Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dvar Torah for Parshas Behaloscha

Due to the eighth day of Pesach falling out on Shabbos, Eretz Yisrael and CHU"L will be one parsha off for the next few weeks. I will be following the schedule in Eretz Yisrael. Click here for a Dvar Torah for this week's parsha in CHUL, Parshas Nasso.

Also, there is a new post this week on Nation's Wisdom. Click here to check it out.

       Parshas Behaloscha ends with the story of Miriam being stricken with tzara’as. After questioning if Moshe’s actions were really commanded to him by Hashem or simply his own personal stringencies, Hashem gives Miriam tzara’as as a result of having slandered Moshe. As the pasuk says, “פֶּ֣ה אֶל־פֶּ֞ה אֲדַבֶּר־בּ֗וֹ וּמַרְאֶה֙ וְלֹ֣א בְחִידֹ֔ת וּתְמֻנַ֥ת יְהֹוָ֖ה יַבִּ֑יט וּמַדּ֨וּעַ֙ לֹ֣א יְרֵאתֶ֔ם לְדַבֵּ֖ר בְּעַבְדִּ֥י בְמשֶֽׁה“With him I speak mouth to mouth; in a vision and not in riddles, and he beholds the image of Hashem. So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant, Moshe?” (Bamidbar 12:8).
       Moshe and Aharon immediately davened for her sake. Hashem responds that normally a person receives tzara’as for seven days for speaking against a human, but by speaking against Moshe, He considered it as if His own honor had been smeared! Therefore, it would be fitting for Miriam to be stricken for fourteen days, double the normal amount. However, when learning out a law from another, you can only learn out as much as the original law requires; so Miriam wouldn’t be punished for more than seven days. (See Rashi to 12:14.)
       How come Hashem needs to explain how Miriam really should be punished more stringently than usual and then show how He’s “going easy” on her? Why can’t He just tell Moshe that He won’t cure her now, he needs to wait at least seven days like everyone else who gets tzara’as?
       Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky takes a closer look at the two tefillos of Moshe and Aharon. Aharon davens first, and addresses his prayer to Moshe. As the pasuk says, “וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אַֽהֲרֹ֖ן אֶל־משֶׁ֑ה בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִ֔י“And Aharon said to Moshe, ‘Please my master” (12:11). Moshe, on the other hand, davens directly to Hashem. Aharon figured that Miriam had committed a sin בין אדם לחברו, between man and his friend. Therefore, he asked Moshe for forgiveness, figuring there was no need to involve Hashem other than to ask for Miriam to be cured. Moshe immediately forgave her and davened to Hashem to heal her immediately since he was not offended by her comments. However, Hashem wanted to show them that this was not enough.    
       Man by himself is insignificant, no different than any animal. While we are commanded to respect and care for animals, there is no obligation to ask their forgiveness if we mistreat them. However, there is a mitzvah to ask forgiveness from humans for mistreating them and to keep trying until they acquiesce. The reason why this is true is because humans are created בצלם אלוקים, in the image of God. When dealing with humans, we must respect them as if we were dealing with Hashem Himself. This is why there are separate laws that deal with בין אדם לחברו, how people treat each other.
       Hashem was making a point to Moshe; Miriam’s sin was not just against him, it was against Hashem! Therefore, if the punishment for slandering a human is seven days, since she slandered Hashem as well, she should get another seven days! And even if Moshe forgave her, she would still have another seven days coming. So Hashem responds to Moshe that really He is going easy on Miriam, she should be punished for fourteen, and in the end she will only be punished for seven.
       Working on our בין אדם לחברו skills, and not speaking Lashon Hara in particular, is a difficult challenge. Many people we meet don’t seem worthy of our respect or consideration and we struggle to give it to them. However, it’s easier for us to recognize that we shouldn’t insult Hashem. By realizing that every human is the image of Hashem, we can appreciate that every person is worthy of our respect and admiration. With that attitude, we can enhance our בין אדם לחברו skills to where there will be a strong connection throughout the entire Klal Yisrael!

Shabbat Shalom!

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