Vol 33.22 - Balak Spanish French Audio Video
|Hebrew Text: Chumash|
(5744) Rashi (Num. 23:24) "Behold, a people that rises like a lioness". The reason that Rashi prefaces the comment of Midrash to that of the Targum; The differences between the wording of Rashi to that of the Midrash and the difference between them in the boundary of Kriat Shema of the Morning.
The connection of "grasping mitzvot" to Yud-beis Tammuz
1. Concerning the style of Rashi in the explanation of the prophecy of Bilaam (in our Parsha), it is explained in another place (Likkutei Sichos Vol.8 pg.262) that even though that Rashi established in his commentary that he is only coming, in his commentary, to explain the simple meaning of the verse – and that he only cites those Aggadot that resolve the verses, nevertheless he diverts from this in his commentary on the prophecy of Bilaam.
For he cites many Derashot (homilies) of the Sages. And the reason for this is because in the verse, in its simple meaning, it states “He took up his parable”. In other words, that according to the manner of Pshat, the explanation of these verses is not literally according to their “simple meaning” (פשוטם), like the other verses, but that they are “parables” (משלים). And regarding a parable, its plain aspect is (also) allusions and homilies.
(And similarly, in his explanation on the Shirat HaYam- song of the sea – and the song of Ha’azinu, and others – since they are “songs” (שירות), Rashi cites many Derashot).
We also find that, in the prophecy of Bilaam, Rashi increases his citing of the “Targum” (Onkelos), which is not the norm in his commentary on Torah. However according to the aforementioned it is understood that by citing the Targum, his main intent is (not to translate the language of the verses, but) to explain the import (הנמשל) of the “parable” according to the Targum.
However in this itself, we find many manners:
Sometimes Rashi begins his explanation with the words “As the Targum renders” and then cites other explanations of the homilies of the Sages (מדרשת תז״ל). Yet at other times it is the opposite. However, according to the aforementioned it is understood that this is dependent upon what is closer to the simple understanding of the verse, in the context of the words of the “parable”.
According to all this, one may examine the explanation of Rashi on the verse (Lev.23:24):
“Behold, a people that rises like a lioness” (הן עם כלביא יקום),
where he explains:
“When they arise from their sleep in the morning they strengthen themselves like a lioness and a lion to snatch Mitzvot, to wear Tzitzit, recite the Shema and put on ‘Tefilin’ (phylacteries)”
And (on the words) “It does not lie down”, where he explains:
“(A Jew does not lie down) on his bed at night until he consumes and destroys any harmful thing that comes to tear him. How so? He recites the Shema on his bed etc.”
And after this lengthy explanation (whose source is from the words of the Midrash) Rashi adds:
“Another interpretation: “Behold a people that rises like a lioness etc. . . as the Targum renders”
One must understand:
Why does Rashi preface the citing of the words of the Midrash, which are a remote allusion, seemingly, in the explanation of the words, and does not cite at the outset, the words of the Targum.
For according to Onkelos’ explanation:
(“Behold, a people . . he will not rest in his land until he has killed (those that should be) slain and he will inherit the possessions of the nations”),
the verse speaks of the entering of Bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel and the conquest of the land (as the Ramban, cites from the Targum)?
In the prophecy of Bilaam that is after this, where there it speaks similarly to the wording of this verse –
“He crouches and lies like a lion and like a lioness; who will dare rouse him?”
“As the Targum (Onkelos) renders, they will settle in their land with might and power”, and no more than this.
What is the reason, that Rashi does not cite, here, at the beginning the explanation of the Targum, that is closer to the simple understanding of the verse (even) here?
And it is extremely problematic, that in the beginning of this prophecy of Bilaam,
“G-d is not a man etc.”
“He has already promised them to bring them to and give them possession of the land of the seven nations, and you expect to kill them in the desert?”
Thus we see that the main words of Bilaam (specifically in this prophecy) are founded on this, namely to negate the idea of “killing them in the desert” – for it is clear to him (Bilaam) that Bnei Yisroel will continue to go with power and strength (בכח וגבורה) to conquer the land of the seven nations, and that they will vanquish the nations, and in conjunction with this it is more fitting, seemingly, to cite the aforementioned explanation of the Targum.
2. One could say that the explanation of this is – simply:
In the subject of the prophecy of Bilaam, where he answered Balak
(On the request from him “So now, please come and curse this people for me”)
that he is not able to curse Yidden – there are two manners:
1. That he is not able to curse them, and to harm them with his speech, for they are dear in the eyes of G-d and he watches over them and protects them etc.”
2. They have many qualities and merits that the other nations do not possess, and therefore (not only is he unable to harm them through his speech but, more than that) ”they are deserving of blessing”.
And one could say that, in general (שבכללות), this is the difference between the first prophecy and the second prophecy:
In the preface to the first prophecy, he said:
“How can I curse whom G-d has not cursed, and how can I invoke wrath if the L-rd has not been angered?”
Whereas in the preface to the second prophecy he said:
“I have received (an instruction) to bless, and He has blessed, and I cannot retract it.”
(And even though in the two prophecies (and also in the third and fourth prophecy), the reason that he could not curse them exists from these two aforementioned aspects (manners),
(and more than this, that the style of Rashi in his commentary of these verses is that he increases citing more than one explanation, since it is logical that one should add in the explanation of the words of Bilaam in the merit and quality of Yisroel),
nevertheless it depends what is more important)
And with this one can explain the general difference between the explanations of Rashi in these two prophecies:
· In the first prophecy, where in the beginning of: “For from their beginning, I see them as mountain peaks”
“I look at their origins and the beginning of their roots, and I see them established and powerful, like these mountains and hills, because of their patriarchs and matriarchs .. This is (the legacy) their forefathers etc.”
in order to emphasize that he is not able to harm them with his speech due to their dearness to G-d.
· In the second prophecy, where in the beginning it states:
“He does not look at evil in Jacob, etc.”
Rashi first writes:
“According to the Targum”
And afterwards cites the words of the Midrash.
For specifically according to the Targum,
(“There are no idol worshippers in the house of Jacob nor even those that serve a word of falsehood in Yisroel”)
does it speak of the quality of Yidden themselves.
Whereas according to the Midrash it does not speak of the quality of Yidden themselves (due to their deeds), but of their dearness etc. before G-d (that even ”When they transgress His word, He does not deal punctiliously with them to scrutinize their wicked deeds and their iniquity in violation of His law”).
Similarly in our verse: “Behold, a people that rises like a lioness”, it is according to the “Targum”. For it speaks of the conquest of the land as it states:
“He will not rest in his land until he has killed (those that should be) slain and he will inherit the possessions of the nations”.
Thus, it speaks mainly regarding that which G-d will do with them. Therefore Rashi prefaces the words of the Midrash:
“When they arise from their sleep in the morning they strengthen themselves like a lioness and a lion to snatch Mitzvot etc.”
In other words it speaks of the great quality of the deeds of Yisroel, and that this is a constant practice of them, every day. From this it is understood that, in addition to that which it is not applicable that Bilaam curse them, G-d forbid, that even more than this - that “they are deserving of blessing”.
3. According to this one can also explain the reason that, in the first explanation, Rashi differs from the wording of the Midrash:
In the Midrash it states:
“It (Yisroel) does not lie down until it eats its prey. When he says ‘G-d is one’, the destroyers are consumed from before him, they whisper after him “Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever’ and they flee. And he relies on the reciting of Shema for the protectors of the day until the protectors of the night. And when he goes to sleep, he deposits his soul in the Hand of G-d and says “I deposit my soul into Your Hand”, and when he awakes he crowns G-d, and the protectors of the night hand him over to the protectors of the day, as it states etc.”
Whereas Rashi writes:
“It does not lie down: (i.e. a Jew does not lie down) on his bed at night until he consumes and destroys any harmful thing that comes to tear him. How so? He recites the Shema on his bed and entrusts his spirit to the hand of the Omnipresent. Should an army or a troop come to harm them, the Holy One, blessed is He, protects them, fights their battles and strikes them (their attackers) down dead”.
In other words, Rashi adds and emphasizes in the beginning of his explanation: “until he consumes and destroys any harmful thing” which, in addition to that which G-d‘s deeds are in the merit of the deeds of the person, that it is also in a manner that G-d‘s deeds themselves are connected to the deeds of the person.
4. However, one must examine a major difference that Rashi changes from the Midrash in the beginning of his explanation:
For in the Midrash it states that:
“When they arise from their sleep, they rise like lions and grasp the recital of Shema”.
Whereas Rashi writes:
“To grasp Mitzvot, to wear Tzitzit, to recite the Shema and put on Tefilin”.
According to the plain meaning, Rashi cites all the Mitzvot that a person does in the morning immediately when he arises from his sleep, and not just the recital of Shema.
However one must understand this itself:
Why must Rashi add to the words of the Midrash and include even “to wear Tzitzit” and “to put on Tefilin”?
One must also understand the order that Rashi enumerates these three Mitzvot – Tzitzit, Shema and Tefilin – which do not coincide with their order in the Parshiot of the Torah.
(For it first mentions the Parsha of Tefilin (in Parshat Bo) and afterwards the Parsha of Tzitzit (in Parshat Beshallach) and at the end (after our Parsha) the Parsha of Kriat Shema (in Parshat Va’etchanan).
And this is also not in accordance with the order of their performance by a person. For even though the custom (Minhag) is that we wear Tzitzit in the morning immediately after washing the hands (נט״י), and afterwards we recite the Shema – yet Kriat Shema actually comes after the donning of Tefilin. As it states in the Talmud: “Whoever recites Shema without putting on Tefilin is as if he bears false witness against himself etc.” (And this is also cited by the commentators of Rashi here).
However, this can be understood, by prefacing another difference in the wording of Rashi over that of the Midrash:
In the Midrash it states: “they sleep from (i.e. due to their) Torah study and from (performing) Mitzvot; when they arise from their sleep, they rise like lions, grasp the recital of Shema and crown G-d”
Whereas in Rashi, the wording is:
“When they arise from their sleep in the morning they strengthen themselves like a lioness and a lion to grasp Mitzvot, to wear etc.”
In other words:
1. Rashi omits that which the Midrash states that “they sleep from the Torah and from the Mitzvot”.
2. Rashi adds to the words of the Midrash, a general preface –”to grasp Mitzvot”
3. Rashi omits the purpose (תוכן) of the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema and Tefilin which is “to crown G-d”.
One could say that these three changes are interconnected:
In the Midrash where it states:
“They sleep from the Torah and from the Mitzvot”,
it emphasizes that the sleep is (also) a spiritual sleep – that they are not awake to study Torah and perform G-d‘s Mitzvot. And the “rising” from this “sleep” includes also the awakening for Torah and Mitzvot – that they accept upon themselves the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven.
And this is why the Midrash continues:
“When they arise from their sleep, they rise like lions, grasp the recital of Shema and crown G-d”.
However Rashi who writes according to the plain meaning, writes that they arise from their sleep in the morning. In other words, at a time where they are not (obligated, and are not) able to fulfill Mitzvot. Therefore immediately when they arise, they show the vigor ”to grasp Mitzvot” – meaning Mitzvot, in general. For they were not able to fulfill all the Mitzvot during their sleep.
Therefore, he writes them specifically in this order, for this is according to their order with regard to the entirety of Mitzvot.
In the beginning, “one wears Tzitzit”. For the Mitzvah of Tzitzit equals all the Mitzvot (שמצות ציצית שקולה כנגד בל המצות). As it states in Parshat Tzitzit:
“And you shall look upon them and remember all the commandments of the L-rd and fulfill them”, “so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments”.
(As it states in the Talmud “Then let him adjure then, to fulfil all the Mitzvot?” And they answer: ”(that might imply) the Mitzvah of Tzitzit, for the Master said, ‘The Mitzvah of Tzitzit is equal to all the Mitzvot of the Torah together’”. And in the Sifri it states that “whoever fulfills the Mitzvah of Tzitzit, is accorded to him as if he fulfilled all the Mitzvot).
And afterward he cites: “to recite the Shema”. For even this is a general Mitzvah, for it contains the unification of G-d and love for Him etc. (יהוד השם אהבתו כו׳)
(And in general – the acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven)
which is the foundation of all the Mitzvah. However this is not like the Mitzvah of Tzitzit which itself is equal to all the Mitzvah (and he cites it for the fulfillment of all the Mitzvah together) as aforementioned.
And afterward he writes: “to put on Tefilin”, which is a specific Mitzvah. Yet it states regarding it that it is
“A sign on your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes . . that with a strong hand, G-d took you out from Egypt”.
For the remembrance of the exodus from Egypt is a foundation for many of the Mitzvot of the Torah.
5. One could add to this, that according to the aforementioned, the difference between the explanation of Rashi and the words of the Midrash is – whether the recital of Shema in the morning is (only) in the realm of grasping the acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven (קבלת עול מלכות שמים) or whether it is in the realm of the grasping all the deeds of the Mitzvot (דחטיפת כל מעשה המצוות).
And one could say that this is dependent on the debate whether the Biblical Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is just (by reciting) the first verse alone, or whether it includes more than this.
(Reciting the first chapter, two chapters, or three).
In other words, if the nature of the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is that he crowns G-d over him through the recital of the first verse: “Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G‑d, the L-rd is One” in which he accepts upon himself the unification of G-d (יחודו ית׳) explicitly - or whether the nature of the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema includes the acceptance of the yoke of Mitzvot (as is explained in the Mishnah regarding the two chapters of Kriat Shema).
According to the Midrash, the boundary of Kriat Shema is that we crown G-d, and that is (primarily) in the first verse (or even in the first chapter). And this is apparent also from the continuation of the words of the aforementioned Midrash that:
“He crowns G-d. He does not lie down until it eats its prey. When he says ‘G-d is One’, the destroyers are consumed from before him, they whisper after him ‘Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever’”.
Whereas according to Rashi the boundary of the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema includes that which one crowns G-d with ‘G-d is One’, the Kaballat Ol Malchut Shamayim in the first Parsha and the Kaballat Ol Mitzvot. Therefore he includes in “to grasp the Mitzvot” also Kriat Shema.
(And perhaps one could say more than this, that according to the view of Rashi (in his commentary on Torah) the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema includes also the third Parsha. For the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is not complete, with just the general acceptance of Mitzvot, but only when one accepts the Mitzvah of Tzitzit that includes (the remembrance) of all the Mitzvot together. Therefore when one comes to fulfil the Mitzvot properly,
(For this is the essence of the aspect to “grasp the Mitzvot”, as will be explained in paragraph 6), (even the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema)
it is not sufficient to read the Parsha of Tzitzit, but one must wear Tzitzit, and then read the Shema (including the Parsha of Tzitzit) in order that there be a remembrance of all the Mitzvot through the actual fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Tzitzit).
6. According to what was explained previously (paragraph 2) that Rashi prefaces the explanation of the Midrash to the Targum, because according to the simple understanding of the verse, it is more logical,
(specifically in this (second) prophecy of Bilaam) that speaks of the quality of Yidden in their deeds, and not just that G-d deals with them (that shows the greatness of their power etc. as opposed to the nations of the world),
one can explain the reason that Rashi changes, in this aspect, from the Midrash .
“Grasping” depicts that the thing that is snatched is very dear to the one that grasps it. For something that is not so precious and dear to him, is taken calmly, as opposed to a thing that is dear to him – where he grabs it.
According to this it is understood that the aspect of “grasping Kriat Shema and crowning G-d” that is stated in the Midrash, depicts that the aspect of the “grasping” is just regarding the essential aspect of Kaballat Ol Malchut, but that the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvot that are afterwards, come in a normal manner - calmly.
(Therefore, in conjunction to this, it is not mentioned in the Midrash, the fulfillment of Mitzvot, but just that “one goes out to perform Derech Eretz and to conduct business” (מפליגין לדרך ארץ למשא ומתן׳). For in the fulfillment of the Mitzvot themselves, the special quality of their fulfillment is not recognizable. And the crowning of G-d in Kriat Shema, in a manner that one grasps Kriat Shema helps them, that when one goes out to Derech Eretz – to business – that the endeavor is in a proper fashion, conducting business with faith (משאו ומתנו באמונה), and that “all one’s deeds should be for the sake of Heaven”, and so forth).
However, according to Rashi, the nature of Bnei Yisroel is that when they arise from their sleep in the morning, they strengthen themselves to “grasp the Mitzvot”. For all the Mitzvot are precious and dear to each one of Yisroel, that grasp the Mitzvot. And it is not sufficient with grasping one Mitzvah, but rather that one grasps another Mitzvah, Kriat Shema, and they grasp another Mitzvah, putting on Tefilin. And it is understood that this occurs throughout the entire day, with the fulfillment of G-d‘s Mitzvot.
And this expresses and even higher level in the quality of Yisroel.
7. According to the aforementioned, one can understand the connection of Parshat Balak (that is read each year in proximity to) Yud-Beis Tammuz, the day the Rebbe Rayatz was liberated from his imprisonment where he was imprisoned for “the great Avodah” that he did “in spreading Torah and strengthening Judaism”.
The explanation of “grasping” is – an act that is not according to order and accounting (סדר וחשבון). In Avodat HaShem this depicts an Avodah that is above reason and comprehension (שלמעלה מטעם ודעת), the Avodah of Mesirat nefesh (self-sacrifice).
And this was the manner of the great Avodah that Rebbe Rayatz did in that country, and where he educated and taught his students and Chassidim – an Avodah in the manner of actual Mesirat Nefesh. And not just in general aspects and the main aspects of Torah and Mitzvah, but in each and every Mitzvah, the ‘light’ just as the ‘severe’ (קלה כחמורה), Mesirat Nefesh for the building or support of a Mikvah, to establish Chadarim for the learning of Alef-bais with school-children and so forth. And together with this, and with the same strength and Mesirat Nefesh for the spreading of Pnimiyut HaTorah, the secrets of Torah (רזין דאורייתא), and also the Mesirat Nefesh for the beautification of Mitzvot (הידור במצות).
(And also in the manner of this Avodah of “grasping”, Mesirat Nefesh at every step, he requested and demanded in his talks at that time, a grasping within grasping (חטיפה בתוך חטיפה), Mesirat Nefesh within Mesirat Nefesh (מס״נ בתוך מס״נ) as he stated:
“Yidden, grasp Mesirat Nefesh, grasp it, for the time for Mesirat Nefesh is passing and changing. Soon will come a time of complete freedom in matters of religion, then they will look for a manner to have Mesirat Nefesh and they will not find it. In a little while the time will come when you will talk of the virtue of those who merited to “sit" (in prison) because he was a teacher, because he supported the Cheder, the yeshiva or a Mikveh Taharah. You will be jealous of them and it will pain you that you did not merit it. Yidden – grasp Mesirat Nefesh”).
And with this power, the Bnei Yisroel withstood, in that country, in the course of decades, a condition of decrees and pursuit against religion, and with this power he imbued in his Shluchim and followers, that even when, by the grace of G-d, they are in a condition of freedom, that they must not suffice with a manner of grasping Kriat Shema to crown G-d over them, but that they should also have the Avodah to grasp the Mitzvot – all the Mitzvot. And not to consider any accountings, or obstacles or barriers (חשבונות ומניעות ועיכובים), and not to be influenced by the scoffers etc., whether it be in Avodat HaShem itself, or whether it be in the spreading of Torah and Judaism.
And with this will be fulfilled the tidings that are stated in Parshat Bilaam that: “a staff will arise from Israel . . shall be possessed etc. – this refers to king Moshiach as it states: “And saviors shall ascend Mount Zion . . and the L-rd shall have the kingdom.”
M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Balak 5731
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