Vol 13.16 - Pinchas 2                      Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5734) Rashi (Num. 28:2): "Command the children of Israel". The importance of prayer.


1. In the beginning of Parshat Korbanot in our Parsha (Lev.28:2) it states:

“Command/Tzav the children of Israel and say to them: My offering, My food for My fire offerings, a spirit of satisfaction for Me, you shall take care to offer to Me at its appointed time.”

Rashi cites the words “Command the children of Israel” and explains:

“Command the children of Israel: What is stated above? “Let the Lord…appoint” (27:16). The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, “Before you command me regarding My children, command My children regarding Me.” This is analogous etc.” (As will be explained in Par. 2).

צו את בני ישראל: מה אמור למעלה (כז, טז) יפקוד ה'. אמר לו הקב"ה עד שאתה מצוני על בני, צוה את בני עלי. משל לבת מלך שהיתה נפטרת מן העולם והיתה מפקדת לבעלה על בניה וכו', כדאיתא בספרי

One must understand:

What is the difficulty to Rashi in the words “Command the children of Israel” that he needs to explain?

And if it because of the word “Tzav” – he already explained it in the beginning of Parshat “Tzav” and with emphasis:

“The expression “Tzav” צַו always denotes urging (to promptly and meticulously fulfill a particular commandment] for the present and also for future generations”.

In other words, in many places, there is no other explanation of the word “Tzav”.

Some explain that Rashi comes to clarify the juxtaposition of this Parsha to the previous Parsha “Let the Lord…appoint”, and this is the intent of Rashi when he states: “What is stated above? ‘Let the Lord…appoint’”. In other words, what is the connection between our Parsha to the statement above “Let the Lord…appoint”. And he answers “The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him etc.”

However it is difficult to explain Rashi so, because:

The style of Rashi in similar instances – when he comes to explain the juxtaposition of Parshiot – is “why it this juxtaposed etc.”

·         Like his wording in this Parsha itself on the verse "Go up to mount Avarim”: “Why is this passage juxtaposed here”

·         And in the beginning of Parsha Shlach “Why is the chapter of the spies adjacent to the chapter of Miriam?”

·         And in the beginning of Parsha Behaalotecha: “Why is the Parsha of the Menorah adjacent to the Parsha of the leaders? “, and similar instances.

2. The juxtaposition of the Parshiot in our case – is understood simply:

Since until now (at the end of the forty years in the desert) the Parshat Korbanot was not yet stated, it was necessary for G-d to command them on this now, before the beginning of Mishneh Torah (“that Moshe spoke”), for if not now – when?

One can also not explain that the difficulty to Rashi is the double expressions “Tzav” (צַו) and “speak to them” (ואמרת אליהם) – where one of the expressions is seemingly superfluous,


1. If so, Rashi should have cited from the verse before explaining it (or – in his commentary) even (the words) “and speak (to them)” (for through this, the question is awakened).

2. Further on, in Parshat Masei (in connection to the borders of the land) it also states “Command the children of Israel and say to them”, yet Rashi does not comment at all.

3. In general, there are many other times that the Torah states “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them”, yet Rashi does not explanation the double expression.

One must therefore say, that this is not a question according to the simple meaning (Pshat). And the double expression is to strengthen the command (לחיזוק הציווי), etc.

2. Rashi continues in his explanation:

“This is analogous to the daughter of a king who was about to depart from the world and was instructing her husband about her children . . as it is stated in Sifri”

This is not understood:

What is added to the understanding of the verse (and the import of the parable: “Before you instruct me about my children etc.”) through this parable?

Seemingly, it is the opposite. The import (nimshal) is more understood than the parable:

 1. Moshe’s request of G-d that “Let the Lord…appoint . . on the congregation” is understood and necessary, for it is speaking of the appointment of a leader over all the Jewish people -“ who will tolerate each person according to his individual character.”. Whereas in the parable it speaks of the children of the daughter of a king:

1. Who are few in number.

2. Who are children – and it is not imperative (so much – at least) that the father be needful to instruct him over his sons.

3. G-d‘s statement to Moshe: “command My children regarding Me“ is understood. For Bnei Yisroel transgressed G-d’s command and they tested Him many times in the desert. Therefore there is a need to adjure them for this. However in the parable, why must one consider (תיסק אדעתא) that the children would forget their father, and that it is necessary to adjure them for this?

3. One must also understand the precise wordings (הדיוקים) of Rashi in citing the parable:

1. Rashi cites from the words of the Sifri “This is analogous to a princess who was about to depart from the world and was instructing her husband about her children etc.” and adds “as is stated in Sifri”.

Whichever way you want to look at it (mima nafshach) it is problematic, for:

·         If Rashi’s intent is to cite the source of the parable and to rely on the student look at the actual source, he should have been more concise and should have stated: “This is analogous to a princess etc. as is stated in Sifri”.

·         On the other hand, if his intent is to make known the essence of the parable – he should have cited it in its entirety, and not just cite certain parts of the parable.

 Therefore one must say that, these parts of the parable, that Rashi cites, are integral to the understanding of his commentary – which is not so with the other parts.

One must understand:  What is the importance in this?

2. The source of the parable (as Rashi states) is in the Sifri. However, there it states:

1.  A parable etc. of a king.

2. Who was his wife (and not the “daughter of the king”)

Yet Rashi changes and writes:

1.  A parable of a daughter of a king.

2. Who instructed her husband (plainly – and not (who instructed) the “king”)

And even though Rashi certainly found this version in the Sifri (for he writes: “as in the Sifri”) nevertheless, it is not understood:

Why did Rashi pick this version, and did not take the widespread version (as is apparent from the fact that it is in our books)?

And especially since, on the contrary - for the import of the parable (G-d) specifically fits more to the parable of a king.

Therefore one must say that specifically this version fits according to the simple understanding of the verse – the style of Rashi.  One must understand this.

3. It has been mentioned many times that when Rashi cites the source of his commentary

(And especially when he does not generalize (סותם) his words (by stating just) “Our Rabbis” etc., but rather he (actually) specifies it – like in our case (where he writes: “Sifri”)

it is in order to negate a similar statement elsewhere, yet which is not integral to his commentary according to the simple understanding of the verse (or - that the one who looks at the source will answer the question that arose to the exceptional student).

In our case:

What is Rashi coming to (hint to) and explain, through the addition of citing the source, as he states: “as in the Sifri”?

In the Tanchuma, a parable similar to ours is also mentioned. This is the text:

“What may this be referred to? To a king who married a woman and she had a Shushbin (dear friend of wedding party). Whenever the king was angry with his wife, the Shushbin would intercede on behalf of the queen. When the Shushbin was on his death-bed, he (the Shushbin) began to plead with the king to be kind and understanding with his wife, but the king interrupted him 'Instead of telling me how to behave towards my wife, rather tell her to behave towards me with more respect!'”

According to this, there is room to say that Rashi - by stating “as is in the Sifri” - is coming to negate this parable of the Tanchuma. However this itself requires explanation:

How is the parable in Rashi, more fitting than the parable of the “Shushbin” of the Tanchuma?

4. The explanation of all this is:

The word “Tzav” was already explained by Rashi, as aforementioned, that ““The expression “Tzav” always denotes urging (to promptly and meticulously fulfill a particular commandment). From this it is understood that the word “Tzav” is only appropriate to those that are actually engaged in the fulfillment of the command – for it is they that require exhortation etc.

According to this, it is problematic in our verse:

The subject of the Parsha is the command to bring G-d’s Korbanot in their appointed times, which is performed by the kohanim. Yet here it states: “Command Bnei Yisroel” and not “Command Aharon and his sons” (as it states in the beginning of Parshat Tzav) for they are the ones that deal with the offering of the Korbanot?

And to answer this question, Rashi cites “Command Bnei Yisroel” and explains “What is stated above? ‘Let the Lord…appoint’. The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, ‘Before you command me regarding My children, command My children regarding Me.’“.

In other words the explanation of “Command Bnei Yisroel” in our case is (not necessarily for the offering of the Korbanot “for the present and also for future generations”, but) a general exhortation for all of Yisroel for G-d (before Moshe’s death) as an answer (that is in proximity) to Moshe’s words “Let the Lord…appoint”

Therefore it states:

1. The expression “Tzav” – meaning that just as Moshe “Commands Me regarding My children” (by stating: “Let the Lord…appoint”), so too G-d answered Moshe “command My children regarding Me.”

2. “Bnei Yisroel” (and not just “Aharon and his sons”) - this means that just as Moshe requested “Let the Lord…appoint” over “my sons”, where this refers to all Bnei Yisroel equally. This is what G-d answered Moshe “command My children regarding Me.” – command, in general.

3. Afterwards, he adds that this command is not just “attention” (שימת לב) (remembrance) to G-d, but rather (it states explicitly) “and say to them: My offering” which means – that the command must be brought into deed. And it is understood that even the deed must concern all Yisroel (נוגע לכל ישראל).

(The deed of the Korban, for through them a “spirit of satisfaction” (ריח ניחוח) - which means that “It is gratifying for Me that I spoke, and My will was carried out”. - נחת רוח לפני שאמרתי ונעשה רצוני״).

5. However, according to this explanation, it is problematic:

1. Moshe’s words (“Let the Lord…appoint”) were said to G-d with a command: “Command Me regarding My children”

(and therefore G-d answered him: “command Bnei Yisroel, as aforementioned) –

How was it possible for Moshe to speak with such a wording?

2. Moshe’s request “Let the Lord…appoint” is something that it necessary for the existence of the Jewish people, as it states: “so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd." Yet the purpose of G-d’s answer “command Bnei Yisroel to offer Korbanot etc.” was for a “spirit of satisfaction” –gratification for Me etc. (נחת רוח לפני).

And it is especially puzzling:

Is the “gratification for Me etc.” (Through the offering of the Korban) more important that “Let the Lord…appoint . . on the congregation” so much so that G-d comes with a claim to Moshe of: “Before you command me regarding My children  - command My children regarding Me.”?!

And Rashi answers all this through “This is analogous to a princess who was about to depart from the world and was instructing her husband about her children etc.” –

implying that through this parable

(That Moshe is analogous to the “princess”, (when he is “departing from the world”, and in an aspect of “instructing regarding her children”) and G-d – “her (plain) husband”)

all the aforementioned is understood (and therefore Rashi concludes “as is in the Sifri” to negate the parable of the Tanchuma, as aforementioned in paragraph 3).

6. The explanation – of the parable is:

1. The woman, since she is a princess, strongly demands of “her (plain) husband” who is not a king. However just:

1. When she is “departing from the world”

2. When she “instructs about her children

During her entire marriage – for regarding every woman it states: “and he shall rule over you” meaning that she should be subordinate and nullified (כפופה ובטלה) to “her husband”.

However when the time comes that:

1. When she is “departing from the world”.

2. When she is forced to instruct “her (plain husband about her children” and also that they are the grandchildren of the king - then it re-awakens (חוזר וניעור) the force of the “daughter of the king”.

2. The husband requests that his wife command his children for him and in an expression of “Tzav” and exhorting.  For since he is a plain “husband” and not a king, there is room to doubt that the children – the grandchildren of the king – will “Treat me with contempt etc.’ (ינהגו בי מנהג בזיון כוי). Therefore it is imperative that his wife (who is the “daughter of the king”) exhort them concerning this.

3. The claim is “Before you instruct me . . instruct them about me”

It is well and good if he was a king, for even if his children did not accord him honor – he is not (so much) needful of them. For he is a king and he has ministers and servants etc. however since he is a plain “husband”, he only has his children, and if they will not accord him honor etc., then etc.

Similarly it is with regard to the import of the parable (בהנמשל)

1. Regarding Moshe’s request

"Let the Lord. . appoint a man over the congregation, who will go forth before them and come before them, who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd."

in this regard – Moshe – is the shepherd of Yisroel. And he states emphatically “Now if You would bear forgive their sin, and if not, I will not say to You, "Erase me," but if not, erase me from Your Book.”, and so forth - with great strength similar to the “daughter of the king” that married the plain “husband” – G-d, as it were.

And when it came the time of his departing, when he needed to hand over the flock of his sheparding to a shepherd that will fill his place in leading Bnei Yisroel - “My firstborn son Yisroel” and “a nation of priests (princes) (שרים)” – he demanded (from “her husband”) – from G-d with the strength of the “daughter of the king”.

2. Regarding Bnei Yisroel who (a portion of which) transgressed G-d‘s commands many times, G-d is to them in the manner of a plain “husband”. Therefore Moshe Rabbeinu - the “daughter of the king” – needs to command them (with words of exhortation) concerning this (as it states “command Bnei Yisroel”).

3. G-d is, as it were, like (a “husband” – and not a king), a “father” (אב), who needs his children for bread (לחם). Therefore it is understood that “command Bnei Yisroel” is a thing that is necessary, as it were, to G-d – as is explained in the continuation of the verse “My offering, My bread“ (לחמי). For the Korbanoy are His bread and food, a necessary thing, for G-d, as it were.

7. And from this there is a wondrous lesson in Avodat HaShem:

The connection between G-d to the Jewish people (לנש״י) is, as it were, similar to the connection between a father and a son, as it states: “you are children to the L-rd, your G-d” – just “you” (above the level of king). There is only G-d and the Jewish people, alone. “You alone shall have them, and strangers shall have nothing with you.”

And this connection between G-d and the Jewish people, is constant and everlasting without change. Therefore even the Korban that is related to this – is a korban tamid – a constant korban every day. And it effects the “gratification before Me (G-d)”. And this is, as it were, My bread – of G-d.

“The prayers were set up in place of the Korbanot” (תפלות במקום תמידין תקנום). For if a person who is praying should think: What is the great importance, so much, of the Avodah of my prayer, and that it must be every day? And what is the great tumult if one of the prayers, of a regular day of the week, is, G-d forbid, missed?

On this comes the answer and lesson from the explanation of Rashi here, that G-d requests: ‘command My children regarding Me’ – that they should be careful to offer the Korban Tamid in its appointed time – twice a day constantly (and prayers – are in their place).

And it says regarding this “My bread” – that this is more important than appointing a shepherd over all of Bnei Yisroel. And it is understood that this concerns every day constantly – the special days of the year as well as the simple day of the week. And every day, the prayers of each and every one accomplishes that “It is gratifying for Me that I spoke, and My will was carried out”.

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Pinchas 5731

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