָ֔ם הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְהֶֽעָרִ֗ים בְּצֻר֤וֹת גְּדֹלֹת֙ מְאֹ֔ד וְגַם־יְלִדֵ֥י הָֽעֲנָ֖ק רָאִ֥ינוּ שָֽׁם׃

This is what they told him: “We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. But, the people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the Anakites there.  You know you are in trouble when the speaker uses the word, but . . .

In the 1870s  and 1880s when the secular Zionist movement started, these individuals who had no connection to Torah, saw  malaria,  swamp infested land, a land without industry, a sleepy land that on the surface could not support a large amount of Jews.  Yet, they saw past the flaws and saw a land flowing with milk and honey.  Opposite of the spies.  This is why my Zedi, the Pilaver Rebbe in his Sefer Shalom Yerushalayim felt that the entire Zionist  movement  was directed by God, to bring the Jews to Israel, and ultimately to bring Moshiach.



The Meshach Chocmah:

Translation of the Meshech Chochma:

On Verse 13:30 – וַיַּ֧הַס כָּלֵ֛ב אֶת־הָעָ֖ם אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר עָלֹ֤ה נַעֲלֶה֙ וְיָרַ֣שְׁנוּ אֹתָ֔הּ כִּֽי־יָכ֥וֹל נוּכַ֖ל לָֽהּ׃

Caleb hushed the people before Moses and said, “Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”

The Meshach Chocma says:

The spies were afraid because they heard Eldad and Medad (Verse 11:28) prophesying  that Moshe will die and Yehsuhus will take the Jews into Israel (Sanhedrin 17B).  They saw Moshe not rebuking Eldad and Medad by not telling them to stop,  This was a sign that Eldad and Medad prophecy was truthful.  They felt to enter a fortified land, and fight with Amelak, a nation they already battled, and to fight with the giants in Israel without Moshe would result in tragedy and everyone being killed.  

Therefore Caleb quieted the people, by telling them, the fact that you attribute the wonders to Mose is wrong, just the opposite, the miracles were dependent on the Jews themselves.  Caleb said we will go up without Moshe, because Moshe is not the cause of wonders, but it is the Jewish nation themselves who are fitting for  God’s divine providence.  

This is what Yehusya told the people under his leadership in Yeshuya 3:10

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ בְּזֹאת֙ תֵּֽדְע֔וּן כִּ֛י אֵ֥ל חַ֖י בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וְהוֹרֵ֣שׁ יוֹרִ֣ישׁ מִ֠פְּנֵיכֶם אֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִ֨י וְאֶת־הַחִתִּ֜י וְאֶת־הַחִוִּ֗י וְאֶת־הַפְּרִזִּי֙ וְאֶת־הַגִּרְגָּשִׁ֔י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִֽי׃

By this,” Joshua continued, “you shall know that a living God is among you, and that He will dispossess for you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites:

The explanation of  כִּ֛י אֵ֥ל חַ֖י is that it was not Moshe did all the miracles, but it was God who lives forever.  He  will perform miracles now.  



June 4, 2020

Parshas Va’era

Shabbos 89B – Darash Rava

June 4, 2002

On Thursday June 4, 2020  I was at my doctor’s office listening to Rabbi Sugerman’s  Daf Yomi Shiur on   Rabbi Sugerman said  . . . דָּרֵשׁ רָבָא, מַאי דִּכְתִיב:    I immediately was filled with joy as I felt  that this Gemora is the source of the Kotzker Rebbe’s Vort on the Medresh, on the second  Pasuk of Va’era.  I paused the Shiur with my mind racing.   I called my Chavrusa immediately and told him that I believe I found the source of a difficult Kotzker Vort.  

In Parshas  וארא the following Vort is brought down:  

וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם  ,וגו׳ (ו ג) 

ובמדרש:   אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה חֲבָל עַל דְּאָבְדִין וְלָא מִשְׁתַּכְּחִין,

יש לפרש חבל שהאבות אבדו  תקיפות דעתם בּשעה שהזהרתי אותם על גלות בניהם כּשאמרתי לאברהם כי גר יהיה זרעך ותרדמה נפלה על אברם, כּי אילו היה עומד בּתוקף שׁלא יהיה גלות כמוך אפשר לא היו משתעבּדים כלל.

Gevalt!  The Kotzker is saying that Avrohom lost his presence of mind, Avrohom lost his strength.  Had Avrohom prayed to Hashem perhaps there would not have been slavery. I assume to Kotzker means Golus – Yes; oppressive slavery – No.  

The Kotzker is telling us the power of the prayer of a Tzaddik, the prayer of Avrohom.   The Kotzker uses the first line of the Midrash as being supportive of Moshe.  There is no question that the full Midrash and Rashi does seem to be “critical” of Moshe. The Kotzker is defending Moshe.  What I have to work on is reconciling the Kotzker with Rashi and the Midrash.  (I printed the entire Midrash at the end of this Torah. The cases the Midrash cites that the three Avos did not question Hashem in no way compares to 400 years of millions of Jews of brutal suffering.

When I read this Kotzker in 2004, I wondered.  How can the Kotzker say a Pshat that was different from the traditional reading and understanding of the Medresh.

However, Boruch Hashem I believe that I found the source of the Kotzker while listening to Rabbi Sugeman.  

The Gemoro in Daf Yomi 89B mentions the following Memra from Rabbah:

דָּרֵשׁ רָבָא, מַאי דִּכְתִיב: ״לְכוּ נָא וְנִוָּכְחָה יֹאמַר ה׳״ — ״לְכוּ נָא״? ״בּוֹאוּ נָא״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! ״יֹאמַר 

ה׳״? ״אָמַר ה׳״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! 

Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Go please and let us reason together, the Lord will say” (Isaiah 1:18)? The Gemora asks, why does the verse say: Go please? It should have said: Come please. And why does the verse say: The Lord will say? The prophet’s message is based on something that God already said. Therefore, the verse should have said: God said. 

לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא יֹאמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל: לְכוּ נָא אֵצֶל אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם וְיוֹכִיחוּ אֶתְכֶם. וְיֹאמְרוּ לְפָנָיו: רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם אֵצֶל מִי נֵלֵךְ? אֵצֶל אַבְרָהָם שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ לוֹ ״יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע״ וְלֹא בִּקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים עָלֵינוּ?! 

Rather, the explanation of this verse is that in the future the Holy One Blessed be He, will say to the Jewish people: Go please to your Patriarchs, and they will rebuke you. the Jewish people will say before Him: Master of the Universe, to whom shall we go? Shall we go to Abraham, to whom You said: “Know certainly that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13), and he did not ask for mercy on our behalf? 

Wow.  Rava clearly seems to be the source of the Kotzker.

How and why and what motivated the Kotzker to say his Pshat.  I believe it is influenced by the Kotzker’s    אהבת ישראל.   Moshe was standing up and defending the Jewish people.  How can we criticize Moshe for this?  After all, Moshe killed the Egyptian due to Ahavas Yisroel.  Moshe could have gone back to the palace and had the Egyptian killed in secret, yet he reacted, Moshe told Hashem that his brother, Aaron, should be the one to take out the Jews from Egypt, and  refused to accept the mission for seven days  

I looked closely at the below Midrash and saw something fascinating that appears to back up Rava and the Kotzker.  Verse 6:9 says:

לָכֵ֞ן אֱמֹ֥ר לִבְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֘ל אֲנִ֣י יְהוָה֒ וְהוֹצֵאתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֗ם מִתַּ֙חַת֙ סִבְלֹ֣ת מִצְרַ֔יִם וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵעֲבֹדָתָ֑ם וְגָאַלְתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ בִּזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבִשְׁפָטִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים׃

Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the LORD. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.

Rashi on לָכֵ֞ן explains:

  לכן. עַל פִּי אוֹתָהּ הַשְּׁבוּעָה:

לכן THEREFORE, i. e. in accordance with the tenor of that oath (Exodus Rabbah 6).  Meaning because of the oath Hashem made to the   אבות, Hashem is redeeming the Jewish people from Egypt. 

However,  Rashi did not explain it like the Midrash.    The Midrash explains the  שְּׁבוּעָה as a new oath to the Jewish people, as follows:

 וְאַתָּה תְּחִלַּת שְׁלִיחוּתִי אָמַרְתָּ לִי מַה שְּׁמִי, וּלְבַסּוֹף אָמַרְתָּ (שמות ה, כג): וּמֵאָז בָּאתִי אֶל פַּרְעֹה. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: וְגַם הֲקִמֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי, שֶׁנִּתְּנָה לָהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי. וְגַם אֲנִי שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת נַאֲקַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִי שֶׁהֵן לֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי, וְגַם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר לֹא הָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה, שָׁמַעְתִּי נַאֲקָתָם בַּעֲבוּר הַבְּרִית שֶׁכָּרַתִּי עִם אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (שמות ו, ה): וָאֶזְכֹּר אֶת בְּרִיתִי. לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֵין לָכֵן אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן שְׁבוּעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ג, יד): וְלָכֵן נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְבֵית עֵלִי, נִשְׁבַּע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁיִּגְאָלֵם, שֶׁלֹא יִירָא משֶׁה שֶׁמָּא מִדַּת הַדִּין יְעַכֵּב גְּאֻלָּתָן. 

The Midrash is saying because of the previous oath and because of the prayers of the Jews, even though the Jews are not acting properly, I am taking a new   שְּׁבוּעָה that I will redeem the Jews, that Moshe should not be afraid the the attribute of justice will delay the redemption,  (Afterall Avrohom was told that the slavery will last 400 years, my note).  Amazing.   The Midrash seems to be saying that Hashem was responding to Moshe, when Moshe questioned Hashem.  

Either Rava and perhaps this Midrash argues on the Gemoro in Sanhedrin 111A or you figure out a way to reconcile the two.  Clearly, the Kotzker took a view based on Rava and this new understanding in the Midrash that Moshe’s  Prayer – וַיָּ֧שָׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶל־יְהוָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲדֹנָ֗י לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָה֙ לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֖ה שְׁלַחְתָּֽנִי׃ and  וּמֵאָ֞ז בָּ֤אתִי אֶל־פַּרְעֹה֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר בִּשְׁמֶ֔ךָ הֵרַ֖ע לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה וְהַצֵּ֥ל לֹא־הִצַּ֖לְתָּ אֶת־עַמֶּֽךָ׃  was a legitimate prayer and Hashem listened to Moshe.

I agree that the Midrash is not 100% either way but maybe Psat is that both prayers or lack of prayer are legitimate.  You need both.

Other thoughts: 

Thes Pshat of the Kotzker appealed to me as I felt that this more closely aligns with how I read Passek 6:1  right after Moshe questioned hashem that says:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה עַתָּ֣ה תִרְאֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה לְפַרְעֹ֑ה כִּ֣י בְיָ֤ד חֲזָקָה֙ יְשַׁלְּחֵ֔ם וּבְיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֔ה יְגָרְשֵׁ֖ם מֵאַרְצֽוֹ׃ 

When I read this Passuk years ago, I felt that עַתָּ֣ה תִרְאֶ֔ה almost seems that Hashem is defending himself, Hashem feels the needs to respond to Moshe.     They are justification words, you’ll see.that things will turn out well. 

Perhaps what the Kotzker is saying is that Klal Yisroel needs a Moshe Rabbinu person, not an Avrohom Avinu person.

When Hashem told Shmual HaNavi that the monarchy is being taken away from Shaul, Shmuel begs and prays to Hashem all night.  He did not accept it quietly.  

In Veschanan, I asked the question.  Moshe prayed for a gift from Hashem.  I asked the question, can a Tzadick – leader pray to Hashem to save another person or to save his Chassidim or to save Klal Yisroel with a Matnas Chenom or must  the Tzaddik go in with fulls guns blazing saying, Klal Yisroel is owed, look at the Chesed, the sacrifices of your people..  , 

I first saw this Kotzker in January 2004 and in my mind I understood it slightly differently.  I understood the Kotzker said that  It would be natural for Avrohom to cry out – what do you mean that my children will be enslaved for four hundred years of slavery.  The Kotzker is saying even more.  

What does the Medresh and the Gemora here in Shabbos 89B mean and they are both difficult for many reasons.  The Medresh itself is difficult because of course Moshe knew that Hashem  will redeem Klal Yisrael.  My understanding is that Moshe lamented the fact that the  burden of Klal Yisroel increased significantly because of himself.  .  No one wants to be the person to have bad things happen because of them.

Full Medrash:

וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה חֲבָל עַל דְּאָבְדִין וְלָא מִשְׁתַּכְּחִין, הַרְבֵּה פְּעָמִים 

נִגְלֵיתִי עַל אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדַּי וְלֹא הוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם כִּי שְׁמִי ה’ כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לְךָ וְלֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחַר מִדּוֹתָי, אָמַרְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם (בראשית יג, יז): קוּם הִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּאָרֶץ לְאָרְכָּהּ וּלְרָחְבָּהּ וגו’, בִּקֵּשׁ לִקְבֹּר שָׂרָה וְלֹא מָצָא עַד שֶׁקָּנָה בְּדָמִים וְלֹא הִרְהֵר אַחַר מִדּוֹתָי, אָמַרְתִּי לְיִצְחָק (בראשית כו, ג): גּוּר בָּאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת כִּי לְךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ וגו’, בִּקֵּשׁ לִשְׁתּוֹת מַיִם וְלֹא מָצָא אֶלָּא (בראשית כו, כ): וַיָּרִיבוּ רֹעֵי גְרָר עִם רֹעֵי יִצְחָק, וְלֹא הִרְהֵר אַחַר מִדּוֹתָי. אָמַרְתִּי לְיַעֲקֹב (בראשית כח, יג): הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה שֹׁכֵב עָלֶיהָ וגו’, בִּקֵּשׁ מָקוֹם לִנְטוֹת אָהֳלוֹ וְלֹא מָצָא עַד שֶׁקָּנָה בְּמֵאָה קְשִׂיטָה, וְלֹא הִרְהֵר אַחַר מִדּוֹתַי וְלֹא שְׁאָלַנִי מַה שְּׁמִי כְּשֵׁם שֶׁשָּׁאַלְתָּ אַתָּה, וְאַתָּה תְּחִלַּת שְׁלִיחוּתִי אָמַרְתָּ לִי מַה שְּׁמִי, וּלְבַסּוֹף אָמַרְתָּ (שמות ה, כג): וּמֵאָז בָּאתִי אֶל פַּרְעֹה. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: וְגַם הֲקִמֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי, שֶׁנִּתְּנָה לָהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי. וְגַם אֲנִי שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת נַאֲקַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִי שֶׁהֵן לֹא הִרְהֲרוּ אַחֲרָי, וְגַם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר לֹא הָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה, שָׁמַעְתִּי נַאֲקָתָם בַּעֲבוּר הַבְּרִית שֶׁכָּרַתִּי עִם אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (שמות ו, ה): וָאֶזְכֹּר אֶת בְּרִיתִי.

לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֵין לָכֵן אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן שְׁבוּעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ג, יד): וְלָכֵן נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְבֵית עֵלִי, נִשְׁבַּע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁיִּגְאָלֵם, שֶׁלֹא יִירָא משֶׁה שֶׁמָּא מִדַּת הַדִּין יְעַכֵּב גְּאֻלָּתָן. וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם, אַרְבַּע גְּאֻלּוֹת יֵשׁ כָּאן, וְהוֹצֵאתִי, וְהִצַּלְתִּי, וְגָאַלְתִּי, וְלָקַחְתִּי. כְּנֶגֶד אַרְבַּע גְּזֵרוֹת שֶׁגָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶן פַּרְעֹה. וּכְנֶגְדָּן תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים אַרְבַּע כּוֹסוֹת בְּלֵיל הַפֶּסַח, לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קטז, יג): כּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָֹּׂא וּבְשֵׁם ה’ אֶקְרָא, וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם אֶל הָאָרֶץ 

אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת יָדִי, אֶעֱשֶׂה לָהֶן מַה שֶּׁאָמַרְתִּי לַאֲבוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְיִהְיוּ יוֹרְשִׁין אוֹתָהּ בִּזְכוּתָן.


I spoke this Torah at the Glennner’s Minyan outdoor Minyan this past Shabbos.  My nephew, Naftali Glenner, one the the most recognized faces in the Frum world today, walked over after I finished speaking and held out his hand, and gave me a Yasher Koach.  Naftali is special needs and still listens to everything going on around him.  

Shabbos Parshas בהעלותך June 13, 2020

It is Eli’s birthday and we had a birthday Friday night meal.   Tzvi came over.

Davened at Sidney’s garage / driveway Minyan.  I spoke before Musaf and these are my words:

  וָאֶתְּנָ֨ה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֜ם נְתֻנִ֣ים ׀ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן וּלְבָנָ֗יו מִתּוֹךְ֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ לַעֲבֹ֞ד אֶת־עֲבֹדַ֤ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וּלְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֨א יִהְיֶ֜ה בִּבְנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ נֶ֔גֶף בְּגֶ֥שֶׁת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶל־הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃

19:  And from among the Israelites I formally assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons, to perform the service for the Israelites in the Tent of Meeting and to make expiation for the Israelites, so that no plague may afflict the Israelites for coming too near the sanctuary.

Chapter 8 Verse 19

Rashi says:

ואתנה וגו’. חֲמִשָּׁה פְעָמִים נֶאֶמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִקְרָא זֶה, לְהוֹדִיעַ חִבָּתָן, שֶׁנִּכְפַּל אַזְכְּרוֹתֵיהֶן בְּמִקְרָא אֶחָד כְּמִנְיַן חֲמִשָּׁה חֻמְשֵׁי תוֹרָה, וְכָךְ רָאִיתִי בִּבְ”רַ:

׳AND I HAVE GIVEN [THE LEVITES etc.] — Five times are the “children of Israel” mentioned in this verse (where the last four times they might have been alluded to by a personal pronoun), in order to show what affection they are held by the Lord in that the mention of them is repeated five times in one verse corresponding in number to the “Five Books of the Torah”. Thus I have seen stated in Genesis Rabbah

(Leviticus Rabbah 2:4; cf. Genesis Rabbah 3:5).

The actual Merdrash does not say that the five times correspond in number to the five books of the Torah.  Rashi adds them from a Midrash on creation from Genesis Rabbah 3:5.

The Medresh itself says:

רַבִּי יוּדָן בּוֹא וּרְאֵה כַּמָּה חִבֵּב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמַּזְכִּירָן חֲמִשָּׁה פְּעָמִים בְּפָסוּק אֶחָד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ח, יט): וָאֶתְּנָה אֶת הַלְּוִים נְתוּנִים וגו’.

By repeating  בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל  Hashem is showing how much he loves the Jewish people.   The reason why Hashem is showing his love here is because at this time when their Bechorim were being replaced because of the sign of the golden calf, this is a slap in the face of the Klal Yisroel.   Hashem says do not feel diminished,  I love you.

Why does Rashi add to the Medresh that the times represent the 5 books of the Torah, when the Medresh does not mention it? 

The Kotzker says on this Rashi:

וָאֶתְּנָ֨ה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֜ם נְתֻנִ֣ים ׀ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן וּלְבָנָ֗יו מִתּוֹךְ֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ 

“יען שראו ישראל כי נפרשו הכּוהנים והלוים מתוך כלל ישראל מיוחדים לעבודת הבּורא יתבּרך נחלשׁו דעתם וצעקו מעמק לבּם היכן אנחנו?  הודע להם השי”ת חבתן שׁהם כחמשה חומשי תורה שאף שכל אחד ספר בּפני עצמו הרי כל התורה אחת היא, כך  ישראל אף שנחלקו לכּוהנים לוים וישראלים הם עם אחד”

When the Kohanim and Levim were separated to work directly for Hashem, the Jews minds weakened (they felt terrible and cried from the depths of their hearts, what about us (we want to serve Hashem)?  Hashem let them know that just as one book of the five books is a book unto itself, the five books are one Torah.  You cannot have Genesis without the other four books.  The entire Torah is one.  So too with the Jewish people, even though they are 3 different groupings of peoples, Kohanim, Levim, and Yisralim, they are one nation.  You cannot have a Kal Yisrael without all three together, unified.   And according to the Baal Haturim, five groupings of people.  Meaning we all have a part of Hashem’s services of the Kohanim and Levim because they are us and we are them,  we should not feel excluded in the least.  We move forward as one unit and everyone has separate jobs.  Everyone doing their individual jobs, fulfils their job for the Klal, for everyone.  When I learn, I learn for Klal Yisroel.  When a boy is in the IDF, he is fighting for me and I am doing Chesed and learning for him.

In fact the Ba’al Haturim says different than Rashi.   The five times it says  בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל represents Kohanim, Levim, Yisroalim, Converts, and Freed Slaves, and then links this to the Pasuk in Jeremiah 2:3:  קֹ֤דֶשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לַיהוָ֔ה רֵאשִׁ֖ית תְּבוּאָתֹ֑ה  – Israel was holy to Hashem, The first fruits of His harvest. 

 The Baal Haturim then adds seemingly as way of explanation – ‘.תבואת הּּּ – Hashem’s produce.  I think the Baal Haturim is saying that Hashem is telling the Jewish people we are all God’s product, and  all the Jews have God within us.  Do not be despondent because all of you serve Harshem in every facet of their lives, by being holy and representatives for the entire Jewish people, just like the Kohanim and Levim do their share for the entire Jewish people.

Let us understand what was happening on a deeper level. 

The Jews are watching as their children, their first born, are being stripped of service in the Temple because of the sin of the golden calf.  This is the biggest rebuke.  They lost eternity for their families and their firstborn.  As the Kotzker said, Klal Yisroel was forlorn, depressed – we also want holiness and we lost it.  

Could this result in  long term damage to the Jewish people?  The answer is yes and perhaps it did affect them.   Imagine if the first born retained their status.  There would have been a core group always in Yerushalayim by the Bais Hamikdash.  Throughout  the land when the time came for the first born to go up to Yerushalayim to serve his Mismar, the family and entire city would have escorted the firstborn to the city gates with dancing and singing.  When they came back after serving their week, the firstborn would relate everything that happened during his week  of service.  That would have brought tremendous unity and purpose to all the Jews of Israel.  It would have strengthened the people to be loyal to Hashem.  The Jewsh people lost this, a tremendous blow.

Hashem is reassuring the people, you are one nation, you have a part of the Kohanim and Levim’s service, you have Hashem within you.  The promotion of the Kohanim and Levim is your promotion.  Celebrate.  They will keep the holiness of the Bais Hamikdash for you.

Rabbi Eliyahu Ki Tov brings down a story about Kotzk.  He asked the Kotzker – when my friends go out to their Rebbes, the entire city gives them Kvitlach, they escort the Chassidium on the start of their journey with songs and dancing.  When I go to you, people curse me and I have to go out like a thief in the night.  The Kotzker answered, perhaps this is your Avodas Hashem, in hardship.

This sense of unity is in everything we do.  When I learn or say a Torah thought, I am not only doing it for myself, but for all Jews.  When a boy goes into the IDF, he is serving and protecting  the country for all Jews.  We owe him.  When I work and bring praise to the Jewish people, I am doing it on behalf of all Jewish people.  When a Rosh Yeshiva gives a Shiur and his students listen, they are doing their part for Klal Yisroel.    A farmer produces food  to feed all Jews.   

On Thursday, June 12, 2020, I went to Waldheim cemetery  to be counted as a Minyan for Sidney Glenner’s Bubbe’s Yahrzeit.  I came a little late and could not find the family or the gravesite.   I saw a funeral and went over to attend.  It was for Bernard Judah Matkowsky.  I did not know the family.  The Niftar’s son spoke and talked about his father’s love for Israel. The son served in the IDF and said that on his first night in the IDF the unit sang Moaz Tzur.  The kid cried.  This is a song sung by his family and all Jews everyone, for hundreds of years.   He was able to sing it in Israel, doing a holy service.  His emotions welled up and there were tears streaming down his face. Rabbi Zvi Engel spoke and said Bernie Matkowsky was a mathematician, highly proficient, and published many papers.  The university where he taught gave Bernie upon his retirement a collection of his papers bound in four very thick books.  Bernie had an ancestor , I think the Revash, who had to flee the Cossacks during the 1648 and 1649  Chmelecki massauces.  He barely escaped to Vilna.  Vilna became dangerous and they fled.  They ended up being captured by the Swedes.  He was one of the few that survived the Swedish massacre of 45,000 Jews.  He wrote in his introduction of his Sefer, we escaped the lion only to be captured by the bear.  Rabbi Engel said that Bernie’s sons had the merit to serve in the IDF protecting Israel and not being chased by our enemies.  Bernie is also from the Sh’law

We are all one nation and we compliment each other.

Additional Insight:


לעבוד את עבודת בני ישראל באהל מועד. לעבוד אותה העבודה שהיתה ראויה לבכוריהם:

To perform the very duties which, previously, it had been the duty of the firstborn to perform on behalf of the Children of Israel.

Compare this Sforno to the language used by the Chazkuni:

לעבד את עבדת בני ישראל עבודה שהיתה מוטלת על בני ישראל לעשות.

The Sefrno and Chizkuni say slightly different words.  Seforno – the work of the first borns; Chezkuni – the work of the Jewish people.

The person who translated the Sforno for Sefaria put the two together by saying, “it had been the duty of the firstborn on behalf of the Jews.”

Perhaps there is a difference.  The Chazkuni is saying that the work of the first born that is being transferred to the Levim is really the work of all the Jews, however, not everyone can do it, so first the Behorim did it and now the Levim.  Every Jew has to see that the Bais Hamikdash functions smoothly and the Levim are our representatives.  How do we support it?   The next Sferno answers this 

ולכפר על בני ישראל. בקבלם את המעשרות מישראל כדי שיובלו לעבוד את האל יתברך 

יכפרו על ישראל שגרמו כולם בעגל שאמאס את בכוריהם:

 and to be the instrument of the people’s atonement by their accepting the tithes tendered them by the people so that they would be free to perform the duties G’d has now assigned to them. Hashem had come to despise the firstborn, seeing that they participated also in the sin of the golden calf which had caused Hashem so much grief.

(By us giving to the Levim) and the Levim accepting מעשר, the Levim can focus on their holy job and we are part of it, not only because we gave money, but, the more you give the more you love someone.  We  should feel an emotional attachment to them and their work; and we also have a monetary attachment to the Levim.   When a farmer works his field and knows  that his work will go to support the Levim, we are one.  I admit that the Sforno says that this is an atonement for the Jewish people.  Perhap what is the atonement for the sin of the golden calf is by the Levim accepting the  מעשרות    from the Jewish people.