In this week's parashah, Moshe appoints his successor,
Yehoshua, to lead Bnei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. The Midrash
(Bemidbar Rabbah 19:13) says that the reason Moshe did not enter
Eretz Yisrael was so that he might lead the generation of the
desert into the Land at the time of the resurrection. R' Yehuda
Rosannes z"l (Turkey; 18th century) asks: If that generation
deserves to return, why does it need Moshe? If it does not
deserve to return how will Moshe help it?
He explains: Hashem has taken an oath (Tehilim 95:10-11): "For
forty years I was angry with the generation; then I said, `They
are an errant-hearted people, they do not know My ways.'
Therefore I have sworn in My wrath, they shall not enter My [land
of] rest." Because of Hashem's oath, the generation of the
desert may not enter Eretz Yisrael.
However, the halachah provides that if a person makes a vow
excluding another from his house, then if the house is razed and
rebuilt, the vow is nullified. Our Sages teach that had Moshe
entered Eretz Yisrael, he would have built the Temple, and, had
he done so, it would never have been destroyed. However, it is
precisely because the Temple was destroyed that Hashem's oath can
be nullified. This is what is meant by the statement that,
because Moshe died in the desert, his generation could enter the
Land. (Parashat Derachim)
"Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon Hakohen turned
back My anger which had been over Bnei Yisrael by being
zealous on My behalf among them... Therefore tell [him]
that I am making with him a covenant of peace." (25:11-12)
R' Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook (1865-1935; Ashkenazic Chief
Rabbi of Palestine from 1921 until his death) was known for his
cooperative relationship with all segments of the Jewish
community, even the anti-religious. Nevertheless, this did not
allow him to compromise Torah principles for the sake of "peace"
with his brethren, as he explained in an article published in
A clear understanding that the One G-d is the Master, Creator,
and Manager of the Universe, and that all sustenance comes from
His hand, is necessary for the perfection of all mankind. Only
when people come to this realization will they truly understand
that we are all brothers who were created by one Father. Only
then will man's fear of his neighbor cease and will people stop
building implements of war to destroy each other.
To our great dismay, this goal is a long way off. Our own sins
prevent this "fruit" from "ripening". Before we can reach out to
mankind as a whole, G-d's Name (which is "Peace") [see Shoftim
6:24] must be emblazoned on the flag of Israel. When the nations
see that Israel has fulfilled its own destiny, then the light of
G-d will shine upon them, and they too will know Him.
If we could see clearly our nation's spiritual needs, we would
realize how precious the Torah and the mitzvot are. They are the
only means to preserve our national spirit as a viable being.
The way to bring about mutual love between all members of the
nation of Israel is for all of us to share in strengthening that
way of life which gives us our unique identity, not, as some
think, to be "tolerant" of each person's "right" to go his own
We must accustom ourselves and our friends to behave solely
according to the Torah of Moshe and Yisrael. In this way we make
ourselves into a vessel worthy of G-d's blessing, as described in
the verse (Tehilim 29:11), "Hashem will give strength to His
nation, Hashem will give His nation the blessing of peace," and
Chazal's comment on this verse, "Strength comes through Torah."
This is our national destiny.
(Otzrot HaRayah, I p.705)
"And the daughters of Tzelofchad approached, [they were]
from the family of Menashe, the son of Yosef." (27:1)
Rashi says that Yosef is mentioned here to teach us that just
as Yosef loved Eretz Yisrael (and asked to be buried there), so
his descendants loved Eretz Yisrael. Their request for a share
of the land was not motivated by materialistic concerns.
R' Moshe Feinstein z"l asks: Whether or not Tzelofchad's
daughter received a share of the Land, they would still live
there. Why, then, did they insist on owning their own portions?
The Torah is teaching us that if one loves something, he should
want to own it. Thus we can understand the halachah which
requires a person to own a Torah library (see Y.D. section
270:2). For studying alone, it is enough to borrow Torah works.
However, to enhance one's love of Torah, he should try to own its
"And of these, there was no man of those counted by Moshe
and Aharon the Kohen, who counted Bnei Yisrael in the
Wilderness of Sinai." (26:64)
Rashi comments: There was no man, but the women did not die for
the sin of the Spies, for the women loved Eretz Yisrael.
This implies, writes R' Avraham Yaakov Hakohen Pam z"l (Rosh
Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, New York; died 2001), that
the sin of the Spies and their contemporaries was not loving
Eretz Yisrael. Such an understanding would find support in the
words of Tehilim (106:24), "They despised the desirable Land,
they had no faith in His word."
In contrast, it appears from Parashat Shelach that their sin
was a lack of faith. Thus Hashem said (14:11), "How long will
this people provoke Me, and how long will they not have faith in
Me, despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst?"
How can this contradiction be resolved?
Another question: Where is there any hint in the Torah that the
Spies despised the Land? Their entire report revolved around the
strength of the Canaanites. It appears from the Spies words that
they gladly would have lived in the Land, but they were afraid!
R' Pam explains: The Gemara (Bava Batra 142b) states that if a
person gives a gift to a fetus (through an agent appointed to
receive the gift), the gift is not effective. No legal transfer
takes place. However, if the fetus is the child of the gift
giver, the transfer is legally effective.
Why? R' Shmuel ben Meir ("Rashbam"; 1085-1174) explains that a
person who gives a gift to a fetus is not completely sincere in
his renunciation of ownership of the object. However, if the
child is his, he is sincere. R' Pam explains (quoting an unnamed
"great man") that the gift-giver harbors lingering doubts when
the child is not his: Perhaps the fetus will not be born and the
gift will revert to me. Because of this doubt, the giver's
renunciation of ownership is not complete, and the transfer to a
new owner cannot take place. However, when the fetus is one's
own child, one does not think this way. One pictures his own
future child as a strong healthy baby.
What causes this distinction? One's love for his child.
Similarly, had Bnei Yisrael loved Eretz Yisrael sufficiently,
they would have pictured it in a positive light. They would not
have had doubts about their ability to conquer it. Yes, their
sin was a lack of faith, but it was made possible by their
failure to love the Land. [In this light, we may revisit the
above verse from Tehilim and read it: "They despised the
desirable Land, therefore they had no faith in His word."]
(Atarah La'melech p. 130)
"Give us a possession among our father's brothers." (27:4)
R' Yisrael Yaakov Lubchansky z"l (Mashgiach of the Baranovitch
Yeshiva) observes: Korach requested something spiritual, and he
was killed. The daughters of Tzelofchad requested something
physical (a share in Eretz Yisrael), and the Torah praises them.
Why? Because they acted with G-d's Honor in mind, while Korach
How can one know his own motives? adds R' Lubchansky. Only
through learning mussar / ethics and introspection.
Rabbi Dr. Esriel Hildesheimer z"l
The method of Talmud study at the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary
differed from in most yeshivot. Although the chief subject of
study was Talmud, the Rector (as the Rosh Yeshiva was known) did
not deliver shiurim / lectures on the Talmud page itself.
Rather, he followed the sugyot / topic method. On any given
topic in the tractate under study (which in the first semester of
1873 was Yevamot), he would bring together all of the other
sources in Talmud where that subject is discussed, comparing and
contrasting them until the general principles of the subject were
gleaned. To this end, R' Hildesheimer taught the Talmud
Yerushalmi along with the more commonly studied Talmud Bavli.
In addition to being the spiritual head of the Seminary,
R' Hildesheimer was responsible for its material needs.
Tirelessly, he would knock on the doors of the wealthy seeking
Not surprisingly, the Seminary had many opponents, both on the
right and the left. The Reform saw the Seminary as a threat
because its graduates would be equipped to defend Orthodoxy
against Reform's inroads. On the opposite extreme, many
Orthodox, particularly in Hungary, opposed the institution
because of its superficial similarity to non-Orthodox
(The Berlin Seminary continued in existence until the late
1930's under the leadership of such figures as R' David Zvi
Hoffman (until 1921), R' Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan (until 1924) and
R' Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg. The latter two, while continuing the
yeshiva's program, brought Lithuanian influences to the Seminary
R' Hildesheimer died on 4 Tammuz 5659 / 1899. (Sources: The
Rebbe: The Story of Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer, by J.H. Sinason;
R' Akiva Posner, Hadarom Elul 5720)
The Kaplan family (Teaneck, N.J.)
on the yahrzeit of grandfather, R' Moshe Raphael Hakohen Kaplan
The Rutstein family
in memory of Dr. Leonard Schlossberg