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Parshas Bamidbar 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 7:46 pm
May 10, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 24
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Dvar Torah

Raising Your Flag 

By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 

         

                  The Jewish people have left Egypt, they've received the Torah, and they've built the Mishkan. Now they are given a new commandment: "Raise the flag." Not just one flag, but twelve of them. This raises many questions and needs much explanation. We will address but one aspect and that is, why now? When the Jewish people left Egypt the verses already indicated the fact they were grouped by their tribes. Wouldn't that have been a more appropriate time to be flying their colors?

 

To understand this we need to ask another question. Isn't the concept of being grouped by separate flags contrary to unity? For a nation striving to demonstrate a deep togetherness to be worthy of Hashem's presence, it would seem that dividing the Jewish people according to their respective tribes would achieve the opposite. Why the flags?

 

   Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, z"l answers that the concept of separate flags, and hence distinguished roles, can be likened to the various organs within one's body. It would never enter one's mind that the ear, with the ability to hear, and the eye, with its ability to see, were in competition with each other. United by their goal to serve the human they inhabit, they function as the perfect machine designed by the Master of Design. Analogous to the human body is the Jewish people. Predestined to fulfill individual roles, the tribes, with their respective flags, are all part of Hashem's master plan for the world. Although assigned to specific tribes upon leaving Egypt, the revelation of their unique role through the flags would not have been possible until the building of the Mishkan. The Mishkan served as the focal point for the Jewish people. Camped around in a designated fashion, befitting the specific roles they would have, they realized they are all part of a whole; unified in the role of the Jewish people. For this reason the command to have flags was not given until now.

 

From the above we learn a fundamental lesson in education.  There have been attempts by educational institutions to abolish the concept of "winning the game." Some schools actually placed a limit on how much a team can win by. The logic of these policies was that losing is detrimental to one's self esteem and unhealthy for one's mental balance. Studies on these policies show that the children saw the lack of realty in those competitions and lost motivation as a result. When one looks at the Torah, and specifically the tribes with their unique flags, one can learn a powerful lesson in motivation, namely the celebration of the divine unique abilities and characteristics of each tribe. By encouraging and helping one's child realize that although he or she is not the greatest in a certain area, there are other areas where their hidden talents can bloom. And even if in what they excel at they are not the best, they are still part of the team. The Gemarah in Berachos tells us that Hashem created the world in such a way that not everyone feels a sense of satisfaction in the same area, thus enabling a healthy economy. May we all merit the realization of our own unique talents and goals and raise our flag with pride.

 


Dvar Halacha

 

The Laws of Sefiras Ha'omer  part 4

 

By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

 

There is a machlokes rishonim whether the counting of the 49 days is one collective mitzvah or is each day for 49 days a separate mitzvah.  The practical difference is if one misses a day or knows one will for sure miss a day, whether there is a mitzvah to count the remaining days.  The opinion of the Ba'hag is that it is one collective mitzvah and if one misses a day one can no longer recite the brachah beforehand since one has not fulfilled the mitzvah.  However, other Rishonim argue and hold that each day is an independent mitzvah.  According to this opinion, if one missed a day since each day is independent from the other days one may count with a brachah (Tur OC 489, MB 489:36-37).

 

L'halacha, we are stringent that if one did miss a night to continue counting the following night without a brachah (SA 489:8).  If one may no longer recite the brachah, it is preferable to hear the brachah from someone else (MB 489:37).  It is important to note, even if one is not counting with a brachah, one must count Sefiras Ha'Omer [just without the brachah].

 

If one is unsure whether he missed a night, one may continue counting with a brachah (SA 489:8).  This is based on the halachic concept of "safek sefeika l'kula" (that we are lenient when there are 2 doubts).  [In the above case the 2 doubts are: 1) did he miss and 2) is the halachah like the Rishonim that each day is a separate mitzvah]. 

 

If one counted the wrong day, it is as he did not count (MB 489:35).  Therefore, he must recount the proper day.  If one does not, he would not be allowed to continue counting with a brachah [because he missed an entire day].

 

If one counts [in the proper way] even without the brachah, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation, and would not be permitted to recount that night with a brachah (SA 489:4, MB 489:22).  Therefore, if one has not already counted, one needs to be very careful if someone ask him which night is it is tonight, not to answer him directly, rather say "last night was __" (SA 489:4).  Since one may fulfill his obligation in any language, if he answers in another language other than Hebrew, it is considered as if he counted.  [For example, "today is the 12th day"]  (MB 489:20).

 

However, if he answered in one of the following instances, it is not considered as if he counted and may therefore recount that night with a brachah; If it was before shkiya (SA 489:4), if you just said the number [for example, 12] and did not say "today is the 12th day" (MB 489:20), If it is after the 7th day, and just the number was said but not the weeks. [for example, if on the 12th day one said "today is the 12th day" as opposed to "today is the 12th day which is 1 week and 5 days"] (MB 489:23), or if one had specific intention not to fulfill his obligation (MB 489:22). 

 

If one answered after shkiyah but before tzaitz hakochavim, if one normally counts after tzaitz hakochavim, he most probably had intention not to fulfill his obligation (Be'ur Halachah 489:4 s.v. she'im). 

 

If someone is unsure which day of sefira it is, and asks someone "is today __" [and it was that day], he may count with a brachah, since his intention was not to count, rather to clarify the day (Koveitz Halachos 5:10).

 

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