Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bamidbar

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The parsha contains the mitzva of counting the Jewish people. It is for this reason that sefer Bamidbar is called the book of the counting. Indeed, the sefer begins and ends with a census. It is also the reason that the English name for the sefer is Numbers and not In The Desert.

The Torah uses the language "Seu Es Rosh" (Bamidbar 1:2) which is curious. The Medrash explains that Hashem is telling Moshe - if the Jews listen to Hashem they will be carried on the top level, much like what Yosef prophesies to the Butler (Bereishis 40:13) that Pharaoh will lift up your head (Yisa) and return you to your position of power. However, if they don't listen, they could be punished like Yosef's prophecy to the Baker (Bereishis 40:19) that Pharaoh will lift your head from your body (also using the word Yisa). 

The message that Moshe is being given is that it is either all or nothing - if the Jews listen they will have it all. But if not...

R' Frand next quoted a gemara in Kesuvous where R' Yochanan Ben Zakkai saw a Jewish girl who was collecting barley kernels from the dung of the donkey. When she saw him, she stood up and said to R' Yochanan Ben Zakkai - support me. He responded to her, whose daughter are you? She responded that she was the daughter of Nakdimon Ben Gurion. He asked - where is the money? You were among the wealthiest families in Jerusalem! She responded that we did not use the money properly and it is gone.

The gemara gives more of the story as she says to R' Yochanan Ben Zakkai - do you remember my kesuva that you signed? It said that I would bring thousands of gold coins into the marriage!

Hearing this, R' Yochanan remarks - Ashreichem Yisrael - praised are you the Jews. But why is this praiseworthy? The Maharsha explains that the Jews are supported directly from Hashem - when they do the right thing they will have extreme success. But when not, the opposite is true.

This is what the Medrash meant - tell the Jews that if they do what they are supposed to do, they will be wildly successful. They will be carried! But if not, they will face the consequences.

R' Frand also quoted a vort from the Chida who notes that the Nasi from Gad has two different formulations of his father's name. Sometimes the father is called by Reu'el and sometimes as Deu'el. Why? His name actually was Deu'el but he had a claim that he did not make against Hashem and he was rewarded for keeping himself quiet.

The Chumash explains that the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Dan traveled together. The tribe of Dan is chosen to lead, but this is not without controversy as the tribe of Gad could equally have been the leader as both tribes were bechorim to their mothers (Bilha and Zilpa).

The Chida quotes the Imrei Noam who explains that as a reward for Gad not complaining about not being chosen to lead, he was zoche to have Moshe Rabbeinu buried in his tribal section of the land of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu was a "friend" (Reyim) to Hashem. Therefore, after having his name first mentioned by his true name (De'uel) at the beginning of the parsha, the Nasi's father's name is changed to Re'uel to memorialize Gad's connection to Moshe, who was a friend to Hashem.

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