Friday, July 25, 2014

Dvar Torah for Parshas Masei

       In Parshas Masei, Bnei Yisrael stand on the cusp of entering Eretz Yisrael. This parshah discusses all sorts of issues pertaining to when Bnei Yisrael will enter the land, including the borders of the land, special cities set aside for Shevet Levi, additional laws of inheritance, and the expansion of territory to the other side of the Jordan River.
       At the beginning of the fourth aliyah, Moshe names the Nesi’im, the heads of each tribe who will lead their respective tribes into Eretz Yisrael. Most of the pesukim are structured exactly the same, just substituting each tribe’s name by their Nasi. For example, by Shevet Dan, the pasuk reads, “וּלְמַטֵּה בְנֵי דָן נָשִׂיא בֻּקִּי בֶּן יָגְלִי“And the prince for the tribe of the sons of Dan, Bukki the son of Yugli” (Bamidbar 34:22). However, by the tribes of Yehuda, Shimon, and Binyamin, the title of Nasi, prince, is not written in the pasuk. Why is this so?
       The Ohr HaChaim explains that each tribe has a separate reason why their Nasi is not called so in the pasuk. The Nasi for Yehuda was Calev, who has been well-known to us since he was listed as one of the spies back in Parshas Shelach. Because of this, the Torah did not need to stress his importance by telling us he was the Nasi, we already know how great Calev was. The Chizkuni explains further that because of the way he stood up to the other spies, Calev was confirmed as a true Eved Hashem and continued in that path his entire life. Because of that, the pasuk did not have to confirm that he was special enough to become the Nasi because it is already obvious.
       The reason for Binyamin is an interesting one. Back in Parshas Bahaloscha, two men, Eldad and Medad, were mentioned as men who became prophets. The Ohr HaChaim says that Binyamin’s Nasi, a man named Elidad, is in reality Eldad from before. Since he was a Navi, it would have been degrading for him to be called simply a Nasi, since a prophet is on a higher spiritual level. Therefore, the pasuk instead says nothing.
       Lastly, Shevet Shimon was still paying the price for the prominent role they played in the episode with Midian that ended with 24,000 Jews dying in a plague. While the tribe needed someone to lead them into Eretz Yisrael and take care of their needs, because of the role they played, they did not deserve to have that man labeled with the high honor of Nasi. Therefore, the pasuk refers to him simply as the representative of his tribe without any fancy titles.

Shabbat Shalom!

Chazak Chazak V’Nischazek!

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