פ’ שלח – תשע”ה
Volume 9, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע
“And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun – Yehoshua.” (13:16)
According to Rashi, Moshe prayed for him saying, “May Hashem save you from the thinking of the spies!” Calev, too, was in danger, so much so that he went to the cave of the Patriarchs to pray that the spies not influence him negatively. Asks R’ Yechezkel Levinstein, “Weren’t Yehoshua and Calev very firm in their convictions and faith? Why were special prayers necessary to save them from following after the others?”
From here we gain an important insight into how powerful the influence of the company that one keeps truly is. If a person associates with a certain group, he cannot avoid tending to think, speak and act like them. He becomes part of an entity, and takes on the different traits and characteristics of that entity, whether the group’s influence is positive or not. At the same time, we also see the great power of prayer. If a person must associate with evil elements, prayer has the power to save him from what otherwise is inevitable decline. In fact, only through prayer can he avoid being dragged down to the depths where the others are found. (Torah Anthology)
ונהי בעינינו כחגבים וכן היינו בעיניהם
“And in our eyes we were as grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.” (13:33)
Midrash Yalkut Shimoni teaches, “You said that you saw yourselves as grasshoppers. Hashem says, ‘Who told you that in their eyes you did not appear as angels?’”
This is what happens, writes the Chafetz Chaim, when a person loses faith in Hashem. He will lose faith in himself and will fail to recognize his own true worth. He will think that others see him as a grasshopper, when really he is an angel in their eyes. When people lose their self-esteem, and regard themselves as less than they really are, until they see themselves as insects or other lower creatures, they automatically feel that others see them this way, too. “In our eyes we were as grasshoppers.” Therefore, “and so we were in their eyes.” Here is clear proof that the spies had lost their belief in Hashem. (Talelei Oros)
ועתה יגדל נא כח ה’
“May now the strength of Hashem be magnified…” (14:17)
In the Torah, the letter “י” of the word יגדל, be magnified, is written larger than normal. Why is this so? As Hashem tells Moshe later in the verse, this was the tenth time that the people had sinned since they left Egypt.
From this Moshe inferred that Hashem’s Attributes of Mercy included the willingness to forgive nine transgressions, but would He bear yet a tenth breach of faith by His chosen nation? Moshe, therefore, prayed that Hashem’s strength – His willingness to forgive – should be magnified to include the forgiveness of a tenth transgression. To allude to this, the “י” of יגדל, whose numerical value is 10, is written large. (Kol Dodi)
מראשית ערסתיכם תתנו תרומה לה’ לדרתיכם
“Of the first of your dough you shall give to Hashem a portion for a gift throughout your generations.” (15:21)
Following the sin of the spies the Torah also instituted a mitzvah of challah to be worthy of a blessing in their homes. As a result of their sins, it was necessary for the Jewish people to atone by adding a new dimension of devotion to Hashem.
Rabbi Aharon HaLevi, author of the Sefer Hachinuch brings two special reasons for taking challah: 1. Since man is dependent on bread for sustenance, Hashem wanted to have the Jewish people merit having a continuous mitzvah exist in our bread, so that our bread will be blessed through the mitzvah. 2. So that the servants of Hashem, the Kohanim, will have sustenance without having to struggle for it. With the offering of grain, they must first bring it have it ground. However, with challah, their portion will be allotted automatically and with ease.
The holy Sage, R’ Moshe Sofer, the Chasam Sofer, repeatedly wrote and spoke of the importance of teaching young children Torah and training them with Yirat Shamayim, fear of Heaven. Many times he would mention our present verse: מראשית עריסתיכם תתנו לה’ – when your child is still lying in the cradle (the word עריסה also means cradle), see to it that you instill within him the love of Torah and Heaven and do not push off this task for the future. When it comes to educating children it is important to follow the rule: יפה שעה אחת קודם (The earlier the better). When one seeks to inspire his child at such an early age, he will succeed in his task. (Sforno)
“A thread of blue wool…” (15:38)
The Talmud (Menachos 43b), “The blue is like the color of the sea, and the sea is like the color of the sky, and the sky reminds us of the Seat of Glory.” R’ Moshe Feinstein asks, “If the Holy One chose the color blue for tzitzit because it is close to being the color of the sea, and the sea’s color is close to the sky’s color, and the sky’s color resembles that of the Seat of Glory, why not choose the color of the Seat of Glory directly?
The message is an important one. In order to elevate oneself spiritually and succeed in reaching the highest levels, one has to proceed step by step. One cannot arrive immediately “at the Seat of Glory”. It takes much struggle and effort. One must climb slowly but surely, making progress gradually, one achievement at a time. Only what a person achieves through great effort and strain becomes truly his, and becomes part of his being. This, in fact, is the only way to reach the Seat of Glory! (Torah Anthology)
Last weeks edition of Insights from the Sedra began our third year of our weekly Torah sheets. I wish to express my hakarat hatov to Rabbi Lichter who each and every week edits and coordinates the divrei Torah that is distributed. We hope you enjoy and learn from it.
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