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Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz

Pinchas

Volume XVI, No. 36
19 Tammuz 5762
June 29, 2002


Today's Learning:
Avot 4:8-9
Orach Chaim 674:2-675:2
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Bava Batra 101
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Orlah 10

In this week's parashah, Moshe appoints his successor, Yehoshua, to lead Bnei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. The Midrash (Bemidbar Rabbah 19:13) says that the reason Moshe did not enter Eretz Yisrael was so that he might lead the generation of the desert into the Land at the time of the resurrection. R' Yehuda Rosannes z"l (Turkey; 18th century) asks: If that generation deserves to return, why does it need Moshe? If it does not deserve to return how will Moshe help it?

He explains: Hashem has taken an oath (Tehilim 95:10-11): "For forty years I was angry with the generation; then I said, `They are an errant-hearted people, they do not know My ways.' Therefore I have sworn in My wrath, they shall not enter My [land of] rest." Because of Hashem's oath, the generation of the desert may not enter Eretz Yisrael.

However, the halachah provides that if a person makes a vow excluding another from his house, then if the house is razed and rebuilt, the vow is nullified. Our Sages teach that had Moshe entered Eretz Yisrael, he would have built the Temple, and, had he done so, it would never have been destroyed. However, it is precisely because the Temple was destroyed that Hashem's oath can be nullified. This is what is meant by the statement that, because Moshe died in the desert, his generation could enter the Land. (Parashat Derachim)

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"Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon Hakohen turned back My anger which had been over Bnei Yisrael by being zealous on My behalf among them... Therefore tell [him] that I am making with him a covenant of peace." (25:11-12)

R' Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook (1865-1935; Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Palestine from 1921 until his death) was known for his cooperative relationship with all segments of the Jewish community, even the anti-religious. Nevertheless, this did not allow him to compromise Torah principles for the sake of "peace" with his brethren, as he explained in an article published in 1901:

A clear understanding that the One G-d is the Master, Creator, and Manager of the Universe, and that all sustenance comes from His hand, is necessary for the perfection of all mankind. Only when people come to this realization will they truly understand that we are all brothers who were created by one Father. Only then will man's fear of his neighbor cease and will people stop building implements of war to destroy each other.

To our great dismay, this goal is a long way off. Our own sins prevent this "fruit" from "ripening". Before we can reach out to mankind as a whole, G-d's Name (which is "Peace") [see Shoftim 6:24] must be emblazoned on the flag of Israel. When the nations see that Israel has fulfilled its own destiny, then the light of G-d will shine upon them, and they too will know Him.

If we could see clearly our nation's spiritual needs, we would realize how precious the Torah and the mitzvot are. They are the only means to preserve our national spirit as a viable being. The way to bring about mutual love between all members of the nation of Israel is for all of us to share in strengthening that way of life which gives us our unique identity, not, as some think, to be "tolerant" of each person's "right" to go his own way.

We must accustom ourselves and our friends to behave solely according to the Torah of Moshe and Yisrael. In this way we make ourselves into a vessel worthy of G-d's blessing, as described in the verse (Tehilim 29:11), "Hashem will give strength to His nation, Hashem will give His nation the blessing of peace," and Chazal's comment on this verse, "Strength comes through Torah." This is our national destiny. (Otzrot HaRayah, I p.705)

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"And the daughters of Tzelofchad approached, [they were] from the family of Menashe, the son of Yosef." (27:1)

Rashi says that Yosef is mentioned here to teach us that just as Yosef loved Eretz Yisrael (and asked to be buried there), so his descendants loved Eretz Yisrael. Their request for a share of the land was not motivated by materialistic concerns.

R' Moshe Feinstein z"l asks: Whether or not Tzelofchad's daughter received a share of the Land, they would still live there. Why, then, did they insist on owning their own portions? The Torah is teaching us that if one loves something, he should want to own it. Thus we can understand the halachah which requires a person to own a Torah library (see Y.D. section 270:2). For studying alone, it is enough to borrow Torah works. However, to enhance one's love of Torah, he should try to own its works. (Darash Moshe)

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"And of these, there was no man of those counted by Moshe and Aharon the Kohen, who counted Bnei Yisrael in the Wilderness of Sinai." (26:64)

Rashi comments: There was no man, but the women did not die for the sin of the Spies, for the women loved Eretz Yisrael.

This implies, writes R' Avraham Yaakov Hakohen Pam z"l (Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, New York; died 2001), that the sin of the Spies and their contemporaries was not loving Eretz Yisrael. Such an understanding would find support in the words of Tehilim (106:24), "They despised the desirable Land, they had no faith in His word."

In contrast, it appears from Parashat Shelach that their sin was a lack of faith. Thus Hashem said (14:11), "How long will this people provoke Me, and how long will they not have faith in Me, despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst?" How can this contradiction be resolved?

Another question: Where is there any hint in the Torah that the Spies despised the Land? Their entire report revolved around the strength of the Canaanites. It appears from the Spies words that they gladly would have lived in the Land, but they were afraid!

R' Pam explains: The Gemara (Bava Batra 142b) states that if a person gives a gift to a fetus (through an agent appointed to receive the gift), the gift is not effective. No legal transfer takes place. However, if the fetus is the child of the gift giver, the transfer is legally effective.

Why? R' Shmuel ben Meir ("Rashbam"; 1085-1174) explains that a person who gives a gift to a fetus is not completely sincere in his renunciation of ownership of the object. However, if the child is his, he is sincere. R' Pam explains (quoting an unnamed "great man") that the gift-giver harbors lingering doubts when the child is not his: Perhaps the fetus will not be born and the gift will revert to me. Because of this doubt, the giver's renunciation of ownership is not complete, and the transfer to a new owner cannot take place. However, when the fetus is one's own child, one does not think this way. One pictures his own future child as a strong healthy baby.

What causes this distinction? One's love for his child. Similarly, had Bnei Yisrael loved Eretz Yisrael sufficiently, they would have pictured it in a positive light. They would not have had doubts about their ability to conquer it. Yes, their sin was a lack of faith, but it was made possible by their failure to love the Land. [In this light, we may revisit the above verse from Tehilim and read it: "They despised the desirable Land, therefore they had no faith in His word."] (Atarah La'melech p. 130)

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"Give us a possession among our father's brothers." (27:4)

R' Yisrael Yaakov Lubchansky z"l (Mashgiach of the Baranovitch Yeshiva) observes: Korach requested something spiritual, and he was killed. The daughters of Tzelofchad requested something physical (a share in Eretz Yisrael), and the Torah praises them. Why? Because they acted with G-d's Honor in mind, while Korach acted selfishly.

How can one know his own motives? adds R' Lubchansky. Only through learning mussar / ethics and introspection. (Ikvei Yisrael)

********

Rabbi Dr. Esriel Hildesheimer z"l

Conclusion

The method of Talmud study at the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary differed from in most yeshivot. Although the chief subject of study was Talmud, the Rector (as the Rosh Yeshiva was known) did not deliver shiurim / lectures on the Talmud page itself. Rather, he followed the sugyot / topic method. On any given topic in the tractate under study (which in the first semester of 1873 was Yevamot), he would bring together all of the other sources in Talmud where that subject is discussed, comparing and contrasting them until the general principles of the subject were gleaned. To this end, R' Hildesheimer taught the Talmud Yerushalmi along with the more commonly studied Talmud Bavli.

In addition to being the spiritual head of the Seminary, R' Hildesheimer was responsible for its material needs. Tirelessly, he would knock on the doors of the wealthy seeking their support.

Not surprisingly, the Seminary had many opponents, both on the right and the left. The Reform saw the Seminary as a threat because its graduates would be equipped to defend Orthodoxy against Reform's inroads. On the opposite extreme, many Orthodox, particularly in Hungary, opposed the institution because of its superficial similarity to non-Orthodox seminaries.

(The Berlin Seminary continued in existence until the late 1930's under the leadership of such figures as R' David Zvi Hoffman (until 1921), R' Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan (until 1924) and R' Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg. The latter two, while continuing the yeshiva's program, brought Lithuanian influences to the Seminary as well.)

R' Hildesheimer died on 4 Tammuz 5659 / 1899. (Sources: The Rebbe: The Story of Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer, by J.H. Sinason; R' Akiva Posner, Hadarom Elul 5720)

Sponsored by
The Kaplan family (Teaneck, N.J.) on the yahrzeit of grandfather, R' Moshe Raphael Hakohen Kaplan

The Rutstein family in memory of Dr. Leonard Schlossberg


Copyright © 2002 by Shlomo Katz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study and discussion of Torah topics ("lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah"), and your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Project Genesis start with 5758 (1997) and may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page. Text archives from 1990 through the present may be retrieved from http://www.acoast.com/~sehc/hamaayan/. Donations to HaMaayan are tax-deductible.

 






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