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Parshas Beha'aloscha 5775
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June 5, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 25
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Dvar Torah


Don't Turn Away    
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas  


In Parshas Bah'aloscha we encounter the famous inverted "nuns" that seem to seal off the small parsha of "Vaheyi binso'a ha'aron" which tells how the aron hakodesh served as a source of great holiness within the camp of the Jewish people. Rashi quotes a Gemara in Meseches Shabbos: "The Torah made a sign for this passage, before and after, in order to make a break between one calamity and another." While the calamity following this passage is obvious -namely the unfortunate incident of the mis'oninim, in which the Jewish people complained about the hardships of travelling through the desert -it is not clear what calamity precedes the passage. The Gemara quotes Rabbi Chanina who explains that the preceding parsha recounts that B'nei Yisrael departed from Har Sinai, thereby alluding that their departure was improper in some aspect.  But in what way was it improper?  Rashi explains that during that journey away from Har Sinai, certain members of B'nei Yisrael began to cultivate in themselves a desire for meat along with an increasing dissatisfaction with the miraculous mon.  This journey, which was tainted by a negative attitude, is the incident that precedes the "interruption" of the passage set off by the inverted "nuns."


The Ramban points out a difficulty with Rashi's explanation:  Although the Jews may have already begun to develop a dissatisfaction with the mon upon leaving Har Sinai, they did not actually voice their complaints about the mon until after the incident of the mis'oninim (who merely complained about the hardships of the journey, but not about their means of sustenance). If so, the passage of "Vayehi binso'a ha'aron" should have been inserted between the parsha of the mis'oninim and the following parsha, in which the Jews openly expressed their disdain for the mon and their desire for meat. 


Because of this difficulty, the Ramban offers his own interpretation of the above Gemarah. A well known Medrash states that the Jewish people left Har Sinai eagerly, concerned Hashem might give them more commandments, much as a child runs away from school glad to be free of the burden of his lessons. Therefore, the Ramban explains, when the verse states, "And they travelled from the mountain of G-d," it is alluding to that negative mindset. This alone was a calamity. What we see here are in fact three separate calamities in this week's Parsha -eagerly leaving Sinai, complaining about the toil of the journey, and demonstrating ingratitude for the gift of the mon. Therefore, in order that there should not be an established pattern of sin, G-d placed the two "nuns" between the first calamity and the other two.


The Ramban proceeds to answer another bothersome question. Why does the Gemara refer to the first incident, that of the inappropriate manner of leaving Har Sinai, as a "calamity" ("pur'oniyos"), seeing as we find no mention of any retribution for this behavior?  The Ramban proposes that had they left Har Sinai with the correct attitude, Hashem would have brought them directly into Eretz Yisrael.  Their punishment was the loss of this incredible opportunity.


To this last question, we might offer an additional explanation. We are aware of a concept called "hester Panim", "hiding of the Face"." In Parshas Ki Savo, Hashem tells us that if we don't proceed on the correct path, He shall hide His Face from us, allowing the world to function in a manner of din, strict justice, in which sin necessarily demands swift punishment. This "hiding of Face" is a direct result of the Jewish people continuing to sin despite various obvious warnings. Conversely, if we turn our faces to Hashem, seeking Him out and attributing to Him all the power that is His, we will merit Hashem's "giluy Panim", the revealing of His Face towards us.  Thus we can deduce from the very fact that the Jewish people, to some extent, turned away from Hashem by seeking to escape the yoke of more mitzvos, that there transpired at that moment a shift from giluy Panim to hester Panim.  This is what the Gemara refers to as "pur'oniyos," for when Hashem hides His face, His people suffer. Therefore, although the first of the three calamities did not bring in its wake any tangible punishment to which we can point, it nevertheless marked the beginning of the Jewish people hiding their face from Hashem, and in turn Hashem hiding His Face from them. That alone was the commencement of the process of punishment.


May we find the strength to remain focused on our mission in life: to bring G-d into our every day life, our faces always turned to Him.




Dvar Halacha
The Laws of Bedtime Shema  


  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



The Gemara [Berachos 4b-5a] states even though one has already recited krias shema shel arvis in shul, there is a mitzvah to recite krias shema when going to bed.  The Gemara elsewhere [Berachos 60b] adds, someone who goes to sleep should recite Shema from Shema Yisroel until V'haya im shemoa [i.e. the first paragraph of shema] and then say birchas ha'mapil.


This obligation applies to men (Shulchan Aruch 239:1).  There is a dispute whether women are obligated.  The opinion of the Magen Avraham [239:2] is women are exempt because it is a mitzvas asei she'hazman grama (positive, time-bound commandment).  However, most Poskim argue and hold that since the main reason why Chazal established krias shema al hameetah is for protection, women also need protection (Shaar Hatziyon 239:16 & Aruch Hashulchan 239:6).  There is an opinion that women are not required to recite the entire krias shema al hameetah, rather it suffices to say just the first paragraph of shema, birchas ha'mapil and the paragraph of v'hee no'am (Shu"T Teshuvos V'Hanhagos 1:198).  As an aside, saying krias shema al hameetah is a segula not to miscarry (see Shu"T Teshuvos V'Hanhagos 1:198).  On a similar note, saying krias shema al hameetah serves as a protection from mazikim (spiritual damaging forces) (Aruch Hashulchan 239:3).


Children are not obligated in krias shema al hameetah, however, the Ben Ish Chai writes that one should accustom his children to say itfor this will bring him a lot of yiras shamayim (Halachically Speaking 1:pg. 137).


The Gemara [Berachos 60b] only mentions two things that one is required to say: the first paragraph of Shema and Birchas ha'mapil.  The implication of the Shulchan Aruch [239:1] is that this is all one is obligated to say.  This is also the opinion of the Aruch Hashulchan [239:6].  The Mishneh Berurah [239:2] adds there are opinions that hold that it is preferable to recite all three paragraphs of Shema [together with the words Kel melech ne'eman or repeat the words Hashem Elokeichem emes] in order to recite 248 words, which helps protect all 248 limbs of the body.  Additionally, there is a minhag to add additional pesukim and mizmorim (Rema 239:1) in order to increase our protection that no bad come to a person (Mishneh Berurah 239:9), including improper thoughtswhile we are sleeping (Aruch Hashulchan 239:1).


In terms of the order of recitation, it is a machlokes rishonim which one should be recited first.  Most Rishonim hold that one should follow the implication of the gemara and first say krias shema andthen recite the bracha.  The opinion of the Rambam [Hil' Tefillah 7:1] is one should first say the bracha.  The Mishneh Berurah [239:2] suggests that each person should act according to his nature.  If he normally falls asleep while saying krias shema, then it is preferable to first say birchas ha'mapil.  If he thinks he can remain awake, then it is preferable to recite krias shema first.


As an aside, the Mishneh Berurah [4:36] writes when a person goes to sleep, he should have in mind that the reason why he is going to sleep is in order to have more strength to serve Hashem.  With this mindset, the actual time sleeping is considered a mitzvah.  Additionally, some have the custom that before going to sleep they place their hand on the mezuzah (Halachically Speaking 1:pg. 143 writes that this was the minhag ofHarav Moshe Feinstein zt"l).


Each night before one goes to sleep, it is proper for one to make a cheshbon ha'nefesh (personal accounting of one's soul) and forgive others that did wrong to him (Mishneh Berurah 239:9).  Even if one does not normally make a cheshbon ha'nefesh during the year, during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (Ten days of repentance), it is proper to (Mishneh Berurah 602:3).







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