Vol 23.14 - Korach 1 Spanish French Audio Video
(5743) Rashi (Num. 17:23) "It gave forth blossoms", "buds" and "produced ripe almonds".
Why was the miracle of Aaron's staff blossoming necessary (according to Pshat).
Exact wording of Talmud Yoma(52b)
The staff and almonds involved both miracles and the natural order.
1. It has already been mentioned many times, that Rashi, in his commentary on Torah, answers all questions that arise according to the simple understanding of the verse (to a five-year old who learns Chumash). And if there is a certain difficulty where one does not find an explanation in Rashi, one must say that the answer is self-understood according to the simple understanding of the verse. Or it is answered according to one of the commentators on Rashi ( in that place or preceding it)
In our Parsha (Num.17:20) after the verse tells of the punishment of swallowing - "The earth will open its mouth and swallow them” in which “Then, you will know that G-d has sent me to perform all these deeds – Which I have done by the word of G-d; conferring the high-priesthood on Aharon etc”
And after the punishment of the inferno – where “A fire came forth from G-d and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were bringing the incense.”, which shows “that the man who will be chosen by G-d, is the holy one;” and “The chosen one will survive, but all of you will be lost”
(After this) – It tells about the blossoming of Aaron’s staff.
It is not understood:
Why were all these punishments and signs not enough to nullify the “the complaints of Bnei Yisroel” so much that it was necessary to (also) have the “sign” of blossoming of Aaron’s staff ?
On the verse: (17:25) “Return the staff of Aharon before the (Ark of) Testimony to be preserved as a symbol etc” Rashi comments: “For a remembrance that I chose Aharon to serve as Kohenso that they will never again dispute the priesthood”
Ramban cites Rashi‘s comment and says: “And this staff is only a symbol for the tribe of Levi which was chosen over all the other tribes, but not on Aaron that he should possess the priesthood”. And he translates: “preserved as a symbol” – as referring to the tribe of Levi who replaced the firstborn, for the inferno was a symbol for the priesthood and the staff a symbol on the Levites.
The commentators go at length to explain, that according to Rashi’s opinion, the symbol of the staff: “Aaron’s staff blossomed” applied to both concepts –
a. That Aaron was chosen for the priesthood. And that
b. The tribe of Levi was chosen for the Service of the Levites
And they explain the necessity for this explanation:
If this the staff was a “symbol” just for the choosing of the tribe of Levi then
a. the staff would not have been referred to as Aaron’s staff but rather the staff of Eliezer ben Aharon since he was the prince of the tribe of Levi. This is just like all the other tribes where the staff was taken by the prince of the tribe.
b..The names of the princes and Aaron would not have been written on the staff
(“you shall write each man's name on his staff etc and the name of Aharon on the staff of Levi”)
but rather the name of the tribe itself.
Other commentators explain that, that which the concept that the sign of the staff (also) applied to Aaron’s priesthood is necessary because
a. The blossoming was specifically in the letters of the name “Aharon” and not on a different part of the staff
b. “and bloomed buds (“Tzitz”) etc” hints at the high priesthood because it is the name of the Foreplate (“Tzitz”) etc
But all this is not explicit (or even hinted to) in Rashi’s commentary here.
Also one must understand:
Even according to the aforementioned statements, namely that there are many proofs that the sign referred (also) to the priesthood of Aaron – it is not understood why this special sign and test on the choosing of Aaron was required at all, and the previous signs were not sufficient, as above?
One could say that the explanation for all this is explained according to Rashi’s explanation on the verse: “Blossomed” as will be explained.
2. On the words: “Blossomed”, Rashi comments: “Like the plain interpretation”
But it is not understood:
a. Rashi should have said this at the first time it speaks of the context of “his staff shall blossom” and not at . . the third instance!
b. It is understood, simply, that Rashi explains the verse only in a place where the understanding (pshat) does not correspond to the meaning of the words and the verse.
However, he never comments
(because it is not necessary to comment – and therefore Rashi does not explain its meaning)
where the explanation is understood from the words of the verse (its explanation and meaning)
Thus when Rashi states: “Like the plain interpretation” etc – it is to negate an explanation that is not “plainly understood” yet is an explanation that could be explained according to the subject matter etc.
One must therefore understand. What is the other explanation and its proof – in our verse?
The Sifsei Chachamim states that: “Wherever there are two expressions like here in our verse: “blossomed” and afterwards “It gave forth blossoms, sprouted buds” where the meaning of blossomed (perach) is known but the meaning of “sprouted buds” (“yatzei tzitz”) is not known, Rashi therefore comments on “blossomed”: “Like the plain interpretation” meaning that it does not require an explanation. But “sprouted buds” (“yatzei tzitz”) is not known and requires and explanation: “the budding of the fruit, when the blossoms drop”
But according to this rule, it is the opposite! The question is even greater. When Rashi only explains the words: “sprouted buds” (“yatzei tzitz”), it makes it even clearer that blossomed (yotzei perach) does not need to be explained (because it is self-explanatory).
However, when he explains on the phrase “Like the plain interpretation” – it infers that he is obviating and negating a different explanation, as above.
Later on Rashi comments on the word: buds” (“tzitz”) and explains: “the budding of the fruit, when the blossoms drop”
One must examine this:
The style of Rashi is, as known, to explain the simple meaning (Pshat) of the verse – namely the explanation of the words (and the subject matter) and not just to add a description and detail, unless it is critical to the simple understanding of the verse.
One must therefore understand:
How are the specifics and manner of the growth of the vegetation relevant that we need to know that the” budding of the fruit” is “when the blossoms drop”?
3. Later on Rashi comments on the word: “And bore ripe almonds” and explains: “When the fruit was discernible, it was recognized as almonds, as in "the child grew and was weaned." This term is generally used for fruit of the tree, as in "its buds will become ripening fruit."
It is known, as mentioned many times, that Rashi’s wording is extremely precise.
One must understand:
That which Rashi cites the verse: "its buds will become ripening fruit“ is understood that
(according to the wording of Rashi itself) it is because there is a proof from this that this expression “Vayigmol” (was weaned) is found ( not only by children, since they are weaned from their mother’s milk but)
It also refers to fruits.
What however is the meaning of the precision (and additional words): “fruits of the tree” and not just simply “fruits”?
4. One could say that the explanation is:
In the simple meaning of this verse there are many questions. Some of them are:
a. G-d said “It shall be that the man whom I choose, his staff shall blossom” – Therefore why was there (in actuality) a change (an addition) – in that not only did it “blossom” but also a “blossom came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds”?
Moreover, these are additions that require additional miracles!
b. There is a seemingly a double expression in this verse. – After the verse states: ‘“blossomed etc” it states again afterwards “It gave forth blossoms”
that came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds”. Blossoms that later fell off “like the manner of all blossoms of trees”
We cannot, however, learn so In Rashi’s explanation. Because such an innovation would require that Rashi, according to his simple explanation on Torah, explicitly state this idea – and we do not have even a hint of it." rel="">Our Rabbis, the Baalei Tosfos, explain that the double expression: ‘“blossomed etc” and afterwards “It gave forth blossoms” refers to two types of blossoming. On one side of the staff there were blossoms that remained and never fell off. And on the other side of the staff there were “blossoms that came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds”. Blossoms that later fell off “like the manner of all blossoms of trees”
We cannot, however, learn so In Rashi’s explanation. Because such an innovation would require that Rashi, according to his simple explanation on Torah, explicitly state this idea – and we do not have even a hint of it.
And Rashi answers these questions with his explanation that ‘“blossomed” (yotzei perach) is “Like the plain interpretation” and that “sprouted buds” (“yotzei tzitz”) is the:”budding of the fruit when the blossoms drop”
5. From this, that Rashi explains that ‘“blossomed” (yotzei perach) is “Like the plain interpretation”, i.e. a blossom, is understood that the expression “flowering” (yifrach), beforehand does not mean the flowering of a blossom.
The expression “yifrach” “perach” (in the active tense), when speaking about a tree, means “bloomed” (“geblit”) as is understood. This means that there are blossoms of flowers
(and regarding a tree that bears fruit there is a blooming from which later grows fruit)
However, when speaking about a staff etc, not a tree, the expression “perach” is not limited to the blooming of a blossom. Rather, it can refer in a general sense (additionally) to the staff – growing (pericha), i.e. anything that grows and occurs later.
(like the expression “sprouts bubbles” (poreach ababuot) or “the righteous will sprout like a date palm”)
Therefore, Rashi must warn by the word: ‘“blossomed” (yotzei perach) - that the “sprouting” (perach) here is “Like the plain interpretation”. A flower appears, an actual blossom - not like the figurative “sprouting” (“yifrach”) and “perach” which, as above, are not limited to the literal meaning. And Rashi, in the previous verses, does not need to explicitly translate this (and at length) because the meaning of the word flowering (“pericha”) has already been previously learned.
But knowing that, here, it is referring to a staff, it is understood that it could not only refer to a blossom but also to a blooming that encompasses a growth of flowers, buds and fruit.
And since the expression: “his staff shall blossom” of G-d’s word, refers to general aspect of flowering – beginning with the advance of the blossom and all the particulars that occur afterwards – it is understood that after G-d said, generally (b’klal, as in any places), that “his staff shall blossom” that He would afterwards enumerate the specifics (perat) “blossom came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds”.
Accordingly, the double wording in verse: “The staff of Aharon blossomed for the house of Levi, a blossom came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds” is also understood.
The Torah previously states, in general - “The staff of Aharon blossomed”
(just As G-d said: “his staff shall blossom”)
And afterwards the Torah delineates the specifics of the flowering: “blossomed” (yotzei perach) is - “Like the plain interpretation”, i.e. a blossom; “Sprouted buds” (“yotzei tzitz”) - the”budding of the fruit when the blossoms drop” and afterwards “bore ripe almonds”.
6. There is however, according to this, a question:
Since “a blossom came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds” is the specifics (perat) of “The staff of Aharon blossomed” which was stated previously
And according to the natural timeframe, blossoming culminates in the end result – almonds -
It follows that when ‘Moshe came inside the Tent of the Testimony” all these three aspects:
“a blossom came forth, and bloomed buds and bore ripe almonds”
had already occurred.
Therefore the verse should have just mentioned the last culmination of the three: “bore ripe almonds”?
Because after this process, this is only what Moshe saw
( for he did not see the “the blossoming and blooming of buds”. (As Rashbam questions)
And it is difficult to learn, that while going into the Tent of the Testimony, Moshe saw the entire process of all of these three specifics, sequentially. Because, what would be the purpose of Moshe seeing all this? The intent in this was in order that: “I will abate from Myself the complaints of Bnei Yisroel etc “. That Yidden should recognize and believe that “I have chosen Aharon"?
Therefore, Rashi adds on his comment on: Sprouted buds” (“yotzei tzitz”) – that it is the ”budding of the fruit when the blossoms drop” - to explain that this is according to the natural chain of events of plant growth, and this was made possible so that the Yidden should know this, through seeing the blossoms that fell.
Moshe took out all the staffs and showed them to the Yidden –
“Moshe then brought out all the staffs from before G-d to all Bnei Yisroel, and each (man) saw”
He showed all of it – also the blossoms that fell off when the buds formed. And by seeing the staffs with the almonds and also the fallen blossoms, it was clear to them that, in the “Tent of the Testimony”, the entire process took place. The ‘“blossoms” (yotzei perach) - “Like the plain interpretation”, the sprouted buds” (“yotzei tzitz”) – the”budding of the fruit when the blossoms drop”, and the bearing of “ripe almonds”.
7. One could however ask:
Why must it have been that the Yidden know this and in general know - the natural order of the growth of the almonds on the staff? - Since this was entirely a miraculous occurrence, it would have sufficed to show that ripe almonds grew on the staff?
According to the other commentators, it is understood. Because they learn that the flowering of the “blossom (“perach”) and the “sprouted buds” (“tzitz”) added to the greatness of the miracle. As Radak learns: “perach” refers to the leafing first and afterwards the blossom (Haneitz). And this is contrary to the natural growth of almonds and it was done to magnify the miracle.
However, according to Rashi who maintains that the sprouted buds” (“yotzei tzitz”) is the ”budding of the fruit when the blossoms drop”, it is just the opposite. The growth is according to the natural growth of almonds. -
It is not understood:
· If it is in order to stress the miracle, Rashi should have learned like the Radak that it was not according to the natural growth of almonds.
· And if it is in order to stress the miracle itself, it should have been that the staff grew ripe almonds?
8. The explanation is:
G-d made the symbol of the staffs, specifically in this fashion, because it conveys the main reason.
The swallowing of “all the people belonging to Korach and all of the possessions” brought them to the knowledge and recognition that “G-d sent him” “to perform all these deeds”. That Moshe is an emissary of G-d and everything he does is “according to G-d’s word”
And this was reinforced and revealed in specifics, at the inferno that consumed the “the two hundred and fifty men who were bringing the incense.”. There, it was made clear that to everyone that Aharon was chosen by G-d to offer the incense – the high priesthood.
This however, did not nullify the complaints of Bnei Yisroel. The previous signs only showed that G-d decreed it and therefore the punishments occurred. It could be, however, that Aaron, of himself, is similar to other Yidden and therefore the question ‘why do you raise yourselves above” is valid.
Moreover, - it is possible (due to the Sin of the Calf) that Aaron specifically is unfit. Other Yidden are better suited. Even more so, it could be that the reason G-d decreed that Aaron become the High Priest was due to Moshe’s prayer and request etc?
The symbol of the staffs came to answer this:
The nature of a staff is that it does not, on its own accord, blossom and grow fruits. This can only occur due to the choice and will of G-d.
On the other hand, through the staff it was shown (accomplished) by G-d’s will that, there was and remained, not just a miraculous aspect, but something that was bound to the nature of the staff.
And therefore, the manner of the blossoming was:
· First: “blossoming” (yotzei perach) - “Like the plain interpretation”,
· And afterwards : “Sprouted buds” (“yotzei tzitz”) - the ”budding of the fruit when the blossoms drop”
· And afterwards “bore ripe almonds”: “When the fruit was discernible, it was recognized as almonds” – a natural course in the growth of almonds.
According to this, it is also understood why G-d decreed: “"Return the staff of Aharon before the (Ark of) Testimony to be preserved as a symbol” - “For a remembrance that I chose Aharon the Kohen so that they will never again dispute the priesthood”
Since this is a natural and essential aspect of Aaron and his sons, it is not applicable to say
(even if another has an urge and desire to perform the service in the Temple or for other reasons)
that there should be a change - in a later time to choose another in his stead.
9. According to this, the continuation of Rashi’s explanation of “And bore ripe almonds”:
where he adds the additional proof: “This term is generally used for fruit of the tree”.
is also understood,
Rashi is not just bringing a proof that the expression “Vayigmol” (was weaned) is found by fruits (not only by a child). Rather, it also emphasizes that the manner of growth (“Vayigmol”), here by the almonds on the staff, was in the same manner and fashion like the fruition and growth of an actual fruit of a tree.
According to the above, the continuation of Rashi:
“Why almonds? This is the fruit which blossoms more quickly than all fruits. One who challenges the kehunah as well, will be punished quickly”
Since the blossoming and growth of the fruits on the staff, like the fruits of a tree, was in order to emphasize that that this occurred according to the natural course of events and therefore this concept applies also to the high priesthood, as above. It is understood that,
that which the blossoming was specifically of the variety almonds
also applies to the aspect of high priesthood, of which we are discussing here.
Therefore Rashi continues: “Why almonds etc?” To show that even this particular aspect, namely that the fruit was of the type (of fruit) almonds
(even though this is not crucial to the the sign of choosing Aaron)
applies to our subject,
Because this comes to hint that: “One who challenges the kehunah as well, will be punished quickly etc”
10. According to this explanation of Rashi, an expression in Talmud, which the Rishonim grapple with, is understood.
The Talmud (Yoma 52b) states: “When the Ark was hidden, there was hidden with it etc the staff of Aaron, with its almonds and blossoms”.
The commentators question: Why does the Talmud mention the blossoms? – For the verse it states: “And bore almonds. And after the culmination of the growth of the almonds there were no other blossoms (except those that had previously fallen, as above?)
And they answer that:”some of the blossoms remained on the staff in order to magnify the miracle”
However, it seemingly is not clear:
Why does the Talmud, when discussing the hiding of the Staff, delineate the blossoms separately? According to their answer, they were attached to the Staff and when the staff was hidden, the blossoms were also automatically hidden?
Concerning the almonds one could say
(at the very least, with difficulty)
that with this description it is made clear exactly which “staff of Aaron” it refers to. But even so, what difference does it make to mention here the blossoms?
However, according to the above explanation of Rashi
– in the simple understanding of the verse, which does not make any distinction in the blossoms – that
they all fell off and Moshe showed them separated from the staff, it is understood.
For just as at the first time, when Moshe brought out the Staff with the almonds and the separately fallen blossoms
in order to show the Yidden that it was a natural fruition and growth of almonds, which shows that the Kehuna belongs to Aaron etc, as above –
so too it is also understood regarding the command “Return the staff of Aharon before the (Ark of) Testimony to be preserved as a symbol – for a remembrance
that I chose Aharon to serve as Kohenso that they will never again dispute the kehunah”.
that even in the “remembrance” it matters that the “Return” should include both the staff with the almonds and also the separate blossoms. For this brings out the manner of “I have chosen Aaron the kohen”
And because of this reason, at the hiding of the staff, it states: “with its almonds and blossoms”.
Just as the aspect of hiding the Ark was not (just) to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy, but also because (as has been mentioned many times) there (the place of hiding) has the Din of the place of the Ark.
(Therefore Shlomo , at the very beginning of the construction of the Temple, “knowing that it was destined to be destroyed, built a place to hide the Ark”. He sanctified it as a place for the holiness of the Ark and holy of Holies”)
this applies also to the other objects which were “before the Ark”. –
Their hiding “with it” (with the Ark) is because this is their place. And therefore, also in the place of their hiding, they accomplish their purpose. (poeil peulah) –
And especially regarding the Staff of Aaron,
where the lesson is that it was hidden together with the Ark since it states: “As a remembrance (sign)”
And therefore, also by the hiding the Talmud delineates “the staff of Aaron, with its almonds and blossoms”.
And this all will be revealed with the coming of our righteous Moshiach, on who it states: “The righteous one flourishes like the palm”. “For in his days the priesthood will be returned and the Staff of Aaeom will blossom”, speedily in our days.
M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Korach 5740
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