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Posted on June 9, 2023 (5783) By Shlomo Katz | Series: | Level:

“Three Sides of the Menorah”
Volume 37, No. 32
21 Sivan 5783
June 10, 2023

Our Parashah opens with instructions regarding the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan / Bet Hamikdash–the third time the Torah mentions this Mitzvah. R’ Raphael Moshe Luria z”l (Rosh Yeshiva in several Chassidic yeshivot in Israel; died 2009) explains this repetition:

R’ Moshe ben Maimon z”l (Rambam; 1135-1204; Spain and Egypt) implies that the Bet Hamikdash serves three purposes: (1) it is a place for the Shechinah to rest, as we read (Shmot 25:8), “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me, so I will dwell among them”; (2) it is the place to offer sacrifices; and (3) it is the pilgrimage destination where we go to draw inspiration. (Hil. Bet Ha’bechirah 1:1)

R’ Luria continues: The three times that lighting the Menorah is mentioned in the Torah parallel these three purposes. In Parashat Tetzaveh, lighting the Menorah is mentioned in connection with the command (in the previous Parashah) to build the Mishkan. There is no mention there of what will be done in the Mishkan, only that Hashem will dwell among us as a result of our efforts.

In Parashat Emor, the Mitzvah to light the Menorah follows the list of festivals. This alludes to a connection between the Menorah and the Bet Hamikdash’s role as a pilgrimage destination on the festivals.

Finally, in our Parashah, the Mitzvah to light the Menorah follows the offerings that were brought at the dedication of the Mishkan. This alludes to a connection between lighting the Menorah and the sacrificial offerings. (Bet Genazi)


“When you go to wage war in your Land against an enemy who oppresses you, you shall sound short blasts of the trumpets, and you shall be recalled before Hashem, your Elokim, and you shall be saved from your foes.” (10:9)

R’ Aharon Eliezer Paskez z”l (rabbi of Galanta, Hungary; died 1884) writes: A person must fight two wars–one with his external enemies and one with the enemy with him, the Yetzer Ha’ra. And, as Rabbeinu Bachya ibn Pekudah z”l (Spain; early 11th century) writes in Chovot Ha’levavot, the latter of these, the war against the Yetzer Ha’ra, is the harder battle.

R’ Paskez continues: We read (Mishlei 16:7), “When Hashem approves of a man’s ways, even his foes will make peace with him.” This means that if we have external foes, it is an indication that we are not adequately fighting our internal foe, the Yetzer Ha’ra. Thus, says our verse, “When you go to wage war in your Land,” be aware that the true battle is “against an enemy who oppresses you,” the Yetzer Ha’ra. Therefore, “You shall sound short blasts of the trumpets” so that “you shall be recalled before Hashem, your Elokim,” and He will save you “from your foes”–both of them. (Mishmeret Eliezer)


“The people took to seeking complaints . . .” (11:1)

R’ Shlomo Heiman z”l (1892-1945; Rosh Yeshiva in several prominent Lithuanian Yeshivot; finally, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath in New York) observes: Bnei Yisrael complained about Hashem’s actions and inactions a great deal during their 40 years in the desert–much more than Jews today complain about what Hashem does or does not do. This is a testament to the high degree of Emunah that the Generation of the Desert possessed; their complaining shows that they felt Hashem’s presence in their lives and that they knew they had a Father in Heaven to whom they could turn with their complaints. In contrast, our Emunah is much weaker, so we complain less. (Chiddushei R’ Shlomo: Imrot Ketzarot p.3)


“The rabble that was among them cultivated a craving, and Bnei Yisrael also wept once more, and said, ‘Who will feed us meat?’” (11:4)

Rashi z”l writes: Did they not have meat? Does not the Torah (Shmot 12:38) record that they left Egypt with flocks and herds?! Do not say that they had already eaten those animals, for we read later, at the end of the 40 years (Bemidbar 32:1), “The children of Reuven had cattle in a very great multitude”! But the truth is that they were only seeking a pretext. [Until here from Rashi. The Torah continues:]

“‘We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt Chinam / for free, and the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.” (11:5)

Rashi writes: They could not have meant that the Egyptians gave them fish for nothing, without payment, for the Torah records (Shmot 5:18), “No straw will be given you!” If they did not give them straw, would they have given them fish for nothing? What then is the meaning of ‘Chinam’? It means free from–i.e., not burdened with–Heavenly commands. [Until here from Rashi. The Torah relates:]

“Moshe said, ‘Six hundred thousand are the people in whose midst I am, yet You say, “I will give them meat, and they will eat for a month!” Can sheep and cattle be slaughtered and suffice for them? If all the fish in the sea are gathered, would it suffice for them?’” (11:21:22)

Surely Moshe did not doubt Hashem’s ability to provide meat for any number of people! R’ Yehuda Gruenwald z”l (1845-1920; rabbi of Szatmar, Hungary) explains: As long as Bnei Yisrael were in the desert, they were not permitted to eat meat whenever they wished; rather, they had to slaughter it and offer it in the Tabernacle as a sacrifice, specifically a Korban Shelamim, from which they then ate. (This Halachah applied only during those 40 years.) When some of Bnei Yisrael complained, “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt unencumbered by Mitzvot,” it was this restriction they were complaining about. They wanted to eat meat without restrictions. This is why their entire complaint is referred to as a pretext–they did not lack meat at all; they only lacked meat that was free of Mitzvot, just as cucumbers and melons, which they mentioned also, are eaten essentially free of Mitzvot.

When Moshe wondered how Hashem could satisfy their demand, he was not doubting Hashem’s ability to provide meat. He was saying, “No matter how much meat You give them, even if millions of sheep and cows wander into Bnei Yisrael’s camp out of nowhere, You cannot satisfy them because they still will need to bring those animals as Shelamim offerings!” “Can sheep and cattle be slaughtered and suffice for them?” No! Because they can only be slaughtered encumbered by Mitzvot! “If all the fish in the sea are gathered, would it suffice for them?” True, fish do not require Shechitah or being offered as a sacrifice, but, for that very reason, it will not give them what they really want: meat that has had its restrictions lifted!

Hashem responded (verse 23), “Is the hand of Hashem limited?” Certainly, Hashem can give them what they want. And He did, as we read (verse 31), “A wind went forth from Hashem, Va’yagoz (literally, ‘and blew’) quail from the sea.” The word “Va’yagoz” appears only one other time in Tanach–in Iyov (1:20), where we read “Va’yagoz rosho” / “And he tore [the hair] off his head.” This suggests, writes R’ Gruenwald, that the quail blew in with their heads already cut, i.e., already slaughtered and ready to eat. Thus, Hashem satisfied Bnei Yisrael’s desire. (She’erit Yehuda)



“When the dew descended upon the camp at night, the Mahn would descend upon it.” (Bemidbar 11:9–in our Parashah)

R’ Moshe Isserles z”l (“Rema”; 1530-1572; rabbi of Cracow, Poland, and author of the glosses on Shulchan Aruch that adapt that work for Ashkenazim) records that some have a custom on Shabbat evening to eat a filled dish called “Pashtida”–apparently a type of pie or quiche–to recall the Mahn. R’ Yisrael Meir Kagan z”l (the Chafetz Chaim; died 1933) writes that such was the custom where he lived, and he explains that just as the Mahn was protected by one layer of dew below it, between it and the ground (see verse quoted above), and a second layer of dew above it (see Shmot 16:12-14), so Pashtida has meat between two layers of dough.

However, the Chafetz Chaim wonders, why is there a custom to recall the Mahn on Shabbat–the one day of the week when Mahn did not fall? Moreover, why is there not a custom to eat Pashtida on Yom Tov, when Mahn also did not fall?

The Chafetz Chaim answers, citing the work Torat Chaim (R’ Avraham Chaim Schor z”l–Poland; 1550-1632): Our sages call Shabbat “Me’ein Olam Ha’ba” / “a little bit of the World-to-Come,” and they call the World-to-Come: “A day which is entirely Shabbat.” Therefore, we observe several customs on Shabbat that allude to the World-to-Come. For example, we eat fish and meat on Shabbat as an allusion to the “Feasts of Leviathan and Shor Ha’bar” (some type of large ox)–metaphors our Sages use to refer to the reward that awaits Tzaddikim in the World-to-Come. Likewise, we drink wine on Shabbat as an allusion to another such metaphor: “Wine stored in its grapes since the time of Creation.” [What these metaphors might mean is beyond the scope of this article.]

For the same reason, we eat foods on Shabbat that remind us of the Mahn, as Mahn is also the food of Olam Ha’ba (see Chagigah 12b). (Mishnah Berurah and Be’ur Halachah 242)