Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Bamidbar 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת במדבר תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Bamidbar 5769

Peace through the actions of the wicked
This week I was discussing with a friend of mine the name of the leader of the tribe of Shimon, Shlumiel Ben Tzurishaddai, whose name is mentioned in this week’s parashah (Bamidbar 2:12). I mentioned that the Ohr HaChaim (Bamidbar 7:36) writes that one possible reason that he was thus called was because his name alludes to the fact that shileim lo Keil al cheit Yosef vayeesof oso bamishmar, HaShem paid Shimon back for selling Yosef, by having Shimon locked up [when the brothers met Yosef for the first time]. Alternatively, writes the Ohr HaChaim, he was thus called because sheshileim HaShem bimaasei Zimri tzuri Shaddai, i.e. HaShem had Zimri killed by Pinchas, and HaShem’s wrath was appeased, and HaShem amar likilyono dai, HaShem allowed the destruction to cease.
Why would Zimri merit being called Shlumiel, which contains the name of HaShem?
The interpretations of the Ohr HaChaim should lead one to wonder why Zimri, who was a sinner, merited having the Name of HaShem, which is Shalom, contained in his name. What is even more noteworthy is that Pinchas was the one who killed Zimri and brought an end to the plague that had been catalyzed by the act of Zimri who sinned when he had a relationship with Kazbi, the Midianite woman. Regarding the reward for Pinchas, it is said (Bamidbar 25:12) lachein emor hinini nosein lo es brisi shalom, therefore, say: behold! I give him my covenant of peace. Thus, Pinchas earns a covenant of peace, whereas Zimri is known forever as Shlumiel. How are we to understand this phenomenon?
Through Zimri, Hashem’s Name was restored
To understand why Zimri is referred to as Shlumiel, it is worth examining the act that Zimri performed and its devastating effect on the Jewish People. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 106a) states that Balaam suggested to Balak that since the G-d of Israel despises immorality, they should cause the Jewish People to sin through immorality and then HaShem would become angry with the Jewish People. Balak had the Moabite and Midianite women sin with the Jewish People, and HaShem was prepared to annihilate the Jewish People. Zimri fueled the flames by sinning with Kazbi, and Pinchas stepped in and killed Zimri and Kazbi, thus appeasing HaShem’s wrath. In a simple sense, Zimri caused HaShem to become angry, and Pinchas appeased HaShem’s wrath. On a deeper level, however, Pinchas was rectifying the breach that was manifest amongst the Jewish People through the sin of immorality. It is said (Mishlei 6:32) noeif isha chasar leiv, but he who commits adultery is lacking an [understanding] heart. This verse can also be interpreted to mean that one who commits an immoral sin causes a deficiency in the heart of the nation. Thus, whereas Zimri was bent on breaching the unity of the Jewish People, Pinchas was set on mending the breach and allowing the Jewish People to once again become unified with HaShem. Perhaps it is for this reason that Zimri was referred to as Shlumiel, as through his actions, HaShem allowed Pinchas to bring about unity amongst the Jewish People. When wicked people exist in the world, it appears that the Name of HaShem is not complete, as we find regarding Amalek that the Medrash (Tanchumah end of Ki Seitzei) states that as long as Amalek is in existence, HaShem’s Name is not complete. Thus, when Pinchas killed Zimri, he allowed for HaShem’s Name to become complete again.
The Shabbos connection
Throughout the week we struggle with issues of strife and discord, and it is only with the onset of Shabbos, which is called Shalom, peace, do all harsh judgments depart, and then we can truly experience peace and tranquility. HaShem should allow us to overcome our differences with others and bring us true peace. With the proper observance of Shabbos, we will merit that HaShem will bring us the Final Redemption, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos Stories
The enthusiasm of youth
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: A number of years ago a dear friend of mine, I’ll call him Dovy, received a knock on the door of his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A distinguished looking man stood at Dovy’s door. The stranger had a beard and looked at least ten years older than Dovy. He appeared to be either a Rebbi in a Yeshiva or a leader of a congregation. Dovy went for his checkbook.
“I just came to your home to say thank you,” he said gratefully. “Thank you?” asked my friend in astonishment. “I don’t even know who you are! In fact I don't even think I ever saw you in my life!” “Let me explain,” said the visitor in a clear and reassuring tone. “About fifteen or twenty years ago, you must have been no more than ten, I visited Pittsburgh. At that time, I was totally non-observant. I was facing many paths in my life. I lacked vision and direction. I explored returning to my roots, but I was not moved. Then I met you.”
Dovy looked at him incredulously. “Me?” He thought. “What do I have to do with this rabbi? And besides I was only about ten years old at the time.”
The Rabbi continued as if he read Dovy’s mind. “You were about ten years old and returning from a ball game. Your tzitzis were flying in every direction and beads of sweat were still on your face. And you were running.
“I stopped you to ask where you were going. You told me about Mincha, we spoke about what you were learning in your school. To you it was just the way of life, normal routine, but to me I saw something else. I saw a pure enthusiasm for everything Jewish from prayer to Talmud. All from a ten-year-old-kid. I asked for and made a note of your name.
“I left college to study in Israel. I did well. I am now a teacher in an Israel yeshiva. All these years I made sure to remember to thank the little kid whose little acts made the biggest impact on my life. You taught me something that no teacher had taught me until that time!”

Torah Study - Pleasure or Responsibility
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffman writes: Perusing the Yahrtzeit section of an old “HaModia,” I came across the following exceptional description of the Yeshiva established by HaRav Yehuda Rosner Hy”d, Rav of Szekelheid. While meritorious in its own right, perhaps it will shed light on a section of this week’s parasha as well:
HaRav Rosner opened a yeshiva in Szekelheid, which he headed throughout his years there. Although he was eventually offered rabbinical positions in larger towns such as Uhel (Ujehly), he refused them on account of his yeshiva. Szekelheid had only 120 Jewish families, and that allowed the Rav to dedicate most of his time and attention to the yeshiva, which ultimately grew until, in the 1930’s, it housed over 300 bachurim.
R’ Yehuda ran the yeshiva almost singlehandedly, serving as Rosh Yeshiva (dean), mashgiach (supervisor), maggid shiur (teacher), and administrator. His Rebbetzin too assisted him devotedly, running the yeshiva kitchen, and adding a motherly touch for the bachurim where it was needed. The yeshiva was always strapped for funds, and making ends meet was always on R' Yehduah’s mind. Often there was not enough money to pay for Shabbos meals for the boys; HaRav Rosner’s solution was to take the money needed out of his personal salary as town rav. His talmidim recall that when his only son married, and received a dowry of 100,000 lei, the money was used to cover the yeshiva’s deficit.
Yeshiva in Szekelheid began at 4:30 a.m., when the vecker would go around the small town waking up the bachurim at their various lodgings. Sometimes the rav would surprise the bachurim by conducting an early- morning inspection to assure all had arisen.
Meanwhile, the Rebbetzin was already busy cooking breakfast for the students. Anyone not coming to yeshiva on time was not entitled to breakfast, unless of course they were sick, in which case warm, nourishing meals were sent to their rooms.
The learning at the yeshiva in Szekelheid was intense; tests were given every day or two. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, HaRav Rosner delivered a shiur iyun (in-depth lecture) in the mornings and a shiur bekius (comprehensive lecture) in the afternoons. The shiur bekius progressed at the prodigious rate of three blatt a week.
On Friday, Shabbos (no days off!) and Sunday, the bachurim studied Chumash with Rashi, along with Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah (two sections of Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law), on which they were tested Sunday evening.
Every Thursday, a notice was posted with a page of Gemara that the boys were obliged to cover on their own, in order to encourage independent study. On this too, they were tested, to ensure that they were attaining a true understanding of the underlying issues, and to verify that the bachurim were using their time efficiently.
Testing was taken very seriously at the yeshiva. All bachurim were tested, although among the advanced bachurim only one boy was tested each week. Since the boy to be tested was chosen by lottery immediately before the test, every boy in the advanced group always needed to be prepared. The rest of the boys were called in to the rav four boys at a time, according to a list he had prepared. He would ask them questions; those who were clearly fluent with the material were sent off at once, while a weaker student might be held for additional questioning to determine where he was lacking, and what needed to be reviewed. All this contributed to an intense atmosphere that was felt by every bachur in the yeshiva.
Each bachur was assigned a card, on which the rav would write the results of each exam. At the end of the semester, the rav would write each boy a letter, along with a copy of his card, summarizing his achievements. The most advanced students often received an approbation designating them as “chaveir” or “moreinu” - titles of distinction. One would be hard pressed, I believe, to find present-day yeshivos where testing and examination is taken so seriously and with such intensity.
[Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Bamidbar 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Mincha
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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