Pearls of Rashi – Chukas II

In this week’s Parshah, Chukas, we are told that[1] “the people became disheartened because of their travels.” Rashi explains that[2] “because of the hardship of traveling, which was difficult for them. They said, ‘Now we were so close to entering the Land, and we are turning back. Our fathers also turned back and remained for thirty-eight years until today.’ Therefore, they became disheartened due to the difficulty of traveling.” As a result of this[3], “the people spoke out against Hashem and Moshe …”

They were punished for this by venomous snakes that bit the people, many of whom perished[4].

The people then[5] “… came to Moshe and said, ‘We sinned, because we spoke against Hashem and against you. Pray to Hashem that He remove the snakes from us.’ Moshe prayed for the people.” Rashi cites the words “Moshe prayed,” and explains that “from here we learn that one who is asked for forgiveness should not be so cruel so as not to forgive.”

Rashi is telling us that we learn this lesson “from here.” There is an earlier place which would seem to have taught us the same exact lesson. The Torah told us[6] that Avimelech, the king of Geror, kidnapped Soroh who was Avrohom’s wife. After G-d made Avimelech aware of his sin, he returned Soroh to Avrohom, gave presents to both of them and apologized. The Torah then tells us that[7] “Avrohom prayed to Hashem, and He healed Avimelech and his wife and his handmaids.” Why was it necessary for Avrohom to pray for them? Why did they need to be healed? The very next verse tells us the punishment which they received for Avimelech’s sin of taking Soroh[8]. “For Hashem shut every womb of Avimelech’s household, because of Soroh, Avrohom’s wife.”

It would seem that with these words the Torah taught us that we must forgive one for a wrong which he committed, no matter how great!

However, there is a great difference between the two instances. Avrohom prayed that Hashem should remove the punishment from Avimelech and his nation. From that we can learn to see to it that one who wronged us is absolved of punishment. However, Moshe prayed on behalf of the nation. It was not merely a question of absolving them of punishment; he completely forgave them with all of his heart. Despite their talk against them, he only wanted the best for them.

This is the lesson which we must learn. We must learn from Moshe to forgive wholeheartedly. In that merit Hashem will forgive us and bring Moshiach now!

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 28, Page 142-148

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 21:4.

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 21:5.

[4]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 21:6.

[5]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 21:7.

[6]. Parshas Vayeiro, Bereishis 20:2.

[7]. Parshas Vayeiro, Bereishis 20:17.

[8]. Parshas Vayeiro, Bereishis 20:18.

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