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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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לכה אתנו והטבנו לך כי ד' דבר טוב על ישראל

Go with us and we shall treat you well, for Hashem has spoken good for Yisrael. (10:29)

Moshe Rabbeinu asked his father-in-law, Yisro, to join the nation in its journey to Eretz Yisrael. “We will treat you well,” Moshe says. “Because Hashem has spoken good (He will provide us with His beneficence: you, too, will benefit.) The term diber tov, spoken good, is found in only one other place in Tanach. In Megillas Esther (7:9), when Charvonah tells Achashveirosh that the tree which Haman ha’rasha had prepared for Mordechai — asher diber tov al ha’Melech, “who spoke good for the king” — is standing in Haman’s house (and why not put it to good use?). The Agra…

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בהעלותך את הנרות

When you bring up/kindle the lamps. (8:2)

Rashi cites Chazal who derive from the word b’haalosecha, which is connected to alah, go up, that there was an elevation before the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash.  The Kohen would ascend those steps in order to kindle the lamps. I once heard a profound homiletic rendering of this Chazal. Not only was it incumbent upon the Kohen to cause the lights of the lamps to rise, but he also had to rise up one step, to elevate himself spiritually as he kindled the lights. Many wonderful people illuminate society by kindling lights, but they do not necessarily elevate themselves…

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ויהי בנסוע הארון

When the Aron would travel. (10:35)

The well-known pesukim, which are recited when the Torah is removed from the Aron Kodesh, are placed in our parsha and are separated from the rest of the parsha by two inverted nuns. Chazal (Shabbos 115b) teach, “Hashem placed a symbol before and following these pesukim in order to underscore that this is not the rightful place for these pesukim to be recorded in the Torah.” The more appropriate place is in Parashas Bamidbar where the Torah records the nation’s masaos, journeys. Why were they placed here? Chazal explain that the Torah seeks to differentiate the first puranios, punishments, from…

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ויהי העם כמתאוננים רע באזני ד' וישמע ד'

And the nation was complaining; and it was bad to Hashem’s ears. And Hashem heard. (11:1)

Simply, the pasuk teaches that the Bnei Yisrael complained, moaning about the long journey through the wilderness which was forced upon them. They were not happy about it, and their complaints reached Hashem’s “ears.” This led to Hashem’s punitive response to their complaining. The Chasam Sofer offers an alternative approach to these pesukim. Understandably, describing Hashem in anthropocentric terms – such as eyes, ears, hands – is purely figurative, since Hashem has no physical form. The nation (at this point) believed in the figurative “eyes” of Hashem, accepting that He sees everything. They also accepted the figurative “hand” of Hashem,…

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והמן כזרע גד הוא... והיה טעמו כטעם לשד השמן

Now the Manna was like coriander seed… and its taste was like the taste of dough kneaded with oil. (11:7,8)

The manna which descended daily from Heaven had varied tastes – as described by the Torah. In Shemos 16:4, it is referred to as bread from Heaven, with a taste “like a cake fried in honey” (ibid 16:31). Here it is described as having the taste of dough kneaded in oil. The Talmud Yoma 75b explains that for the young, it tasted like bread; for the elderly, it was like oil; and for the infants, its taste was similar to honey. These three tastes seem to contradict an earlier statement made by the Talmud (75a) that a person who ate…

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ויעש כן אהרן

Aharon did so. (8:3)

L’hagid shevacho shel Aharon shelo shinah, to teach the praise of Aharon that he did not deviate (anything from that which Hashem had commanded). In his eulogy for Horav Aharon Kotler, zl, the individual responsible for the transplanting of authentic Torah study (via the Yeshivah Movement which he championed) to America, the Satmar Rav, zl, declared that Rav Aharon embodied the concept of shelo shinah, adamantly refusing to initiate any change in the spiritual structure of the yeshivah from the way it had been, dating back generations. Whatever was good for our forebears would suffice for us. Thus, the approach…

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ויהי העם כמתאוננים רע באזני ד'

The people were like those who seek pretexts of evil in the ears of Hashem. (11:1)

Our parsha begins with the Menorah, relates the laws of Pesach Sheini and then, in what appears to be a sad turn of events, records a series of puzzling complaints originally initiated by the eirev rav, mixed multitude, with an added participatory voice from the people. It is not as if the complaints had any positive substance – or any substance at all. For the most part, they complained for the purpose of complaining, something atypical of a happy people who had recently been liberated from crushing servitude. They craved meat – and cried. They claimed they missed the free…

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האנכי הריתי את כל העם הזה ...כי תאמר אלו שאהו בחילך כאשר ישא האמן את הינק

Did I conceive the entire people…that You say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom,’ as a nurse carries a suckling? (11:12)

Nowhere in the Torah do we find that Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to carry Bnei Yisrael in his bosom. Why does Moshe intimate this to be true, that Hashem did, in fact, indicate to Moshe that his responsibility as a leader of the nation went beyond the accepted understanding of walking in front of the nation? He would have to carry them as a parent carries his child. Horav Yeruchem Levovitz, zl, (cited in Im Levavi Asicha) explains that, if a person is created with such ability that he is able to care for others as a father cares for…

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