Parshas Bamidbar 5777
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May 26, 2017
Volume 13 Issue 22
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Dvar Torah

The Power Within
By Rabbi Yisroel Schwartz  

"They shall place upon it [the aron] a tachash-hide covering, and spread a cloth entirely of turquoise wool over it... upon the table of the show-bread they shall spread a cloth of turquoise wool... and cover it with a tachash hide" (BAMIDBAR 4:6-9).

These were the instructions given to Aharon how to prepare the utensils of the Mishkan for travel. Generally, the kohanim used a woolen covering and a leather covering. There is one discrepancy between the aron and the other utensils. The other utensils, such as the shulchan and menorah, were fi rst covered with a turquoise cloth and then with the tachash-leather covering. The aron, however, was fi rst covered with the tachash-hide and then with the turquoise wool covering. What was the reason for this diff erence?
The Netziv explains that the turquoise represented Divine Providence. The color blue reminds us of the sky, which in turn reminds us of Hashem's Holy Throne. The tachash-leather, on the other hand, represented the physical world, similar to leather used as a protection from the elements. Each of the utensils in the Mishkan represented a different quality. For example, the shulchan symbolized kingship and wealth and the menorah represented Torah knowledge. Although succeeding in these areas ultimately comes from Hashem through Divine Providence, success appears to result directly from our actions. Good decisions and good judgment bring to wealth and leadership, and success in Torah knowledge results from learning diligently. We ascribe success to the aforementioned factors because this is what we see in our limited view of the world, but in reality, it all comes from G-d. The Torah dictated to place the turquoise covering directly on the utensils and the leather covering on top of that, to signify that although it appears that our physical actions produce the desired results, it really comes from Hashem. The order of the coverings was switched for the aron, because the aron represented the Torah itself. The Torah has some obvious aspects and some aspects that are not so obvious. It was clear to all that the Torah was G-dly. The Aron miraculously carried those that held it, and at Har Sinai, it was clear that Hashem gave the Torah to Moshe. However, it is not so clear that buried within the wisdom and secrets of the Torah is the success and sustenance of the entire world. To show this, the Torah commands to cover the aron on the outside with the turquoise covering, showing that the Torah clearly came from Hashem. Covering the aron on the inside was the tachash-leather, which was hidden, representing that even the success of the other physical aspects of our lives result from the Torah.
Why Now?
The Jewish calendar is set up in such a fashion that we always read Parshas Bamidbar the Shabbos before Shavuos. Why? The Rishonim argue if the Mishkan was built solely to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, or the Mishkan was built in its own right, regardless of the Cheit Ha'Eigel. Ramban is of the opinion that Hashem always intended for the Mishkan to be built to serve as a microcosm of Har Sinai. At Har Sinai, Hashem revealed Himself and we experienced His presence. Similarly, the Mishkan was a place for us to experience G-d's manifestation. Based on this idea, Ramban, in his introduction to Sefer Bamidbar, explains a reason for the formation of the Jews' encampment around the Mishkan. At Har Sinai, Hashem set boundaries around the mountain, commanding the Jews that they cannot encroach past the set borders. Similarly, Hashem established different camps around the Mishkan, marking where pure and impure people may reside. Another similarity is that at Har Sinai, Hashem chose the fi rst-borns to bring sacrifi ces and perform the service; in the desert, He chose Shevet Levi to serve Him. All these laws and precautions were implemented in order to maintain the sanctity of the Mishkan, a replica of Har Sinai. Possibly, we read Parshas Bamidbar before Shavuos in order to draw parallels between Har Sinai and the Mishkan. Just as Klal Yisroel witnessed G-d's revelation on Har Sinai, we will witness His revelation at the Bayis Shlishi, bimhayra bi'yameinu.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Staying Up All Night
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

The Zohar relates that on Shavuos night pious people would stay up all night and learn Torah. The Magen Avraham explains the reason for this minhag: since at the time the Torah was given the Jewish people were sleeping, and Hashem had to wake them up to receive the Torah, we stay up learning to correct that sin (Mishneh Berurah 594:1).

There are numerous halachos relevant for one who stays up all night. Each morning, upon waking, a person is required to wash his hands and recite the brachah of al netilas yadayim (Shulchan Aruch 4:1). There are two primary reasons offered by the Rishonim why Chazal instituted this halachah. According to the Rosh [Brachos 9:23] it is to clean one's unclean hands which inadvertently touch parts of the body, while sleeping, that are sweaty and unclean. The Rashba [Shu"T 1:191] says that each morning [at dawn] we are considered as if we are created anew, therefore, just as the Kohanim had to wash their hands each morning before they served Hashem in the Bais Hamikdash, we to have to wash our hands before we serve Hashem. It is important to note that only if both the abovementioned reasons are met is one required to wash their hands and recite the brachah. In cases where only one of the reasons is applicable, although we wash our hands, we do not recite a brachah (Mishneh Berurah 4:1). This is quite relevant to one who is awake the entire night. According to the Rashba, he would be required to wash since he is a new creation in the morning, regardless if he slept or not. However, according to the Rosh, an awake person has control over his hands; we can assume his hands are still clean, and therefore would not be required to wash (Shulchan Aruch 4:13). The Mishneh Berurah [4:30] writes that in this situation it is proper to relieve oneself, thus rendering his hands unclean [and be required to wash even according to the Rosh], and now he can recite a brachah as well. It is important to note, if one did not wash his hands, he may continue learning even after dawn, since even the Rashba agrees that the main reason we wash is for reciting krias shema (Mishneh Berurah 4:59).

Each morning we recite numerous birchas hashachar, thanking Hashem for the various blessings He bestows upon us and the world. Most of these brachos were written in a general text, blessing Hashem for the various gifts He provides for the general public at large, and not necessarily to each individual, and one may recite them even if it does not apply to him (Rama 46:8). There is a dispute, however, with regards to two specific brachos 1) "Elokei Neshama" and 2) "Ha'maver shainah." for one who was awake the entire night, for these blessings are worded as a personal thanks ["for returning my neshama and waking me up"]. Therefore, it is preferable to hear these brachos from someone who slept, and have in mind to fulfill your obligation with his recitation (Mishneh Berurah 46:24).

Similarly, each morning a person is required to recite birchas HaTorah before he learns Torah. Here too, there is a dispute amongst the Rishonim why a person is required to recite a new blessing each day and cannot rely on his recitation of the previous day. According to Rabbeinu Tam, a new brachah must be recited each day just as the birchas hashachar. The Rosh disagrees and holds that when one sleeps it is considered an interruption, and he may no longer rely on his previous brachah. A practical difference between these two reasons is a person who did not sleep. According to Rabbeinu Tam he would be required to recite a brachah, while according to the Rosh, since there was no interruption, he can rely on his previous brachah. Therefore, in this situation as well, it is preferable to hear birchas hatorah from someone who slept, and after answering Amen to his brachah, he should learn a little. If he cannot find someone to recite the brachos, he can have in mind to fulfill his obligation while reciting Ahavah Rabbah, and learn immediately after davening (Mishneh Berurah 47:28).

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