Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Naso
The following is an excerpt which relates to a pasuk in Parashat Naso, based on the Hiddushim enumerated by Rabbenu Hacham Eliyahu Mansour HY’V, during his morning explanation of the Pele Yoetz.
The pasuk says in Parashath Naso, Bamidbar 5:10, states " Veish et kodashav lo yiheyu, ish asher yiten lakohen lo yiyeh." Literally, "A man’s holies shall be his, and what a man gives to the Kohen shall be his." The following are 5 different interpretations to this pasuk.
1. The simple, explanation based on the Peshat of the pasuk is as Rashi writes, "Lefi shenemeru, matanot kehuna veleviya, yachol yabou veyitelum bizroah, Talmud lomar veish et kodashav lo yiyheu, maggid shetobat hanaatan labealim." Rashi is explaining this pasuk to mean, that there are 24 gifts that are given to the Kohanim and leviim, and you might think that they can take these gifts by force, therefore the pasuk comes to teach, that the 24 matanot that are given to the kohanim and leviyim must be given by the owners themselves and not taken against their will, i.e. the benefit of who the gift is given to is retained by the owners themeselves.
2. A second interpretation is, based on the following maaseh sheyaha. There was once a wealthy man named Rothschild, and the king once came to him and asked him how much he was worth, so Rothschild answered a figure that was very low, probably only 10% of what he was believed to be worth. So the king said, "how could you make such a statement, it is clear that you are worth much more than you say." So Rothschild responded, "my dear king, I am only worth the money that I gave to Ssedaka, because that is the only money that nobody can ever take away. Everything else, while I might have it now, we know the fragility and speed with which fortunes are made and lost, and therefore I only consider my net worth to be what cannot be taken away from me." How true this statement of Rothschild has proved to be, as we have seen many times throughout history, where people have gone to bed wealthy, and woken up penniless. This then is the explanation of the pasuk, "Veish et Kodashav lo yiheyu" The pasuk is saying the only thing that is "Yihehyu" is that which is "Kodashav" that which is holy, i.e. the sedaka, maasim Tobim and Torah which a person does, anything elese that a person owns, or achieves he cannot take with him.
3. A third interpretation of the pasuk is as follows. Sometimes you see a Rasha, that all of a sudden makes a U turn in his life, and starts to perform misvot again, but what happens, his change is only temporary and before long he reverts back to his evil ways. We see this also with good people, that after they do a great misvah, so shortly after they have a fall and end up coming to sin, why is it that this phenomenon exists? So the answer is that, this is all the tactics of the Yeser Hara, whenever a person does a great misvah, so the reward for the Yeser Hara is that much greater if he can get him to stumble after it. Therefore it is a great test when someone does a great deed in his life, because if he is not careful it could lead him to fall. The explanation of this is, that the Yeser Hara, and the forces of the Sitra Ahara (forces of evil), can only live off Kedusha. When a person makes an averah, that gives the Sitra Ahara a right to feed off of his Torah and misvot. Therefore it comes out that when a person does averot, he is losing the Torah and misvot that he performed and they are taken over to the forces of the Sitra Ahara which feed off of them. This means that a person could be doing Misvot his whole life, but really all he is doing is working for the Sitra Aharah, and feeding these forces of evil. But what happens, if a person has no more misvot, so then the Yeser Hara runs out of food, the tank is on empty so to speak, so what happens, the Yeser Hara then entices him to do a few misvot so he can take them and feed off of them again. Therefore always after a moment of great inspiriation a person must be on guard and be careful to bank these misvot, so they are not lost. Don’t spend your time working for the Yeser Hara, but take it for yourself. This then is the explanation of the pasuk, "Veish et Kodashav lo Yiheyu", keep the "kodashav" that which is holy, the Torah and the Misvot, keep it for yourselves, don’t succumb to the temptations of sin especially after a big miswah.
The good news is that even if a person does fall, and lose his Torah and Misvot to the side of evil, it is not lost forever, because there is always the concept of Teshuba. Because this concept is a terrible thing, it means that people who are studying Torah and performing Misvot can actually be doing all that hard work and it is all being lost to the Sitra Ahrah. If this is the case, it is better off that a person didn’t learn. Why? Because let’s say, that a guy goes to the Slah on Shabbat, and he prays and learns the whole day, but what comes Mosaei Shabbat, and he falls pray to sin. So it can come out that he will wake up on Sunday morning and he has nothing in his bank account of misvot, because all the good that he did on Shabbat was gobbled up through the sins he did on Saturday night. However, Teshuba can bring it back, as the pasuk says in Iyob 20:15, "Hayil Balaa Vaykienu, mibitno yorishenu el. He devoured wealth, but he will disgorge it, G-d will purge it from his gut." This means that even though the Yeser Harah swallowed up all the Torah and Misvot that we performed and takes it to the Dark Side, but we can make him spit it out, how by making Teshuba. The Teshuba, retrieves back the Torah and Miswoth from the Sitrah Ahara and brings it back to the side of Kedusha. Therefore the pasuk in Naso, hints to us, "Kodoshav Yiheyu", the goal is to keep the Kodoshav, that which is holy, our Torah and Misvot, for ourselves, meaning to keep it on the side of kedusha.
4. The 4th explanation of this pasuk is based on the Rashi as quoted above. Rashi writes," yachol yabou veyitelum bizroah… maggid shetobat hanaatan labealim." The simple interpretation, as was explained is, one has the right to give his gift portions to whichever Kogen he wants. The question is why does Rashi use the lashon maggid?
So the explanation is based on one of Psalms that we read each and every day, Tehillim 149. David Hamelech A’H, writes, "Halelluya, shiru LaHashem shir hadash, tehilato bikhal hasidim. Praise G-d, sing to Hashem a new song, His praise will be in the congregation of the pious."
David Hamelech, is giving us a lesson on kirub, bringing people back to the service of G-d. There are two distinct methods which can be used. The first is the iron fist method, through heavy force and scare tactics, where the parent or teacher tells the student if he doesn’t act the part he is going to Gehinam, that he will have yissurim much worse than Iyob, where you scare the person that he is filled now with pahad mavet, and thereby comes to serve Hashem. However this method is not the proper approach in our generation, primarily because it causes people to make Yiiush, to give up hope, and the result can often be counter-productive. Therefore David Hamelech is teaching us, you want to know how to bring back the people? There is a second and potentially more effective method especially in our generation, that is the method of praising G-d, "Shiru laHashem shir hadash…Yehalelu shemo Bemahol." Literally Bemahol means with dance, but it can also mean Mahul, meaing to forgive. Therefore the pasuk is implying that by extolling the virtues of HKB"H, that is is forgiving, does kindness, and that G-d loves us, so this is more effective in bringing the people back. The methods of the previous generation cannot be used in this generation. In the previous generations, hitting was a method of education, when a parent came to parenting classes, they taught them what type of weapons to use and how to use them. A parent had the option of going to parenting or Judo lessons. Today, however they teach the parents, that hitting doesn’t work, the first thing a parent must do is get rid of the weapons. Similarly, just as parenting has changed in our generation so too are the methods of Mussar also different today, than they were in previous generations. Today, the mussar must be geared to "Yehallelu shemo bemahol…. Ki rose Hashem beamo", tell the people who much G-d loves us and wants us to come back to His service, on the contrary if you tell the people G-d has forsaken you, so they will say, good I will forsake Him too, the tough methods of the previous generations do not have the same effect today.
This then is an explanation on Rashi’s explanation of this pasuk. Rashi is hinting to us that " yachol yabou veyitelum bizroah", you might think that you can bring the people back by force, talmud lomar… "maggid shetobat hanaatan labealim." "Maggid", speak of the great benefit and pleasure of being Jewish, how good Hashem is to us. This Rashi is giving us a lesson on how the Mussar for our generation must be given over. The Baal Mussar, must tell the people how sweet the Torah is, how great is the reward, how much beracha comes from following the misvot, and the love G-d has for His people, and this will bring them closer to the service of Hashem. The methodology of today might have changed but the end game is the same as it always was; the only difference is today, you attract more people by dispensing candies, than by shoving bitter medicine down their throats. Rashi is hinting to us this concept, that when the Kohen, the spiritual guide wants to take the Neshamot of klal yisrael, and bring them back to their source, to their roots in serving Hashem, it cannot be done by force, but rather by explaining to the people the great benefits and joy that serving Hashem brings.
5. The 5th interpretation of this pasuk is, based on the Gemara which teaches, in relation to the Sotah, the wayward wife, that is suspected of infidelity, and must be brought to the kohen to drink from the bitter waters in order to establish her status as guilty or innocent. The Gemara teaches, regarding the Sotah, that if a woman is suspected of adultery, because she secluded herself with another man, who her husband had warned her to stay away from, so this wife must be brought to the Kohen in the Beth Hamikdash. The Gemara explains that this is a
punishment mida keneged mida, measure for measure, since this man did not give his proper Terumot and Maaserot, since he didn’t give the portion he was supposed to to the Kohen, so now he will need the Kohen, because his wife will become a Sotah. This is hinted to in the pasuk, "Veish et kodashav lo yiheyu", since he keeps the "Kodashav" to himself so the proceeding pesukim, discuss "Ish ish ki tistte ishto", "any man whose wife shall go astray". The pesukim are explaining the process, it starts with the man trying to avoid the Kohen. Whenever the Kohen comes to collect his entitlement, the man says, I am not available, I have to go out to lunch, come back next week please. So what happens, now he is searching for the kohen he needs the kohen to be able to go back to his wife. But what is the depth of this midah keneged midah, what is the connection between a man not giving his Teruma portions and his wife becoming a Sotah?
So the Gaon Mivilna explains, the pasuk says, "Aser titaser" and Razal interpret this "Aser Bishbil shetitasher", give your tithes to ssedak so you will become wealthy. The Gaon explains this pasuk based on a pasuk by Abraham Abinu. The pasuk says when Abraham is separating himself from Lot, Bereshit 13:9, "Im hasemol veeminah, veim hayamin veasemeilah", if you go left I will go right, and if you go right I will go left. So the Gaon says, that this pasuk can also be interpreted as a dialogue between HKB"H and the Jewish People. How do you spell "Aser", the dot above the Shin is on the left making it a Sin, how do you spell "Asher", the dot above the Shin is on the right. Therefore the pasuk is hinting to us, that G-d acts with us in a mirror image of the way we act. G-d says, "If you go to the left, and make the work "aser" by giving your 10% as Ssedak, so I will go to the right, and spell the word as "Asher", that you will become wealthy, and if you go to the right and make the word "Asher" by thinking that you can become wealthy by witholding giving your 10% to Ssedak, so I will spell the word "Aser" and all you will be left with is 10% of your wealth. Therefore based on this, what happens is that when a man is making a lot of money, and suddenly he starts to lose his wealth because he is not giving his proper portions to the Kohen, and his 10% to the Levi, so his wife notices that her husband is losing a lot of money and she says, it must be that he is losing his money because he is committing zenut with other women. As the pasuk says in Mishlei 6:26, "Ki beaad isha Zona ud kikar Lahem.." When a man goes with a Zona, he loses all his money that he will even beg for bread. So the wife says to herself if my husband is practicing infidelity, so I will do the same as well, and she starts to also solicit other men, and what happens, all of a sudden, she becomes a Sotah, and now her husband needs to bring her to the Kohen. Therefore it is a progression of events, which are inextricably linked. That is why we see the juxtaposition of the pesukim, "Veish et kedoshav lo yiheyu… and Ish ish ki tistteh" It is the very fact that a man does not give his portions to the Kohen, that leads his wife to become a Sotah, and thereby warrant him needing the Kohen.
This is why, at the beginning of Parashat Teruma, the pasuk says, "Veyikhu li Terumah", and Rashi writes, ""Li" Lishimi". So based on this explanation, it makes perfect sense, if you don’t give the terumah what happens your wife will become sotah, as explained above. So Rashi is hinting to us this concept, G-d is telling us, even if you don’t have mercy on the poor to give them their proper entitlements and separate your 10% for charity, at least have mercy on My name, do it "Lishmi", because if you don’t give the proper Ssedaka, so it will eventually lead to your wife becoming a Sotah, and then this will cause My name to be erased through the drinking of the bitter waters, therefore Give your Teruma, "Lishmi" for My name.