Dedicated Leilui Nishmat Avraham and Bolisia Ades by their Grandson Albert Ades
This week’s Parasha, Bamidbar, begins the fourth book of the chumash. In the second Pasuk, Hashem says to Moshe, "Take a census of the entire assembly of B'nei Yisrael according to their families, according to their fathers' household, by number of the names, every male according to their head count." Rav Pam says that this is due to Hashem's great love for Am Yisrael. He counts them frequently just as a man counts and recounts money which is precious to him. This can explain why Bamidbar follows the curses of last week's Parasha, Behukotai. Because when B’nei Yisrael heard of the fearful curses and punishments described there, they worried that Hashem might abandon His people forever if they sinned. Therefore, the census of Parashat Bamidbar clearly shows the great love that Hashem has for B'nei Yisrael. Even during times of great pain and suffering, as during the Holocaust and other times in our history, Hashem tempers afflictions with eternal love, as the Pasuk in Mishlei (3:12) states: "For Hashem admonishes the one He loves". Hashem does this in order to bring the sinner back to the path of greatness and holiness as a prelude to the holiday of Shavuot.
Shavuot is refered to in our prayers as Zeman Mattan Toratenu, the time when our Torah was given. It’s obvious that this Holiday comes to commemorate that momentous occasion when the world achieved the purpose for which it was created. As mentioned several times in Derech Hashem by Harav Moshe Hayim Luzzato, the cycle of the calendar year is more than just a series of anniversaries commemorating historical events. Just as the Heavens opened up and great spiritual powers were given to the people of Yisrael as they encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai some 3,300 years ago, the Heavens make these gifts available to us every year on this date. It is up to us to make ourselves worthty of receiving those gifts by always learning and growing in Torah.
Hashem showed His love for the Jewish nation through the gift of the Torah. Hashem gave us the Torah in order to elevate the Jewish people to strive for holiness and righteousness and thereby become a "light unto all the other nations of the world". This is one of the reasons why we read "Megilat Ruth" on Shavuot, because Ruth refused to abandon her mother-in-law Naomi. She could have easily gone back to her father’s palace, where she would have lived as a princess of Moab. Instead she stuck with Naomi so that she would not be alone. Ruth said to Naomi: "Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you will lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your G-d is my G-d; where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may Hashem do to me, and more! If anything but death separates me from you." This was the ultimate form of Chesed and the essence of what being a Jew is all about: caring for one another. The Gematria for Ruth is 606, and if you add 7 for the seven Noahide or universal laws that all nations must obey, the total is 613. This signifies that Ruth was a true convert who was given the blessing of an obligation to follow all 613 commandments.
She was a princess but she offered to go and beg in the fields so as not to embarrass Naomi. Also, as the ultimate chesed she would offer to marry Boaz, a much older man, so that she could bring a child through “yibum” and give Naomi, her mother in law, happiness after losing her husband and two sons.
We learn from this that there are two paths that we can choose to follow. Ruth decided to follow her mother in law and do chesed, so she merited to become the mother of the Davidic Dynasty. As opposed to this, her sister in law Orpah chose a different path: she returned to her pagan Moabite gods, and according to the Talmud (Sotah 42b), Goliath the Philstine, who was ultimately killed by David, became her descendant. We learn from this that in our own lives we must make decisions that will carry us on the right path of Torah. Where we live and where we send our children to be educated all have consequences in terms of whether or not we stay on the Torah path, and whether or not we grow in that direction. When we make sacrifices for Torah, it will ultimately bring us a great reward, as it says in Pirke Avot: “lefum tzaara agra” -- according to the suffering is the reward!
There’s an amazing story about sacrifice that I saw in Rabbi Ashear’s Living Emunah book, from Sefer Emunah Sheleimah. The story is about a young man who was engaged to be married, but a few weeks before the wedding, the bride-to-be was having terrible headaches, so she went to see a doctor. It was discovered that she had a brain tumor. The doctors were unsure whether she would even survive. When the young man found out, he was devastated. He told his parents, and they all cried together. His parents then told him that the most logical thing to do would be to break off the engagement, but he refused. They agreed to seek counsel from a Torah sage and so they went to Chacham Ovadiah Yosef. First the parents spoke with the Rabbi, and then the young man went in to see him. Chacham Ovadiah told him that his parents love him very much, and they only want what is best for him. He also said there is nothing halachically wrong with breaking an engagement in such circumstances. Then, the Rabbi asked the Chatan for his thoughts. The young man said, “This is the bride I’ve been hoping for. I don’t want to turn away from her now. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to help her, and to eventually marry her.” Chacham Ovadiah put his hands on the young man’s head and looked into his eyes. The boy broke down, crying. He saw that the Rabbi was crying with him. Chacham Ovadiah kissed him and said, “You will marry this girl, and Hashem will give her a complete recovery. You will have generations of righteous children with her, and she will be the best wife, just as you hoped for.” The family accepted the words of the Rabbi, and after many treatments, the wedding took place one year later. Chacham Ovadiah was the Mesader Kiddushin. He told the crowd at the wedding what the Chatan had done. He blessed the couple and everyone there said, “Amen.” Indeed, she was completely healed. They built a beautiful family together with eight wonderful children who all grew up to become righteous Jews, as the Rabbi had foretold.
In this man’s old age, after he already had many grandchildren, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was cared for by his wife around the clock. Years earlier, he had been prepared to sacrifice his life to take care of her. Little did he know that in his later years, it would be the other way around!
This concept also applies to B'nei Yisrael as a nation when they left Egypt and first journeyed to the Sinai desert, it says: "vayahanu bamidbar, vayihan sham Yisrael neged hahar". “They camped” (vayahanu) is first written in plural and then switches to singular (vayihan). Rashi comments: "k'ish ehad, b’lev ehad" –"Like one man, with one heart". This is because B'nei Yisrael were like one person with one heart and that unity accorded us the merit to receive the Torah! There is nothing greater in Hashem's eyes than seeing B'nei Yisrael unified in harmony as one close nation, just as a father loves seeing his children close to one another, getting along and unified as one. Also as in the story of the young couple that stuck to each other despite her brain tumor. These acts of chesed that the Torah teaches us, should always continue to be the nature of the Jewish people.
May we all continue to be special in Hashem's eyes as we celebrate the acceptance of the greatest gift any nation could ever receive, our Holy Torah. May we also continue be as one nation and always be concerned for the welfare of our fellow Jews and make sacrifices for those close to us as the Pasuk says: “Ve Ahavta L'Re-acha Kamocha”...Love your friend as you love yourself!
Shabbat Shalom and Tizku Leshanim Rabot!
Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of
Rabbi Amram Sananes
Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah
Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam
Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal
Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal
Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther
Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal
Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal
Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami
Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael
Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel
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