We read in this week's parashah that Moshe was commanded to
make trumpets which were to be blown on various occasions. These
included: holidays, when it was time to assemble, and when the
nation went out to war.
When the Torah speaks of blowing the trumpets in war time, the
Torah mentions only the sound called teruah, i.e., the broken
sound that represents crying. However, the gemara (Rosh Hashanah
34a) teaches that any time a teruah is blown, it must be preceded
and followed by a tekiah, a long sound. R' Mordechai Rogov z"l
(1900-1969; rosh yeshiva in Chicago) explains:
Teruah is the sound of a groan and a wail, while tekiah is the
sound of triumph and happiness. This is the power of the Jewish
people - our teruot are always accompanied by tekiot. Even when
the sounds of wailing and groaning are heard in the camp of
Yisrael, there is never total despair. At the same time, the
tekiot are heard - the sounds of hope and trust.
This is what the Torah is teaching us. When the oppressors
come to our gates, we should sound the teruot together with
tekiot. It is in this merit that we will be delivered from our
enemies [as verse 10:9 suggests]. (Ateret Mordechai)
"There were men who were tamei from a human corpse and could
not make the Pesach-offering on that day . . ." (9:6)
"Moshe said to them, 'Stand and I will see what Hashem will
command you'." (9:8)
"Speak to Bnei Yisrael, saying, 'If any man will become
tamei through a human corpse . . .' " (9:10)
R' Pinchas Halevi Horowitz z"l (1730-1805; rabbi of Frankfurt,
Germany; author of the Talmud commentaries Hafla'ah and Hamakneh)
contrasts these verses with another instance in which Moshe had
to approach Hashem to seek an answer to a halachic question that
certain individuals had asked. In Bemidbar, chapter 27, the
daughters of Tzelofchad asked that daughters be allowed to
inherit the property of a man who died with no sons. Moshe asked
Hashem, and Hashem responded, "The daughters of Tzelofchad speak
properly . . ." Hashem specifically acknowledged the daughter of
Tzelofchad in His answer. Here, in contrast, Hashem's answer did
not refer to the men who asked the question; instead He
responded, "If any man will become tamei . . ."
R' Horowitz explains: The gemara tells us that the men who
asked this question were the pallbearers of Yosef's coffin. The
halachah is that one who carries a coffin does not become tamei
if he is not carrying most of the weight. Thus, these people did
not know for certain that any of them were tamei; perhaps the
weight was distributed in such a way that no one had become
Hashem, of course, knew which, if any, of them were tamei.
Thus, He could not address His answer to them directly because
for some, or all, of them, it was not pertinent. Therefore He
said, "If any man . . ."
R' Horowitz adds: The rule is that when a situation of doubtful
tuma'ah arises in a public place, one is considered to be tahor.
If so, why couldn't these men bring a Korban Pesach?
He answers: Had each person come alone to ask, Moshe could have
told each person, "We will presume that you are tahor and your
colleague is tamei." However, since they came together, Moshe
was not permitted to give this answer. (Although in certain
cases of doubt, a rabbi may issue contradictory rulings, he may
not issue contradictory rulings simultaneously.)
"When the cloud lingered upon the Tabernacle many days, Bnei
Yisrael would safeguard the charge of Hashem and would not
Couldn't the verse have said, "When the cloud lingered upon the
Tabernacle many days, Bnei Yisrael would not journey"? What is
added by the phrase, "[They] would safeguard the charge of
R' Aryeh Leib Zunz-Charif z"l (Poland; 1765-1833) answers:
Perhaps the verse is teaching that even though Bnei Yisrael had a
strong desire to reach Eretz Yisrael, when they saw that it was
not Hashem's will that they travel, they willingly safeguarded
His charge and did not journey.
"The rabble that was among them cultivated a craving, and
Bnei Yisrael also wept once more, and said, 'Who will feed
us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of
charge; and the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onion and
Why, all of a sudden, did the nation crave meat? R' Shaul z"l
of Amsterdam (1717-1790) explains:
During the 40 years in the desert, Bnei Yisrael were forbidden
to eat any meat except the meat of shelamim sacrifices. Such
sacrifices had to be brought in the Mishkan / Tabernacle, and
could only be offered when the nation was encamped and the
Mishkan was re-assembled.
The meat of a shelamim sacrifice may be eaten for two days
after the sacrifice is offered. At this point, however, Bnei
Yisrael had been traveling for three days straight. Accordingly,
they had run out of meat to eat.
(Binyan Ariel: Chadrei Torah)
Regarding eating, R' Yerucham Levovitz z"l (the "Mirrer
Mashgiach," whose 65th yahrzeit is today) taught:
Many laws were said relating to eating (as set forth in
Masechet Derech Eretz, chapters 6 through 9), and the purpose of
all of them is to direct and elevate man to eat like a human and
not an animal. On Shabbat, it is a mitzvah to cut a large slice
of bread; because doing so shows one's love of a mitzvah, it is
not considered to be gluttonous. However, this is not the case
on a weekday. On a weekday, one should eat small pieces. If one
holds a full portion in his hand ("ke'beitzah"), he is considered
to be a glutton . Likewise, one who drinks his entire cup in one
gulp is considered to be a glutton. There are many other laws
regarding eating, some of which are codified in the Shulchan
Aruch, chapters 167, 170 and elsewhere.
When we visit someone who does not eat in a mannerly way, we
refer to him as a "Man of hal'eetainee nah" [literally, a "'Pour
it into me'-man," based on the verse (Bereishit 25:30) in which
Esav asked Yaakov to pour the stew down Esav's throat]. What
difference does it make whether one eats slowly or if one takes
three spoons-full of soup one after another? The answer is that
the latter is the behavior of Esav - "I will open my mouth and
you pour the food in." What difference does it make if one takes
small pieces of bread or if one fills his mouth to the point that
his cheeks bulge out several inches? The answer is, again, that
the latter is the behavior of Esav.
It is no small matter to eat properly! It is true that the
gemara (Chagigah 16a) lists eating as one of the traits that man
shares with animals. Nevertheless, one who is eating should
never forget that he is a human. One should prepare so that all
that he eats will be for the sake of Heaven, as if the altar
itself is "eating."
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Roshei Yeshivat Mir p. 288)
[Ed. note: This year is a shemittah year, and, from time-to-
time, we are presenting excerpts from the laws of shemittah.
As with any halachic issue addressed in Hamaayan, our goal is
to increase awareness of the subject, not to provide
practical halachic guidance. For such advice, consult a
The fruits of the seventh year were given to us for eating,
drinking, applying as lotions, lighting and makeup. That they
may be used for lighting and makeup is learned through the Oral
How may they be used for eating and drinking? One eats
that which is normally eaten and drinks that which is normally
drunk, just as is the law regarding terumah and ma'aser sheni.
One may not transform fruits [of shemittah] from the form
in which they were created, just as one may not transform terumah
and ma'aser. That which is normally eaten raw may not be eaten
cooked and that which is normally eaten cooked may not be eaten
raw. Therefore, one may not steam animal fodder. . .
[Omitted because of its technical nature.]
Fruits which are normally set aside for human consumption
may not be fed to domesticated or wild animals or birds. If an
animal went on its own under a fig tree and ate, one need not
turn the animal away, for it is written [Vayikra 25:7], "And for
your animal and for the beast [that is in your land shall all its
crop be to eat]."
How may they be used as lotions? One applies as a lotion
that which is normally used as a lotion. One may not lubricate
his body with wine or vinegar, but he may lubricate his body with
oil. One may not add spices to the oil. One may not apply the
lotion in the bathhouse, but he may apply it outside and then
enter [the bathhouse].
The oil of the seventh year may not be used for tempering
ovens or for oiling shoes and sandals. One may not lubricate his
body with tamei hands . . .
How may it be used for lighting? One may use the oil of
shemittah itself for lighting. If one sold it and bought other
oil or he bartered oil for oil, neither may be used for lighting,
for one may not use money [that has the holiness] of shemittah
for lighting. One may not put oil [of shemittah] into a bonfire,
only into a lamp.
How may they be used for makeup? One applies as makeup
that which is normally used as makeup. Even if it is edible, it
may be applied as makeup on a human.
Laundry detergents [made from plants] have the holiness of
shemittah attached to them, but one may wash with them, for it is
written [Vayikra 25:6], "The Shemittah produce of the land shall
be yours . . ." - "yours" for all your needs.