Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eschanan II

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vo’eschanan, the Torah describes (for the second time[1]) the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It tells us all of the Ten Commandments which Hashem gave us. The Torah then tells us that[2] “Hashem spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness. (He said) these words with a great voice, which did not cease.” Rashi cites the words from the verse “which did not cease” and gives two explanations. The first is that “Targum Onkelus[3] explains the words to mean ‘and it did not cease,’ for His voice is strong and exists continuously.”

In other words, Rashi is telling us that this voice had no limitations whatsoever. The spiritual and the material are opposites. Physical objects are not inherently capable of “absorbing” spirituality, G-dliness. Likewise, G-dliness cannot “penetrate” the physical. However, this was a “great voice,” a Divine voice. It transcends both the material and the spiritual. Before this mighty voice, the physical and the G-dly are equal. Only the physical world itself can absorb such G-dly energy.

The same is true of a person’s service of Hashem. There are two aspects of the Torah. One is its intellectual aspect. Understanding the Torah, to the extent that a person can grasp it, requires the use of one’s mental faculties. However, there is a second aspect of the Torah; it is Hashem’s will and wisdom. He is a perfect unity. Hence, His will and understanding are one with Him[4]. This is the “great voice” of the Torah. It transcends this physical world.

Torah, which one learns for its intellectual perspective alone, cannot penetrate the physical, human body. However, when one studies “the great voice” of the Torah, it is absorbed by his entire being. It can even penetrate his heels, the lowest part of his body.

The Torah, which he learns, affects him even after he finishes learning. When one is busy conducting his worldly activities, it is apparent that he is a Jew who studies Torah.

By hearing the “great voice which does not cease” when learning Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos, we can transform this world into a dwelling place for the Holy One, blessed be He, and bring about the coming of Moshiach.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer. May we merit the time of the complete and final redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1095


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. The first time was in Parshas Yisro, beginning with Shemos 20:1.

[2]. Our Parshah, Devorim 5:19.

[3]. There are a number of Aramaic translations of the Torah. That of Onkelus is the closest to the simple explanation of each verse. It is often quoted by Rashi.

[4]. See Tanya, Chapters 4 – 5.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eschanan I

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Vo’eschanan, begins with Moshe saying that[1] “I entreated Hashem at that time saying.”  Moshe was begging Hashem to change His decree and allow him to enter Eretz Yisroel. Rashi offers two explanations for the Torah’s use of the word “Vo’eschanan – and I entreated.” He cites the words from the verse, “And I entreated,” and explains as follows. “The word חִנּוּן (and all words which are related to it, such as “Vo’eschanan”) signifies (requesting) a gift… Another explanation is that this (חִנּוּן) is one of ten terms which denote prayer.” We need to understand why Rashi needs to offer two different explanations for the word “Vo’eschanan.”

Rashi writes in the very next verse that Moshe Rabbeinu knew that “it had already been decreed (by Hashem)” that he would not be permitted to enter Israel. Nevertheless, Rashi writes[2] that Moshe prayed that Hashem grant him entrance. In Rashi’s words, he thought that “perhaps G-d had annulled His vow.”

The Sages of the Talmud discuss whether prayer can change a decree which Hashem already issued[3]. The Gemorah concludes that prayer will not help to change a decree which was issued against an individual. However, prayer does have the ability to change a decree issued against the community.

Based on this, we can understand the two opinions in Rashi regarding Moshe’s prayer to G-d. Some say that a decree against Moshe is the equivalent of a decree against the Jewish Nation. This is in keeping with what Rashi taught us earlier[4]; “Moshe is Israel and Israel is Moshe. This teaches us that the leader of the generation is equal to the entire generation, for the leader is everything.” Based on this, Rashi’s explanation that “Vo’eschanan” means prayer is quite clear. Since Moshe is the community, even after Hashem ordained the decree against him, prayer can still help.

However, according to those who say that a decree against Moshe is as if it’s against one individual, prayer would not help. Praying could not affect. Therefore, we could not say that “Vo’eschanan” means prayer. According to this opinion, we must say that “Vo’eschanan” means that Moshe was requesting a free gift, i.e., something which he did not earn.

 We can see from this how precise Rashi is. The fact that he explains one word in two different ways reflects a significant difference in the Sage’s opinion.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 24, Pages 28-35


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 3:23.

[2]. See his comments further in this same verse.

[3]. See Talmud Rosh Hashanah beginning with page 37, b.

[4]. See Rashi’s comments to the words “and Israel sent,” Parshas Chukas, Bamidbar 21:21.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Devorim

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This week’s Torah portion, Devorim, is always read on the Shabbos immediately preceding the fast of Tisha B’Av. The holy Sheloh teaches that the weekly Torah portion is always connected to the time of the year in which we read it[1]. Based on this, there must be a connection between Parshas Devorim and Tisha B’Av. We need to understand what this connection is.

Rashi tells us at the beginning of our Torah portion, that even at the same time that Hashem is rebuking the Jews, He is also concerned with their honor. Rashi cites the words from the first verse of our Parshah[2], “These are the words.” He comments that “these are words of rebuke, and here Moshe lists all of the places where the Jews angered Hashem. Therefore, the Torah does not explicitly mention their transgressions. Rather, it alludes to their sins by mentioning the names of the places where they angered G-d. This is done out of respect for the Jews.”

Why is there this concern for the Jews’ honor at the time that He rebukes them? Because, the goal of rebuking them is in order to elevate them; i.e., in order to add to their honor. This teaches us that at the time of exile, the Jews’ glory is apparent. The reason for the exile and destruction which is commemorated on Tisha B’Av is the redemption which will ultimately be enjoyed. The exile itself is an expression of Geulah.

We find the same idea in the book of Eichoh, Lamentations[3]. It begins with the words “O how has the city that was once so populous (Jerusalem) remained alone!” There is something very positive about “remaining alone.” We see this in the prophecy that the Jews are[4] “a nation that will dwell alone and will not be reckoned among the nations.” The fact that Jerusalem “remained alone,” and the Jews “dwell alone” means that the Jews will not mix with idolaters. It is indicative of the time of redemption.

Even at times when things may not seem all that positive, we can be certain that all is well. Nothing negative descends from above. The exile itself is a preparation for and a step toward the redemption. Wishing one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 7


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש


IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Sheloh at the beginning of Parshas Vayeishev. See also Zohar volume 2 page 206, b.

[2]. Parshas Devorim, Devorim 1:1.

[3]. As implied by its name, this book of the Bible laments the destruction of the Holy Temple and the ensuing exile. It is read as part of the service on Tisha B’Av.

[4]. Parshas Balak, Bamidbar 23:9.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Matos-Massei

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This week’s Torah portion, Matos-Massei, begins with the laws of annulling vows. The Torah says[1] “If a man makes a vow to Hashem, or if he makes an oath to prohibit something from himself, he may not violate his word. He must do whatever came out of his mouth.” Rashi cites the words “he may not violate his words.” He explains that it means that “he shall not profane his word. He shall not treat his word as being unholy.” Simply put, Rashi is saying that one must keep his word.

Let us put this into context. The Jews were ending their forty years in the wilderness and standing on the brink of entering the Holy Land. What was the difference between life in the desert and the life which awaited them in Israel? In the wilderness they had no physical concerns whatsoever. They always had food to eat, the Manna which fell seven days a week. They always had what to drink; water from Miriam’s well. They had no need to be concerned with clothing; their clothes were cleaned, pressed and grew with them thanks to the Clouds of Glory. These special clouds would also serve as their protection. Their only concern was following Hashem’s commandments and learning Torah from Moshe Rabbeinu, the world’s greatest Rosh Yeshivah.

Contrast that with the life which they would lead in Israel. They would have to work for their food. It would involve ploughing, planting and harvesting. Only then would they be able to begin making food from the grain which they managed to collect! They would have to dig for water and make their own clothing. They would even need to build their own shelter. What is the reason for this great change? The years in the desert were merely a preparation for what was to follow. This is similar to the first twenty years or so of a child’s life. The child is not concerned with paying bills. His main concern is doing well in Yeshivah. Once he gets married, that changes drastically.

This was the same as the change which awaited the Jews in Israel. They made the necessary preparation which were needed to fulfill G-d’s purpose in creation, namely transforming this physical world into a dwelling place for Hashem below. One fundamental part of the preparation is the laws of vows. Rashi explains this as “not profaning one’s word.” One may not make his word into something profane, i.e. not holy. Rather he must sanctify his words. Everything we say must be holy. This is a great step toward transforming this world into Hashem’s dwelling place.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 13, Page 108-109


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש


IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 30:3.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Pinchos

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This week we read the Torah portion Pinchos. Several weeks ago, we read how Korach fomented a rebellion against Moshe and Aharon. Their punishment was that the earth opened up and swallowed Korach and his assembly. In this week’s Parshah, the Torah tells us that[1] “Korach’s sons, however, did not die.” Rashi explains that “They were originally involved in the conspiracy, but during the dispute, they contemplated repentance. Therefore, an elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom, and they stayed there.”

We need to understand why the Torah chose to tell us now that Korach’s children were saved? Why did the Torah wait over twenty chapters to let us know?

The explanation may be as follows. Regarding Korach’s assembly, the Torah tells us that[2] “They, and all they possessed, descended alive into the grave; the earth covered them up, and they were lost to the assembly.” That assembly was not aware of the fate of Korach’s children. They saw that Korach’s children initially participated in their father’s insurrection against Moshe. They also saw their punishment. However, they did not witness their Teshuvah, for, as Rashi explained, they only “contemplated Teshuvah” in their hearts. Korach’s children were lost to that assembly.

However, there was no reason for them to be lost to a subsequent assembly. The Jews who were alive now did not witness Korach’s rebellion. Rashi told us earlier that[3] “All were perfect, ready to enter the Land. There was not among them even one of those upon whom the decree had been pronounced, for all those destined to die in the desert had already perished, and these were of those about whom the Torah writes, ‘you… are all alive this day.'”

At this point, the generation that had witnessed Korach’s rebellion was no longer present. That is why now Korach’s children could leave the “elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom.” Now it became clear that “Korach’s sons did not die.”

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption, which will begin an eternal Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 33, Pages 173 ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 26:11.

[2]. Parshas Korach, Bamidbar 16:33.

[3]. Parshas Chukas, Bamidbar 20:22.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Chukas

Click here for a printable version.

This week’s Torah portion, Chukas, tells that[1] “This is the statute (Chok) of the Torah which Hashem commanded saying, ‘Speak to the Jewish people and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.’” A “Chok” is a Divine commandment that human understanding cannot grasp. Only G-dly intellect can comprehend it. The law of the “Red Cow” is the statute of the Torah. It is the most outstanding of all “Chukim” (plural of “Chok”). Through this procedure, one who came into contact with a corpse can become ritually purified.

There are various levels of spiritual impurity. Each is the result of contact with death in one form or another. Hence the most severe form of spiritual impurity is contact with an actual corpse. The only way to remove this defilement is through the “Red Cow.”

Rashi comments on the above verse, citing the words “and have them take for you.” He writes that “It will always be called in your name; the cow which Moshe prepared in the desert.” We have written many times that Rashi is very “stingy” with the words he uses. He only writes that which is necessary. What need is there to tell us that Moshe prepared the cow “in the desert?” We all know that whatever Moshe did after the departure was done in the desert! He received the Torah and carried out all of Hashem’s commandments in the wilderness!

As is the case with everything in Torah, this comes to teach us an important lesson. One can ask how it is possible to purify a Jew who has descended to the lowest level and finds himself in an unclean environment. The answer is that he must keep in mind that the “Red Cow” was prepared in the desert. A desert is a place of[2] “…snakes, vipers, scorpions, and drought, where there was no water …” Nevertheless, it was from this cow specifically that all subsequent cows would be prepared. Rashi writes that each cow is called by Moshe’s name. Thus, with the power of Moshe, the leader of the generation, we can purify every Jew. This is true regardless of how far he has fallen and whatever his surroundings are. 

We must use that power to sanctify ourselves and all of those around us. In that manner, we will undoubtedly bring Moshiach now!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1061


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 19:2.

[2]. Parshas Aikev, Devorim 8:15.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Chukas

Click here for a printable version.

This week’s Torah portion, Chukas, tells us how the Jewish people, traveling through the desert, wished to pass through the land of the giant Sichon. The Torah tells us that[1] “Yisroel (the Jewish Nation) sent messengers to Sichon.” Rashi cites the words “Yisroel sent messengers” and explains that “Elsewhere, the sending (of messengers) is ascribed to Moshe, as it says[2], ‘So I (meaning Moshe) sent messengers from the desert of Kedamos.’ … Moshe is Yisroel, and Yisroel is Moshe. This teaches you that the leader of the generation is comparable to the entire generation because the leader is everything.”

In the Midrash, which is the source of Rashi’s comments, the Hebrew word for
head of the generation” is “head – Rosh – ראש. “Rashi uses the word “Prince – Nosi – נשיא.” The meaning of the “head–Rosh” of the generation is that one’s head conducts whatever goes on within his body. So too does the head of the generation conduct and lead the entire generation. However, the word prince (נשיא) of the generation is related to the Hebrew words “נשיאה והרמה,” meaning uplifted; it is a description for one who is above the nation or the community.

Therefore, when the Midrash says that the head of the generation is the entire generation, it means that the leader controls every part of the body equally. The whole generation is one being, and the Rosh is its head. However, this applies only regarding communal matters.

Rashi’s word Nosi has a different connotation. He is comparable to the entire generation because the leader is everything. The leader of the generation is both above the whole generation and is the entire    generation.

This presents us with two contrasting aspects of a prince – נשיא. On the one hand, one may have thought that his actions are equal, or at least proportionate to those of the entire nation. This is because his actions are elevated high above those of the rest of the nation. But, on the other hand, since, as Rashi says, “the leader of the generation is comparable to the entire generation, because the leader is everything,” even though he is head and shoulders above the rest of the nation[3], his actions still affect and can be drawn down into the entire generation.

I wish one and all a Good Shabbos and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 33 Pp. 131 ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Chukas 21:21.

[2]. Devorim 2:26.

[3]. This expression is based on the description of King Saul in I Shmuel 9:2.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Korach II

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Korach, tells of a rebellion against Moshe and his brother Aharon.  Korach was the one who instigated this terrible rebellion. Surprisingly, he managed to recruit 250 leaders of the nation to his side! Rashi tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu told Korach,[1] “We have only one G-d, one ark, one Torah, one altar, and one Kohen Gadol. However, you 250 men are all seeking the position of High Priest! I, too, would like that!” From Rashi’s words, it seems that Moshe agreed with them; he included himself with them. He allowed for the possibility of multiple High Priests. Even if he was making a point verbally, how could he say such a thing?

We can understand this by explaining the answer to a different question. Hashem had promised Moshe that[2] “they (the Jewish Nation) will believe in you forever.” In light of Hashem’s promise, how is it possible that 250 heads of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court, rebelled against Moshe? The explanation is that Korach and his band did believe in Moshe! Their rebellion was not against Moshe; rather, it was against Aharon. They sought the office of Kehunah Gedolah.

Why was this position so important to them? They realized the tremendous spiritual heights which only the High Priest can attain. They were aware that G-d had separated the Kohen Gadol from all other Jews; he alone would achieve the status of “holy of holies.” They had witnessed the sin of the spies. They knew that prayer can annul a physical decree against the Jews. They thought that it might also cause them to attain a higher spiritual status.

That is why Moshe was able to tell them that “I too want that.” The desire to reach that sort of connection to G-d is something which is desirable! However, it is impossible; it cannot be. Just as “we have only one G-d, one ark, one Torah and one altar, so too do we have only one Kohen Gadol.

May Hashem help that we all strengthen our connection with the Moshe of each generation. May Hashem help us strengthen our connection with Him. In this manner we will all reach the greatest heights and bring Moshiach now!

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos, a meaningful Gimmel Tammuz, and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 18, Pages 187-189


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. See Rashi’s comments to our Parshah, Bamidbar 16:6.

[2]. Parshas Yisro, Shemos 19:9.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Korach

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week we read Parshas Korach. It tells of Korach’s rebellion against the priesthood of Aharon. The Parshah begins with the words[1] “Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi took, together with Doson and Avirom, the sons of Eliov, and On the son of Peles, [who were] descendants of Reuvain.”.

What is the meaning of “Korach took?” What did he take? Rashi explains that “He took himself to one side to dissociate himself from the congregation, to contest the (appointment of Aaron to the) Kehunah. This is what Targum Onkelos means when he renders it “and he separated himself.” He separated himself from the congregation to persist in a dispute.

Some compare Korach’s dissension to Hashem’s firmament on the second day to divide between the higher and lower waters.

What is the analogy? There was a difference between the priests and the rest of the children of Israel. The priests were withdrawn from the affairs of the world and entirely taken up with their holy office. Especially the High Priest (against whom Korach’s accusation was primarily intended), of whom it is written that[2] “he shall not depart from the Sanctuary.”

Despite this, he was not uninvolved with the rest of the people. On the contrary, he exercised his influence over them all, drawing them up to his level of holiness. The kindling of the seven branches of the Menorah symbolized this. Aaron’s unique attribute was “Great, or everlasting Love”—and he drew the people near this service.

But Korach did not see this. He saw only the separation between Kohanim and people. Viewed in this light, he saw that just as the priests had their unique role, so too did the people, in enacting G‑d’s will in the practical world, which was, indeed, the whole purpose of the Torah. As separate entities, the people had at least as much right to honor and elevation as the priests.

This removes the inconsistency in his claim. He sought the priesthood but as an office entirely remote from the people. Hence his accusation, “Why do you elevate yourselves?” In his eyes, the two groups, utterly distinct, each had their special status.

In this way, Korach was like the firmament. He aimed to divide the people, like the waters, and sever the connection between the Sanctuary and the ordinary world.

I wish one and all a Good Shabbos, a meaningful Gimmel Tammuz, and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 8, Pp. 114 ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 16:1.

[2]. Parshas Emor, Vayikroh 21:12.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Shelach II

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Shelach, tells us the famous story about the twelve spies who Moshe Rabbeinu sent from the wilderness to the land of Israel. The Torah tells us that they brought back the extraordinary, enormous fruit from the land to show the Jewish people. Rashi explains that Yehoshua and Kaleiv returned empty-handed. Rashi explains that this was because[1] “the intention of the others (in bringing the fruit) was to present a slanderous report, (namely,) just as its fruit is extraordinary, so are its people extraordinary.”

We need to understand how Yehoshua and Kaleiv could disobey Moshe! Moshe Rabbeinu told all twelve spies[2], “You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land.” It would seem that by returning without fruit, they were disregarding Moshe’s words!

The spies’ mistake was in thinking that it was better to remain in the wilderness, performing Mitzvos with thought and speech, rather than entering Israel where they would be obligated to work with the physical world and perform physical Mitzvos. Our Sages teach us that action counts more than anything else. However, this can cause one to mistakenly believe that our thoughts and motives do not matter all that much. Rashi is coming to explain the devastating results that can come from harmful intentions and hidden motives. If this is the case with negative things, how much more is it true about positive things. The Torah teaches us that teaching that[3] “a Mitzvah performed without thought is like a body without a soul.” A soul can transform a body from life to “the opposite of life.” So too, can the proper intentions bring life to a Mitzvah.

We can accomplish this by studying the deeper aspects of the Torah, Chassidus, which is a sample of the deeper reasons of Mitzvos, which will be revealed with the coming of Moshiach.

Similarly, the obligation to believe in Moshiach and await his coming must come from the depths of one’s heart. This itself will hasten the true redemption and the fulfillment of the promise[4], ” I will remove the heart of stone from you, and will give you a heart of flesh,” speedily in our days.

I wish one and all a Good Shabbos and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel MendelsohnAdapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 38, Pages 48 ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. See Rashi, Our Parshah, Bamidbar 13:23.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 13:20.

[3]. See Tanya Chapter 38.

[4]. Yechezkel 36:26.