This parashah contains approximately eight, apparently
unrelated, sections. In truth, writes R' Asher Ben-Zion Buchman
shlita, each section of the parashah teaches us something about
the Torah's concept of leadership and how we should relate to our
The parashah begins with a command to Aharon regarding the
kindling of the Menorah. According to Chazal, the Menorah
represents the light of the Torah. It is the obligation of the
leaders, and particularly, of the Kohanim, to spread this light
and to raise Bnei Yisrael to a higher level. This is one reason
why the Torah uses the word "Beha'alotecha"/"When you raise"
instead of "Behadlakatcha"/"When you light" in its command to
Having learned the purpose of leadership, we must now discover
the way to lead. This is a message of the "Pesach Sheni" story,
in which several Jews who were ritually impure on Erev Pesach
asked for a second chance to bring the Korban Pesach. Moshe's
response to the Jews' request was the proper one: "Let me see
what G-d and His Torah have to say about this."
The parashah relates further that Bnei Yisrael would travel
whenever the Clouds of Glory rose from above the mishkan. Yet,
Moshe was commanded to fashion trumpets to inform the nation of
when they should travel. Why was this necessary? The Torah is
teaching us that even when we receive and unmistakable divine
sign, we should turn to our Torah sages to interpret it. (For
further application of this theme to the parashah, see Bedibur
Echod, pp. 89-92).
"Aharon did so . . ." (8:3)
Rashi writes: "The verse speaks in praise of Aharon to teach us
that he changed nothing."
Is it necessary to tell us that a tzaddik such as Aharon did
not deviate from G-d's command? R' Chaim Hager of Kosov z"l
(1795-1854; father of the first Vizhnitzer Rebbe) offers the
Regarding each of Hashem's creations, the verses in the first
chapter of Bereishit say, "G-d said, 'Let there be such-and-
such,' and it was so." The only exception is the light, about
which we read (Bereishit 1:3): "G-d said, "Let there be light,'
and there was light."
Why does it the Torah not say, "and it was so," about the
light? The Torah is alluding to Chazal's teaching that the light
which we use today is not the first light that Hashem created.
That first light, our Sages teach, was put away for tzaddikim to
use in Olam Haba.
However, writes R' Hager, when Aharon lit the menorah in the
Tabernacle, he brought out a little bit of the "unchanged" light
from the first day of creation. He filled in the missing "so"
from the verse "Let there be light."
"I alone cannot carry this entire nation, for it is too
heavy for me." (11:14)
When Bnei Yisrael complained about eating nothing but mahn,
Moshe responded by asking Hashem to appoint additional leaders to
assist him. Why?
R' Yosef Shaul Nathanson z"l (died 1875; rabbi of L'vov and one
of the leading halachic authorities of his time) explains based
on a parable from real life. When a litigant loses a case before
a bet din/rabbinical court, he frequently accuses the
rabbis/judges of being biased against him. And, he immediately
takes their written decision to the rabbis whom he considers to
be authorities in order to get their opinion.
As rude as this is, rabbis who know their decisions to be
correct do not mind this. They know that the generation's great
rabbis will affirm their decisions. And they look forward to
receiving the approbation of those authorities.
Bnei Yisrael assumed that after Hashem had gone to the
"trouble" of taking them out of Egypt, He would be pleased to
fulfill their heart's desires. The only reason that they were
"stuck" with the mahn, they thought, was that the intermediary,
Moshe, stopped Hashem from granting their requests.
Therefore Moshe beseeched Hashem, "Give me assistants. Let
there be other prophets, and let the people see that they still
do not receive the luxuries that they seek." And so it was.
Based on this, we can understand as well why Moshe said
(11:12), "Did I conceive this entire people or did I give birth
to it?" A parent is not afraid that people will question his
motives for the way he raises his children. Even when he does
not fulfill his children's requests, understanding people know
that he desires what is best for his children.
"But I did not conceive them," Moshe said. I am nothing but a
guardian, and people will question my motives.
(Divrei Shaul: Mahadura Kamma, page 97c)
"To the people you shall say, 'Prepare yourselves for
tomorrow and you shall eat meat, for you have cried in the
ears of Hashem, saying: Who will feed us meat?" (11:18)
R' Eliezer Papo z"l (1785-1828; author of the mussar work Pele
Yo'etz) interprets this verse homiletically as follows:
"Prepare yourselves" - The word used for "prepare" has the root
"kodesh." Sanctify yourselves . . .
"[F]or tomorrow" - so that you will enter the World-to-Come.
However, there they will ask you, "Did you debate and discuss
wisdom?" Therefore . . .
"[E]at meat" - Study halachah, a subject which Chazal referred
to as "choice meat on the coals." And, if your learning becomes
too difficult for you . . .
"Cry in the ears of Hashem, saying: 'Who will feed us meat?'" -
i.e., Torah. Thus the Arizal taught that one who tries to learn
Torah but cannot understand should pour out his woes to
R' Gedaliah Silverstone z"l (1871-1944; rabbi in Belfast,
Ireland and Washington, D.C.) offers a related interpretation of
a Talmudic teaching which many people recite in the Friday Night
prayers: "R' Chanina said, 'One is obligated to check his pockets
on Erev Shabbat before darkness, lest he forget and go out."
Literally, this teaching instructs a person to check his
pockets before Shabbat lest he inadvertently carry on Shabbat.
R' Silverstone writes:
The World-to-Come is called "Shabbat" and this world is called
"Erev Shabbat." Just as one must prepare on Friday if he wishes
to eat on Shabbat, so one must prepare in this world if he hopes
to have a portion in the World-to-Come.
Therefore, check your pockets on Erev Shabbat - examine what
you have to take with you to the World-to-Come. Do this before
the darkness comes. If you do not, you may forget to prepare,
and then you will go out of this world with nothing.
(Bet Meir Vol. II, p.24)
"And all of your deeds should be for the sake of
Heaven . . ."
(Chapter 2, mishnah 12)
R' Baruch Epstein z"l (died 1940; author of Torah Temimah)
writes: The gemara (Beitzah 16a) relates that this trait of
always acting for the sake of Heaven was practiced by the sage
Hillel. Whereas his colleague, Shammai, used to buy an animal
for Shabbat on Sunday, and then, if he found a nicer animal later
in the week, he would by that animal instead, Hillel used to say,
"Blessed is Hashem every day." Hillel trusted that Hashem would
provide every day's needs on that day, and Shabbat's needs on
Certainly Shammai did not trust in Hashem less than Hillel did!
Rather, there is a concept of taking actions to remind oneself to
serve Hashem better (vhapb hzurzk). Shammai shopped for Shabbat
every day in order to enhance his appreciation of that mitzvah.
Hillel, on the other hand, felt that his observance was enhanced
by increasing his level of trust in Hashem.
(Baruch She'amar p.81)
Letters from Our Sages
This week we present excerpts from the will of R' Yaakov
Lorberbaum of Lissa z"l (died 1832), best known by the names
of two of his many works, Netivot Hamishpat (the "Nesivos")
and Chavat Da'at. R' Lorberbaum's works cover the areas of
Torah commentary, the five megillot, halachah, and Talmud
commentary. He also served as rabbi in several Eastern
It is written in the Torah [about Avraham - Bereishit 18:19]:
"For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his
household after him to keep the way of Hashem . . ." If
commanding one's children after him brings on G-d's love, it is
proper and right for every person to have written before him
things that relate to the ways of Hashem and awe of Him so that
he may leave it for his children - maybe they will accept it from
him, and he will merit thereby to be bound up in the bond of
life. Therefore, I have applied my heart to write instructions
that relate to the fear of G-d Who is Honored and Awesome.
1. My beloved sons! Man is first judged [in Heaven] with
regard to his Torah study [Kiddushin 40a]. You should have a
fixed quota of verses and mishnayot every day; even though Chazal
said [Sanhedrin 24a], "Talmud Bavli includes everything" [and
therefore it is not necessary to study Tanach or Mishnah - see
Tosfot to Kiddushin 30a], they [Chazal] had already filled their
bellies with Tanach and Mishnah. While you never saw me do this
[i.e., study these subjects], I did so in my youth. In my old
age I was overwhelmed by my responsibilities and I could not
fulfill my heart's desire.
2. If you merit to be among those who are capable of studying,
establish for yourselves a simple quota of not less than one daf
/folio of Talmud a day, following the order of the Talmud. This
is besides your in depth study, and it should be like a law that
is not broken. [Ed. Note: This was a century before the founding
of the Daf Yomi movement.] If you are skilled in developing
original interpretations of Torah, set aside one hour a day to
study in depth, for the main question that man is asked [in
Heaven] is: "Did you debate and discuss wisdom?" However, your
in depth study of gemara should be directed at clarifying the
halachah and not the pilpul/sophistry which is popular in this
generation because of our great sins . . .
3. Study Tehillim several times, including the meanings of the
words. It should be fluent on your lips, with Rashi's
commentary, so that you will understand well when you recite it
in supplication. Recite five chapters a day - no fewer - because
it inspires the heart to serve Him, may His Name be blessed . . .
To Be Continued
Next Week: How to behave in one's business dealings.
The Vogel family
on the first yahrzeit of
Rabbi Joseph Braver a"h