By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
This Sidrah has 35 sections (Parshios)
Why does it say “the names of those who were struck” instead of saying “killed by Pinchas?” The Zohar explains that since Pinchas is now elevated to a permanent status of Kehuna, it is not proper to mention “killing” together with his name. This seems strange because the Psukim clearly tell us of the incident immediately beforehand. We see from here, the power of words – even voicing something that is already known has an effect on our perception of the holiness of Kehuna. Words can be very powerful – both as a positive and negative force. This is an important lesson.
2. The Commandment to Attack Midyan – Hashem tells Moshe to abhor (Tzror) and strike the Midyanim because of their plot to cause Klal Yisroel to stumble with Baal Peor and with Kazbi the daughter of the Prince Tzur. She was killed on the day of the plague.
Why does it say both “abhor” and “strike?” The Baal HaTurim explains that the commandment to strike was for Klal Yisroel. Moshe was not permitted to do so because he had grown in Midyan. We see here how far hakaras hatov must go. Even if they deserve punishment, Moshe or anyone who received good from them should not be the instrument of the striking. This applies to us as well.
3. Counting Klal Yisroel and Shaivet Reuvain – Hashem told Moshe and Elazar to count Bnei Yisroel from 20 and up. For Reuvain they totaled 43,730.
4. Shimon 22,200
5. Gad 40,500
6. Yehudah 76,500
7. Yissachar 64,300
8. Zevulun 60,500
9. Menasseh 52,700
10. Ephraim 32,500
11. Binyomin 45,600
12. Dan 64,400
13. Asher 53,400
14. Naftali 45,400
Of all the Shvatim, only Reuvain, Shimon.and Zvulun have the Divine Letters of Yud and Hey attached to their names. Why only them and not the other tribes (although the subfamilies also have it)? The Chezkuni answers that Hashem had previously either severely censored or maltreated them. Reuvain with his father’s bed, Shimon with Zimri, and Zvulum because he had to do business all the time. On account of this, Hashem felt it necessary to go the extra yard for them. We can learn much from this.
15. Dividing the Land – Hashem instructs Moshe to divide it as an inheritance, the larger groups getting the larger inheritance and the smaller getting smaller inheritances. It shall be done through a lottery system.
The Meforshim explain the various understandings of the inherent fairness of the division of the land. The Seforno, however, understands that the smaller family groups did get smaller parcels of land. However, they were apportioned the land of a better quality where the land yielded more produce. All this so that Klal Yisroel will see the inherent precision and calculations that Hashem makes for everyone’s benefit.
16.Counting the Leviim – The Leviim from one month and up totaled 23,000. They weren’t given land so their counting was separate.
Why were the Leviim counted at this point? There was no need, as they were not receiving land. The Ramban explains that it was for the honor of the “King’s Legion” – the men who study Hashem’s Torah – so that they are not treated any less than any other member of Klal Yisroel. This Ramban illuminates the following story: A shidduch was once proposed to a wealthy businessman’s son. He inquired what the girl’s father does. The father was a Rebbe in a Cheder. The businessman should have jumped on it, just like he would have if her father had been a businessman – if not more.
17. Tzlafchad’s Daughters – Tzlafchad’s daughters, Machla, Noa, Chagla, Milka, and Tirtza approached Moshe and Elazar and stood before him asking,” Our father died in the Midbar, didn’t partake in the rebellion, and had no sons. Why shouldn’t he get an inheritance for his family?” Moshe asked Hashem.
Why does it say both “approached Moshe” and” stood before” him? The Ohr HaChaim explains that before they disturbed Moshe they group-analyzed it completely. We see how very precious it is not to waste other people’s time – especially that of a great person such as Moshe.
18. Inheritance for Daughters – Hashem answered that yes they are correct and should get their father’s inheritance alongside their uncles. Hashem then enumerates the laws of inheritance. No son, it goes to the daughter. No daughter – it goes to his brothers. No brothers – it goes to his father’s brothers. No paternal uncles – it goes to closest family on paternal side.
Why was there a need to say that they were correct? The Abarbanel explains that Moshe wished to argue their case. Hashem responded that they argued well enough on their own. We see here that we should take the time to point out effective and competent work whenever possible.
19. Moshe told to Prepare for His Death – Hashem tells Moshe to arise on the mountain, see the land and be gathered unto his nation, like his brother Aharon. This was because they did not sanctify Hashem’s Name – they “Haim” are the waters of Merivas Kadesh.
Why does it say the extra word “Haim” – they? Rashi explains that the Pasuk is teaching us that this was Aharon and Moshe’s only Aveirah. We see from here that when Hashem is chastising Moshe, he is softening the blow by saying – that was “your only sin.” It is important to soften the blow and show how you respect the person when giving Mussar.
20. Yehoshua to Replace Moshe – Moshe asks Hashem, Elokay HaRuchos, to appoint someone. Hashem says to take Yehoshua and let Klal Yisroel see you appoint him. Give him some of your radiance. Moshe did all this.
Why does it say Elokay HaRuchos, an expression we do not find elsewhere? Rashi explains that Moshe was so concerned about Klal Yisroel that he asked of Hashem to appoint someone who will be tolerant and patient of all different types of people. We see from here two things: The love of a true leader of Klal Yisroel and 2] How very important patience is – especially in leaders and teachers.
21. The Korban Tamid – 2 each of 1 year old male sheep. One in morning and 1 in the afternoon.
22. The Korban Mussaf for Shabbos – On Shabbos an extra 2 each of 1 year old male sheep.
23. The Korban for Rosh Chodesh – 2 bulls, 1 ram, 7 sheep.
24. The Korban for Pesach – On the 15th eat Matzos for 7 days. 2 bulls, 1 ram, 7 sheep. 1st and 7th no malacha.
25. The Korban for Shavuos – Bring the new grain offering. No malacha. 2 bulls, 1 ram, 7 sheep.
26. The Korban for Rosh HaShana – No malacha. Blow the Shofar. 1 bull, 1 ram, 7 sheep.
27. The Korban for Yom Kippur – On the 10th fast and do no Malacha. 1 bull, 1 ram, 7 sheep.
28. The Korban for Sukkos – 13 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
29. The 2nd Day of Sukkos – 12 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
30. The Third Day of Sukkos – 11 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
31. The Fourth Day of Sukkos – 10 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
32. The Fifth Day of Sukkos – 9 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
33. The Sixth Day of Sukkos – 8 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
34. The Seventh Day of Sukkos – 7 bulls, 2 rams, and 14 sheep.
35. The Korban for Shmini Atzeres – 1 bull, 1 ram and 14 sheep.
All of the above had a chatas goat as well as the mincha (wheat offering) and libations (wine offering).