Parshas Behaaloscha – Torah Themes

Future Investment

 

Our parsha talks about the manna that the Jews ate in the desert. It had any flavor that you wanted to taste in it. Yalkut Reuveni quotes the Tanna D’Bei Eliyahu about this:

 

In the merit of Avraham’s hospitality, the Jews received the manna for 40 years. When the angels came to Avraham’s tent, he offered them bread, meat, honey, milk and butter. So too, the manna was able to taste like the large varieties of foods including bread, meat, honey milk and butter.

 

We see from here a very important lesson. Our actions have a direct impact on all of our future generations. We often may think of ourselves as insignificant and unimportant, but our choices matter. It was specifically because Avraham pushed himself to do kindness, to the enth degree, with a large array of options to satisfy the guests pallets, that his descendants got 40 years of the greatest food available to mankind.

 

 

Proper Speech

 

We all know the severity of Lashon Harah. At the end of the parsha Miriam was punsished for speaking Lashon Harah against her brother Moshe. The verse describes that she had to go out of the camp for seven days, and the nation waited for her before traveling forward. It describes her punishment as “ימים שבעת תכלם, she should be ashamed for 7 days” The first letters of those words form “תשי”. This word means ‘to weaken’ and hints to the verse (Devarim 32:18), “Tzur yaladta teshi, you weakened God (so to speak).” (Megaleh Amukos)

 

What does this mean? Miriam’s sin is being punished in the original verse, why is God’s becoming weak mentioned here?

 

First lets explain the concept of teshi. Ramchal explains that of course Hashem is not impacted by our good or bad deeds. However, He created a world where He has empowered us to be able to impact Him. If we do mitzvos we so to speak strengthen Hashem’s ability to bestow kindness upon us and if we sin we weaken his hanhagah with us.

 

The Chofetz Chaim explains based on the Zohar that when someone speaks Lashon Harah, he or she is eliciting judgment to take place in Heaven. Hashem created a reality that when we speak Lashon Harah, this causes the prosecutors in Heaven to stir. The subject being spoken about is scrutinized, the one speaking is looked at and the those listening are judged. This is how Lashon Harah kills three people. All those involved are scrutinized with din. Hashem does not want us to hurt one another and has commanded us not to speak about others negatively.

 

In our parsha, Miriam spoke critically of Mosher and got tzaras. Her behavior made her deserving of tzaras. She got the message and mended her ways. However, during those seven days she was sent outside the camp. Hashem was, kiviyachol, sad, that this prevents Him from bestowing kindness upon us and it evokes din. Thus, because Miriam sinned, she pushed away Hashem and thereby created a weakness, this is what warented her being sent out of the camp for seven days to repent. Once she fixed the sin, she was welcomed back to the camp and became the role model for proper speech, a lesson we learn from her and review each day.

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