Vol 33.02 - Bamidbar 2 Spanish French Audio Video
(5749) "Woe to the wicked, and woe to his neighbor" (Tanchuma Num. 12, Bamidbar Rabbah 3:12, Rashi 3:29); Three types of effects of neighbors in the laws of "House plagues" and their source in "Woe to the wicked, and woe to his neighbor" (Torat Kohanim Metzora 14:40, Mishnah Negaim 12:6). The difference between a good neighbor and a bad one and the explanation according to homily (drush)
1. Regarding the proximity of the “camp of the banner of Reuven” (דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה רְאוּבֵן) (who encamped in the “south”) to the Bnei Kehot (who encamped “to the south side of the Mishkan”), the Sages state (and it is cited by Rashi on his commentary on Torah):
“Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor!”
In explaining this saying (“Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor”) with regard to our topic, we find many interpretations.
“And from the south the Bnei Kehot and near them was Reuven and Shimon and Gad. From here we say ‘Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor’. These three tribes that were neighbors to Korach and his congregation in the south, perished with him in his controversy as it states: ‘The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses and all the people belonging to Korach and all of the possessions.”
“Three were in the south, who were close to men of controversy were destroyed with them. And on them it states: ‘Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor’. And who were the men of, controversy? Korach the son of Yitzhar the son of Kehot and since Reuven and Shimon and Gad were near, they were all men of controversy, as it says “And Korach , the son of Yitzhar. took . . and also the Bnei Gad and Bnei Shimon were also men of strife”.
“Near them was the division of Reuven, who camped to the south. Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor! This explains why Dathan, Aviram, and two hundred and fifty men were smitten with Korach and his congregation, for they were drawn into the dispute along with them”.
Among the differences between these commentaries:
In the Tanchuma it just says that they were punished together, as it states: that they “perished with him in his controversy“ (אבדו עמו במחלקותו).
(and on this it cites the proof from the verse “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses and all the people belonging to Korach and all of the possessions“) which speaks solely of punishment).
Rashi adds (“were smitten with them (לקו מהם)) for they were drawn into their dispute along with them“. In other words that the “Rasha” draws his “neighbor” also to perform sins (and therefore he omits the proof of the Tanchuma from the verse “The earth opened its mouth etc. “
And in the Bamidbar Rabbah it adds even more, that “they were all men of controversy . . even they were also men of strife” “
2. One must also understand many of the precise words and differences in Rashi’s wording:
1. Rashi writes: “Near them was the banner of Reuven (דגל ראובן), who camped to the south“ and he does not specify that this banner, also included the tribes of Shimon and Gad, as do the Tanchuma and the Bamidbar Rabbah.
(For seemingly, what it Rashi pointing out with the words “the banner of Reuven” – and not “the camp of the banner of Reuven” (דגל מחנה ראובן) (like the wording of the verse, and like his words that he states closely after this – the camp of the banner of Yehuda (דגל מחנה יהודה) - for his intent is just to the tribe of Reuven alone and not to the tribes that “camped next to him“.)
And the puzzlement is even greater:
In the continuation of the topic, on the verse “Moses, Aaron and his sons“, Rashi explains:
“Near them was the camp of the banner Yehuda, next to whom camped Yissachar and Zevulun. It is good for the righteous, and it is good for his neighbor; because they were neighbors of Moses, who was engaged in Torah study, they became great Torah scholars”. (and his source is from the Tanchuma and the Bamidbar Rabbah there).
Thus here regarding “good for the righteous” Rashi also cites Yissachar and Zevulun. Therefore what is the reason that Rashi changes regarding “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor!” and writes just the “banner of Reuven” and no more?
Seemingly, one could say that this is because we do not find (in the simple understanding of the verse) that Gad and Shimon were drawn in with him into the controversy – and one must understand the reason for this difference. And also, what is the reasoning for the differences between the Midrashim and Rashi, that only the tribe of Reuven was drawn into the controversy, or that that being a neighbor of Korach affected also the tribe of Shimon and the tribe of Gad?
2. In the Tanchuma and in the Bamidbar Rabbah it does not explain who of the tribe of Reuven perished with Korach and his company. Whereas Rashi delineates: “Dathan, Aviram, and two hundred and fifty men“ (that (primarily were from the tribe of Reuven)
3. One could explain this by prefacing that in the aspect of the effect of neighbors (פעולת השכינות) – the influence of a person on his neighbors – that we find many manners:
1. The effect of a neighbor is in a totally external manner (בענין תיצוני לגמרי,). For example where the reward of a Tzaddik extends also to his neighbors. And also the opposite, that the punishment of a Rasha extends also to his neighbor. And like the plain wording of the Talmud (at the conclusion of tractate sukkah) that the whole priestly watch (of Bilgah) was penalized because of “Miriam, the daughter of a member of the Bilga watch“
(Even though, seemingly, could it be that because of her “the entire watch was penalized“? But rather that it was )
because “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor!”
2. The effect of a neighbor is an internal effect (פעולה פנימית). In other words that it changes the manner of his neighbor’s conduct so much so that it also changes his being (מהותו).
3. Being a neighbor is not the reason that
but rather that it is an indication of the essence of the neighbor
(for the reason that they are neighbors, depicts that they have a relation to each other in their essence and their nature, and so forth) and the effect of their being neighbors, is that it reveals and brings out this property (of the neighbors) from concealment and potential into revelation and actual).
4. One could say that the source of these three manners, in the source of the aspect of “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor” in Halacha – is in the laws of the plagues of houses (נגעי בתים).
This is the wording of the Torat Kohanim:
“’They shall remove (the stones)’. This teaches that they both must remove (the stones). From this they say: “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor”. They both must remove the stones; they both must scrape (away the mortar), and they both must bring other stones” (This is similarly stated in the Mishnah of Nega’im).
In the scope of this law, there are three explanations:
And in this itself there are two explanations:
(Because of “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor”)
is (just) in the stone that is “in the corner“ (באבן שבמקצוע).
As Rashi explains in a different place regarding the explanation of the words of the Mishnah (of tractate Nega’im): “A stone in the corner, when they remove it, they remove it completely” that:
“(It refers to) a plagued stone in the corner that is visible from this house and from that house, for this is the manner of building a corner, in that they place large stones there, to strengthen the entire width of the wall, and it appears from both sides”. In other words, this stone has on it the obligation to remove it entirely (even the side where the plague does not appear).
And this is the intent of the Mishnah of a “wall that separates between two houses, and the plague appears on the wall on the side of this house” that “both must remove the stones” (because of “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor”). Namely that even his fellow is obligated to remove the stones that are in his section (corresponding to the plague).
And one could say that these three laws (and views) correspond to the three aforementioned manners in the effect of being neighbors (“Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor”):
5. According to this one can also explain the reason for the difference between the three aforementioned homilies in our Parsha: the Tanchuma, the Bamidbar Rabbah and Rashi- regarding the explanation of the topic of “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor”, with regard to the nearness of the banner of Reuven to the Bnei Kehot:
(And even when his neighbor influences him to join with him in his evil deeds, this is just that which his neighbor is drawn after him, but not that this creates a difference in the essence of the neighbor).
Therefore he states just that he “perished with him in his controversy“ (אבדו עמו במחלקותו).
(And one could say that Rashi’s intent in stating “Dathan, Aviram, and two hundred and fifty men were smitten with Korach and his congregation, for they were drawn into the dispute along with them“ is not that they are two aspects:
but rather that they are the same thing (), namely that they were “smitten from them“ because they were “drawn after them in their dispute“)
According to this, another difference in the words of Rashi versus that of the Tanchuma is understood:
In the Tanchuma, the wording is he “perished with him in his controversy“ (אבדו עמו במחלקותו). Whereas Rashi changes and writes “drawn after them in their dispute“ (in the plural - במחלוקתם). For one could say that in the Tanchuma the emphasis is that the neighbors were just drawn after Korach, and therefore he emphasizes that his was just his controversy (מחלקותו) (of Korach). In other words that the evil deed is just attributed to the evildoer and not to his neighbors.
Whereas according to Rashi due to being a neighbor, they were “drawn after them in their dispute”, this alludes to that which the neighbors were drawn into controversy, so much so that it also became his neighbor’s controversy, a controversy of many.
However, the view of the Bamidbar Rabbah is according to the third, aforementioned, view, namely that being neighbors is a sign of the essence (מהותם) of the neighbors. In other words, that in their essence, they are related to each other.
And this is why the Bamidbar Rabbah precisely: “they were all men of controversy . . even they were men of strife“ (and not “they were drawn after them in their dispute”, like in Rashi). In other words that this is their essential makeup. And their being neighbors just reveals and brings this property from concealment to revelation.
Similarly, before this, in a positive light, it says there that the “tribes (of the camp of the banner of Yehuda) who were near Moshe and Aharon . . were all great in Torah”, and not (just) that “they became great in Torah“, like the Tanchuma and Rashi). For being neighbors revealed that, in essence, “they were all (fitting to be) great in Torah”.
And one could say that this is why the Bamidbar Rabbah precisely states there (in a positive light):
“Happy is the Tzaddik and happy is his neighbor“ (אשרי צדיק ואשרי שכנו) not “to the Tzaddik .. to his neighbors” like in the Tanchuma (and Rashi). For according to the Tanchuma (and Rashi) the happiness (and the good – (האושר (והטוב)) comes to the neighbor through (due to) the Tzaddik and his influence. Whereas in the Bamidbar Rabbah, the “happiness” is on both of them equally. And one could say that this is why it precisely states “an on them (ועליהם) it states: ‘Happy is the Tzaddik and happy is his neighbor ‘“.
(And one could add that this explanation in the view of the Bamidbar Rabbah, namely that being neighbors is a sign of the relation and connection that is essentially between them, fits with the entire subject matter of the homily of the Bamidbar Rabbah here. For it begins with the segulah of the places (of the four the compass points, east west north and south) where the banners encamped. And in its words: “the east from where light is sent forth into the world and there, was the banner of Yehuda for they were masters of rulership, masters of Torah and masters of Mitzvot. Therefore Moshe, Aharon and their sons encamped there, who were masters of Torah and masters of Mitzvot and who atoned for Yisroel with their prayers and their offerings”. And similarly, it continues: “and on them it states ‘Happy is the Tzaddik and happy is his neighbor’- these are the tribes that were close to Moshe and Aharon etc. for they were all great in Torah etc.”. In other words, due to the essential virtue of the banner of Yehuda and their connection to the “East”, the banner of Yehuda encamped in the positive atmosphere (ברוח מסוגל) of the east, and “therefore (also) Moshe, Aharon and their sons encamped there“).
6. According to this reasoning in Rashi’s view, it is understood why Rashi just writes the “banner of Reuven” and does not also cite Shimon and Gad:
Since according to Rashi’s view “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor” is because of the influence of the Rasha on the conduct of the neighbor and his essence, it is understood that it is not something that is equal to all. Therefore (in our case) there is just his innovation (אין לך בו אלא חידושו) that it refers to the tribe of Reuven where it states expressly that he was drawn into controversy. For since they are the primary banner, therefore, it is understood that they were more “near” and related to (Bnei Kehot -) Korach. Whereas regarding Shimon and Gad who are not specified in the verse, there is no necessity to say that the influence of the neighbor, affected them and that they were drawn together with them. And regarding Reuven himself Rashi precisely states that “they were smitten from them“. In other words, that Korach did not influence the entire tribe but just a small number of the tribe of Reuven itself.
And because of this reason Rashi specifically states: “Dathan, Aviram, and two hundred and fifty men“ and he does not plainly write “therefore from them were smitten with Korach and his congregation“ – for one could say that the reason that he combines “Dathan and Aviram“ to the “two hundred and fifty men “ in one statement (בחדא מחתא), is because he intended to emphasize the nature and aspect of being a neighbor to a Rasha. That it affects and influences on the essence of the people that live near him. For just as it is simple that “Dathan and Aviram” were not just drawn into the controversy of Korach, but they were also men of controversy in their nature, so too it influenced the two hundred and fifty men through being neighbors to the Rasha, that they became men of controversy.
7. However, one must seemingly examine what was previously written, namely that according to the Tanchuma, the aspect of a neighbor is just an external effect regarding the aspect of punishment, alone.
For the Tanchuma there clearly expresses the aspect of the closeness of the camp of the banner of Yehuda to the place of Moshe and Aharon’s encampment:
“From here we say “Happy to the Tzaddik and happy to his neighbor (אשרי לצדיק ואשרי לשנינו). These three tribes that were near to Moshe and Aharon were made great in Torah. Yehuda as it states: ‘The rod will not depart . .Yissachar as it states: ‘And of the sons of Yissachar, those who had an understanding of the times . . and Zevulun as it states: ‘out of Zevulun they that handle the pen of the scribe’. Since they were his neighbors, they were all made masters of Torah” (כולם נעשו בני תורה).
Thus being a neighbor effected in them itself, that “they were all made great in Torah . . masters of Torah”?
And one could say that according to the view of the Tanchuma, there is a difference between a good neighbor versus a bad neighbor.
And perhaps one could say that, even according to the Rashi’s view there is a virtue to being a neighbor to a good person versus being a neighbor to a bad person (for the Attribute of Good etc.). Therefore since the camp of the banner of Yehuda were neighbors to Moshe and Aharon, it effected not just on the tribe Yehuda, the head of the camp - that was close to Moshe (similar to the effect of Bnei Kehot on the banner of Reuven, alone, as aforementioned) but also on Yissachar and Zevulun that encamped on the camp of the banner of Yehuda.
And one could add that this aspect is emphasized by the change in Rashi’s comment concerning the proof regarding Yehuda that “they were made great in Torah“. For he cites a verse from Ketuvim (Ps. 60:9): “Yehuda is my lawgiver“, not like the Tanchuma who cites: “The rod will not depart from Yehuda, nor a law-enforcer from between his feet “ which is:
(In addition to that which Rashi cites a verse where it explains that it was actually so, and not a verse in the Chumash where it is just a promise and blessing that “The rod will not depart“, in addition to this,)
in the verse in Chumash it does not explain that this applies to the entire tribe of Yehuda. For the verse: “The rod will not depart from Yehuda, nor a law-enforcer from between his feet “ means that among them, there were “heads of the exile in Bavel “ and “leaders of Eretz Yisroel“. Whereas the verse: “Yehuda is my lawgiver“ is the name of the entire tribe. From this it is understood that this is entire characteristic of the entire tribe of Yehuda. Therefore Rashi changes and cites this verse, to emphasize that being neighbors (to Moshe etc.) effected and changed their essence.
And one could say that this is also the precise wording of Rashi “It is good for the righteous, and it is good for his neighbor” (טוב לצדיק טוב לשכנו) and not “Happy to the Tzaddik and happy to his neighbor (אשרי לצדיק ואשרי לשנינו) (like the Tanchuma).
For the word “Happy/אשרי “ (from the word “wealth” or from the word “praised” (מלשון אושר או מלשון שבח)) can be implied even when the receiving of the influence of the reward is through the Tzaddik or through the Tzaddik’s conduct, whereas the word “good” (טוב) also includes the explanation that it is a change one’s being and nature - that he was made “good”.
8. One could add to this according to allusion and homily (הרמז והדרוש):
The connection of these two aspects of “good for the righteous, and it is good for his neighbor” and “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor” in our Parsha, is not just from the aspect of being neighbors, but (also) from the aspect of their makeup and nature, of which it speaks:
The way to save oneself and avoid being drawn into controversy (“Woe to the wicked”) is through occupying oneself with Torah (“good for the righteous etc.”).
And also the opposite. In order for one’s Torah study to be proper (כדבעי), so much so that it makes one “great in Torah”, meaning that one is united with the Torah – this is specifically when one distances himself from controversy, to the last degree.
And one could say that this is also one of the reasons for the connection of Parshat Bamidbar to Chag HaShavuot, for “we always read Parshat ‘Bamidbar Sinai’ before Atzeret (Shavuot)”. For just as in this Parshat, the two aforementioned aspects are explained, so too is it with regard to the aspect of Matan Torah:
It is explained by the Sages regarding Matan Torah that “the entire Torah was given in order to make (לעשות) peace in the world”. In other words to effect peace and unity in a place that is susceptible to controversy and division. On the other hand, the reason for the giving of the Torah, is as it states “And Yisroel camped there opposite the mountain“ (which was on Rosh Chodesh Sivan) . And the Sages say that here “They all became of one heart” (השוו לב אחד). And through this Yisroel was made worthy to receive the Torah. As it is explained by the Sages that : “When they came to Sinai, they encamped, as it states: ‘And Yisroel camped there’, the Holy One Blessed be He said: ‘Since, Yisroel hates controversy and loves peace and made one encampment, now is the time for Me to give them My Torah’”.
And both of these together – the nullification of controversy and the increase in Torah, come through being a neighbor to a Tzaddik, “It is good for the righteous, and it is good for his neighbor”.
For a Tzaddik’s occupation of Torah is in a manner of peace and unity. And especially the study of Torah for its own sake (לשמה) – Torah the way it is connected and attached to the Giver of the Torah.
Therefore through being a neighbor to a Tzaddik and studying his Torah, this effects peace and unity in each person.
So much so that we merit the true peace that will be with the coming of Moshiach, who will teach Torah to the entire world in a manner of unity “And in that era, there will be neither . . envy or competition”, not even holy envy or competition (קנאה ותחרות דקדושה). “For the world will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the ocean bed”.
MSichas Shabat Parshat Bamidbar 5735, 5743, 5744
Vav Tishrei 5728
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