Parshas Baalosecha / Tehillim / Shalom Bayis/”Marital Bliss” 5778

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The Connection between the Written Law and the Oral Law and their Respective Roles

“בהעלותך את הנרות אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעה הנרות” (במדבר ח:ב)

“In your raising up/lighting the candles against the face of the Menorah/Candelabra, the seven candles shall give forth their light” (Bamidbar 8:2)

Rashi asks, for what reason is the section dealing with the lighting of the Menorah placed adjacent to the section dealing with the sacrifices of the princes in honor of the inauguration of the alter? (See there his answer.)

Similary, we can ask, why is the section dealing with the lighting of the Menorah placed adjacent to the posuk“ובבא משה אל אהל מועד לדבר איתו וישמע את הקול מדבר אליו מעל הכפורת אשר על ארון העדות מבין שני הכרובים וידבר אליו” / “And as Moshe came to the Ohel Moed/Sactuary to speak with Him and he heard the (heavenly) voice speak to him from above the Kapores/Cover placed on the Aron/Ark of Testimony from between the two Keruvim/figures attached to the Kapores and He spoke to him (to Moshe)”? In fact, this statement seems to be completely out of place!

Now, it’s well known that there are two Torahs: the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The holy ark represents the Written Torah [as it contains the Tablets on which are written the Ten Commandments] and the Menorah represents the Oral Torah [as the Menorah gives forth light, alluding to holy Wisdom without written words].

However, these two Torahs are not separate entities, rather they are two parts of one whole, as the Oral Torah is included within the Written Torah and extends from it. This is as the above posuk states “וישמע את הקול” / “and he heard the (heavenly) voice”, and “קול” / “voice” refers to the Oral Torah as voice is a result of speech.

However, regarding this voice, the posuk continues“מדבר אליו מעל הכפורת אשר על ארון העדות מבין שני הכרובים” / “speak to him from above the Kapores/Cover placed on the Aron/Ark of Testimony from between the two Keruvim/figures attached to the Kapores and He spoke to him (to Moshe)”. That is, in order for this “voice” to be able to reach this world, it has to pass through the boundaries and the rules of the Written Torah [for the Oral Torah is only meant to clarify the intent of the Written Torah or to a reveal its deeper meanings].

This is the meaning of Yitzchok’s reaction as Yaakov approached him in order to receive his blessings when he said “הקול קול יעקב” / “the voice is the voice of Yaakov” (Bereishis 27:22). That is, he heard the “voice” of the Oral Torah emanating from the “voice” of the Written Torah. [Thus, the first “קל” is written missing the letter vav indicating a dependent “voice” ie., the Oral Torah which does not stand on its own but is dependent on the Written Torah, while the second “קול” is written in full alluding to the Written Torah which includes both Torahs within it.]

Yitzchok implied in his statement that he understood that Yaakov had achieved the ultimate task of harmoniously joining together Yitzchok’s main characteristic of strict judgment which is the basis of the Oral Law with Avraham’s main characteristic of loving kindness which is the basis of the Written Torah in a complete and pure manner, never to be divided again. Because of this, Yaakov is called the pillar of Torah.

We can suggest that perhaps this was Yaakov’s intention when he asked Hakadosh Baruch Hu to protect him in his travels to Charan and to see that he would successful on his journey when he said “ונתן לי לחם לאכול ובגד ללבוש” / “and He shall give me bread to eat and clothing to wear” (ibid. 28:20).

לחם לאכול” / “bread to eat” – alludes to the positive commandments, given in the merit of Avraham, and alludes as well to the Written Law and

ובגד ללבוש” – “clothes to wear” alludes to the negative commandments, given in the merit of Yitzchok, and to the Oral Law.

Yaakov added “ושבתי בשלום אל בית אבי והיה ה’ לי לאלקים” / “And when I return in peace/in wholeness to my father’s house and the Lor-d will be my G-d”. That is, a complete binding between the two midos/characteristics of his “father’s home”, meaning both father and grandfather. Thus “בית אבי” is written in the singular as Yaakov combined them into one “house”!

I saw in the commentaries that this was the very purpose of the Akeida – to combine the two opposing characteristics of Avraham and Yitzchok, loving kindness and strict judgment into one indivisible unit.

This is the reason that Yitzchok hand to lie on the alter under Avraham in order to combine the two into one, where strict judgment was overcome by loving kindness. This alluded to as well that the Oral Law was now completely imbedded in the Written Law. This is as its written [twice] in the Parsha of the Akeida “וילכו שניהם יחדיו” / “and the two of them went together” (ibid. 22:6,8).

In this same manner we can explain the phrase “והיה ה’ לי לאלקים” / “and the Lor-d shall be for me G-d”. ה‘ – The first name of G-d mentioned, is the source of Avraham’s trait of loving kindness, and the name “לאלקים” is the source of Yitzchok’s trait of strict judgment. That is, Yaakov asked from Hashem that he merit to be able to combine these two traits of his fathers as one! (See additional sources brought in the Hebrew edition.)

Returning to Chanukah, if the connection between the Written Law and the Oral Law was already mentioned at the end of the previous Parsha, what does the mentioning of the Menorah at this point, which also represents the Oral Law, come to teach us!? In addition, how did this additional reference to the Oral Law bring emotional relief to Aharon?

We can suggest that the posuk at the end of Parshas Naso refers to the receiving of the Torah from Shamayim/the Heavens into the Mishkan. By assigning Aharon the task of lighting the Menorah, Hakadosh Baruch Hu showed him that his efforts were to achieve more than this as the light of the Menorah is not limited to the Mishkan but spreads throughout the entire world!

It appears that this idea is alluded to in the words of Dovid Hamelech“שתולים בבית ה’ בחצרות אלקינו יפריחו” / “Planted in the house of Hashem in the courtyards of G-d they shall flower” (Tehillim 92:14). That is, the source of the Torah – the Written Law, represented by the Aron/Ark which is“שתולים בבית ה'”, then spreads throughout the world through the Menorah, as is written “בחצרות אלקינו יפריחו” similar to that which is written regarding the Menorah “ועשית מנורת זהב טהור… כפתוריה ופרחיה ממנו יהיו” / “And you shall make a candelabra of pure gold… its buttons and its “ופרחיה” / “it’s flowers” shall be from it” (Shemos 25:31). When Aharon heard this, he realized that there was no reason to feel despondent because he and his tribe were left out of the inauguration of the Mizbeach/Alter, for his portion was much greater!

Sivan 5778

Hints to Chanukah in the Parsha

בהעלותך את הנרות אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות” (במדבר ח:ב)

“In your raising up/lighting the candles against the face of the Menorah/Candelabra, the seven candles shall give forth their light” (Bamidbar 8:2)

Rashi explains that we learn from that which it states “בהעלותך” / “as you raise up” and not “בהדלקת” / “as you light” that the Cohen is required to light the candle until the flame begins to rise on its own. (We’ll come back to this alter.)

Rashi then explains that the Parsha of the Menorah is written adjacent to the Parsha of the offerings of the princes to teach us that when Aharon saw that neither he nor any member of his tribe were commanded to participate in the offerings, he became despondent. Hakadosh Baruch Hu then appeared to Aharon and told him that he has a greater portion than the princes as he is to light and prepare the candles of the Menorah.

The Ramban refutes Rashi’s explanation and offers an alternative explanation for the connection between the two Parshas saying that it is hinting to the lighting of the Menorah at the time of Chashmonai and his sons. The Ramban also quotes from the Medrash (Tanchuma 5, Medrash Raba 15:6) which says the sacrifices were only able to be brought when the Beis Hamikdash stood, however the candles would burn forever even after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash hinting to the lighting of the candles of Chanukah.

This is alluded to as well by the fact that the expression “בהעלותך את הנרות” is used and not “בהדלקתך את הנרות“. That is, “בהדלקתך” / “in your lighting” refers to the actual act of lighting, whereas “בהעלותך” / “in your raising up” refers to the effect of the lighting, hinting to the future light of Chanukah which came about through the lighting of the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash.

Another hint to Chanukah can be found in that which the Torah writes “בהעלותך את הנרות” / “As you raise up/light the candles”, using the word “candle” and not “light”. Usually “candles” refers to the vessels which hold the flame. Apparently, it should have said“בהעלותך את האור” או “את האש” או “את הלהב”“. Why does it say “בהעלותך את הנרות“!?

We can suggest that only the vessel is mentioned and not the flame in order to allude that the lighting in the Beis Hamikdash is only the basis for a future lighting at the time of Chanukah. This is as it says “אל מול פני המנורה” / “toward the face of the Menorah”, teaching us that there is a “face” meaning “source” to the Menorah from which all future lighting extends. This can be explained as follows: The light created through the lighting of the Menorah by Aharon as well as other Cohanim in the Beis Hamikdash remained in the atmosphere until it was pulled down from Shamayim and harnessed by the Chashmonaim and used to light the Menorah in a miraculous manner!

We find another allusion to the lighting of the Menorah during the days of Chashmonai and his children from that which the words “יאירו שבעת הנרות” / “the seven candles shall give forth their light” are written in the passive form and not “להדליק את הנרות שבעת ימים” / “to light the candles seven days”. This language suggests that the full lighting of the Menorah was not completed until a later time. When? At the time of the miracle of Chanukah!

Another allusion to the above is as follows: “בהעלתך” is written lacking a vav and “הנרת” is written lacking a vav. If we multiply vav with vav, the result is the numerical value of 36 – the number of candles one is obligated to light on Chanukah.

This idea is also alluded to in the posuk “ויעש כן אהרן” / “And Aharon did this”. The question is, why does the posuk inform us here that Aharon performed the mitzvah as required? Did he not perform all the mitzvos he was commanded in with the same devotion and exactness, and yet the Torah does not say“ויעש כן אהרן” / “And Aharon did this” regarding the other mitzvos!?

We can suggest that here too the Torah is alluding to a future fulfillment of the mitzvah. Meaning, the expression  ויעש כן אהרן”” / “And Aharon did this” is not only referring to Aharon but also to his offspring who will eventually fulfill the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah exactly as required in the days of Chashmonai and his children, descendants of Aharon Hacohen. We also learn from the above expression that the lighting of Chashmonai and his children was implanted in the dedicated and exact lighting of Aharon, their great grandfather. This is alluded to in the phrase “אל מול פני המנורה” / “across from the face of the Menorah”, meaning Aharon, who was the “face” and source of the lighting of the Menorah!

Sivan 5777


Torah Learning is the Basis for the Existence and Success of all Endeavors in this World

שתולים בבית ה’ (הוי”ה) בחצרות אלקינו יפריחו” (תהלים צב:יד)

“Planted in the house of Hashem in the courtyards of our G-d they shall flower” (Tehillim 92:14)

ה‘” – This is the name of Hashem which represents Hakadosh Baruch Hu as the source of all existence as well as the power behind its continuity. For this reason the Torah does not begin “בראשית ברא ה’ אלקים” / “In the beginning the Lor-d G-d created” but rather “בראשית ברא אלקים” / “In the beginning G-d created” for the four-letter name of G-d is the source of creation, not an agent of creation nor one of its products and therefore it is not mentioned at all in the act of creation. The name “אלקים” on the other hand is mentioned, for it is the agent through which Hashem created and maintains the physical world. (See the holy Zohar that the four-letter name of Hashem is hinted to in the word “בראשית“.)

שתולים בבית ה‘” – This is referring to those who toil in Torah. And because of their dedicated effort to understand the Torah and to attach themselves to its ways, it is considered as though they are “implanted in the house of Hashem”, that is the Beis Medrash, as Dovid Hamelech asks “שבתי בבית ה’ כל ימי חיי” / “may I sit in the house of Hashem all of the days of my life” (Tehillim 27:4) where “שבתי” is referring to the Beis Medrash, as the Tana states מרבה ישיבה מרבה חכמה / The more one sits and learns the greater wisdom he will obtain. (Avos 2:7). (See the commentary of the Tiferes Yisrael.)

בחצרות אלקינו” – What are the “חצרות אלקינו” /the courtyards of our G-d? They include all places outside the Beis Medrash. Who supports them and gives them their sustenance? “אלקינו” – which is Hashem’s agent to sustain this world and to teach the ways of Hashem to mankind.

יפריחו” – That is, through the great efforts of those talmidei chochomim/Talmudic scholars who toil in Torah in the Beis Medrash, the efforts of those outside the Beis Medrash involved in worldly activities will succeed and “flower”! This is as the prophet says “אם לא בריתי יומם ולילה חוקות שמים וארץ לא שמתי” / “If not for My covenant (Torah learning) day and night, I would not have placed the powers which sustain this world into place” (Yirmiyahu 33:25).

In other words, even though it appears to the naked eye that one’s efforts in business and other worldly occupations and affairs succeed through their efforts, this is only a mirage, for the truth is that their success and very existence is dependent on those who are “שתולים בבית ה‘” / “Implanted in the house of Hashem” and who, through their learning, awaken the very source of creation, bringing sustenance to the world and to all the people within it.

This can be compared to a person who plans to take a flight to another country. He buys a ticket, prepares his passport, arranges his suitcase and completes all the other necessary arrangements for the trip. In the end, it is not he who caused him to reach his destination, but the pilot of the airline he chooses to fly with.

And so it is with all human effort. Although it appears outwardly that our physical efforts are the reasons for the success of our endeavors, this is not true! Rather, it is the Torah scholars who sit and learn Torah day and night who allow one’s actions and endeavors to succeed, for those inside the Beis Medrash and for those outside of it.

This is as it’s written “ואתם הדבקים בה’ אלקיכם חיים כולכם היום” / “And you who have attached yourselves to Hashem your G-d you are all alive today” (Devorim 4:4). The explanation is as follows:

ואתם” – That is, the talmidei chochomim who attach themselves to Hashem through their diligent Torah study, cause that “חיים כולכם” / “all of you all alive”. That is, all the people who do not dedicate their lives to Torah “היום” / “today”, meaning “today” in this world, their endeavors are sustained and even “flower” because of the efforts of talmidei chochomim.

This is also alluded to in the wording “בה’ אלקיכם” / “in the Lor-d your G-d”. Meaning, through attaching oneself to the talmidei chochomim whom are attached to the four-letter name of G-d which is the source of all existence and growth, one will merit one to be successful in his worldly pursuits as directed by the name of G-d – “אלקיכם“.

Iyar 5778

Shalom Bayis
“Marital Bliss”


The Husband Always Bears Responsibly for His Actions

“ויאמר ה’ אלקים לא טוב היות האדם לבדו אעשה לו עזר כנגדו” (בראשית ב:יח)


“And the Lord G-d said it is not good for man to be alone I will make for him a helper against him” (Bereishis 2:18)

Was the creation of woman beneficial to man? Did she fulfill her objective to be an “עזר כנגדו” / “a help against him”!? Is it not true that man sinned through her very hands!? Apparently, this goes against the very purpose of her creation!?

However, if we take a closer look at our posuk we will see that it does not say “לא טוב היות האדם לבדו אעשה לו עזר לטובתו” / “it is not good for man to be alone I will make for him a helper for his good” but rather“לא טוב היות האדם לבדו אעשה לו עזר כנגדו” / “it is not good for man to be alone I will make for him a helper against him“!

What is the difference between “עזר לטובתו” and “כנגדו עזר? “עזר לטובתו” means someone to make sure that man reaches his fulfillment (so that it is good for him) while an “עזר כנגדו” is only meant to assist the man to fulfill himself and this includes that which is “good” for man and that which is not.

From this we learn that a woman’s role is not to insure that man reaches his full potential but only to assist him in doing so, however the final responsibility for man’s personal completion resides solely with him!

Thus we find that after both Adam and his wife ate from the “tree of knowledge” the posuk states “ויקרא ה’ אלקים אל האדם ויאמר לו איכה” / “And the Lor-d, G-d, called to the man and said to him, where are you” (Bereishis 3:9). That is, although the woman ate from the tree as well, and not only that, but she encouraged him to eat the forbidden fruit causing him to sin, Hakadosh Baruch Hu did not ask the woman why she had sinned or why she had caused her husband to sin, but only spoke to the man, in order to teach us that man alone is fully accountable for his actions! Even though the woman enticed him to sin and by doing this completely uprooted the very purpose of her creation, nevertheless man remained fully responsible for his own thoughts and his actions!

It appears that with this we can understand the posuk“ויותר יעקב לבדו ויאבק איש עמו עד עלות השחר… וירא כי לא יכול לו”… / “And Yaakov remained alone and a person wrestled with him until the first light of the day… and he (the person) saw that he could not (overpower) him (Yaakov)” (ibid. 32:25).

Who was that “person” who wrestled with Yaakov? It was the spiritual source of Eisav (Rashi). Who is the spiritual source of Eisav? He is the Satan, also known as the evil inclination and the angel of death, who is sourced in the serpent in Gan Eden who caused the original sin. Now, the sages have taught us (Baba Matzia 84a) that the beauty of Yaakov our father was similar to the beauty of the first man.

According to the above, we can understand the above posuk as follows: “ויותר יעקב לבדו” / “And Yaakov remained alone” – that is, Yaakov sent himself back to the time when the serpent caused the woman and the man to sin and he fought with all the spiritual strength he could muster in order to uproot the serpent’s poison from the body of man/mankind. The posuk added “לבדו” / “alone” teaching us that he took full responsibility for the sin of both man and woman, completely ignoring the woman’s role in the sin! And, in the same manner, we can explain that the wording “ויותר” / “And he remained” is teaching us that Yaakov cast aside all extraneous reasons for man’s sin and took upon himself total responsibility for it. Through this he was able to overcome the evil inclination which appeared to him as a person who came to wrestle with him, completely uprooting the poison and the pain of the original “bite” of the serpent in Gan Eden, and returned man to his original state of purity. And thus the posuk ends “וירא כי לא יכול לו” / and he saw that he could not overcome him (Yaakov) for Yaakov had pulled the venom out of the mouth of the serpent returning the world to its original state of purity as stated above.

Additionally, we can suggest that from that which it states“לא טוב היות האדם לבדו אעשה לו עזר כנגדו” / “it is not good for man to be alone I will make for him a helper against him” we learn that if not for the woman, the man would not have been able to stand up to the serpent and it would not have been “good” for man at all! That is, also without the enticement of the woman, he would have fallen to sin. (Accordingly, that which I saw in the commentaries that the serpent first attacked the woman because he knew that man would be able to withstand his enticements, is only true in this case where the man was already married. However, this is not a proof that an unmarried man could have stood up to the serpent!)

From another point of view as well we learn that the creation of woman to assist man was for his benefit. This is because he sinned through her enticement and not directly through the serpent’s enticements thus protecting his soul from being damaged to the point where it could not be repaired through teshuva/repentance. Thus, the creation of woman was in fact for the good of man!

We are left with one question, what caused the woman to change her role as an assistant to man to become the cause of his downfall?

The answer appears to be that there must have been a slight flaw in the way the man related to his wife which caused his wife to alter her relationship to him, changing her from an “עזר” / “helper” to “כנגדו” / “against him”. This is as our sages have taught (Yevamos 63a) Rebbi Elazar said, what is the explanation of “אעשה לו עזר כנגדו” / “I’ll make for him a helper against him”? (In other words, how can one be at the same time a “helper” and “against him”!?) He answers, if the man’s actions are meritable, she will be a “helper” for him and if not, (if he falters in his behavior or fulfillment of the mitzvos) she will act “against him”.

Sivan 5778

Have a nice Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!
Yona Vogel

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