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יפקד ד' אלקי הרוחות לכל בשר איש על העדה

May Hashem, G-d of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the assembly. (27:16)

Horav Mordechai Ilan, zl, comments that, although Moshe Rabbeinu was acutely aware that his sons were not worthy successors to his mantle of leadership, he nonetheless asked for them to succeed him. Chazal (Midrash Tanchuma) relate that Hashem countered that Yehoshua, his primary student, who never left his side, would succeed him. Why did Moshe ask if he knew the answer? Moshe sought to underscore that sons do not inherit a Torah position solely due to pedigree. One must be worthy to be a leader. Torah leadership is not transmitted by inheritance, but by substance and distinction. Furthermore, the Torah…

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יפקד ד'... איש על העדה אשר יצא לפניהם ואשר יבא לפניהם... ולא תהיה עדת ד' צאן אשר אין להם רעה

May Hashem appoint… a man over the assembly who shall go out before them and come in before them… and let the assembly of Hashem not be like sheep that have no shepherd. (27:16,17)

The text of the pasuk appears superfluous. Once Moshe Rabbeinu presented his request for a leader who would go out and come in before the nation, it is obvious that he was seeking someone who exemplified caring leadership. If so, why was it necessary to add “the assembly should not be like sheep who have no shepherd”? If they have a leader who cares and worries about them, it goes without saying that they will not be left like sheep without a shepherd. That is the purpose of a leader. Horav Avraham Yoffen, zl, explains by relating an incident that…

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אבינו מת במדבר והוא לא היה בתוך העדה הנועדים על ד' בעדת קרח

Our father died in the wilderness, but he was not among the assembly that was gathering against Hashem in the assembly of Korach. (27:3)

The daughters of Tzlafchad approached Moshe Rabbeinu concerning their father’s inheritance. Moshe replied that he would present their case to Hashem. Our quintessential leader rarely had an issue with proffering an immediate response to a Halachic query. Why was he reluctant to answer Bnos Tzlafchad? Furthermore, the women added a caveat to their identity of Tzlafachad, claiming that he had not been a member of Korach’s mob of usurpers. Their father was not guilty of impugning Moshe’s authority. What did this introduction have to do with the case? The Minchas Chinuch, who asks this question, replies practically by employing an…

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ובני קרח לא מתו

The sons of Korach did not die. (26:11)

Chazal teach that Bra mizaki abba; “A son (children) brings merit to his father (forebears).” If so, why did the teshuvah, repentance, committed by Korach’s sons not serve as a merit to save him from spiritual infamy? Horav Eliyahu Lopian, zl, offers a powerful insight. The idea that a son’s mitzvos, z’chusim, merits, can somehow mitigate a father’s punishment applies only as long as the father has not become deficient in the principles/foundations of emunah, faith. A kofer, apostate, heretic, who has denied the existence of his Father in Heaven, who has repudiated Hashem, Our Father, Our King, cannot be…

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פנחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב חמתי מעל בני ישראל... לכן אמר הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלום

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, turned back My wrath from Bnei Yisrael… Therefore, say: Behold! I give him my covenant of peace. (25:11,12)

Hashem granted Pinchas and his descendants the covenant of peace as a result of Pinchas’ zealous intervention. Why was Pinchas granted this reward more than Moshe Rabbeinu? When Klal Yisrael sinned with the Golden Calf, Moshe intervened on their behalf. He petitioned Hashem to forgive them to the point that he was prepared to see his name erased from the Torah. He succeeded in quelling Hashem’s displeasure with the Jewish nation – not once – but many times. Yet, it was Pinchas who intervened one time during an act of moral profligacy, and, consequently, was credited with turning back Hashem’s…

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וביום השבת שני כבשים בני שנה תמימים

And on the Shabbos day: two male lambs in their first year, unblemished. (28:9)

Shabbos bears testimony that Hashem created Heaven and earth. Hashem imbued this day with unique spiritual character, distinguishing it from the other six days of the week, elevating it to a higher level of sanctity. Thus, on Shabbos when the Bais HaMikdash was extant, we could offer a Korban Mussaf, Additional Offering, similar to what is offered on Festivals and holy days. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that when we bring an offering, we fix our thoughts on the significance of the day and its broad degree of sanctity. Man is impacted by his actions. Thus, Hashem commanded us to perform…

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קח לך את יהושע בן נון איש אשר רוח בו ... ונתתה מהודך עליו למען ישמעו כל עדת בני ישראל

Take to yourself Yehoshua ben Nun, a man in whom there is spirit…You shall place some of your splendor upon him, so that the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael will pay heed. (27:18,20)

Targum Onkelos comments, B’dil di yikablum minei kol k’nishta divnei Yisrael; “So that the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael will accept him.” Rashi writes, “So that they treat him with respect and fear, in the manner that they treat you.” It is wonderful to have Moshe Rabbeinu’s approval, but is it not superfluous? Once Hashem gave the order, “Take to yourself Yehoshua,” what else was necessary to segue to Yehoshua becoming Moshe’s successor? Is Hashem’s approval insufficient that it was necessary for the people to see that Moshe, too, was on board with this choice? Why did Moshe have to…

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ובני קרח לא מתו

But the sons of Korach did not die. (26:11)

It is not as if Korach had protected his sons by excluding them from his ill-fated debacle. Rashi comments that they had been involved from the very beginning. At the time of the dispute, however, they were meharher bi’teshuvah, had thoughts of repentance in their hearts. Therefore, a place was fortified for them in Gehinnom, Purgatory, and they resided there. This means that the earth beneath them hardened above the spot designated for them in Gehinnom. Thus, they were spared due to the teshuvah thoughts they harbored. This is a powerful and inspiring lesson. Teshuvah saves. When the Ponovezher Rav,…

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פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן השיב את חמתי מעל בני ישראל בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם... לכן אמר הנני נותן לו את בריתי שלום

Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen turned back My wrath from upon Bnei Yisrael when he zealously avenged My vengeance among them… Therefore, say: Behold! I give him My covenant of peace. (25:11,12)

The Midrash begins with the statement, B’din hu she’yitol scharo, “It is only halachically correct that Pinchas should receive his just reward. Therefore, I give him the Covenant of Peace.” What is the meaning of the phrase b’din hu, “It is by right (halachically)”? Horav Chaim Soloveitchik, zl, explains that reward is measured and repaid middah k’neged middah, measure for measure. Pinchas’ act of zealousness certainly warranted reward, but could Brisi Shalom, “My Covenant of Peace,” be considered middah k’neged middah for an act of zealousness?  Superficially, Pinchas’ slaying Zimri does not appear to be a peaceful act. Asking such…

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צרור את המדינים

Harass the Midyanim. (25:17)

The Midyanim and Moavim facilitated the plot against the Jewish People by causing them to commit idolatry. They achieved this diabolical goal by inciting the Jewish men to acts of immorality with the pagan women. Tzaror, harass, is a constant form of enmity. Chazal (Midrash, Bamidbar Rabbah 25) teach that one who causes his fellow to sin is worse than one who physically takes his life. One who murders does not cause his fellow to lose his eternal place in the World to Come. One who causes another to sin, however,makes him lose both worlds. We see this from the…

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