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תסגר שבעת ימים מחוץ למחנה ואחר תאסף

Let her be quarantined outside the camp for seven days, and then she may be brought in. (12:14)

Miriam HaNeviyah partnered with her two illustrious brothers in leading Klal Yisrael out of Egypt and through their forty-year journey through the wilderness. The Torah relates that Miriam misspoke concerning Moshe Rabbeinu, making a comment that was considered lashon hora, slanderous speech. As a result, she was struck with tzaraas, spiritual leprosy. The metzora must be quarantined for seven days. During Miriam’s seven-day isolation, the entire Klal Yisrael waited and did not journey to their next encampment. While this was considered a punishment to her, Klal Yisrael’s remaining in place for the duration of her quarantine is a tribute to…

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לא כן עבדי משה בכל ביתי נאמן הוא

Not so is my servant Moshe, in My entire household he is the trusted one. (12:7)

Moshe Rabbeinu is like a trusted member of Hashem’s Heavenly kingdom. The Torah alludes to Moshe’s unique qualities, especially in the area of nevuah, prophecy, in which he stood out above all prophets. He is referred to as avdi Moshe, My servant Moshe, who is trusted. The question that presents itself is obvious. Is it an accolade to state that Moshe was honest and, thus, to be trusted? To possess moral and ethical integrity is a basic quality which Hashem demands and expects of every person. What is novel about Moshe’s integrity and being trusted in Heaven? When one hires…

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ונסעו הקהתים נשאי המקדש

Then journeyed the Kehasim, bearers of the Sanctuary. (10:21)

Interestingly, the Torah refers to the Leviim who descended from Kehas as Kehasim, and those who descended from Gershon and Merari as Bnei Gershon and Bnei Merari. Why? Korban Ani explains that the sons of Kehas were zoche, merited, to carry the Aron and the other holy vessels. This was because they were a very close-knit, unified family. In Bereishis 49:10, Yaakov Avinu blesses Yehudah with the words, V’lo yikhas amim, “And his will be an assemblage of nations. Yikhas/kehas refers to an assemblage/congregation/aggregate, a gathering of people working together with a common goal. As a result of their achdus,…

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על פי ד' יסעו בני ישראל ועל פי ד' יחנו

According to the word of Hashem would Bnei Yisrael journey, and, according to the word of Hashem, they would encamp. (9:18)

Hashem orchestrated and guided Klal Yisrael’s journey through the wilderness. He employed the medium of the cloud that rested above the Mishkan as a signal. When the cloud began to move, it was a Heavenly signal to pull out. It was time to fold the tents and pack their belongings for the next trip. They traveled until the cloud stopped, which was their signal to pitch tents and unpack. No set time was established for how long they remained in each camp. At times, it could be months and even years – or it could be mere days. Regardless of…

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שטו העם ולקטו וטחנו בריחים או דכו במדוכה ובשלו בפרור ועשו אותו עוגות

The people would stroll and gather it, and grind it in a mill or pound it in a mortar and cook it in a pot or make it into cakes. (11:8)

Three expressions in the text address the “delivery” of the manna. In Sefer Bamidbar (11:9), “When the dew descended upon the lamp at night, the manna would descend upon it.” In Sefer Shemos (16:4), “The people went out to collect it.” Last (Bamidbar 11:8), “The people would stroll and gather it.” We derive from here that, for some, it descended at their front door. Others were compelled to leave the camp and gather it. Last, were those who had to stroll far out of the environs of the camp in  order to gather their daily portions. Likewise, we find three…

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ומבן חמשים שנה ישוב מצבא העבודה... ושרת את אחיו... לשמור משמרת.

From fifty years of age, he shall withdraw from the legion of work… He shall minister with his brethren… to safeguard the charge. (8:25,26).

The Levi “retires” at age fifty from bearing the holy vessels on his shoulders. He continues to function in all their Levite services, such as singing, closing the Temple gates and loading the wagons. The Torah writes: V’sheireis es echav, “He shall minister with his brethren”. This refers to giving them wise counsel. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5:24) teaches Ben chamishim l’eitzah, “The man of fifty is capable for counsel.” Rav Ovadiah Bartenura explains that this (fifty-year function) is derived from the Leviim who no longer did any “heavy” labor once they reached fifty years of age. They ministered…

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בהעלתך את הנרות

When you kindle the lamps. (8:2)

Rashi explains the term, be’haalosecha, in its literal sense: “When you raise up (the lamps).” The Torah should have used the word b’hadlikcha, which means when you kindle. Rashi offers two explanations which, on the surface, appear unrelated to one another: A) You should light the lamps until the flame rises up by itself (she’t’hei shalheves oleh mei’eileha); B) You should stand on a step (footstool) situated in front of the Menorah. Therefore, “raise up” either means to cause the flame to ascend, or to raise himself up to stand over the Menorah. The Mizrachi (quoted by Sifsei Chachamim) says…

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בהעלתך את הנרות

When you kindle the lamps. (8:2)

Rashi addresses the juxtaposition of the parshah of the Menorah upon the conclusion of the previous parsha, which details the korbanos, offerings, of the Nesiim for the chanukas ha’Mizbayach. When Aharon took note of the involvement of the Nesiim in the dedication of the Mizbayach, he became chagrined that neither he nor any members of his tribe, Shevet Levi, had been included. We must remember that envy is not  a word that could ever apply to someone of the caliber of Aharon HaKohen. His spiritual stature obviated any possibility of attributing such a  term to him. He was not jealous;…

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כי תאמר אלי שאהו בחיקך כאשר ישא האמן את הינק

That You say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a suckling.” (11:12)

Moshe Rabbeinu implied with his words that if he were indeed their (Klal Yisrael’s) father, he would have an obligation to somehow carry on alone. The Chafetz Chaim, zl, derives from here that the buck stops at the parents. No parent may shirk his/her ultimate responsibility and turn from his/her children – regardless of personal difficulties or the (at times) difficult nature of the child. Horav Chaim Shmuelevitz, zl, gleaned from here that Moshe had the capacity to “carry” the entire nation. Obviously, this is a metaphor for his ability to care for and be sensitive to the needs of…

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שטו העם ולקטו וטחנו ברחים... ועשו אתו עגות והיה טעמו כטעם לשד השמן

The people would roam and gather it, and grind it in a mill… or make it into cakes and it tasted like the taste of dough kneaded with oil. (11:8)

Chazal (Yoma 75a) teach that the manna had within it a multiplicity of tastes, allowing the individual to experience any taste he wanted. It had no name until the first Shabbos it descended upon the camp. They called it Manna among themselves, a name which implies hachanah, preparation, for all foods; any taste could be experienced by eating it.  When on the sixth day/Erev Shabbos, however, a double portion fell, they called it Manna/man, because the mem and nun, two letters which comprise the word manna, are spelled out in double letters: mem = mem, mem: nun, nun (Kli Yakar)….

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